FAA Refuses to Release Key Documents


The Federal Aviation Administration is refusing to release key documents that would support the agency’s claim that its controversial Biographical Questionnaire or BQ is valid. The BQ is a personality test that all FAA air traffic control applicants must pass in order to be considered for a job with the FAA. A FOX Business Network investigative report, ‘‘Trouble In the Skies’’, first exposed internal FAA documents which discredited the BQ on May 20, 2015.

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The report also made public recordings of FAA employees offering to help air traffic control candidates cheat on the 2014 BQ. The test was first used in 2014. The FAA told FOX Business that private human resources company APT Metrics, “professionally developed and validated the BQ based on years of extensive research” of the air traffic control specialist occupation.  APT Metrics refuses to discuss the BQ but FOX Business has been told by sources inside the FAA that the test was never properly validated. The FAA has refused to respond to questions from FOX Business about this and other issues going back to May 11th.  

Failing scores on the BQ  disqualified 3000 students from FAA Collegiate Training Initiative Schools, a program created by the FAA to prepare future air traffic controllers, from obtaining jobs with the agency. Those 3000 students had previously been considered “well qualified” by the FAA after earning the highest scores on an exam used by the FAA to test an applicant’s cognitive ability.  One of those students filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking information on the “empirical validation of the biographical assessment.”  The FAA denied the request saying, “To allow the release of these records would discourage open and frank discussions between agency employees that are helpful in assessing the hiring process and would also create confusion in those cases where recommendations and opinions are not adopted.”

The FAA discarded the BQ in 2015 and used a new version of the test also created by APT Metrics.  The FAA refuses to say why the first version of the BQ was thrown out if it had been validated.  The agency in a written response to FOX Business on May 7th  said,  “The biographical assessment used in 2014 is a different test than the one used in 2015. Both assessments were professionally developed and validated in accordance with relevant professional standards and legal guidelines for employment selection testing.”  

The FAA has refused to comment to FOX Business and other national news organizations since then.  The Department of Transportation Inspector General is investigating the FAA’s air traffic control hiring program as well as the cheating scandal uncovered by FOX Business.  The FAA also refuses to discuss the promotion of Shelton Snow to Front Line Manager in New York.  Snow is the Air Traffic Control officer on the recorded text who appears to offer answers to the BQ to job applicants.  Snow has declined repeated requests from FOX Business to comment on the message and allegations he and other FAA employees helped job applicants cheat.

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