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AOPA welcomes next generation of air traffic controllers

Undergraduates from the University of North Dakota Student Air Traffic Controllers Association (SATCA) had the opportunity for some real-world learning during a visit to AOPA’s Washington, D.C., office February 22.

Undergraduates from the University of North Dakota Student Air Traffic Controllers Association visited AOPA’s Washington, D.C., office February 22. Photo by Jim McClay.

The students at UND’s SATCA are part of a nationally recognized aviation program that aims to further aviation safety, awareness, and education through ATC meetings, forums, industry conferences, and ATC facility tours—including towers, terminal radar approach control facilities, and air route traffic control centers.

During their visit to AOPA’s office, AOPA Director of Airspace, Air Traffic, and Security Jim McClay spoke to the group about AOPA’s advocacy efforts, such as real-time special-use airspace, temporary flight restriction impacts, notam modernization, and charting. McClay also gave a briefing on his former experience working at the FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Virginia.

“It’s exciting to see the next generation of controllers being exposed to various aspects of the national airspace system. Giving some of them a glimpse into the priorities of general aviation is an integral part of that,” said McClay.

AOPA welcomed the opportunity to host the student group as part of our outreach efforts to connect with the next generation of aviation professionals. For several years, AOPA has been working to introduce more people to flying through the You Can Fly program, while also supporting initiatives that introduce more students to well-paying careers in aviation.

According to the FAA, there are some 14,000 controllers operating out of around 700 ATC facilities across the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national annual wage of an air traffic controller is more than $120,000—a major incentive for aspiring professionals.

In addition to touring AOPA, the student group also visited the FAA, the College Park Aviation Museum in Maryland, and the U.S. Capitol.

Amelia Walsh

Communications and Research Specialist
AOPA Comms and Research Specialist Amelia Walsh joined AOPA in 2017. Named after the famous aviatrix, she's a private pilot working on her instrument rating in a Colombia 350.
Topics: Advocacy, Aviation Education Programs

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