Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

FAA looking to hire 1,400 air traffic controllers

The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking applications for 1,400 entry-level air traffic controller positions.
The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking applications for 1,400 entry-level air traffic controller positions. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Looking for a job? The U.S. government is looking to hire hundreds of air traffic controllers.

Starting tomorrow, the Federal Aviation Administration will accept online applications for 1,400 entry-level air traffic controller positions. The agency said it expects to receive over 25,000 applications for the positions during the one-week job opening that runs through Aug. 15 on USAJobs.gov.

“We provide the safest, most efficient airspace system in the world and we need exceptional people to support our mission,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement.

While known as high-stress positions, these are good jobs. Currently, the FAA employs about 14,000 air traffic controllers, at a median annual salary of $122,950.

Job applicants must be U.S. citizens under age 31 and be willing to relocate to an FAA facility based on the agency’s staffing needs. New air traffic controllers must first spend several months training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City before being placed initially in lower-level air traffic facilities.

The Terminal Radar Approach Control facility in Dallas/Fort Worth is one of the 10 busiest installations in the country and one of the top staffing priorities for the FAA.

The agency began hiring large numbers of air traffic controllers several years ago as it prepared for a wave of retirements of controllers who were hired in 1981 after President Ronald Reagan fired controllers during the PATCO strike. The mandatory retirement age for an air traffic controller is 56.

The FAA said it expects to hire 1,600 air traffic controllers during its 2016 fiscal year.

Fracking for President?

There’s a new candidate joining Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein on the presidential campaign trail. At least online.

The candidate has a slick, 60-second commercial on Facebook and other social media websites and is planning a nationwide virtual bus tour.

Who is this candidate? Well, it’s Fracking. Yes, that’s right. Fracking for President.

It’s the brainchild of the pro-drilling groups FrackFeed and North Texans for Natural Gas, but don’t look for a stand-in character as the fictional independent candidate (although the materials distributed and the commercial refer to Fracking as a she.) This is strictly an educational campaign.

“Why not capitalize on the fact that there is a broader debate on energy production” occurring in the presidential race? said Courtney Loper, a spokeswoman for the groups. “Let people know about the benefits of fracking and oil and gas to everyone.”

While Clinton, Trump, et al, will be spending hundreds of millions in their campaigns, the Fracking for President effort will be in the low six figures. North Texas for Natural Gas is an industry group supported by energy companies like Devon Energy, EOG Resources and XTO.

Loper that by Wednesday said Fracking for President had gotten 35,000 hits on YouTube and 500,000 on Facebook. The campaign theme is “Powering the People,” with an agenda of creating jobs, lowering consumer prices and strengthening energy security, among other things.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of injecting water and chemicals deep into shale rock to unlock the natural gas trapped inside.

“People in the Northeast or Florida may not know that their power bills are lower because of the fracking revolution,” Loper said. “There are new, multibillion-dollar manufacturing investments in the United States thanks to low-cost shale gas, unlocked by fracking. … This is a national story that deserves to be told.”

As far as influencing the real presidential candidates, Fracking for President may have its work cut out for it.

While campaigning in Colorado this week, Trump said in an interview with a local TV station that “fracking is something we need” but said that he also understands if a state or city wants to ban it.

Clinton has expressed support for fracking, but also said during a March debate that she would aggressively regulate the process and wouldn’t support it if states and cities don’t want it.

“By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” Clinton said.

DFW now carbon-neutral

Using wind energy and converting its bus fleet to compressed natural gas vehicles have helped Dallas/Fort Worth Airport reduce its carbon emissions.

As a result, on Thursday, DFW announced it is the first U.S. airport to be “carbon-neutral” and is only one of 23 airports in the world to achieve the distinction from the Airport Carbon Accreditation Program.

“Our team has made major strides in reducing DFW’s carbon footprint by how we manage precious resources such as energy and water, and how the airport manages vehicle fuels, emissions, waste, recycling and our land,” said airport chief executive Sean Donohue.

Since 2010, DFW has reduced its carbon emissions per passenger by 29 percent and reduced energy costs by 38 percent even as the airport handled 15 percent more passengers.

Ninety-five percent of the airport’s vehicle fleet was converted to alternative fuels, saving the airport $22 million, said Robert Horton, DFW’s vice president of environmental affairs. It has also installed water-conserving plumbing fixtures in passenger bathrooms that cut usage at the terminals by 50 percent, saving about 5 million gallons of water each month.

“The commitment to use renewable energy and sustainable building standards have all proven their value,” Horton told the airport board on Thursday.

The airport’s carbon accreditation rating does not include carbon emissions from airplanes as the airport does not determine which aircraft an airline operates.

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency said it plans to impose limits on aircraft emissions as jet engines release significant amounts of greenhouse gases into the upper atmosphere. Airlines and aircraft manufacturers have opposed emissions limits that are stricter than those proposed by international agencies.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko

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