The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) depends on a workforce of almost 45,000 to function the nationwide airspace system. Adjustments within the aviation business—together with rising applied sciences corresponding to drones and synthetic intelligence—would require FAA to extend oversight and search further important expertise for its workforce.
FAA has recognized important expertise wanted for its workforce to reply to expertise modifications. Nonetheless, the Authorities Accountability Workplace says FAA’s evaluation of the talents of its present workforce was inadequate to indicate what number of workers have wanted expertise and the place the talents gaps are.
In 2018, FAA’s Workplace of Human Useful resource Administration started an agency-wide Strategic Workforce Planning Initiative to evaluate the talents FAA’s workforce wants at present and can more and more want sooner or later. These expertise embrace information analytics, undertaking administration, and cybersecurity expertise.
Particular person FAA workplaces additionally conduct workforce-planning actions. Chosen workplaces have taken steps to establish important future expertise, corresponding to particular technical expertise for the engineers within the Workplace of Industrial House Transportation.
FAA additionally has taken steps to find out whether or not its workforce has the talents wanted to reply to expertise modifications, however GAO has discovered these efforts haven’t been quantitative nor have they included all mission-critical occupations. In 2019, FAA performed interviews with managers and employees to gather officers’ views on what talent gaps exist. Whereas the qualitative interviews yielded helpful info on the talents wanted, GAO decided that they didn’t present measurable information displaying what number of workers have the talents wanted and the place gaps exist.
FAA additionally obtained some info on talent gaps in its workforce from a 2020 Division of Transportation workforce evaluation, however GAO says FAA’s response charge to that evaluation was low, starting from 12 to 25 %. In consequence, the data FAA has collected might not present a whole evaluation of whether or not its workforce has the important expertise wanted to reply to expertise modifications together with unmanned aerial techniques, business house transportation, synthetic intelligence and additive manufacturing.
FAA regulates and oversees unmanned aerial techniques (UAS) operations’ compliance, which incorporates prohibiting small UAS operators from working in a careless or reckless method that endangers the life or property of one other, amongst different issues. Based on company paperwork, essentially the most important instance of a expertise change that has effects on the nationwide airspace system at present is the introduction, adoption, improvement, and growing use of small UAS. FAA estimates there have been about 1.5 million small UAS in the US in 2018, and the company forecasts that there could possibly be as much as 3 million in the US by 2023. This improve will inevitably influence FAA’s air visitors administration, rules, plane certification, and direct and oblique capabilities to maintain the nationwide airspace protected.
The business house transportation business offers launch companies that allow national-security and business satellites, amongst different issues, to be despatched into orbit for presidency and personal clients. The FAA performs a important position in business house transportation by guaranteeing the safety of public security throughout launch and re-entry operations. FAA’s regulatory oversight duties for business house transportation embrace licensing and allowing business launch and reentry automobile operations (with a launch or reentry license) and nonfederal launch websites (by way of a website operator’s license), in addition to conducting security inspections of licensed launch suppliers and website operators. In 2020, the FAA licensed 41 business house operations (launches and reentries), essentially the most within the company’s historical past. These operations included 39 FAA-licensed launches, together with the primary ever NASA-crewed mission to be licensed. For 2021, the FAA is forecasting the variety of licensed operations might attain 50 or extra. In its Strategic Workforce Planning Hole Evaluation Report FAA recognized business house enlargement and certification as certainly one of a number of future state eventualities that can have an effect on its workforce wants within the coming 1-3 years. Based on FAA, it might want to assess the readiness of its workforce to fulfill the rising want for certification and regulation-related actions throughout the subsequent 1 to three years. As well as, in September 2020, FAA issued a rule that amended its business space-launch and reentry rules to streamline the launch and reentry licensing necessities. The rule incorporates performance-based necessities that present candidates flexibility in how they obtain required security outcomes. The Workplace of Industrial House Transportation might want to make sure that it has the appropriate variety of employees with the suitable experience to conduct the analyses that will likely be required underneath the amended rules.
Rising technological developments associated to automation and synthetic intelligence will more and more be included into new aviation merchandise and can have an effect on FAA’s aviation workforce. For instance, business representatives informed GAO that as plane turn out to be outfitted with automated self-diagnostic capabilities, upkeep technicians might want to regulate to expertise wanted to guage the faults and take corrective motion. As well as, labor representatives said that technological developments associated to automation will improve the company’s want for extra engineers with in-depth data of software program engineering, techniques engineering, cybersecurity, and associated fields.
Additive manufacturing (i.e., 3D printing) of plane elements is growing as it’s a cheaper various to conventional titanium manufacturing and permits for the manufacturing of extra complicated plane elements in comparison with extra conventional manufacturing processes. The manufacturing and processing of one of these manufacturing requires FAA approval, and in line with FAA, to make sure the security of plane, the company might want to conduct analysis on the suitability of recent supplies. Based on FAA’s Aviation Security Workplace officers, their workplace has been working to develop its experience and capabilities in additive manufacturing by way of focused hiring and coaching to make sure that their workforce has the power to certify that merchandise meet required security requirements. FAA can be growing an additive-manufacturing highway map, which can embrace coaching and schooling, improvement of regulation paperwork, and a analysis and improvement plan.
Recognizing the constraints set out in GAO’s Might 13 report, FAA officers intend to conduct further talent hole assessments. Nonetheless, officers informed GAO that as a result of FAA is a big and dynamic company, the method of finishing agency-wide talent hole assessments would require higher coordination with particular person FAA workplaces. Thus, FAA has shifted its focus to growing a strategic workforce- planning coverage and group of follow to facilitate agency-wide coordination on workforce-planning actions. GAO says these efforts signify optimistic steps and will assist FAA conduct extra complete talent hole assessments sooner or later.
GAO has advisable that FAA make sure that deliberate talent hole assessments, performed in coordination with FAA workplaces, are quantitative and embrace all mission-critical occupations. FAA concurred.
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