FAA’s Monroney Center adapting to changes in flight

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 By: Sarah Terry-Cobo Source: The Journal Record

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to be on your radar.

The agency’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center is a near-secret in the state, even though it’s the fourth-largest single-site employer in Oklahoma, said Director Michelle Coppedge. That means it can be difficult to recruit the employees she needs who have high-tech engineering, research, and data-gathering skills.

Coppedge said she needs workers who can adapt and move the agency forward as the FAA adopts new technology and is faced with regulating new aircraft; the number of registered drones has skyrocketed in the last two years. A lack of a stable, long-term budget from the federal government also could ground the work they do there.

Coppedge and several of her employees took the stage 50 stories up on Wednesday to raise the Monroney Center’s profile. She and three others discussed the center’s operations at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s Forum series, held at Vast, the restaurant atop the Devon tower. About 150 people attended the luncheon.

Coppedge has a $1 billion annual budget. The center employs more than 6,300 people ranging from engineers to physicists, physicians, and data processors.

They train every air traffic controller in the country, about 1,200 each year. Employees and contractors maintain all the air traffic control equipment, too. They train every aviation inspector in the U.S. An inspector must examine every commercial flight before it can leave the gate. They conduct all the medical testing of all pilots.

The Monroney Center’s employees also provide contract support for 60 federal agencies. Its largest customers are the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agencies.

Carla Hackworth, Aerospace Human Factors Research Division manager of the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, said her staff works on gathering information on humans to help reduce risks people introduce in aircraft.

“With drones, we have to remain agile, with a focus on safety,” Hackworth said. “New technology is coming and it’s changing.”

Coppedge said she’s trying to attract a diverse applicant pool, but not many people are aware the FAA’s Oklahoma City job listings are posted on USAJobs.gov website.

“We have so many technology jobs,” she said.

Read the story at JournalRecord.com

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