Predictive Validity of a Selection Procedure for Air Traffic Controller Trainees

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The job of an air traffic controller (ATCO) is very specific and demanding. The assessment of potential suitable candidates requires a customized and efficient selection procedure. The German Aerospace Center DLR conducts a highly selective, multiple-stage selection procedure for ab initio ATCO applicants for the German Air Navigation Service Provider DFS. Successful applicants start their training with a training phase at the DFS Academy and then continue with a unit training phase in live traffic. ATCO validity studies are scarcely reported in the international scientific literature and have mainly been conducted in a military context with only small and male samples. This validation study encompasses the data from 430 DFS ATCO trainees, starting with candidate selection and extending to the completion of their training. Validity analyses involved the prediction of training success and several training performance criteria derived from initial training. The final training success rate of about 79% was highly satisfactory and higher than that of other countries. The findings demonstrated that all stages of the selection procedure showed predictive validity toward training performance. Among the best predictors were scores measuring attention and multitasking ability, and ratings on general motivation from the interview.

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