TCC Hopes To Add Air Traffic Control Degree

Friday, May 9th 2008, 7:18 pm
By: News On 6

How would you like a starting salary of $80,000?  That's what air traffic controllers make at many airports.  The News On 6's Jeffrey Smith reports Tulsa Community College is hoping to become one of a handful of colleges that offer a degree in the field.

There's a big demand for air traffic controllers.  The Federal Aviation Administration needs to hire about 20,000 more.

Now, TCC wants to start a degree program, but it needs voters' help to get it off the ground.

Before planes get in the air, someone on the ground is watching over them.

"The great thing is that graduates that come out of the program, the starting salary is $80 to $100,000," said TCC President Tom McKeon.  "There is a projected shortage of air traffic controllers in upcoming future, and for our community to have a quality two-year program that provides that kind of employment opportunities is just outstanding."

TCC already has a pilot training program. But, they hope to add an air traffic control program as well. The problem is that they don't have enough funding to buy the equipment. But, flight school officials say it's an important program for the college's future.

"Current figures as of the end of last month are projecting close to 17,000 within the next decade, needed in the ATC system," said Matt Wise with TCC Flight School.

In order for the program to get off the ground, voters on Tuesday will have to approve a $76 million bond for the college.

"To do this, and do this right, requires ample amount of simulation. And, what we're trying to acquire, hopefully with the passing of the new bond here on Tuesday, will be a complete 360 degree seamless screen, with a fidelity that no one else has in the nation at this point, not even NASA," said Matt Wise with TCC Flight School.

The money would also go towards new classrooms on all four campuses and a new building in Owasso.

"I think it would be a real feather in our cap to have that program, and for our community to have that program," said TCC President Tom McKeon.

TCC's president says enrollment's going to grow by 20% over the next 10 years and that they need new programs to keep up with the rising demand.  He also says that if the bond passes, a typical homeowner would pay about $50 more a year in taxes.