A new FOX Business Network investigation has found that air traffic controllers -- the very people who are responsible for the safety of millions of lives in the skies -- may have cheated their way to becoming certified.
According to the FAA, in order to qualify as an air traffic controller you must:
"Be a United States citizen
Start at the FAA Academy no later than your 31st birthday
Pass a medical examination
Pass a security investigation
Have three years of progressively responsible work experience, or a Bachelor's degree, or a combination of post-secondary education and work experience that totals three years.
Pass the FAA air traffic pre-employment tests
Speak English clearly enough to be understood over communications equipment"
In 2014, the FAA added a biographical questionnaire to the pre-employment exams to increase the diversity of applicants selected for ATC positions. The personality test, which includes questions such as "how many sports did you play in high school?," has perplexed many, including members of Congress who questioned the practice last year.
The concern isn't just the type of questions in the biographical questionnaire. "FAA employees including some within the agency's human resources department may have helped applicants cheat on that test," FOX explains. The test is an unsupervised at-home test that is taken on applicants own personal computers.
The BQ is one of many changes to the process to become an air traffic controller in recent years.
Hoards of previously "well-qualified" candidates were rejected based on the BQ. Students who graduated from prestigious college training initiatives were suddenly passed over.
Several legislators are leading the charge to change the FAA's flawed hiring practices and FOX even found leaked document from the FAA where they admitted the BQ was "weak."
Several candidates who were recently rejected under the new parameters filed an equal opportunity complaint and are considering a class action lawsuit. At the crux of their complaint is the BQ which, according to aviation lawyer Michael Pearson, is being misused to weed out qualified candidates, telling FOX Business News: "I believe the flying public has a right to know this is going on. I believe the people engaged in this behavior need to be held accountable."
We reached out to the FAA for comment but they have yet to respond.