Hey, It’s Official: I’m a (Privileged) Air Traffic Controller!

I’ve been employed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for over 19 years.

It takes several years of training to become an air traffic controller. The training includes classroom, simulation and on the job training.

When I finished all my training back in 1991 they gave me a pink cardstock card (FAA Form 7220-1; every FAA form has a number and the FAA has LOTS of forms!) with my facility rating. Tower controllers called these pink cards “cab cards”.

To center controllers like me, the cards really didn’t mean much, and we didn’t use them for anything. Like a lot of my co-workers, I carried mine around along with my identification badge for years. Since it was only made out of paper due to wear and tear it eventually became pretty dilapidated and I stopped carrying it around and put it in a file at home somewhere.

A few years ago apparently someone in the FAA got the brilliant idea that we needed these cards again (even though we never used them before). This time around they were going to be called “credential cards.”

I finally got mine last week! It was unceremoniously left in my mailbox at work in an envelope.

Instead of being made of paper cardstock, the new cards are hi-tech plastic with a magnetic stripe and a hologram!

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I didn’t look at mine that closely, but PDog pointed out to me after looking at his that apparently now we’re “privileged” to do our job, as the front of the card says, “has been found to be properly qualified to exercise the privileges of air traffic control specialist.” Heck, if it’s a “privilege” to do this job, maybe I shouldn’t even be paid for doing it (or a heck of a lot less anyway – aka “B” scale)! I wonder if the FAA thinks the janitor is “privileged” to clean out the toilets as well…

The old “cab cards” said “This certifies that … has been found to be properly qualified to perform the duties of air traffic control specialist within areas specified in the suitably endorsed Rating Record on the reverse side hereof.”

The card also notes that I’m “English proficient,” which is handy, and there’s a spot for my signature.

I wonder if I can buy air traffic merchandise at the air traffic gift shop with this card and what my credit limit is on it…

I’m sure ultimately these cards will be as useful as the last card I got. Your tax dollars at work!

2 comments

  1. I’ve been using the name ‘Mickey Mouse’ when they require a signature from me. Not that it’s very legible but it’s the thought that counts. The signature going on this card will be no different.

  2. Just make sure you sign your receipts at the air traffic gift shop with the same one on your card; if they don’t match they’ll cut your card in half!

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