FAA shares new commercial space hiring strategy

A recent GAO report warned that hiring challenges could slow down the FAA’s licensing process in the commercial space industry.
A United Airlines plane departs the Newark International Airport, in Newark, New Jersey, on January 11 2023. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

The Federal Aviation Administration is deploying a new hiring strategy to assist the agency in its oversight of the commercial space industry, a spokesperson told FedScoop. 

The new approach is meant to help the FAA deal with staffing challenges it faces amid scaling up its focus on commercial space operations run by companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin.  

“The FAA is working diligently to attract, hire and retain additional staff for various positions within the Office of Commercial Space Transportation,” the agency said in a statement to FedScoop. “This effort includes human spaceflight, of which we have filled six of 10 new positions.”

The agency continued: “For all positions we are developing a strategy for future recruitment and retention efforts to obtain quality candidates with the desired skillsets. Areas that we are looking into include signing bonuses, retention packages, expanded outreach efforts, and other hiring incentive programs.”


A recent Government Accountability Office report, commissioned on behalf of members of Congress, highlighted the agency’s challenges with hiring employees for the Commercial Space Transportation office, particularly as the FAA prepares for a growing number of flights with human passengers aboard and a potential expansion of regulatory duties related to space. Officials in that office recently told GAO that they need more “more people with expertise in areas across human spaceflight safety, such as crew training, environmental controls, and life support systems.”  

According to the GAO, finding applicants and filling all authorized positions within the Commercial Space Transportation office has been an ongoing problem, in part because the FAA must compete with private industry. 

Rebecca Heilweil

Written by Rebecca Heilweil

Rebecca Heilweil is an investigative reporter for FedScoop. She writes about the intersection of government, tech policy, and emerging technologies. Previously she was a reporter at Vox's tech site, Recode. She’s also written for Slate, Wired, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications. You can reach her at Message her if you’d like to chat on Signal.

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