Wanted: qualified individuals to operate the new 80-foot control tower at the Hernando County Airport.
Especially in demand are retired military veterans, many of whom have found new careers doing these types of jobs.
The tower is in the final stages of permitting, and hiring has begun for operators. Rob Mills, airport supervisor, said he expects the contractor for the Federal Aviation Authority to look locally and then expand its hiring net outward.
Mills expects the tower to be functional by late July or early August.
Richard Allen, area manager for Robinson Aviation Inc., said Hernando County may be fertile ground for the job because of its preponderance of veterans.
Because this is a contract tower, there is no age cut-off. Non-contract operators cannot be older than 55.
Allen said people may apply through the RVA website and, if it comes down to a local candidate or someone from out of the commuting area, preference may be given to the former.
"I would say that 80 percent of my employees are military retired," Allen said, referring to the 95 airports his company services with controllers.
The FAA tells his company the number of hours each tower will be operated. At the Hernando County site, the hours at start-up will likely be from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with probably three shifts.
Pay will be $27-$29 an hour. Eligible applicants must have held a control tower operator certificate with a facility rating for at least two years.
Contract towers receive oversight and monitoring by the FAA, and all contract controllers are certified by the agency. There are only a handful of private companies in the country that provide controllers for these contract towers.
Because there is a high transfer rate among controllers, the job posting will stay up indefinitely in case of openings, he said.
Allen said air traffic controlling is not as stressful as it is often portrayed. Most people, he said, enjoy their work and welcome the opportunity to move to other more desirable towers when there are openings.
Central Florida, for example, is a desirable location, he added
While hiring proceeds, Mills said crews are finishing up outfitting the tower and installing window treatments, kitchen furniture and tables.
About 50 people gathered last month in the shadow of the tower to dedicate the structure, which cost $2.25 million and was funded jointly by the Florida Department of Transportation and Airport reserve funds.
Airport manager Don Silvernell has said the airport is increasingly attracting a variety of private aircraft, with corporate and military jet and helicopter traffic which, when the tower is operational, will be professionally controlled and directed.
The airport is home to 178 based aircraft, which includes 124 single-engine planes, 18 twin-engine planes, 21 helicopters and 15 jets.
For more information about the hiring process, visit RVA's website at http://www.rvainc.net/