U.S. Air Force investigating cheating by air traffic controllers

A member of the 319th Operations Support Squadron monitors aircraft movements from the air traffic control tower on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., August 1, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney

The United States Air Force is conducting an investigation to explore recent allegations of cheating from its base in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Air Force has administered new proficiency tests to its air traffic controllers at the base.

CBS News has learned that as many as 28 air traffic controllers from the 319th Operation Support Squadron have been identified as possibly being involved with cheating on their air traffic controller proficiency exam.

The Grand Forks Air Force base is home to 2,100 air force personnel, and 82 are air traffic controllers. The base also carries 12 active-duty Air Force aircrafts.

According to an official press release stated late this afternoon, an air traffic controller "possessed images of the test materials" and then sent the document to fellow Airmen.

The base has since administered an updated version of the proficiency test. Those who fail the test are "subject to the standing procedures for failing a proficiency test, to include re-training and re-testing according to Air Force Instructions."

"It is important to note that at no time was safety, security or effectiveness of the air traffic control mission ever in jeopardy," said spokesperson Lt. James Fisher. "However, as a prudent measure, those Airmen allegedly involved in the incident are not being scheduled for ATC-related duties at this time."

The news comes as the latest of several military cheating scandals in 2014. In January, more than 90 officers at the Malstrom Air Force base in Montana were suspended after many of the staff were caught cheating on their monthly nuclear program proficiency tests, resulting in the termination of nine overseeing commanders. In February, 30 sailors at the Navy's nuclear propulsion school in Charleston, SC were also accused of cheating on their written certification tests.

Due to the demanding nature of this job, Yahoo Finance has ranked air traffic control, or ATC, as the 8th most stressful occupation in the United States. According to Lt. Fisher, to become an ATC, hopeful candidates must achieve and maintain a Federal Aviation Administration ATC Specialist Certificate as well as score at least a 55 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test.

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