"Agreement?" "FAA, NATCA?" Is It April 1st ALREADY?
We couldn't believe it,
either... and no, this is NOT an April Fools story (but rest
assured, those ARE coming!) On Monday, the Federal Aviation
Administration and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association
signed an agreement to create an Air Traffic Safety Action Program
(ATSAP), designed to foster a voluntary, cooperative, non-punitive
environment for the open reporting of safety of flight concerns by
employees of the FAA.
It's not that we can't see why the agency and its controllers
union wouldn't agree on the need for access to valuable safety
information, that may not otherwise be obtainable, to be analyzed
in order to develop skill enhancement or system corrective action
to help solve safety issues. That part makes sense. We're just not
used to reporting ANY agreement of late between the FAA and
"I am gratified that the Air Traffic Controller segment of our
workforce will now be able to volunteer information that will help
us define conditions or circumstances that could lead to safety
issues," said FAA Acting Administrator Robert Sturgell. "This
system, which is in place throughout the industry, lets us know
immediately when we have issues. We can dissect them together, find
causes, spot trends, and implement solutions.
"Creating an atmosphere where controllers and their managers can
identify, report and correct safety issues will go a long way in
helping us further improve our safety record," Sturgell said.
The agreement is for 18 months and will begin at several
targeted facilities. If the program is determined to be successful
after a comprehensive review and evaluation, both sides intend for
it to be a continuing program.
"NATCA is committed to improving air traffic control system
safety and this program is a step forward in that goal," NATCA
President Patrick Forrey said. "We believe safety would be enhanced
if there were a systematic approach for all employees responsible
for the safety of the traveling public to promptly identify and
correct potential safety hazards. For the people NATCA represents,
the benefits are clear: this provides us with protection from
discipline when our members identify errors, and other
performance-related issues affecting system safety.
"This type of program, which is widely used with the airlines
and pilots, is essential to encourage employees to point out
mistakes made in order to study why they occur and to develop
solutions to enhance safety," Forrey said.