Hi everyone. Let me start by asking you if you’ve had a chance to nominate a co-worker for a NAS First, People Always award. Who stands out as a controller, technician, manager, administrative specialist, firefighter, or humanitarian? Which air traffic facility or System Support Center stands out? Who goes above and beyond in the areas of collaboration, customer service, employee safety, health and well-being, learning and development, program management, or professional and technical excellence? Who best exemplifies NAS First, People Always?
You can nominate people using this automated form. You can also get award criteria, tips for writing nominations and other information here. There’s only about two weeks left before the nomination period closes. So let’s get them in!
Speaking of great work, today I want to talk about our success with two important programs essential to our NextGen transformation: Terminal Automation Modernization/Replacement (TAMR) and Data Communications (Data Comm).
As many of you know, TAMR is our program to implement or substantially upgrade the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS, at all terminal facilities throughout the system. With STARS, we can process input from multiple radar feeds giving controllers a more accurate representation of where aircraft are located. STARS also provides a modern digital weather display and a way for ADS-B traffic to be displayed for the first time at smaller facilities.
This year, we plan to reach initial operating capability of STARS installations or upgrades at 263 terminal sites. Thus far, we’ve finalized work at St. Louis, Potomac and Chicago TRACONS along with their associated control towers. I’m proud to say we cutover to STARS at New York TRACON this week, marking the completion of the 11 largest TRACONs in the NAS and their associated control towers – a major milestone. Having these 11 major TRACONs on the same automation platform means we can reduce the complexity of maintaining multiple configurations of automation in our terminal facilities.
We’ve also completed STARS work at smaller towers/TRACONs in Knoxville, Fargo, Atlantic City, Chattanooga and Gulfport this year.
When finalized, TAMR, along with ERAM, will serve as our long-term foundation to employ more advanced NextGen technologies like Data Communications. Data Comm enables controllers and pilots to communicate by sending and receiving digital data instructions, in addition to voice communications.
DataComm’s departure clearance service is now operational at 22 air traffic control towers, and we’re 19 months ahead of schedule. We’ll continue to deploy this service at more than 30 additional air traffic control towers. With this capability, controllers can issue a departure clearance to several aircraft at once, and issue revised clearances as might be necessary during bad weather. We’ll be able to accomplish faster taxi out times and reduced delays, while reducing controller and pilot workload, congestion on the airwaves, and the likelihood of communication errors that can occur from voice exchange. In 2019, we’ll start to deploy Data Comm in our en route centers.
TAMR and Data Comm are just a couple of programs where we’re making great progress. I want to thank everyone involved with their success – program officials, engineers, controllers, technicians, and NATCA, PASS and NAGE officials, among many more. Whether it’s in system modernization, or anything else, ATO’s success comes down to the hard work, skill and teamwork of our people. Let’s continue to raise the bar when it comes to performance and organizational excellence!
Teri L. Bristol
ATO Chief Operating Officer