Ramen Noodles and Other Calamities to Learn From
In the ATO, we benefit a lot when we understand the distinction between a random event and a recurring problem too. When we identify risk, we are able to do more to promote education or solutions like better equipment and best practices that prevent future incidents. One of the ways we do this is through the ATO’s Voluntary Safety Reporting Programs (VSRPs), which encourage air traffic controllers, technicians, engineers and others to file reports whenever a potential safety problem is identified or an event occurs.
Our safety analysts and event review committees assess each report and determine the “how” and the “why” as well as the “what” and the “who.” They might determine we need to update a database or realign a single radar, and they also might be able to link geographically dispersed events and identify more comprehensive solutions. We are removing risk across our national airspace system because of programs like the Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP), ATSAP for Region X (ATSAP-X), the Federal Contract Towers Safety Actions from Event Reporting (SAFER-FCT), and the Technical Operations Safety Action Program (T-SAP).
The programs have helped us identify some of our top safety focus areas, such as wrong-surface arrivals and departures, as well as altitude compliance issues.
FAA employees submitted more than 15,500 ATSAP reports last year alone. And in 2018, we had more than 100 ATSAP “positives” – changes that we made to correct a risk. Those numbers demonstrate that our workforce has really adapted to this once foreign idea of voluntary reporting, and in fact has embraced it.
We haven’t come as far with T-SAP just yet, but we’ve made some terrific progress with the T-SAP 2.0 version. We are now training all T-SAP-eligible field personnel, and we are confident the program will be successful.
I was joined last week by NATCA President Paul Rinaldi in speaking to the annual workshop of VSRP participants in Oklahoma City, and PASS President Mike Perrone attended earlier in the week. We all agreed it’s our safety culture that sets us apart and makes us so good at what we do.
We also heard from Republic Airlines representatives, who told us how much our voluntary reporting processes have helped them make changes that improved safety on their end.
I appreciate everyone’s proactive commitment to safety. It’s why pilots and passengers, and the person sending holiday gifts to a loved one by air mail this month, know they can depend on us.
I also want to thank everybody who has already taken the time to give to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). The FAA is just shy of halfway to its goal at 48 percent, and I know the ATO will make additional progress in the coming weeks to exceed the 23 percent of our goal we’ve already reached.
I also appreciate the thoughtful replies we’ve gotten as part of our IdeaHub challenge asking you about leadership behaviors that motivate and encourage you. The challenge ends Jan. 11.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our ATO Forum at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, Jan. 15.