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FAA adopts non-punitive reporting system for ATCs

By  Kenneth Ehigiator
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has announced a change in operational error reporting for controllers.
Effective immediately, the names of controllers will not be included in reports sent to FAA headquarters on operational errors, which occur when the proper distance between aircraft is not maintained.

The controller’s identity will be known at the facility where the event took place. Necessary training will be conducted and disciplinary action taken, if appropriate.

Both will be recorded in the controller’s record. Removing names on the official report will allow investigators to focus on what happened rather than who was at fault. “We’re moving away from a culture of blame and punishment,” said Babbitt.

“It’s important to note that controllers remain accountable for their actions, but we’re moving toward a new era that focuses on why these events occur and what can be done to prevent them.”

This action is part of the transition to the FAA’s new non-punitive reporting system for controllers. The Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP), which now covers one-third of the country, allows controllers and other employees to report safety problems without fear of punishment unless the incident is deliberate or criminal in nature.

The reporting changes do not alter the investigation and analysis of operational errors. They also do not change the requirements for addressing the causal and contributing factors to those events.

US House sub-committee outlines RNP implementation challengesA US House of Representatives sub-committee discussing Area Navigation (RNAV)/Required Navigation Performance (RNP) implementation policies within the context of NextGen has highlighted the challenges facing he FAA in implementing the technology.

According to James L Oberstar, chairman of the committee: “Airlines want more direct routes into airports that will save more fuel, instead of overlays of existing ground-based navigational aids.

However, more direct routes could trigger extensive environmental review. In addition, integrating new routes into congested airspace can present significant technical challenges such as complex design requirements that involve computer modelling, human factors studies,
and actual flight and simulator trials.”

“Like other aspects of NextGen, RNAV and RNP will require considerable investment by the industry in both equipping aircraft, and in some instances, training pilots to fly these procedures,” he said.

“For example, Southwest Airlines has committed to invest $175 million to equip its aircraft and train its pilots to fly RNP procedures into the airports it serves. Southwest hired a private company to design “special” customized procedures and has started work at Houston and Dallas.

Earlier this year, FAA officials expressed concern to this Subcommittee about the proprietary nature of Southwest’s procedures….
More recently, Southwest has expressed its own concerns over the cost and length of the environmental review process needed to deploy more direct routes, and has indicated that it simply cannot achieve its needed return on investment unless it can obtain more direct routes than those already in use by the FAA.”


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