FAA-NATCA Collaboration Coordinators Ready for More Training
Thursday, August 09, 2012

Regional coordinators for the FAA-NATCA Collaborative Process gathered last week in Washington, D.C., to prepare for the next phase of collaboration training for air traffic managers and facility representatives.

The Collaborative Process provides a structure for FAA and NATCA facility leaders to solve local issues meaningful to both, while empowering workgroups of professionals closest to the challenge. It was rolled out nationwide last year after its successful launch at 10 test sites.

Last year, air traffic managers and facility representatives at each of the 315 air traffic facilities were trained on the initial collaborative process. Another large group of managers and union representatives were also trained within Engineering Services. This year, all air traffic managers and facility representatives will be trained on interest based communication, or IBC, starting in August.
IBC is culture oriented as compared to the first phase of training, which was more process oriented, said Tom Hayes, operations manager at Southern California TRACON on a detail to the ATO Office of Organizational Effectiveness. IBC training will be held in 12 locations across the country and runs through December.

The Regional Collaborative Working Group’s joint training session in Washington introduced new members to the team and allowed returning members to share best practices and facility successes and challenges. The group consists of 10 pairs of regional coordinators, and, in its second year, includes seven new FAA members and one new NATCA member.

FAA and NATCA representatives both praised the agency’s commitment to collaboration, noting that the seven working group openings on the agency side, caused by attrition, were quickly filled.

The training was designed “to get the new people acclimated and ready to go into the field,” said Russ Miller, NATCA co-manager of the Collaborative Process. “It’s not only about training, but also establishing working relationships between the pairs of NATCA-agency teams in each service area.”

Hayes, co-manager with Miller, commended FAA managers who made it possible for FAA and NATCA representatives to attend the training.

“Just to be able to do this is wonderful — how rare of an opportunity to get the whole group together in the summer,” Hayes said. Jennie Sandland, a NATCA representative from Anchorage Center, was added to the group just a few days before the meeting. “To have her here meant that her manager acted quickly to get her off the schedule to travel here. He gets it,” Hayes said.

Regional coordinators received a slightly condensed version of the original Collaborative Process training as well as training to improve collaboration and reduce conflict.

Pictured left to right Mike Bigler and Dahlette Jacob, participants at the Collaborative Work Group meeting

“The takeaway from the meeting and getting the new regional coordinators on board is the commitment from NATCA and the agency to continue with this program,” said Phil Hughes, NATCA local vice president at Boston Consolidated Terminal Radar Approach Control. “There is a large shot of adrenaline for the Collaborative Process program. This is here to stay.”

“As a new coordinator for collaboration, I found the training inspiring,” said Todd Smith, air traffic manager at Santa Barbara Tower and TRACON. “It was not about the information that was being shared but the shared attitude in the room. The union-management lines were blurred by the pervasive desire to work together for common goals. It is simply a better way of doing business.”
Regional coordinators work in pairs – one NATCA representative and one FAA manager – and are geographically dispersed with three pairs for each service area and one pair for Region X. Each pair has at least one returning member. The coordinators help train new mangers and NATCA representatives on the collaborative process, help facilitate collaboration and act as a resource for their assigned facilities.

“This is sustainable. We are changing the culture and how we do business every day,” said Jim Marinitti, NATCA representative at Miami Tower and TRACON. “We are seeing the fruits of this collaborative effort in other programs, such as ERAM, TAMR, OAPM and Professional Standards.”