Member Focus: Dr. David Bricker, Ph.D.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Air traffic control career: Joined the Air Force in 1992 for educational benefits and went to Basic Training in Dec. 1992. Started career at Radar Approach Control at Vance Air Force Base (AFB) in Okla., from May 1993 to May 1996. Worked Radar Approach Control at Osan AFB in South Korea from May 1996 to May 1997. Worked Radar Approach Control at Royal AFB in Lakenheath, England from May 1997 to May 2000. Separated from the Air Force in July 2000 and was hired at Albuquerque Center (ZAB) in Dec.2000, where he currently works traffic.
Born and raised, other places of living: Born in London, England, grew up in Northcentral Ohio. Came to the U.S. at age three. Mother is American, father is half English, half Norwegian. Adopted at age seven.
Q: How did you become a NATCA member?
A: I became a NATCA member nearly from the day I was hired on with the FAA. Having been in the military for most of my adult life, I knew nearly nothing about union activism and the role of labor. I particularly liked the idea of Reloaded as a mentoring program.
Q: How did you get involved and what are you involved in with NATCA?
A: I first became the safety rep at ZAB in 2007. In 2009, I was chosen to be the Southwest Region safety rep on the National Safety Committee (NSC). My passion and background has long been in safety and it was my natural niche. In an effort to learn more about LR (labor relations), I ran and was elected as the Southwest area representative at ZAB, beginning my first term in Jan. 2010. I’m currently in my second term after just having started my fourth year as the area rep. I’m also a member of the Southwest Region LR team. I have been involved in multiple national workgroups including: Curriculum Architecture, the redesign of the AT Basics course, RNAV (Area Navigation) arrivals and RNAV OTG ([off the ground] including the ASIAS directed studies on both), Partnership for Safety, the New York ICF, primarily control room design and layout, the use of color on STARS (Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System) and ERAM (En Route Automation Modernization), the changes in the color vision standard, and Modular TRACON design. Due to the restructuring of the National Safety Committee, I’m now the human factors representative on the NSC.
Q: What made you decide to take on leadership roles within NATCA?
A: I feel that as one of three NATCA members with a doctorate, I can help lend credibility to the organization. I originally took on the role as the ZAB safety rep because of my passion in safety. That role, along with my selection on the National Safety Committee, has culminated in an opportunity to help the entire NAS (National Airspace System), while also furthering NATCA’s credibility as an aviation leader.
Q: Out of all your involvement within NATCA, what speaks to you the most?
A: I don’t have any one particular role that I’m most proud of. I tend to take the holistic approach to my work as a national representative. I personally like to be involved at various levels, especially the human factors role I represent for NATCA. I’m extremely proud of my work for NATCA.
Q: What made you decide to obtain a Ph.D. in Human Factors, and how do you apply it personally and/or professionally?
A: Much of my background is in human factors, cognition and error causation. Many of the roles I have fulfilled for NATCA have been related to those areas of expertise.
I wrote my dissertation for my Ph.D. using a CAMI developed system called Temporal Marker Framework to quantitatively analyze the progression of operational errors (as they were known at the time) as compared to controller workload. Temporal Marker Framework is designed to evaluate the temporal progression of the operational error from the time the handoff is accepted to the time separation is reestablished. Although the workload did not appear to have an impact on the temporal progression of the error, there were some noteworthy findings that I shared with the FAA.
The first was that in about 33 percent of errors in en-route, the conflict alert went off AFTER separation was already lost. Over 50 percent of the time the conflict alert failed to act in a timely fashion to potentially mitigate the loss of separation.
The second major finding involved clearances to the aircraft and the time difference between the controller clearance and the pilot readback. The time differences were the same between normal clearances, clearances to keep separation, and clearances to re-attain separation after it was already lost. However, the pilot readbacks rates for clearances to re-attain separation were only around 70 percent, while readback rates (whether correct or incorrect) were closer to 90 percent for the other two categories. This suggested that pilot workload, potentially exacerbated by TCAS and visual scan methods, was equally as high as the controller.
I have approached various human factors experts about further examination of controller error progression, as well as an evaluation of the efficacy of the conflict alert in HOST compared to ERAM.
Q: Do you have any hobbies or any other activities you enjoy outside of NATCA?
A: I like to read. I have become partial to Kindle e-books on the iPad. I also like to play video games to relax, though it rarely helps me relax! I like to keep apprised of current research in human factors and air traffic control. I love baseball and football, though I have the curse of being a Cleveland Indians and Browns fan. I’m also a huge Ohio State fan. I'm addicted to streaming TV. I'm also a huge fan of northern European metal, particularly from Germany and the Scandinavian countries.
Q: Has there been a favorite moment for you while at NATCA?
A: I think the moment that I remember the most is my selection to the National Safety Committee. That selection has opened up a multitude of opportunities to represent NATCA at the national level. I’m extremely proud of the opportunities to use my Ph.D. and expertise for the good of the NAS.
Q: Do you have any advice/tips/messages for members who would like to get involved?
A: Be proud of your occupation. Be proud of our Union. The professionalism that’s inherent in air traffic control is something that should be pervasive in everything we do.
Also, be engaged in our work as a Union. Learn everything you can about air traffic control, the Union and labor. In doing so, you can become involved in a multitude of facets in ATC that will allow a furthering of our occupation and our Union. There are many roles in NATCA that controllers can get involved in.
Lastly, be passionate about your role as a NATCA representative. There is an immense sense of accomplishment by fulfilling a role in NATCA.