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NATCA Tells Congress STARS is Just Part of Larger Problem in FAA -- Agency Must Include Users in New Project Development - (10/30/1997)

NATCA Tells Congress STARS is Just Part of Larger Problem in FAA -- Agency Must Include Users in New Project Development WASHINGTON, D.C. - The organization representing the nation’s air traffic controllers told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee today, the Federal Aviation Administration could eliminate controller objections to the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System - and other projects - if it made more of an effort to work with controllers in all phases of project development, rather than ignore human factors issues. NATCA President Michael McNally told Aviation Subcommittee members NATCA members involved in STARS development deemed the project operationally unsuitable for terminal controller use over a year ago. "NATCA has made it very clear to FAA that there are problems with STARS that must be rectified before it can be a workable product within the terminal environment." "At this time, the STARS computer human interface does not reflect the input of NATCA terminal controllers, or the way they perform their duties," said McNally. "If implemented in its current state, STARS may have a debilitating impact on the capacity, efficiency, and possibly, safety of the national airspace system, and will result in delays to air traffic system users." According to McNally the FAA need not reinvent air traffic control - as they seem to be doing with the STARS project. The Automated Radar Terminal System, used in this country for more than 30 years, has a proven track record and enjoys wide acceptance by controllers. NATCA members also believe the radar display developed to work with the system should more closely resemble a piece of equipment called "Ollie," which includes the ARTS on-screen information and data entry capabilities familiar to terminal controllers. Ollie development included hands-on controller evaluation and feedback to ensure immediate suitability in today’s busiest air traffic control environments. McNally points out that the FAA’s argument that STARS works successfully in other countries worldwide does not apply here. "The air traffic control system established in the United States is unique to and more dynamic than any other air traffic control system in the world. Computerized controller tools and air traffic systems that work in smaller countries may not work here." Concluding, McNally expressed his wish to work toward a successful conclusion. "If we can gain anything from this hearing, besides the immediate issue, we need to change once and for all, an FAA management culture whose desire it is to fight rather than cooperate. I am willing to do whatever it reasonably takes to get us off the course we are currently on."

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