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FAA, NATCA Announce Agreement on Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP) - (3/27/2008)

FAA Contact: Lynn Tierney, 202-267-3883
NATCA Contact: Doug Church, 202-220-9802

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association today signed an agreement to create an Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP), designed to foster a voluntary, cooperative, non-punitive environment for the open reporting of safety of flight concerns by employees of the FAA.

Under the ATSAP, all parties will have access to valuable safety information that may not otherwise be obtainable. This information is to be analyzed in order to develop skill enhancement or system corrective action to help solve safety issues.

FAA Acting Administrator Robert Sturgell said, "I am gratified that the Air Traffic Controller segment of our workforce will now be able to volunteer information that will help us define conditions or circumstances that could lead to safety issues. This system, which is in place throughout the industry, lets us know immediately when we have issues. We can dissect them together, find causes, spot trends, and implement solutions.

"We’ve had great success with voluntary reporting systems at 66 airlines and look forward to working closely with our professional controller workforce in adding another layer of safety," he continued. "When there is a mistake, we need to bring it to the surface right away. This commitment from labor will make it happen."

The agreement is for 18 months and will begin at several targeted facilities. If the program is determined to be successful after a comprehensive review and evaluation, both sides intend for it to be a continuing program.

"NATCA is committed to improving air traffic control system safety and this program is a step forward in that goal," NATCA President Patrick Forrey said. "We believe safety would be enhanced if there were a systematic approach for all employees responsible for the safety of the traveling public to promptly identify and correct potential safety hazards. For the people NATCA represents, the benefits are clear: this provides us with protection from discipline when our members identify errors, and other performance related issues affecting system safety.

"This type of program, which is widely used with the airlines and pilots, is essential to encourage employees to point out mistakes made in order to study why they occur and to develop solutions to enhance safety."

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