Collaborative Process Hits One-Year Mark
Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Collaborative Process between NATCA and FAA management is successfully rolling out nationwide.

Launched a year ago, the Collaborative Process has been an unprecedented cooperative effort, with FAA and NATCA representatives working together at air traffic facilities on issues related to procedures, technology and airspace.

More than 600 people from nearly every air traffic facility across the country have now been trained on the Collaborative Process. The training includes a manager and NATCA facility representative from each location – from the largest en route center to the smallest tower.  

The joint training includes how each NATCA rep and FAA manager can form a workgroup at their facility.  Setting up well-defined guidelines for the work group is key to the collaboration's success. Ten pairs of regional coordinators have been established to help in the training, and assist facilities implement the Collaborative Process.

At each site, the primary facility labor and management leaders in their roles as joint sponsors select an issue, establish its scope and put together a team to address the issue. Their responsibilities also include making sure the team has the training, tools and resources necessary to resolve the issue collaboratively.

One of the aims of the Collaborative Process is to let employees working in the field apply their expertise to make better decisions and make the FAA a better place to work. Through collaboration, the knowledge and experience of the entire workforce can be used to improve safety and performance.

Ten Collaborative Process test sites were established last year at: Washington Center, Boston Tower, Anchorage TRACON, Kansas City Center, Houston TRACON, Chicago O'Hare Tower, Salt Lake TRACON, San Juan CERAP, Oakland Center and Southwest Regional Office.

The Collaborative Process at many of these sites has already paid dividends. For example, a workgroup at Washington Center has worked together on an implementation plan for an ambitious airspace realignment. The plan will condense Washington Center's operational areas from eight to six and align them with market flows.

At Houston TRACON, another of the test sites, NATCA and FAA management formed a workgroup to tackle the issue of final approach procedures.

And a group of NATCA and management representatives from Boston tower worked with their counterparts at Boston Consolidated TRACON to produce a new letter of agreement between the two facilities. The letter addressed strip marking and how the two facilities handle new Area Navigation, or RNAV, departure procedures.

A group of controllers and management representatives also worked together under the Collaborative Process on an agreement to increase operational efficiencies at three facilities in Alaska.

“Collaboration isn't easy and doesn’t come naturally for lots of us, but it is worth the effort because it almost always produces better outcomes,” said ATO Chief Operating Officer David Grizzle. “As we have already seen from early collaborative efforts, we have been able to get things done collaboratively that we probably couldn’t have done at all otherwise. As other facilities around the country form their own collaborative workgroups, I expect plenty more successes.”

"NATCA is very proud of its role in building the collaborative partnership with the agency that has resulted in so many successes already in just the first year of this collaborative process," added NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. "Our members have already seen positive stories emerge from the beta sites and the anticipation is building for how the next stage of the process, the national rollout, is going to affect them at the local level and how it hopefully will result in a better workplace and a safer, more efficient airspace system. We enter this rollout with shared optimism with the agency."