A Successful Year for ERAM
Friday, July 06, 2012
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the next in a series in which we are spotlighting each of the safety and technology projects in which NATCA is participating collaboratively with the FAA.
Strong collaboration between NATCA and the FAA continues to result in success for the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program. Here’s a look at the latest news on this important program:
Facilities That Have Run Limited Live Operations This Year:
Chicago Center (ZAU), Los Angeles Center (ZLA) and Oakland Center (ZOA).
Facilities on ERAM Continuous Operations:
Albuquerque Center (ZAB), Denver Center (ZDV) and Minneapolis Center (ZMP).
Facilities That Have Been Running ERAM for Over a Year:
Salt Lake Center (ZLC) and Seattle Center (ZSE).
First ZOA Test Is a Success
Oakland Center (ZOA) held its first 24-hour operational run last Saturday, June 30. It was extremely successful and the facility achieved a high level of discovery from their underlying terminal facilities. As expected, the team identified a number of issues that will be worked as they refine the product and move towards a goal of achieving continuous operations within this current fiscal year.
Prior to the run, ZOA’s FDIO and ARTS facilities had only been exposed to ERAM on mid-shifts. Consequently, they were able to glean valuable daytime data from their terminals. This will allow them to retool their local ERAM adaptation and, ZOA reps say, hopefully set the stage for continuous operations by delivering a better product to their terminal brothers and sisters going forward.
The ZOA Controllers’ Perspective: A Smooth Run
The 24-hour test ran very smoothly, according to NATCA reps. Controllers now hold a favorable impression of ERAM. Many times throughout the day, in fact, ZOA ERAM Facility Representative Ian Fullmer was asked, “why don't you guys just leave it on?"
While the system is not ready for full-time operational use just yet, those comments are indicative of the level of work put into this system to date by a high performing and very dedicated ERAM team at ZOA, said ZOA Facility Representative Scott Conde, who added that facility management and the union membership both recognize the importance of making this program a success.
“The ERAM team at ZOA is second to none," Conde said, "and despite working with a skeleton crew they ensured that the run was as seamless to the bargaining unit as possible!”
A Prime Example of Collaboration Resulting in Success
The ZOA test team feels that NATCA involvement has been a key element in the resurrection of an ERAM program that had been drifting badly. Said Fullmer:
“We at ZOA owe a debt of gratitude to ZSE (Seattle Center) and ZLC (Salt Lake Center) controllers and test teams that were left to pick up the pieces and beta test for the remaining 18 centers. Their pain has definitely been our gain. Both myself and ZOA test lead Amanda Hodge benefited from the knowledge gleaned from key site visits. We have built a testing regimen that is largely based on the ZSE/ZLC model. This methodology was the cornerstone of our preparation for the 24-hour run.”
In addition, the operational run would not have been possible without an incredible level of support from subject matter experts (SMEs) who traveled into ZOA from across the country.
“These people are incredible," Conde said. “As our other facilities come on line, their PFRs (project facility reps) need to work closely with NATCA Program Lead Julio Henriques and the program office. Resources are scarce, but they do a great job of ensuring that you will have the resources you need. It’s really nice to know that someone has your back on a project of this size.”
Next Up for ZOA
ZOA is currently scheduled for two more 24-hour operational runs, with continuous operations being the ultimate goal. With NATCA’s ongoing support, the program office, national SME support, and the hard work of the local test team, they say they are optimistic that they will see that goal through.
The View from National ERAM Program Lead Julio Henriques (ZNY)
“Undoubtedly, the successful tests we are having now at individual facilities are the direct result of the testing and process improvements that we have initiated and refined at the program level over the past two years,” he said. “The work the facility ERAM teams are doing has been nothing short of outstanding. I continue to be impressed by the dedicated professionals working on behalf of NATCA and the controllers they represent at the National and local level.
“Local ERAM teams are ensuring that ERAM is implemented successfully and meets the high standards of the controllers at their facility. ERAM has been an enormous collaborative effort.”
While there have been some bumps in the road, Henriques added, they have worked collaboratively to develop artifacts such as benchmarking SOPs, site orientation briefing and site IOC checklists. There have been numerous workgroups with charters such as the National User Team, Steering Committee, Article 48/11 Workgroup, National Packaging Team, National Procedures Workgroup and many others. The National User Team has been working on many other NextGen initiatives as well, such as DataComm.
“Our early involvement in these areas will ensure a better product and successful integration into ERAM and the NAS in the future,” Henriques said.
Coming Later This Month in The NATCA Insider
An update on the efforts of ZAU members to keep ERAM on track and successful there.
For More Coverage of ERAM
Click HERE to read more about ZLA’s recent successful 24-hour test.
Click HERE to read more about ZDV’s successful three-day test in March.