Safety & Tech Dept. Helps HSV Successfully Address Taxi Instructions
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
By Dale Wright, Director of Safety and Technology
On April 15, 2012, Robert Klier, NATCA Safety Representative for Huntsville, Ala., Tower (HSV) requested assistance with new requirements being placed on controllers referencing detailed taxi instructions. The issue was that a new front line manager mandated controllers include the stub taxiway (the last taxiway at the approach end of the runway) for aircraft given full-length departure taxi instructions.
The department responded to Mr. Klier the same day and provided him with several NATCA representatives/employees who would be working the issue. The Safety and Tech department assigned the issue to Chris Stephenson, NATCA Terminal Operations Coordinator.
To provide some history on this issue, the FAA held a Call To Action meeting in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 11, 2007. The meeting was held in response to several high-profile runway incursions. NATCA participated in this meeting even though it was during the White Book era. Industry supported detailed taxi instructions and it became one of the most visible suggestions. Then-Acting Administrator Bobby Sturgell assured NATCA that the Union would be involved on all the Safety Risk Management (SRM) Panels for the suggestions from the meeting. But NATCA was not advised of the scheduled panel for Detailed Taxi Instructions until after the panel had met.
Without controller and NATCA input to the SRM Panel, there were many problems with this mandate. Controller workload had skyrocketed at many airports due to multiple runways that cross and taxi routes with many turns. It was NATCA’s position that when a controller issued a full-length departure clearance to an aircraft, the stub taxiway was implied since an intersection was not assigned.
Since May of 2012, Stephenson has met with the agency several times and has kept the HSV situation alive by also discussing it at the Runway Safety Council (RSC) meetings. Input was also sought from NATCA National Safety Committee Chairman Steve Hansen and NATCA’s Runway Safety Action Team (RSAT) Representative Ric Loewen (Dallas-Fort Worth Tower[DFW]). With NATCA’s team working with then-ATO-Terminal Current Operations Manager, Linda Pellegrini, the decision was made to change the order to clearly explain the stub taxiway was not required to be issued on full-length departures.
NATCA was advised on November 15 the JO7110.610, Taxi and Ground Movement Operations Order, was being amended with the following language: “If the specific taxi route ends into a connecting taxiway with the same identifier (for example, Taxiway “A” connects with Taxiway “A1”) at the departure end of the runway, the connecting taxiway may be omitted from the clearance.” Steve Swisher, HSV Facility Representative, was notified of the change, which goes into effect Dec. 17, 2012.
Mr. Swisher wrote an email to the department expressing the following,
The Union members of Huntsville ATCT would like to thank you for all of your efforts to finally bring this issue to close. What may seem like a small issue was a point of great aggravation to us all. Every member I give a copy of the notice almost immediately begins to smile and I think that says it. Good Job!
Again thank you.
The department was able to address this problem because the local at HSV contacted the department and provided information that was requested. The local and the department coordinated via email to make sure each one was updated with the latest information. Stephenson’s work bringing this issue to a successful conclusion is to be commended.