NATCA Co-Sponsor of AAAE Runway Safety Summit
Friday, December 07, 2012
This week, NATCA was a proud co-sponsor of the 2012 American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Runway Safety Summit, held Dec. 2-4 in Baltimore.
NATCA Manager of Outreach and Special Events Kelly Richardson delivers opening remarks to the Runway Safety Summit on Monday morning, Dec. 3, while NTSB Vice-Chairman Christopher Hart listens.
AAAE Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Melissa Sabatine, NATCA
Manager of Outreach and Special Events Kelly Richardson, and Baltimore
Washington International Airport (BWI) Deputy Executive Director,
Operations & Maintenance and AAAE Northeast Chapter President Wayne
Parcell gave remarks the morning of Dec. 3. Richardson thanked AAAE and
BWI for letting NATCA be part of the event, and informed the attendees
about NATCA’s upcoming Communicating for Safety conference March 4-6, 2013.
“We would love to have you come out and talk about safety issues important to everybody, not just ATC or pilots,” he said.
Richardson also showed attendees a video about the safety of the aviation industry.
NTSB Vice-Chairman Christopher Hart then gave a special address about runway incursions. He said that while the majority of runway safety incidents involved runway excursions, the NTSB focuses on runway incursions, which happened to be the cause of the worst accident in aviation history. Hart remarked that as the summit attendees saw in the video Richardson played, the past decade has been the safest on record in aviation history. Hart said he contributes that record to the collaborative efforts taking place throughout the industry. He concluded that identifying and fixing runway safety problems in a non-punitive way improves safety more efficiently than punishment.
NATCA National Safety Committee Chairman Steve Hansen (left), and Air Traffic Organization (ATO) ATSAP Lead Analyst Dan Hill speak about ATSAP.
National Safety Committee Chairman Steve Hansen and Air Traffic Organization (ATO) ATSAP Lead Analyst Dan Hill spoke about the program, its benefits, current trends in reports filed by ATSAP users, and what they’ve done in ATSAP to address issues and how ATSAP information is shared. Hansen said ATSAP is a very effective program in improving the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS) and facilitates a positive safety culture.
Hansen said that over 57,000 ATSAP reports have been filed since the program’s initiation in 2008. Air traffic controllers at towers file approximately 38 percent of all reports submitted to ATSAP. Current trends in ATSAP reports include airport construction, Notice to Airmen (NOTAMs), closed runway operations, closed taxiways, signage, tailwinds and ASDE-X false alerts. Hansen said that certain ATSAP information is informally shared with the proper entity in order to make the right adjustments to the safety issue. He said these sharing programs are one-of-a-kind in the world.
NATCA National Safety Committee Chairman Steve Hansen shares what ATSAP is during a presentation.
“ATSAP has really helped in the FAA between labor and management,” said Hansen. “There is no question that this program has helped improve our relations and create a better work environment in the FAA.”
NATCA Runway Status Lights (RWSL) National Representative Ric Loewen (standing) and FAA RWSL Training and Outreach Coordinator Bill Leary give an overview of the RWSL Program.
NATCA Runway Status Lights (RWSL) National Representative Ric Loewen and FAA RWSL Training and Outreach Coordinator Bill Leary gave an overview of the RWSL Program and also discussed its implementation and results. They showed a video about Runway Status Lights, including Runway Entrance Lights (RELs) and Takeoff Hold Lights (THLs). Leary explained that RWSL came from a NTSB “Most Wanted List” recommendation.
The initial program and technology were tested at several airports in 2005. In January 2010, the program received approval to deploy at 23 airports, and in January 2011, the first baseline system began at Orlando International Airport (MCO). Regarding air traffic control (ATC) and the RWSL system, Leary explained that the RWSL system is fully automated and does not require controller input. The system is designed to augment ATC by increasing situational awareness, not changing ATC operations; light settings automatically adjust at sunrise and sunset, and controllers can manually adjust the lights.
NATCA Terminal Operations Coordinator and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Representative Chris Stephenson briefs attendees about runway safety data trends.
NATCA Terminal Operations Coordinator and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Representative Chris Stephenson and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Vice President of Education and Operations Kathleen Vasconcelos spoke about runway safety data trends. Stephenson briefly discussed incursion trends, citing that runway incursions climbed from 2000 through 2009 and then dropped drastically to a single digit number in 2010. He said that 2012 has had the highest number of 2009, but it's because there is more reporting through ATSAP, and the ATC workforce is in transition and has experienced an influx of young controllers.
The morning of Dec. 4, Loewen, joined by FAA Terminal Safety and Operations Support Runway Safety Liaison Herb King, discussed what approach holds are, the challenges of approach holds, how certain airports treat approach holds, and runway opening/closing procedures. The major issue for approach holds is that there is no standard for airport signage and markings, and no specific FAA guidance regarding requirements, procedures or phraseology related to air traffic procedures for approach hold. A NASA ASRS report was filed on this lack of standardization, citing that it often leads to confusion and is therefore a safety risk. King said there is a workgroup looking at a two-part fix for this lack of guidance and Loewen added that part of the long-term solution is to standardize signs and markings.