Partnership for Safety Amps Up Training by Going Virtual
Friday, August 16, 2013

This summer, a virtual training program has been launched to educate air traffic controllers across the country on safety data as part of Partnership for Safety (PFS). PFS is a collaborative NATCA-FAA program that encourages controllers to improve safety at their facility by making safety data readily available and accessible.

Each facility is charged with setting up an individual safety council made up of at least one management employee and one NATCA representative.  Typically, the air traffic manager and NATCA Facility Representative jointly determine who is on the council. Once the council is set up, the members are given access to a local safety trend database that contains ATSAP data and de-identified ATSAP narratives.  It also includes a lessons learned database.

“PFS places local safety data and the necessary tools to do the job in the hands of the local experts,” explained NATCA Safety Chairman Steve Hansen. “And we believe they are the right people; after all, they work the airspace everyday.”

Each safety council has a training session, making the new virtual training so important.  Currently, 40 facilities have completed the training thus far.  It is expected that the training will soon follow a mandatory schedule, to ensure that all facilities are utilizing PFS.

Each training session lasts approximately an hour and a half and is completed through a web-based program and telephone bridge.  The training encourages controllers to actively engage in identifying local hazards and work to develop solutions to those hazards before an incident occurs.

“This training delivery method is working for PFS,” said Hansen. “What we need can be delivered in this manner.  We need to ensure that training is relevant, timely and effective.”

The virtual training sessions allow multiple facilities to be trained at once, improving overall efficiency. The training begins with an overview of the program including basic requirements and general information. Then, controllers are instructed on how to use the both the Safety Portal and ATC Info Hub software.  The software can be used to study safety data, mitigate safety issues and share lessons learned with other facilities.

Local safety councils are required to post their actions in the ATC infoHub once they’re completed to ensure that other safety councils have access to the information and what was done to mitigate specific issues.  This is especially important to identify safety trends amongst facilities.

“We realized we had all this great safety data and wanted to find a way to get it into the hands of the local facilities,” said Hansen.  “The de-identified data allows them to look for trends and learn from others.”

After the training, the safety councils at facilities are given an assignment – to identify and reduce workplace distractions.  This assignment is meant to tie in closely with another collaboration effort between NATCA and the FAA: Turn Off, Tune In.

To learn more about PFS, please click HERE.