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April 29, 2016 // “Keeping Each Other Focused” with Turn Off Tune In

(Editor’s Note: FAA and NATCA Communications are jointly publishing this story)

To keep planes moving safely through 73,000 square miles of airspace, controllers at Indianapolis Center (ZID) constantly work as a team to keep each other focused, with help from the distraction-awareness campaign Turn Off Tune In.

Since learning about the campaign, the facility’s workforce has been even more vigilant about eliminating distractions from the control room.

“They look out for each other, making sure the focus stays where it’s needed,” NATCA ZID FacRep Jim Larson said. “It’s part of maintaining professionalism overall.”

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ZID FacRep Jim Larson (left) and Air Traffic Manager Kim Kelly.

To prevent a “drifting” of awareness from the dangers of distraction, Larson and Air Traffic Manager Kim Kelly tack up posters where people can’t miss them before entering the control room. And a group of new, personal lockers next to the control room entrance serves as another reminder to turn off phones or just keep them out of the operating environment.

Email reminders to the workforce have also been an effective means of getting the point across, and front-line managers address the issue in person.

But peer-to-peer, controller-to-controller support and encouragement has proven to be the best solution at ZID. Both the workforce and management attest to how this teamwork builds camaraderie while enhancing safety.

“For the cellphone issue, in particular, they police each other,” Kelly said. “They are always keeping each other focused.”