July 1, 2016 // OSF Training is a Major Step Forward
The NATCA Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement (TAMR) Training Group has successfully pushed for a new training product to be produced for the Operational Support Facility (OSF) Adaptation Specialists, who are represented by the NATCA Multi-Unit bargaining unit.
Through collaboration, NATCA, management, and the TAMR program office have identified OSF training needs. The OSF training team, composed of NATCA members and management designee, has also developed new software capabilities.
From the beginning of the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) program in the late 90s and early 2000s, OSF-specific training has been a challenge. They are a small group that provides a very unique service to the program and a class in Oklahoma City was not deemed feasible. As a result, Raytheon provided OSF specialist familiarization formal training.
When the TAMR program was baselined in 2011, NATCA OSF representative Candy Barr, NEOSF, made it known that training for OSF specialists must be updated to meet the TAMR “waterfall” of transitions. Barr made the case to then TAMR Program Manager Jeff Yarnell that OSF specialists had little influence over their own training and money was rarely available. OSF specialists were required to provide numerous iterations of adaptations for new products without supervision, but often the training for such iterations was overlooked or nonexistent. Mr. Yarnell promised to change that and worked with OSF Management and NATCA on a solution.
OSF Manager Mike Carnicom saw the value in such training and put together a team that included NATCA OSF Training Lead Michael Tate, Denver OSF, and Keith Duffy, Northeast OSF designee. The team came together with representatives from each OSF unit and developed a modular approach to training that could be handled at each OSF by a certified specialist. In April 2016, the rollout of the first iteration of the newly developed R4 training occurred for OSF specialists that are part of the Raytheon OSF support contract. This approach to training allows OSF specialists to start with the basics of automation and tools training, and then allows them to train on individual functions. This also serves as a library and resource for refresher training on those functions they don’t adapt every day.
NATCA Multi-Unit Rep Troy Barr said of the accomplishment, “Our long-term modular training has just been funded and will improve our ability to support our customers, air traffic, and tech ops, into the future of TAMR.”
Originally, most OSF adaptation specialists came from air traffic controller ranks, who provided great insight into automation adaptation. As time went on, air traffic moved away from the use of on-site adaptation specialists and recruitment of air traffic controllers became difficult. Many recent open positions have been filled by former Tech Ops personnel and NATCA OSF leadership is hoping that a recent increase in OSF employees’ NATCA membership, along with outreach to the air traffic controller workforce, will increase the number of people with air traffic control experience that bid on these incredibly important positions. For more information on OSF and how your NATCA career does not have to end at age 56, read this previous NATCA Insider article and learn more about how you can stay active and contribute.