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CFS 2018: Breakout Sessions

Professional Standards

“Raise your hand if you think you’re a professional,” NATCA Professional Standards Committee member Garth Koleszar asked attendees. Every arm went up. But Koleszar asked a follow-up: “How do you know?”

Koleszar said simply changing the name of a controller’s position from Full Performance Level to Certified Professional Controller isn’t enough. Neither is doing the minimum that the 7110.65 controller handbook requires for the job. What makes you a professional, he said, is your attitude; taking advantage of an opportunity to step up, or to help out a colleague, or to matter and have an outcome with every decision that you make.

The goal of the Professional Standards Program is to promote and maintain the highest degree of professionalism.

As part of the program, Koleszar said, “we want to maintain the highest degree of professionalism. If somebody believes that we can do better, then the program gives us a chance to rise to the level before somebody is allowed to take corrective action.”

Of the 2,832 cases in the Professional Standards Program, Koleszar said, 2,555 have been resolved successfully. “That means 90 percent of what we get and deal with will never happen again,” he said. 


ATC Procedures

The ATC Procedures breakout session during CFS apprised air traffic controllers of new updates of which they should be aware.

The third ReCat order was signed last June. Currently, there are five separate sets of standards in the National Airspace System (NAS). NATCA’s stance is that it’s not good to have several standards in the NAS. The goal is to put consolidated wake turbulence (CWT) into the NAS and have one standard. Eventually, all facilities will have CWT, which is nine categories. Unlike the current use, the information for CWT will be displayed right in front of the controller, so categories will not need to be memorized. Facilities will get minimum separation with CWT.

One procedure that keeps coming up is vectors below the MVA. It has been discovered that there many facilities that are vectoring in a different way. It is requested that controllers go back to their respective facilities and research their process to make sure each facility is in compliance.

Some facilities are applying the go-around wrong as well. Instead of turning the aircraft, controllers should let the aircrafts continue with the missed approach.


Critical Incident Stress Management

The NATCA Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team is a Union-operated, Agency-supported group designed to help air traffic controllers effectively manage stress which may be experienced following a critical incident.

There are 15 controllers on the team, four of which are coordinators. They are each on call 24/7 one week out of every month. They provide peer-to-peer support in the wake of incidents and accidents. Because they are controllers, they are better able to understand their fellow controllers’ experiences, said Chris Schenk of the CISM Team to the Oct. 24 breakout session offered to CFS attendees.

“Clinical studies have proven that peer-to-peer support teams are highly effective at facilitating the return to normal functioning for people impacted by a critical incident,” Schenk said. “With peer-to-peer, there is an immediate trust basis in talking to another controller and speaking their language. It takes a peer to understand what we do and how we do it.”

Schenk said the most typical event they see is a general aviation aircraft accident, usually with fatalities and having direct ATC involvement. There’s about one per week on average, he said. But the range of events they help with involve everything from runway incursions, to natural disasters, and grief support for those who have suffered a death among their family or friends, particularly the death of a fellow employee.”

The CISM team can be reached at 202-505-CISM (2476), or [email protected]



Phoenix TRACON (P50) member Aaron Katz, a collaboration facilitator since 2015, outlined at a breakout discussion exactly what collaboration is and how it has grown to positively affect nearly every way NATCA interacts with the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The commitment to do business with one another is collaboration,” said Katz, reminding attendees that collaboration is codified in Article 114 of the Slate Book contract. “One of the ways you can walk the walk is in your behaviors; what we do and how we interact with one another. At the end of the day, you have control only over yourself. We all want to solve problems and put out fires, but we can’t avoid looking for ways to get to the next level because we’re bogged down in daily fire drills.”

How do you have collaborative behavior that is successful? Katz said in order for a team to move forward and come up with best solution, nothing is off the table. Everything is an option.

“The question is why are we not getting to the final product?” Katz asked. “We need to be open. It’s about commitment. To be able to really collaborate, we cannot judge.”

Katz said a big step is identifying the challenge, which means taking the time to develop solutions and using collaboration to help find  a resolution. “Then,” he adds, “you have to implement the solution. We all own it. Joint leadership. Joint ownership of these things.” Collaboration makes that process possible.


Partnership for Safety

Partnership for Safety (PFS) is a collaborative program whose mission is to facilitate the identification and mitigation of safety issues throughout the National Airspace System (NAS). Local safety councils (LSC) are collaborative teams that encourage employees to actively engage and identify local safety concerns and are required at every FAA facility. There is a standard way of how LSCs should operate as well as a scoping document that defines the LSC and lays out how it works. Once created, each LSC is given the Safety Data Portal, an online database, maintained by the MITRE Corporation. It provides facility-specific safety information, such as weather data and metrics,.

There are three things required in order to access the online tool: 1.) Concurrence from the facility Air Traffic Manager,  2.) Concurrence from the FacRep, and 3.) You must take the web-based tutorial course. Once you fulfill these requirements, you will be able to access supporting data for your facility. LSC members have access to the ATC Info Hub to keep track of mitigations you may be working on. PFS hosts a monthly webinar that provides national material for the upcoming months’ “safe discussions.” Safe discussions occur in-person at your local and must be attended by all operational personnel.

For more information about PFS, you can visit www.facilitysafety.org.



In the training breakout session, new and revised training offered to controllers were discussed, as well as statistics and information about current training:

  • There have been 429 new participants in Flight Deck Training, which is a significant increase in numbers.
  • Controllers should take advantage of the FAM program to help understand how pilots do what they do when getting direction from controllers.
  • A workgroup has been created and will start in January 2019 to revise Curriculum Stage 2-5. They hope to create a web-based training experience and reduce the number of times controllers see the same curriculum.
  • Tower Simulation System (TSS) has been revised to reduce the amount of time in on-the-job training.
  • It is a goal for iPads to be implemented in all facilities for training to practice vectoring, phraseology, and tower scanning.
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