Meet NATCA’s National Terminal Automation Rep: Allen Casey
Elected by acclamation in May, NATCA’s National Terminal Automation Representative Allen Casey represents the 40 NATCA members working as Automation Support Specialists, covered by the Light Blue Book. Automation Support Specialists have skill sets including air traffic control, technician, computer science, and engineering.
“Every day a terminal or tower controller uses the Terminal Automation System, and behind the scenes an operational support specialist has worked hours with their facility to make sure the system is configured optimally for safety and ease of use,” Casey said. “NATCA offers sisterhood and brotherhood that is designed to give its members the best working environment possible. Educating my members on their rights per the contract and the other support items their labor union offers is very exciting to me.”
NATCA is pleased to spotlight Casey and the members he represents in their vital part of maintaining safe and efficient operations for the world’s largest air traffic control and navigation system.
How did you arrive at this role?
I moved to the Gulf Coast Operational Support Facility (GCOSF) in October 2019. Prior to that, I was a Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) instructor at the FAA Academy for 17 years.
With what other units does Terminal Automation work?
We work directly with the air traffic control (ATC) facility staff specialist on all matters related to the Terminal STARS System. If the facility or controller has a question about the functionality or capabilities of the STARS system, we are the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to provide an explanation or adapt a solution into their STARS program. We make sure the STARS system is not only safe for air travel but also customized for facility controllers.
We also work directly with the ATC facilities Tech Ops on hardware issues pertaining to the STARS. In addition, we work closely with the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center personnel, in Atlantic City, N.J., to test and verify that new STARS program versions will meet air traffic needs.
What would you want NATCA members nationally to know about Terminal Automation?
Every day a terminal or tower controller uses the Terminal Automation System. Behind the scenes, an operational support specialist has worked hours with their facility to make sure the system is configured optimally for safety and ease of use. We understand the difficult job our NATCA brethren have and try to accommodate any request that will improve their working conditions when using the automation system.
Tell me and other Terminal Automation Specialists about special events, if any, that affect the workload for your members, such as upcoming projects, technology upgrades, and more.
We serve as NATCA SME for testing of any new software changes in terminal operations. We are currently testing revision 9 (R9) and revision 10 (R10) version of the current STARS software. In addition, we are preparing for the conversion from the Solaris-based Unix system to Red hat. These support efforts either take place at our local facilities or at the FAA Technical Center.
What are you most looking forward to about being the rep for Terminal Automation?
I want to educate our members on how great NATCA is as a Union. I find that so many of NATCA’s members do not understand how much support NATCA offers. Besides the protections and collaboration with management, NATCA offers a family environment, sisterhood and brotherhood that is designed to give its members the best working environment possible. Educating my members on their rights per the contract and the other support items their labor union offers is very exciting to me.