The Transportation Department inspector general announced last month that the office will audit controller workload at the major ATC facilities in the Chicago metropolitan area, following reports of “staffing emergencies” at various ATC facilities. According to the DOT IG, the NTSB has cited controller fatigue as a potential contributing factor to controller operational error, which the Board called a “significant” aviation issue.
Terminal Control Center
PIPER PA-31T AND CESSNA 172P, DENVER, COLO., JAN. 24, 2003–Piper N360LL–registered to and operated by Lee Larson Aircraft Sales of Northglenn, Colo.–collided with a Cessna N52241 (registered to and operated by EDB Air of Englewood, Colo.) over Denver at approximately 5:22 p.m. MST.
Once the ATC system began to recover from the 1981 Professional Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO) strike and the demand for services once more began to rise, the FAA seized an opportunity to partner with the private sector for those badly needed services and created the Federal Contract Tower (FCT) program in an attempt to save bundles of cash and manpower.
Las Vegas Tracon Letter to Airmen No. 03-01 alerts operators to “significant changes” to Runway 25 Rnav Stars and departure procedures (DPs) for McCarran International Airport. Effective January 23, the andy waypoint was eliminated and Runway 25 departures are “expected to commence left turns at eyene or lodzy.” There are no major changes for Runways 1, 7 or 19 Rnav departures, according to the letter.
On December 14 the Potomac Consolidated Tracon began operation. The new facility consolidates five former existing Tracons and allows the FAA to redesign the airspace in this area for “more efficient, direct flight routings,” according to the agency. When the consolidation is complete, the Potomac Tracon will have about 300 employees, who will handle about 5,000 flights a day in 23,000 sq mi of airspace covering parts of five states.
Air traffic controllers at the FAA’s 20 contiguous en route centers are now able to see more accurate, timely weather information on the same display that shows aircraft position data, which the agency claims will reduce the potential for weather-related accidents and lessen the effect of weather on airspace efficiency.
Lockheed Martin delivered the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) equipment to the FAA on budget and ahead of schedule last month, meeting a major milestone in the agency’s Flight Plan for modernizing the National Airspace System (NAS).
David “Bruce” Johnson has been appointed director of the FAA’s Air Traffic Service (ATS) division, with Linda Schuessler as his deputy director. Johnson replaces Bill Peacock, who retired May 2 after 30 years with the FAA. Schuessler takes over from Jeff Griffith, who retired late last year.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) claims that a shortage of full-performance level (FPL) controllers at the Chicago Tracon–the nation’s third-busiest approach control facility–has brought the level of safety below an “acceptable” level, and the union has asked the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to intervene.
The U.S. ATC central nervous system–known as the traffic-flow management system–has nearly outgrown its capacity, prompting the FAA to call for modernization of this critical infrastructure. The complex computer system is the heart of the National Airspace System Command Center in Herndon, Va., which continuously feeds traffic-flow information to ARTCCs, Tracons, towers, civil operators, military bases and other U.S.