NATCA Bookshelf

National Office Week in Review: May 3, 2017

A publication of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association

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NATCA NATIONAL OFFICE DEPARTMENTAL WEEK IN REVIEW April 22 - 28 , 2017 LABOR RELATIONS DEPARTMENT FAA BRIEFING ON MEARTS On March 6, 2017, NATCA requested a briefing on Juneau Alaska Flight Service Station (JUN FSS) use of Micro En Route Automated Radar Tr acking System (MEARTS). This is a RADAR display that flight service specialists currently do not use. On April 10, 2017, the Agency briefed NATCA about MEARTS, which it intends to use at Juneau FSS to provide better service after the air traffic cont rol tower is closed overnight. It is intended to increase safety, and the Agency is promoting it as a "voluntary" tool for flight service specialists, whom the Agency will brief regarding MEARTS and will tra in on recommended phraseology. As of now, there is no target date for turning on MEARTS at Juneau FSS. NATCA has several concerns about MEARTS. NATCA has concerns regarding employees' use of MEARTS in the manner proposed, and we have great concern with the current stance that the use of this by JNU FSS em ployees is voluntary. In air traffic control, using systems like MEARTS as proposed for J NU FSS would not be voluntary. NATCA also has concerns with the liability the FAA may h ave with this proposed change. What are the employees' obligations if they see a n imminent safety issue, especially one that would normally result in a safety alert being issue d by an air traffic controller? And finally, NATCA is concerned that flight service specialists are not trained on the use of RADAR, when in fact MEARTS at JNU FSS would use a radar type display in a manner in which BUEs h ave not been properly trained. The Agency's proposed training currently seems more like a briefing than substantive training, which will not be adequate to ensure proficiency on a new technolo gy that takes air traffic contro llers several years to master. NATCA has requested additional information from the Agency regarding the FAA HQ Legal statements on MEARTS, the SMRD draft, and the official notification to NATCA. The expectation is that with those documents, NATCA will work with the Agency to develop an implementation plan that would include details on how MEARTS would be used and on training. POCs: Safety and Technology Director Jim Ullmann, En Route Technology Coordinator Mark Prestrude, S teve Hansen, and Labor Relations Attorney Suzanne DeFelice . FAA BRIEFING ON AIR TRANS F ORMATION On April 5, 2017, the Agency briefed NATCA about its planned realignment of Aircraf t Certification Service (AIR). Phase I of this realignment creates a new divi sion structure that replaces directorates – all top level directorates, and AIR - 100 and AIR - 500 will be eliminated, and any personnel currently reporting to a directorate or AIR - 100 or AIR - 500 will be reassigned. New organization codes will be assigned to all current directorate and AIR - 100 and AIR - 500 organizat ions within the new structure.

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