Tuesday, November 06, 2007

FAA History Lesson -- November 6

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Nov 6, 1970: FAA established a national en route air traffic training program for beginning center controllers. The program, an outgrowth of a Corson Committee recommendation (see Jan 29, 1970), used the FAA Academy for qualification training and FAA facilities for proficiency training. Its objectives included shortening the training, reducing the high attrition rate among trainees, and making more efficient use of resources. Training was conducted in three phases. The first phase, indoctrination and precontrol, took place at an en route facility and covered noncontrol duties. The second, control, was conducted at the FAA Academy and consisted of a nine-week non-radar and radar control procedures course. The final phase, sector qualification, took place at an en route facility. Previously, controller trainees had been sent directly to the FAA Academy for a nine-week indoctrination course, and then to the centers for on-the-job training running from two to three years. “

“Its objectives included shortening the training, reducing the high attrition rate among trainees, and making more efficient use of resources.” Sound familiar ? History often does.

For instance, take the Corson Committee recommendations mentioned above.

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Jan 29, 1970: The Air Traffic Controller Career Committee (popularly known as the Corson Committee) submitted its report to Secretary of Transportation John Volpe. The report's recommendations included:

*Reduce the overtime work required of controllers in high-density areas.

*Reduce the consecutive hours spent by controllers in operational positions to two, and the total hours per day on such positions to six.

*Detail qualified journeyman controllers to high-density facilities with critical manpower shortages.

*Develop a more mobile controller work force so that the needs of the system, rather than the preferences of controllers, determine assignments.

*Develop incentives to attract the most talented controllers to the most difficult positions.

*Pay special rates for employment in facilities located in high-cost-of-living areas.

*Accelerate and improve training of developmental controllers.

*Seek legislation providing for the early retirement of controllers who attain a certain age and cannot be retained or reassigned to less arduous duty--e.g., retirement at age 50 after 20 years of ATC service with 50 percent of high-three average salary.

*Designate a single official immediately responsible to the FAA Administrator to handle all relationships with employee organizations at the national level.

A number of the committee's recommendations, including detailing journeyman controllers to facilities with critical manpower shortages, and providing developmental controllers with "update" training, received immediate attention. In addition, FAA appointed a Director of Labor Relations on Mar 23, 1970. The agency established nine groups to consider the remaining recommendations and develop programs for their implementation. (See Aug 8, 1969, Mar 25-Apr 14, 1970, Nov 6, 1970, and May 16, 1972.) “

Does any of that sound familiar to you ? For any controllers that have ever read their union contract -- the real one, not the current Imposed Work Rules -- I bet several sound familiar. These history lessons detail how things get done. Why things are the way they are and how we got here.

If you’re a smart CTI graduate and you learned anything in college, you’ll remember how to do research. It shouldn’t take you two minutes to find this page.

”Abstract : The report presents recommendations as to what needs be done with respect to manning the air traffic system, improving working conditions, bettering the controller's career, and improving employee-management relations. The recommendations are neither novel nor unexpected. There is an especial need for expeditious consideration of those recommendations designed to resolve the employee-management relations problems which threaten the system.

Sound familiar ? Everyone needs to learn from the history but if you’re a new hire in the FAA, you’ll be the one that has to live (or should I say re-live ?) it. You need to have some perspective on all this. Figure out who was President at the time. Find out why Nixon, grain shipments and PATCO were all part of the same puzzle. Here’s a hint: MEBA. Find out about “Operation Air Safety.” You can do it in a tenth of the time it took me. You have the internet. I had to go to a library (usually more than one) and look at microfiche. That and hang out at the bar (usually more than one) listening to guys like John Leyden and John Thornton (look them up if you don’t know) as they tried to educate us about what we faced.

Get busy. It isn’t going to get any better unless you make it better.

Don Brown
November 6, 2007

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