Clinton orders up Air Traffic Organization
- By Greg Langlois
- Dec 10, 2000
President Clinton hopes a new performance-based organization he announced
last week will improve the management of the air traffic control system
and speed delivery of new technologies to controllers.
Clinton's executive order Dec. 7 establishes a performance-based organization
within the Federal Aviation Administration called the Air Traffic Organization,
which will be responsible for direct, daily management of the nation's air
traffic control system.
The new body will include the FAA's technology development arm — the
Research and Acquisition office — as well as the agency's Air Traffic Services
office and its Free Flight office. FAA modernization projects will move
into the new organization, including the Wide Area Augmentation System for
satellite navigation and the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System.
Those efforts should not be altered dramatically but instead become
managed more efficiently, said FAA spokesperson Tammy Jones, who noted that
the performance-based organization "will focus more on accountability and
tracking costs related to service goals" and will not change the technologies
A White House report released the same day outlined the reasons behind
the president's action and said Clinton's executive order will provide more
immediate relief to the flying public.
"The FAA's effort to modernize its air traffic system technology has
not kept pace with either the emergence of new hardware or the growing demand
for air travel," the report stated. "Despite significant improvements in
recent years, some modernization projects are delayed and over-budget."
Ruth Marlin, executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers
Association, said that bringing together the FAA's air traffic research
and operations arms will speed the delivery of technologies to improve the
air traffic control system.
"That should allow us to field them faster in the future because it
brings controllers and engineers closer together," enabling kinks in new
systems to be worked out before deployment, Marlin said.
Michael Wascom, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, said
Clinton's move may help speed up the FAA's air traffic control modernization
efforts, but he cautioned that the FAA has a long way to go.
Wascom said one of the biggest hurdles the FAA needs to overcome is
its "antiquated management structure" and that he welcomes efforts to inject
private-sector management techniques into the air traffic control system.