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|Les 20 derniers discours publiés concernant l'air et l'espace!|
|J. Randolph Babbitt, FAA Administrator|
|24/05/2011 U.S. Senate Committee|
Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety & Security on Air Traffic Control Safety Oversight
Good morning, Madam Chair, Ranking Member Thune and members of the subcommittee. Thank you very much for the opportunity to discuss the issues facing the Federal Aviation Administration.
Today’s hearing will focus on the safety of our air traffic control system. And I know I will face some tough questions from you about recent incidents. But I welcome this opportunity to assure you – and the traveling public – that we remain the safest and most efficient aviation system in the world, and that we are taking actions to improve that level of safety.
Before I address those actions, I would be remiss if I were to appear before you and not mention the need for a multi-year reauthorization. We have a tremendous responsibility to enhance the safety of our air space system and transform it from the radar-based system of the last century to the satellite-based system of tomorrow. And to accomplish our goals, the FAA needs a multi-year reauthorization with sufficient funding levels.
As you all know, the FAA has not had a steady source of funding for three-and-a-half-years, relying instead on 18 short-term extensions of its spending authority.
We are pleased that both the House and the Senate have passed reauthorization bills. We very much appreciate your support. It is an important step forward.
However, the authorized funding levels in the House bill are well below what the President proposed in his 2012 budget. The levels in the House bill, if appropriated, would degrade the safe and efficient movement of air traffic. If we delay infrastructure investments today, the long term cost to our nation – to our passengers and our environment – will far exceed the cost of going forward with the technology now.
I would like to turn to the reason for today’s hearing and update you on the actions we have taken regarding fatigue and the incidents with air traffic controllers.
Last month, I traveled with Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) to air traffic facilities around the country on a Call to Action for safety and professionalism.
The visits reinforced for me that we have a workforce committed to safety 24/7. But, the incidents of employees falling asleep on position showed that we have to make changes. And we have.
We’ve made significant changes to longtime scheduling practices to reduce the possibility of fatigue—including establishing a minimum of nine hours between shifts. And we will do more.
We’ve added a second controller on the midnight shift in facilities where there was only one.
We’ve changed management in critical positions to ensure that we have the right people in the right places.
We’ve also found it necessary to terminate three controllers who slept on the job. This type of behavior is completely unacceptable.
The FAA and NATCA, along with outside experts, have joined together to create 12 recommendations regarding fatigue. We’ve now entered into formal discussions with NATCA about these recommendations.
I also want to address your concerns today regarding the rise in reported operational errors in the last few years.
I share your concerns. Everyone at the FAA is personally committed to the safety of our aviation system. Any potential upward trend in errors is deeply troubling.
However, we believe this trend largely reflects the changes we have instituted in recent years that encourage reporting of errors. We are gathering more information than we ever had previously – and that data will allow for more informed decisions moving forward to enhance the safety of our system.
Our voluntary reporting program is called ATSAP and we encourage air traffic controllers to report operational errors in exchange for the agency addressing the errors in a non-punitive manner. This is similar to a program that exists in the airline industry.
These reports have given us information about everything from fogging windows in control towers to problems with radar equipment. In Albuquerque it showed us that pilots were missing a new hold short line on the runway. And we fixed the problem more quickly because of these reports.
While the incidents in ATSAP are not counted as operational errors, I fundamentally believe that this program has helped us create a culture of reporting in the FAA. This is ultimately a very positive change that will enhance safety by enabling us to identify risks and spot trends.
In addition to this cultural transformation, we have rolled out new software that automatically detects operational errors and reports them directly to the FAA’s quality assurance program for analysis.
Nobody likes to see operational errors, especially me. But we are getting the data we need to improve safety.
The American public trusts us to perform our jobs and make safety the highest priority, each day, year in and year out. We are committed to making whatever changes are necessary to preserve that trust and to continue to provide the safest and most efficient air transportation system in the world.
This concludes my opening statement and I look forward to addressing any questions you may have.
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