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Work Environment Considerations for Airway Transportation Systems Specialists

The job duties and work environment for Airway Transportation Systems Specialists (ATSS) present special challenges and issues that should be addressed by an effective staffing model for ATSS. By reviewing documents related to the job of the ATSS personnel and considering the perspectives of a wide array of stakeholders, including the systems specialists themselves, the committee identified several critical factors affecting demand for systems specialists that result not only from the unusual requirements of this particular job series but also from the demands placed on incumbents in the job by the external aviation environment.

This chapter first reviews factors related to the current design of the ATSS job that will have a direct bearing on staffing. It then reviews the information obtained from systems specialists and various stakeholder groups, from presentations and documents, and from a public webpage for collecting comments related to the tasks ATSS personnel perform and to other demands on their time. The criteria for effective performance as well as the consequences of failure are discussed. The chapter also contains an overview of other major factors that should be considered as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) develops models to guide the systems specialist staffing process.

OVERVIEW

ATSS personnel are assigned to the Technical Operations branch of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization and are deployed across the United States as they maintain elements of the National Airspace System (NAS). ATSS employees can be collocated where concentrations of facilities and equipment reside or in teams that travel to support NAS components widely scattered throughout their geographic areas of responsibility. The NAS itself is divided into three major geographic service areas for the purpose of equipment maintenance: Eastern, Central, and Western. As Figure 2-1 shows, within each of these three areas, ATSS personnel are assigned to System Support Centers (SSCs) and support five types of work sites within Technical Operations: Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs), Terminal Radar



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2 Work Environment Considerations for Airway Transportation Systems Specialists The job duties and work environment for Airway Transportation Systems Specialists (ATSS) pres- ent special challenges and issues that should be addressed by an effective staffing model for ATSS. By reviewing documents related to the job of the ATSS personnel and considering the perspectives of a wide array of stakeholders, including the systems specialists themselves, the committee identified several critical factors affecting demand for systems specialists that result not only from the unusual requirements of this particular job series but also from the demands placed on incumbents in the job by the external aviation environment. This chapter first reviews factors related to the current design of the ATSS job that will have a direct bearing on staffing. It then reviews the information obtained from systems specialists and various stakeholder groups, from presentations and documents, and from a public webpage for collecting com- ments related to the tasks ATSS personnel perform and to other demands on their time. The criteria for effective performance as well as the consequences of failure are discussed. The chapter also contains an overview of other major factors that should be considered as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) develops models to guide the systems specialist staffing process. OVERVIEW ATSS personnel are assigned to the Technical Operations branch of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organiza- tion and are deployed across the United States as they maintain elements of the National Airspace Sys- tem (NAS). ATSS employees can be collocated where concentrations of facilities and equipment reside or in teams that travel to support NAS components widely scattered throughout their geographic areas of responsibility. The NAS itself is divided into three major geographic service areas for the purpose of equipment maintenance: Eastern, Central, and Western. As Figure 2-1 shows, within each of these three areas, ATSS personnel are assigned to System Support Centers (SSCs) and support five types of work sites within Technical Operations: Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs), Terminal Radar 19

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20 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION d of FIGURE 2-1  Overview of the Technical Operations organization. SOURCE: Rich McCormick, director, Labor Analysis, FAA, ATSS Briefing for the National Academy of Sci- ences. Presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, October 19, 2012. All disciplines, including NAVAIDs (navigational aids), are explained in the section on Discipline Types and Staff Substitution. Approach Control (TRACON) facilities, Core Airports,1 the General National Airspace System (GNAS), and Service Operation Centers/Operations Control Centers (SOCs/OCCs). 2 ATSS personnel certify equipment and services to ensure the safety and performance of the NAS. To accomplish this responsibility, ATSS personnel perform two major functions: (1) scheduled preven- tive maintenance activities, including inspections to ensure continued certification of equipment as well as the installation and certification of new equipment; and (2) unscheduled, corrective maintenance and subsequent certification of repaired equipment, often on an emergency basis when equipment fails (FAA, 2011a). A third, ancillary function is the supervision of both installation of new equipment and decom- missioning of old equipment. The GNAS work site typically has the lead for these activities, but the SSCs at the TRACON facilities and ARTCCs support these activities as well. There are other required tasks and activities—for example, training, administrative duties, and recordkeeping. 1The FAA uses the term “Core” for a list of approximately 30 high-activity airports. For example, “the 30 CORE air- ports presently handle 63 percent of the country’s passengers and 68 percent of its operations” according to discussions recorded in Federal Register 77(119) (Wednesday, June 20, 2012). Available: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-06-20/ html/2012-14893.htm [June 2013]. 2Rich McCormick, director, Labor Analysis, FAA. ATSS Briefing for the National Academy of Sciences. Presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, October 19, 2012

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 21 Based on observations of task performance, it is clear that ATSS personnel rely on highly developed skills for many tasks. In addition, ATSS personnel rely on reasoning at the rule-based level (e.g., fol- lowing a written procedure for preventive maintenance on radar) and the knowledge-based level (e.g., understanding why an out-of-specification reading is occurring) (Rasmussen, 1983). The former requires valid procedure descriptions, while the latter needs both good equipment documentation (e.g., schemat- ics, wiring diagrams) and detailed knowledge and reasoning ability on the part of the ATSS personnel. The overarching goal of ATSS personnel is to maximize the availability of equipment and facilities in good working order in the NAS by performing these two functions—scheduled activities and corrective maintenance (FAA, 2011a).3 Minimizing failures and reducing the time to repair and certify equipment are high priorities because equipment failure prevents achievement of this goal. Scheduled preventive maintenance reduces the probability of equipment failure. Presumably there is an optimal amount of preventive maintenance that, for a given total staffing cost, will minimize down time or, conversely, maximize availability. The timing of most equipment failure cannot be anticipated with certainty. When extensive historical reliability data such as “mean time between failures” exist, some general predictions about the time frames for failure may be possible. Because the personnel who conduct the scheduled preventive maintenance are likely to be the same staff who respond to unan- ticipated failures, corrective maintenance can often be addressed at the same time as an unanticipated failure. However, the extent to which the preventive and corrective maintenance occur together requires further examination. Discipline Types and Staff Substitutions ATSS work requires expertise in specialties including electromechanical environmental control systems, power generation, automation, and electronics maintenance. As a result, most ATSS person- nel specialize in one or more of the five recognized disciplines in the series explained in the following quotations from the FAA National Airspace Capital Investment Plan (FAA, 2011b) and from a recent job posting on the Electronic Technicians Association website: Communication: “Communication between pilots and controllers is an essential element of air traffic control. Pilots and controllers normally use [VHF/UHF] radios for communication, and because en route control sectors cover areas that extend beyond direct radio range, remotely located radio sites are used to provide extended coverage. The controller activates radios at these sites and ground telecom- munication lines carry the information exchange to and from air traffic control facilities. If ground links are not available, communication satellite links can be used to connect pilots with controllers. Backup systems are always available to provide continued ability to maintain communications when the primary systems fail.” (FAA, 2011b:43) Surveillance: “To provide separation services to aircraft, air traffic controllers must have an accurate display of all aircraft under their control. Controller displays use a variety of inputs, including radar and transponder information, to show the location of aircraft. Surveillance data are provided by the follow- ing technologies: Primary radar—The radar beam is reflected off the aircraft back to the radar receiver; Secondary radar—A reply is generated by the aircraft transponder back to the radar in response to a radar signal; Multi-lateration—Multiple ground sensors receive aircraft transponder signals allowing triangulation for position; and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast—Aircraft determines its location using GPS and broadcasts that information. Automation systems process radar data and other inputs and send it to the displays. En route facilities use the Air Route Surveillance Radar (ARSR), and 3Mike Perrone, president, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012.

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22 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION terminal facilities use Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR) as primary radars. The ARSR and ASR radars are primary because they do not require a cooperative transmission from an aircraft to detect and track its location. En route and terminal facilities normally use secondary radars called the Air Traffic Control Beacon Interrogators (ATCBI) and Mode Select (Mode S) for traffic separation. Secondary radar sends a signal to aircraft equipped with a transponder. The transponder sends a reply, which can be processed to determine the aircraft call sign, altitude, speed, and its position. Using ATCBI or Mode S enhances the controller’s ability to separate traffic because flight and altitude information supplement the position display for each aircraft.” (FAA, 2011b:49) Navaid: “There are two major types of navigational aids: those used for en route navigation, and those used for precision approach and landing guidance. The en route aids have traditionally been radio trans- mitters that provide pilots direction and/or distance from their location. The ground based system com- monly used for en route navigation is the Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range with Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR with DME). There are more than 1,000 VORs spread across the United States. They enable pilots to determine an accurate position and also define the Victor and Jet airways, which are published routes based on straight lines from VOR to VOR. Airways simplify route planning and provide predictability for air traffic controllers who often must project an aircraft’s future position to avoid conflicts. Pilots use VOR/DME to follow their planned routes accurately under all visibility condi- tions” (FAA, 2011b:54). . . . “Precision landing guidance systems and associated equipment support low-visibility operations by pro- viding radio signals and approach lights to help pilots land safely in limited visibility. The current most widely-used precision landing aids are Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) that guide pilots to runway ends using a pair of radio beams—one for lateral guidance and the other for vertical guidance—to define the approach glidepath—so that pilots can follow it to the runway using cockpit instrumentation. There are more than 1,200 ILSs installed in the United States.” (FAA, 2011b:54) Automation: “Automation is a core element of the air traffic control system. Controllers require a real- time display of aircraft location as well as information about the operating characteristics of aircraft they are tracking—such as speed and altitude—to keep the approximately 50,000 flights safely separated every day. Automation gives controllers continuously updated displays of aircraft position, identification, speed, and altitude as well as whether the aircraft is level, climbing, or descending. Automation systems can also continue to show an aircraft’s track when there is a temporary loss of surveillance information. It does this by calculating an aircraft’s ground speed and then uses it to project an aircraft’s future posi- tion.” (FAA, 2011b:36) Environmental: ATSS work on power generation on airfield and ARTCC and TRACON facilities, and lights used for landing aircraft. Primary responsibilities relate to “the installation, maintenance, modifi- cation and certification of ENVIRONMENTAL and lighted navigational aids systems and services such as: Precision approach Path Indicator, Visual Approach Slope Indicator, Approach Lighting System with Sequenced Flashing Lights, Runway End Identification Lights, Runway Status Lights, Engine Generators, transfer switches, heating ventilating and air conditioning, and knowledge of the national electric code.” (Electronic Technicians Association, 2013) Although safe and effective operation of the NAS requires staffing in all of the above disciplines nationwide, the type of organization in which an ATSS works affects the specific skills required of that individual ATSS.4 Although the ATSS job description is broad-based, in actual practice individuals may operate within the primary discipline of their work site, even if the member has multiple certifications. When developing a staffing model to describe required staff size or allocating staff, care should be taken 4RichMcCormick, director, Labor Analysis, FAA. ATSS Briefing for the National Academy of Sciences. Presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, October 19, 2012.

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 23 TABLE 2-1  Percentage of 2101 Disciplines Represented by Location Discipline 2101 Code ARTCC TRACON Core GNAS SOC/OCCa Automation Auto 34 26 0 0 0 Communications Comm 28 21 1 0 0 Environmental Env 30 33 19 1 0 Navigational Aid Nav 0 0 4 1 0 Radar Rad 0 0 11 2 0 Multi-discipline (2) M2 4 16 46 7 0 Multi-discipline (3) M3 3 4 10 5 0 Multi-discipline (4 or 5) M4 1 0 8 84 0 Unknown   0 0 0 0 100 Total Percentage   100 100 100 100 100 aThe SOC/OCC disciplines are shown as 100 percent unknown because a recent personnel survey has not been conducted for the SOCs/OCCs. SOURCE: FAA Data Extract from existing FAA information management systems, Rich McCormick, director, Labor Analysis, FAA. January 18, 2013. This is a snapshot of actual discipline distribution in a given past point in time; it does not necessarily reflect the required discipline distribution. not to automatically assume that any ATSS employee is skilled across most or all disciplines. Accord- ing to the information provided to the committee, specialization and work in a particular discipline are more common in the ARTCCs and TRACON facilities. ATSS personnel assigned to Core Airports and GNAS facilities tend to be skilled in two or more disciplines.5 Thus, a valid model should determine ATSS needs by skill area at each location and work site. In some locations, there may be value in con- sidering multi-disciplined staffing, particularly in smaller work sites. The committee recognized very early in its study that ATSS job incumbents (even experienced, expert ATSS personnel) are clearly not interchangeable commodities and therefore cannot not be treated in that manner in a staffing model. Equipment integral to the NAS can only be certified by ATSS technicians who are trained and certified to work on that equipment. Because of certification requirements, ATSS personnel are not interchangeable. In practice, however, especially in small, understaffed, or remote locations, an avail- able or conveniently located ATSS employee may perform maintenance work under the direction of a certified technician, and the work will be certified when the certified ATSS employee is available. Table 2-1 shows how ATSS personnel are distributed across disciplines and facilities. The table also indicates the percentage of ATSS personnel who are able to work in multiple disciplines. Many Technical Operations work sites are organized and staffed by facility function and discipline. For example, ATSS personnel in SSCs serving TRACON facilities and ARTCCs maintain equipment that is associated with the particular facility and almost entirely housed within the compound of that facility. However, both TRACON facilities and ARTCCs depend on pieces of equipment in remote areas—outside the compounds of major facilities—that must be maintained. Because the number of individual pieces of equipment that are located outside of the TRACON and ARTCC facilities is small, ATSS personnel are not typically assigned to those remote locations for reasons of economy. Instead, 5In Table 2-1, note the specialization and depth at the ARTCC and TRACON locations as compared to use of more multi- discipline personnel at the Core Airports and GNAS locations.

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24 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION FIGURE 2-2 A mapping of 8,505 of the 66,749 facilities and equipment locations across the NAS. SOURCE: Department of Transportation, 2012. staff in the GNAS and other work sites must travel to these locations to provide maintenance. Thus, unlike a TRACON facility or ARTCC, the GNAS offices may serve as a location from which ATSS personnel stage their work and may not have on-site NAS facilities or equipment. Approximately 2,800 members of the 2101-series are assigned to 190 GNAS offices.6 Typically, ATSS personnel assigned to a Core Airport work on the grounds of that airport; however, some equipment (e.g., radar) may be located short distances from the airport grounds. Similarly, ATSS personnel assigned to a SOC/OCC usually work on that property. Figure 2-2 illustrates the nationwide distribution of NAS equipment and indicates the relative concentration of equipment requiring service. Beyond the need for certified personnel (by discipline, by work area, and by geographic area), staff- ing the ATSS job series is complicated by the difficulty of planning the work itself. While there are very predictable factors associated with the work requirements for any one ATSS employee at a given loca- tion (for example, preventive maintenance schedules are well-defined), there are also events that occur unpredictably (for example, corrective maintenance required by equipment failure). Further complicating the planning task is the need to maintain required standards, so local management establishes “watch” schedules to ensure the availability of appropriately qualified staff at all required times. 7 The committee understands that there are limited reliable data available that address the relative time spent (again, by discipline and by work area) between these types of tasks (i.e., preventive and corrective maintenance). Thus, planning for ATSS time cannot currently be based on accurate records of past activities. 6Personal communication from Rich McCormick, director, Labor Analysis, FAA, to staff, January 18, 2013. Subject line: “Tech Ops Headcount.” 7Mike Perrone, president, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012.

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 25 Evolving Systems and Services ATSS personnel currently maintain a wide array of equipment and are likely to do so for a consider- able time to come. The FAA is continually upgrading equipment to facilitate efficiency and safety of the airways as well as to reduce maintenance requirements, and ATSS personnel have to work effectively with the new or reconfigured equipment and with the older equipment that remains in place. In many instances, the changes in equipment are aimed at increasing system reliability. Over time, software has increased in importance, changing the skill set needed by ATSS personnel but also allowing, for example, more remote control or reconfiguration of equipment (GAO, 2010). The FAA’s Next Generation (NextGen) expects to overhaul the NAS comprehensively, based on a series of continual improvements and upgrades.8 As equipment improvements are being made, the FAA also plans to decommission obsolete or nonfunctioning equipment. In order to properly model the ATSS workload and tasks, accurate information is needed about which systems are active, which will no longer be required, and which will be added.9 In addition, the time frames for new installations and decommis- sioning will be required. Although the committee received briefing and information on NextGen, it was not given the actual schedules for installing new equipment and decommissioning older equipment and was not able to conclusively reflect on the specific details of NextGen and their implications for ATSS staffing. However, for the purposes of this report, the point is not the precise schedule for NextGen transitions but rather the importance of taking into account changes to the NAS components and their impact on staffing needs in future models. In regard to a decommissioning policy, the committee was told that Technical Operations is working toward developing a more comprehensive document that will address a national decommissioning process.10 One outcome of the NextGen implementation could be an eventual decrease in the workload for ATSS personnel overall because there will be fewer ground-based systems to maintain and the replace- ment systems are expected to have higher reliability than current systems. However, legacy systems will remain as critical elements of the NAS during the transition and beyond. 11 For example, some radar systems are likely to be maintained for national security reasons as backup in the event of satellite failure. As a result, it is highly likely that the workload demands on ATSS personnel will increase (thus increas- ing the staffing requirements) for some period of time until the removal of the legacy equipment offsets the demands of the new systems (GAO, 2010). Considering all of these factors, the committee believes that challenges will exist in staffing individual locations with the right mix of certified personnel in the proper disciplines, even if a perfect staffing model for the ATSS job series as a whole could be created. 8Steve Bradford, chief scientist, Architecture & NextGen Development, FAA, presentation on the Next Generation Air Traffic Management System to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012. 9Dynamic, up-to-date lists of equipment, facilities, and services can be vital ingredients in modeling the current workforce requirement. The out-year estimates or timelines for adding, removing, or modifying within the system are vital for prediction of out-year workforce requirements. In the Air Force, when major systems acquisitions are to be added to the inventory, an official Manpower Estimate Report is mandated as part of the process, and this report can be a basis for out-year budgeting of manpower (U.S. Air Force, 2011). Similar estimates or modules to be added to a staffing model could help the FAA predict future needs. 10Personal communication from Rich McCormick to committee staff, March 22, 2013, regarding decommissioning. 11Steve Bradford, chief scientist, Architecture & NextGen Development, FAA, presentation on the Next Generation Air T ­ raffic Management System to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012.

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26 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION ACKNOWLEDGED PROBLEM AREAS IN THE ATSS WORK ENVIRONMENT Throughout the data-gathering process, multiple stakeholder representatives expressed some con- sistent concerns that the committee agrees are problem areas within the ATSS work environment. These problem areas need to be addressed in whatever staffing model is developed. First, current staffing levels are not optimal at all locations and in all disciplines. That is, the overall staffing level for ATSS of 6,100, which is specified in the collective bargaining agreement between the FAA and the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) represents a negotiated compromise (GAO, 2010; Professional Airways Systems Specialists, 2000). Even if this were an optimal total number, there is some level of consensus between staff and management that the distribution of ATSS personnel by discipline and by work area needs to be improved. Second, there seems to be agreement among FAA management and ATSS personnel that the process in place for hiring, training, and certifying new ATSS personnel is not optimal. In many instances, Tech- nical Operations will hire a new employee and will then have to request a sufficient quota through the “annual call for training” to train that employee at the centralized facility. The training branch may not have budgeted for the additional training classes or have space for an additional student. If the training slot is not granted, then the employee has to wait for space to become available, which can take many months. After returning from training, there are also issues with availability of appropriate staff to con- duct required on-the-job training (OJT) that leads to certification because it may be difficult to take a journeyman technician away from assigned work on the NAS to complete the new employee’s training. Some ATSS personnel are frustrated by the requirement to train new employees if limited staffing levels require that they delay their NAS-related work.12 A third problem area is that, because new hires may require 4 to 18 months to become certified in a single discipline, these new hires will not be one-for-one substitutes for certified staff and will not be able to contribute as much to accomplishing the maintenance workload as certified staff. Although noncertified ATSS personnel can work on certain components to alleviate some of the workload pres- sures of those who are certified, before the equipment returns to service a certified specialist must review the work performed and certify the equipment. The committee was told that there is an ongoing effort to adjust the hiring system to address these training delays (i.e., planning for even-flow hiring), which should address the need to have a scheduled flow of new employees into the NAS maintenance system. Nevertheless, the committee remains concerned that this adjustment does not address the need to have adequate specialized training classes on the equipment requiring certification. Reliance on a manual system referred to as the “annual call” impairs the ability of the agency to be adequately prepared to train the right number of people in the appropriate training classes, specifically those requiring certifi- cation.13 Thus, it appears that certain human-systems integration (HSI) domains such as Personnel and Training (U.S. Air Force, undated) represent concurrent challenges that require continued exploration and analysis, even as the FAA seeks to create a robust ATSS manpower model. The varying travel and environmental issues specific to NAS locations represent additional factors that the committee consistently heard identified as complicating the development of a staffing model. For example, ATSS personnel at some locations are required to maintain equipment that is located a significant distance from their typical work location,14 although, to minimize the overall impact of travel 12Comments submitted to the Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation Stakeholder webpage, 2013. 13Vaughn Turner, vice president, Technical Operations, FAA, comment to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, January 24, 2013. 14Mike Perrone, president, PASS, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012.

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 27 time, ATSS personnel try to plan their remote visits to perform several tasks in one trip to the remote site. In addition to distance, there are specific accessibility issues present for some ATSS tasks at some locations. For example, the equipment may be located in an area that is not convenient to major roads or in an area that requires travel through hazardous terrain or severe inclement weather. In an extreme example, a piece of equipment located on a mountain top in winter can require several days of snow clearance to provide ATSS access to even begin the required task (Grant Thornton, 2012). Where travel and environmental challenges are significant, they should be documented and considered in tailoring features of a model. Needs Identified by ATSS Stakeholders ATSS job incumbents served as one major source of information for the committee. The committee gathered this information through presentations by representatives from the FAA and PASS, through visits to ATSS job sites, and through stakeholder comments posted by ATSS personnel on a webpage the committee established for this purpose. The committee’s summary of ATSS stakeholder perspectives is categorized around the following issues: • Training issues • Training impacts on workload • Watch schedules and shift assignments • Equipment issues • Other issues Training Issues Training progression for an ATSS is not a continuous, uninterrupted process that leads to certification in a predictable fashion, in part because staffing levels play a major role in the availability of a techni- cian (and the relevant supervisory personnel) to be released for resident training at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. Thus, supervisors and technicians must balance training goals with workload assignments. Furthermore, student quotas for resident classes are driven by the training academy’s budget, so availability and access are limited.15 For example, an ATSS trainee may have to wait months for a resident training slot (itself potentially lasting many months). This resident training is required before the OJT, which leads to eventual certification, can commence. Further, in most cases, resident training is not completed in one contiguous block of time; an ATSS trainee may have to make multiple trips to Oklahoma City to complete a sequence of courses.16 However, if the trainee’s primary duties have priority and substitute personnel are unavailable, a return to training can be put on hold for many months. Other forms of training, including equipment manufacturer training, computer-based instruction, and online training, also take technicians away from their primary duties in maintaining and repairing the equipment in the NAS.17 Nontechnical training requirements also limit the availability of ATSS trainees. Nontechnical training includes security training, training involving human resources requirements, and required safety train- ing. This safety training involves topics such as electrical safety, climbing, working in confined spaces, hazardous materials, and more. In addition, nontechnical training can include mandated training in equal 15Comments submitted to Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation Stakeholder webpage, 2013. 16Ibid. 17Ibid.

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28 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION employment opportunity or other training that may be related to the introduction of a new agency policy or a change in an existing policy. This type of training is generally directed from the headquarters level with a high priority and short deadlines for completion.18 Training Impacts on Workload Many of the skills that ATSS personnel require are acquired by formal OJT or by shadowing certified staffing specialists. When a new technician returns from training, establishing an effective relationship between a journeyman technician and the new technician to complete OJT and the certification process is a critical task. Although some journeymen embrace the opportunity to teach new hires and make an effort to provide good training and mentorship, others see it as an unwelcome addition to their workload. The latter attitude could lead to less than effective OJT for some technicians. Staffing levels may also prevent an effective mentorship between experienced technicians and newly trained technicians because the journeyman might not have time to provide OJT. Technicians do receive training to qualify as OJT instructors; however, this training falls short of what is needed to become good trainers and mentors for the new employees.19 Finally, although an ATSS may complete training assignments and be certified—a process that can take 3 to 5 years20—this journeyman level of profi- ciency is not a substitute for the skills of veteran workers. Until technicians have developed extensive on-the-job experience, their work requires a relatively high level of supervision and oversight. 21 That is, until a trainee technician is certified, that technician cannot independently maintain, restore to service, or certify elements of the NAS (tasks that are the highest priorities for ATSS personnel), even though the trainee is being counted as one of the staff assigned to the facility. In addition, the time a journeyman technician uses to provide formal OJT or proctor certification exams for technicians-in-training can conflict with higher priority work on NAS equipment. This conflict delays both completion of training and certification of the new employee, as well as scheduled preven- tive maintenance.22 Thus, the training phase affects workload in two ways: by decreasing the effective number of certified technicians at a facility and by increasing the workload of certified technicians who maintain the NAS. Watch Schedules and Shift Assignments For each of its facilities, the FAA provides guidance on the number and type of ATSS employees required on each shift throughout the day. This number could change on an hourly basis, depending on the amount of air traffic expected. This coverage requirement then guides the formulation of the basic watch schedule, which shows the weekdays and daily hours when coverage is required and also includes provisions for shift rotations as well as employees’ regular days off. 23 The FAA has conducted risk assessments of some facilities to determine how to utilize the available employees most effectively. 18Mike Perrone, president, PASS, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012. 19Comments submitted to Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation Stakeholder webpage, 2013. 20Mike Perrone, president, PASS, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012. 21Comments submitted to Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation Stakeholder webpage, 2013. 22Ibid. 23Mike Perrone, president, PASS, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012.

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 29 However, these risk assessments only address the impact to the NAS if a facility or service becomes inoperable and there is insufficient staffing to immediately respond. They do not change the magnitude or nature of the work required to restore service. In risk assessment terms, if the inoperable facility can be backed up by a nearby facility, then the repair response can be effectively delayed and the impact to the NAS is minimal. Based partly on these assessments, watch schedules frequently change to provide coverage of inadequately staffed facilities.24 A risk assessment is completed with many factors being considered, including hours of operation of the airport and surrounding needs of the user. In addition, they are always completed in conjunction with the Air Traffic Operations personnel who are the most familiar with equipment usage and system demands (FAA, 2011a). For example, although a small facility in an area with other facilities nearby may be most effectively served by coverage around the clock, every day (24/7), a risk assessment could conclude that a maintenance problem would not significantly affect the NAS because of redundancy in the nearby systems. The FAA might then reduce the coverage to 16 hours a day with call-back respon- sibilities. Thus, for 8 hours of each day, there will be minimal or no staff at the facility and employees would need to be called in for emergencies. Some stakeholders believe that this policy focuses too strongly on efficiency while potentially undermining effectiveness. 25 Equipment Issues Because of the varied equipment inventory of the NAS (e.g., communications, navigation, surveil- lance, environmental, and automation equipment), a typical ATSS employee may be responsible for three or more highly complex systems. Currently, it is common for an ATSS to be expected to be a “jack of all trades”—that is, a technician who is able to respond to equipment needs across multiple systems.26 This issue was affirmed by comments submitted in the stakeholder feedback. 27 Management in each individual service area must consider the diversity and complexity of the equipment inventory and have the necessary numbers of ATSS personnel with the required training and skills to respond to the maintenance and repair needs in that area. Upgrades, equipment changes, and reconfigurations of existing equipment are frequent and typically involve both hardware and software changes, resulting in new skill requirements for ATSS personnel, particularly in the use of software to maintain and reconfigure equipment. Because ATSS employees are the sole personnel authorized to certify and maintain the NAS and its components (including installing, testing, troubleshooting, repairing, and certifying all radar, communications, navigational aids, airport lighting, and backup power systems), realizing value from the approximately $20 billion per year invest- ment in the FAA hinges significantly on this group of technicians. The committee also noted that the demands of training and equipment modifications are interrelated. When equipment is updated or replaced, technicians must acquire the skills through training on the new equipment. For example, updates to the Critical and Essential Power System at an ARTCC will require every Environmental Support Unit (ESU) technician at that facility to attend training in Oklahoma City. The absence of one technician for the several weeks required to complete this training could significantly affect the staffing levels and watch coverage requirement. Thus, facilities that are already understaffed may not be able to staff coverage requirements during periods of intensive training on new equipment. 24Ibid. 25Ibid. 26Mike Perrone, president, PASS, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012. 27Comments submitted to Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation Stakeholder webpage, 2013.

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30 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION Other Issues That Impact the Workload and Staffing of ATSS Personnel Safety protocols place additional constraints on ATSS personnel workload and their availability. FAA technical manuals often direct that, for safety reasons, tasks may not be performed without at least two ATSS personnel being present.28 Working on high-voltage equipment, climbing on ladders, travel to remote sites under hazardous weather conditions, and rotating shifts at high-impact facilities that are staffed around the clock are all tasks that require multiple technicians. For example, ESU technicians work on mechanical and electrical equipment (e.g., batteries, chillers, generators) that require two tech- nicians for safety reasons. In addition to the regular preventive maintenance on that equipment, ESU technicians must be available to restore the Critical Power Distribution System without delay if it goes down.29 Although in theory 7 ESU technicians could staff a facility with 24/7 coverage requirements, the added requirement that 2 technicians must work on some equipment increases the required mini- mum number of staff in that discipline to 14, if certified managers are not available to work in situations requiring two workers. Travel time to remote facilities, which can be up to 200 miles distant, can further limit the availability of a technician to perform scheduled maintenance and potentially increase the time a system remains out of service. Technicians are dispatched from an SSC to remote sites, so managers and technicians must manage travel time along with scheduling the work itself. The committee was told that overnight travel for preventive maintenance might not be budgeted, so when ATSS personnel travel to a remote loca- tion that is several hours away, they must return to their home facility at the end of each day and drive multiple times to the location to finish the maintenance depending on the manager’s discretion with the budget. Consistently providing a budget for hotel and meal costs could allow the preventive maintenance to be completed more quickly and allow more tasks to be completed because less time would be spent driving.30 When the budget or the staffing does not allow for either of these options, then the efficiency and effectiveness of maintenance of the NAS could be compromised. Leaves of absence also limit the availability of ATSS personnel. Some examples include family medi- cal leave or service in the military reserves, which can leave facilities with significant staffing shortages for long periods of time. A number of ATSS personnel serve in the military reserves and are called on to fulfill commitments ranging from weekend service to long-term deployment, although the number of ATSS personnel who have military obligations and the timing of those obligations is not always known. 31 The committee learned that, although the FAA did not know the total number of ATSS personnel serving in the military reserves, it does know the number who have taken leave to serve. While commitment of ATSS personnel to military service should be commended, management at facilities will have some uncertainty in planning schedules, given this lack of knowledge about the number, duration, and timing of these commitments and the unpredictability of current and future military conflicts. Many other factors have an effect on workload. Many are small, but in aggregate they create sig- nificant demands on the ATSS workload. One such factor affecting availability is worker fatigue. For example, if a technician were to work excessive amounts of overtime, that individual might experience chronic fatigue to a level that would jeopardize effectiveness and safety. It is always wise to thoroughly explore and understand the use of overtime, a possible contributing factor to fatigue, when assessing 28Ibid. 29Ibid. 30Mike Perrone, president, PASS, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012. 31Personal communication on numbers of personnel in the military reserves from Rich McCormick to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, February 12, 2013.

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 31 required staffing levels. Article 47 of the current PASS/FAA labor agreement discusses overtime rules and considerations. In response to a committee request for data on overtime, the FAA provided data on the use of ATSS overtime during fiscal year 2012. It showed that only 15 percent of ATSS personnel had no overtime in the year, 50 percent used less than 50 hours, 20 percent used between 50 and 100 hours, and 3 percent had greater than 250 hours of overtime in that year.32 Continued analyses of documented/ undocumented overtime should be undertaken, usually during the familiarization phase of a model effort (see Chapter 3), and it should be monitored after model implementation. The FAA provided a manage- ment plan to mitigate fatigue and its consequent hazards (FAA, 2012b). Although making and enforcing rules increases the safety of the workers and of the NAS, those actions potentially reduce the available technician resource. A related factor is the effect that frustrating and annoying circumstances may have on ATSS personnel and their morale and stress levels. These factors in turn affect other factors that may have a significant effect on workload. For example, to the extent that morale has an impact on turnover, a chain of events starting with inability to get training when needed could result in higher turnover. Another of these factors is administrative tasks; the committee found that a technician’s workload can be increased by the need to respond to ad hoc requests for such things as spare parts inventories, vehicle surveys, etc.33 Needs Identified by Other Stakeholders The committee found that there are multiple stakeholders with an interest in ATSS staffing. To ensure that the committee had an opportunity to consider the views of stakeholders, the National Research Council established a webpage that allowed for comments as well as an opportunity to upload longer documents relating to one or more of four subject areas: Equipment, Training, Workload, and Models. In addition, respondents could choose None of the Above. Although the committee does not know the exact participation rate for the comments, the primary stakeholders (see Table 1‑1) were contacted and asked to advertise the comments webpage to their constituents. The webpage did not require the respondents to include their job title, but most indicated that they worked for the FAA or a specific Technical Opera- tions facility. The committee received 168 responses through this webpage for stakeholder input, the vast majority of which were posted by ATSS employees. By subject area, the leading issue was Workload (138) followed by Training (99), Equipment (76), and Models (21). The committee’s inspection and interpretation of the associated written comments yielded a broadly similar emphasis—Insufficient Staff- ing Level (93), Training Issues (21), Poor Staffing Distribution (8), Appropriate Staffing Level (7), and Miscellany (19). The broad themes of comments in the Insufficient Staffing Level designation included a perceived high manager-to-technician ratio and weaknesses of the staffing methods based upon allo- cation per facility, but the dominant issue was excessive workload demands. Comments designated as Appropriate Staffing Level generally expressed present satisfaction but included concerns for the future, given as yet unspecified new demands from NextGen, as well as sequestration cutbacks. The Miscellany comments ranged from suggested best practices to skepticism about the National Research Council’s study process.34 32Personal communication on ATSS overtime from Rich McCormick to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Spe- cialists in Aviation, January 2013. 33Mike Perrone, president, PASS, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012. 34Comments submitted to Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation Stakeholder webpage, 2013.

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32 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION MAJOR DRIVERS BEHIND ATSS STAFFING NEEDS The Next Generation Air Transportation System The FAA currently employs slightly fewer than 6,100 ATSS personnel, who are responsible for approximately 65,000 individual facilities and equipment that collectively define the NAS (Department of Transportation, 2012; FAA, 2012c). The principal driver behind ATSS staffing has been the need to maintain or oversee an extensive system of ground-based navigational, communications, environmental, and surveillance equipment. Although the largely satellite-based NextGen opens the possibility, at least in concept, of significantly reducing the existing inventory of ground-based navigation aids (e.g., Non- Directional Beacon and Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range [VOR]), the FAA has concluded that a reduced VOR-based navigation network will be required for the indefinite future in the event of failure of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) (FAA, 2012d). This VOR Minimum Opera- tional Network (MON) would comprise approximately half of the existing 967 stations, with virtually no reductions in the western United States (FAA, 2012e). The MON will support non-GNSS guidance to within 100 nautical miles of airports with Instrument Landing Systems or VOR approach procedures. This network reduction, planned for completion by 2020, will be accomplished through a combination of programmed decommissioning and nonrepair of failed units. 35 The continental U.S. Non-Directional Beacon network is currently being reduced through attrition (Department of Commerce, 2008), with its functionality compensated in part by GNSS-based approach procedures. As NextGen is not expected to significantly decrease the current role of ATSS personnel across all disciplines, and it could increase the complexity of some job tasks (GAO, 2010), the key question in anticipating ATSS staffing levels to the year 2020 and beyond is the degree to which the decreased work demand from the reduction by half of the VOR network will be offset or exceeded by the new demands of NextGen. In this regard, the committee notes that no VOR reductions are currently planned for the Western U.S. Mountainous Area (FAA, 2012e) where, in general, the least accessible VORs (e.g., on snowy mountaintops rather than adjacent to runways) are located. Furthermore, the MON will continue to be NAS reportable, and thus failure within the system will require immediate response by ATSS personnel. As the FAA transitions to NextGen, decisions will be made on how to redeploy and potentially elimi- nate staff associated with obsolete systems. The committee emphasizes that such planning is intrinsically risky, as unproven technology can thwart even the most judicious prognosticator. A relevant example of such unintended consequences arose when rollout of the En Route Automation Modernization system was delayed by four years, during which time the FAA reduced resources and eliminated training on the legacy equipment that the new system was replacing (GAO, 2012). Lastly, the FAA has not yet publicly specified its comprehensive maintenance requirements for NextGen equipment. An effective staffing model should go beyond documenting today’s required ATSS staffing levels; instead, a robust and acces- sible staffing model should be capable of incorporating such additional inputs as they become available, not only with respect to NextGen but also with respect to inevitable continuing technological advances. Finding 2-1: Changes to the NAS such as NextGen and MON implementation and unspecified decom- missioning policies all make the amount of work to be performed by ATSS personnel ambiguous and complicate the FAA’s task in developing an appropriate staffing model for ATSS. 35Vaughn Turner, vice president, Technical Operations, FAA, comment to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, January 24, 2013.

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 33 Conclusion 2-1: Developing and using a successful staffing model to predict future outcomes will be limited by unknowns such as decommissioning policies for legacy equipment, installation of NextGen equipment, and consolidation of facilities. Recommendation 2-1: The FAA should ensure that ATSS staffing models will incorporate new infor- mation about the unknown factors that affect ATSS staffing such as NextGen as it becomes available, consider their staffing implications, and use appropriate modeling techniques to plan for contingencies. Aging Workforce and Succession Planning A critical potential instability in secure maintenance of the NAS is the large number of ATSS per- sonnel who are at or nearing retirement eligibility.36 In a 2010 report, the GAO found that 23 percent of ATSS personnel would be eligible for retirement by 2012, 31 percent by 2015, and more than 50 percent by 2020. Extrapolating from recent retirements, they estimated that the FAA could face more than 500 retirements in fiscal year (FY) 2015 and about 900 in FY 2020 (GAO, 2010). Although not all the ATSS personnel eligible to retire are likely to do so in the year they become eligible (and there is no mandatory retirement age; FAA, 2012f), this potential instability in staff has been exacerbated by the limitations imposed by the 6,100 ATSS staffing agreement. Because it is sometimes interpreted (errone- ously) as a ceiling on personnel numbers, this policy has had the effect of severely limiting succession planning. For example, intensive recruitment of ATSS staff at the end of the FY is typically driven by recent separations without accounting for the many years it takes to train and certify new technicians. 37 Both PASS and FAA officials acknowledged the nonoptimal consequences of this practice, and the recently implemented even-flow hiring policy38 may perform significantly better at matching employee recruitment and hiring to both current and future facility needs. The challenge of modeling future staffing needs while maintaining and certifying the legacy equipment will continue until the phases of NextGen implementation are known. External Influences The general trend toward outsourcing services that has influenced FAA staffing in several areas (e.g., contract towers) appears unlikely to impact ATSS staffing levels significantly because maintenance of the NAS has been considered an “inherently governmental function,” which means it must be conducted by government employees and not contractors (Office of Management and Budget, 2003). 39 The committee heard concerns expressed from both FAA management and technician representatives that maintaining ATSS staffing levels in high cost-of-living regions is a constant challenge. Although federal employment policies provide for a cost-of-living pay differential in high-cost areas, experience indicates that the additional remuneration is not preventing a high rate of turnover in some areas. Fur- thermore, the policy of permitting ATSS personnel to request transfers at any time during their assign- ment (even allowing ATSS personnel to submit transfer requests on their first day at a location) is a 36The committee believes that attrition/accession models are best handled as separate human resource algorithms based upon the staffing model targets. 37Comments submitted to Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation Stakeholder webpage, 2013. 38Vaughn Turner, vice president, Technical Operations, FAA, comment to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, January 24, 2013. 39See discussion in Chapter 1.

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34 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION continuing source of frustration to planning staffing allocation levels—particularly in high-cost areas. 40 Facilities in these areas sometimes pay for the technician’s training with the assumption that the new hire will progress through certification and remain on staff, only to have the technician request a transfer to a lower cost-of-living area as soon as training is completed. Although understandable, this practice negatively affects management’s ability to schedule watch coverage over the long term. For example, when a technician who has just completed certification requests a transfer and leaves the facility, the next technician hired will have to undergo the training and certification process before being able to work on the NAS without supervision, which could result in months of understaffing for the facility and additional work for management and ATSS personnel. Internal Influences Consolidation of Facilities The FAA has in some cases realized efficiencies and workplace synergies from collocating geo- graphically separated facilities (e.g., the Southern California TRACON). In concert with NextGen, future infrastructure improvements are aimed at consolidation of existing facilities into purpose-designed, state-of-the-art complexes. For example, the planned New York Integrated Control Facility 41 would combine both Terminal and En Route facilities that are currently controlled separately from the New York TRACON in Suffolk County and the New York ARTCC in Nassau County, both on Long Island. One consideration in choosing a site for relocation is available and inexpensive land, such as an exurban or semirural site, to both minimize facility costs and provide an affordable environment for employees. Although locating the new consolidated facility in either Nassau or Suffolk Counties might be expected to cause minor dislocations to the technician staff, locating it to another location off Long Island may, in the near and intermediate term, be substantially disruptive to the existing workforce and could stimulate numerous staff relocations. Thus, an attempt to realize this sort of long-term cost savings needs to be managed in a manner that minimizes alienation of ATSS staff, possibly by providing transitions staged in discrete steps over several years. New and Continuing Knowledge Demands In individual discussions with ATSS personnel, some specialists reported that access to relevant programs that extend or diversify their ability to become certified in multiple equipment types within the NAS were limited by training quotas and travel budget shortfalls. These delays make it more difficult to complete training progression programs. Also noted was that some training classes were not at a suf- ficiently high technical level to be useful in the field. For example, a course might consist primarily of equipment overviews, rather than more in-depth training on equipment operations. 42 This is particularly true for ATSS personnel coming from military backgrounds who already have relevant knowledge and skills. Staffing shortfalls that result in ATSS personnel not being able to take advantage of available training were also noted by ATSS personnel as impediments to professional development. 43 40ATSS personnel comment to committee during site visits to FAA facilities at Leesburg and Dulles, Virginia. 41Austin Aurandt, acting manager, program management team, Air Traffic Control Facilities Directorate, AJW-2, FAA, pre- sentation titled “Future Facilities” Program Overview to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012. 42Comments submitted to Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation Stakeholder webpage, 2013. 43Ibid.

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 35 OTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR AN ATSS STAFFING MODEL Performance Measures An important consideration for any staffing model is the effect that inadequate staffing has on the goals of the organization. The ultimate measure of NAS performance is the availability of the equipment and facilities in good working order. One such related measure cited to the committee was “Adjusted Operational Availability,” defined as the ratio of the total time the NAS was fully operational (i.e., not experiencing an outage) to the maximum time the NAS could have been fully operational over the time frame measured, such as an FY (FAA, 2011c). This measure gives an idea of how much of the systems and services were available to the NAS, but it subtracts out the planned nonavailability due to scheduled maintenance. In FY 2011, the FAA set an Adjusted Operational Availability target of 99.7 percent and achieved a level of 99.72 percent. The Adjusted Operational Availability measurement may present an overly optimistic picture of NAS maintenance. For example, because the NAS includes redundant sys- tems, true outages of the NAS rarely occur. So an outage in one system within the NAS may be masked by another system providing the same functionality. The FAA uses a myriad of internal measures and metrics to monitor performance as part of the NAS Performance Analysis System. Many of these metrics are well worth exploring in relation to model- ing the resources required to maintain various NAS standards.44 For example, there are intermediate measures of performance that provide an indication of whether there is understaffing or overstaffing, including scheduled maintenance backlog, staff overtime, and metrics that capture any temporary staff supplements from other work sites or temporary reallocation of personnel in the work site to other duties. Finally, the cost of a particular staffing level provides useful information for comparing alternatives and assessing levels of performance risk. Risk Assessments From the HSI perspective, risk influences every step of the system development cycle (from defini- tion to end-of-life). Risk is an expression of potential loss; the loss may be loss of life, loss of equipment or property, loss of work days, loss of system or human functional capabilities, and/or other losses. Risk, in most staffing contexts, refers to the interaction between the probability of a negative event or hazard occurring and the severity of the consequences of the event or hazard. The expected value of the risk is summarized as the probability P multiplied by severity S. With ATSS staffing, risk may be related to the optimal staffing level: risk is lowered as staffing approaches optimal levels. In a stochastic model45 of staffing, risk can be estimated as the probability of adverse events and the time that systems are unavailable resulting from those events. In such a model, risk would be a direct function of staffing levels. Objective risk can be measured as a function of weighing factors that serve as contributing coefficients (such as fatigue, stress, training timelines, technological malfunctions, or maintenance demands) with variables that are part of the system (such as number of overtime hours an ATSS employee works, travel time to remote locations, or level of air traffic). Another way of assess- ing risk uses a combination of quantitative methods and qualitative methods that rely on judgments and decisions of experts. One common method to assess risk, which is represented in Figure 2-3 and 44See detailed listing of Outage, Availability, Restoration, and Reliability measures in FAA, 2011c. 45A stochastic model includes the inputs of time taken by ATSS personnel in all their tasks, but also incorporates the prob- abilities of unexpected events occurring that affect the time required to complete tasks such as equipment reliability, employee illness, and weather.

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36 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION Hazard Likelihood Hazard Categories Classification FREQUENCY OF Frequent Likely Occasional Seldom Unlikely OCCURRENCE Catastrophic I 1E 1E 2H 2H 3M SEVERITY Critical II 1E 2H 2H 3M 4L Marginal III 2H 3M 3M 4L 4L Negligible IV 3M 3L 4L 4: 4L Hazard Risk Index FIGURE 2-3  Hazard assessment matrix. 2-3.eps Abbreviations: Extremely high (E), High (H), Moderate (M), and Low (L), Hazard Risk Index Labels: 1 = Unac- ceptable, 2 = Undesirable with management waiver required, 3 = Acceptable with management review, 4 = Ac- ceptable without review. SOURCE: Swallom, Lindberg, and Smith-Jackson, 2003:505. Permission granted by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. described by Swallom, Lindberg, and Smith-Jackson (2003), is based on a combination of graphical risk assessment tools provided by Kohn, Friend, and Winterberger (1996), Military Standard 882C (Department of Defense, 1993), and Roland and Moriarty (1990). The FAA employs a similar model construct (FAA, 2007a). With this matrix, risk can be assessed in the ATSS staffing plan by conducting a facility visit followed by a what-if analysis of scenarios resulting from current or estimated staffing levels. For example, an event that would result in critical negative outcomes (e.g., severe injuries and/or large financial loss) and that would occur frequently in conditions of low staffing would be unacceptable and lead to extremely high risk. On the other hand, an event with similar outcomes that is highly unlikely to occur in low staffing conditions could yield an acceptably low level of risk. Thus, the table reflects both potential effects and likelihoods of risky events. The 2006 report by the National Research Council on staffing for aviation safety inspectors suggested risk should be analyzed at two levels: (1) a detailed analysis focusing on aspects of “system design” (i.e., the confluence of factors that drive demand for ATSS); and (2) a macro-level analysis that focuses on “program risk management” (i.e., the approaches used to promote safety) (National Research Council, 2006). In the 2006 report, the committee considered risk an important factor in exploring the parameters of a staffing model and establishing staffing levels. Several aspects of the ATSS staffing situation increase risk. As indicated by stakeholders, risk is increased when hiring lags behind the need for qualified ATSS personnel. Lack of training or delays in training, both formal and informal, lead to understaffing, a workforce that has insufficient skills to perform the assigned work, or both. These consequences also increase risk. As previously mentioned, the demand for scheduled preventive maintenance and relatively unpredictable corrective maintenance add a level of risk that reflects a range of probabilities and uncer- tainty in the entire system. Geographic diversity of the NAS facilities also contributes to complexity and increases risk by limiting the number of certified ATSS personnel available.

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 37 Periodic Condition-Based Corrective Run to Fault Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance Periodic Maintenance Condition Based Run to Fault Corrective Maintenance • Safety-related checks • Time-based actions a conscious decision is employed after a failure • Preventive maintenance • Cycle-based actions to accept the risk of a or to correct a problem inspections • Predictive Analysis facility problem or failure • Performance checks and and Intervention routine maintenance FIGURE 2-4  Reliability centered maintenance. SOURCE: FAA, 2010. 2-4.eps This can now be shades of green, if preferred Tracking Maintenance Activities At present, the FAA has shifted ATSS work to a reliability centered maintenance 46 approach (FAA, 2007b, 2010) from a previous philosophy that stressed more frequent periodic maintenance and cer- tification activity for many NAS systems. The implementation of an event-based certification process eliminates the requirement for periodic system and subsystem certification, but mandates certification prior to commissioning new equipment, upon requests following aircraft incidents, after any adjustment to the certification parameters, and prior to restoration after any modification or specified interrup- tions. Rather than more frequent scheduled maintenance activities on some systems, the philosophy of event-based certification has shifted to “run to fault,” at which point the equipment would be inspected, repaired or restored, and certified to return to the NAS. Alternatively, failed equipment might also be decommissioned. Figure 2-4, taken from an FAA pamphlet titled 6000.15E Pocket Reference,47 shows a “shorthand” perspective of the evolved philosophy of reliability centered maintenance (FAA, 2010). Remote Maintenance Monitoring (RMM) has been extensively implemented within the FAA (FAA, 2010). Bottino and Hughes (2004) assert that “reliability, suitability, and longevity of navigational aids, weather processors, and surveillance systems have improved due to the functionalities RMM systems provide.” Although RMM systems continue to transform the ATSS environment, and NextGen systems are being implemented with significant reliability enhancements in mind, aging of the NAS legacy sys- tems and the availability of critical parts for old equipment may counteract those advantages. Currently, ATSS personnel are required to update multiple nonlinked legacy systems, rather than a single, integrated system. Both advanced deployment of RMM and the utilization of modern, integrated Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) can help optimize utilization of all ATSS maintenance 46Reliability centered maintenance concepts were honed in the aviation realm and have since spread dramatically through other maintenance-related fields. Ideally, the whole state of reliability and maintainability best practices should be examined for careful application within the NAS, and lessons from the ATSS world should be shared with others. See Moubray (2001) for an excellent treatment of this subject. 476000.15E—General Maintenance Handbook for National Airspace System (NAS) Facilities Pocket Reference (FAA, 2010) was superseded by 6000.15F (FAA, 2011a). In the update, some guidance changes were made as Safety Risk Management specialists reviewed and concurred that the changes were categorized as having no safety impact and posed no risk to the NAS. It was finalized in the Safety Risk Management Decision Memorandum dated October 5, 2010.

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38 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION resources. The FAA may incorporate elements of maintenance resources into an evolved CMMS archi- tecture to help assess shift scheduling, inventory of spares, and optimal use of personnel to maintain the NAS. This new system should integrate at least the following: • Facility, Services, and Equipment Profile data collected and stored in an electronic system to document the maintenance activities related to the NAS (Grant Thornton, 2011) • The Remote Monitoring and Logging System used by Technical Operations to track the scheduled maintenance performed (Grant Thornton, 2011) • Labor Distribution Reporting (LDR), which is used by Technical Operations to track the time spent on job tasks (Grant Thornton, 2011) An evolved CMMS solution would help FAA resource planning and optimization of parts or staffing through the objective of moving closer to seamless systems that multiply productivity for the people. This contrasts with the current situation in which ATSS personnel feed similar information into multiple systems. Balancing Budgetary Priorities When ATSS staffing levels are adequate to perform prescribed maintenance activities, risk to NAS safety is minimized. At the same time, staffing levels will, in part, be determined by the cost of labor and other budgetary priorities. However, allowing staffing levels to be driven solely by cost is an unac- ceptable risk to the NAS. Thus, the interactions among staffing levels, NAS performance, and system costs require further exploration. Staffing Model Considerations Any staffing model requires data. LDR records were intended to provide accurate data on the time spent performing work at each facility, the specific job tasks undertaken, and the associated documenta- tion of that work.48 However, incorrect data resulting from either underreporting or nonreporting (which both management and labor agreed were generally due to the unwieldy structure of the LDR system) 49 result in unreliable inferences regarding the amount and type of work performed by ATSS employees. One example of the multiple problems with LDR is that time recorded for travel to a remote facility cannot be logged using the same code used for working at that facility. In addition, the administrative tasks that ATSS personnel must perform during every shift (e.g., time logging, maintenance logs) do not have LDR codes and are thus not recorded.50 By comparison, the Simplified Automated Logging system likely provides a more accurate record of the time and types of work performed by ATSS personnel than does the LDR;51 it could therefore contribute more useful data to a staffing model, once the data have been evaluated. 48Mike Perrone, president, PASS, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012. 49Ibid. 50Comments submitted to Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation Stakeholder webpage, 2013. 51Mike Perrone, president, PASS, AFL-CIO, presentation to the Committee on Staffing Needs of Systems Specialists in Aviation, December 6, 2012.

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WORK ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS FOR AIRWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS 39 The committee investigation kept in mind an overall HSI approach across the nine major HSI domains, as they are essential elements in the success of the ATSS workforce in maintaining the NAS. For example, the size and cost of a workforce are dependent on the level of performance and safety deemed essential. As discussed in Chapter 1, the personnel, training, human factors, and manpower domains are interdependent. It should be noted that much of the committee’s effort focused on the manpower domain. In this report the committee uses the terms staffing models and staffing standards to denote HSI manpower domain tools for the determination and management of manpower as a resource. Such tools support decisions about how many workers of what general types are needed to staff the organization and decisions on what the corresponding workload is. The manpower requirement estimated by a model may be an overall aggregate number or the number of personnel by location or by work areas within each location. Depending upon the rigor and approach involved, the model could potentially account for skills, grades, and qualifications. The ATSS skill uni- verse includes the five disciplines or skill areas described at the beginning of this chapter. Because of the current operations involving ATSS personnel and the requirements for appropriate certification, the supply and demand for each of these skill areas should be accounted for within the model. Finding 2-2: A number of human resource issues, such as hiring procedures, training requirements, retirements, and military obligations, affect the number of qualified ATSS personnel who are available at any point in time to maintain the NAS. Conclusion 2-2: The committee concludes that human resource issues such as retirements and succes- sion planning considerations should be addressed in conjunction with any comprehensive manpower staffing model. Implications for Staffing Models Based on its understanding of the ATSS job and work environment, the committee noted several implications for a staffing model: • It must capture the full extent of the NAS and its varied components, the geographic dispersion of facilities, and the staffing implications of travel time to equipment in remote areas. • It must clearly identify domain disciplines in which ATSS personnel must be proficient to meet workload demand, and it must quantify the levels of expertise required. • Performance measures or outcomes, both final (ultimate) and intermediate, should be included so that the model can provide predictions regarding the outcomes of a given staffing plan. Recommendation 2-2: In accordance with the principles of human-systems integration, the FAA should build a robust staffing model that takes into account all of the following aspects of the ATSS job series, in addition to the time that ATSS personnel spend on preventive and corrective maintenance tasks: • Training issues, time to schedule training, the time required to attend training, and the time of experienced ATSS personnel necessary to provide OJT • Travel time to and from work sites • Environmental challenges • Time dedicated to military reserve service or family and medical leave • Fatigue mitigation plans • Safety factors • LDR deficiencies and other data deficiencies

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40 ASSESSMENT OF STAFFING NEEDS OF SYSTEMS SPECIALISTS IN AVIATION • Aging workforce and succession planning considerations • FAA’s Next Generation (NextGen) system • Nontechnical task demands SUMMARY The job duties and work environment for ATSS personnel are extremely complex. The job series encompasses multiple disciplines and requires extensive training. Incumbents confront environmental and travel issues, are subject to the demands of shift work, and have demands on their time beyond their assigned technical responsibilities. The implementation of the NextGen system adds an additional layer of ambiguity and concern regarding ATSS workload. All of these issues are acknowledged by the stake- holders who provided input to the committee. Any staffing model for ATSS personnel that is intended to be accepted by appropriate stakeholders will need to address these concerns.