ATCA Bulletin | Issue 4, 2017

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Air Traffic Control Association

No. 4, 2017

Tech Symposium Sneak Peek Atlantic City or Bust!

IN THIS ISSUE: »» Time-Based Management »» Member Spotlight: MITRE »» Victoria Wassmer Reminds ATCA’s YAPs to Enjoy the Journey »» Forecasting Smoother Rides for Passengers and Crew


No. 4, 2017 Published for

By Peter F. Dumont, President & CEO, Air Traffic Control Association

New Staff, Policies Bring Aviation Changes


s with all new administrations, we are looking at political appointee announcements and wondering how the new staff might affect policy. In the world of transportation, the recent appointee for the Undersecretary of Transportation for Policy at the Department of Transportation (DOT), Derek Kan, has made me wonder what changes he might bring to aviation. Kan has an impressive résumé, which includes working for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, serving on the board of Amtrak, and most recently Lyft’s general manager for Southern California. Kan’s understanding of Capitol Hill as well as surface transportation through traditional modes (Amtrak) and disrupters (Lyft) may bring a new perspective on breaking down the stovepipes of transportation modes. The structures of Congress and the DOT create a division along transportation modes, which can limit the evaluation of our overall transportation challenges and

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our solutions. A great example is highspeed train investment often touted as a singular mode to invest in, as opposed to a piece of a larger transportation network. Politicians and the public say, “Why don’t we have high-speed train travel like they do in Europe or China?” We should not strive to develop modes of transportation as trinkets symbolizing wealth; we should strive to develop a transportation network that moves goods and people and addresses the larger needs of our economy. Assuming Derek Kan is confirmed by the Senate, I hope he brings a broader view of transportation to our thinking. This was on my mind when the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) decided to focus on the Northeast (NE) Corridor as an aviation choke point that impacts the entire system and identify projects that leverage NextGen investments to relieve the excessive congestion.

Director, Communications: Abigail Glenn-Chase Formed in 1956 as a non-profit, professional membership association, ATCA represents the interests of all professionals in the air traffic control industry. Dedicated to the advancement of professionalism and technology of air traffic control, ATCA has grown to represent several thousand individuals and organizations managing and providing ATC services and equipment around the world.

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May 16–18, 2017 ATCA Technical Symposium Atlantic City, N.J. Register Now! 2

ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 4, 2017

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© 2017 Air Traffic Control Association, Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of ATCA. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors of the editorial articles contained in this publication are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of ATCA. Cover photo: ATCA


The NAC’s new effort, under the leadership of Chair David Bronczek, FedEx’s president and COO, will be looking to incorporate new NextGen technology and policy solutions to the extremely complicated and congested NE Corridor. The NAC is identifying the issues, challenges, and solutions to this crucial aviation crossroads and the topic will undoubtedly dominate the NAC discussions for the foreseeable future. Acting Deputy Administrator Victoria Wassmer recently clarified that the effort should begin with two phases: Phase 1 to be completed by June 2017 and Phase 2 by October 2017. During Phase 1, the NAC should identify opportunities to improve the NE Corridor with a focus on efforts lasting less than 18 months. A key requirement is that the NAC

clearly define success and identify metrics to measure benefits. Phase 2 requires the NAC to deliver a joint implementation plan including government and industry milestones and metrics. In the past, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other experts have looked at redesigning the airspace to solve NE Corridor delays. The NE Corridor congestion is a complicated problem that we have focused on before, but our past analyses should support – not discourage – today’s examination of the problem. I believe the NAC can find improvements leveraging the advances in NextGen. But as we develop solutions, I can’t help thinking that the NE Corridor is actually a choke point for all modes of transportation, not just aviation. I also believe that our country needs to have leaders looking at the broader transportation network for our future. DOT’s role is to see transportation in its entirety, and I hope that Kan brings a big picture mindset to the DOT table. The NAC may not be the perfect place to discuss the issues of the nation’s overall transportation network, but we who participate in the NAC should invite the discussion to take place in our adjacent organizations. As a network, transportation has exponential relationships. A focused fix on aviation isn’t enough to measurably increase efficiency for airline passengers; it only eases one part of their journey. Fixing transportation flows may be what we are after in the NE Corridor, not just aviation bottlenecks. By fixing the transportation flow, we find that all modes of transportation reap benefits. That is the whole point of a network. As transportation professionals ourselves, we should all take a minute to think outside of vehicle-based solutions. Let’s consider transportation problems and solutions grounded in the broader transportation network, which is truly our country’s economic engine. With Kan behind the metaphorical wheel, we might just get that type of holistic transportation perspective at the DOT level.

ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 4, 2017



Symposium Sneak Peek

TBM or Bust!


ive years from now, how do you envision air travel? Will NextGen technologies be a part of every aviation consumer’s lexicon? The key to evolving air travel for all parties is to increase efficiency without sacrificing safety. Survey says the best way to do that is through a time-based management (TBM) system. If NextGen is the future of air traffic, then TBM represents the heart of it. The Tech Symposium – May 16-18, 2017 in Atlantic City, N.J. – sessions on Wednesday morning will explore the NAS’s


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transition to a TBM system, diving deep into its technologies, capabilities, and user/operational challenges. So, is TBM the driving force behind NextGen? Speaker Wes Googe of American Airlines thinks it’s only part of the equation. “It’s a big piece of it,” said Googe. “One piece we haven’t leveraged is the time piece. Ground-based tools from FAA can only go to a certain precision level. We need to bring the system to a point where you recognize measurable enhanced benefits.”

Moderator Jeff Woods of NATCA isn’t so sure. “It’s about everything we’re doing,” said Woods, citing ERAM, TAMR, and PBN as equal contributors. “It’s the way we use those tools to enable a TBO concept. It’s a huge culture change. We have to have better way to manage flow.” “Flight crews like as much predictability as possible – a lot of air traffic is based on that predictability,” said Googe. “I’m in favor of a technology that will allow me to have efficient use of my time once the plane pushes off. They pay me to get the passengers from point A to point B in a safe manner, so when all this stuff starts slowing down, it has an impact.” Although TBM technologies like time-based flow management (TBFM) are already being used more than many realize, there are still an abundance of challenges for full implementation.

For Woods, operational integration is the toughest part. “The way we deploy those tools, we’ve got to be able to integrate it in. All of these things are so interlaced now and they’re becoming more and more complex – one change has ability to affect everything.” *The full article will be featured in ATCA’s Tech Symposium on-site conference guide. See thought leaders in government and industry come together to affect change at ATCA’s Tech Symposium, May 16-18 in Atlantic City, N.J. Speakers will dive deep on topics such as TBM, UAS Traffic Management (UTM), Data, Commercial Space, and more! See the full agenda at For more information about the event, visit

ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 4, 2017


Member Spotlight Is The MITRE Corporation the Field of Dreams for Aviation? Kristen Knott, ATCA


Lillian Ryals, MITRE Senior Vice President and FAA FFRDC Director


ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 4, 2017

id you know there are 40 federal funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) in the US and that The MITRE Corporation operates seven of them? At MITRE, they don’t (or rather can’t) build anything or bid on any contracts, and yet they offer some of the coolest services across government, industry, and academia. Imagine a one-stop-shop with everything you could possibly need. FFRDCs are not-for-profit entities sponsored and funded by the US government to meet long-term research and development needs that cannot be fully met by existing in-house or contractor resources. MITRE’s major capabilities include systems engineering, cybersecurity, advanced technologies, and acquisition. They serve as long-term strategic partners for the government. The MITRE Corporation is bigger than you’d think. They’re comprised of over 7,500 employees, with about 600 in the aviation FFRDC. “We’ve chosen to be constrained by these seven FFRDCs,” said Lillian Ryals, MITRE senior vice president and director of the FAA FFRDC. “Those constraints ensure that we will always operate free from real or perceived conflicts of interests – that we will not compete with industry – and that we won’t manufacture products or provide routine services that industry can provide themselves. We are governed by the federal acquisition regulations.” “The government comes to MITRE and other FFRDCs in order to ensure a long-term engineering capability – one that allows

their FFRDC special access to sensitive government and industry propriety and sensitive data that isn’t subject to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act],” she added. According to Lillian, their work “enables industry to have a better chance at success,” which allows better competition for government. “We do things that are too complex to compete – like upfront definition and requirements development so there’s a level playing field for industry to bid.” MITRE’s work is not a new phenomenon. They’ve been doing their thing since 1958. Since its inception, they’ve had a hand in practically every aspect of aviation, and that’s never been truer than it is today. Of course, MITRE is heavily involved with everyone’s most popular new entrant: UAS. MITRE was one of the earlier organizations to work with UAS technologies. Case in point: Hurricane Katrina. 2005 was the dawn of industry utilizing UAS for things like disaster relief. MITRE, which supports nearly every office at the FAA, brought together the Agency and all other participating companies. “We helped to answer what are the gaps and everyone’s responsibilities,” said Lillian. MITRE was able to do this through its simulation facilities, which could mirror the post-Hurricane Katrina environment and airspace. Beyond FAA, today MITRE is also actively supporting the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security with their UAS endeavors, all through separate FFRDCs. “We try to bring data to the table to inform decision making.”

Speaking of data, MITRE also keeps a propriety safety database of all commercial aircraft in the US. That way, they can inform the FAA and assist with analysis when the need arises. MITRE can also license intellectual property. “MITRE cannot favor anyone but we give everyone access to intellectual property,” said Lillian. “The government can’t go to a commercial entity and say we’re going to work with you for 10 years. We have to do a comprehensive review every five years by law, so we have to constantly show our value.” MITRE is also involved with everyone’s other favorite new entrant: commercial space. They helped develop a commercial space roadmap for the FAA, specifically assisting the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) with preparing safe zones in the National Airspace System (NAS). There’s almost nothing MITRE isn’t involved in. If you can dream it, they can build it (just not manufacture it). They just want industry to better understand what they do. “The more people understand the role we play, the better position we can have for collaborative and appropriate partnerships,” said Lillian. And for MITRE, being an ATCA member is a no-brainer. “ATCA truly is the central place where the aviation industry comes together on a routine basis and gets a quick assessment of the technology and challenges and reconnects on a routine basis, both at executive and operational levels,” she added. ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 4, 2017


Victoria Wassmer

Reminds ATCA’s YAPs to Enjoy the Journey Kristen Knott, ATCA


cting Deputy Administrator Victoria Wassmer didn’t set out to become one of the highest-ranking officials at the FAA. She worked hard, forged relationships, and one thing led to another. She took the time to break down her “non-traditional journey” at the ATCA Young Aviation Professionals (YAP) Lunch & Learn event in Washington, D.C., on April 12. At 23, Wassmer was helping develop democratic governance models in Johannesburg, South Africa, in an effort to ease apartheid in the region. The experience was transformative and showed her how government can help people. From there, she earned a graduate degree Victoria Wassner, Acting Deputy from Harvard's Kennedy School and moved to Administrator, FAA Washington, D.C. “My early experiences help inform me now – they drove my passion around purpose,” said Wassmer. She started her career in government at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) after she made a connection at a career fair. At OMB, where they often promoted young analysts, Wassmer helped implement presidential policies and worked on surface transportation issues. When a colleague said the Agency had “the best analytic capability," she made herself familiar with the FAA. Wassmer first came to the FAA in 2004 and worked in finance. Before long, she enrolled in their senior leadership program, which she urged YAPs to take advantage of if their organizations offered similar programs. After a stint with the Millenium Challenge Corporation, she returned to the FAA in 2011, where she worked to implement information finance techniques that proved to be critical during the 2013 budget sequestration. She was asked to step in as acting deputy administrator in July 2016. “It’s been fascinating – it’s allowed me to be more active in the policy arena. I see personally in the field how the transformation to NextGen is making a difference,” she said. And her advice for YAPs? Put yourself out there and never stop growing relationships. “No matter what level you’re at, develop any relationship you can at any level you can,” she said, adding that they can help maximize opportunities. “Relationships are portable. They can help you understand another perspective.” “I think you can be a leader in your organization at any level – you don’t necessarily have to have the power,” she added. Wassmer also urged YAPs to embrace their failures. “Failures are part of how you learn and grow,” she said. “It helped me to better understand what I needed at my next job.” Wassmer feels it’s a great time to work in the aviation industry. “I think we’re in an exciting and transformational time – new entrants are changing the landscape.” ATCA believes our YAPs will, too. 8

ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 4, 2017

Interested in getting involved with ATCA's YAP Committee or hosting a YAP event? Reach out to today!

ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 4, 2017



ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 4, 2017

Forecasting Smoother Rides for Passengers and Crew


nyone who has flown enough has felt the chop, bumps, and rough patches of the skies known as turbulence, which can create unpleasant rides and even cause serious injuries. In-flight turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to airline passengers and flight attendants in non-fatal accidents. Between 2010 and 2015, 213 serious turbulence-related injuries were reported to the National Transportation Safety Board. To lower the risk of encountering in-flight turbulence, NextGen’s Aviation Weather Division partnered with the National Center for Atmospheric Research to develop Graphical Turbulence Guidance (GTG). The fully automated, web-based turbulence forecasting tool helps commercial and general aviation pilots make more informed flight-planning decisions that can enhance cabin safety and potentially ease controller workload. “GTG provides better turbulence information for added safety, efficiency, and capacity,” said Tammy Farrar, an FAA NextGen research meteorologist. “It can help keep pilots at an optimal altitude and keep flights on an optimal flight route.” Farrar and Deborah Smith, a computer specialist and NextGen Weather safety lead, supported the development of GTG’s newest release, including the coordination of safety risk management activities required for its deployment. Pilots who access the tool can get a 4D atmospheric turbulence forecast for the 48 contiguous United States and much of Canada and Mexico. Forecasting in locations outside of these areas is under development.

The tool has several features: • Flight crews can more effectively plan smoother, safer routes around mountainous regions by using the mountain wave turbulence forecasting. • Users can obtain specific turbulence intensity levels according to aircraft type and weight class. • Forecasts are available up to 18 hours in advance. • An extended forecasting range includes lower altitudes to help general aviation pilots. Delta Air Lines was the nation’s first air carrier to test GTG with a flight crew in normal operational environments, with the goal of enhancing crews’ ability to anticipate and react to turbulent conditions. The airline participated in the safety analysis supporting the newest version and later developed a computer tablet application – Flight Weather Viewer – to better leverage the GTG platform. Flight Weather Viewer depicts current and forecasted turbulence along Delta flight paths and can be accessed in the cockpit using the aircraft’s Wi-Fi network. The application relies on data generated by automated aircraft reports, pilot reports (PIREPs), radar, and satellite-based sensors to produce hourly forecasts. Since Flight Weather Viewer’s inception, Delta has reported a significant reduction in flight crew radio calls to controllers requesting PIREPs about turbulence and fewer altitude changes based on available PIREP data. The FAA continues to expand its partnership with industry to research and develop innovative NextGen tools like GTG that are designed to enhance safety and efficiency. Visit for the latest NextGen information.

ATCA Bulletin  |  No. 4, 2017


Staff Ken Carlisle, Director, Meetings and Expositions Theresa Clair, Associate Director, Meetings and Expositions Glenn Cudaback, Manager, Digital Media and Marketing Abigail Glenn-Chase, Director, Communications Ashley Haskins, Office Manager Kristen Knott, Managing Editor & Writer Christine Oster, Chief Financial Officer Paul Planzer, Manager, ATC Programs Rugger Smith, International Development Liaison Sandra Strickland, Events and Exhibits Coordinator Tim Wagner, Manager, Membership

Officers and Board of Directors Chairman, Charles Keegan Chair-Elect, Cynthia Castillo President & CEO, Peter F. Dumont East Area Director, Susan Chodakewitz Pacific Area, Asia, Australia Director, Peter Fiegehen South Central Area Director, William Cotton Northeast Area Director, Mike Ball Southeast Area Director, Jack McAuley North Central Area Director, Bill Ellis West Area Director and Secretary, Chip Meserole Canada, Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico Area Director, Rudy Kellar Europe, Africa, Middle East Area Director, Jonathan Astill Director-at-Large, Rick Day Director-at-Large, Vinny Capezzuto Director-at-Large, Michael Headley Director-at-Large, Fran Hill
















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