GOP Rep. Mica: FAA air traffic control error reporting system needs improvement

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The FAA was sharply criticized last year for multiple reports of its air traffic controllers sleeping on the job.

Mica said Monday that "voluntary reporting programs have played a role in achieving the high level of safety enjoyed by U.S. civil aviation today."

But he added that "the IG’s report reminds us that such programs must be legitimate sources of safety information, and not amnesty programs.

"The FAA and [National Air Traffic Controllers Association] must work together to address the problems outlined in the IG’s report, including better transparency, improved data analysis, and better adherence to the agreed upon program structure, including what types of reports can be accepted into the program," Mica said.

NATCA Safety Committee Chairman Steve Hansen said Monday that the voluntary reporting system had identified areas of concern in air traffic control that would not have been corrected otherwise.

“The bottom line is that since the beginning of implementation in 2008, no other safety program has identified and fixed more local and systemic problems than the [Air Traffic Safety Action Program]," Hansen said in a statement after the DOT released the IG report.

“More than 60 percent of the 21,462 Air Traffic Organization (ATO) employees who are eligible to participate in the ATSAP program have submitted at least one ATSAP report," Hansen said. "We agree with the FAA that this marks a giant step forward for safety. The ATO now has more and better-detailed safety data than before. The high level of participation shows controllers see the program as a way to improve safety."

House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) agreed, but he also said he agreed with Mica that the voluntary reporting program needed to be improved.

"The ATSAP program plays an important role in identifying risks and allowing the FAA to address safety concerns identified,” Petri said in a statement. “We want to be sure that we are aware of issues and errors that occur so corrective steps can be implemented.  However, we need to be sure we are getting all the benefits that we can from ATSAP and that all available measures are taken to alleviate identified safety concerns."

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