Tag Archives: Robert Sturgell

At Safety Forum, Sturgell asks for trust

Here’s a link to the transcript of Bobby Sturgell’s speech at the FAA’s International Safety Forum in Washington today. An excerpt:

I’d like to leave you with a challenge. We must try to educate people to understand that the system is risk based and that our focus should be on the high risks and the high-consequence events. If we don’t, it’s going to get harder and harder to do the things we need to. We run the risk of working at things of lesser importance. I think that at the core of all this is partnership. In a system that’s as complex as the one we’re here to discuss, there must be familiarity and trust at all levels and across all entities, specifically industry and government. We know the “gotcha” approach drives safety issues underground … which is where they’ll stay until the next accident.

Thanks to partnership, technology and procedures, we have successfully eliminated or reduced risk in many areas. We know, for example, that precision brings safety, and technology is often the key to precision. We see that with RNP/RNAV. But technology and new procedures notwithstanding, there are still remaining risks we still need to tackle. We’re doing everything we can technology-wise on our runways, but it still comes down to the human element. When you’re told to hold short, will you? In a society that expects no risk, we’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can.

The fact is we do not have a risk-free system. But life is risky. You prepare, you drill, you equip, you train, you modify, make mistakes, learn from them, and correct things. And you share information, you eliminate known hazards, you flag potential weaknesses, you guard against them. Most importantly, you recognize that the antidote to fear generated by risk is trust.

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Nationwide ADS-B ground rollout formally announced

It was not exactly unexpected, but ADS-B has been deemed officially fit for prime time. Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell announced a nationwide rollout of ground stations yesterday in a speech before the Aero Club in Washington. (Press release here.)

In the short term, the biggest beneficiary of this “in-service decision” will be system integrator ITT, which had the main contract for installation at a series of 11 test sites around the Miami ARTCC. (More details about the business angle in this article from flightglobal.)

In his remarks, Sturgell lamented the state of public perceptions around NextGen, and especially around the FAA’s ability to manage complex projects in a timely fashion:

We’re dealing with claims like “NextGen won’t be here until 2025” or “NextGen’s just a slogan.” I think that talk comes to a halt today.  [..]  In just a little more than a year following the ADS-B contract award, we’re in the position to give it the green light. On budget. On schedule. This decision clears the way for the installation of ground stations, and to transmit broadcasts for operational use across the nation. We’ll start on both coasts and portions of the Midwest. 310 ground stations are scheduled to be operational by 2010.

At the same time, we’re setting up key sites for ADS-B testing for surveillance. We’re going to use the Gulf of Mexico, Philadelphia, Juneau and Louisville. And once the test is completed, we follow closely at additional key sites, like New York.

By 2013, we’ll have 794 ground stations to complete the deployment, covering everywhere that you find radar today. And also in places like the Gulf and the mountains of Alaska, where there is no radar coverage.

I said a moment ago that the critics contend that NextGen is a slogan. This is the order to accept the system — to commission it. Vinny Capezzuto’s group has tested ADS-B ten ways from Sunday, and it works. The top safety expert, Nick Sabatini, says it’s a go. The COO is a former airline pilot, and he’s giving it thumbs up. Consider ADS-B operational on November 24, 2008, at 10:15 a.m.

The four sites that Sturgell referenced (Gulf of Mexico, Philadelpha, Juneau, Louisville) are interesting in that the technology being tested there represents the next frontier for ADS-B. These so-called “critical services” are intended to provided GPS-based aircraft position data to controllers, in order to help achieve correct separation. Theoretically, this will eventually allow the FAA to eliminate secondary radar in some locations.

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FAA to establish foothold in India

While it’s not exactly NextGen, the Times of India had an interesting item about the FAA’s efforts to establish closer ties with the aviation community in India. At this week’s India Aviation conference and expo in Hyderabad, acting Administrator Robert Sturgell announced that the agency will be dispatching a permanent representative to India for the first time.

“Through partnerships in these area we want to learn from each other. Safety and efficiency solutions will benefit every one,” [Sturgell] said.

Sturgell said as countries were developing new aviation systems, there was a need to ensure that they are harmonized. He pointed out that the FAA had already set up working groups to address safety and efficiency issues.

“You face many challenges including infrastructure challenges but you are not alone. Others are also facing the same challenges,” he said while referring to the growth of Indian civil aviation over the last seven decades.

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More from Oshkosh: Sturgell sees controller workload easing

As I mentioned earlier, Acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell took questions about air traffic control and NextGen issues at last week’s AirVenture event. While a transcript isn’t available, AIN Online did have some additional quotes and insight in their report from Oshkosh. Sturgell characterized the nation’s ATC system as being:

in a “transition” phase as controllers hired in the wake of the 1981 Patco strike retire. […] He said that the agency is replacing the retiring controllers through aggressive hiring–at a rate of 1,800 controllers per year–and training.
The agency’s ongoing contract dispute with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union (Natca) should be kept in perspective, he noted. “We value this work force,” Sturgell said, adding that the FAA had placed a $70 million settlement issue “on the table.”
Sturgell charged that Natca’s contract demands, if applied retroactively, would cost more than $1 billion and that, overall, controller workload has decreased significantly since 2000 in terms of the number of operations handled by an average controller.
He also said that new technology could further lighten future controller workload. That technology includes ADS-B and WAAS. Sturgell noted that ADS-B would be up and running at select South Florida airports by the end of the summer.

[Kudos to AIN’s Mark Huber for his reporting.]

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FAA’s Sturgell on NextGen: “We’re making solid progress”

A dispatch from Oshkosh, courtesy of Aero-News Network, quotes Acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell on NextGen:

“I can say that we’re making solid progress. The foundational technologies are either already in place or will be soon enough. They include WAAS, which provides increased airport access in reduced visibility conditions. We’ve published over 1,000 WAAS LPV procedures and we now have more of them than ILS procedures.

“RNP/RNAV are also making a difference. Look at what’s going on at DeKalb Peachtree Airport in Atlanta. The new RNP procedure will support IMC operations to runway 2R to a 340-foot decision height. This mitigates obstacles on the approach path and de-conflicts traffic flows around Peachtree and Hartsfield.”

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