New Chief Appointed To The FAA’s Air Traffic
By Daniel Baxter
July 10, 2011 - Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt announced that David Grizzle will be the chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization.
“David is the right person to take on this critical
challenge. He has a unique ability to manage complex
situations and the leadership skills to bring people
together and get the job done,” said U.S. Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood.
“David is committed to transparency, accountability, and
to building a safety culture that encourages
collaboration. I am thrilled that he has agreed to
accept this critical responsibility,” said FAA
Administrator Randy Babbitt.
Grizzle, who became FAA’s chief counsel in 2009, has been filling the role of chief operating officer since mid-April. Before joining the FAA, he worked with Continental Airlines and its affiliates for 22 years.
"The Air Traffic Organization is involved in a
I could not be more honored to be a part of the ATO
team,” said Grizzle.
The Air Traffic Organization (ATO) is the operations arm of the
Federal Aviation Administration. ATO is America’s air navigation
service provider. Unlike most government agencies, the ATO is
set up as a performance-based organization whose customers are
commercial and private aviation and the military. ATO employs
more than 35,000 controllers, technicians, engineers and support
With more than 7,000 takeoffs and landings per hour, and more
than 660 million passengers and 37 billion cargo revenue ton
miles of freight a year, ATO safely guides 50,000 aircraft
through the national airspace system every day.
Air traffic controllers in En Route and Oceanic Services manage aircraft at the highest levels over the U.S. and far out into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Controllers at 20 air route traffic control centers coordinate with Terminal, Technical Operations and Systems Operations services to provide seamless air traffic services.
En Route and Oceanic Services provide air traffic services to ATO customers operating in the national airspace system, as well as international airspace assigned to U.S. control. This unit works with Terminal, Technical Operations and Systems Operations Services to provide air traffic services that meet customer target levels of efficiency, safety and security. It creates validated operations and programmatic requirements for En Route and Oceanic air traffic services that provide for the safe, secure and efficient use of navigable airspace.
It establishes and maintains policies, standards and procedures to
enable safe, secure and efficient En Route and Oceanic operations. It
also maintains and reports on operational performance metrics and
conducts trend analysis.
En Route and Oceanic Services is nearly 9,000 people strong. In 2006 it
supported 47 million operations in the national airspace system. They
are responsible for controlling more than 5,600,000 square miles
(14,500,000 km2) of airspace in the U.S. and more than 24,600,000 square
miles (64,000,000 km2) of airspace over the oceans. This includes
control of traffic in the South Pacific to the Northern Polar Routes,
the North Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. They interface
with more than 18 air navigation service providers.
Acquisition and Business Services covers a broad range of
responsibilities. The unit is responsible for acquisition policy,
contracting and quality assurance services. It also provides information
technology services and human resource management services. In addition,
it oversees flight services program operations, workforce development
and controller training.
Communications Services uses all types of media to keep ATO employees,
Congress and the aviation industry well-informed about developments in
the organization. Communications is responsible for, providing timely,
relevant ATO information to all ATO audiences, keeping employees, owners
and customers informed about and supportive of the objectives and
progress of the ATO. The unit provides communications services, assets
and policies related to the ATO, liaison to customers, owners,
employees, Government and Industry Affairs and FAA.
Finance Services is in charge of financial metrics, comparative analysis
productivity measures, business case evaluation and competitive
sourcing. Their management has helped the ATO establish credibility with
Congress and enabled the performance-based organization to deliver
services to customers more efficiently.
NextGen and Operations Planning works to get the ATO ready for the air
traffic of tomorrow and the strategies and solutions that achieve
national and international goals by taking the lead on developing the
Next Generation Air Transportation System.
The Office of Safety monitors the ATO’s transcendent level of safety by
tracking, reporting and analyzing performance. It also develops
policies, processes and training for safety improvement.
System Operations is responsible for traffic flow management, real-time
evaluation of air traffic control services and coordination with other
government agencies on air transportation security issues. More
than 9,000 Technical Operations employees make sure that more than
41,000 pieces of equipment operate every day.
More than 9,000 Technical Operations employees make sure that more than 41,000 pieces of equipment operate every day.
System Operations’ roles:
- Holds ATO authority for policy, technical
standards and procedures for overall national directives on air traffic
procedures and airspace matters
Air traffic controllers in Terminal Services are positioned in TRACONs
and airport towers to guide aircraft in and out of airports across the
country. The Air Traffic Organization Strategy indicates where the ATO
is going, how it’s going to get there, who is involved, and how it all
While the ATO has adopted the Strategic Management Process (SMP), a
proven business management concept used by high-performing corporations,
it is not a fill-in-the-blanks template. Rather, the SMP is a framework
that the ATO can use to effectively formulate and implement its
strategy. Part of the process is the visualization of the critical
drivers of success in the form of a Strategy Map.
The ATO’s Executive Council has developed four strategic pathways. Each
pathway is a cluster of related objectives that are important to the
ATO’s Owners (Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the
Office of the Secretary of Transportation), Customers (commercial and
cargo airlines, business aviation, general aviation and military
aviation), the Processes needed to meet customer needs and owner
expectations, and the Employee and technical capabilities that must be
developed for the internal processes to work well.
A critical component of the ATO’s strategy is change, which is necessary
to meet the objectives of the organization and prepare the FAA, the ATO
and its employees for the transition to NextGen programs.
The FAA began designing the ATO in 2001 but was delayed by the impact of 9/11. Implementation began in 2003 and Russell Chew, a former American Airlines pilot and system operations manager, was hired in August. The official formation of the ATO was announced in November 2003.
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