May 5, 2001

Brothers and Sisters,

Wow! I can't believe it has been another week already. I started my week
with a great Saturday trip to NKT (Cherry Point), spent Sunday taking care of
all of the mundane chores that don't get done when I am on the road and
getting ready for another trip. I used to love to travel, but nowadays I
look forward to sleeping on my own bed.

Monday morning it was into the office to play tag with John, and catch up on
the business of last week and coordinate our plans for this one. I finished
a huge pile of bills and vouchers, took two press calls, talked to Kevin
McGrath about his office lease, talked to a AFSCME member about a complaint
filed against on of our members, which he has agreed to withdraw, spoke with
our member about the complaint, had Wade send a copy of the posting AFSCME
put up in HQ (which did not mention NATCA) talked to John about congressional
testimony, and reviewed a stack of papers related to the panel I would be
serving on in Long Beach.

There is a growing sentiment in DC that controllers are against new
technology. I have heard it from too many people to ignore. Considering we
have members working on 65 technology projects and no one has pushed harder
for new equipment than we have, I find this stereotype frustrating. Be
prepared for our publicity to include what NATCA members or doing to promote
modernization. Someone is using us as their whipping boy, and we are not
sure who it is. Who it is does not matter at this point because it has
become pervasive. There are a lot of people in DC that only think of AAS and
blame controllers for the requirements creep when they talk about ATC
modernization. I also heard that we want to increase spacing between
aircraft. I am pretty sure these are the same people that said we would use
the ops error MOU to run aircraft too close.

Tuesday I caught an early flight to LA, met up with Jose, waited forever for
my luggage and go to Long Beach with just enough time to grab a shower, iron
a dress (this job involves a lot of ironing) and meet Langhorne Bond for
dinner. Bond write the act that created the Department of Transportation and
served as Administrator under Carter. I was glad Jose was there because Bond
wanted to do a lot of reminiscing about the Secretary's office. We talked
about dozens of issues, not the least of which is his current support of the
Poole report, but he wanted to talk about the risks of moving to GPS as sole
means for communications, navigation and surveillance. We had a long talk
about the surveillance side since I served on the RTCA team for future
surveillance systems and I have always argued that it has a lot of benefits
as an enhancement to the system, but it should not be used as a replacement
for Radar since it cannot detect noncooperative aircraft. At the end of
dinner, Bond asked if NATCA would speak more publicly on the issue because we
bring a lot of credibility to the debate and he could use the support. I
told him that I would have plenty of time to do that once I have beaten back
this privatization monster.

Wednesday morning I sat on the panel, "Strategic Issues in ATC" at the NATA
conference. It was a breakfast (7:30 in the morning!) and we each gave
opening remarks followed by Q & A. The panel included Robert Poole, Linda
Barker from the National Civil Aviation Review Commission, Langhorne Bond and
myself. Poole gave his usual speech, Linda talked about the progress that had
been made since the NCARC report came out, my remarks are at the end of this
post, and Langhorne said why everyone who opposes the nonprofit corp. is
wrong. The only thing he said about unions was that labor should not be
concerned as long as the current protections are extended to them. I was
offended that he based his conclusion on an assumption that we are so
parochial that our concerns do not extend beyond labor statutes. Last I
checked we actually cared about the safety of the flying public and the
efficiency of the system.

We followed up the panel with an informal discussion and many people stopped
me in the lobby to talk about my remarks. The feedback was very positive.
Poole asked why we had changed our position since the USATS proposal and I
explained that we supported USATS because we were working to get personnel
reform to reclassify the facilities and we supported freeing up the trust
fund and it was the only vehicle out there to do it at the time. Those two
things have already occurred. I also told him how poor the experience has
been for controllers in Canada even though they supported the privatization
and worked to get it done. I said that I did not know what kind of access to
the FAA technology types he had, but that if he wants to learn about
modernization in the FAA today that our members would be more than happy to
tell him what is going on.

Our biggest problem is that people on the outside are trying to change the
FAA from the way it was 5-10 years ago and have virtually no information on
how we are doing things now. Each and every person I met at the conference
believed controllers are fighting against new technology. I had to tell them
the fights are to get it sooner. You want to get controllers mad, tell them
they have been moved down the waterfall! After the conference, it was back to
the airport for a red-eye to Ottawa, to meet Randy Weiland on our mission to
find the truth about NAVCANADA. He had started the investigation before I
arrived. Randy has done a fantastic job of finding people for us to meet with
to get the real scoop. He met with COPA (Canadian AOPA) on Wednesday and got
their perspective.

Thursday, after a brief stop at the hotel, we went to CATCA headquarters to
meet Fuzz Bhimji and Michael Murphy, the Chairman of the Air Passenger Safety
Group. He talked about the safety concerns with NAV CANADA especially
related to the reduction in services and gave us in depth information about
the ATC modernization. We followed with a meeting with Ron Smith, former
president of ATSAC, the union for Canadian FSS. They have merged with the
Canadian Auto Workers and while he still represents FSS, it is now as a CAW
staff rep. Labor relations at NAV CANADA are poor. In fact, Murphy who used
to be management at Transport Canada, said that they never thought anyone
could make the controllers think managers at Transport were enlightened and
benevolent, but NAV CANADA has. We spent a few hours going over specifics
with Richard Nye the VP LR for CATCA. While controllers can be fined for ops
errors by the regulator, even when there are systemic problems, like
insufficient training or rest periods, the company is not fined. In FSS,
however, since they do not hold a license, the company rather than the
employee is fined. Finally we met with a former CATCA president who served
as chairman of the advisory committee to NAV CANADA. They gave direction to
the board of directors. Specifically related to the acquisition of new
technology, they are told to monitor the progress of the US and Europe to see
if they develop tools that NAV CANADA should purchase. So much for
modernizing faster.

Friday morning, after my first real good night's sleep, it was back to CATCA
HQ to go through some documents and then to a meeting with Doug Mein, the
Director of Air Navigation Services and Airspace of Transport Canada. He
serves as the regulator for ATC. He briefed us on Performance Based
Regulation, which allows companies to determine how they comply with
regulations, rather than prescriptive regulation that tells them what
procedure to follow. Back to the office to go through piles of papers, and
our evening meeting with another union president was canceled because he had
to manage a strike in Halifax.

Tomorrow we will spend the day in the CATCA office going through their files
to find any data that can help in our battle against privatization. Fuzz
will be speaking at NATCA in Washington, so if you see him there, be sure to
thank him for the spending so much of his time and resources to help NATCA on
this issue.

In Solidarity,

Ruth Marlin



REMARKS of Ruth Marlin at the NATA Strategic Issues breakfast, Long Beach, CA
May 2, 2001

First I would like to thank NATA for the opportunity to participate on this
panel today. My members work at over 300 air traffic facilities in the
United States and we know that there is more to the aviation industry than
just the passenger airlines. We have the same high standards for Pensacola
and Van Nuys as we do for O'Hare and Atlanta because we believe all users of
the system are entitled to the safest most efficient air traffic control
system in the world. The explosive growth in aviation has as much to do with
fractional ownership as it does with the passenger emplanements. In order to
meet the growing needs of aviation, we must focus on all segments of aviation
and ensure any plan provides the access you demand.

ATC modernization is an issue for all of us, but it is the Air Traffic
Controller who is not only the first to benefit from new technology, but also
the first to suffer for inadequacies. There is no element of my work that
has a greater impact on my quality of life then the quality and reliability
of air traffic control equipment. Throughout the 1980's and into the early
1990's, when equipment outages plagued the system, my organization was the
first to sound the whistle. In fact, it took the collapse of the Advanced
Automation System (AAS) program to effect real change in the FAA.
Controllers are aggressively working to field new technologies and procedures
which allow more aircraft in the system.

Working on the front lines, we have a bird's eye view of modernization. We
are the first to see problems as well as the first to see change. We are
keenly aware of the high standards that must be maintained to ensure the
safety and integrity of the system. The US system is the most sophisticated
in the world, because it needs to be. We handle nearly half of the world's
air traffic using automation that is unparalleled.

This is both good and bad news. From a technology perspective, our system
has evolved to meet the demands of our vibrant aviation industry, which has
required tremendous innovation and investment in research and development.
The downside of being a world leader is that you cannot simple copy someone
else. It also puts us in a position where the infrastructure cannot be
easily replaced. The US cannot stop by Wal Mart to pick up an air traffic
control system, however, other nations can, and do, purchase equipment from
FAA vendors once we have paid for the development, testing and certification.


Quite honestly, the FAA tried to buy a turnkey system. What they found is
that there is no system in use in the world that has as much functionality as
we have had in the US for over a decade. Congress granted FAA sweeping
reform that exempted the agency from most limits placed on a government
bureaucracy. The FAA in turn has taken advantage of this freedom. They have
embraced an evolutionary approach to modernization that takes advantage of
new technology without abandoning the state of the art benefits we enjoy.
They are able to use the input of the people who will use and maintain the
equipment as well as industry in making their acquisition decisions.

I have experienced the benefits of this reform first hand and if the
equipment weren't working, you can be sure my members would be the first to
complain. But there is more to meeting the demand of aviation than
equipment. Our current problem, accommodating the explosive growth in air
travel is one of infrastructure, not just technology. We could insist on
ADSB equipage tomorrow and solve the problem of delays overnight. Not
because the system would have more capacity, but because there would be fewer
users. I don't believe the answer to congestion lies in shutting some users
out of the system.

Mr. Poole mentioned privatized systems in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Airsys in Australia has stated they will have to reevaluate their ability to
provide service to aircraft in distress because of the liability, last week
New Zealand had no service at a major airport leaving 25 aircraft in holding
because they had inadequately staffed the system in search of the
"efficiencies" of the private sector. NAVCANADA has shut off US aircraft
deviating for weather because they could not justify the overtime costs. I
think it is far too early to call any of these systems a success.

The solution lies in giving the existing reforms time to work. While I will
argue that it is a 24 hour a day high tech service business, I would hate to
see Air Traffic Control go the way of the dot coms. To build more capacity,
we must build. Not change regulations or mandate equipage, but build. Build
runways, taxiways and gates. Because, although we are aviation, our capacity
limits are not in the air, but on the ground.




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