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Sarina Houston

ATSAP Program in Trouble

By October 31, 2012

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I did a research project during grad school on the FAA's ATSAP program, which was brand new at the time, and it seemed to be a good program. Modeled after the airline's ASAP program, ATSAP is a voluntary safety reporting program that offers a type of immunity to air traffic controllers who report safety hazards.

The program is designed to collect data that can be analyzed for safety problems within the ATC system and otherwise. Sounds good, right?

So I was surprised to hear that according to an article on AIN, ATSAP reports were being submitted from controllers reporting blatant safety concerns, such as sleeping on the job, or playing video games at work. Now, if you're familiar with the ASAP program, you know that an ASAP report is typically not accepted when an employee shoes a complete disregard for safety. The program is not meant to protect employees in this way.

But reportedly, these air traffic controllers that were sleeping on the job are being protected by the ATSAP program, which, in my opinion, undermines the entire program.

So the question is: Why were these reports accepted into the ATSAP program, instead of rejected?

What do you think? Is ATSAP being used appropriately? Should the FAA be managing its own ATSAP system, or should a third party be involved?

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