PASS Calls on Congress and the FAA to Address Workforce Staffing and Retention

Investing in the FAA’s Technical Operations and Aviation Safety employees can create lasting change for the aviation community and build confidence in the FAA’s ability to provide new services and technologies, National President Dave Spero told Congress today.

PASS represents 11,000 FAA employees across the agency. Technical employees in the Air Traffic Organization’s (ATO) Technical Operations install, maintain, repair and certify the radar, navigation, communication and power systems making up the National Airspace System (NAS). PASS also represents aviation safety inspectors and other employees within the Office of Aviation Safety (AVS). Aviation safety inspectors are responsible for certification, oversight, surveillance and enforcement of the entire aviation system.

“The work of FAA technicians is vital to the safe and efficient operation of the NAS,” said President Spero. “Sufficiently staffing this workforce can lead to the upgrade of the NAS in a much more efficient and cost-effective manner.” To that end, PASS is asking that the FAA be directed to establish a Technical Operations Workforce Plan and consult with PASS in its creation and implementation.

The PASS leader also addressed his concerns about the FAA’s inability to effectively and consistently staff the inspector workforce, and the agency itself has recognized the need to maintain a robust inspector workforce.

President Spero's statement to Committee

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Telework Bill Passes House

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee introduced, and the House passed, the Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems Act (H.R. 139, the SHOW UP Act) which intends to make federal agencies’ remote work policies more strict. The legislation would require agencies to go back to telework policies in effect on December 31, 2019. It also requires a study of “how telework during the pandemic impacted agencies’ missions and customer service.”

“The idea that federal employees engaging in telework have not been working during the pandemic is a misperception,” said the committee’s ranking member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).

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PASS Member Meets Marina Metevelis, Original “Rosie the Riveter”

Originally published by PASS, April 14, 2016. #RIP Marina Metevelis!

While receiving her own awards and recognition at the Tulsa Veterans Day Parade, Chapter OK3 member Beverly “BJ” Chinnery had the honor of meeting another American veteran, Marina Metevelis. The Wichita native and long-time historian at Tulsa Community College (TCC), Matevelis, now age 94, is one of three original remaining “Rosie the Riveters.”

PASS member BJ Chinnery with Marina MetevelisAfter getting acquainted at the parade, Chinnery was fortunate enough to schedule a future Q&A with Metevelis, whose time you can imagine is quite valuable. Joined by PASS Region II Vice President Dave Spero [now PASS National President], the group had the opportunity to chat with Metevelis as she reflected on various struggles and accomplishments during her lifetime. “I thought I had a lot of stories,” joked Chinnery. “After speaking with Marina, I was amazed by her knowledge of U.S. history and everything that she has been through. Her past of overcoming adversity and all of her perseverance shines right through her. It was truly an unforgettable and eye-opening experience speaking with her.” 

The Q&A itself consisted of questions that garnered responses ranging from Metevelis’ work at Boeing in the 1940s as a “blister inspector” to working and teaching at TCC (then known at Tulsa Junior College) for over 45 years. When asked about her typical “day in the life” as a Rosie, Metevelis responded with a grin on her face. “My days in high school started at 6:00 a.m.,” she began. “By 8:30 a.m., I arrived at school and stayed until 2:30 p.m. each day. Afterwards, I would change into my coveralls and carpool to Boeing, where I usually worked until midnight.”

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PASS Statement on the NOTAM Outage Issue

Today, Dave Spero, National President of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (PASS), released the following statement on the outage issue at the FAA:

The widespread outage that began yesterday and led to the ground stop ordered this morning did not directly involve the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees represented by PASS. However, the underlying issues with antiquated and outdated systems at the FAA stretch across the agency and can have a dramatic impact on the National Airspace System (NAS), as we saw today.

This further highlights the need to ensure that the equipment and technology are maintained by those who have the knowledge, resources or skills to work on systems that are so tightly woven into the efficiency and safety of the NAS. It is PASS’s position that while the government should be good partners with contractors, the nation’s air traffic control system is an inherently governmental function which should come under the purview of the highly skilled and trained technicians such as those we represent.

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PASS Member Soars at EAA AirVenture!

PASS is looking forward to its participation again this year in the Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) AirVenture. FAA employees are critical to the success of this event and recently, the union published a profile of one of the critical members of the FAA team that provides support to the largest airshow in the world!

PASS member Lee Leslie knows his way around an airshow. In fact, he is a key member of a specialized team of FAA Technical Operations folks that serves each year at these kind of events. As an FAA employee for over 25 years and a PASS member for nearly as long, Lee has an impressive breadth of technical expertise and experience.

It’s this level of experience that first got him selected in supporting Technical Operations at the AirVenture Air Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. AirVenture is held every year at the Wittman Regional Airport and adjacent Pioneer Airport. In addition, a temporary tower is set up at the Fond du Lac Airport and a trailer for controllers is set up in the small town of Fisk. With over 500,000 in attendance and over 10,000 aircraft, AirVenture is the largest airshow of its kind. Since 2013, Lee has been a Tech Ops fixture at the event.

“It’s the Super Bowl of aviation,” he said. “It’s the most intense event in air traffic.” To successfully pull off such an event each year, the airshow requires specialized equipment and hours of commitment from technicians and controllers. “The intensity is cranked up and it shows how great Tech Ops and Air Traffic can really work together,” said Lee. “We are working side by side, counting 100% on each other during that show.”

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PASS Has Positive Impact on Aviation

Approximately 1.5 million lines of code. Ten years. Three presidential administrations. One pandemic.

According to PASS union representative Mike Geiman, that’s all it took to get the Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) operational at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in October. And with the busy holiday travel season upon us, it is important that the public know just how important PASS represented employees at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are when it comes to safer air travel.

TFDM is a tower-based Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) program at the FAA that will automate flight plans and integrate them with surveillance data to create accurate, real-time predictive tools for the terminal environment. TFDM will share data among controllers, aircraft operators and airports so they can better manage traffic flow. With key information—such as flight, surveillance and traffic management information—controllers can make informed decisions on the surface to improve traffic flow and decrease the time a plane is spent waiting to taxi, which will, in turn, reduce fuel use and carbon emissions. But to do that, the controllers need the FAA Technical Operations workforce represented by PASS to help develop, test and deploy the system.

“TFDM is another program that the FAA and industry are working together to improve safety, time efficiency and reduce carbon emissions,” said Geiman.

Before the pandemic began, the FAA planned to rollout TFDM at 89 sites but funding issues cut that number to 48. Indianapolis International Airport is next to go online in April 2023, followed by Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, John Glenn Columbus and Las Vegas airports for the 2023 calendar year.

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