FAA's ATO To Reorganize

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The FAA's Air Traffic Organization -- that branch of AVweb's Favorite Aviation Agency responsible for the nation's air traffic control system -- will soon see a major reorganization, according to a letter its Chief Operating Officer Russell Chew published yesterday on the organization's Web site. While details of the reorganization plan won't be available until this Friday afternoon, Chew's letter to ATO employees makes it clear the agency is responding to what it perceives as the dwindling resources available. Wrote Chew, "Rising operating costs continue to leave a smaller and smaller share of our limited funds available to invest in people, facilities, and to modernize our aging infrastructure." Chew labeled his reorganization effort as the "next important step" in transitioning his ATO into the performance-based organization sought by Congress. The good news is that, for most operators, the coming changes will be mostly transparent. That's because Chew's plans mainly focus on administrative and staff support functions, not moving metal.

The latest changes to confront FAA's ATO appear to be part of a phased approach to implementing the organization, first begun in 2003. According to the ATO's implementation strategy, a three-phase program of implementation was begun last year, focused on "realignment and resource management." Yesterday's announcement appears to be part of that effort. Other phases are focused on controlling unit costs and cost accounting, as well as on improving the value of its services and promoting innovation. While significant details won't be available until Friday afternoon -- the FAA appears to be following the maxim of releasing bad news on a Friday -- Chew's letter states that much of the pending reorganization will be geographic in nature, with three ATO service areas -- Eastern, Central, and Western -- created. Administrative and staff support functions will be consolidated into three colocated shared service centers. Wrote Chew, "The restructuring will begin early in 2006 and be completed within 12 to 18 months; with relocations expected no earlier than June 2006."