The following is the text of an internal memorandum at the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZTL ARTCC) regarding modification to the "Catch A Bad Altitude" program.
Atlanta ARTC Center
299 Woolsey Road
Hampton, Georgia 30228
|Subject: INFORMATION: Catch a Bad Altitude||Date: May 27, 1999|
|From: Assistant Air Traffic Manager|
|To: Mike Baur|
As you know, back on May 9 we instituted a test program called C.A.B.A. (Catch A Bad Altitude) which was designed to promote awareness for readback errors involving altitude. The program was setup to run through September 2. If a controller gave an altitude clearance which was read back incorrectly by the pilot (and the controller corrected it before it became an error or pilot deviation), the controller could write up a brief report and would be eligible for a drawing to be held every two weeks. The entry drawn would have their choice of a $50 dollar gift certificate (provided by ZTL-l and 2) or a 4-hour time off award. We had originally planned to make tapes for the airlines/pilots to use in their own training and awareness programs. No paperwork was ever to be filed and FSDO was nut involved in any way. The program was never designed to get individual pilots in trouble either with their company or with the FAA. It was also not designed to embarrass any airlines. It was never the intent that the entries would be used to identify phraseology errors against controllers. As a matter of fact, we have received over 200 entries since May 9 and no data has been used in any way against a controller or a pilot.
On Monday, several aviation reporting concerns reported our program in a pretty bad light and indicated that NATCA was encouraging controllers at Atlanta Center not to participate. Pilot groups were mainly concerned because of harm that they thought could come to individual pilots and to the controller/pilot relationship. Airlines and companies are concerned because of the potential embarrassment to them. There is no way that I want any harm to come to anyone out of this program; it is designed to promote awareness and decrease operational errors and pilot deviations. I think that it has definitely had an impact and promoted awareness system-wide in the short time that we have had it in place. As of May 24, controllers at Atlanta Center have caught and corrected about 200 reported erroneous altitude readbacks - that is outstanding work! In the last couple of days, however, reports have fallen dramatically. I want to continue the program and be able to reward the good performance of Atlanta Center controllers. I also want to alleviate some of the concerns of pilots and controllers. To that end, we will not be making tapes of individual readbacks nor sending this information to individual airlines. We are not keeping data on individual airlines. The verification process by ZTL-505 is not looking for phraseology errors by controllers; all that is listened to is that the corrected clearance meets the criteria of the program; no tapes or reports are generated against the controller.
Mike, my hope is that you and your area representatives will encourage controllers to participate in this program. I think it is a good thing for the controllers of Atlanta Center and for the National Airspace System.