EPP Benchmarking Site Visit – FAA Regional Office and Air Route Traffic Control Center

Today was an outstanding day on all fronts. Our team was quite fortunate to visit two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sites and to gather information from and ask questions of 9 different presenters. We were also fortunate to have a high functioning team both in preparing for and in conducting our site visits.

The day started with a site visit at the Regional FAA Office. We arrived at the office at 8:40, which gave us time to pass through security and grab some coffee. We already spotted some best practices going through security — they used a digital signature pad and a bar coded sticker badge.

Our site host, Cindy Townend,escorted us to the executive conference room with an impressive KC view. Cindy had arranged an impressive array of presenters – including the FAA Regional Administrator and 6 Division or Office Directors. Each director presented a wealth of information, including numerous best practices, and also was very responsive to questions from our team. With so much information and good discussion, we ended at 11:30 instead of the scheduled 11 a.m. end time.

We then drove 25 miles to the Regional Air Traffic Control Center, arriving there with just enough time to wolf down McDonalds and Pizza on the way in. Our site host, Diane Carter, escorted us to a briefing from Paul Infanti. Paul gave us a great historical overview of the building, past and present practices, and several best practice management methods he has utilized. The grand finale of the day was a tour of the traffic control center floor. After getting an overview of the impressive array of computers (both the legacy and the modernized computers about to come on line), we got an overview of the onsite weather support service provided by the National Weather Service. We got wowed with a large screen display of a quick animation of flight movements over 24 hours as well as an animation of how flights were grounded within two hours of the 9/11 events. Finally each of us got to sit alongside a team of air traffic controllers for 15 minutes, observing their actions, listening to their dialogue with pilots, and talking with us about how they were doing their jobs. We were impressed with how they could effortlessly flow between casual conversation and close attention to detail in doing their jobs.

We got back to the hotel at 5 pm, and have been productively working since then on making our presentation for tomorrow.

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