According to an November 5, 2007 Announcement, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General has initiated an audit of the FAA’s process for investigating and reporting operational errors. The audit is in response to concerns raised by Congressmen James F. Oberstar and Jerry L. Costello regarding a complaint alleging that DFW terminal radar approach control (TRACON) facility personnel were intentionally misclassifying operational errors as pilot deviations to deflate the number of errors attributed to the facility. The OIG’s audit is intended to “(1) determine whether FAA has adequate policies and procedures in place to ensure the accuracy and consistency of operational error reporting and (2) review the roles and responsibilities of the Air Traffic Organization and FAA’s Aviation Safety line of business in reporting and investigating operational errors.” If you have any questions regarding the audit or, perhaps, have information to contribute to the audit, you may contact Dan Raville, Program Director, at (202) 366-1405 or Mary E. (Liz) Hanson, Project Manager, at (404) 562-3778.
I will be curious to see the results of this audit, not only from a safety perspective, but also to see what impact the results may have on the the ongoing feud between the FAA and the NATCA controllers. If the OIG discovers any support for the complaint, that could certainly undermine NATCA’s position and credibility in its negotiations with the FAA. Of course, NATCA could argue that the misclassified errors were the result of inadequate controller staffing etc. However, if this was truly the case, I would think that such errors would be reported accurately in order to bolster NATCA’s negotiating position. At a minimum, if operational errors are being improperly misclassified to blame pilots, this needs to be corrected in order to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to rect