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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PASS Mourns the Loss of Founding President Howard Johannssen

Johannssen

Howard Johannssen, founding president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), AFL-CIO, passed away at his home in Maryland on October 22, 2022, the union announced today. He was 79.

“Howard was what we all aspire to be. PASS is what we are because of his sacrifices and principles,” said National President Dave Spero.

The seed for PASS was planted in the 1970s after an incident at JFK International Airport involving Johannssen and an air traffic controller when a fire broke out. Johannssen, an airways facilities technician with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), saw the smoke coming from under a doorway but the technicians weren’t trusted to have keys. He grabbed a fire extinguisher to knock the door down and an air traffic controller, who also smelled the smoke, came out and helped. “We put that fire out,” said Johannssen. “The next day, I find that I’m going to get a suspension for destroying government property. And the controller who helped me got a reward!” This was just one of many incidents of disparate treatment between the workforces that resulted in the birth of PASS.

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Foreign Repair Station Bill Passes

Last week, the House passed H.R. 7321, the Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act on a bipartisan 374 – 52 vote. The legislation removes incentives for airlines to offshore maintenance jobs by closing safety loopholes that allow U.S.-aircraft to be repaired on lower safety standards at FAA-certified facilities abroad. PASS has long been an advocate for tightening the safety inequities at foreign repair stations. “This legislation is an important step in the right direction,” said National President Dave Spero. “We will work with members of Congress to ensure its passage.” The FAA no longer has international field offices overseas and any inspections of foreign facilities require advanced notice and State Department approval, as noted by PASS at a June 2019 outsourcing summit. "They know we are coming," said then PASS President Mike Perrone. Over the years, the FAA has allowed regulatory gaps to occur in five areas, defining different standards for maintenance performed abroad versus maintenance performed in the United States.

Unlike domestic facilities, FAA-certified repair facilities abroad are NOT required to:

  • Conduct drug and alcohol testing on safety-sensitive personnel;
  • Perform background checks on workers;
  • Assess security threats for facilities;
  • Allow unannounced FAA inspections of maintenance operations; and
  • Meet minimum qualifications for aircraft mechanics.

H.R. 7321 would establish one uniform level of safety for aircraft repair, maintenance and overhaul regardless of where the service is performed. The bill next goes to the Senate for consideration.

Remembering 9/11

On a sunlit Tuesday morning 21 years ago, the men and women of PASS were on the job as usual, working for the American public. What transpired that day changed our nation and the aviation industry forever. In the days, weeks and months following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the 11,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Defense (DoD) employees represented by PASS went above and beyond their usual selfless dedication to their work.

PASS National President Dave Spero was at work in Oklahoma on 9/11. “I witnessed the remarkable professionalism of my co-workers and air traffic controllers to secure facilities and bring aircraft in safely,” he said.

Over 4,000 planes were grounded and those in the air directed to the closest airport. PASS members and bargaining unit employees staffed phones to address pilot, mechanic and public concerns and monitored airports and facilities 24 hours a day, coordinating mandates from the White House, Department of Transportation and the FAA. At the request of DoD, these dedicated public servants staffed long-range radars throughout the country and worked with the Air Force to provide additional radar surveillance, data and voice communication capability to the military.

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PASS VP Appointed to Federal Safety Council

PASS is pleased to announce that Region III Vice President Ray Baggett has been selected to serve on the reestablished Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH). The council advises the Secretary of Labor on all matters relating to the occupational safety and health of federal employees. FACOSH was disbanded in 2018 but in September 2021, President Biden issued an executive order reinstating FACOSH as well as other advisory committees.

“Congratulations to Brother Ray on this impressive appointment,” said National President Dave Spero. “This is an incredible opportunity for the voice of PASS to be at the forefront of workplace safety. Ray’s extensive history with occupational safety and health will no doubt be essential to the work done by this council. He is a strong advocate for PASS and all federal workers.”

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