Air Traffic Organization

Air Traffic Organization

Infobox Government agency
agency_name = Air Traffic Organization

logo_width = 200px
logo_caption = FAA Logo
formed = November 2003
preceding1 =
dissolved =
superseding =
jurisdiction = Federal government of the United States
employees = 35,000+
chief1_name = Hank Krakowski
chief1_position = COO
parent_agency = United States Department of Transportation
child_agency =
website = [ Official website]
footnotes =

The Air Traffic Organization is the operations arm of the Federal Aviation Administration. ATO is America’s air navigation service provider with the mission to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. Unlike most government agencies, the ATO is set up as a performance-based organization whose customers are commercial and private aviation and the military. ATO is made up of more than 35,000 controllers, technicians, engineers and support personnel whose daily efforts keep the national airspace system moving.

With more than 7,000 takeoffs and landings per hour, and more than 660 million passengers and 37 billion cargo revenue ton miles of freight a year, the men and women of the ATO safely guide 50,000 aircraft through the national airspace system every day.

Nine service units make up the ATO:

*Acquisition and Business Services
*Communications Services
*En Route and Oceanic Services
*Finance Services
*NextGen and Operations Planning Services
*Safety Services
*System Operations Services
*Technical Operations Services
*Terminal Services

Service Units

Acquisition and Business Services

Acquisition and Business Services covers a broad range of responsibilities. The unit is responsible for acquisition policy, contracting and quality assurance services. It also provides information technology services and human resource management services. In addition, it oversees flight services program operations, workforce development and controller training.

Communications Services

Communications Services uses all types of media to keep ATO employees, Congress and the aviation industry well-informed about developments in the organization.

Communications is responsible for:
*Providing timely, relevant ATO information to all ATO audiences
*Keeping employees, owners and customers informed about and supportive of the objectives and *progress of the ATO
*Communications services, assets and policies related to the ATO
*Liaison to customers, owners, employees, Government and Industry Affairs and FAA

* [ FAA Today]
* [ 2006 Annual Performance Report, “Performance: Our Bottom Line” (PDF)]
* [ Air Traffic Control Workforce] Plan 2008–2017 (PDF)
* [ View More Publications]

En Route and Oceanic Services

Air traffic controllers in En Route and Oceanic Services manage aircraft at the highest levels over the U.S. and far out into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Controllers at 20 air route traffic control centers coordinate with Terminal, Technical Operations and Systems Operations services to provide seamless air traffic services.

En Route and Oceanic Services provide safe, secure and efficient air traffic services to ATO customers operating in the national airspace system, as well as international airspace assigned to U.S. control.

*Works with Terminal, Technical Operations and Systems Operations Services to provide seamless air traffic services that meet customer target levels of efficiency, safety and security.
*Creates validated operations and programmatic requirements for En Route and Oceanic air traffic services that provide for the safe, secure and efficient use of navigable airspace.
*Establishes and maintains policies, standards and procedures to enable safe, secure and efficient En Route and Oceanic operations.
*Maintains and reports on operational performance metrics and conducts trend analysis.

En Route and Oceanic Services is nearly 9,000 people strong. In 2006 we supported 47 million operations in the national airspace system. We are responsible for controlling more than 5.6 million square miles of airspace in the U.S. and more than 24.6 million square miles of airspace over the oceans. This includes control of traffic in the South Pacific to the Northern Polar Routes, the North Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. We interface with more than 18 air navigation service providers.

Finance Services

Finance Services is in charge of financial metrics, comparative analysis productivity measures, business case evaluation and competitive sourcing. Their management has helped the ATO establish credibility with Congress and enabled the performance-based organization to deliver services to customers more efficiently.

NextGen and Operations Planning Services

NextGen and Operations Planning works to get the ATO ready for the air traffic of tomorrow and the strategies and solutions that achieve national and international goals by taking the lead on developing the Next Generation Air Transportation System.

Safety Services

Safety Services monitors the ATO’s transcendent level of safety by tracking, reporting and analyzing performance. It also develops policies, processes and training for safety improvement.

System Operations Services

System Operations is responsible for traffic flow management, real-time evaluation of air traffic control services and coordination with other government agencies on air transportation security issues.

System Operations’ roles:

*Holds ATO authority for policy, technical standards and procedures for overall national directives on air traffic procedures and airspace matters
*Traffic flow management for the NAS
*Real-time evaluation of air traffic control services
*ATO interface with Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security regarding Air *Transportation security issues
*Focal point for customer interaction
*ATO point of contact for litigation stemming from aircraft accidents or incidents involving employees of the ATO
*Requirements for weather observation and reporting standards in accordance with National Weather Service standards

Technical Operations Services

More than 9,000 Technical Operations employees make sure that more than 41,000 pieces of equipment operate every day.

Terminal Services

Air traffic controllers in Terminal Services are positioned in TRACONs and airport towers to safely and efficiently guide aircraft in and out of airports across the country.

ATO Strategy Map and SMP

The Air Traffic Organization Strategy indicates where the ATO is going, how it’s going to get there, who is involved, and how it all fits together. While the ATO has adopted the Strategic Management Process (SMP), a proven business management concept used by high-performing corporations, it is not a fill-in-the-blanks template. Rather,the SMP is a framework that the ATO can use to effectively formulate and implement its strategy. Part of the process is the visualization of the critical drivers of success in the form of a Strategy Map.

The ATO’s Executive Council has developed four strategic pathways. Each pathway is a cluster of related objectives that are important to the ATO’s Owners (Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of the Secretary of Transportation), Customers (commercial and cargo airlines, business aviation, general aviation and military aviation), the Processes needed to meet customer needs and owner expectations, and the Employee and technical capabilities that must be developed for the internal processes to work well. As the Strategy Map demonstrates, employee metrics go across all the pathways.

A critical component of the ATO’s strategy is change, which is necessary to meet the objectives of the organization and preparethe FAA, the ATO and its employees for the transition to NextGen programs.


The Air Traffic Organization was created as the operations arm of the FAA by [ executive order of President Bill Clinton] in December 2000 to apply businesslike practices to the delivery of air traffic services. A few months later Congress passed enabling legislation which laid the foundation for the creation of a performance-based organization to manage the national airspace system, and the hiring of a chief operating officer to lead it.

The FAA began designing the ATO in 2001 but was delayed by the impact of 9/11. Implementation began in 2003 and Russell Chew, a former American Airlines pilot and system operations manager, was hired in August. The official formation of the ATO was announced in November 2003.

Chew resigned in February 2007. FAA Deputy Administrator Bobby Sturgell was appointed acting chief operating officer of the ATO during a search for a replacement. Hank Krakowski became the ATO's Chief Operating Officer on October 1, 2007.

Chief Operating Officer

Henry P. "Hank" Krakowski, Chief Operating Officer

Krakowski became the ATO's Chief Operating Officer on October 1, 2007. In support of acting [ FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell] , Krakowski oversees the agency's day-to-day operations, capital programs and modernization efforts.

Krakowski brings a wealth of air traffic operational expertise and aviation safety experience to the ATO. His proven leadership qualities shone through in nearly 30 years with United Airlines, the last year as vice president of Flight Operations where he was responsible for flight operations, flight training and standards, technology and labor relations.

Previously Krakowski served as vice president of Corporate Safety, Security and Quality Assurance, responsible for managing all aspects of corporate and flight safety, security and regulatory compliance.

That role covered environmental and occupational safety and all counter-terrorism and corporate security programs. He also oversaw United's corporate emergency response programs and internal evaluation programs.

On 9/11 Krakowski was in charge of United’s Operations Control as director of Flight Operations Control.

Krakowski is a 737 captain and has also flown the Boeing 747 and 727 as well as the Douglas DC-10 and DC-8. He is also an experienced aircraft dispatcher and certified as an airframe and power-plant mechanic.

For the past two years, Krakowski has served as co-chair of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team. He has also been chairman of the Star Alliance Safety Advisory Group and a member of the Air Transport Association Safety Council.

This job also involved coordination with the FAA and other government agencies involved in transportation. He also held numerous positions with the Air Line Pilots Association and worked for Midway Airlines and Air Illinois Airlines and flies as a formation aerobatic pilot. Krakowski holds a master's degree in business and management from National-Louis University and a bachelor's degree in aircraft maintenance engineering from St. Louis University.


The Air Traffic Organization is composed of 35,000 professional employees committed to providing safe and efficient air traffic control services. Many of these employees, including more than 14,000 air traffic controllers,5,000 air traffic supervisors and air traffic managers,1,100 engineers and 6,100 maintenance technicians, directly serve our customers.

Some 8,000 additional employees work in a wide variety of professions to sustain the smooth operations of the ATO every day of the year. These employees research, plan and build air traffic control equipment and programs; manage payroll and benefits programs; provide procurement service for both the ATO and the FAA at large; maintain productive relationships with the aviation industry and the general public; and ensure that the environment and ATO employees are protected. Without the professional performance of the men and women of the ATO, the $340 billion per year U.S. aviation industry would not function.

The ATO operates 315 air traffic control facilities.

Types of Facilities:

"Airport Traffic Control Towers"
Each major airport maintains a control tower which houses air traffic controllers who monitor all aircraft taxiing, taking off and landing at that airport. They own the airspace up to 3,000 feet above the airport and a radius of five miles around the airport. Tower controllers have three different positions through which each rotate during their shift assignment: clearance delivery, ground control and local control.

"Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC)"
The Command Center exercises command, control and oversight of air traffic activity within the NAS. The facility, located in northern Virginia, coordinates all air traffic movement, both civil and military, in domestic and oceanic airspace. Its staff strategically manages air traffic to minimize delays and congestion, while maximizing the overall use of the NAS. Decisions are carried out in cooperation with airline personnel, traffic management specialists and controllers at affected facilities.

"Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs)"
The airspace over the U.S. is divided into 21 large areas (20 are in the contiguous U.S. plus Alaska). These centers are designated with a three-letter identifier starting with the letter Z, such as ZSE and ZDC for Seattle and Washington. Center controllers monitor aircraft in the en route phase of its flight. They receive traffic from TRACONs and hand off traffic to TRACONs

"Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (TRACONs)"
Controllers in TRACONs monitor aircraft in the departure, descent and approach phases of a flight. Each TRACON can handle air traffic for several different airports in its vicinity. Recently, TRACONs in major metropolitan areas have been consolidated to handle many busy airports from a single facility. Consolidated TRACONs include Potomac Consolidated TRACON, New York TRACON, Boston Consolidated TRACON, Southern California TRACON and Northern California TRACON.

"Combined Center Radar Approach Control (CERAPs)"
The FAA has a number of CERAPS, essentially a cross between a Center and a TRACON.

"The William J. Hughes Technical Center"
The William J. Hughes Technical Center is the nation's premier aviation research and development, and test and evaluation facility. The Technical Center serves as the national scientific test base for the FAA. Technical Center programs include testing and evaluation in air traffic control, communications, navigation, airports, aircraft safety, and security. They also include long-range development of innovative aviation systems and concepts, development of new air traffic control equipment and software, and modification of existing systems and procedures. The Technical Center not only serves as a cornerstone for aviation advancements, but is also a key focal point for Homeland Security.

"Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center"
The FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City is best known for the FAA Academy, which provides technical and managerial training and development for the FAA workforce and the aviation community. Notably, the Academy trains new air traffic controllers.

The Aeronautical Center also houses the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, which is involved in such diverse aviation matters as drop-down oxygen masks, emergency lighting, water evacuation plans and crash tests; the FAA Logistics Center, which offers repair and technical support for air traffic control equipment and aircraft for the U.S. and 44 other countries; the Transportation Safety Institute, which examines aviation safety; and the Civil Aviation Registry, which records every privately owned U.S. plane and licensed pilot.

Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)

The future of U.S. aviation is the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen. In the 21st century, the growing global demand for aviation, development of new and exciting airborne vehicles, and security and environmental concerns, are going to require a new kind of aviation system.

That’s why there is a concerted effort by the United States to design, plan and build NextGen.

NextGen is a wide-ranging transformation of the entire national air transportation systemndash not just certain pieces of itndash to meet future demands and avoid gridlock in the sky and at airports. State-of-the-art technology, new procedures, and new airport infrastructure will allow the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to safely handle dramatic increases in the number and type of aircraft, without being overwhelmed by congestion. NextGen is a curb-to-curb transformation of the U.S. air transportation system. This transformation involves going from today’s ground-based, human-dependent communications, navigation, and surveillance system to one that takes advantage of satellite navigation and surveillance, digital communications and advanced networking. It shifts some decision-making from the ground to the cockpit.

NextGen is consistent with the FAA’s mission to maintain the safest, most efficient national airspace system possible. The FAA does this by enforcing aviation safety regulations, and certifying 320,000 aircraft and over 700,000 pilots. The FAA provides air traffic control services, handling about 55,000 flights per day, and serving over 700 million passengers a year. NextGen Through Multi-Agency Involvement As part of the NextGen effort, the FAA is working closely with several government agencies that make up the Joint Planning and Development Office. JPDO includes the U.S. departments of Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security and Commerce; the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NextGen cannot be realized by government efforts alone. More than 200 industry members are involved at every stage of NextGen’s development through the NextGen Institute. This is an unprecedented government-industry partnership on such a large-scale initiative.

Key NextGen Programs:
* [ System Wide Information Management (SWIM) (PDF)]
* [ Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) (PDF)]
* [ NextGen Data Communications (PDF)]
* [ NAS Voice Switch (PDF)]
* [ Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) (PDF)]
* [ Network Enabled Weather (NNEW) (PDF)]

NextGen Transformation:

*Ground-Based Navigation and Surveillance
*Voice Radio Control
*Disconnected Information Systems
*Air Traffic “Control”
*Fragmented Weather Forecasting
*Visibility Limited Airfield Parameters
*Forensic Safety System

*Satellite-Based Navigation and Surveillance
*Digital Data Exchange
*Net-Centric Information Access
*Air Traffic “Management”
*Informed Decisions Using Integrated Weather
*“Equivalent Visual” Operations
*Prognostic Safety System

More Information
* [ NextGen: Implementing Tomorrow’s Solutions TODAY. (PDF)]

See also

*NextGen NextGen

External links

* [http://www/ ATO News]
* [http://www/ ATO News]
* []
* [ Airports & Air Traffic (FAA Web site)]
* [ Become an Air Traffic Controller]
* [ Interactive: Controlling a Flight]
* [ Fly FAA - View Airport Status]
* [ Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO)]
* [ National Air Traffic Controllers Association]
* [ ATO videos on YouTubeTM]

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