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Fri, Mar 26, 2004

DOT Announces Independent Safety Oversight Service

Mineta Says New Office Is For Overwatch Of Air Traffic Organization

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta has announced the establishment of an office to provide independent safety oversight of the Air Traffic Organization (ATO). The office's primary responsibility will be to ensure the safety of changes to air traffic standards and procedures. The creation of the new Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service, based within the regulation and certification organization of the FAA, follows a recommendation of the 1997 National Civil Aviation Review Commission (NCARC) chaired by Secretary Mineta.

"Since the Air Traffic Organization was founded just over three years ago, the FAA has made great strides in creating a more flexible, efficient air traffic control system for the traveling public," Secretary Mineta said.

"This new oversight service will assure that the ATO continues to operate under the highest possible level of safety."

"This is a new way of doing business," said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey. "This new organization is designed to give us independent analysis of our air traffic control operations. It will operate as a second set of eyes to bring us to a new level of
excellence. In terms of safety, efficiency and complexity, the United States already runs the world's best air traffic control system. This new oversight group will help us maintain a record that's second to none."

Secretary Mineta named Dave Canoles, the FAA's current director for emergency operations and communications, to head the new office. During his 33-year FAA career, Canoles has served as manager of the FAA's Eastern Region Air Traffic Division, and directed the office within Air Traffic that evaluated air traffic facilities and investigated incidents and accidents.

The establishment of the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service responds directly to a recommendation by NCARC that safety oversight of the FAA's air traffic function be provided by a separate part of the agency. The NCARC was established by Congress to examine how the FAA
could improve ways of doing business.

Separately, the International Civil Aviation Organization on Nov. 1, 2001, also required that its member states, including the U.S., set up independent oversight of air traffic operations. Canada, the U.K. and Germany are among the ICAO states transitioning to similar systems.



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