Narrator:

Our National Airspace system runs like clockwork: operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But with more than 45,000 pieces of equipment at over 6,000 facilities, the real question is... HOW?

Teri L. Bristol, Vice President, Technical Operations Services:

Technical Operations is the group that's in the background: A lot of people won't even know they're there, until something breaks. And when something breaks, it's "How quickly can you get here?" So, our folks are doing the heavy lifting day in and day out, ready to respond at any time of the day or night, and are ready to go at a moment's notice.

Narrator:

Keeping the NAS up and running is a massive undertaking, and the Tech Ops workforce does the job so well that it is sometimes taken for granted. Many of these unsung heroes work out in the field, behind the scenes, doing whatever it takes to support the safe control of air traffic.

Jo Tarrh, Director of Technical Operations, Central Service Area:

Each service area is about three thousand people and that's combined of engineers and technicians that make sure that the NAS is running every day. We're constantly checking to make sure that everything works properly so that we have the best communication, the best radar, the best equipment, and the best navigational aids that we can provide to air traffic control. Tech Ops work force has a very can do attitude. Whether it's in a hurricane, whether it's putting in a new tower, whether it's day to day operations, they have a very, very positive attitude as far as making sure that it works.

Narrator:

While the 3 Service Area Directorates are hard at work across the country, they are being supported by other Tech Ops Directorates at Headquarters. Each group plays a critical role in fulfilling the Tech Ops mission.

Vaughn Turner, Executive Director, Technical Operations Services:

We want to have all our systems and services working at their optimum. That's our goal. We want to make sure that our NAS is safe, we want to make sure that the equipment is being maintained safely and we want to make sure that if something is close to being out of tolerance that we make sure that we have everything working within the parameters, because we know that if its out of tolerance that's not a safe condition for the folks who are flying out there and using that equipment. So we put a lot of emphasis day in and day out on our safety and our safety culture.

Narrator:

Increased safety is not only the top priority in day to day operations, but it's the primary goal of many of the NextGen programs, which will transform communications, navigation, and surveillance capabilities as Tech Ops transitions to the future.

Tom Accardi, Former Director, Aviation System Standards:

Transitioning into the future means maintaining the quality as the national air transportation system continues to grow. We're involved in developing new procedures to enhance the safety and capacity of the air traffic system and make sure that it's safe as we transition to more aeronautical digital products and new complex systems in the aircraft and on the ground.

Jim Eck, Executive Director, Project Management Organization:

So the NextGen system is going to be designed to deal with providing more near real time planning, providing more capability and more flexibility in the delivery mechanisms of communication between controllers and pilots in the airspace. With the transition to NextGen, tech ops will continue its 50 year tradition of being the go-to organization for operating and maintaining the NAS. We'll expand our role to become system and service integrators and in doing so we'll embrace new tools, new methods and procedures that will enable us to keep the system operating safely for the next 50 years.

Teri L. Bristol, Vice President, Technical Operations Services:

What I really love about Tech Ops is the people. We've got a great, dedicated, group of folks. They're hardworking, they go above and beyond. We have probably one of the most diverse missions, I believe, inside of the air traffic organization. These are the folks that are making it happen day after day.

Testimonials:

I am an engineer... I am a front line manager... I am a management and program analyst... I am a machinist... I am a technician... I am an engineer... I am a national airspace specialist... I enjoy my work. I guess that's why I haven't retired... One of the most exciting jobs I've ever had...I find it very rewarding... I feel good because I know that we have made a safe day and that's a good feeling.