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Air Transportation Standardization and Evaluation Program Evolves for Excellence

By MS. KIM KNIGHT, Staff Writer

Most of us know the old saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Just because an object or process is not broken, however, does not mean there is not room for improvement or updates. That was the case with the recently restructured Air Transportation Standardization and Evaluation Program (ATSEP) for the Aerial Port and Transportation Management career fields taught at the Expeditionary Center, Joint Base (JB) McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ.

“About two years ago, AMC [Air Mobility Command] kicked off the ATSEP program, which is a revamped and modernized system of quality assurance that we have within our career field,” said MSgt Ryan Vanterpool, Course Director. “In conjunction with our stakeholders, AMC wanted a formal three-day course to capture base training through discussions, capstones, and scenarios. It is meant to give new program managers, evaluators, and augmenters standardized training before going back to the unit and hitting other prerequisites or doing unsupervised evaluations.”

It took approximately 15 months to plan and develop the course curriculum before the first class began in April 2019. It includes five lessons and begins with an overview of the program and discussion about the quality assurance in the Aerial Port and Transportation Management career fields from the past to the present day. “The second lesson is rules, responsibilities, and lessons of how each cog fits into the machine and how we all operate together,” said Vanterpool. “The third lesson is reporting and going over spreadsheets, including the way we report information and to who, when, and how. The last two lessons are evaluations and methods. In the evaluation process, we go over deficiencies. We have video scenarios we work in and there is a great deal of discussion.”

The participants of the first class included seasoned as well as brand new ATSEP managers, which generated positive crosstalk about the refined processes. Vanterpool said, “It’s now a better alliance to the Air Force Inspection System when we talk about deficiencies and constantly evolving evaluations. From this, we have more of a wingtip approach, which is the basis of the ATSEP where you picture yourself looking at a wingtip. It is the same concept when evaluating ramp services, loading an aircraft, or passenger services loading processes. If the evaluator, or fully qualified subject matter expert, notices something, he or she can zoom into a more focused approach and [focus on] the task steps. Whereas, [in] the old ATSEP, certain tasks may have only been inspected once a month. This one, it is continual like at three, four, or even more looks per each line item, each month.”

The shift to continual monitoring has reduced deficiencies. Vanterpool said, as humans, we all make mistakes, but it is not about showcasing issues or pointing fingers. It is about examining areas that can be improved and identifying trends. For instance, if a trend is identified in a unit, AMC should be made aware so reports received from all aerial porters, Air Mobility Squadrons, and Contingency Response Groups can be reviewed and changes made in on-the-job training records if needed.

Since the initial class, changes are being made to the course from feedback provided by participants. The lesson plans will receive a few tweaks and time management will be ironed out to accommodate crosstalk. “We might shorten the capstone because it is pretty extensive. We are going to simplify it so we can capture simple, and direct, to-the-point information. And we are going to refilm some videos to make sure we are literally going total force and including our TMO [Traffic Management Office] so that they are onboard with the same thing. You have to figure this ATSEP program stemmed from an aerial port mindset, so we want to make sure we cover that grey area and not lose our TMO brothers and sisters as they come to the class. We are going to make sure everyone who walks out of the class is on the same page,” Vanterpool said.