It’s a new Flight Standards Service- here’s how the CHANGE is being managed

AFS org chart
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Success Story: Flight Standards Service of the FAA


The FAA Aviation Safety organization leadership recognized existing challenges and decided to articulate new approaches/philosophies needed to meet its mission under its limitations:

Sea Change


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office realignmentChange, Change, Change is coming to Flight Standards,for better 

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These changes have exerted pressures on the organization and the people who perform these critical functions. The August 29,2017 announcement of how the AVS/AFS planned to deal with this heightened requirements:


On August 20, AFS made organizational adjustments that will enable it to operate with greater accountability, 
better use of resources, and more readiness to adapt to change. The FAA expects the Flight Standards 
restructuring to yield benefits to both the agency and the U.S. aviation community. It will strengthen the 
organization’s ability to keep pace with changes in the aviation industry, increase the Service’s ability to 
derive maximum benefit from the fixed resources allocated to the agency, and make sure AFS employees develop 
and interpret regulations and policy consistently across the organization.

To enhance the AFS safety culture, interdependence, critical thinking, and consistency will now be embedded in 
every AFS employee's work requirements. To facilitate a more agile, efficient, and consistent organization, 
the service is reorganizing from today's structure, see current org chart (PDF), to one based on function,
 see new org chart.


Many of the career employees have functioned well for years relying on skills that may not be relevant to this new policy and/or standards. While some of them need to realign skills with new tasks  accomplished by reorganization, there likely will be a demand for human resource capabilities to aid in this transition. Further, the dynamic nature of the regulated industry will continue to impose new, exogeneous exertions on the Aviation Safety Organization.


While the AFS organization chart reflects the realignment of functions to support the SMS/compliance/data-driven core of the FAA of the future, some may not have  recognized the addition on the right side of the page of a Foundational Business Organization (hope that NATA is not upset by the appropriation of the FBO acronym; fortunately, the mail code is AFB).  Here is AFB’s description of its mission:


The Office of Foundational Business is responsible for the following:
  1. Provides human resource management, administrative, staffing, budget and logistical services to the entire Service.
  2. Manages and directs all matters associated with the planning, programming, and implementation of the Aircraft Registration AFS AFB
    and Airmen Certification Programs.
  3. Represents the quality control and assurance arm of the Service’s Safety Management System (SMS) responsible for the
    application of safety management and quality management within the Service, and for identifying risks that transcend 
    individual regulated entities, straddle multiple sectors of the industry, and/or rise to the level at which they require 
    national or governmental attention.
  4. Recruits and hires high-quality individuals for the Service and ensures their development is tailored to the individual
    and aligned to the needs of the Service.

Unusual for governmental acuity and particularly notable for its HR sensitivity was the inclusion of Resource Management A Division and Resource Management B Division in this new AFS team. As described by the contractor, who aided in the creation of this proactive HR function, AFB-200 and -300 represent

The FAA has had a well-documented legacy of working complex changes. Recent years has led many government agencies, 
including the FAA, to recognize the need to become more effective at leading and managing change. The Flights Standards 
Service internalized this charge and, in 2014, pledged to embed a new mindset, skillset and toolset for leading change.

Our goal is to transform the way change is done in government. By changing our mindset and enhancing our skillset 
and toolset, we are effectively leading change. Prosci’s research-based methodology is supporting us in realizing 
the successes we’ve seen.

- Aris Scarla,at FAA, Flight Standards Service Manager of the Change Management Group Aris

 …the Flight Standards Service wanted a methodology that was research-based, that was supported in academia, and that would help them embed change leadership and not just come in with an army of consultants…

Through planning the roll-out of an enterprise change management capability as a project in its own right (“Project ECM”), the change management group created a clearly defined change management maturity goal and a structured, intentional approach to achieve it. Establishing a tailored Change Management Group structure and governance model for change management support across the service was critical to program success.

The Change Management Group also created a unique Three-Tier Service Model to streamline how they support change management application throughout the organization. In Tier One, a project is small enough that those outside of the Change Management Group - such as the middle manager, project manager and frontline staff - should have enough capability to successfully apply change management to the change. 

In Tier Two, the change is still managed mainly by those outside of the Change Management Group, but a Change Management Advisor will come alongside the project owner to provide guidance and advice. Tier Three is where the Change Management Group gets largely involved. Here, a project is large enough to require dedicated Change Management Practitioner resourcing.


The Flight Standards Service has now certified around 40 Change Management Practitioners and is applying change management on all projects. They will also have completed initial training on over 5,400 people at various levels in the FAA by the end of 2018. While they’ve experienced their share of difficulties when internalizing a new competency, more projects have been successful utilizing change management.

This sea change can crush those who are intellectually or mentally ill-prepared for the new tasks. Adding the AFB function demonstrates a level of thought and care by the AFS/AVS leaders. HRM is theoretically a brilliant idea, but with all such personnel initiatives, it is the interpersonal skills of the woman or man who works on a daily basis with the individuals transitioning to this new environment. This is a critical transition; hopefully the AFB personnel will contribute to its success. Yes, the subject matter experts will be the ones who make, or not make, these new policies/philosophies work.

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