NATCA Well Represented at ATCA Conference
Friday, October 29, 2010

In a clear sign of NATCA's increasing credibility as safety professionals who are viewed as a key stakeholder by industry and the aviation community, this week's 55th annual Air Traffic Control Association's (ATCA) Conference in National Harbor, Md., included NATCA officials as participants on five separate panels covering issues such as safety, technology and workforce issues. All five carried similar strong messages of the need for participation in NextGen by controllers through collaboration.

In addition, Safety Committee Chairman, veteran Albuquerque Center air traffic controller Steve Hansen, won ATCA's Air Traffic Control Specialist of the Year award. The award, presented during a special awards luncheon on Monday, is presented to an individual civilian air traffic control specialist who has performed in an exemplary or extraordinary manner in support of ATC during the previous year.

 
 
   
“Steve is a tremendously deserving recipient of this prestigious award. All of his brothers and sisters in NATCA stand and applaud his achievements, which have helped us show our commitment to aviation safety through collaboration and meaningful involvement at all levels,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “It is an extremely challenging job to chair our Safety Committee and be so well versed on so many technology and procedural and training issues to represent NATCA in such a competent fashion. But Steve makes it look easy with his breadth of knowledge and experience.”

Among his accomplishments, Hansen has spearheaded NATCA’s efforts in making the Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP) a success in its first two years.

Rinaldi used his opportunity as part of a panel discussion on workplace issues related to NextGen to  aggressively emphasize NATCA's desire for early, pre-decisional involvement and touted the benefits of a collaborative relationship as being the key to better solutions "because it utilizes the expertise of the entire workforce."

Rinaldi used his opportunity as part of a panel discussion on workplace issues related to NextGen to  aggressively emphasize NATCA's desire for early, pre-decisional involvement and touted the benefits of a collaborative relationship as being the key to better solutions "because it utilizes the expertise of the entire workforce."

Rinaldi credited the NATCA-FAA ATC/NOTAM/TMU contract, which went into effect just over one year ago, with being the impetus to the critical change in the labor-management relationship. “We needed a contract
in order to stabilize the workforce, stem the high attrition of experienced controllers and begin to rebuild the trust and morale that is essential to believing and sharing in the FAA’s safety mission,” he said. “Our contract is the framework and foundation upon which a formal collaborative relationship can be built. We now have that. And one year into it, the results are quite positive.”

Hansen took part in a panel on aviation safety issues and talked extensively about the importance of the safety reporting systems now in place, especially ATSAP. "NATCA has fully embraced the goal of a strong reporting culture established through the implementation of Hansen said. "Part of ensuring a strong safety culture is
   
creating a workplace environment that supports and fosters it. And we are definitely on the right track. These programs are built on trust -- it only takes one occurrence to completely destroy this trust that took a long time to gain -- so it is very important that we don't lose sight of that."

NATCA Director of Safety and Technology Dale Wright emphasized the importance of training, especially recurrent training, during his panel on technology. He also made a point during a Q & A session about the importance of better weather forecasting as part of the new technological improvements to the system being developed. "No matter what technological improvements are made, weather will always be an obstruction to flow."
   
 
Mel Davis, NATCA's NextGen representative, told his panel on "delivering NextGen," that collaborative decision-making is the key to NextGen. "The question of 'where do we go from here,' those decisions are ongoing," he said. "Everybody's got to give a little, then the group moves forward."

NATCA's Matt Tucker rounded out the union's participation at the conference by participating in a panel about weather, specifically what is needed from a standpoint of technology, procedures and people to minimize the impact of weather in a trajectory based operation.
 
 


To read NATCA's press release about Hansen's ATCA award, please click here:
http://natca.unionlaborworks.com/news.aspx?zone=Top%20News&nID=2123#n2123

To read NATCA's press release about Rinaldi's remarks on his ATCA panel, please click here:
http://natca.unionlaborworks.com/news.aspx?zone=Top%20News&nID=2127#n2127