NATCA Teams up with AOPA Air Safety Institute: Pilot-Controller Seminars Promote Safer Communication
Thursday, October 20, 2011

NATCA’s longstanding successful partnership with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is reaching a new height this fall with a series of pilot-controller seminars that are already earning rave reviews from participants and attendees.

The seminars, run by AOPA’s Air Safety Institute (ASI), are called “Say Again?” This fall's topic of discussion is “Radio Communications Done Right.”

“I've been finding NATCA volunteers from all over the country to go and help with these seminars. So far, the feedback has been great,” said NATCA Manager of Outreach and Special Events Kelly Richardson. “There are about 100 of these seminars going on all over the country. They started in September and will go through the first week of December.”

Paul Deres, director of education for the Air Safety Institute, says this seminar is unique in that it has actual controllers from local facilities on hand at most locations.

“This important effort by ASI and NATCA is helping to promote safer communication, increase operational knowledge, and build stronger relationships between GA pilots and controllers,” Deres said. “A safety seminar about radio communications without benefiting from an ATC perspective just wouldn't have the same impact.”

 NATCA member Ron Shusterman from A90 recently participated in a seminar and immediately felt a sense of value in the interaction with pilots and came away with a highly positive impression.

“When we as controllers meet with the pilots during seminars, we emphasize to them that we are regular people too and we are not ‘out to get them,’” he said. “Our cooperation with AOPA during this seminar helped answer some local and procedural questions. We had two representatives from ZBW, one from MHT and three from A90. Two of the A90 people were in the audience as pilots. The presentation by AOPA was well laid out and we were there to back up the topic of ‘communication.’ All and all, it was a good night with a lot of good questions.”

For more information about the seminars, you can visit the ASI Web site at:

You can reach Kelly Richardson at

To read a letter from Deres outlining the program and saluting the partnership between the ASI and NATCA, please click here.