NATCA Enjoys A Successful Week in Salt Lake City
Thursday, February 14, 2013
By Dale Wright, Director of Safety and Technology
The week of Feb. 4 turned out to be a very good week for NATCA. The RTCA NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) had scheduled a meeting in Salt Lake City. The NAC membership is basically a who’s who in the aviation industry and is led by Bill Ayer from the Alaska Air Group. The Designated Federal Official (DFO) is FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. Member organizations are represented by their principal officers; NATCA President Paul Rinaldi sits on the NAC for the Union.
The meeting began on Feb. 6 with visits to the air traffic control facilities in the Salt Lake City area. Many attendees were pleasantly surprised to learn how well the FAA and NATCA were working together toward implementing technology and procedures that would result in NextGen being a reality at these facilities. While at Salt Lake Center (ZLC), the group received a briefing and there were positive discussions on the controller involvement in En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) that is making this equipment successful.
NATCA sponsored a dinner that night. This event was a time for discussions on the day’s activities. There were many positive comments referencing NATCA which goes to show that industry is noticing the great work controllers and NATCA tech reps are doing in the field.
The NAC meeting was held on Feb. 7. There were several items on the agenda that dealt with the sub-committees and teams under the NAC, but most of the discussion centered on Performance Based Navigation (PBN) and Airspace. NATCA is well represented on both of these initiatives. Dennis Kelly (PHL) is NATCA’s RNAV/PBN representative while Jim Davis (PCT) leads NATCA’s Airspace Teams. The use of PBN procedures, RNP approaches and other new technology have long been issues for airlines which put large sums of money into equipping their aircraft. NATCA participated on a team and discussed the obstacles to PBN. Mr. Kelly put many hours into this group and their report has been widely accepted by the aviation groups. The report is actually now known as the Lentini Report.
Elizabeth “Lynn” Ray from the FAA spoke about airspace challenges, and mentioned the strides that the Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex (OAPM) teams are making. This airspace initiative is huge, and NATCA currently is working with nine different teams in various stages of design and implementation. Ms. Ray has also expressed her appreciation to the NATCA representatives working on all these teams.
Rinaldi provided the NAC with a status of NATCA’s involvement. Industry is impressed with the work that controllers and representatives are doing. NATCA’s involvement is now seen as a must-have, not an obstruction. This week in Salt Lake City went a long way to show industry the value of NATCA’s involvement.