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Air Traffic Controllers, Pilots to Gather Aviation Community Together to Talk About Enhancing Safety, Communications - (4/23/2002)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Air Line Pilots Association are proud to co-host a special conference for the aviation community to talk about how to make the system safer, better, clearer and more efficient.

This year’s 18th annual Communicating for Safety event will take place Tuesday, April 30 and Wednesday, May 1 at the Kansas City Hilton Hotel-Airport. “We are trying to achieve an active, constructive forum where the principals of aviation can come together and discuss the issues of greatest interest and importance,” said NATCA Southern Region Safety Representative Wes Stoops, who is coordinating the event. “We want to establish some common ground and work through any differences. Providing an opportunity to discuss the issues that affect us daily can only enhance safety.”

Participants will talk about an array of topics, including new technologies like the Next Generation Air/Ground Communications (NEXCOM) program. NEXCOM, which is scheduled for implementation in 2009, was developed because of increasing demand for space on the very crowded air traffic control radio spectrum. The program replaces the ground radio system with digital technology. Another important technology is Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC), part of the Federal Aviation Administration's Free Flight Phase II program. It enables controllers to communicate with pilots using text messages instead of radio transmissions to direct routine activities such as transfer of communications to controllers in other sectors of airspace, issuing altimeter settings, and acknowledging pilots' initial calls. The goal is to decrease the number of controller-pilot radio transmissions.

“With these new technologies coming out, we really look forward to the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with the pilot community and discuss both the positives and the negatives,” Stoops said. Added NATCA Southwest Region Safety Representative Scott Voigt: “We want to discuss and clarify issues, talk about why this program does this and why that procedure does that and really provide some feedback for all concerns. It’s really good for air traffic controllers and pilots who may have misconceptions about what the other is doing.”

NATCA President John Carr will deliver the keynote luncheon address on April 30, while FAA Deputy Associate Administrator for Air Traffic Services Peter Challan will speak at lunch on May 1.

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