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ATCA 2012: NATCA Director of Safety and Technology Dale Wright - (10/4/2012)

NATCA Safety and Technology Director Dale Wright participated in a seven-member panel of safety and technology experts during the discussion Redefine Change with New Technology and New Procedures on Oct. 3.

There was much discussion about how human factors shape and change technology, and how technology influences the human.

"Over the past several years, let's say five years, a lot of what you've heard of NextGen was, 'three times the traffic, half the controllers,'" said Wright. "Yes, there was a lot concern among controllers, but now we don't hear anything about reducing the number of controllers."

He continued that the issue NATCA is facing now, as NATCA President Paul Rinaldi stated, is consolidation. "The controllers look at this technology as ‘the more information that's put in front of me, the less airplanes I can work with.’ So, then, we'll need more controllers. So you have to balance what you're putting out in front of controllers, too, because data overload is an issue of concern for us."

Wright discussed the impact technology has on controllers who are used to one way of doing things and who aren't particularly fond of change.

"I was a controller for many years, and I know we're hard-headed, but we do see the light eventually with training on these new technologies," said Wright. "If trained properly they get to understand the new system more, and once they get the confidence in it, you can pull the old system out and go with the new one."

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