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March 18, 2016 // IFATCA Conference Coverage

This week, NATCA proudly welcomed nearly 500 registered attendees to Bally’s in Las Vegas for the 55th Annual Conference of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA).

It was the first time that the Annual Conference was held in the United States.

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IFATCA President and CEO, Patrik Peters.

“In the 55-year history of IFATCA, we were overdue as the largest air navigation service provider in the world in holding this conference here,” said NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. “We are proud to host the world’s professional organization for air traffic controllers here in the United States.”

There were 74 countries represented at the conference, which was packed with information, discussion, and education. There was also ample time to renew existing relationships and meet new friends.

IFATCA President and CEO Patrik Peters, in his remarks during the opening ceremony on March 14, invited everyone to both share and ask for information. “I invite you to do this, amongst each other and from our offices, representatives, and specialists, and, of course, the (IFATCA) Executive Board members,” he said. “As facilitators of this Federation, we do our best to move this further.”

Peters used the analogy of a tree in explaining the important goal of IFATCA’s work during the conference.

“We all want to see the fruits of our work,” Peters said. “And if the fruits are our results, the tree’s branches are our capabilities. These capabilities are formed based on a solid trunk, our intent. And our integrity would be the roots of the tree.

“Fatigue risk management, distractions in the workplace, voluntary incident reporting and just culture; all these matters are based on character, and competence,” Peters continued. “We have a responsibility as safety professionals to be trustworthy. We have to ensure this tree is strong, and grows well. We have a responsibility to maintain integrity, have the right intentions, work within our capabilities to harvest the results we want.”

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NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi welcomed attendees to the United States and Las Vegas during the opening ceremony. He told them that even though the large size of the United States aviation system makes it unique, “we face the same problems you face around the world. We push for modern equipment and procedures, we strive for the highest standard of professionalism, and we promote and safeguard the National Airspace System while protecting the national air traffic control profession. Modernization and innovation is rapidly making our individual countries’ aviation systems into one gigantic, dynamic, global aviation system.”

NATCA hosted two panel discussions on Thursday, March 17. The first focused on Foundations of Professionalism and briefed conference attendees on the history and development of NATCA’s collaborative work with the FAA on Professional Standards, Turn Off Tune In, Fully Charged, and the Air Traffic Safety Action Program.

“It doesn’t matter what country you come from or what language you speak, the standards are the same,” said Garth Koleszar, who along with fellow NATCA Professional Standards Program Co-Lead Jeff Richards, conducted the presentation.

“To be known as a professional takes hard work. It is a choice,” Koleszar said. “The only thing in our profession that enhances the professionalism of our occupation are the choices made by the person sitting in your seat right now. Technology and equipment are just tools applied by the professional that utilized them. The only way we move forward is to recognize that our choices are critical.”

The second panel was about improving the airspace. It was hosted by Jeff Woods, NATCA Representative in the FAA’s Program Management Organization (PMO), and Bennie Hutto, NATCA’s Article 48 Safety and Technology Representative on the Washington, D.C., Metroplex project.

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NATCA President Paul Rinaldi (left) and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert.

To view more photos from the Annual Conference, please click here.