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Aug. 4, 2016: NATCA Mourns the Passing of Former Congressman Steve LaTourette, a True Champion for NATCA, Aviation Safety, and Workers


For Immediate Release

August 4, 2016

Contact: Doug Church, 301-346-8245

NATCA Mourns the Passing of Former Congressman Steve LaTourette, a True Champion for NATCA, Aviation Safety, and Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is mourning the passing of former Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette, a thoughtful and passionate legislator and public servant who put country ahead of partisanship and possessed a relentless dedication to supporting aviation safety professionals while working to ensure the growth and safety of our National Airspace System (NAS).

“Congressman LaTourette was always pragmatic on every issue, a wonderful quality that truly made him special,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “He was a true NATCA champion, and I was so honored and proud to call him a personal friend of mine. This is a tremendous loss and all of us at NATCA extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Jennifer, his six children, and all of his family members and friends.”

In 2007, NATCA presented LaTourette with the James L. Oberstar Sentinel of Safety Award. It is NATCA’s highest honor for an aviation leader outside of the Union who has displayed outstanding achievement in the advancement of aviation safety. At the time, LaTourette was only the third winner of the award and reflected the fact that his leadership on aviation safety issues was historic, aggressive, and courageous.

“Congressman LaTourette was a champion of NATCA in the most compelling and dedicated way, always fighting for the safety of the system and that meant fighting for the workers, our members, who worked with him,” said NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, who worked closely with LaTourette as NATCA’s Legislative Committee Chair and in her current position. “In our relationship with him, he was so focused on finding solutions and improving our members’ working conditions and, thus, making the system better and safer overall. We have missed him since he left Congress. This world is a better place having had him in it.”

As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congressman LaTourette consistently introduced and supported legislation that made aviation safety a priority. In 2006, he led the fight to establish basic fairness and equity in FAA/union negotiations. He understood that a fairly negotiated and ratified contract would provide consistency and stability to the NAS, thereby ensuring the safety and security of the flying public.

Congressman LaTourette co-sponsored the Secure Transportation for America Act of 2001 which, among other things, established standards and responsibilities for the Transportation Security Administration. In 2002, he co-sponsored legislation that would allow pilots of commercial aircraft to carry guns to be used in the event of a terrorist attack or cockpit intrusion.

“Congressman Steven LaTourette was one of the greatest champions NATCA has ever had the honor to work alongside,” said Mike Hanlon, a NATCA member who works as an air traffic controller at Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center and serves as NATCA’s Great Lakes Region Legislative Committee Chair. “In my capacity as Ohio Legislative Coordinator, and then as the Great Lakes Region Legislative Chair, I had the profound opportunity to continue our relationship with him. He was a tireless advocate for what was right. He believed in collaboration and working together to arrive at solutions to our common problems. He truly was a great man, and NATCA mourns his loss.”


Certified in 1987, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents over 19,000 highly skilled air traffic controllers, engineers, and other safety-related professionals.

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