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May 12, 2017 // CFS Panel Recap: NextGen Implementation Challenges and Successes, Part 3

Read part 1.
Read part 2.

What: NextGen Implementation Challenges and Successes panel
When: Monday, March 20

  • Jim Ullmann, Director of Safety and Technology, NATCA
  • Kris Burnham, Vice President, Program Management Organization, FAA


  • Mark McKelligan, Deputy Director, Safety and Technology, NATCA
  • Donna Creasap, PhD, PBN Programs and Policy Group Manager, ATO
  • Tom Adcock, Training Rep, NATCA
  • Abi Smith, Director, Technical Training, ATO
  • Jeff Woods, Program Management Organization Rep, NATCA
  • Steve Reynolds, En Route and Oceanic Second Level Engineering Group Manager, ATO
  • Steve Hansen, Chairman, National Safety Committee, NATCA
  • Terry Biggio, Vice President, Safety and Technical Training, FAA
  • Mike MacDonald, Region X Vice President, NATCA
  • Vaughn Turner, Vice President, Technical Operations, FAA

NextGen initiatives are modernizing the National Airspace System (NAS) with new, safe, and effective equipment and procedures. The program seeks to apply all available data and research to develop new technologies to modernize the NAS while maintaining the highest standard of safety.

On the first day of Communicating For Safety 2017, a panel of distinguished experts gave their perspectives on the challenges of implementing multiple new technologies and procedures in the NAS, the impact on facilities, and how — through collaboration on NextGen initiatives — we can all advance the NAS.

In addition to explaining how successful collaboration has been in implementing NextGen, panelists went into the process behind it and how to stay informed moving forward.

As the introduction of new technologies continues to create progress and challenges in the workplace, it is critical that NATCA continues to collaborate from the ground up. In order to maintain safety and efficiency, the air safety expertise NATCA members can provide continues to be the most important factor when testing and implementing anything that is introduced to the operating environment.

“We need that human experience to figure out how we deploy [NextGen] technology correctly and responsibly,” Burnham explained. “In particular at this juncture in NextGen, where we’ve laid in major automation platforms.”

Burnham said that the future holds many potential applications and decision support tools (tools air traffic controllers need to optimize traffic flow) where the relationship between the people who will use them and the new tools being fielded will be absolutely critical.

“It really does come back to this relationship,” she said. “I think it was a good thing that Jim and I met with a problem to solve because I think that’s all we’re doing at this point. How do we solve problems so we can all move forward.”

Moving forward, Ullmann said, collaboration will continue to be the path to success.

To help members stay up to date on the many complex programs being rolled out through NextGen, NATCA’s Safety and Technology Department offers weekly Safety and Technology updates on the member’s side of natca.org. NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert’s weekly updates and the NATCA Insider also offer up-to-date information on several NextGen and safety programs.

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