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June 23, 2017 // Gilbert Discusses Funding Challenges at Aviation Symposium in Charlotte

NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert spoke this week on a panel of aviation safety experts at the Charlotte Chamber’s Aviation Symposium.

The panel was highly relevant to the Charlotte local audience, because a new air traffic control tower is currently under construction at the south end of the airport and because there has been so much news about proposed legislation for air traffic control reform.

The panel also included Sharon Pinkerton of Airlines for America, Former Clinton Administration official Dorothy Robyn, and the National Business Aviation Association’s Steven Brown. They talked in depth about the problem of stop-and-go funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Gilbert explained that we have a very safe system today, despite funding challenges. She explained that aviation safety professionals complete 141 million operations a year with only 10,500 controllers, but that under the current funding structure hiring, training, new technology equipage, and updating infrastructure all continue to be challenges.

Pictured from left to right: National Business Aviation Association’s Steven Brown, Former Clinton Administration Official Dorothy Robyn, Sharon Pinkerton of Airlines for America, and NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert.

“What we have today is not sustainable,” Gilbert said. “We have to improve upon the status quo and look at it in a way that makes sense, for the sake of this country and for the sake of those who are trying to keep the National Airspace System safe.”

The panelists praised the dedication and commitment of the country’s aviation safety professionals. “Our controllers are spectacular,” Brown said. “We all owe our safety and our lives to them whenever we fly, especially when you think about the size and complexity of our system.”

“We are proud of the aviation industry in this country. We started it here,” Gilbert said. “But now we are willing to step out and have the dialogue about what changes are needed, because we need stability and reliability in the funding.”

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