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Steve Hansen Retires: His Legacy Is the Great Safety Culture He Instilled in Our Union

It can easily be said that National Safety Committee (NSC) Chair and National Safety Representative Steve Hansen has changed the perception of safety within NATCA. At the end of this year, Hansen is retiring from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), leaving a strong foundation for the NSC and the culture of safety to continue to grow.

Hansen worked with NATCA and the FAA to move from a punitive culture to a safety culture, furthering the cause of aviation safety. Under Hansen, NATCA also greatly expanded the scope and size of its annual Communicating For Safety (CFS) event in 2009, growing it into the aviation industry’s leading conference concentrating on safety, technology, and building relationships. He helped make the conference one of a kind, honing in on the air traffic needs of all members of the aviation community who are affected by the National Airspace System (NAS).

“Steve changed the perception of safety within NATCA and even made safety cool again,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “His work ethic and relentless determination to improving safety every single day made him the right member for the job of leading our Safety Committee at exactly the right time in our history with the FAA, as it changed dramatically from punitive to collaborative in 2009. To work with Steve has been truly inspiring. I witnessed someone who understood our members’ strong commitment to safety and used his position to represent their voices in making the National Airspace System as safe as it has ever been over the last decade. He truly moved us from good to great.”

“Steve’s influence has been so powerful and so transformational during our era of collaboration with the FAA that we named our highest internal safety award after him, and we renew that organizational commitment to safety each year by presenting the award to a member who lives up to those ideals,” NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said. “To see Steve’s effect on our Union, you just have to look no further than the relationships he has built, with FAA leaders, aviation industry partners, fellow aviation unions, and international colleagues and safety organizations. Under his leadership, we took CFS from a small hotel conference room to the aviation industry’s leading conference focusing on safety, technology and building relationships.”

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be able to serve the membership over the years,” says Hansen. “NATCA is a trusted and credible voice in the aviation industry, and I am proud to have been able to contribute.”

Prior to the FAA, Hansen can attribute his breadth of knowledge to his 12 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, as well as his time working for the Department of Defense as a civilian controller. Within the FAA and during his time as a NATCA member, Hansen added to his knowledge, serving in numerous roles: as a three-term FacRep at Fairbanks ATCT (FAI), an Area Rep at Albuquerque Center (ZAB), on the Alaskan and Southwest regions Labor Relations teams, and on the National COBRA team during the time leading to the imposed work rules of 2006-09. In addition to being the NSC Chair and the National Safety Representative, Hansen currently serves as the Co-chair of the NATCA Safety and Technology Leadership Council and as Co-chair of CFS.

Hansen has been one of NATCA’s leading voices to help ensure that members are involved from the beginning, when new equipment and technology is being introduced into the NAS. He spearheaded NATCA’s efforts in making the Air Traffic Safety Action Program, the safety reporting system encouraging aviation safety specialists to bring forth safety concerns and incidents with the goal of achieving solutions to those events to enhance safety, a success. He then went a step further, educating and encouraging our members to accept and support the program. Additionally, Hansen has helped lead NATCA’s collaborative efforts with the FAA on the Partnership for Safety program, another safety reporting avenue used to bring safety concerns forward for review and action.

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