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Santa Speaks to ATCA Audience on the Impact of the Pandemic on Aviation

President Rich Santa participated in a panel at the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) virtual annual conference on Feb. 8 entitled, Global Impact of the Pandemic on Aviation.” He spoke on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on NATCA members. “Despite all that has happened, we have had the privilege of working collaboratively with the FAA, moving personal protective equipment throughout the country, to ensure the health and safety of millions of people,” said Santa. “Our members have been keeping the NAS (National Airspace System) running safely during the pandemic, with very few ATC-0 events, and they are proud of that. There’s inspiration and real ownership by our members in what they have accomplished during these trying times.”

Santa was also asked about the pandemic’s impact on training. “The FAA has continued to hire,” he said. “The Academy is at reduced capacity, but we are still getting people through the system. The FAA has been good at monitoring where we can and cannot train. NATCA and the FAA have been working collaboratively to ensure that where we can train, we do.”

When the discussion became more about the future of air traffic control, Santa stated that air traffic controllers will always be working but with better tools. “This is the best job, and it’s the best job because it’s challenging and technical,” he said. “If you go back 10 years ago, systems like ERAM (En Route Automation Modernization) didn’t replace us; it just gave us the tools to maintain the highest and most efficient airspace in the world.”

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