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We’re Excited to Welcome You to Communicating For Safety 2023!

We would like to extend our warmest welcome to NATCA’s 2023 Communicating For Safety (CFS) Conference.

Over two decades ago, NATCA embarked on a mission to create a platform that fosters open dialogue and the exchange of ideas surrounding aviation safety. Today, we can proudly say that this event has become that platform. Since its inception in 1999, CFS has brought aviation professionals from around the world together to discuss our shared challenges. Today, 24 years later, it is truly an honor to be part of this remarkable event that has become the premier aviation safety conference globally.

The heart of this conference lies in the general sessions held in the main hall. Here, we delve into every facet of a safe and efficient air transportation system. We have an outstanding lineup of keynote speakers, including Polly Trottenberg, FAA Administrator (Acting), Dr. John Thomas, Executive Director of MIT’s Partnership for Systems Approaches to Safety and Security; Richard McSpadden, Senior Vice President of AOPA’s Air Safety Institute; the Honorable Jennifer Homendy, National Transportation Safety Board Chair; and Dr. Amy Grubb, who works with the FBI and is an internationally recognized expert on leadership, change, collaboration, engagement, performance, and organizational culture. Throughout the coming days, you will also be exposed to the expertise of NATCA’s Article 114 representatives, their FAA counterparts, and industry representatives. These professionals will highlight their pivotal roles in maintaining and operating our aviation system.

The aviation industry is vast and complex, comprising a multitude of technologies and programs that shape the way we operate and ensure safety in the skies. The CFS exhibition hall is a testament to this dynamism, highlighting both emerging technologies and ongoing modernization projects. We encourage each one of you to explore this space, engage with our NATCA Article 114 Representatives, FAA program managers, and conference sponsors. These interactions will provide you with insights into the current and future capabilities that will undoubtedly influence the trajectory of your careers.

For those of you who are attending this conference for the first time, welcome. You are part of an exciting journey that begins here. Embrace this opportunity and seek ways to actively participate and engage. Roughly 35% of our attendees are first timers, so you’re not alone in embarking on this experience. As we gather here, we are standing at a crossroads that brings with it new leadership appointments, the impending FAA authorization expiration, and the culmination of the NextGen modernization program.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the successful integration of NextGen elements, laying the foundation for the transformation of our National Airspace System (NAS). The decade ahead poses new challenges and opportunities that we must collectively address. The strength of NATCA lies in its unified voice, a powerful labor force operating in the most intricate airspace, bound together by an unwavering commitment to safety. From historical tools like flags and grease pencils to cutting-edge digital systems, air traffic controllers remain a constant, the human element ensuring the safety of our skies.

We are navigating the renewal of FAA authorization that will help shape the NAS over the next five years. Additionally, over the next year or two we will see the NextGen modernization program winding down, a program that many of you have grown up with. A $40 billion, 20-year vision that has significantly transformed our industry. Amidst these transitions, our leadership, membership, and NATCA staff are diligently communicating our goals to guide the processes of change.

Let’s take pride in the remarkable achievements of the past decade. From airspace redesign to advanced technologies like ADS-B Out and In capabilities, DataComm, SWIM, and weather products all built upon the foundation of ERAM. We’ve consistently demonstrated our ability to embrace innovation. The integration of ADS-B, the growth of commercial space and unmanned aerial systems industries, and the emergence of electric vertical takeoff and landing technology have reshaped the aviation landscape.

The challenges ahead are met with proactive solutions. An Interagency Working Group has been formed to envision an Advanced Air Mobility system that builds upon NextGen and accommodates the evolving aviation landscape while striving for environmental sustainability. Safety will be assured through data sharing capabilities, an unprecedented shift that mirrors our past achievements in reducing passenger fatalities.

NATCA’s strength lies in our collaborative spirit. We have repeatedly demonstrated our ability to embrace new technologies and procedures through involvement from the requirements phase to implementation. As modernization evolves, our system will transform incrementally, remaining robust and secure.

Together with the FAA and fellow aviation stakeholders, we must forge ahead to uphold our priorities. Safety Above All continues to be NATCA’s guiding principle. Only through continued participation can we ensure our voices resonate and the NAS remains a pinnacle of aviation excellence.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to each one of you for demonstrating your dedication, professionalism, and unwavering commitment by coming to CFS 2023. It’s an honor to stand among the NATCA family as we collectively shape the future of aviation safety.

Our Union thanks all the CFS sponsors, especially our 2023 Grand Benefactors – American Airlines, Collins Aerospace an RTX Company, CSSI, and L3Harris – Diamond Sponsor – WEY Technology, Inc. – and Platinum Sponsors – Delta Air Lines, Leidos, and SAIC – for their continued support of this important conference. We give particular thanks to Raytheon/Collins as they were the first CFS sponsor and have been the longest standing supporter of the conference.

We also thank the CFS planning committee and the NATCA staff who put in many hours of work to make this conference as great as it is.

On Tuesday, we will continue our tradition of honoring extraordinary NATCA members and friends at the annual CFS awards luncheon. On Wednesday evening, we also will honor our profession’s best at the Archie League Awards banquet dinner. NATCA members will be recognized for their incredible performance and will receive an Archie League Medal of Safety or a Region X Commitment to Safety award.

It is our hope that you will take away some new information and insight that will help you on the job as you deal with daily challenges. Have a great conference!


Rich Santa, President
Andrew LeBovidge, Executive Vice President
John Murdock, Chair, NATCA Safety Committee
Tom Adcock, Director, NATCA Safety & Technology Dept.

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