CFS 2023 Video Archive
John Thomas, Ph.D.
NATCA is honored to welcome a leading expert in system-theoretic accident model and process (STAMP) based methods like system theoretic process analysis (STPA). That technical jargon means that accidents generally result from inadequate enforcement of system safety constraints in design, development, and operations and that through analysis one can understand the entire systemic causal factors involved in an accident.
Dr. Thomas holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Systems and is a member of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is the Co-Director of MIT’s Engineering Systems Lab (ESL). The ESL studies the underlying principles and methods for designing complex socio-technical systems that involve a mix of architecture, technologies, organizations, policy issues, and complex networked operations. Prior to joining MIT, Dr. Thomas spent several years in industry working for aerospace, automotive, and defense companies.
Dr. Thomas’s professional work involves creating structured processes for analyzing cyber-physical systems, especially systems that may behave in unanticipated, unsafe, or otherwise undesirable ways through complex interactions with each other and their environment. By using control theory and systems theory, more efficient and effective design and analysis processes can be created to prevent flaws that lead to unexpected and undesirable behaviors when integrated with other systems.
More recently he has been applying these techniques to automated systems that are heavily dependent on human-computer interactions to achieve safety and security goals. These automated systems may not only be subject to human error. They may inadvertently induce human error through mode confusion, clumsy automation, and other mechanisms that can be difficult to anticipate.
Dr. Thomas’s work involves developing systems approaches to engineering and analysis including Systems Theoretic Process Analysis (STPA), including the formal underlying structure that can be used to help ensure potentially hazardous or undesirable software behaviors are systematically identified and controlled. He has also developed algorithms to automatically generate formal executable and model- based requirements for software components as well as methods to detect flaws in an existing software specification. The same process can be applied to address security and functional goals of the system, thereby permitting the automated detection of conflicts between these and other goals during early development processes.
NATCA is once again excited to welcome NATCA’s great friend and former Air Force Thunderbirds commander Richard McSpadden, now the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Air Safety Institute (ASI) Senior Vice President, to CFS 2023. AOPA promotes flying through world-class media, products, services, and advocacy.
McSpadden was appointed executive director of the ASI in February 2017 and was promoted to senior vice president in July 2020. He currently leads a team of certified flight instructors and content creators who develop and distribute aviation safety material — free of charge — in order to advance general aviation safety industrywide. ASI distributes material through a dedicated YouTube channel, iTunes podcasts, Facebook, and a dynamic website. ASI material is accessed 12 million times annually.
A native of Panama City, Florida, McSpadden started flying as a teenager and has logged over 5,000 hours flying a variety of civilian and military aircraft. McSpadden is a commercial pilot, CFII, MEI with SES, MES ratings and a 525S (Citation Jet Single Pilot) type rating. He taught his son to fly, instructed his daughter to solo in their Piper Super Cub, previously owned a 1950 Navion that was in his family for almost 40 years, and currently owns a 1993 Piper Super Cub.
McSpadden holds a degree in economics from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Public Administration from Troy University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Air War College.
Prior to joining AOPA, McSpadden had a successful career in the information technology industry, leading large, geographically dispersed operations providing business-critical IT services. McSpadden also served in the Air Force for 20 years, including the prestigious role of commander and flight leader of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team where he led over 100 flight demonstrations flying the lead aircraft.
Additionally, McSpadden currently serves as the industry chair for the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee.
NATCA is pleased that National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy will address CFS 2023. The NTSB is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil
aviation accident in the United States and significant events in other modes of transportation. As the agency’s chief executive, she manages an annual budget of about $129.3 million and more than 411 full-time employees across the country. She is the fourth woman to serve as Chair since the agency was created in 1967.
Chair Homendy has used her national platform to advocate for the implementation of NTSB safety recommendations. She often speaks about the need for a holistic approach to managing safety, preventing crashes and injuries, and saving lives— an approach that has proved successful in commercial passenger aviation.
It has been a priority for Chair Homendys to ensure the NTSB’s readiness to carry out its mission amid rapid technological advancement in all modes of transportation, including advanced driver assist systems, automated vehicles, commercial space transportation, uncrewed aircraft systems, advanced air mobility, supersonic aircraft, high-speed ground transportation, and clean energy sources to fuel vehicles.
In aviation, Chair Homendy is focused on addressing NTSB’s long history of concerns with the safety of revenue passenger-carrying aviation operations, including parachute jump flights as well as sightseeing flights conducted in hot air balloons, helicopters, and other aircraft — that are not subject to the same maintenance, airworthiness, and operational requirements as other commercial flight operations.
Chair Homendy is focused on ensuring that commercial aviation in the United States continues to be held to the highest standards of safety. While a Member of the Board, Chair Homendy reviewed and debated recommendations that would ensure that the National Air Space continues to be the safest in the world and that lessons are learned from every fatality, injury, or near miss that the NTSB has investigated.
Earlier in her career, Chair Homendy worked at the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO, where she spearheaded transportation labor’s efforts to reauthorize the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and the USDOT hazardous materials safety program.
Amy D. Grubb, Ph.D.
Also addressing CFS 2023 is Amy Grubb, an internationally acclaimed speaker on leadership, change, working with others, engagement, performance, organizational culture, and storytelling. Dr. Grub has worked directly for three C-level functions (Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer) for the past 14 years, currently serving as the Digital Transformation Advisor to the Chief Information Officer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). She is the founder of Organizational Insights, LLC.
Dr. Grubb has been responsible for the implementation of numerous change initiatives within the FBI for more than 20 years, from serving as a leader on the post-9/11 enterprise-wide cultural transformation of the FBI to implementing innovative HR systems and processes at all levels, with a current focus on the digital transformation of the FBI through its people and culture.
She advises C-suite and executive leaders on risk from the human capital perspective regarding organizational performance, policy decisions, and change initiatives, and serves as executive coach to several leaders and executives. She worked extensively with special agents, pilots, undercover employees, hostage rescue team members, forensic accountants, intelligence analysts, mid-level leaders, and executives up through the director. She has presented numerous papers at professional conferences, has served on advisory boards both internal and external to the FBI, and liaisons extensively within the government and the private sector communities.
A two-time FBI Director’s Award for Excellence recipient, Dr. Grubb built the organizational development function at the FBI as well as led the development and implementation of an integrated Leadership Development Program for all employees at all stages of the employment lifecycle, for which she was awarded the HRM Impact Award by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is also the Chair of the Bombardier Safety Standdown Advisory Council and is on the American Psychological Association Change Management Advisory Board. A Fellow of SIOP, she earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Houston, earning her bachelor’s degree from Villanova University.
Polly Trottenberg is acting Administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Deputy Secretary at the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). Polly was designated as acting Administrator in June 2023.
She has an extensive 30+ year public sector career in all levels of government. Trottenberg served from 2014 to 2020 as New York City’s Transportation Commissioner, where she was responsible for the safe, efficient, and equitable operations of New York City’s transportation network.
Trottenberg served in the Obama Administration as the Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation. During her previous five years at the Department, she developed and implemented transportation policies to address the needs of state and local transportation agencies on every type of project from roads and bridges, to transit and rail, to airports, ports, and pipelines.
Trottenberg’s additional policy and managerial experience includes her time in the U.S. Senate, where she served Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Majority Leader Charles Schumer, and Senator Barbara Boxer. Earlier in her career, Trottenberg served at that Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Trottenberg graduated from Barnard College and received her Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Getting Real Results: A Look at Actual Events
John Thomas Ph.D., Executive Director of MIT’s Engineering Systems Lab, and Stephen Palyok, Safety Systems
The Impact of Weather on the Operation
In the panel “The Impact of Weather on the Operation” at #NATCACFS2019, moderators NATCA Director of Safety and Technology Jim Ullmann & FAA ATO Director of Safety Tony Schneider led discussion with panelists about weather as one of the top safety issues in the National Airspace System (NAS). Joining the discussion were NATCA Air Traffic Control System Command Center (DCC) Traffic Management Specialist Jessica Strahley, NATCA Washington Center (ZDC) Traffic Management Coordinator Ben Dengler, NATCA ATSAP ERC Rep Dave Cook, New York-JFK ATCT (JFK) FacRep Gerald Quaye, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 357 ASAP Representative Rachel Rae, and American Airlines Dispatcher Mike Sterenchuk.
NATCA Reloaded Committee Chair Dawn Johnson and NATCA Recurrent Training Representative Richard Kennington moderated the #NATCACFS2019 Pilot/Controller Communications panel — which remains one of the most highly anticipated discussions at CFS year after year. This year’s panelists were: Brandon Johnson, Northwest Mountain Region Safety Representative, NATCA; John Murdock, National Procedures Representative, NATCA; Erin Phelps, Central Service Area ATSAP ERC Analyst, NATCA; Don Dobias, ALPA; Matthew Cain, Safety Chair SWAPA; Paul Flynn, NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP).
ATC Training – Excellence Has Got to be the Norm, Not the Deviation
The #NATCACFS2019 panel “ATC Training: Excellence has got to be the Norm, not the Deviation,” moderated by NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert & FAA ATO Deputy COO Tim Arel, focused on training as the lifeblood of the air traffic control profession and NATCA taking leadership role in changing how we think about training and the importance of it. The panel welcomed panelists from across the National Airspace System: Tom Adcock, National Training Representative, NATCA; Jeffrey Vincent, VP of Air Traffic Services, ATO; Glen Martin, VP of Safety and Technical Training, ATO; Don Moran, National Supcom Chair, ATO; Brian Shallenberger, ZDC Facility Representative, NATCA; Carl Adams, ZDC Air Traffic Manager, ATO.
Surface Safety – Don’t Let That Airport Mislead You
Runway safety is a significant challenge and a top priority for everyone in aviation. To address this always-present risk, a panel on “Surface Safety: Don’t let that Airport Mislead you” at #NATCACFS2019 featured a discussion with NATCA National Runway Safety Rep Bridget Singratanakul (Gee), ALPA Aviation Safety Chairman Captain Steve Jangelis, FAA ATO Runway Safety Manager Jim Fee, and Western Service Area, ATO, Runway Safety Team Manager Emily Banuelos.
CATCA President & CEO Peter Duffey and David Grizzle of Dazzle Partners, LLC, moderated a panel on international collaboration at #NATCACFS2019. Panelists Prospect ATCOs’ Branch Chair Paul Winstanley, NZALPA ATC Director Kelvin Vercoe, NAVCANADA Executive Vice President Service Delivery Rudy Kellar, Aireon Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Engineering Vincent Capezzuto, Raytheon Executive Technical Director Rachel Jackson, and Leidos Senior VP of Operations Fran Hill discussed how partnerships strengthen ties and establish a collective voice to speak on a range of subjects. Leaders of aviation safety unions in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, and New Zealand launched the Global Air Traffic Controllers Alliance at the World ATM in Madrid, Spain, in March 2018. The members of the alliance are unions who represent aviation safety professionals and advocate for their status and working conditions. The member unions work together to meet both individual and shared challenges, raise important safety issues to a global platform, and communicate with one another in a spirit of solidarity and unity. Learn more about the Alliance: www.atcalliance.world/
Fireside Chat: FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and NATCA President Paul Rinaldi
Excellence in Training Award: Tom Adcock (Miami Center)
The Excellence in Training Award was created this year and awarded first at CFS to Tom Adcock, Miami Center (ZMA). “I want to thank Paul and Trish for trusting me to do this job seven years ago,” he said. “I want to thank many of the collaborative partners; thank you to the SMEs and the CADREs – you all have made the work easier.”
Awards Luncheon Presentations
On Day 2 of #NATCACFS2019, several awards were presented to NATCA members, including: NATCA Charitable Foundation (NCF) Cathy Meachum Volunteer of the Year Award; Elena Nash Community Volunteer of the Year Award; OSHA Helping Hearts Award; Disaster Response Committee Award; Raytheon’s 2019 Air Traffic Controller of the Year Award; NATCA National Professionalism Award; Dale Wright Award for Distinguished, Professional and Exceptional Career Service to NATCA and the National Airspace System; Steve Hansen Safety Advocate Award.
The Beacon of NATCA Award: Alaskan Region Members
The Beacon of NATCA Award is given to a facility that rises above and handles an emergency or disaster situation with grace. No amount of planning, training or preparation can prevent a disaster event. But when it occurs, whether it is natural or man-made, NATCA members answer the call. Aviation safety professionals are among the first to take direct action in response to a disaster, working with first responders. They attend to the immediate danger and implement longer-term strategies to mitigate damage. The Beacon of NATCA Award was created to recognize those facilities that go above and beyond to perform the essential and difficult task of disaster response. The recipients of this award are the beacon that guides us home and the heroes that rise above the chaos. At #NATCACFS2019 Alaskan Region members were honored for their exemplary professionalism displayed during during an earthquake in 2018.
Special Award Presented by American Airlines to NATCA Dallas-Area Local Facilities
American Airlines Award, presented to NATCA members on Sept. 18, 2019 at #NATCACFS2019: This past summer, American Airlines ordered 50 new planes to increase up to 100 flights and reduce taxi times by two minutes, including operation initiatives. American Airlines approached Dallas/Fort Worth ATCT (DFW), Dallas/Fort Worth TRACON (D10), and Fort Worth Center (ZFW) members to help the company accomplish its goals at its airports. “The controllers have a willingness to take on challenges and make them into opportunities,” said American Airlines Senior Vice President for Integrated Operations David Seymour. “Thank you for your partnership in helping make DFW the third-busiest airport in the world.”
James Oberstar Sentinel of Safety Award: Tom Costello, NBC News
NBC News reporter Tom Costello was presented with the James Oberstar Sentinel of Safety Award at #NATCACFS2019 on Sept. 18, 2019. NATCA created the Sentinel of Safety Award as a way to honor those outside NATCA who have displayed outstanding achievement in the advancement of aviation safety. In 2014, at our Biennial Convention in Minneapolis, NATCA proudly renamed the award to honor Congressman Oberstar, who had died earlier that year. Congressman Oberstar was a tireless advocate for aviation, air traffic control, and NATCA during his time in Congress and as the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Tom’s quarter century of national and international reporting has earned numerous awards including national and regional Emmy awards, and multiple Edward R. Murrow reporting honors. And today, we are very excited to present the James Oberstar Sentinel of Safety Award to Tom.
Tom has covered aviation for the past 14 years, including the 2009 Miracle on the Hudson, last year’s fatal engine explosion onboard a Southwest Airlines flight, and the two Boeing 737 MAX crashes and subsequent MAX fleet grounding. One of his first stories in 2005 when he moved to the NBC News Washington Bureau was about the first winners of NATCA’s Archie League Medal of Safety Awards. Tom has also covered a wide array of stories across the beats of transportation, space exploration, cybersecurity, and economics.
In 2017, his coverage of deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville earned NBC News an Excellence Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. Tom’s reports appear across all NBC News platforms, including online, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, and CNBC. In fact, he was on duty as CNBC’s Nasdaq Editor in Manhattan on 9/11. Before joining NBC News in 2004, Tom spent six years at KUSA-TV in Denver, and two years at KVIA-TV in El Paso, TX.
Archie League Medal of Safety Awards and Region X Commitment to Safety Award
Opening Remarks, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and FAA ATO COO Teri Bristol
Region X Commitment to Safety Award
Great Lakes Region (ZID)
Great Lakes Region (ZMP)
New England Region (PVD)
New England Region (ZBW)
Northwest Mountain Region
Western Pacific Region