Hosted annually by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Communicating For Safety (CFS) is the aviation industry’s leading conference focusing on safety, technology and building relationships. This three-day event is unique in that it's the only conference of its kind to focus specifically on the air traffic needs of all members of the aviation community who are affected by the National Airspace System (NAS).
CFS began in 1999 with just 40 attendees; it has now become an internationally-attended conference, with over 1,500 aviation industry leaders and representatives coming together to discuss and improve safety.
2017 CFS - Event Coverage
Keynote Remarks: NATCA President Paul Rinaldi
NATCA President Paul Rinaldi kicked off CFS 2017 by welcoming attendees from all over the world — as far as New Zealand — and from many diverse air traffic groups in the United States. That makes this a truly global aviation conference. Rinaldi stressed the United States’ exceptional safety record in commercial aviation.
“Aviation safety is the cornerstone of our existence,” Rinaldi said. “Building a robust safety culture, we have done an outstanding job and we should be very proud of what we have accomplished.” But Rinaldi cautioned attendees that, “we cannot take it for granted. Everyone involved in the aviation industry must fight complacency, the enemy of progress, at all levels.” He said complacency is dangerous and is unacceptable in the face of growing capacity and demand. Watch Rinaldi’s remarks.
Keynote Remarks: National Transportation Safety Board Member Christopher Hart
“Why do we place such an emphasis on collaboration?” asked NTSB Member Christopher Hart. He detailed the history of collaboration in air safety investigations between all parties while addressing CFS attendees. His conclusion: collaboration is crucial to improving complex systems successfully. Collaboration has proven to reduce the accident rate. Everybody “has their eyes on the same prize” and that’s why collaboration works, Hart said. “If you’re involved in the problem, you need to be involved in the solution. It’s very simple.” Read more.
Panel Discussion: Pilot/Controller Communications
It is important for controllers to be clear and concise. Practice it all day, every day. That was one of the biggest takeaways from the discussion. “This panel is the basis for the whole conference,” said Las Vegas ATCT controller Ashley Callen. “Communication is the foundation of our job.” Clear and concise phraseology and slower speech rate were dominant themes of the discussion. Read more.
Panel Discussion: Improving Safety Through Collaboration
Collaboration is always better than confrontation. CFS’s “Improving Safety Through Collaboration” panelists agreed with that statement, with one caveat: “Because we’re people, we’re going to have conflict,” said Cliff Rustad, ATSAP-X ERC member. “But you need to work on your relationships to overcome that conflict. Let’s be honest. If you haven’t worked with your group to handle conflict, you’re going to have confrontation.” The panel discussed collaborative safety successes and challenges and other topics, including Partnership for Safety Initiatives, local safety councils (LSC), and how facilities can use collaboration to deal with common issues like staffing. Read more.
Panel Discussion: Weather - Complete The Picture
NATCA National Safety Committee Chair Steve Hansen and FAA Director of Safety Ed Donaldson moderated a panel on weather for controllers and pilots to increase awareness of weather myths and debunk the common misconception that, “they (controller or pilot) see better weather on their radar/on the flight deck than we do.” “It’s important to remember that neither the pilot nor the controller has all the pieces of the weather puzzle,” said Hansen. “Only by working together and sharing information can we all complete the weather picture. Weather is one of, if not the top safety issue in the NAS (National Airspace System).” Read more: Part 1, Part 2.
Panel Discussion: Runway Safety
Runway incursions continue to be a safety concern within the NAS. With a projected increase in operations, the risk of a collision is always present when more than one aircraft is approaching, landing, departing, crossing, waiting on, or taxiing on the same runway. “With nearly 50 million IFR (instrument flight rules)/VFR (visual flight rules) takeoffs and landings in our National Airspace System each year, it will take all of us working together to ensure every aircraft is safe during every phase of flight,” said NATCA Runway Safety Rep Bridget Gee. The panelists discussed these challenges and what we can do as aviation safety professionals to help mitigate and reduce the risk of runway incursions and surface incidents. Read more.
Panel Discussion: NextGen Implementation Challenges and Successes
NextGen initiatives are modernizing the NAS with new, safe, and effective equipment and procedures. The program seeks to apply all available data and research to develop new technologies to modernize the NAS while maintaining the highest standard of safety. This panel of distinguished experts gave their perspectives on the challenges of implementing multiple new technologies and procedures in the NAS, the impact on facilities, and how — through collaboration on NextGen initiatives — we can all advance the NAS. Read more: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Archie League Medal of Safety Awards Banquet
The 2017 conference closed with NATCA’s 13th annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards banquet. Named after the first air traffic controller, Archie League, the awards honor the lifesaving work of NATCA’s members in the previous year. For the fourth consecutive year, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta attended the banquet and gave a keynote address. Read more about each of the award winners.