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CFS 2019: Five Questions with Tom Adcock

Five Questions With …

Tom Adcock, NATCA National Training Representative

Q: What is the purpose behind Every Day is a Training Day? 

Adcock: The purpose is to raise the membership’s awareness of the importance of training in our profession. We should be looking at it as the need for continual improvement in our profession. It is a process that should not stop throughout our entire careers. From the time we start training in our first facility to the time we hang up our headsets, we should look at training as a way to ensure we are at the top of our game whenever we work traffic. 

Q: This initiative seems to resemble the goals of the Professional Standards effort in that it promotes the importance of continually looking for ways to improve our performance as a workforce. Is that accurate? 

Adcock: Absolutely, part of being a professional is understanding the importance that training plays in improving our performance on a continuous basis. Training needs to be a part of our everyday routine.

Q: With the pilots undertaking their own training initiative, called “Train For Life,” what similarities do you see between the two efforts and how important is it that controllers and pilots are sharing this mindset at the same time? 

Adcock: Because we are on the frontlines of the aviation industry, we understand the importance of being on the same page as we deploy new technologies and procedures. Both professions require certification, but we understand that learning does not stop at the point of certification. It is a process that must continue throughout our entire careers. 

Q: After CFS, when members will have an awareness of Every Day is a Training Day, what is planned for the weeks and months ahead to keep the momentum going? 

Adcock: Great question! Beginning October 1st, Instructor Led and Web Based Recurrent Training will have modules that focus on “Why Training Matters.” Following on the heels of that delivery will be the implementation of the new national training order. The order changes the focus on how we conduct training at the facility level. It ensures NATCA’s involvement in improving the training processes at the facility level. 

Another area we are working with the FAA on is the development of micro-learning modules that refresh core critical tasks that we rarely have the opportunity to use in a normal workday. These modules will take just a couple of minutes to complete, but allow us to refresh us more frequently on these seldom used tasks.

Q: What is most important for our members to know as we move forward and raise the awareness and implementation of Every Day is a Training Day? 

Adcock: We want to see the members that attend CFS this year take what they learn at the conference and go back to their facilities and act as leaders in fostering the culture change that ensures that we destigmatize how we view training and its importance in the continued development of Certified Professional Controllers.

CFS 2019: Scratch Offs

Thanks to NATCA benefits partner Evans Consoles, NATCA members here at Communicating For Safety (CFS) have the opportunity to obtain up to three scratch-off cards. Each card gives you the chance to drive off with a new Ford, also one of our NATCA benefit partners which offers members great savings and customer incentives as part of the Ford X-plan. NATCA members: Learn more at

NATCA members: to get a scratch-off card, you must have a stamp card filled out.

Each attendee will receive one stamp card in their registration packet assigning them to specific booths to visit in the exhibition hall. As you visit each booth, you will receive a stamp and then move on to the next assigned booth. From the point, please follow these steps:


Step 1: Take your completed stamp card to the NATCA Benefits Committee booth. NATCA MEMBERS: Receive two things in return - 1.) A second stamp card to get filled out; 2.) A scratch-off card that gives you a chance to win $50,000, which can be put toward the purchase of a Ford vehicle. ALL OTHER CFS ATTENDEES: Receive a second stamp card.

Step 2: Take your SECOND completed stamp card back to the NATCA Benefits Committee booth. NATCA MEMBERS: Receive two things in return - 1.) A third stamp card to get filled out; 2.) Another scratch-off card. ALL OTHER CFS ATTENDEES: Receive a third stamp card.

Step 3: Take your THIRD completed stamp card back to the NATCA Benefits Committee booth. NATCA members will receive another scratch-off card at that point.


All CFS attendees who complete a stamp card and turn it in to the Benefits Committee booth will be entered for a chance to win daily prizes.

CFS 2019: Five Questions with Steve Hansen

Five Questions With …

Steve Hansen, NATCA National Safety Committee Chairman


Q: What was the inspiration for starting this new initiative?

Hansen: The inspiration comes from the years of negative perceptions surrounding training and NATCA's desire to change that perception within our membership. Training is the lifeblood of the air traffic control profession and it is our belief that we need to take a leadership role in changing how we think about training and the importance of it.

Q: How can our members change the perception of training?

Hansen: It is really about our membership leading this effort in their facilities. Ensuring that we meet our facility level goals for the national training initiative and also understanding the importance of, and actively participating in our continued education opportunities like recurrent training and monthly SAFE Discussions. It isn’t enough to say it, we have to actively engage and promote ongoing training throughout our careers. It takes all of us, not just the FacRep.

Q: You worked with risk management expert and CFS veteran speaker Gordon Graham on developing many of the themes and products to help launch this initiative. What was the experience like working with him on this and what messages from him stood out to you as particularly valuable for use with our members? 

Hansen: It was really a neat experience to work closely with Gordon Graham earlier this year in preparation for CFS and the Every Day is a Training Day effort. His work with police and fire departments around the world really gives him a unique perspective when it comes to the importance of training. The one thing that really stood out to me was that most if not all of the overarching messages related to training and risk management can be applied to air traffic control; the common denominator between the professions is that they are all high risk occupations. Gordon’s quote “Excellence has got to be the norm, not the deviation” really captures this, and is very relevant in the air traffic profession and the larger aviation industry.

Q: Is it true that the negative perception of training still exists based on previous FAA administrations’ use of training in a punitive manner? Will this new initiative put that perception to rest once and for all?

Hansen: There is definitely still a negative perception of training due to how training has been used in the past. Working with the FAA we have definitely made a lot of progress to move past that and utilize training for its intended purpose. It is certainly our hope that we can put this negative perception to rest; however, we also realize that we may never get rid of it totally. That doesn’t mean that we won’t keep working with the FAA to move forward and ensure that we develop and deploy the best training available to our membership.

Q: What is most important for our members to know as we move forward and raise the awareness and implementation of Every Day is a Training Day?

Hansen: From the very first moment we arrive at our first facility, training is what we do. Qualification training is crucial to bringing our staffing levels back to where they need to be in order to maintain the safest most efficient air traffic control system in the world. But it goes beyond qualification training; just as important is continued education throughout your career. Continued education through recurrent training, refresher training, monthly Partnership for Safety SAFE Discussions, to name a few, is how we learn from developing safety trends, implement new technologies, and develop new skills.


FSFConnect, influence, and lead global aviation safety. That’s the mission of the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), which makes NATCA’s decision recently to become a benefactor of the FSF especially beneficial and noteworthy.

The FSF is an international, non-profit organization exclusively chartered to provide impartial, independent, expert safety guidance and resources for the aviation and aerospace industry. Founded in 1947, the Foundation serves as a catalyst to address and identify global safety issues and sets priorities through data collection, information sharing, education, advocacy, and communications. Information provided by FSF is useful to NATCA members’ daily operations.

“The FSF is a great organization that NATCA has worked with for many years,” said NATCA National Safety Committee Chairman Steve Hansen. “Elevating our membership to the Benefactor level strengthens our partnership and allows us to be more involved in important safety discussions that impact not only the U.S., but the larger international aviation industry as a whole.”

The Foundation’s effectiveness in bridging proprietary, cultural and political differences in the common cause of safety has earned worldwide respect. The common good of safer air travel continues to inspire individuals and organizations to rise above competitive interests towards shared objectives.

Today, FSF membership includes more than 1,000 organizations and individuals in 150 countries. The Foundation is based in Alexandria, Va., and has a regional office in Melbourne, Australia.

As a member of the Flight Safety Foundation, NATCA will be able to participate in pertinent safety discussions, while also including our counterparts from air traffic controller unions around the globe through the Global Air Traffic Controllers Alliance. This is another step in the right direction to ensure we have the right people at the table to have these critical discussions that impact the national and international aviation workforce. 

CFS 2019: Resources: NATCA is Here to Help When You Need It

Air traffic control is not a job. It’s a passion. But sometimes, things take us away from it - whether we want them to or not. Sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently. First and foremost, medical restrictions for critical safety positions are stringent and the obligation to report is serious.


Our Drug and Alcohol committee spent the last several years working with the FAA Aeromedical Office to finally allow ATCs to apply for medical clearance with Special Consideration if prescribed or currently taking one of four identified SSRI medications.

For more information about the four SSRI medications and the agreement reached between NATCA and the FAA, or just want to talk with somebody that has gone through the Special Consideration process, please reach out to your RVP or the Drug and Alcohol Committee.

Article 45

While you are unable to perform active air traffic control duties, work with your FacRep to be assigned other duties in accordance with Article 45 of our collective bargaining agreement. On occasion, a medical disqualification may lead you to another non-safety sensitive position inside the Agency or a medical retirement. NATCA can help facilitate both of those.

4 Square Financial Literacy Partners

Advice regarding retirement is available through NATCA’s contracted experts at 4 Square Financial Literacy Partners.

OWCP Committee

You have Workers Compensation rights in the event of an on-the-job injury or occupational illness. NATCA has training on OWCP and a national committee with regional representatives. They can help with the process when dealing with both the FAA and the Department of Labor.

UNUM Insurance

NATCA has a relationship with UNUM insurance company to provide long-term disability insurance to members. This policy is written specifically to provide coverage for members who are required to maintain a medical certificate as a condition of employment.

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)

Our CISM team is available to help you. CISM is a peer-to-peer service designed to help during a post-accident time or personal crisis. Call the on-call peer coordinator at 202-505-CISM (2476). They are on call 24/7. You will reach the voicemail. Leave your contact info, and someone will call. Messages are kept strictly confidential. You also can reach them via email at

Magellan/FAA WorkLife Solutions

Please take advantage of support services available to you at or (800) 234-1327. Our members need to be aware of the employee assistance program. We encourage you to use it. We need to remove the stigma associated with the provider and the fear surrounding anything we think may affect our medical clearance. Just seeking counseling for dealing with grief is not an issue for our employer. Someone’s life always is more important than a paycheck or even a job. 

Aviation Medicine Advisory Service (AMAS)

NATCA has contracted with the Aviation Medicine Advisory Service (AMAS). It is a great resource if you have questions about your medical and/or medication.


Like in any family, our work family can come with its own challenges to our mental health. Workplace conflict can create a risk, not only to us as individuals, but to the system as a whole if there is no means to work through that conflict. That’s why we created the RESPECT initiative. It’s designed to establish and support a workplace that creates an environment of mutual dignity, support, and respect among all individuals who work together to protect the National Airspace System.