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  • Moderators:
    Steve Wallace, Collaboration Facilitator, NATCA
    Vern Huffman, Collaboration Facilitator, FAA

    Jay Barrett, Human Performance Representative, NATCA
    Jason Demagalski, Human Performance Manager, ATO
    Billy Kisseadoo, FacRep, Miami Tower/TRACON, NATCA
    Bob Hildebidle, Manager, Miami Tower/TRACON, ATO
    Nick Daniels, FacRep, Fort Worth Center, NATCA
    Tommy Graham, Manager, Fort Worth Center, ATO
    Jim Apone, FacRep, Myrtle Beach Tower/TRACON, NATCA
    Ricky Washington, Manager, Myrtle Beach Tower/TRACON, ATO

    Collaboration facilitators Steve Wallace and Vern Huffman focused on teamwork, how highly collaborative teams conduct business every day, and how they help facilities recover when things go wrong during the Improving Safety Through Collaboration panel at Communicating For Safety 2016. Chief Operating Officer of the ATO, Teri Bristol, introduced the panel, setting the tone of the discussion to come.

    “Our intent is to highlight good practices from three facilities and some of the science behind teams and teamwork,” Wallace said. “We hope that the audience will gain a deeper understanding of what it means to collaborate in the interest of safety along with a few tips and suggestions on how to get teams of people working together more effectively.”

    While the core of FAA employees’ jobs is very serious in nature, Wallace said, highly collaborative teams of people are able to solve extremely complex problems in a way that is not only positive for the workforce but also educational and acceptable by all in the process.

    From left to right: Apone, Washington, Hildebidle, Kisseadoo, Graham, Daniels, Barrett, and Demagalski.

    “We tend to assume the worst intent,” said Demagalski. “At the NATCA and FAA level, when we talk and we collaborate, we understand each other’s goals and missions. If we don’t, we assume the other person or party doesn’t have the best intentions in mind.”

    Demagalski continued by explaining that through collaboration, both parties can see that they may actually have the same goals, or if they don’t, can at least share the journey to resolution together.

    “One side may believe one thing, another side may think something different,” explained Kisseadoo. “You have to really come in to collaboration and have the same objective to get to the right spot and move forward together. Once you do that, commit to it and put it out to the workforce together.”

    At Fort Worth Center, Graham and Daniels instituted a peer-based leadership model as the foundation of collaboration at the facility.

    “Whenever you have a stressful moment or difficult issue at work, that’s not the time to start collaborating or working on the relationship,” explained Graham. “We sat down and talked about how we would work issues together from the beginning in order to address challenges.”

    From left to right: Kisseadoo, Graham, Daniels, and Barrett.

    Daniels explained that he and Graham decided to tackle communication at the facility together. He said that the way it had always worked was NATCA would deliver their message and what they worked on with management and then management would deliver their own message with what they worked on.

    “We had to change that dynamic,” said Daniels. “We changed our messages to one message and we are going to own that on every level.”

    Washington explained that he and Apone chose to collaborate and it has become a way of life.

    “Collaboration is communicating for safety,” Washington said. “So how do you do safety? You talk, communicate, and collaborate.”

    Apone said the first thing he and Washington agreed upon was that it should never be personal because safety must come first.

    “I don’t know an air traffic controller or trainee that doesn’t want to plug-in, do the best they can, and get airplanes safely from point A to point B,” Apone said. “We do have a very safe operation and we are able to communicate with each other.”

    Barrett explained that leaders invoke the sense of the safety at a facility. He said that when everyone at the facility feels safe, they do not compete with each other, making it easier to collaborate.

    “They can reserve all of their energy to make sure the group is successful and not just the individual,” Barrett said. “Everyone out there can collaborate and create a safe profile at your facility.”

    At every highly collaborative facility that Wallace and Huffman have visited, one thing is always evident from the moment they walk into the building.

    “They have a facility standard of excellence or a commonly understood motto that everything else is built around,” said Wallace. “We intend to spread the message that this is something that is facility-specific and derived by the workforce. It’s not something that one person says everyone will do or how he or she will act. It’s something that everyone plays a part in.”

    Watch the panel.

  • Moderator:
    Paul Rinaldi, President, NATCA

    Peter Duffey, President, Canadian Air Traffic Control Association
    Paul Winstanley, Chair, Prospect ATCOs Branch, UK
    Daryl Hickey, President, Civil Air Australia

    Across the modern world, Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) in different countries have taken different approaches to governing their air traffic operations and safety regulators. The United States has a fully government-owned, operated, and regulated system, but in most countries that is not the case.

    Rinaldi sat down with union leaders from Canada, Great Britain, and Australia to discuss the pros and cons of each country’s operations. Rinaldi said that no matter what happens, it is important to learn from other countries’ transitions and to move forward with that knowledge, because reform is coming.

    From left to right: Hickey, Duffey, Winstanley, and Rinaldi.

    Each country has a different model for governing its air traffic control organizations and keeping its airspace safe. A government chartered not-for-profit in Canada, a quasi-government corporation in the UK, and a government owned corporation in Australia were the ANSPs represented during the discussion.

    Winstanley said that in the U.K., they initially fought reform until the political will to maintain the status quo ran out. He explained that they then had to scramble to be a part of the process.

    “We decided to shape our own future,” said Winstanley. “It’s much better to shape your own future than let someone else do it for you.”

    However, Winstanley did note that because they had not been at the table to begin with, it was too late to get everything they wanted into the new system that would have benefited air traffic controllers.

    Duffey said that the main driver for change in Canada was the idea that there had to be a better way to run the system. Now, the profit generated from the NAV CANADA system is reinvested into technology development and maintenance.

    “20 years later, anybody that you talk to will say our system has worked,” said Duffey. “The not-for-profit component is the key to this success. Globally, I think everyone looks at NAV CANADA and says this seems to work.”

    Duffey explained that when building a system, finding a way to get funding back into the infrastructure of that system is critically important.

    “We need stable, predictable funding, then we can figure out everything else,” Rinaldi added. He said that because funding is reinvested into new technology in Canada, they are far ahead of the U.S. in their ability to maintain and modernize the air traffic control system.

    “To make this more universal, the first thing everyone needs from an air traffic control trainee is acknowledgement that they are not doing it right,” said Hickey. “Looking from the outside in, the U.S. system is broken. It needs fixing.”

    Hickey said that when Australia embarked on reform, they had to acknowledge that there was a problem and that they needed a solution. He encouraged air traffic controllers in the United States to adopt the same mentality and find a solution.

    “We have the advantage of learning from what these systems have gone through and the mistakes that they have made,” said Rinaldi. “As these leaders have shared with us, if change is coming, you better find a way to get on the train to steer it or they will leave you behind.”


    Because change will come, Rinaldi emphasized that NATCA must get in there, shape it, and protect the membership.

    With both the House and Senate discussing FAA Reauthorization, NATCA has thoroughly studied these international organizations and the lessons learned during their transitions to ensure that any change that were to occur in the U.S. would implement these organizations’ best aspects.

    Any change NATCA could support would have to ensure:

    1. Safety and efficiency remain the top priorities. This means that maintenance cannot be allowed to lag and poor staffing must not be allowed to reduce capacity of the NAS.

    2. A stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term technological modernization projects, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure.

    3. A dynamic aviation system that continues to provide services to all segments of the aviation community, from commercial passenger carriers and cargo haulers, to business jets, to general aviation, from the major airports to those in small communities and rural America. NATCA cannot emphasize enough how important it is that a new system continues providing services to the diverse users of today. The United States has a vibrant general aviation community that relies on air traffic control services. Rural America’s economic success is connected to the access created with a comprehensive airspace system that serves even the most remote areas.

    4. Lastly, the workforce must be fully protected in their employment relationship.

    Watch the panel.

  • Warner3Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2008 and reelected to a second term in November 2014. He serves on the Senate Finance, Banking, Budget, and Intelligence committees. He has established himself as a bipartisan leader who has worked with Republicans and Democrats alike to cut red tape, increase government performance and accountability, and promote private sector innovation and job creation. Senator Warner has been recognized as a national leader in fighting for our military men and women and veterans, and in working to find bipartisan, balanced solutions to address our country’s debt and deficit. Sen. Warner also serves on the Virginia Unmanned Systems (UMS) Commission.

    Sen. Warner opened his remarks to NATCA in Washington (NiW) 2016 by stating, “I care about your profession, I care about your Union, and I care about your members.” Sen. Warner also thanked air traffic controllers for their unwavering dedication to the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS).

    “Every day across this country, you perform that absolutely essential task,” he said. “As somebody who’s part of the traveling public, we don’t say thank you enough. On behalf of the millions of Americans who fly safely because you guys do your jobs, thank you very much.”

    Sen. Warner went on to praise NATCA’s excellent leadership. He said that NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, and Director of Government Affairs Jose Ceballos are some of the best leaders in Washington, D.C. and that there is no organization, union, business, or association that has stronger leadership than NATCA.

    “So often, so many organizations are all about how to maintain status quo and not rock the boat too much,” he said. “Well, NATCA members, that is not your President Paul Rinaldi. He has been willing, when we think about how we really make sure America maintains the best air traffic control system in the world, to take in opinions from all sides of the political aisle to do what he thinks is right for you, and what is right for the traveling public.”

    Sen. Warner went on to say that because of the courage of Rinaldi, Gilbert, and all NATCA members to continue to make the NAS the safest, most efficient, most complex airspace system in the world that he will always be in a foxhole with NATCA. He said that he is proud to call Rinaldi his friend.

    Sen. Warner said if the United States air traffic control system hopes to continue to be the envy of the world that air traffic controllers must invent a new way. He cited the 27-year low of Certified Professional Controllers (CPCs) and the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to miss hiring targets.

    Sen. Warner also described new technology like NextGen that is being introduced into the system. While he views these advancements as a good thing, he said that, “all the technology in the world isn’t going to replace the human skills and judgments that you have to exercise dozens, if not hundreds, if not thousands of times every day.” He said that NextGen is late, over-budget, and not nearly far enough along on the path to really make sure that air traffic controllers have the tools they need.

    “You can’t have that investment or predictability to modernize when the FAA is caught in the past,” he said. “The FAA is critically important to safety but should also maintain the system.”

    Warner finals
    From left to right: Gilbert, Sen. Warner, and Rinaldi.

    Sen. Warner applauded NATCA leadership for wanting to build a better system. He acknowledged his worry that if we do not keep up with air traffic systems like NAV CANADA, that other countries could begin to take over portions of the United States’ airspace.

    “We need whatever reform that will give you the tools you need to do your job because if we don’t, what are we back to?” he asked. “We’re back to the age of sequestration.”

    Sen. Warner explained that the air traffic control system is too critical for public safety and commerce to be dependent on the whims of a Congress that can’t even pass budget or appropriations bills.

    The Senator concluded his remarks by saying that he doesn’t know what reform might look like yet, but if it gives air traffic controllers the tools they need –  secure funding to modernize the NAS and stay competitive with the rest of the world – that he would support it.

    “If you need an ally in the Senate, count me in,” he said. “You all have been extraordinary friends to me for a long time. I’m looking forward to being in that foxhole with you on this current fight for modernization and making sure you get the resources, respect, pay, and credibility that you deserve for many years to come.”

  • 25715863530 6b53cbb710 z

    United Airlines Flight 232 Capt. Alfred Haynes presented his inspiring, “Against All Odds” presentation at Communicating For Safety (CFS) 2016. While the story is memorable to all in the aviation community, hearing the details first hand from the pilot was an incredible experience for all in attendance.

    Nearly 300 people were aboard the seemingly normal United Airlines Flight 232 that departed Denver, headed for Chicago, on July 19, 1989. Sixty-seven minutes into the flight, Captain Alfred Haynes notified Minneapolis air traffic control that the number two engine had failed, and the aircraft was only marginally controllable.

    The flight crew had to make an emergency landing, so they steered the aircraft towards the closest airport at that moment – Sioux City, Iowa. As they tried to guide the plane in to land, witnesses say the right wing dipped slightly and hit the ground, sending the plane into cartwheels and into a cornfield between runways. Of the 296 souls on board, 184 survived the crash.

    Haynes discussed the crash landing, and how five main factors contributed to the survival of those 184 people: luck, communication, preparation, execution, and cooperation. Haynes believes impeccable air traffic control assistance, effective cockpit and cabin crew training, proper inter-communications training among ground units, and proper use of available facilities also made a huge difference in the survival rate.

    25990490886 a8c7d3be51 zHaynes described the “luck” he experienced during this event as the instruments that he still had at his disposable that got the aircraft to the ground. The incredible odds he and the crew faced seemed insurmountable, yet, Haynes and the air traffic controllers were able to communicate effectively and use all tools available to them. Haynes also described that being over the flatlands of Iowa as opposed to over the ocean, and good weather conditions were also “lucky” contributions to the outcome.

    “Everything had to work in the right sequence, and it happened to work, so we got the airplane, at least, to an airport,” he explained.

    Communication was also a major factor in the surprising outcome for such an extremely dangerous emergency. He said the quick response of air traffic controller Kevin Bachman was key to getting the aircraft on the ground. Ironically, Bachman had recently moved to Sioux City because he had found his previous duty station too stressful.

    “The calmness of his voice, the communications with him were outstanding,” Haynes said.

    He also described that communication with first responders on the ground through Second Officer Dudley Dvorak were essential to the survival of more passengers. Emergency crews had a full 20 minutes to prepare and get into position, possibly saving many more lives.

    Haynes said that being prepared and having emergency drills for ground crews, a plan-of-action for controllers, and practiced emergency responses for pilots was essential to saving lives that day. Haynes also discussed the importance of having post-incident resources available, describing that post-traumatic stress and lingering psychological effects are common in any emergency situation, especially incidents with loss of life.

    Haynes commended his crew, air traffic control, and ground units in their execution of emergency procedures and maneuvers. He also commended the cooperation between all parties involved throughout the emergency, saying that without everyone’s willingness to do everything in their power to save lives that he may not be standing there today giving the presentation.

    “The best help, I think, came later,” he said. “From our families and our friends. I had a lot of people tell me, I didn't call you, because I felt you were going to be so busy, that I didn't want to bother you. You're not bothering anybody. If somebody has a crisis or has a trauma, help them: call them, tell them that you're there. Let them know you're concerned about them, because that's part of the healing process.”

    This aspect of handling emergencies is so dear to Haynes, he met with NATCA’s Critical Incident Stress Management team (CISM) after his presentation to discuss all of the support services they offer, including their on-call coordinators that are available 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, 365-days a year. To reach the NATCA CISM team, call 202-505-CISM (2476) or email

    Haynes meeting with the NATCA CISM team at Communicating For Safety 2016.

    Haynes, who continued to fly after the emergency, retired in 1991, has given nearly 2,000 presentations, raising money for charities while never accepting any money for himself. His goal is to educate other pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, emergency crews, and emergency planners. His narrative of the “Against All Odds” crash landing is a tremendous teaching tool.

    Haynes was born in Paris, Texas, and was raised in Dallas. He attended Texas A&M University before joining the Naval Aviation Cadet Training program in 1952. He was released from the service in 1956 after serving as a marine aviator. He joined United Airlines that year as a flight engineer, and served in that capacity until his promotion to first officer in 1963.

    He flew the DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, Boeing 727, and DC-10. Haynes was promoted to captain in 1985 and flew the Boeing 727 and DC-10 until his retirement, accumulating over 27,000 hours of flight time. Haynes has been a volunteer umpire for Little League Baseball for the past 40 years, and a stadium announcer for high school football for the past 35 years.

  • Stan ParulskiThe National Legislative Committee (NLC) strives to advance the status, professionalism, benefits, and working conditions of all NATCA bargaining unit employees through political and legislative activism. The NLC accomplishes these tasks through grassroots activism, educating and training NATCA members on how to become effective legislative activists, as well as providing political education.

    As part of the NLC’s legislative training efforts, they have instituted a mentorship program in order to pass down important institutional knowledge to the NLC of the future. Stan Parulski was one of three mentees who attended NATCA in Washington (NiW) this year. He has since assumed the role of Southern Region Representative on the NLC and is honored to share his experience with the membership:

    How many times have you attended NiW?
    I’ve attended the event 12 times.

    What made you want to take on a mentee role within the NLC?
    I have been legislatively involved for many years at several different levels. I’ve done everything from being a first-time activist, to facility legislative representative, to state legislative coordinator. All the while, I was gaining more experience and knowledge of NATCA’s legislative activities and goals. The next step in that progression was a position with the NLC. When the mentee opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it.

    How has your mentor made an impact on you?
    Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, NLC Chairman Steve Weidner, and (now former) Southern Region NLC Rep Jason Arnold are the three most knowledgeable legislative activists I have ever worked with. I was very lucky to have Jason mentor me through the process. I quite often refer to the “Jason Arnold’s wisdom” folder on my computer if I need to research a topic.

    What was the most memorable part of this year’s conference for you?
    The long hours of hard work the NLC puts in behind the scenes to ensure the event is the best it can be. This committee is loaded with amazing people.

    What is your advice to members to stay legislatively active at home?
    Building a NATCA majority is an ongoing challenge. There is always something you can do to strengthen your relationships. Stay in contact with your offices throughout the year and take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. You will be amazed at the benefits you can yield from answering phones or building yard signs for a campaign.

    NATCA is proud to have one of the most effective grassroots networks in all of organized labor. Working in conjunction with the National Office, the NLC helps craft grassroots messages to make sure NATCA is represented on Capitol Hill.

    The NLC is responsible for ensuring NATCA’s grassroots network of state legislative coordinators, facility legislative representatives, and most importantly, member activists, is functioning at its best.

    In addition to being a critical part of the planning and coordination that goes into NATCA in Washington (NiW), the NLC is primarily responsible for the development of NATCA’s Basic and Advanced Legislative Activism classes. Committee members also serve as instructors for these classes, working to develop NATCA’s ever-growing army of legislative activists.

  • Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., has served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2001. An avid pilot with over 3,000 logged hours, Rep. Graves is the Chairman of the House General Aviation Caucus and an active member of the House Aviation Subcommittee on the Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee. Additionally, Rep. Graves serves as Chairman of the House Highways & Transit Subcommittee on T&I, which oversees the development of a national transportation policy and focuses on improving America’s highway system.

    Rep. Graves opened his remarks to NATCA in Washington (NiW) 2016 attendees by sharing the passion he has felt throughout his career for aviation, saying one of the proudest things he has ever done was “fly an airplane.” With important FAA Reauthorization legislation needed to fund the aviation community, he asked that all in attendance not feel discouraged by stalled movement in Congress in regards to air traffic control reform and adequate funding for the National Airspace System (NAS).

    “I think we’ve got a pretty good bill,” Rep. Graves said of the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act (AIRR) of 2016. “We’ve been able to pass a highway bill. These are very bipartisan bills. FAA Reauthorization has created a lot of problems on whether it (ATC reform) should stay in the bill or come out of the bill. So how do we move forward?”

    From left to right: NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, Rep. Graves, and NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.

    Rep. Graves explained that House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., must assess if he can move forward with air traffic control reform as it is outlined in the AIRR Act, or if he will have to pull that part out in order to pass FAA Reauthorization. Rep. Graves also said that Congress must assess how to move forward and that air traffic controllers and the aviation community must make their voices heard in that discussion.

    The Congressman explained that in response to questions he receives during town hall meetings with his constituents on how he feels about reform legislation, that he “likes the idea of saving money and putting that money back into NextGen.”

    “There is no where else that handles the amount of traffic that you all handle in the United States,” he continued. “It’s flawless and moves very well.”

    Despite the safety and efficiency of the system, Rep. Graves pointed out that the system is “broken” and that Congress must act to fix it. He stated his strong concerns regarding the staffing of air traffic controllers in TRACONs and facilities across the country. He also described his concerns that General Aviation may shrink in the future.

    “There is a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “I want Chairman Shuster to be as successful as he can possibly be but everything’s up in the air. It’s hard to tell at this point what is going to happen.”

    In his closing remarks, Rep. Graves urged all attendees to convey and create an urgency for action during their Capitol Hill visits and when meeting with Congressional offices at home.

  • NATCA in Washington 2016 hosted 400 air traffic controllers who went to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to advocate for NATCA and the future of air traffic control. On Tuesday, May 24, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, and Special Counsel to the President Eugene Freedman took the stage during a question and answer session open to all attendees to address the challenges facing the NAS due to unstable funding. CATCA members Paul Berry, Toronto ACC controller and Branch Chair, and Charly Stratton, Vancouver Tower controller and Branch Vice Chair, joined them during the discussion.

    From left to right: Rinaldi, Freedman, Berry, Stratton, and Gilbert.

    During the question and answer session, Rinaldi highlighted the need to share factual information at all facilities. One attendee was concerned that members at his facility are ready to “jump ship” due to NATCA’s support of the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act of 2016 and asked how to reach those members with NATCA’s message.

    “I think it starts with the facts,” said Paul Rinaldi. “Educate them on the facts and not the fear.”

    Any change NATCA would support would have to ensure:

    1. Safety and efficiency remain the top priorities. This means that maintenance cannot be allowed to lag and poor staffing must not be allowed to reduce capacity of the NAS.

    2. A stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term technological modernization projects, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure.

    3. A dynamic aviation system that continues to provide services to all segments of the aviation community, from commercial passenger carriers and cargo haulers, to business jets, to general aviation, from the major airports to those in small communities and rural America. NATCA cannot emphasize enough how important it is that a new system continues providing services to the diverse users of today. The United States has a vibrant general aviation community that relies on air traffic control services. Rural America’s economic success is connected to the access created with a comprehensive airspace system that serves even the most remote areas.

    4. Lastly, the workforce must be fully protected in their employment relationship.

    Another attendee was concerned that if the air traffic control operation were to move into a not-for-profit entity, that there would be a reduction in the workforce. However, this was not the case in Canada when they went through transformational reform.

    “Initially, there was zero loss of union members when going from Transport Canada to NAV CANADA,” said Berry. “The amount of airplanes didn’t change. You can’t mitigate traffic without bodies.”

    “We actually reopened one tower and built an additional tower,” added Stratton.

    Members in attendance were also curious how NAVCANADA handled Canadian members opposed to reform.

    “We just got the word out to mitigate fears,” said Berry. “There were a lot of concerns right out of the gate,” said Berry.

    “It just wasn’t working,” said Stratton. Adding that the inability to thrive in current conditions made changing over to a new system an essential choice.

    Rinaldi and Gilbert made it clear during the session that they have not taken the decision to support the type of transformational reform outlined in the AIRR Act lightly. NATCA has made it a priority to learn from past transitions and ensure they include as many protections as possible in any proposed legislation.

    “We went to Canada and spoke with union leadership who were the architects of the transition, including the attorneys,” said Trish. “We asked them, ‘if you had to do it again, what would you make sure you adequately address?’ We got as much of those answers as we could into the bill so we could be protected by law.”

    Q1Rinaldi and Gilbert repeatedly enforced how important being at the negotiating table is when new legislation is written and proposed. Rinaldi explained that change is coming and if it is the will of the membership to oppose change until the bitter end, he will fight for that, but fears NATCA will be steamrolled in the process.

    Rinaldi also explained that the issues of funding and reform are marathons, not sprints.

    “This is just starting,” Rinaldi said. “Controllers have 20 plus years of a successful transition in NAVCANADA. We don’t like the UK system, but even UK controllers wouldn’t go back to being a government entity even though the new system is flawed. They fought until the end against change, then got the scraps.”

    To avoid getting the scraps, Rinaldi explained that NATCA must continue to be engaged and at the forefront of any possible change to the NAS to ensure that NATCA employees are protected and that all current Union rights are put into whatever proposed law may come to pass.

    “People in your facility may want to fight, may want to quit,” said Rinaldi. “We don’t govern ourselves by people who are going to quit. We govern ourselves by what is good for the collective of our membership and the constitution mandated by the supreme body every two years. At the end of the day, change is coming. Do you want to shape it or sit on the sidelines and get run over?”

    In efforts to ensure all of NATCA’s membership is informed on these issues, Rinaldi and Gilbert have been traveling to facilities all over the country for membership meetings. They believe face-to-face contact is important and feel that speaking to a membership that has become very engaged in the future of the Union is a great first step. They explained that during these sessions, once members opposed to change understood the historical context of these issues and the steps NATCA is taking, that many of them strongly believe change is the right course.

    “We have to find stable predictable funding or we will be a smaller aviation system,” said Rinaldi. “A comprehensive approach to modernizing and running our system is necessary. We don’t want to be NAV CANADA but we can’t be stagnant. Let’s build a better system. Together.”

  • Trish1On Thursday, June 23, NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert spoke at the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Contract Tower Workshop, hosted in conjunction with the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Gilbert gave attendees an in-depth look at NATCA’s year, and insight on current challenges facing the National Airspace System (NAS).

    NATCA represents over 19,000 safety professionals in the FAA and Department of Defense, as well as over 300 air traffic controllers in the Federal Contract Tower (FCT) program. Gilbert explained that these controllers are essential to the largest, most complex airspace system in the world.

    Aviation is a major driver of the U.S. economy, supporting nearly 12 million jobs and contributing $1.5 trillion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Two million passengers fly on 70,000 flights every single day in the NAS. Gilbert explained that safety continues to be the priority for NATCA as air traffic controllers continue to face challenges.

    Gilbert reminded the attendees that due to sequestration in 2013, the system faced senseless cuts to aviation funding, including the threat of closing 149 towers, many of which were FCTs. This was done not in the interest of safety, but to save money.

    “NATCA, AAAE, and others in the aviation industry worked together to highlight the flawed and dangerous cuts of sequestration, and with the help of some in Congress, we were able to stop the closing of all the towers on the list,” said Gilbert.

    She further explained that the current political environment, budget deficit, and other extenuating circumstances have all contributed to a lack of regular order in the appropriations and budget processes, and that a stand-alone Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill has not been signed into law since 2006.

    Instead, Gilbert said, stop-and-start funding in the form of continuing resolutions, omnibuses, minibuses, cromnibuses lasting weeks, sometimes months, and if we are really lucky, the majority of the fiscal year. Current FAA authorization is set to expire on July 15. Without an extension, the authority to collect aviation taxes will lapse, and the Airport and Airway Trust Fund will be deprived of more than $30 million a day — funding needed for air traffic control, airport development, and other aviation programs. This uncertainty in funding has pushed dialogue on air traffic control reform to the forefront of the aviation community and Congress, a dialogue Gilbert expects to continue into the next Congress.

    “The question for NATCA is, is the status quo acceptable?,” said Gilbert. “To us, it is not, and that is why we continue to remain open to change that makes sense.”

    Gilbert explained that any change NATCA supports would have to ensure:

    1. Safety and efficiency remain the top priorities. This means that maintenance cannot be allowed to lag and poor staffing must not be allowed to reduce capacity of the NAS.

    2. A stable, predictable funding stream that adequately supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term technological modernization projects, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure.

    3. A dynamic aviation system that continues to provide services to all segments of the aviation community, from commercial passenger carriers and cargo haulers, to business jets, to general aviation, from the major airports to those in small communities and rural America. NATCA cannot emphasize enough how important it is that a new system continues providing services to the diverse users of today. The United States has a vibrant general aviation community that relies on air traffic control services. Rural America’s economic success is connected to the access created with a comprehensive airspace system that serves even the most remote areas.

    4. Lastly, the workforce must be fully protected in their employment relationship.

    “As partners in aviation, we all want the same thing: a safe, modern, and high capacity aviation system,” said Gilbert. “In order to have those things, we must work together to ensure our towers and radar rooms are properly equipped and appropriately staffed to ensure we have the safest and most efficient procedures in place.”

    Gilbert explained that no matter where air traffic control services come from, no one understands the system better or takes pride in the system more than the controllers that operate it. Collaboration, safety reporting, and fostering an environment in which the workforce feels they are a part of a team is crucial to success. Gilbert said that this collaboration allows NATCA and the FAA to improve procedures, modernize and deploy new technologies, and institutionalize a culture of non-punitive safety reporting.

    “The FAA has found that there is value in respecting their workforce, and that by working together with those that operate the system, they can not only meet the needs of the users but also can greatly improve the system and enhance safety,” said Gilbert.

    “We all have a stake in the economic engine that is the U.S. airspace system,” she stated. “I would challenge each of us to look forward, think about what we would like to see and work together to get it done.”

  • Rinaldi3On Wednesday, June 15 NATCA President Paul Rinaldi testified before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. Witnesses at the hearing, “A Review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Controller Hiring, Staffing and Training Plans,” included Rinaldi; Teri Bristol, Chief Operating Officer, Air Traffic Organization, FAA; Rickie Cannon, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Human Resources Management, FAA; Matthew Hampton, Assistant Inspector General for Aviation Audits, Office of Inspector General, Department of Transportation; and Randolph “Randy” Babbitt, Senior Vice President of Labor Relations, Southwest Airlines.

    Subcommittee on Aviation Chairman Frank LoBiondo opened the hearing by highlighting that the National Airspace System (NAS) is operating with the lowest staffing levels in 27 years. Looking forward, he worries that due to projected increases in airline passengers, that the FAA may be forced to reduce air traffic services.

    “This has led me to conclude the current controller hiring process is underserving our nation and the flying public,” LoBiondo added.

    Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Committee member Rick Larsen said he hoped the hearing would highlight the need for a timely FAA Reauthorization bill. The current authorization expires on July 15. Larson said that while there is no evidence of safety lapses due to critical staffing at the busiest facilities in the country he is, “concerned about understaffing in critical facilities,” adding that the FAA must hire enough controllers to make up for projected retirements.

    House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster commended the dedication and professional work of air traffic controllers across the country, adding that it is “unclear why the FAA has dropped the ball” on hiring. Shuster went on to describe his concern over the FAA’s history of poor hiring practices, including ensuring there are enough certified professional controllers (CPCs) to deploy a modern air traffic control system.

    “Under the status quo, passengers will continue to suffer,” he said. “This problem has to be solved now to prevent more problems down the road.”

    House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio addressed the challenging reality of mandatory six-day workweeks and 10-hour work days that controllers across the country face, saying, “that’s not sustainable.”

    In his opening remarks, Rinaldi described current staffing levels as a “crisis” that puts the status of the largest, safest, most efficient, most complex, most diverse airspace system in the world at risk. He said that staffing is one of the most critical problems facing the NAS.

    “Further staffing reductions could have an immediate detrimental effect on capacity, meaning fewer planes in the sky and greater potential for delays,” said Rinaldi. “Likewise, the FAA would continue to fall further behind in its development, testing, deployment and training for NextGen modernization programs, procedures, and equipment.”


    Rinaldi also highlighted the successes of collaboration with the FAA in addressing staffing concerns but urged immediate and decisive action from Congress to pass bipartisan legislation H.R. 5292, The Air Traffic Control Hiring Improvement Act of 2016, that would streamline the hiring process by ensuring a path for experienced controllers to be hired quickly with fewer bureaucratic hurdles and allow military Veterans and graduates of colleges and universities that participate in the FAA’s CTI to be hired more expeditiously without causing any additional delays in the hiring process.

    In her opening remarks, Bristol highlighted the FAA’s four areas of staffing concerns as hiring, training, placement, and collaboration with NATCA. She also explained the two tracks of hiring for candidates, those with no air traffic experience (CTI and off-the-street-hires) and those with air traffic experience (military and FCT). While this does not explain the FAA’s 2014 decision to merge CTI and off-the-street into the same pool and the addition of the biographical questionnaire, Bristol did stress that collaboration with NATCA is the key to their success.

    “Collaboration establishes trust and enables us to work together to make a better decision,” she said. “NATCA helps us place controllers where we need them.”

    Hampton explained that despite efforts to address staffing, the FAA lacks metrics on how long it should take candidates to make it through the hiring process. He said that the FAA introducing standardized minimum qualifications for all candidates in the short-term does not necessarily address controller training, hiring, and staffing issues — which are long-term concerns.

    Babbitt stressed that despite staffing challenges, safety has never been in question. Instead, his main concern centers on capacity of the airspace.

    “I’m concerned whether or not the current air traffic control system can be sustained in its current form,” he said. “In order to avoid crisis, the federal government needs to do more to provide CPCs and training on NextGen capabilities by supporting significant reform.”

    While the hearing was called to address staffing, funding of the NAS is a part of that conversation. The inability to make long-term plans because of unreliable funding streams has hindered the FAA’s ability to meet its hiring goals.

    Rinaldi explained that NATCA has consistently stated that the status quo is unacceptable when it comes to stop-and-go funding and air traffic controller staffing.

    “There are many reasons that controller staffing has reached crisis level,” Rinaldi said. “Therefore, in addition to NATCA’s recommendation that the FAA take a holistic, collaborative approach to resolve its critical staffing issues, Congress also needs to pass an FAA Reauthorization bill that provides the necessary stable, predicable funding.”

    Read the full version of Rinaldi’s written testimony

    View the hearing, “A Review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Controller Hiring, Staffing and Training Plans”

    For more information on staffing:

  • Woods1
    From left to right: Hansen, Gilbert, Woods, and NATCA President Paul Rinaldi.

    NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert presented the Steve Hansen Safety Advocate Award at Communicating For Safety 2016. This award was first given in 2011 to NATCA Safety Committee Chair Steve Hansen, and is presented each year to a NATCA member who has made extraordinary achievements and worked tirelessly on NATCA’s behalf to be a leader in furthering aviation safety.

    Past winners Steve Hansen, Mike Blake, Andy Marosvari, Leanne Martin, and Chad Sneve have each shown their passion for safety. This year’s winner is no different.

    Woods2Jeff Woods has been a controller in the FAA since 2001. He has worked at Beaumont ATCT (BPT), Houston Center (ZHU), and Houston TRACON (I90). Before his FAA career began, he served in the U.S. Navy. He has held many Union positions, serving as the I90 Secretary from 2009 to 2011 and I90 VP from Sept. 2011 to May 2012. He became one of the national representatives to OAPM (Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex) in May 2012, currently serves as the NATCA representative to the Program Management Office, and is a member of the newly-formed National Safety & Tech Leadership Council.

    Gilbert said Woods has a passion for the Union and a unique ability to pull groups together to break down barriers. His talents have been invaluable to moving many national projects forward.

    “This job, it’s getting behind the scenes with the FAA and it’s been pretty exciting,” said Woods, in his acceptance remarks before CFS attendees, of being on the National Safety & Tech Leadership Council.

    “The best part is it’s interactive with you guys (the controllers),” he continued. “It’s getting out to facilities, seeing some of the problems, and actually being able to help. This is all for you guys, thank you so much for letting me do this.”

    Watch the presentation.

  • National Air Traffic Controllers Association
    Communicating for Safety Conference
    Continued Professional Training

    March 22, 2016

    Presenter: Gordon Graham

    Air Traffic Control Operations 2016:
    The Five Concurrent Themes for Success

    Thanks for inviting me to Las Vegas to speak to you regarding your chosen profession, ATC, and related operations. I have possibly met some of you in prior presentations, and if that is true you know my focus in life is in the management of risk.

    My goal today is to give you some ideas and strategies regarding the discipline of risk management and how it applies to you and your municipal operations. I am absolutely convinced that if more people understood the breadth and depth of real risk management we would all be a lot better off.

    In 1975 I got hooked on the study of tragedies – and I have spent way too much time studying maritime tragedies, mining tragedies, refinery tragedies, train tragedies, plane tragedies, bridge tragedies, building tragedies, and power plant tragedies.

    When you take a look at any tragedy in any profession and look for “What caused it?” – it is easy to spot the proximate cause. The event that instantly precedes the tragedy is relatively easy to spot. But real risk managers do not stop their search for cause with identifying the proximate cause. Real risk managers go back in time and look for problems lying in wait – that people knew about or should know about – yet these problems are oftentimes ignored until the tragedy occurs.

    Graham1Your role (and the role of everyone in every job in your organization) is to take a daily look at your sphere of influence – your span of control – and ask these questions: Do we have problems lying in wait in our fleet? Do we have problems lying in wait in our infrastructure? Do we have problems lying in wait amongst our personnel? And if you identify such an issue – that needs to be addressed.

    If you fail to identify and address these problems lying in wait sooner or later, all the holes in the Swiss Cheese (the thoughts of Dr. James Reason) are going to become aligned – and when that happens the tragedy occurs – and then the lawyers take over and the problems lying in wait are then identified and addressed – after the fact.

    I gave you a number of examples from a variety of professions earlier today, but my focus today is in your operations in the U.S., which today face an unprecedented level of risk.

    So what can we do? Allow me to introduce you to The Five Concurrent Themes for Success. I have put together this platform for success (a checklist) that may assist you in better improving your operations. This platform consists of five separate and distinct issues (themes) that when put together will allow you to analyze any of the tasks we do to better assure things get done right.

    Here are my Five Concurrent Themes for Success:

    Risk management is the cornerstone of these Five Concurrent Themes. With this in mind, we need to learn about the word risk. Risk is part of life. You took risks coming to this class today, even if it was just a short drive or an elevator ride. You will take a risk eating dinner tonight and traveling home at the end of this program.

    There is not one of you in here today who has not heard the phrase, “risk management.” Unfortunately, the phrase is grossly misused, many times by people who have no clue what they are talking about. Let me assure you, the discipline of risk management is extraordinarily valuable to all of you in your high-risk profession.

    Every identifiable risk is a manageable risk. Properly managing risks prevents problems. Over the years, I have spoken extensively on the management of risk, and what your role is with respect to risk. This is where I would like to start our discussion.

    Historically, most government operations do not take risk management seriously. Check any federal, state, or local government phone directory. You will find a lot of government lawyers, but few, if any, dedicated government risk managers.

    This is an important point, which will be further addressed in this and the next paragraph. Next time you see a government agency in the news negatively any place in the U.S., give them a phone call. Find out how many personnel they have dedicated to internal affairs (post-incident) investigations, and how many are dedicated to background (pre-incident) investigations.

    We would be better served by excluding bad people from our profession up front, rather than firing them after they participate in some nefarious behavior. Contrary to the view of some of the loudmouths in the world, you are not some evil cauldron that takes good people and turns them into bad people. In the news recently were some stories about sports coaches molesting young kids. These predators were bad people long before they were hired and became involved with the team.

    Along the same lines, your organization – for a number of poorly thought out reasons – occasionally hires bad people who continue to be bad people. Successful private sector companies take risk management more seriously than we do in government. Why?

    Time out for a paid political statement: America is a nation of laws. We have heard that statement a lot since the terrorist murders of 9-11. It is very important that we remember this thought, as it is critical to the survival of our country. We are a nation of laws.

    Unfortunately, we have also become a nation of lawyers. I do not say his as lawyer bashing. I do not bash lawyers. Lawyers are fine people with good hearts and intentions, but with an extremely limited scope of thinking. They work in a different paradigm.

    Their entire lives are focused on fixing things after they go bad. That is what they study in law school (case law) and that is what they do in their practices (clients with existing problems).

    Again, they are good people, but with a limited scope of vision. Many of our fine elected officials at all levels of government are lawyers. They bring this thinking of post-incident correction with them into government work.

    Risk managers do not think this way. Their whole lives are focused on pre-incident prevention of problems. I don’t know one educated and trained risk manager in America who holds elected office. Not one!

    This is not something that all of a sudden became important to me on September 11, 2001. This has been my focus over the last four decades. What will it take to wake people up? Prevention is better than correction. Small, smart expenditures of effort and money up front can prevent massive downstream problems. You can make this happen individually and organizationally.


    Let’s take time for a definition – and if you have been to any of my programs, you have seen this definition before. Webster takes a stab at defining “risk” as “the possibility of meeting danger or suffering a harm or loss,” or “exposure to harm or loss.” As a follow:

    Risk management is any activity that involves the evaluation of, or comparison of, risks and the development, selection and implementation of control measures that change outcomes.

    Or, more simply stated, risk management is the process of looking into the future (short or long term) and asking what can go wrong and then doing something about it to prevent it from going wrong. In RM 101, you are taught the concept of RPM: Recognition, Prioritization, Mobilization.

    First, you must recognize the risks you and your people face in your particular organization. Next, you must prioritize them in terms of potential frequency, severity, and available time to think prior to acting. Finally, you have to mobilize
    (act) to do something about the recognized and prioritized risks. This mobilization is the system’s component – the second of my five concurrent themes for success.

    Systems. The word gets thrown around a lot but what does it mean? According to Webster: “an organized or established procedure” or “an accumulation of processes.” When you check under “process” and “procedure,” you will find a particular way of accomplishing something, and also a series of steps followed in a regular definite order. And please recall that before I was in law school, I attended the USC Institute for Safety and Systems Management. I am a huge fan of systems and process.

    Whenever I see a tragedy in your operations (or outside of your profession for that matter) I always do the Systems DUI Analysis. Was there a properly designed system in place? Was it up to date? Was it being implemented? It gets down to design, update, and implementation.

    Please do not subscribe to the thinking that there is nothing that can be done to prevent tragedies. I am sick of that attitude! While you have a very risky profession, you are not in the most risky profession. Timber operations, commercial fishing, aviation, structural metal workers, and long haul drivers all have higher adjusted loss rates than you do.

    But take a look at some of the leaders in those occupations, and see what they are doing. Timber operations are risky, but Boise-Cascade is underrepresented in problems. Trucking is dangerous, but UPS has a great safety record in their long haul operations. Chemical plant operations are dangerous, but Dupont is a vanguard in their industry.

    Well-designed systems, kept up to date and fully implemented will never let you down. This is also true in your profession. First, your agency has to build good systems (policies) and keep these policies up to date. This is the responsibility of the executive team in your agency. Next, your supervision and management team has to assure that all department personnel are doing what they are getting paid to do (i.e., following the policies of your organization).

    Why is this so important? If you take the time to study the nasty consequences we get involved in, so many of them get down to systems not being implemented. There are three principle reasons that systems are not followed. They are:

    • Arrogance: The rules do not apply to me.
    • Ignorance: I have no idea what the rules are.
    • Complacency: I have done it this way for a long time and will continue to do so.

    This is a major concern of mine for your profession. But for right now, let me ask you this question: Does Bud (or Budette) work in your organization? Let me identify Bud for you. Or should I change his name to Francesco?

    Our third theme is Customer Service. This is such a critical issue today, and frankly many employees do not quite understand the ramifications of not taking this seriously. This is not my focus today, but for our limited purposes in this program, here is a three-point guide to creating loyal customers:

    • Get things done right the first time.
    • Treat people right all the time.
    • Add in the WOW factor whenever possible.

    Graham2Our fourth theme is Accountability and the increasing lack of it in society and our profession. This is a dying concept in so many organizations, with craziness abounding. Statements like “... that is not my job...” and “she doesn’t work for me...” and “...we have never done it that way before...” are getting a bit tired and quite frankly customers are getting fed up with employees who are unable or unwilling to accept the fact that they need to be accountable.

    Executive accountability starts with having good systems (policies and procedures) in place.

    Executive accountability continues with promoting good women and men into supervisory positions who have the guts to enforce the policies of the organization, and then to support these supervisors when they make the tough calls.

    Executive accountability continues with having a discipline system in place to address those in the organizations who are convinced that rules do not apply to them.

    Finally, executive accountability includes a robust audit system (both formal and informal) in place to assure what you say you are doing is in fact being done.

    Your supervision and management team has to assure that all personnel are doing what they are getting paid to do, (i.e., following the policies of their organization). This is what supervisor accountability is all about – enforcing the policies that were developed by the executive team.

    With respect to line personnel, their accountability is to know and follow the policies and procedures of the organization and following these systems. I don’t care what policy it is – we have to get our personnel following the policies of the organization.

    Everyone in the organization, up, down and around the chain of command, has accountability. There are different levels of accountability, but each of us is accountable to do our jobs correctly. When accountability is not present, you have mediocrity. Mediocrity is at the top of a slippery slope that ends up in a loss of integrity.

    Here is a quotation I have been using now for over 15 years. In the ’90s, LAPD got in a ton of trouble with the Rampart Scandal. After the fact, a number of experts (mostly lawyers) analyzed what caused this tragedy. While the lawyers focused on proximate cause – one fellow identified the problem lying in wait.

    This nugget of gold was written by Commander Ross Swope of the D.C. Police Department, and I recognize that you are not in law enforcement operations. But everyone in every high-risk organization needs to understand these words and what they mean to your operations.

    “The major cause in the lack of integrity in American police officers is mediocrity.”

    The following passage is taken verbatim from the LAPD report, published March 2000:

    Captain Swope went on to explain that mediocrity stems from the failure to hold officers responsible and accountable. It comes from a lack of commitment, laziness, excessive tolerance, and the use of kid gloves. He felt that dealing with mediocrity is perhaps the greatest contemporary challenge to American law enforcement. When asked to explain how mediocrity is dangerous, Captain Swope drew an analogy of the bell curve. At the high end of the bell curve are those officers who practice all the core values: prudence, truth, courage, justice, honesty, and responsibility. At the other end are the officers with few of those values. In the large middle are those officers who have some or most of the core values. The extent of moral influence in a police department depends on the extent to which the upper and lower portions influence those in the middle. The men and women who control that influence are sergeants, lieutenants, and captains. The irony is that everyone within a work place knows full well which of the three categories their co-workers fall into. When officers in the middle see that officers at the bottom end are not dealt with, they sometimes begin to imitate their behavior. Similarly, when those at the top end are recognized and rewarded, they become the workplace standard. The principal, though not exclusive, agents in encouraging top end or bottom end behaviors are supervisors and middle managers. It is our sergeants, lieutenants, and captains who have the daily and ongoing responsibility to ensure that appropriate workplace standards are maintained. However, that observation in no way relieves upper managers from their responsibility to ensure that proper standards are being maintained in their subordinate commands by providing appropriate guidance, exerting their oversight responsibility, and honestly evaluating the effectiveness of the commands for which they are ultimately responsible.

    Integrity is the fifth of these Five Concurrent Themes. Lose integrity and you will not be able to achieve the manifestation of integrity known as ethical behavior. Lose your ethical behavior, and you have lost the public trust. Without the public trust, we have nothing. Where did this slippery slope start? Mediocrity is a cancer that can spread quickly in an organization, and if not eliminated, it will destroy your operations.

    I have this odd belief that our citizens have the right to expect that all of your personnel possess this integrity, and not just at point of hire, but throughout their employment career – and I am a huge fan of ongoing background investigations. And not to be Mr. Negative here, but how much damage could one bad employee in your department do?

    So, why have I wasted some time out of your life with this? Your chosen profession is extremely complex and filled with risk. I am not kissing up to you and I do not say this when I talk to a group of real estate people, or lawyers or bankers. Air traffic operations are complex in nature, and are getting more complex.

    What I am trying to do here is to give you a checklist approach (and I love checklist and am begging you to read Checklist Manifesto by Dr. Atul Gawande and it has direct applicability to what you do) to getting things done right. Whatever the task is that you are doing or planning on doing, please start to analyze (if you have time) the task along these lines:

    • What is the risk involved in this task, and how can I best manage that risk?
    • What is your organization’s system (policy) and how can I best assure its implementation?
    • Is there a customer service component here and, if so, how can I maximize customer service on this task?
    • Who is accountable for what on this specific task?
    • What are the issues of integrity involved in this specific task?

    If you try this for just a week, you will get it down to a couple of seconds per task. And if you use it regularly, you will have a higher probability of getting things done right and staying out of trouble.

    And the anchor for these Five Concurrent Themes, and my focus for our brief time together, is the wonderful discipline of risk management.


    Here are three statements that have guided me through most of my adult life. First is a quotation, albeit paraphrased, from the great risk management guru of the ’40s, Dr. Archand Zeller:

    “The human does not change. During the period of recorded history, there is little evidence to indicate that man has changed in any major respect. Because the man does not change, the kinds of errors he commits remain constant. The errors that he will make can be predicted from the errors he has made.”

    What does this mean? We have not figured out any new ways to screw things up. We are making the same mistakes over and over again. Refineries have not figured out any new ways to blow up. Cops and firefighters have not figured out new ways to get in trouble. Restaurants have not figured out any new ways to poison people.

    Airplanes have not figured out any new ways to be involved in accidents. This was demonstrated by Cal Rodgers in 1911 in the very first cross-country flight in the U.S. on the Vin Fiz! If you Google that, you will read a fascinating story.

    Employees in any given organization have not figured out any new ways to get in trouble. To be sure, there are variations on a theme, but in reality, it is the same stuff over and over again.

    The second statement important in my life thus far came from my mentor, professor, and friend Chaytor Mason. He was a risk management guru in the ’70s. Here is a capsulized version of his response when I accused him of being the smartest person who ever lived:

    “The smartest person in the world is the woman or man who finds the fifteenth way to hold two pieces of paper together.”

    My instant response when I first heard this was confusion, but then I figured it out. While there are no new ways to screw things up (Zeller), there are always new ways to fine tune and revisit our existing systems to prevent bad things from happening.

    Status quo (we have always done it that way, we have never done it that way) no longer works. Unfortunately, I see a lot of this in many operations. There is always a better way of doing business, the 15th way, and we must constantly be looking for it. And, the third thought...

    “Things that go wrong in life are predictable, and predictable is preventable.”

    Thanks for your patience. I have been using this line since 1980 and I appreciate your indulgence. Want proof? Take a look at your newspaper today. Hopefully, I will have a copy of the local paper with me today, and we can read some of the top stories from around America and I will prove to you that:

    Predictable is Preventable

    Anyhow, it was an honor to address you this afternoon. If you ever need anything please let me know.

    Gordon Graham
    or my personal office:

  • 6Dale4Panel:
    Tackling Tactical Operational Challenges in the National Airspace System (NAS)

    Captain Brian Will, Director of Airspace Optimization & Aircraft Technology, American Airlines, Inc.

    Dale Wright, Retiring Director of Safety & Technology, NATCA
    Mark Hopkins, Director, Air Traffic Management & CDM, Delta Air Lines, Inc.
    Robert “Bob” G. Lamond Jr., Director, Air Traffic Services & Infrastructure, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
    Captain Brian Quigley, Former Managing Director of Flight Operations, United Airlines, Inc. now chief pilot for the airline
    Elizabeth “Lynn” Ray, Vice President, Mission Support Services for the Air Traffic Organization (ATO), FAA
    Captain Bart Roberts, Vice President, Flight Operations, Jetblue Airways
    Ralph Tamburro, Delay Reduction Manager, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

    The FAA is leveraging the best and the brightest operational experts in the industry to tackle the most vexing near-term challenges in the National Airspace System (NAS). The panelists discussed how they collaborate to solve real-world problems in the ever-changing environment of the National Airspace System (NAS).

    “When you look at what we’re attempting to do today — have procedures that go from gate-to-gate that are safer and more efficient than what we’ve had historically — we see increasing demands from countries around the world for even more benefits,” said Will.

    Ray added that all safety and technology programs introduced into the NAS need industry engagement, saying that, “Collaboration within industry is very important.”

    When creating new programs, the FAA tasks the TOC (Tactical Operational Challenges Committee) with a question to answer. Being able to understand the question is important, Ray said. Meaning that right from the get-go, collaboration and communication between stakeholders is essential.

    “The TOC allows me to martial FAA resources and pull people together to collaborate,” said Ray. “It’s important to the FAA to communicate internally. We provide subject matter experts through this process, hopefully pretty good ones, and assign them to work groups.”

    Will described that in terms of developing and implementing new programs, the aviation system is moving down the highway at 70 mph and trying to change a tire while moving without a disruption in travel.

    “We’re discovering we need to change each ‘tire’ individually,” Will said. “When we change something, it might be unbalanced, so we have to go back and reassess. We’ve heard a lot about NextGen programs but the TOC groups are the warriors and boots on the ground making real-time changes on a daily and tactical basis.”

    Lamond went on to explain that when it comes to collaboration on far-reaching programs that affect the NAS, if you think the answer is easy, you don’t understand the problem.

    “We came to find out pretty early on that it was a very complicated deep dive in to understand exactly what the costs are to develop, publish, and maintain a procedure,” Lamond said.

    Roberts described addressing the challenges of the NAS as an opportunity to evolve. He gave one example of the TOC ensuring that the Caribbean airspace is as efficient, safe, and free of emissions as possible.

    “We’re looking for positive control of aircraft in an oceanic setting with the equipment we’ve all bought into, and the FAA has invested in, by using the space-based systems being implemented,” Roberts said. “The work I’ve seen on the TOC is a group of people working behind the scenes very diligently, solving problems, and bringing forth solutions.”

    Hopkins further discussed how the panelists are the operational people involved in the day-to-day operations and the challenge associated with always looking ahead. The ability to plan long-term and have predictable funding for new programs is key to the TOC's success.

    “We usually look at more than a day ahead,” Hopkins said. “There are ongoing issues that are out there that need to be collaborated on to improve the situation. The task is how to define a timeline in the process to address operational needs without diminishing efficiency.”

    Hopkins went on to say that bringing in this wide group of experts helped the TOC develop a solid set of recommendations to the FAA about the best steps to take moving forward.

    From left to right: Hopkins, Lamond, Quigley, Ray, Roberts, Vice President, Tamburro, and Wright.

    Looking to the future, the panel discussed how stakeholders must be involved at all levels of operation. Wright gave an example of how NATCA started work on adjusting VHF Omni Directional Radio Range (VOR) when it was first brought to the organizations attention from local FacReps.

    “It’s more than just moving a VOR at an airport because it affects other locations,” Wright said. “We reached out to facilities about the VOR, provided input back to the TOC, and gave people in the field information on what to expect through the changes. We benefit and the group benefits when NATCA is involved in operations.“

    Wright went on to describe that while the process of collaboration has helped, there is still a long way to go, especially in terms of training.

    “The thing that keeps me awake at night is related to everyone being trained on everything,” said Wright. “One thing we cannot let slide is a procedure that has not been properly vetted. We need to make sure controllers and pilots are properly trained and make sure communications are clear from the top down to the facilities so that the line controller and pilot know how to work it. Not only the airline pilot or business pilot, but the general aviation pilot as well.“

    As with most challenges in the NAS, funding and staffing are major hindrances to efficiently tackling challenges moving forward.

    “One problem that NATCA runs into is that at the end of the day, we need someone to talk to the airplanes,” concluded Wright. “Like Paul Rinaldi said, we don’t always have the people to get somebody on the project. We often have to run double duty. That’s a major issue when it comes to resources.”

  • 5Jim5Panel:
    NAS Navigation Roadmap Strategy, Delivering Incremental Benefits from Ground-Based to Flight-Deck-Based Traffic Flow Management Capabilities

    Bruce E. DeCleene, Division Manager for the Flight Technologies & Procedures Divisions (AFS-400), FAA

    Jim Ullmann, Incoming Director of Safety & Technology, NATCA
    Captain Mark Bradley, Industry Affairs, Delta Air Lines, Inc.
    Rick Dalton, Director Airspace & Flow Management, Southwest Airlines
    Captain Joe DePete, First Vice President, air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA)
    Dr. Tony Ng, Aviation Solution Architect, Lockheed Martin

    Turning their view to the farther term, this panel discussed different views and visions of how National Airspace System (NAS) navigation capabilities will evolve over the next 15 years.

    Discussion on the roadmap for NAS navigation centered on NextGen’s Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) system. The roadmap was developed because of the need for long-term planning on how to accomplish transitioning over to this new technology. It laid out a 15-year strategy in five-year implements that outlined infrastructure and equipage.

    DeCleene said that the successes of this roadmap include 98 percent of the airports with instrument flight rules (IFR) now have switched over to a PBN system. Of those airports, 25 percent of the airports only have PBN access and no longer require conventional access with over 300 RNAV (area navigation) arrival and departure procedures.

    “We all rolled up our sleeves and said, ‘We know where we are today and where we want to go tomorrow,’” Bradley said. “Now, what should we do with that information? The Roadmap was framed with that in mind.”

    Dalton pointed out that when looking at any change in the aviation system, safety is always the biggest concern. With the many challenges facing the NAS, including unpredictable funding, it grows increasingly hard to roll out these new, increasingly automated programs.

    “We can’t go on the way we are,” said Dalton. “We have the safest system and we have to maintain it. It still has to be human-centric.”

    Ullmann described that there is “no doubt” that implementation of these new procedures and programs have had implications for the workforce.

    “Controllers are good at making things work,” Ullmann said. “The longer I’m studying this issue, I think we have some of the same issues the users have, which are predictability and implementation, especially in high-volume airports.”

    Ullmann continued by saying that predictability in equipage is key. "The more aircraft there are in line for an approach that can’t use updated PBN procedures complicates matters," he said.

    From left to right: Bradley, Dalton, DePete, Ng, and Ullmann.

    Dalton discussed that in addition to equipage, training is an issue because through implementation of these new technology programs, airspace is being compressed. He said that having a just culture and the ability to share safety-related information without fear is more important than ever — which can only be accomplished through a predictable funding stream.

    “We always find a way but it’s a challenge,” Dalton said. “I hope we all heed the warnings we heard from Paul Rinaldi today. We have the safest airspace in the world and we need to keep it that way.”

    Ullmann pointed out that from the beginning, NATCA has known there must be a combination of equipage in the aircraft and air traffic controller access to the best technology available.

    “Controllers and the pilots work things more smoothly and effectively when they have the best technology,” he said.

    Ng described that collaboration is key moving forward and to listen to one another to make sure each change is a success story. Ullmann agreed, saying that continued stakeholder involvement in the development of new programs and technologies is essential.

    “It’s important that relationships and collaboration happen,” Ullmann said. “Controller involvement from the ground-floor up has proved valuable. We want to continue that. It’s our best chance to be successful from where we are. I’m also starting to see staffing as an issue. Our involvement is important on a consistent basis.”

  • 7Paul5Panel:
    Conversation on FAA Reauthorization: Outlook for What’s Ahead

    Stephen Van Beek, Vice President, ICF International

    Paul Rinaldi, President, NATCA
    Mark R. Baker, President & Chief Executive Officer, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
    Edward M. Bolen, President & Chief Executive Officer, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
    Carl D’Alessandro, President, Critical Networks, Harris Corporation
    Captain Stephen M. Dickson, Senior Vice President, Flight Operations, Delta Air Lines, Inc.
    Dr. Gerald L. Dillingham, Director of Civil Aviation Issues, Government Accountability Office (GAO)
    Sean Kennedy, Senior Vice President, Safety, Security & Operations, Airlines for America (A4A)

    On June 2, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi took part in an RTCA 2016 Global Aviation Symposium panel on FAA Reauthorization. The National Airspace System (NAS) still runs on decades-old technology, yet efforts to update it have limped forward. Travel delays and safety concerns are mounting because of structural and funding issues.

    The Senate-passed FAA bill is essentially another extension, providing funding for only 18 months. Proposed legislation from the House provides funding for six years and includes language that would reform the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) through major reform.

    Inadequate funding streams have included short-term extensions, furloughs, and government shutdowns that prevent the FAA from planning long-term or even mid-term capital investments into the NAS, leaving modernization projects like NextGen at a standstill, Rinaldi said. This unpredictability in funding has also prevented the FAA from meeting its hiring and staffing goals. Currently, there is a 27-year low of certified professional controllers (CPCs).

    Concerns about ATO reform during the panel were largely voiced from AOPA and NBAA. While they see the proposed bills as positive, both Baker and Bolen said their membership is most concerned about user fees.

    “Our associations view is that current air traffic control works well for us,” said Baker. “We don’t see a lot of problems for us. We’re inquisitive of what we’re, (the aviation community) is trying to accomplish. There is not a lot of support from our members to change.”

    Kennedy felt very differently saying that, “When you look back to NextGen, 35 years have passed, six billion dollars have been spent, yet, Rinaldi’s folks are still using paper strips and telephones to hand-off airplanes.” He went on to say that the United States may have the largest, most safe, and complicated airspace in the world, but controllers “are still using World War II technology.”

    Bolen described both bills as “drastically different” but did elaborate that the bills are complementary; they identify the issues facing the aviation community, and offer targeted solutions. “After a lot of debate, problems have been identified, and we have an opportunity to do something that makes tomorrow much better than it is today,” he said.

    D’Alessandro described his biggest concern with ATO reform being rooted in how unique it is from the rest of the world. “It’s large, it’s complex, and the safest in the world,” he said.

    “It’s not easy to build industry consensus,” Dickson said. He described that it requires trade-offs and informed policy decisions because “the path is not linear to get to the destination.” He also warned that stakeholders should not underestimate the complexity and diversity of American NAS.

    Dillingham described the focus that should go into identifying what the problems are that the aviation community needs to solve. He believes that challenges are there that can be overcome without massive reform.

    “Change is difficult, change is hard, but it will be worse if we don’t adapt and don’t make these changes,” Kennedy said. “Which bill has an actual impact on the 2.2 million passengers that fly every day? The proposed House bill. It will put into place the changes that we have been trying to get out of NextGen for decades.”

    Rinaldi began his discussion of the issue by highlighting the number one need of the NAS: a stable, predictable funding stream.

    “People may say the system is fine because we do the best job, we run the safest, best NAS in the world,” he said. “While that’s true, what we need is new equipment and a steady stream of air traffic controller candidates coming through the system to keep it that way.”

    Due to staffing shortages, many controllers currently work mandatory six–day workweeks and 10-hour days. These staffing challenges, which make it exceedingly difficult to develop and implement new technology, Rinaldi said, may be the most obvious sign that the status quo is not as great as some of the panelists claim.

    "I don't have enough controllers to help implement NextGen,” Rinaldi said. “We're 140 CPCs down just at New York TRACON. Several of our other busy TRACONs are also short; including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Chicago. They're working six-day weeks. I have a staffing crisis. These are the people you want to test and train on new equipment, but we can't get them off the boards."

    Baker and Bolen highlighted their biggest concern about reform of the aviation system: that it would turn into a for-profit venture. Yet, Rinaldi countered, their concerns must face the facts.

    “The reality is, the towers that that they (AOPA and NBAA) primarily use are already for-profit towers that are privately funded through Congress,” Rinaldi said. “People say they don’t want to privatize our system. But we already have 252 towers out there that are private. Training at the (Oklahoma City) FAA Academy and at facilities are already done by private companies for-profit.”

    From left to right: Baker, Bolen, D'Alessandro, Dickson, Dillingham, Kennedy, and Rinaldi.

    Rinaldi went on to describe that the process to create change within the aviation system must be streamlined so long-term planning of modernization and infrastructure projects can be accomplished without the significant delays caused by funding shortages, sequestration, furloughs of controllers, and short-staffing.

    “We are falling further and further behind,” he said. “FAA leaders are squished between Congress, the White House, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Personnel Management — it’s a strangulation against moving forward. If we continue to ignore the current problems with our funding, infrastructure, and staffing, we will create even more problems.”

    Baker claimed that, “the system is working. I don’t know that we have a funding problem.”

    “It’s been very consistent,” Bolen added.

    But Rinaldi countered with a strong rebuttal: “Lets be clear and go back to what we saw in 2013. The government proposed closing 238 towers not for safety, but to save money. They went to a fix-on-fail policy for our equipment, not for safety, but to save money. They stopped stockpiling critical equipment at facilities not for safety, but to save money. If we think the government doesn’t have a bottom line, we’re fooling ourselves.”

    Rinaldi pointed out that NextGen projects like ERAM (En Route Automation Modernization) took 15 years to deploy and was billions of dollars over budget. He described that the program still isn’t perfect and there are no funds to fix it. STARS (Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System) is another example of a hindered NextGen initiative that was developed in the 1980s and is just now being implemented into facilities across the country.

    “We’ve tried to streamline processes but the current system only slows down the process,” Rinaldi said. “Something has to give. We need stable, predictable funding and reform to run a dynamic air traffic control system, not more bureaucracy.”

    Dickson pointed out that, “no one on this panel is arguing for the status quo.”

    But, with so much opposition to change, Rinaldi posed, “I wonder what’s going to give first? Our aging equipment? Our staffing? What will give first so people go ‘ah, there’s the problem,’ and actually do something about it?”

    “Short-term extensions like we’ve seen in the past are not the answer,” he continued. “Let’s be clear, the Senate bill is just another short-term extension. We need a comprehensive bill that provides substantial reform and gives us stable, predictable funding.”

    Rinaldi also made clear that he does not believe that the U.S. aviation system should necessarily be based on any other system in the world, saying, “We need to build our own system in this country that works for us. Let’s build our own best system. Tell Congress what the best system is for our country because the status quo is completely unacceptable.”

  • Steinhorn1American University Professor of Communication Leonard Steinhorn captivated the audience at NATCA in Washington with his immense knowledge of American politics and the emotional connections that dictate political beliefs. His discussion centered on questions asked by those in attendance. He addressed what Republican and Democratic voter bases want, facts versus emotions within politics, the state of the current presidential race and how it is reflected in the polls, super delegates, primaries, and the current state of America’s political parties.

    Steinhorn explained how powerful narratives shape political beliefs. Candidates today seek an emotional connection with their voter base. To do this, they must masterfully convey ideological narratives that appeal to the largest majority of that base.

    “There is a fundamental distinction between the parties,” Steinhorn said. “Both resist power. Republicans believe government holds too much power. Democrats think Wall Street and special interest groups hold too much power.”

    He described that, based on these differing interests, political narratives begin to form, blurring the line between facts and emotions. For example, he spoke about the popularity of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has made outrageous statements throughout his campaign that would have sunk other candidates’ political careers forever. Steinhorn said what makes Trump different boils down to the reinforcement of ideas, and the emotional tie voters have to their individual interpretation of one of America’s deepest-rooted ideals, the American Dream.

    “Republicans believe that if you work hard, you will succeed,” Steinhorn said. “Therefore, if you don’t succeed, you didn’t work hard. To them, if government gets involved through aid programs, it leaves a population wondering, ‘I worked hard for my money, why give my tax dollars to people who didn’t?’”

    He explained that the Democratic Party believes that there are historical and socioeconomic circumstances beyond control that dictate an individual’s level of success. Therefore, government is a necessary check on the excesses of the free market, including a ladder and safety net so no one falls too far. These two different interpretations of the American Dream often dictate the party that a voter supports.

    Steinhorn attributed Trump’s success to his “masterful” ability to weave the narrative “Make America Great Again.” The core base of Trump supporters is white, working class Americans — many of whom do not have a college education. He described how they feel America is falling behind and is no longer great because it no longer reflects what they perceive America to be. Trump is articulating a narrative to people who see themselves as the backbone of society and have seen their own status decline. Steinhorn explained they perceive they must reclaim that status from people who are rising in society.

    “A lot of emotion gets built into things when you have certain core assumptions and then rationalize them through argument and fact,” Steinhorn said. “That’s where politics come from. Trump’s outrageous comments become less important because he is reinforcing the voter’s beliefs about society.”

    When you look at the polls today, it is important to remember the Republican Party has chosen a candidate and is rallying around Trump because it views him as the best option when compared to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Steinhorn advised that current polls are not reflective of what will actually happen. He explained that Bernie Sanders winning many primaries has left his supporters feeling as if they are not receiving proper acknowledgment from the press, superdelegates, or the Democratic Party.

    “A great unifier in politics is often not your own party’s candidate, but it’s the candidate in the other party who you find far more troubling to be able to get in the White House,” Steinhorn said.


    While Steinhorn also discussed superdelegates and the roll of primaries within the American political arena, he left the audience a task: to communicate the facts and come to rational consensus between parties.

    “How do you communicate to strong emotional bonds, even if you have facts on your side?” he posed. “I don’t know the answer.”

    He explained that people assume they won’t be respected, so they become aggressive at first when debating political ideas. Part of participating in the political process is the willingness to understand your opponent because politics is such an emotional medium.

    He said, “You must show people respect if you want to get through to them and have a conversation that will enrich and not harm our democracy.”

    Leonard Steinhorn is a professor of Communication and an affiliate professor of History at American University. His expertise includes American politics, culture and media; strategic communication; the presidency; race relations; the 1960s; and recent American history. He is the author of The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy, and co-author of By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race. Steinhorn has written for the Washington Post, Salon, New York Times, Politico, Huffington Post, The Hill, The World Financial Review, and History News Network, among others, and he is the founding editor of PunditWire, where political speechwriters comment on the news. Steinhorn is currently a political analyst for CBS News on radio, and before that he served 10 years as political analyst for FOX-5 News in Washington, D.C. Steinhorn was an on-air expert in CNN’s documentary, The Sixties, and he appeared in a DVD special feature on the Sixties generation for the final season of AMC’s Mad Men. He lectures nationwide on politics and history for One Day University.

  • Prostan
    From left to right: Koleszar, Marosvari, Richards, Fournier, Clark, and Rossmango.

    Professional Standards Committee members Garth Koleszar, Andy Marosvari, and Jeff Richards presented the first Professionalism Awards this year. The winners were selected based on nominations sent to the committee.

    Dan Rossmango (ZLA) was honored from the Western Service Area, Randy Clark (MCI) from the Central Service Area, and Dave Fournier (ZME) from the Eastern Service Area.

    Each winner has displayed the qualities of a professional air traffic controller over their entire career. They lead by example and their actions continually promote professionalism within their profession and at their facility.

    Koleszar said he, Marosvari, and Richards decided that they needed to make a commitment “ to create a program that recognized the everyday professionals that surround each of us. We wanted to recognize those individuals that every single day come to work prepared and ready to uphold the trust of the people who put their lives into our hands each and every day.”

    “We wanted to recognize those individuals who, with their own performance, inspire us, motivate us, and give examples of their own professionalism to those around them," Koleszar continued. "We wanted to say thank you.”

    View the presentation.

  • Aviation2
    From left to right: Ullmann, Cabak, and Schilz.

    Jim Ullmann, Deputy Director, Safety and Technology, NATCA
    Terry Biggio, Vice President, Safety and Technical Training, FAA

    Matt Tucker, National Weather Representative, NATCA
    Bruce Landsberg, Senior Safety Advisor, AOPA
    Mike Schilz, Safety Information Analysis Program, ALPA
    Matt Cabak, Safety Focal, SUPCOM, ATO

    FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Chief Operating Officer Teri Bristol, in opening the panel, said despite the advancements and updates happening throughout the aviation community, weather has remained a constant challenge.

    “Seventy-five percent of all weather-related accidents are fatal,” she said. “We have the opportunity to make a big difference and save lives on a daily basis.”

    Ullmann and Biggio stressed how important communication between controllers and pilots is when it comes to weather. In fact, a majority of Archie League Medal of Safety Award-nominated events are related to weather.

    “Neither the pilot nor the controller have all the information and we need to work together to complete the picture for the pilots so they can make a decision based on all available information,” said Ullmann.

    Discussing what can be done to minimize weather related accidents is a priority for everyone operating within the National Airspace System (NAS). Schilz described that one issue is that weather information pilots receive before takeoff can be up to three hours old, saying, “It is important to fill the gap between what pilots have access to and what controllers have access to.”

    From left to right: Landsberg, Tucker, and Biggio.

    With a large portion of the workforce retiring in the air traffic controller and pilot communities, it is more important than ever to be aware of the range of experience on the ground and in the air.

    “We must establish an appropriate level of communication,” Landsberg said. “Asking questions can make a huge difference in preventing accidents.”

    Tucker explained how NextGen technologies could be used to help fill that gap. When dealing with weather, the most up-to-date information is power. “The goal is to have it embedded in automation,” he said.

    Air traffic controllers can assist pilots by reaching out and giving guidance. Panelists agreed that a well-placed question could make all of the difference.

    “We need to take it upon ourselves,” said Cabak. “We need to take the opportunity to peer coach. There is a wealth of knowledge at this conference that you now possess. It is incumbent upon you to share it with a new generation.”

    The panelists also discussed the importance of voluntary safety reporting in improving how weather events are handled. Collecting information and data, sharing that information, and using it for training within NATCA and the FAA will allow us to learn from weather-related experiences and prevent dangerous situations from happening again.

    Panelists also revealed a new weather awareness campaign, “Take a Stand for Safety: Weather, Complete the Picture,” created by the FAA and NATCA.

    View the panel.


  • Weidner3
    From left to right: Gilbert, Weidner, and Rinaldi.

    The Legislative Activism Award was established in 2009 by NATCA to honor NATCA’s strongest activists. In 2010, the award was appropriately renamed after Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. She has set the standard and defined what it means to be a legislative activist in this Union. Her incredible work ethic and her drive to move NATCA from good to great in the legislative arena are unparalleled.

    This year’s winner is National Legislative Committee (NLC) Chair Steve Weidner. It is common for the NLC chair to introduce NATCA’s highest legislative achievement, but because he happened to be the winner, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi stepped in.

    “He has been a mentor and role model to many on the NLC,” said Rinaldi. “Anyone who has met or served with Steve can attest to his dedication and passion.”

    “I was privileged to serve on the NLC when Trish Gilbert was the chair,” Weidner said. “I learned how to be a legislative activist by watching her and working with her. I’m honored and humbled to have my name on an award that was named for Trish."

    Weidner1Weidner began his distinguished career in the Air Force in 1987 as a tower/precision approach radar controller at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. He was hired by the FAA in March 1991 and has been assigned to Minneapolis Center (ZMP) ever since.

    He has served as an alternate area rep and was the ZMP legislative rep from 2004-2006. For the past year, he has been the national rep for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and a NATCA rep on the 7110.65 rewrite workgroups.

    He was appointed as the NLC Great Lakes rep in 2006, later taking over as NLC chair in September 2009, where he is currently serving his third term. He is also chair of NATCA’s Historical Committee.

    “Steve is admired and respected by the committees he leads and serves,” Rinaldi said. “His committee often wonders where he finds the time and energy to do all he does and yet remember the little details like birthdays and important dates.”

    Weidner is also a Tim Haines Memorial Award winner. He initiated and built both the basic and advanced legislative classes that have educated and inspired the current and next generation of activists. NATCA in Washington has flourished under his direction and leadership.

    Weidner joins the list of these distinguished past winners: Jason Arnold, Memphis Center, 2015; Toby Hauck, Chicago Center, 2014; Mitch Herrick, Miami ATCT, 2013; Betsy Beaumont, Fort Worth Center, and AnnMarie Taggio, Potomac Consolidated TRACON, 2012; Brody McCray, Washington Center (ZDC), 2011; Mark Griffin, Boise ATCT, 2010; and Linda Miller, ZDC, 2009.

    View the presentation.

  • Capital

    Where we are today-
    Staffing: Air traffic controller staffing is at a 27-year low. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has missed their hiring mark for the last seven years, dropping staffing totals nearly 10 percent. Facilities across the country are facing mandatory overtime, six-day workweeks, and fatigue.

    Stop-and-go funding made the staffing problem worse because sequestration in 2013 forced the FAA to close the Oklahoma City Academy for most of the year. The FAA must now take a holistic, collaborative approach to resolving these staffing shortage issues. Our controllers should not have to shoulder the burden of chronically understaffed facilities. Hiring, training, and placement processes must meet the needs of the mission.

    Screen Shot 2016 05 27 at 2.25.57 PM

    Stop and go funding: The FAA must be properly funded with a predictable, stable funding stream. Without it, continued uncertainty will mean the National Airspace System (NAS) falls behind on efficiency, capacity, and safety. Stop-and-go funding can result in unpaid furloughs and/or uncertainty about when or if members will be paid. It can also mean delays in modernization and in hiring and training of new controllers and other aviation safety professionals.

    NATCA is opposed to any for-profit FAA reform model, as well as any reform proposal that would maintain the status quo. All NAS stakeholders must work together to ensure the U.S. remains the world leader in aviation.

    Screen Shot 2016 05 27 at 2.24.00 PM

    FAA Reauthorization: The current FAA authorization extension (the second since last year) expires July 15, 2016. This is especially significant because Congress will also recess for the summer on that date. The House long-term FAA bill would reform the FAA by establishing not-for-profit corporation. The Senate bill, which only would last 18 months, leaves the FAA structure unchanged.

    Stable, predictable, and sustainable funding remains a top priority for NATCA in any long-term bill. While NATCA has concerns about the Senate bill not being long enough, we see it as a positive step toward ensuring predictability for the FAA. NATCA hopes the next FAA Reauthorization bill is comprehensive and addresses the stop-and go funding that has caused serious problems in recent years.

    Screen Shot 2016 05 27 at 2.24.11 PM

    Anti-Federal Employee environment: Six-year-long efforts in Congress to balance the federal budget have included cuts to federal employees’ pay and benefits. This includes the current House FY17 budget resolution that continues attacks on federal employees, the vast majority of which are meant to save money. They all result in reduced take-home pay.

    Official Time: Official time is necessary for NATCA members. It is an especially important tool now, as our nation’s air traffic control system is being modernized. Official time enables NATCA representatives to act effectively on behalf of its bargaining unit employees at the local, regional, and national levels. Without official time, many issues that could be solved in a short period of time could potentially take weeks or months to resolve and at a higher cost to the taxpayers.

    Where legislation stands today-
    Senate: As of today, the Senate has passed funding legislation, H.R. 636: Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016. It does not address the restructuring of the FAA.

    House: The House must vote on H.R. 4441: The Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, by July 15, or pass a continuing resolution that will carry over current funding as it stands today. H.R. 4441 includes language to restructure the FAA into a not-for-profit model.


    Featured Speakers: Check back in the NATCA Insider for in-depth coverage
    Keynote Address: Professor Leonard Steinhorn
    Keynote Address: Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia)
    Keynote Address: Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri-6th District)

    Workshops: Check back in the NATCA Insider for in-depth coverage

    • Q&A with NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and Trish Gilbert
    • Beyond NATCA in Washington
    • Congress 101: Structure
    • Congress 102: Process
    • Facility and state coordinator Training
    • HATCH Act
    • Practicing for the ASK
    • NATCAvist Training: First-Timers Session

    Weidner (center) accepting the Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award alongside Gilbert (left) and Rinaldi.

    Awards: Check back in the NATCA Insider for in-depth coverage
    Trish Gilbert Legislative Activism Award: National Legislative Committee Chair Steve Weidner

    Regional Legislative Award Winners:

    • NAL - Rebecca Cucciarre (A11)
    • NNM - Neil Miller (P80)
    • NWP - Mike Foote (LAX)
    • NSW - Daniel Mora (SAT)
    • NGL - Brian Vandeberg (ZMP)
    • NNE - Bryan Krampovitis (BDL)
    • NEA - Israel Bonilla (PHL)
    • NSO - Billy Kisseadoo (MIA)
    • NRX - Jason Holland (ENE)
    • NCE - Didn’t give an award this year.

    NiW Today: The 68-page briefing book for this year’s conference, with an array of other legislative information, background, contacts, and resources designed to be used all year long.

  • Paul 4

    At an extraordinary event on May 26 that celebrated the intersection of heritage, family, community service, career, and service to the Union and others, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi received the prestigious 2016 Humanitarian Award from the Sons of Italy Foundation (SIF) at its National Education & Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala in Washington, D.C. The SIF is the philanthropic arm of the Order Sons of Italy, the nation's largest and oldest organization for people of Italian heritage.

    “It’s humbling,” Rinaldi said. “The Sons of Italy have been a large part of our lives. My first communion was at the Sons of Italy hall in Oceanside (New York). It really is a tremendous honor.”

    Rinaldi received support at the event from many NATCA brothers and sisters, including Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, the rest of the National Executive Board (NEB), the 2016 Contract Team, Canadian Air Traffic Control Association President Peter Duffey, and several members of the National Office staff. Also attending were Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Organization Chief Operating Officer Teri Bristol and former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

    Before Rinaldi accepted his award and spoke, a special video introduced the audience to Rinaldi and the story of his life, family, and career. The video included tributes from Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo, and former House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jerry Costello, former NATCA Eastern Region RVP Phil Barbarello, NATCA Eastern Region RVP Dean Iacopelli, Babbitt, Gilbert, Rinaldi's wife Debra, daughter Olivia, and sons Anthony and Nicholas.

    "For NATCA's president to be recognized with such a distinguished award is a testament to his dedication to the great men and women he represents," Gilbert said. "The award also confirms the significant respect and appreciation that NATCA has garnered and the workforce deserves."

    Contract Team
    NATCA's 2016 Contract Team pictured with Rinaldi (front center left) and Gilbert (front center right).

    Award-winning actor Joe Mantegna served as the master of ceremonies and his National Memorial Day Concert co-host, award-winning actor Gary Sinise, attended and spoke. Approximately 1,000 guests attended, including many members of Rinaldi’s family. At the end of the introductory video, Olivia Rinaldi spoke with her mother and brothers next to her:

    “We love you dad, and are very proud of you for receiving this award,” she said. “Continue to do the great things that you’re doing and know that we’ll always be behind you.”

    Rinaldi is a native of Island Park, N.Y., where his father settled after emigrating in 1958 from Pontelandolfo, a small mountain town in the Campania region of Italy. His grandfather, Domenico, had previously worked for eight years in Venezuela before settling in New York and earning enough to bring the rest of his family over.

    Paul 3“We were raised as proud Americans, but because we were first generation Americans, it was with very strong roots to our ancestors’ culture from Europe,” Rinaldi said. “Because of how hard the family needed to work to get to this country and succeed, the mantra in our house was always this: Each next generation must work hard to be better than the previous.”

    The philanthropic arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the SIF has contributed $164 million to education, medical research, disaster relief, cultural preservation, and other special projects, with $61 million of it given in scholarships. NELA Gala proceeds help fund these philanthropic programs.

    Rinaldi was part of a group of very distinguished honorees, which included:

    -- Condoleezza Rice, who was honored with the 2016 SIF Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service for her distinguished career in education administration and international relations, chiefly as 66th U.S. Secretary of State - the first African American woman in that position - and for service during two presidential administrations.

    -- Nick Calio, who received the 2016 SIF Award for Excellence in Business. Calio is president and CEO of Airlines for America (A4A), the trade association for the country's leading passenger and cargo airlines, whose members and affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic.

    -- Joseph M. Mattone, Sr., and Mary Ann Pessolano Mattone, RN/MPH, who were co-recipients of the 2016 SIF National Education & Leadership Award (NELA). Joseph Mattone is chairman and CEO of The Mattone Group, a development, construction and property management company in Queens, N.Y.

    Rinaldi, in accepting his award, expressed how much he was honored and humbled. He congratulated the SIF scholarship recipients and his fellow honorees.

    “I thank the Sons of Italy Foundation for recognizing labor leaders as humanitarians,” Rinaldi said. “Labor leaders stand up for fairness, quality of work, and equal pay for everyone. We stand for elevating the working class and making the American dream become a reality. And I am living proof of that.”

    Paul 5Rinaldi noted the breaking news this week that NATCA and the FAA have reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) covering the air traffic control specialists assigned to the terminal and en route options, traffic management coordinators/specialists, air traffic controllers assigned to the flight service option, and Notice to Airmen specialists (NOTAMS). He thanked NATCA’s contract team.

    “You did an amazing job of continuing the build the path of collaboration, and ensuring the safety of our nation’s skies with no disruption whatsoever,” he said. “I can’t thank you enough.”

    He then thanked the NEB. “I'm in awe of their strength and their courage to stand up for safety and collaboration, and to build the best aviation system for this country moving forward,” he said.

    Rinaldi extended a special thank you to Gilbert for her tireless devotion to NATCA and the safety of the National Airspace System.

    “She pushes me and all NATCA members beyond our comfort zones,” he said. “But we know we’re on the road from good to great and she makes every single one of us better and we’re lucky to have her.”

    Noting the incredible safety record of the NAS, Rinaldi said he is very lucky to be the President of NATCA, telling the audience, “All I do is stand on the shoulders of giants.”

    “Our skies are the most complex, most diverse, and safest system in the world," Rinaldi said. "And really, passengers don’t even give us a second thought day in and day out as they travel throughout the system. That’s exactly how we want it. Our members are the silent guardians of the skies.

    “Commercial aviation has never been safer. The professionals I represent have to be perfect 100 percent of the time to honor our commitment and our public oath to aviation stakeholders and the flying public, every minute of every hour of every day. I am so proud to be the president of these professionals."

    Rinaldi talked about the great work of the NATCA Charitable Foundation in helping so many in need across the country, with efforts such as adopting families during holiday time and providing gifts, food, and clothing; helping children in the inner cities with school supplies; providing resources for local food banks and feeding those who are hungry, and providing assistance to military veterans programs.

    “These are just a few things that the NATCA Charitable Foundation does and we do it with a very low overhead cost; 95 cents of every dollar donated goes to the charity’s efforts,” Rinaldi said. “It’s a team of volunteers.”

    In addition, Rinaldi noted, NATCA has a disaster relief fund to help those around the world in the aftermath of devastation. Recently, he said, NATCA used the fund to send aid to our brothers and sisters in the Alberta Province of Canada affected by devastating wildfires.

    “NATCA is a union but more importantly, we are a family,” Rinaldi said, “and I am the luckiest man in the world to stand with these giants.”

    For more information about the NELA Gala and this year’s award winners.

    A press release about the event, from the Order Sons of Italy in America.

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