ALPA Front and Center at NATCA Safety Conference

Earlier this week, ALPA president Capt. Lee Moak delivered a keynote address at this year’s NATCA “Communicating for Safety” conference. Held in downtown Atlanta Monday through Wednesday, the conference examined air traffic control issues and ways to improve the safety and efficiency of the U.S. national airspace system.

“This nation’s air traffic controllers move more than 50,000 flights each day and more than 770 million passengers each year,” said Moak, during a keynote speech on Wednesday morning. “As dedicated professionals, the more than 15,000 members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association have made an enormous contribution to our industry’s remarkable safety record.”

In addition, a number of ALPA pilot reps from ALPA’s Air Safety Organization and several MECs attended this year’s conference, including Capt. Chuck Hogeman (UAL), ALPA’s Aviation Safety chair, who was part of a panel discussion about aircraft automation. Capt. Mike Schilz (DAL), the Association’s director of Safety Information and Analysis programs, talked about unstable approaches and what’s required when a flight crew receives a last-minute runway change.

F/O Marc Henegar (ALA), ALPA’s Air Traffic Services Group chair and a former air traffic controller, participated in a panel discussion about area navigation (RNAV) and the need for standardized phraseology. Also, Capt. Andy Brand (ATN) co-moderated a series of discussions on pilot/controller communications.

Much of the conference focused on the controllers’ volunteer reporting system, called ATSAP, and the recent partnership between NATCA and the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. “We get a better product when we collaborate,” said Paul Rinaldi, NATCA president.

Nearly 1,000 controllers attended the conference along with government and other air transportation stakeholders. In addition to senior NATCA officials, other notable speakers included Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

For more coverage of this important event, look for a story in the March 2012 issue of Air Line Pilot.