NATCA Lauds FAA Collaboration

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The president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association says the union is collaborating with the FAA on the implementation of new technology and the entire industry will benefit. In a speech to the Air Traffic Control Association meeting in Washington, D.C., earlier this week, Paul Rinaldi said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has involved controllers in the planning process for NextGen and it will result in a better system. "We want to be part of something we can be proud of and serve our country in a critical safety function that is so inherently governmental," Rinaldi told the conference. He said the process began with agreement on a new contract for controllers a year ago that all but eliminated the adversarial atmosphere that dominated the recent history of relations between the agency and the controllers. The progress made between the agency and the union was highlighted by the choice for Air Traffic Control Specialist of the Year, Steve Hansen.

Hansen spearheaded the union's role in enhancing safety through the Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP). The program encourages controllers to report safety issues so that measures can be taken to address them. "We have seen a steady shift of the FAA away from the failed punitive blame culture of the last administration to one of a just safety culture that values and encourages collaboration. Steve is a big part of that," Rinaldi said. Hansen began his controller career in the military and joined the FAA in 2005 in Fairbanks. He has 20 years of experience.