NATCA Takes Part in 2011 RTCA Symposium
Friday, June 17, 2011
This week, RTCA's 2011 Annual Symposium took place in Washington, D.C., in which NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and EVP Trish Gilbert participated alongside numerous leaders of the aviation industry. The year's overall theme: "Accelerating NextGen through Public-Private Partnership.”
During Wednesday's sessions, topics covered included: NextGen Implementation, Business Case for NextGen, Global Harmonization, and The Path Forward for NextGen. Implementation issues centered around collaboration, partnerships, and agreements with stakeholders as being keys to successful projects. NATCA’s Enroute Technology Coordinator Mark O’Neil, in attendance at the day's event, noted an overall tone of skepticism from NAS user groups concerning NextGen's future. Several issues drove this overlying theme, including budgetary issues facing the FAA, the lack of a solid short-term business case, doubts regarding the agency's ability to deliver significant NAS upgrades, and the contrasting agendas of stakeholders.
NATCA President Paul Rinaldi was a featured panelist in the symposium's first session,“The NextGen Advisory Committee-The Path Forward,” alongside four other industry participants. As a member of the NAC, Paul works with industry leaders and other stakeholders to reach consensus on NextGen-related issues. In his comments, Paul stressed the recent improvement in the collaborative environment between NATCA and FAA management. He also emphasized the importance of bringing end-user expertise to modernization projects at the early stages of development.
It was Thursday morning that NATCA EVP Trish Gilbert joined the discussion, as she took part in The Challenger Session. This specific panel featured a discussion among the seven participants which focused on the existing challenges to implementing NextGen, as well as ideas for mitigating these particular challenges.
As FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt noted during his symposium speech, the agency is working hard in its continued efforts to collaborate with NATCA and those in the field -- something that he admits was not adequately done at the outset of this effort. "We’re listening to the controllers and fixing the issues they have. And we expect to have initial operational capability at more centers this fall."
The union's participation in the NextGen initiative has grown since the program's start back in the "white book" years. NATCA's participation began with its membership in RTCA, as the union family turned to industry and found its input welcomed by the RTCA members and working groups. "NATCA was very active on RTCA Task Force 5, and many of our recommendations dealing with controller issues were accepted," explains NATCA Safety and Technology Director Dale Wright of the collaboration process.
"It is imperative that NATCA continue our work with RTCA to ensure industry has the controller perspective when dealing with issues that affect the national air traffic control system."
Click here to read Babbitt's symposium speech.
Click here to visit the RTCA 2011 Web site.