Phoenix Tower NATCA Local Meets with Pilot Group
Thursday, March 21, 2013
After watching the collaboratively produced ALPA video, Collaborating for Safety, at CFS earlier this month, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Mesa Air Group (MAG) wanted to meet with air traffic controllers. They reached out to Phoenix Tower NATCA Facility Representative Jerry Johnston to set up a meeting while they were in town for their spring Master Executive Council (MEC) meeting.
The pilot group and Johnston met on Tuesday, March 12, and talked about issues affecting pilots flying in and out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). They also discussed issues occurring throughout the National Airspace System (NAS), including the clearances and procedures from air traffic control, the automated terminal information system, runway lights and the effects sequestration may have on air travel in Arizona and the nation.
Johnston has given facility tours to pilots in the past, but hasn’t sat down with a group to discuss air traffic. Johnston said the experience was beneficial for everyone, and he highly recommends that every NATCA local meet with local pilot groups. Johnston said the MAG pilots had many questions about air traffic, and talking with Johnston completed the picture for them about what happens on the other side of the frequency; just as for controllers, the picture about what goes on in the cockpit during a flight can be completed when they sit in the jumpseat.
“I think any chance we get to talk to the pilots and explain to them a little bit more about air traffic is great,” says Johnston. “It helps them understand what we’re doing on our side and what our requirements are. For example sometimes it might seem like a controller is badgering the pilot for a readback, but controllers must have that readback.”
“By meeting, we were able to talk about those issues, develop an understanding of the ATC system, and put a face to the voice on the other end of the radio,” says First Officer Marcin Kolodziejczyk, MAG MEC chairman. “As a result, we are actively seeking opportunities to team up and look forward to furthering our rapport with NATCA in all of our domiciles.”