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NATCA Director of Terminal Technology and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Representative Chris Stephenson - (10/5/2012)


NATCA Terminal Technology Director Chris Stephenson (center) speaks during his panel. At left is Colonel Juan Narvid, Department of Defense, and at right is Gretchen West of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.


NATCA Director of Terminal Technology and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Representative Chris Stephenson represented NATCA on the ATCA panel, “UAS in Today’s Airspace and What to Expect by 2015.” Alongside Chris were representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Defense (DOD) and the FAA.

The panelists discussed the current accommodations of the NAS for UAS, what further adjustments must be made to satisfy the Congressional mandate of civil UAS integration by 2015, how UAS are flying today, the challenges to achieving the 2015 mandate, and the privacy and the benefits of UAS to the nation.

Stephenson said that while NATCA started as a labor organization, it has also evolved into a safety organization. He said that when there is any change to the NAS, NATCA wants to know two things: is there any negative impact on the controllers’ ability to work? And, is it safe? Stephenson said NATCA is also interested in the licensing of UAS, as a UAS license can be acquired much easier than a license for typical aircraft and NATCA wants to make sure that the right people and certified people are flying these aircraft.

“The most important part for NATCA is controller involvement early on in any technology or procedural changes,” said Stephenson. “If you don’t take away anything else I say today, take away this: we want controller involvement at the local level, the regional level, at the national level, and as early as possible.”


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