ALPA President Stresses the Value of Continuous Learning at NATCA Safety Conference

Photo by Jay Tilles

ALPA president Capt. Joe DePete and several members of ALPA’s Air Safety Organization (ASO) participated in the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) “Communicating for Safety” 2019 conference held in Las Vegas, Nev., this week. DePete gave yesterday’s keynote address to more than 1,500 air traffic controllers. He stressed the importance of continuous training and the value of learning from daily experiences.

“We learn everywhere,” DePete observed, adding, “We treat every situation as an opportunity for knowledge transfer. While we gain valuable information in formal classrooms, we also regard the flight deck as a classroom. And we do more to understand how we can improve safety and efficiency through flight debriefs, crew room conversations, and online resources.”

The ALPA president talked about the enormous benefit aviation draws from airline pilot and air traffic controller participation in nonpunitive safety reporting systems. He also acknowledged the new pilot-qualification standards determined by what was learned from Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash in 2009.

“NATCA—and each of you—are our partners in this process of training for life,” said DePete. “Few of our passengers or cargo shippers recognize the level of qualification, intense training, and constant evaluation that we commit to as pilots and air traffic controllers.”

DePete concluded his remarks by thanking the many NATCA members in attendance for “never, ever being satisfied with what you know, for always learning more—in classrooms, radar rooms, and tower cabs.”

Several other ALPA Air Safety Organization representatives served as panelists at the conference. Capt. Frank Cheeseman (UAL), Human Factors and Training Group chair, was a panelist in the discussion “Every Day Is a Training Day.” Air Traffic Services Group chair Capt. Don Dobias (UAL) participated in a discussion titled “Pilot/Controller Communications.” Aviation Safety chair Capt. Steve Jangelis (DAL) joined a panel titled “Surface Safety: Don’t Let that Airport Mislead You,” and he acted as one of three judges for this year’s NATCA Archie League Medal of Safety Awards.

The three-day event concludes this evening with an awards banquet.   

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