Insider Green

Five Questions With …

Steve Hansen, NATCA National Safety Committee Chairman


Q: What was the inspiration for starting this new initiative?

Hansen: The inspiration comes from the years of negative perceptions surrounding training and NATCA's desire to change that perception within our membership. Training is the lifeblood of the air traffic control profession and it is our belief that we need to take a leadership role in changing how we think about training and the importance of it.

Q: How can our members change the perception of training?

Hansen: It is really about our membership leading this effort in their facilities. Ensuring that we meet our facility level goals for the national training initiative and also understanding the importance of, and actively participating in our continued education opportunities like recurrent training and monthly SAFE Discussions. It isn’t enough to say it, we have to actively engage and promote ongoing training throughout our careers. It takes all of us, not just the FacRep.

Q: You worked with risk management expert and CFS veteran speaker Gordon Graham on developing many of the themes and products to help launch this initiative. What was the experience like working with him on this and what messages from him stood out to you as particularly valuable for use with our members? 

Hansen: It was really a neat experience to work closely with Gordon Graham earlier this year in preparation for CFS and the Every Day is a Training Day effort. His work with police and fire departments around the world really gives him a unique perspective when it comes to the importance of training. The one thing that really stood out to me was that most if not all of the overarching messages related to training and risk management can be applied to air traffic control; the common denominator between the professions is that they are all high risk occupations. Gordon’s quote “Excellence has got to be the norm, not the deviation” really captures this, and is very relevant in the air traffic profession and the larger aviation industry.

Q: Is it true that the negative perception of training still exists based on previous FAA administrations’ use of training in a punitive manner? Will this new initiative put that perception to rest once and for all?

Hansen: There is definitely still a negative perception of training due to how training has been used in the past. Working with the FAA we have definitely made a lot of progress to move past that and utilize training for its intended purpose. It is certainly our hope that we can put this negative perception to rest; however, we also realize that we may never get rid of it totally. That doesn’t mean that we won’t keep working with the FAA to move forward and ensure that we develop and deploy the best training available to our membership.

Q: What is most important for our members to know as we move forward and raise the awareness and implementation of Every Day is a Training Day?

Hansen: From the very first moment we arrive at our first facility, training is what we do. Qualification training is crucial to bringing our staffing levels back to where they need to be in order to maintain the safest most efficient air traffic control system in the world. But it goes beyond qualification training; just as important is continued education throughout your career. Continued education through recurrent training, refresher training, monthly Partnership for Safety SAFE Discussions, to name a few, is how we learn from developing safety trends, implement new technologies, and develop new skills.