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MONDAY, May 17, 2021

The Virtual ATCA Tech Symposium is Back!
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

Day one of the 2021 ATCA Technical Symposium kicked off an exciting week of programming, networking, and exhibition focused on aviation and air traffic management (ATM) technology. This year's Tech Symposium includes 17.5 hours of programming, 5 hours of live exhibits with over 25 sponsor-exhibitors, and 7+ hours of networking. Keep reading for a recap of Monday’s opening remarks and fireside chat with FAA Deputy Administrator A. Bradley Mims. Dumont opened the 2021 Tech Symposium with an overview of what this week has in store for participants. The event’s programming brings together government and industry to discuss the pillars of the future NAS and critical issues to stakeholders – like infrastructure, the operational environment, and the digital transformation of the NAS. He also talked about how technology is no longer our biggest challenge – it’s the workforce. “As the FAA and the aerospace industry venture down the paths of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and machine learning, the skill sets of the workforce they hire or retrain will, of course, change,” said Dumont. READ MORE HERE!

TuesDAY, MAY 18, 2021

Leveraging Digital Engineering and Extended Reality
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

The second day of the ATCA Technical Symposium explored new technological opportunities to improve air traffic management (ATM) and NAS safety, like digital engineering, extended reality (XR), and artificial intelligence (AI). Keep reading for coverage of Tuesday’s two Tech Talk presentations. The first Tech Talk of the Symposium explored how the FAA can leverage digital engineering and transdisciplinary thinking to accelerate the adoption of new technologies. Orellana said that we are on the cusp of the deployment stage of the information age. The airspace is more dynamic, and we are challenged to integrate new business models in the NAS. It’s not just commercial space and UAVs that are creating complexity. Traditional airplanes now carry vast amounts of data at the edge. Orellana explained that in order to adopt these new technologies, we need to update how we assess and analyze these technologies for adoption. “We can't just look at technologies to help us transform. We need to relook at policies that will allow the transformation to happen,” he said. Rethinking operations will allow us to blend the new realities of the NAS. But how? READ MORE HERE!

WednesDAY, MAY 19, 2021

Integrating Launch and Reentry Missions into the NAS
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

ATCA Technical Symposium’s third day of programming covered how the commercial space expansion, sustainability advancements, and new vehicles’ diverse data needs are impacting the national airspace system (NAS). Keep reading for coverage of Wednesday morning’s session on integrating launch and reentry into the NAS. Wednesday’s programming began with a one-on-one conversation between Guy and Freer about the changes, challenges, and opportunities that come with an increasing number of space vehicle launches. The FAA space operations team finds innovative solutions to integrate launch and reentry missions to support the NAS. Freer, ATO space operations manager, discussed his work in this quickly growing segment of airspace users. In the past six months, while air traffic was at an all-time low, launch cadence was rapidly accelerating. Between December 1 -19, 2020, seven launches occurred. Freer expects 70 launch and reentry operations this year. “It’s putting pressure on the system, in a good way,” he said. READ MORE HERE!

ThursDAY, MAY 20, 2021

Unmanned Vehicles and Sustainable Aviation - Shaking up NAS Operations
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

Thursday’s ATCA Technical Symposium programming included two keynote sessions, one on aviation’s role in meeting climate initiatives and a second on how drones and unmanned vehicles are shaking up NAS operations. Andrew Wishnia delivered the first Keynote address of the Tech Symposium. He serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for transportation policy in the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Wishnia previously served at the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Federal Highway Administration as special assistant for policy to the Federal Highway Administrator. He has also been a senior program manager at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In his role today, he coordinates climate policy for the department, including tackling climate change, pursuing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, developing sustainable aviation fuels, and supporting efficient air traffic operations. READ MORE HERE!

FriDAY, MAY 21, 2021

So, What's the Buzz?
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

The 2021 ATCA Technical Symposium has officially ended. Thank you to everyone who joined us this year: attendees, speakers, and sponsor-exhibitors! The closing Buzz Session was facilitated by ATCA’s Abigail Glenn-Chase. She brought up this week’s most talked-about topics and asked for closing thoughts from ATCA’s Peter F. Dumont, the William J. Hughes Technical Center’s Jaime Figueroa, and NASA’s Barry Sullivan. Below are excerpts of their closing thoughts on the topics of sustainability; security; the workforce; and artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and extended reality (XR). 
Glenn-Chase: We heard about the national goal of net-zero emission by 2050 and the part aviation is already doing in reducing CO2 emissions and developing sustainable fuels. What did you take away from the sustainability conversations this week?
Sullivan: We’re researching future subsonic transports, trying to make them more efficient and reduce drag. Redesigning airplanes for the future should go a long way in reducing environmental impact. NASA’s Robert Pierce talked about the bump in our 2022-2023 budget for sustainability, so that's only going to increase the amount of work we're doing within the agency to help the environment. Also, I see the AAM/UAM revolution playing a role in reducing the future footprint since the vehicles will be primarily battery-operated.
Figueroa: Climate impact mitigation and climate resiliency is a national priority. It’s going to occupy our attention for the foreseeable future. 2050 sounds far away, but more needs to be done today to meet that goal. The substantial investments we’ve already made in new aircraft technologies will make them quieter, cleaner, and more efficient. READ MORE HERE!

Check out our past Daily Recaps from ATCA Tech Symposium 2020:

Monday, September 14, 2020

Kicking Off the First Fully Virtual ATCA Tech Symposium!
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

The ATCA Technical Symposium is a chance to unveil research and technology advancing American aviation. This year’s Tech Symposium is a fully virtual event organized with co-chairs, the FAA and NASA. Over 45 speakers from aviation technology are joining together this week to participate in over 13 hours of virtual programming covering topics such as: leveraging current technologies to enable future airspace capabilities, smart airports, the time-division multiplexing to internet protocol (TDM-to-IP) conversion, emerging aircraft operations, and how to ensure safety through technology in an ever-evolving aerospace system. The live Interactive Exhibit Hall and over 20 hours of networking opportunities, including a Women in Aviation Tech Networking Reception, cap off this exciting event. Read below to learn a bit more about what this week has in store and look out for a new Daily Digest in Headline News every day!

Tech Center Week
Tech Center Tuesday Boarding Pass

The Tech Symposium is usually held in Atlantic City, N.J., and co-located at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center where the popular Tech Center Tuesday portion of the Symposium is held. This year's virtual experience allows participants to use an electronic boarding pass to navigate through online exhibits containing videos, virtual lab tours, and technical content. The exhibits highlight the many projects and activities underway to support the sustainment and modernization of the National Aerospace System. Join in all week for this virtual experience into the nation's premier laboratory facility for research, engineering, development, testing, and evaluation of advanced aviation technologies. LEARN MORE

Interactive Exhibit Hall
The Tech Symposium offers an Interactive Exhibit Hall, similar to an in-person exhibit hall but without all the walking! Attendees can view exhibitor products, services, demos, videos, and contact info. During the "Live Interactive Exhibit Hall" scheduled on the agenda, attendees can chat live with exhibitors to get their questions answered right away, ask for more information, or just pop in to say hello! Exhibitors are ready to connect and build the next great partnership in ATM. The Interactive Exhibit Hall is available during the week of the Tech Symposium and for 3 months after the event. LEARN MORE

Networking Pavilion

The Networking Pavilion is a fun, user-friendly, virtual networking space provided by Remo! This is where the Opening Day Networking Reception with Exhibitors and the Women in Aviation Tech Networking Reception will take place. The Networking Pavilion is also open for multiple hours a day to allow any attendees to enter and mingle outside of designated networking receptions. Just like you would run into someone in the Tech Center lobby or the hallway, you never know whom you may run into in the Networking Pavilion!


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Advancing Aviation Into the Next Decade and Beyond
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

We hope you enjoyed day one of the Tech Symposium and are mid-way through day two's events. Monday's Symposium programming kicked off the week with informative opening remarks and briefings from ATCA, the FAA, and NASA, an enlightening Virtual Fireside Chat with FAA Deputy Administrator Daniel K. Elwell, and a thought-provoking session about laying the groundwork to enable future technology in air traffic management (ATM) services. Keep reading for a few highlights of Monday's programming.

Opening Remarks and FAA/NASA Facility Briefings
Abigail Glenn-Chase, ATCA's director of programming and communications, opened the day with a welcome and explained that this year's virtual format provides the opportunity for some changes to the usual format. Instead of the typical opening remarks, attendees are getting a tour de force of aviation tech, starting with ATCA's President and CEO Peter F. Dumont. He shared that ATCA has seen its fair share of success and adversity since its start in 1956. ATCA has been involved in helping develop new procedures, introducing technology, facilitating conversations with partner organizations, and amplifying member voices, as the ATM community works to tackle the challenge of the times. Dumont stated that this event is doing just that, as the industry looks towards the future of emerging technologies and new users, while also working through the present pandemic that hit the industry like nothing before. That's why this year's Tech Symposium theme is "Advancing Aviation Into the Next Decade and Beyond."

The Acting Assistant Administrator for NextGen, Pamela Whitley, introduced the FAA's offerings for this week. This includes Tech Center Week and the opportunity to see the work being done with NetGen throughout this week's programming with a focus on how NextGen matures into operationalization and a vision for 2035 is developed. Shelley Yak, director of the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center, invited attendees to virtually tour the Tech Center, "a one-stop-shop, consisting of state-of-the-art laboratories, cutting-edge testing and purely scientific and engineering talent." Tech Center Tours are available on-demand all week. Viewers also enjoyed a virtual tour of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and an overview of the FAA Academy. Lastly, Akbar Sultan, AOSP director, NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD), provided insight on NASA's capabilities and technologies and the four research centers focused on aeronautics and aviation who are preparing for the evolution of the airspace by 2035 and 2045.

Virtual Fireside Chat
Virtual Fireside Chat at the ATCA Tech Symposium
ATCA President and CEO Peter F. Dumont was joined by Daniel K. Elwell, FAA deputy administrator, for a fireside chat covering Elwell's work on International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART), aviation recovery, COVID challenges, new entrants, and much more. Elwell shared that the CART "hoped at this time to be transitioning from a restart of international traffic to recovery." The current phase of the Runway to Recovery is focused on using data to guide the next phase and set of recommendations. The CART is analyzing different ways to keep the public healthy, while not completely shutting down global traffic. Meanwhile, the pandemic hasn't slowed the rate in which new technology and new entrants are impacting the NAS. Elwell shared that Remote ID integration is underway at the FAA, and that narrowing the window for commercial space launches has also been progressing. He did note that many of the same challenges in keeping air traffic controllers healthy that were seen at the beginning of the pandemic still exist. One-third of controllers are on reserve at any time, and the FAA is working closely with NATCA to ensure that ATC operations can shift to avoid taking any ATC Zero statuses. "I'm just overwhelmed with pride for how NATCA stepped up, our controllers stepped up, our managers stepped up, and folks have been working as I've never seen [before]."

Laying the Groundwork to Enable Future Technology
A Tech Talk by Jim Eck, vice president of strategy and business development for the mission network sector at L3Harris, started off the afternoon session. Eck talked about the two pillars of aviation that are crucial for the future: innovation and safety. He explained that these two pillars are the foundation of ATCA's Blue Skies Initiative (BSI), an "industry, government collaborative effort that will deliver a future-ready framework for modernizing the U.S. NAS [with] a short-, mid-, and long-term vision for aviation while ensuring optimization of resources for all ATM stakeholders [that is] economically sustainable, scalable, and educates the aviation community." The BSI committee developed 5 pillars from these two foundational pillars: operations, future capability, business & economy, workforce, and a dynamic NAS. He ended saying, "[an] innovation particle is dropped into the lake of aviation, it'll create waves of ripple effects far beyond the point of entry, that must be understood, and consequently, these effects will be measured within the context of the five strategic pillars being defined by the BSI."

The following panel discussion brought together key players in all areas of the industry. Panel moderator, Carl Burleson, was joined by Steve Bradford, FAA; Andy Cebula, A4A; Amanda Richardson, NATCA; Rowayne Schatz, DoD; and Akbar Sultan, NASA. The panel discussed the challenges and opportunities anticipated in each of their respective areas of the industry when game-changing technology like – AI and unmanned or autonomous aircraft – changes the way the airspace is operated. Bradford provided a regulatory and policy perspective, Cebula and Richardson provided the passenger travel perspective and impacts on those working behind the scenes at airports, and Schatz and Sultan talked about the testing already being done on ML, AI, and UAS in the U.S. Military and at NASA. They described their challenges so far, but also the many ways they see new technology changing the way the NAS operates as we know it.


Wednesday September 16, 2020

Leveraging New Technologies in Aviation
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

I hope you were able to join us for day two of the ATCA Tech Symposium! Tuesday was focused on leveraging new technologies and preparing for the evolving airspace. Keep reading to learn about advancements in urban air mobility, the uses of self-monitoring and reporting technology (SMART) in airports, and the challenges of running time-division multiplexing (TDM)-based networks in a world of Internet Protocol (IP). And don't miss today's sessions:
The X-57 Maxwell and Electric Propulsion Tech Talk with Vince Schultz, NASA Langley
Evolving NAS Services for Emerging Aircraft Operations

Advanced and Urban Air Mobility (AAM/UAM) Tech Talk with Biruk Abraham
AAM/UAM Tech Talk at the ATCA Tech Symposium

Biruk Abraham, the manager for the Advanced Concepts branch within the FAA’s NextGen organization, talked about the future of urban air mobility as a way to open up a new aviation market to urban areas that are still underserved by aviation. Urban areas rely so heavily on ground transportation and it leads to congestion. Aviation can introduce a new way of traveling that can solve that problem, and this solution isn’t as far in the future as it may sound. Abraham said that “unless we think forward and we are proactive in our approach to these ideas, to these solutions, that will be needed to incorporate these urban air mobility operations and other new entrants, we will significantly limit our ability to leverage the National Airspace System (NAS) as an asset. Unless we're able to adapt to our changing world and environment, the U.S. will be left behind.” Abraham highlighted the work the FAA has been doing to realize the future of urban air mobility. An initial concept of operation for the initial state of urban air mobility has been developed. “It’s going to be an incremental process,” said Abraham, such as testing first with pilots on board and in urban areas with a lower density of operations. The FAA has the responsibility to set the regulatory framework and maintain oversight of operations to maintain the safety and integrity of the NAS. Current rules, technologies, processes, and procedures are designed to support traditional air traffic operations. Abraham said it's time to “look beyond what we know for air traffic management.”

Self-Monitoring and Reporting Technology (SMART): Intelligent Airports and the Technology That Enables Them
SMART Airport Panel at the ATCA Tech Symposium

Lauren Moore, president of the Atlantic County Economic Alliance, began this session by introducing the South Jersey Aviation Innovation Hub. This area in and around Atlantic City, New Jersey was already home to the Atlantic City International Airport and the William J. Hughes Technical Center, and now contains the National Aviation Research & Technology Park (NARTP), an FAA-provided tech research and development space on 58 acres of land. This is a key testing center for SMART airport capabilities. What is a SMART airport? The panel discussion led by the FAA's Mike Paglione defined this as an airport that has "integrated data processing/machine learning, communication, and sensor/control technologies into its infrastructure." The panel included Shipcom Wireless's Shahrzad Ahmad, NASA's Shawn Engelland, Airports Council International-North America's Chris Oswald, Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation's Manuela Sauer, and FAA's Jonathan Torres. This group of government and industry panelists explained numerous SMART airport applications, such as the use of sensors to more quickly alert of escalator maintenance issues or cracks in the runway, and the benefits of implementing SMART technology felt by the airport operators, vendors, passengers, and many others. While adding SMART elements into airports to create a better customer experience and improve airport safety and operation might seem like a "no-brainer," there are still structural and operational hurdles each airport will have to overcome before the fully SMART airport can be realized.

Working TDM in an IP World
Indrajit Ghosh, chief executive officer of ConnX, began the session with a Tech Talk explaining the driving forces behind the retirement of TDM. These include the FCC's push to retire TDM by 2024; the fact that the hardware is no longer being manufactured, and training to repair that hardware is no longer taking place; and also that the economics have shifted in favor of switching to IP rather than running a legacy network. The panel discussion that followed dove deeper into the benefits of switching the FAA to IP. Panel moderator Charles Burand, FAA, posed the questions to the panelists: Mark Graham, Capital Group; Joe Knecht, FAA; Lionel Merrien, Thales; Steve Pitchon, ConnX; and Kymber Weese, MITRE. Pitchon talked about the numerous cost-saving measures of centralization with IP, such as occupying less space, needing less staff, and powering fewer systems. Weese talked about the resilience and reliability that comes with migrating to IP. The ability to have self-healing networks where control can swing from one area to another in almost an instant is possible with IP, among multiple other benefits.

There are concerns, of course, such as the coordination required amongst FAA programs to make the switch, implementation challenges in areas with mountain and desert terrain, and doing this all a diverse and complex system that is the NAS. Working with all the international players operating in the NAS adds an additional challenge because not all countries or air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have the same priorities and resources. But like it or not, this transition is coming, and according to Ghosh, "It's an opportunity to transform the entire workflow and the way we conducted business."

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Emerging Aircraft Operations in the NAS
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

Day four of the Tech Symposium is underway! Today, you can expect to see hear from folks at the FAA, NASA, NTSB, Uber Elevate, NATCA, Flight Safety Foundation, FedEx, and the EUROCAE Joint Committee on AI in Aviation. A lot of exciting presentations and insights are still to come this week. If you missed yesterday's programming, or just want a quick refresher, below is a summary of the day's sessions which explored new aircraft operations in the National Airspace System (NAS) and the challenges developing and adapting NAS services to meet the changing needs. Also, I hope you will join us for today's programming!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Safety Talk with NTSB Member Jennifer Homendy
Safety in an Ever-Evolving Aerospace System
ATCA Women in Aviation Technology Networking Reception

The X-57 Maxwell and Electric Propulsion Tech Talk with Vince Schultz
Electric Propulsion Tech Talk at the ATCA Tech Symposiums

Vince Schultz, Deputy Project Manager for NASA's X-57 Maxwell project at the NASA Langley Research Center, stared off Wednesday's programming with a Tech Talk on the X-57 Maxwell project. He covered the goals, where it's headed, and how it is leading us into the new age of electric aircraft. For those not already familiar with the X-57, Schultz explained that it is "NASA's flight demonstrator for distributed electric propulsion (DEP) technology." The goals of the project are to show that there is five times less energy consumption at a high cruise speed compared to baseline aircraft, and that DEP is airworthy and could "provide an end-to-end, airframe-propulsion integrated benefit that was well matched." The data collected during this project will be published in a public space and can be directly applied in future designs. As we enter a "truly new electric propulsion age," Schultz said future designers will be able to build upon the lessons NASA learned along the way. Where will we get the first glimpse of electric propulsion in action? The first opportunity exists with regional/rural airports and airways. Schultz explained that this is because they offer a lower-risk transition path: the ability to use existing infrastructure in an area with less traffic. "This is an opportunity for smaller airfields to get a bigger piece of the action, said Schultz." However, while electric propulsion aircraft fly the same way as other aircraft, the management and maintenance are different, so extensive training will need to be provided. Schultz believes electric propulsion aircraft will only open up new routes and city pairings, increasing travel flexibility like never before. “The future is here!”

Evolving NAS Services for Emerging Aircraft Operations
Evolving NAS Services panel at the ATCA Tech Symposium

This panel discussion brought diverse perspectives from all "corners" of the airspace. Panel moderator, FAA's Diana Liang, was joined by Gene Dolgin, ClimaCell; Parimal Kopardekar, NASA; Earl Lawrence, FAA; and Dr. Chip Meserole, Boeing, for a conversation about the various issues and technical capabilities that will need to be addressed before AAM services become a common form of transportation. Lawrence talked about how the FAA is taking a "crawl, walk, run approach" to testing UAS, and safely introducing them before growing operations. Kopardekar echoed this and went on to explain NASA's evolution of airspace operations and safety broken down into epochs of 10-year spans, and demonstrated where UAS, AI, and machine learning (ML) fall into the projection. Meserole explained how the industry is planning for the future with three basic tenets: predictability, agility, and robustness. "We want to have a system that operates in a combined way as we evolve technology for UTM, involve technology in traditional ATM, and bring them together in the future," said Meserole. Dolgin's company ClimaCell is making waves in weather forecasting, which is expected to be critical when operating in urban areas in the near future. Their cloud-native proprietary models can provide data solutions on a specific location, even 3D airspace, and it can be done minutes before a flight. This technology exists, but it's going to take time and coordination before it can be widely used in the airspace and incorporated throughout government and industry. The FAA and NASA will have to work with the industry's manufacturers and tech innovators to take advantage of the tools already out there and develop tools to fill in the gaps. “It comes back to collaboration. As the system gets more complicated, the need for us to be talking to each other increases,” said Lawrence.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Safety First and Foremost
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

As we know, safety is the number one priority in aviation. It is the cornerstone of today's ATM operations and the guide for technological advancement and integration in the future. Thursday's Tech Symposium programming focused on aviation's core tenet with an NSTB Safety Talk and a panel discussion titled "Safety in an Ever-Evolving Aerospace System." Read below for a summary of these sessions and make sure to join us for these events today!
ATCA Technical Symposium Recap and Look Forward Roundtable
Last Chance to Connect in the Networking Pavilion
ATCA presents Aviation Cybersecurity Preview Workshop: "Cyber Hygiene in a Time of Pandemic" - Earn 2 CPE credits!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Safety Talk with NTSB Member Jennifer Homendy
NTSB Safety Talk at the ATCA Tech Symposium

Jennifer Homendy, 44th member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB), delivered a safety talk about the evolving systems in aviation, railway, and roadway transportation, and how new technologies can solve decades-old safety issues. The NTSB's mission is "to investigate transportation accidents and issue safety recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future." Their investigations identify weak points which, if acted upon, will increase safety for all. They also involve looking at new technologies and ways to utilize the technology to enhance safety. But Homendy reminded listeners that technology has limitations and risks that "require close evaluation, development of solutions, and continual re-evaluation of the effectiveness of those solutions, all through the lens of safety." She talked about the workforce as one of the most important components of the transportation system. Operators must know the limits of the technology and what to do if an unplanned event occurs. Homendy gave a few examples in aviation to illustrate that automated systems in airplanes are extremely reliable, but can cause flight crews to become complacent and be unprepared to take over if the system functions unexpectedly. It is crucial that pilots monitor the systems and can operate without those systems if needed. 

There is a great need for automation in railway transportation, or what the NTSB calls "positive train control" (PTC). Trains rely on paper and radio communications which have led to numerous accidents that could have been avoided with an automated system. The deadline for trains to include PTC is coming up in a few months and Homendy is hopeful that this is just the beginning of safety changes in rail, but again emphasized that operators need to know how to take over if PTC fails. Homendy shared that in 2018, 36,560 people died on the nation's roadways. The NTSB has been recommending safety technology in vehicles for decades, and we are finally seeing it as a standard in new cars today: electronic stability control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, etc. Autopilot features in vehicles today are only partially autonomous, and accidents occur when drivers treat the system as fully autonomous. Homendy concluded, "the knowledge and lessons learned that we gain from our investigations in one mode, like aviation, help us identify safety gaps in others, and in turn, that's led to significant safety improvements across all modes of transportation."

Safety in an Ever-Evolving Aerospace System
Safety in an Ever-Evolving Aerospace System panel at the ATCA Tech Symposium

What is the number one impediment to the timely evolution of air traffic management? Well, it might depend on whom you ask. The FAA's Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami posed this question to the session's panel comprised of NATCA's Steve Hansen; Uber Elevate's John Illson; NASA's John Koelling; EUROCAE Joint Committee on AI in Aviation's Mark Roboff; Flight Safety Foundation's Hassan Shahidi; and FedEx's Bobbi Wells. According to Hansen, the issue is not engaging stakeholders early on. For Roboff, it's the difference in regulation and certification. For Illson and Wells, it's winning the support of the government, industry, and public. For Koelling, it's leveraging work across programs and trying to provide tools for future operators to mitigate future problems. And for Shahidi, it's the lack of collaboration between the industry and government. The answers may sound disjointed amongst these very different players in ATM, but when asked about how technology is going to change existing procedures and how that impacts operations globally, they can all agree that improved communication and collaboration going forward will set the industry up for greater success. Illson shared that Uber developed an internal safety management system (SMS) that they want to connect with operators to exchange information. Shahidi talked about the importance of implementing international standards along the way so that approval processes of SMS don't have to start from scratch with each new country or region. "There has to be a significant amount of data-driven analysis and prognostics. That's going to be key to the safety of these future systems," said Koelling. The other panelists echoed the thoughts of Koelling and Shahidi. Wells reminded panelists of what is possibly the biggest hurdle in all of this – the human element. First, humans are not fond of change and that will require using a common language for improvement and allowing people to feel that they have influence. Second, leaders need to remain curious and ready to learn, especially from those with differing opinions. "Too often, when any of our teams or any of us collaborate we intentionally exclude groups because we know that they're going to have something negative to say. Those are exactly the ones you need to invite to the table," said Wells. In conclusion, collaboration and communication are only becoming more and more important as new technology captures more information. But the usual government-to-government or government-to-industry partnerships are not enough anymore. It's time to expand the table.

Women in Aviation Tech Reception
As the ATCA Technical Symposium is virtual this year, the usual ATCA Women in Aviation Tech Breakfast morphed into the ATCA Women in Aviation Networking Reception sponsored by CI² Aviation, JMA Solutions, and Leidos. We were pleased to be able to open this event to the wider Tech Symposium community, women and men, and encouraged attendees to bring their kids who may be learning from home and are interested in aviation. The reception opened up with a few remarks from reception sponsors: Andrella Kenner, president and CEO of CI² Aviation; Luanne Kovalcik, Leidos' VP of civil division manager transportation solutions; and Avis Dillard-Bullock, COO and senior VP of programs at JMA Solutions. "This event not only brings women together, but also provides a nurturing space for women to connect and uplift one another, become mentors to other women professionals, and to ultimately break barriers," said Dillard-Bullock. The attendees were able to jump around 'virtual' tables to connect with peers, which was much needed for those of us who miss seeing each other regularly at industry events. Many new connections were also made! I met folks from Aviation Management Associates, Intelligent Automation Inc., Leidos, Objectstream, NetApp, and the FAA Tech Center. The reception was a great way to end the evening, and even though it was not in-person, I left with that same great in-person feeling after having encouraging conversations and making exciting new connections. As Kovalcik said in her opening remarks, "as we support women in aviation, we need to work together to identify the leader in ourselves and in our peers, [and] nurture that leader in all of us."

Monday, September 21, 2020

That's a Wrap!
Alana Natke
PR & Communications Specialist at Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA)

Friday marked the last day of the 2020 ATCA Virtual Technical Symposium, closing out a productive week covering all things tech that are currently impacting, or will impact, air traffic management and the national aerospace system. Friday's programming included an informative recap and look forward roundtable, and concluded with a cybersecurity workshop that kicked off ATCA's upcoming cyber programming throughout October. The ATCA staff and co-chairs, the FAA and NASA, are so thankful for everyone who participated in this week's programming. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

ATCA Technical Symposium Recap and Look Forward Roundtable
Recap Roundtable at the ATCA Tech Symposium

ATCA's Director of Programming and Communications Abigail Glenn-Chase brought together the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center's Deputy Director Jaime Figueroa, ATCA's President and CEO Peter F. Dumont, and NASA Aeronautics Research Institute's NextGen Air Transportation System Integration Manager Barry Sullivan, for a review of the most important takeaways, goals, and ideas from the Tech Symposium. Glenn-Chase started by asking about their key takeaways from the Symposium, hers being that technology can both improve operational safety while also having the opposite effect due to human error or lack of proficiency. Figueroa found the discussion on the application of machine learning to be essential as the line shifts between operator and system functions in the future. Figueroa also added, "a common thread was that technology insertion happened perhaps without full consideration of the operator’s role." Sullivan and Dumont concurred, adding that users are sometimes kept out of the loop during the design process and should be more involved to reduce potential issues once implemented. Dumont added that operators need to be ready to take over in off-nominal situations, so training on the new technology and its limitations is vital.

Glenn-Chase asked what each participant believes is the biggest hurdle we can expect to face in the coming years. Figueroa's answer was infrastructure, especially in the case of urban air mobility (UAM), which is closely tied to issues with community trust. “The support from the community and whatever political jurisdiction you're dealing with is going to depend on how many people are you affecting and how many people are going to benefit from the service and the efforts of trying to deploy," said Figueroa. Dumont agreed that infrastructure, as it relates to public trust and perception, is the biggest challenge ahead. “Safety will drive the public trust and perception and that’s my biggest concern. As we demonstrate the various levels of safety in the lifecycle of these vehicles, public trust and perception [are] what's going to make or break the operations," concluded Sullivan.

Throughout the week, Glenn-Chase noted mounting cybersecurity challenges in an aerospace system and supply chain growing in complexity and interconnectedness. “We have to have the common set of data [and we] need that information at our disposal. It's extremely important, but that also brings up the concerns about the data being jeopardized or hacked," said Sullivan. Figueroa explained that cybersecurity assurance is a big issue when enabling new functions and services and the integrity of those functions and services. Dumont added, “we're developing recommendations of what should be looked at before new entrants get into the airspace, as far as cyber is concerned, so I'm very encouraged right now."

Cyber Hygiene in the Time of Pandemic
Cyber Hygiene panel at the ATCA Tech Symposium

Symposium attendees ended their Tech Symposium experience with a preview workshop of ATCA presents Aviation Cybersecurity, taking place during the month of October. Robert V. Jones, CISSP, chair of the ATCA Aviation Cybersecurity Programming Committee and president and CEO of PReSafe Technologies, moderated the discussion among panelists Vince Crisler, DarkCubed; John Grim, Verizon; Stacy Mill, State of Kansas; and Jay Ryerse, CISSP, ConnectWise. Jones opened the workshop by talking about the pandemic and the changes we have made to our routine to keep ourselves and each other safe. He asked if the panel can first talk about any connection they see between this and good cybersecurity practices. Grim said that having a good asset inventory, knowing where data is stored, and being able to protect that by doing things like blocking ports, is just like trying to block COVID from your body with hand washing and masks. Ryerse answered that just how COVID can spread to people taking precautions, ransomware and virus attacks can happen to smart people who never see it coming. "What you can’t see can hurt you, and it can hurt you badly."

Since attendees ranged in their cybersecurity knowledge, Jones asked the panelists to share some insights or tips to put them on a more secure path. Grim shared the importance of using different, complex passwords across accounts. He said that there are apps to help you manage these, like LastPass, so you don't have to commit them all to memory. Grim also cautioned people to be wary of default configurations in the cloud, coding, and in your accounts like email and social media. Always adjust the settings, he encouraged. Mills suggested training your office staff on fraudulent emails and phishing attempts. She said that scammers learn what is top of mind for the user and use that as a lure, for example, emails about COVID office procedures with fake attachments or links, or fraudulent invoices to accounts payable on the first of the month. Vince warned that protecting your personal accounts are just as important as protecting your organization accounts because they can find ways to access your organization through your personal accounts, such as through email, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Ryerse offered a few tips: assess risks with an administrative review of policies; ask what your third party vendors are doing in terms of securing their systems because they have access to yours; test your systems for vulnerabilities, especially with those working from home; and live with progress over perfection when you first start. Any additional steps you take to protect your assets are better than nothing. Ryerse and the others on the panel suggested that small businesses that don't have large IT departments bring in a partner who specializes in assessing risks and potentially work with them on continual monitoring. Protecting your organization from cyber threats is an ongoing process. As Mill said, "the most important thing is that you're planning. Don't wait for that boom to go off." 

There was so much more covered by this panel, such an update on the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), protecting the defense industrial base, emerging threats in cybersecurity, and tips for protecting your self and your organization while working from home. Want the scoop? This workshop is free to view on-demand at the Tech Symposium website along with links to helpful resources.




2017 Articles
When it Comes to TBM, Government's from Mars, Industry's from Venus
ATCA's Look Back at the 2017 Technical Symposium

2016 Onsite E-newsletters

Tuesday, May 17: Welcome to Tech Tuesday!

Wednesday, May 18: Let's Get Technical!

Thursday, May 19: NASA, PBN, and UAS... Oh My!

2016 Articles
For Air Traffic Modernization, Bureaucracy is the Tie that Binds

Whatever your qualms about the FAA’s levels of bureaucracy and their tenuous bonds to Congress, our panelists have heard it all before. Loud and clear. They feel it too sometimes. At the top of their list (and yours) of challenges? Modernizing air traffic, of course. Read More

The [Cyber] Struggle is Real

$2.5 billion a day. That’s what it will cost the US if a cyber attack shuts down aircraft operations. The threats are coming from all sides. In today’s cyber climate, it’s not a matter of if but when. It’s the price of increasing connectivity. In fact, each point-to-point connection is a vulnerability, explains the FAA’s Jim Daum, who led the tour of the Cybersecurity Test Facility (CyTF) at Tech Center Tuesday. Read More

Conflict Probe Testing: Using Biology Inspired Genetic Algorithm

According to James Ritchie III, recent Rowan University graduate, FAA intern, and soon to be full-time Tech Center employee, biology and aviation have a lot in common. He believes scientists can draw on the study of biology to assist in automation in air traffic, and that selection (think “survival of the fittest”) of time-shifted modules can be built with scenarios to avoid conflict, in both horizontal and vertical separation, in all phases of flight and encounter angle.Read More

The Great DataComm Takeover

The ability to adapt is everything for an air traffic controller. But how much is too much to ask of a controller? Merging technology and human interaction is one of the major challenges in NextGen implementation and evolving DataComm in an operational environment is one of the most critical pieces of the equation. Read More

The FAA Eyes Big Data Possibilities

Big data is expanding the impact of the FAA’s NextGen initiative in a big way. As NextGen implementation continues to move forward, the agency is disseminating digital flight, aeronautical and weather data, and collaborating with industry on ways to make use of the vast amounts of available information. Read More

Rowan University Students’ Drone Cage Meets FAA’s Aviation STEM Challenge Head On: Don’t Miss It at Tech Center Tuesday!

A visit to Tech Center Tuesday isn’t complete without stopping to admire the drone cage. Luckily, it’s impossible to miss in the center of the atrium. The drone zone cage is the centerpiece of the event and a representation of the Tech Center’s collaboration with government, academia, and industry. Read More

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  • 06 Jun 2018
    Hon. Linda Hall Daschle Named 2018 Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award Winner

    The Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) is pleased to announce that former FAA Acting Administrator Linda Hall Daschle has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award, one of the most prominent awards in aviation and ATCA’s highest honor.

    A pioneer for women in air traffic management, Daschle was the first female to hold the post of Acting Administrator for the FAA. She began her aviation career in Kansas nearly 45 years ago as a licensed weather observer for the agency. In 1993, she was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the US Senate for the position of FAA Deputy Administrator. One of her first tasks involved an assessment of the agency’s key air traffic modernization program called the Advanced Automation System which was eventually overhauled, saving the agency an estimated $1.6 billion. She also oversaw the advancement of new regional airline safety regulations and conducted a review of the agency’s safety and surveillance program, which resulted in one of the single largest hires of new safety inspectors in FAA history. 

    Ms. Daschle has held numerous government and private-sector leadership positions, including with the American Association of Airport Executives, the Air Transport Association, the former Civil Aeronautics Board, and with the law firm of Baker Donelson. She is currently President of LHD & Associates, Inc, and serves on the board of Aireon, LLC.

    In accepting the Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award, Ms. Daschle joins aviation greats, including Delta’s Richard Anderson, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, the Hon. Jane Garvey, Boeing’s Neil Planzer, former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, and pilot A. Scott Crossfield. (View press release HERE.)

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    Established in Washington, D.C., in 1956 by a group of air traffic controllers, the Air Traffic Control Association has been from the outset dedicated to progress in the science of air traffic control and the preservation of a safe flight environment.
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