In just a couple of weeks, 3,500+ attendees from over 25 countries will be heading to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., for the ATCA Annual Conference and Exposition. As the largest ATC/ATM event in the Americas, the conference will be filled with sessions focused on air traffic control and technologies that enhance the global airspace.

ATCA Annual
Peter F. Dumont, President and CEO of ATCA

As one of the media sponsors of the event, Connected Aviation Today sat down with Peter F. Dumont, President and CEO of ATCA, to get a preview of the event and share what attendees should expect of the industry in the coming year.

Dumont has a unique perspective with over 40 years of ATC, ATM, and UAS experience in the military and private sector. He represents ATCA on the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), the Drone Advisory Committee Working Subcommittee, the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team, the FAA ARAC on controller training, and on the Policy Board of the U.S. Contract Tower Association (USCTA).  Below he shares with us his insights:

CAT Editors: The countdown to ATCA Annual Conference is here. What is the theme of this year’s event and why is it significant to the industry?

Pete Dumont: ATCA Annual provides so many opportunities to speak to the larger community, and it creates a marketplace on our Exhibit Hall floor. There’s no one who competes with us in our space. We’re always trying to innovate, ensuring that we’re the thought leaders in our field, and always provide our members the best possible experience while offering valuable education. That’s why this year’s theme is Connect-Collaborate-Educate.

CAT Editors: What highlights are you looking forward to at this year’s event?

Dumont: For the first time in more than a decade, our historic event will be hosted in the heart of Washington, D.C., at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Now we’ll only be three metro stops from the FAA headquarters and Capital Gallery buildings, where much of our membership works. I’m happy to provide a greater level of convenience for our members. It’s important that our members know the value of coming to ATCA Annual.

Another big change is that we’re moving the entire show (conference, presentation theaters, and exposition) to the Exhibit Hall floor, so it will create a one-stop-shop for everything in air traffic. These changes were made based on feedback from our members. We’re really looking forward to our move to the D.C. Convention Center—it will make it a better experience for everyone.

CAT Editors: As the industry is quickly changing, what technology innovations are you seeing make the most impact for the ATC/ATM community?

Dumont: It’s hard to deny the growth of UAS in our airspace. Integrating them safely into the NAS is our greatest challenge. But, if we take the correct steps to integrate UAS, while also maintaining the safety and efficiency of the NAS, UAS technologies have the potential to unlock the key to modernization. It’s an exciting time to work in aviation. That’s why UAS integration and UTM take center stage at ATCA events.

CAT Editors: What will be the drivers that spur the industry forward in the future?

Dumont: Our open dialogue with the FAA is crucial to understanding the risks to aviation and the best steps to protecting the NAS. Building these relationships and participating in ATCA events and things like the NAC and the DAC gives members, who might not otherwise have representation at that level, a voice in the policies and procedures forming our future airspace.

CAT Editors: How is ATCA helping the industry as it evolves?

Dumont: ATCA is one of the oldest organizations in our industry. It was founded in 1956, even before even the FAA was created. Everything that’s happened in air traffic control since 1956 has been discussed at ATCA. Since the beginning, we have provided a platform—through expert panel sessions at domestic and international conferences and scientific papers published in The Journal of Air Traffic Control—to discuss anything that’s proposed or on the horizon for the air traffic industry. We debate it, we question it, and sometimes we help implement or reject it. That platform is more important than ever as we modernize the NAS.

Heading to ATCA’s Annual? Visit the Connected Aviation Today booth #373 in the Exhibition Hall.