Another successful Pilot & Controller Forum

The annual Pilot & Controller Forum hosted by SBAviators was a huge success again this year, bringing together pilots and air traffic controllers for an open dialogue and Q&A session. Controllers from the Santa Barbara TRACON and Tower provided an inside look at the challenges they face daily while managing the busy airspace around our region.

One of the main themes that emerged was the importance of clear communication and following ATC procedures. The controllers explained that even small deviations from instructions can create confusion, safety issues and make their job significantly harder. Readback errors (or lack of readback) and deviating from departure instructions before being cleared to change course were some of the big takeaways.

However, the controllers were very understanding of the pressures pilots face as well. They acknowledged that cockpit workload and distractions can sometimes lead to lapses, stressing that communication is a two-way street. By working together through common courtesies like responding promptly to calls and following instructions correctly, the safe and efficient flow of traffic becomes much more manageable.

The open forum format allowed pilots to ask follow-up questions and truly understand the “why” behind many procedures. For example, controllers must apply proper spacing to create strategic gaps for arrivals and departures. Even if we think the skies are clear, the TRACON has eyes on the big arrival and departure picture.

Many attendees came away with a newfound appreciation for the complexity of the controller’s task. By putting themselves in the controller’s shoes, pilots can adjust their communications and techniques in ways that reduce workload and enhance safety for all involved.

Thanks to the controllers who volunteered their time, and to all the pilots and aviation enthusiasts who attended and participated actively. Free events like this strengthen the aviation community and promote the culture of collaboration and learning that make SBAviators such a great organization.

Stay tuned for more events on the SBAviators calendar! Clear skies and tail winds.

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