The worlds air traffic controllers now speak with a resolute and focused voice to the worlds foremost aviation forum.
This was the assessment from Mr. Marc Baumgartner, President and CEO of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations' (IFATCA) in response to the Federations 48th annual conferences decision to appoint a permanent observer to the Air Navigation Commission of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. This is an emphatic recognition of IFATCAs role as the global voice of the air traffic controller, concluded Mr. Baumgartner. The IFATCA annual conference, held in Dubrovnik, Croatia from 20 24 April 2009, was attended by 500 delegates from 77 nations, and representatives from the worlds leading aviation organisations, including ICAO, IATA, CANSO, IFALPA and EUROCONTROL. At the conference, IFATCA increased its worldwide membership to 137 countries with the acceptance of four new members. IFATCA acknowledged the status of Dubrovnik as a UN World Heritage Site and gave high priority to discussing environmental issues, including the adoption of a far reaching new environmental policy and an international panel debate on the topic Environment and ATC. It is IFATCAs view that the balanced approach identified as necessary between Safety, Efficiency and Environment is also crucial in the approach to the various contradictory elements, such as noise versus emission, when dealing with ATM and the environment. IFATCA demonstrated its leadership by facilitating a crucial meeting between the management and controllers of Agence pour la Sécurité de la Navigation Aérienne en Afrique et à Madagascar (ASECNA). The parties adopted four conclusions, which, if adhered to, will lead to enhanced safety and efficiency from this very important air traffic services provider. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), which attended the meeting, will assist to ensure that this significant progress toward resolving long standing issues between the ASECNA management and their controllers is not lost. Delegates derided the short sighted response of some Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to the critical and continuing global shortage of Air Traffic Controllers(ATCOs), which now exceeds 5000. The ANSPs inability to adequately deal with this shortage is well documented by IFATCA. Having responded to the financial crisis by reducing staff and curtailing recruitment, some ANSPs now, rather bizarrely, attempt to raise the retirement age of current air traffic controllers. IFATCA policy on controller retirement, which is based on current scientific knowledge, was reinforced. Regrettably, the many reports of continuing criminal prosecution of air traffic controller in all the four regions of IFATCA are a sad indication that adoption of Just Culture remains elusive. The conference completely revamped its legal policy to cater for Just Culture. In conjunction with our aviation partners such as CANSO, IFALPA and the FSF we continue this fight to ensure that criminal prosecution of operational personnel will some day be seen as the barrier to safety that it is and a relic of a less enlightened past. said Marc Baumgartner. This years conference reiterated controllers understanding of the impact of economic conditions and the effects of environmental pressures on the aviation industry; IFATCA will remain proactive and work with all sectors of our industry to ensure that controllers continue to provide safe, efficient and resilient air traffic services.