The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations (IFATCA), representing over 50,000 controllers in 131 countries, held it’s 53rd annual conference in Gran Canaria, Spain this week. Over 500 delegates, including observers from ICAO, IFALPA, IATA, ITF, Eurocontrol and the SESAR Joint
Undertaking, attended the conference.
Four new member associations joined the Federation at this conference. IFATCA
welcomes the air traffic associations from Angola, Montenegro, The Maldives and
Kazakhstan to the worldwide professional voice of controllers.
A major focus of the conference was Just Culture, highlighting a number of situations around the world where air traffic controllers have been dismissed or sanctioned for speaking out about safety concerns. The conference heard in detail about the situation in the Dominican Republic, where over thirty controllers have lost their jobs.
IFATCA Executive Vice President Americas recently visited the Dominican Republic
to mediate in talks with Government officials. Controllers are also facing legal action in a number of other countries, such as Albania. IFATCA is also assisting in a long running case in Latvia, which will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.
The political situation in Ukraine with regards to its impact on airspace management, safety and working conditions of controllers will continue to be closely monitored.
The professional impact of industrial disputes on safety reporting, working conditions and natural justice was, together with ITF representatives, discussed in depth.
IFATCA is working with ICAO on a major initiative in the field of Fatigue Risk
Management in air traffic control. Furthermore systemic safety in air traffic control
was a major focus of the conference.
This years IFATCA panel focused on human interaction with automation and involved Professor Eric Hollnagel from the University of South Denmark, Mr. Frank Brenner, Director General of Eurocontrol, Mr. Chris Dalton from ICAO and Tom Laursen, IFATCA safety and human factors specialist.
In the technical domain the conference focused on remote tower operations, space based ADSB, responsibilities for terrain clearance and also various emergency and safety procedures. The conference reviewed concepts on service priority and proposed a strategic method based on airspace volumes rather than competition between individual aircraft. This concept would increase the efficiency of the airspace as a whole. The observer from IATA supported the proposal and recommended further work on the matter.
“The conference was a major success. Our aim is to promote and safeguard the
interests of the air traffic control community and to protect and evolve the profession.
A passionate team of volunteers once again carried us one step further”, said newly elected IFATCA President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Patrik Peters.
“We have been able to build and confirm our solid relations with other influential global organisations in the aviation sector and set the Federation’s direction for the next year”, continues Mr. Peters. “The technological advances in air traffic control were investigated in depth, but our major concern is the treatment and lack of justice for air traffic controllers when they speak out on safety related concerns. Situations such as in the Dominican Republic need to be addressed. Air traffic controllers must be able to work in an environment of Just Culture, being able to report concerns about safety without fear of persecution” stressed the IFATCA President Mr. Peters, who works as a controller and supervisor at the Eurocontrol Upper Area Control Centre in Maastricht/NL.
The conference saw two members retire from the Executive Board, Mr. Alexis
Brathwaite, former President and Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Darrell Meachum, former Executive Vic President Finance. Mr. Brathwaite received standing ovations and the IFATCA scroll of honour for the leadership during his presidency.
The IFATCA Executive Board now consists of Patrik Peters - President and Chief
Executive Officer, Scott Shallies - Deputy President, Duncan Auld - Executive Vice
President Technical, Eric Risdon - Executive Vice President Professional, John Carr
Executive Vice President Americas, Zeljko Oreski - Executive Vice President Europe, Keziah Ogutu - Executive President Africa & Middle East, Mike O’Neil - Executive Vice President Asia Pacific and Philippe Domogala as Conference Executive.
Mr. Peters closed the conference by thanking our member association USCA,
representing the Spanish Air Traffic Controllers, for their great work in organising
such highly successful conference.