The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations, (IFATCA) represents over 50,000 Air Traffic Controllers in 131 countries. At the opening of its 54th annual conference, with over 400 delegates present, IFATCA condemned the media handling of the recent Germanwings tragedy in southern France.
Regardless of what may be established as the actual factual events leading to the tragedy, IFATCA was horrified at the manner in which normal and internationally accepted protocols for aviation accident investigations were widely disregarded by elements of the media and some industry bodies. "The internationally accepted ICAO Annex 13 protocols for accident investigation are to ensure that all such investigations are conducted in a fair and impartial manner for the purpose of establishing facts, and learning lessons to prevent reoccurrence", said IFATCA President and chief Executive Officer Mr. Patrik Peters. "The early release of partial information, including personal details about one of the operational crew members was not in keeping with the ICAO Annex 13 protocols or the principals of Just Culture, which have been so hard to establish in the international aviation community", explained Mr. Peters.
"The media frenzy which ensued, focusing upon an operational individual before even all the physical evidence had been found or assessed from the scene was extremely disturbing for all aviation industry professionals", said Mr. Peters.
IFATCA calls upon all investigative bodies and aviation media representatives to act with restraint and respect for the ICAO protocols and the principals of Just Culture after a significant aviation event, and allow the investigative process to proceed without disruption to gathering and assessment of all the evidence.
"Whilst IFATCA understands the public and media desire for a quick determination of the cause of an aviation accident, the insinuations and speculation in this case caused a great deal of stress and concern for all aviation professionals, and it certainly caused much distress to the young man’s family and friends", said Mr. Peters. "On behalf of all delegates at the 54th Annual IFATCA conference, I call upon the investigative bodies and the world media to reflect on their conduct in the aftermath of this tragedy to understand to uphold the principals of ICAO Annex 13", Mr. Peters said.
"I also take this opportunity to again express our heartfelt condolences to all those touched by this terrible tragedy", Mr. Peters concluded.