New Issue of The Controller

Thanks to the hard work of our Editor Thom Metzger (USA NATCA) and his editorial team, we're proud to present the latest electronic issue of The Controller. As usual, our magazine is available on a variety of platforms:

  • The IFATCA website: https://the-controller.ifatca.org, where issues can be read from within your browser. While this can be read on mobile devices, it does require you to be online (and your provider may charge you for this).
    For the best experience, we recommend to select the full screen option via the toolbar on top of the pages.
  • Mobile Devices (tablets): We use issuu.com for the best experience on mobile devices. The issuu.com app, which allows you to read The Controller offline on your tablet can be downloaded via https://ios.the-controller.net, https://android.the-controller.net and https://windows.the-controller.net. Best of all, the issues are now available for free - look for IFATCA once you've started the app.
  • PDF Version: download the pdf version of the latest issue. This file is about 4Mb in size and requires a PDF viewer to be able to read it. A higher quality version is available via this link (18Mb).
  • For Member Associations: a print-ready PDF version (about 18Mb) can be downloaded that can eventually be printed for your members. Alternatively, issuu.com also offers a printing service. Please visit https://issuu.com/ifatca for more details. Associations that have problems to download these files can contact our Montréal office via [email protected].

Besides being free, an electronic issue also offers new possibilities to interact with the content. Links in articles and adverts can be clicked and open to the relevant page


Unstable Approaches Survey by IATA/CANSO/IFALPA/IFATCA

Unstable Approaches Survey by IATA/CANSO/IFALPA/IFATCA

The reduction of Unstable Approaches is an ongoing objective of the aviation industry, since they are a contributing factor to accidents like Runway Excursions, Hard Landings, Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT), and Tail Strikes among other accident categories. In our ongoing effort to help the industry implement the most current best practices to achieve this goal, IATA/CANSO/IFALPA and IFATCA, together with other industry partners, are working on a Safety Risk Assessment to evaluate current safety barriers and propose new safety enhancements.


To support this industry effort, IATA, CANSO, IFALPA and IFATCA kindly request your participation in our survey that will help us gauge the effectiveness of the 2017 IATA/CANSO/IFALPA/IFATCA Unstable Approaches: Risk Mitigation Policies, Procedures and Best Practices, and with your help, find opportunities to improve and update its content. The survey should not take more than 10 minutes to complete.


We invite you to take part in this survey. To participate, please click on the link below.


We value your feedback.

Participate in the Survey!

Click on the button below to access ths survey:

Bulletin 1 - Mitigating Human Factors Hazards in the Context of the Operating Environment during and post COVID-19

Bulletin 1 – Mitigating Human Factors Hazards in the Context of the Operating Environment during and post COVID-19

Many aviation-related organizations have taken steps to help crews, dispatchers and controllers deal with changes in the physical and psychosocial environment owing to the impact of COVID-19, both at work and in their personal lives. Maintaining this focus on COVID-related human factors challenges and staying proactive is important to ensuring continued high levels of safety as operations ramp up. Appropriate resources and tools to minimize the mental health impact of COVID-19, including peer support programs, will play an important role in ensuring staff well-being throughout the recovery. 

Restarting a complex system, such as aviation, is not a linear process. The impact on staff in airlines, ATCOs and the aviation supply chain could lead to a different risk landscape which can, by extension, introduce new operational and safety challenges. Additionally, traffic recovery is expected to be volatile and the ramp up may be different than anticipated. Therefore, local safety management systems (SMS) should address COVID-19 related concerns including the biological and psycho-social risks and their interactions with aviation safety. In addition, creating a supportive environment for aviation personnel can help maintain self-wellbeing. 

To better understand the impact that post COVID-19 operations-related challenges could have on human factors, CANSO, IFATCA, IFALPA and IATA conducted a safety risk assessment. The safety risk assessment (SRA) example, provided at the end of this bulletin, was reviewed, and used to shape a webinar organized on 20 May 2021. This joint bulletin is an update of Bulletin 1, which was issued in 2020, and is a result of the revised SRA and the webinar.

Download the bulletin

Click on the button below to download the bulletin:
Change Management Concept on the Gears.

Webinar 4 - Organization & Change Management Throughout a Pandemic

The uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 is causing aviation stakeholders to explore new ways of working together. In addition to the need to minimize the negative impacts of the pandemic on workforce and operations, there are opportunities to look at how to ensure future resilience in a changing environment.


In this session, experts will explore areas for change and organization management during and after COVID.

You are cordially invited to register for:

Episode 4 – Organization & Change Management Throughout a Pandemic

Target Audience: Airlines, ANSPs, ATC/OCC Shift Supervisors, ATC Unit/OCC Managers, Pilots, Training Managers / Directors
29 July, 2021
1030 UTC

Register now using the button below

Please note this is a FREE webinar however live attendance is limited to the first 1000 attendees connecting

New Conference Coordinator

The IFATCA Executive Board is honoured to announce the appointment of Mr Jez Pigden (UK) as the next Conference Executive. As such, Jez will act as the liaison between (potential) host Member Association(s) and the Executive Board in planning and organising the IFATCA's Annual Conference. With ample experience on the Federation's Professional and Legal Committee and as committee secretary during quite a number of conferences, the Executive Board is confident that Jez is well placed to take up this challenging task.


Sign up for the Speak English Program

As announced earlier, the IFATCA Speak English Program (SEP) is now available worldwide. The program provides an environment where air traffic controllers can practice plain English language and build up self-confidence in both usual and unusual situations that necessitate departure from standard R/T phraseology. Through a welcome and friendly English-speaking environment without any judgement or pressure, the program will not only assist the participants to improve their spoken English, but it will help them to actually think in English.

If you want more information, or you want to sign up as a participant or facilitator, please visit the SEP page here on our website.


Bulletin 2 - Maintaining Competency and Training During Recovery

Bulletin 2 – Maintaining Competency and Training During Recovery

CANSO, IFATCA, IFALPA and IATA are delighted to announce the publication of their second Bulletin (re-edited), of the webinar series "Safely Navigating the Industry Recovery", following the webinar held on 22 April 2021. The webinar focused on on the respective measures airlines and ANSPs are taking as well as best practices that can be implemented during the recovery phase with regard to competency and training of aviation personnel. 

Download the bulletin

Click on the button below to download the bulletin:

Webinar 3 - Human Factors for ATCOs, Dispatchers and Pilots in the Context of COVID

One year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, operational staff and their working environments continue to be impacted. From dealing with changing protocols and requirements, and the associated stress they bring, operational colleagues and their supervisors are using different tools to meet these challenges.


In this session, experts will discuss the current and potential challenges, and share best practices that are being used to address them and ensure staff wellbeing throughout the restart and recovery.

You are cordially invited to register for:

Episode 3 – Human Factors for ATCOs, Dispatchers and Pilots in the Context of COVID

Target Audience: Airlines, ANSPs, ATC/OCC Shift Supervisors, ATC Unit/OCC Managers, Pilots, Training Managers / Directors
20 May, 2021
1030 UTC

Register now using the button below

Please note this is a FREE webinar however live attendance is limited to the first 1000 attendees connecting

Speak English Program Kickoff

IFATCA’s “Speak English Program” (SEP), developed by the Asia/Pacific region, was kicked off today with a briefing. The program aims to enhance the English-speaking capabilities of air traffic control staff around the region. Through a welcome and friendly English-speaking environment without any judgement or pressure, it helps participants to be able to think in English, practice speaking and build self-confidence.

A typical one-hour session, involving one facilitator and up to two participants includes a warm up/introduction/ice-breaker; a discussion; a short video and a picture description session.

The program is open to all IFATCA Member Associations from May 1st 2021. More details can be found here.


Dossier Albania

The following information is compiled to the best of our ability from information provided to IFATCA. Communication with the local controllers is extremely difficult and is likely monitored by authorities.

Early on in the COVID crisis, Albcontrol unilaterally decreased the salaries of their staff, including those of the controllers, by up to 70%. Albcontrol claims they had no choice as they are a private entity and work on a 'cost-recovery' basis. The controllers have been trying to negotiate ever since, without any result.

Over Easter 2021, a number of controllers declared themselves unfit for duty, citing stress due to the uncertainty and financial issues. Albcontrol management reacted promptly and aggressively, which caused further consternation and unrest among their colleagues: more controllers declared themselves unfit for duty, resulting in disruptions of air traffic services at Tirana airport.

Politicians and the Albanian government (Prime Minister and Min. of Transport) reacted harshly: they accused the controllers of collaborating with their political opponent, the Albanian President. They claim the aim was to cause chaos in the lead up to the elections later this month and to disrupt the country's COVID vaccinations. They have even accused them of directly causing people to die by disrupting vaccines arriving in the country.

During the night of 8 April 2021,  27 controllers were brought to the prosecutor’s office for interrogation. At the time of writing, three of them remain imprisoned, charged with ‘abuse of office’ – an offence that normally only applies to civil servants, which they are not. They risk up to 7 years in prison. Two of them remain in jail; the third one was put under house arrest (as she is a young mother).

The Albanian government has passed a law, authorising "replacing the controllers, whether from outside Albania or inside”. Turkey promptly sent 12 controllers (6 TWR, 6 APP/ACC) who are currently in Tirana and have seemingly enabled “humanitarian” operations to take place at LATI until 1500UTC on 08APR (possibly using the Turkish controllers). NOTAMs closed both LATI and LAAA FIR until 0659UTC on 09APR. The Turkish controllers are there for 20 days - until after the Albanian elections, which appear to play a role in all this - as the arguments between Albania's president and prime minister show…

On Friday 9 April, the remaining controllers agreed to return to work, seemingly having been threatened with dismissal and similar charges to their three colleagues. They were forced to declare themselves fit for duty, raising the grave concern that they are actually performing their duty under duress. The Albanian government seems to keep the Turkish controller as a stick behind the door to pressure the local controllers, despite the fact that they are not rated on any of the local positions.

EASA and ICAO have been made aware of the situation but have remained completely silent on the matter. Note that Albania is one of EASA’s Pan-European Partners. This is a community of non-EASA European countries with which EASA cooperates on the implementation of the EU aviation safety rules - either in the framework of comprehensive aviation agreements already concluded with the EU or in anticipation of such agreements.


06APR2021 15:18z
First Reports

Information from Albania that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting cuts in remuneration, 60-70% of ATCOs have declared themselves unfit to work under their local competency scheme rules, citing undue stress as the main cause.

07APR2021 00:50z
Tower & Airport closed

Tirana TWR closes due to lack of staff.

07APR2021 10:00z

Neighbouring ACCs were potentially unaware of the situation in Tirana and at least one aircraft is diverted: AEE970 from Athens to Tirana returns to Athens after briefly holding in Albanian airspace. The Albcontrol ACC manager is allegedly trying to keep the centre open with minimal staffing, it is reported that those ATCOs on duty have been so at the ACC for several consecutive days already.

Political Reactions

Various news outlets (e.g. euronews) begin publishing details of the Albanian MA’s action and this elicits reactions from Albanian MPs. The Minister of Energy and Infrastructure declares the action as a ‘coup d’état’ attempt in order to block COVID-19 vaccines from entering the country and links it to forthcoming election proceedings.

Dismissals and Detentions

Details emerge that several Albanian ATCOs have not only been dismissed, but that some have been interrogated and arrested by the authorities.

08APR2021 16:00z
Turkish Controllers

Information that 12 civilian Turkish ATCOs have been dispatched to Tirana. They are staying at a guarded location in Tirana. They will be used to help open Albanian airspace 'on humanitarian grounds'.

08APR2021 17:40z
Political Games

The Albanian Prime Minister states publicly that the air traffic disruption is a political motivated move, instigated by the President and former Prime Minister. Elections will be held in Albania at the end of April 2021.

08APR2021 20:56z

Information is received that Greece is upset at the presence of Turkish ATCOs in Albania and that it is investigating to send Greek ATCOs to Albania.

08APR2021 night
Interrogation & Intimidation

27 Albanian ATCOs are arrested and brought to Police stations for questioning. Phones are confiscated and they are told that they are under surveillance. They would be released next morning.

09APR2021 08:00z
More questioning

Media reports that the former head of the Albanian Civil Aviation Authority is questioned by police.

09APR2021 09:00z
Fit for Work?

Albanian ATCOs return to work and are being forced to sign a “fit for work” declaration (apart from the three previously mentioned. One remains under house arrest, while two others remain in custody. They are charged with 'abuse of power', which is punishable up to seven years in prison.

Foreign Licenses Recognised

Media reports that Albania has taken steps to formally recognise foreign ATCO licences and allow them to work in Albania.


The three detained ATCOs appear in front of a judge, who confirms that they are to remain in custody.

Details on Charges

Media reports that the three ATCOs are accused of “abuse of power” due to the alleged organisation of industrial action and placing substantial pressure on colleagues to comply with a coordinated response.


IFALPA issues a press release calling on Albania to adhere to international regulations and free the 3 air traffic controllers. IFALPA issues a bulletin warning pilots about safety concerns they have in the Tirana FIR.


Three controllers remain in custody, with a court date set for April 27th. ATCEUC have set up a fundraiser to raise money for their defence, as the assets of their association remain frozen.

In the meantime, parliamentary elections will be held in Albania on Sunday April 25th.


The Tirana Court of Appeals decided to convert the imprisonment of two controllers into house-arrest; the controller who was under house-arrest up to now has to been ordered to regularly report to the authorities instead (meaning the house arrest is lifted).

Sources and Links

ATCEUC releases & fundraising effort


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