Pilots in the cockpit

Bulletin #3: Safely Navigating the Industry Restart

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the aviation industry and its stakeholders. In order to help facilitate the industry restart in these challenging times,  the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (IFATCA), International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently held a webinar on the topic of Pilot & ATCO Interface during Restart. Following the webinar, IATA has drafted a bulletin highlighting the main points covered during the webinar.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Safety Risk Assessments (SRAs) allow for the identification of hazards, risks and control measures associated with a given event or change. The example provided in this bulletin is for information only and is NOT a replacement for a proper SRA taking into account the local environment for which it will be used.

IFATCA will not be responsible for how the assessment is carried out, and is not responsible for the use of the example provided. It should be noted that nothing within the example provided overrides any requirements needed to comply with national regulation and approved procedures.

The assessment is a continuous, live process and must be monitored and audited, reviewed and revised with any change occurring. Any change could lead to new risks and hazards needing to be considered and no liability rests with IFATCA in this respect. The assessment should be programmed for review at appropriate intervals.

Bulletin 3 – Pilot & ATCO Interface during Restart

Target Audience: Pilots, ATCOs, ATC/OCC Unit Managers

Download the bulletin using the link below:

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Bulletin #2: Safely Navigating the Industry Restart

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the aviation industry and its stakeholders. In order to help facilitate the industry restart in these challenging times,  the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (IFATCA), International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently held a webinar on the topic of Maintaining Competency During COVID-19 and Throughout the Restart of Aviation. Following the webinar, IATA has drafted a bulletin highlighting the main points covered during the webinar.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Safety Risk Assessments (SRAs) allow for the identification of hazards, risks and control measures associated with a given event or change. The example provided in this bulletin is for information only and is NOT a replacement for a proper SRA taking into account the local environment for which it will be used.

IFATCA will not be responsible for how the assessment is carried out, and is not responsible for the use of the example provided. It should be noted that nothing within the example provided overrides any requirements needed to comply with national regulation and approved procedures.

The assessment is a continuous, live process and must be monitored and audited, reviewed and revised with any change occurring. Any change could lead to new risks and hazards needing to be considered and no liability rests with IFATCA in this respect. The assessment should be programmed for review at appropriate intervals.

Bulletin 2 – Maintaining Competency During COVID-19 and Throughout the Restart of Aviation

Target Audience: ATC/OCC Shift Supervisors, ATC Unit/OCC Managers, Training Managers / Directors

Download the bulletin using the link below:

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Bulletin #1: Safely Navigating the Industry Restart

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the aviation industry and its stakeholders. In order to help facilitate the industry restart in these challenging times,  the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (IFATCA), International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently held a webinar on the topic of Human Factors for ATCOs and Dispatchers. Following the webinar, IATA has drafted a bulletin highlighting the main points covered during the webinar.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Safety Risk Assessments (SRAs) allow for the identification of hazards, risks and control measures associated with a given event or change. The example provided in this bulletin is for information only and is NOT a replacement for a proper SRA taking into account the local environment for which it will be used.

IFATCA will not be responsible for how the assessment is carried out, and is not responsible for the use of the example provided. It should be noted that nothing within the example provided overrides any requirements needed to comply with national regulation and approved procedures.

The assessment is a continuous, live process and must be monitored and audited, reviewed and revised with any change occurring. Any change could lead to new risks and hazards needing to be considered and no liability rests with IFATCA in this respect. The assessment should be programmed for review at appropriate intervals.

Bulletin 1 – Human Factors for ATCOs and Dispatchers

Topic: Addressing the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on the workforce
Target Audience: ATC/OCC Shift Supervisors, ATC Unit/OCC Managers, Training Managers / Directors

Download the bulletin using the link below:

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Fourth IFATCA Competency-Based Training and Assessment Workshop

Tunis, Tunisia – 11-12 November 2019

The fourth IFATCA Competency-Based Training and Assessment Workshop was held at the Office de l’Aviation Civile et des Aéroports (OACA) training center, Tunis-Carthage International Airport, on 11-12 November 2019. The event was organized by the Tunisian Member Association, the Association Tunisienne des Contrôleurs de la Circulation Aérienne (ATCCA) and was attended by 56 participants from everywhere in the AFM Region.

IFATCA would like to sincerely thank the ATCCA, and in particular Mr. Skander Khalfallah, for the extraordinary organization of this event; their incredible dedication ensured the success of the workshop. ATCCA graciously provided well equipped facilities, refreshments and meals for all participants and instructors, and arranged accommodation and transportation for instructors from abroad, which means the workshop was held at no cost for the Federation. Needless to say, they have gone far beyond any possible expectations.

Participants were able to learn more about the competency- based approach and related ICAO documents, performance criteria in CBTA, workflows for implementation of CBTA, the ICAO competency framework, training and assessment plans and material, and much more.

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Third IFATCA Competency-Based Training and Assessment Workshop

Algiers, Algeria – 7-8 November 2019

The third IFATCA Competency-Based Training and Assessment Workshop was held at the Centre de formation de l’Établissement National de la Navigation Aérienne (ENNA) in Algiers, Algeria, on 7-8 November 2019. The event was attended by approximately 30 participants from Algeria.

IFATCA would like to sincerely thank the Syndicat National du Personnel du Contrôle Aérien (SNPCA), and in particular Mr. Fateh Bekhti and Mr. Djamel Ait Abdelmalek, for the extraordinary organization of this event; their incredible dedication ensured the success of the workshop. SNPCA graciously provided well equipped facilities, refreshments and meals for all participants and instructors, and arranged accommodation and transportation for instructors from abroad, which means the workshop was held at no cost for the Federation. Needless to say, they have gone far beyond any possible expectations.

Participants were able to learn more about the competency- based approach and related ICAO documents, performance criteria in CBTA, workflows for implementation of CBTA, the ICAO competency framework, training and assessment plans and material, and much more.

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The 40th ICAO Assembly

IFATCA’s participation at the big rendezvous to shape the future of aviation

The 40th ICAO Assembly took place last 24 September to 4 October 2019. It was attended by more than 2 400 delegates from around the world, representing 184 of the 193 Member States of ICAO and 55 international organizations, such as ACI, CANSO, IAOPA, IATA, IBAC, ICCAIA, IFALPA, IFATCA, and many more. Interesting to note is the fact that this year, the Assembly coincided with the 75th anniversary of ICAO.

The Assembly is ICAO’s sovereign body; it meets at least once every three years and is convened by the ICAO Council. It is divided into five different commissions: administrative, economic, executive, legal and technical and its primary objective is to determine the direction, budget and work programme of the organization for the next triennium. It is also during the Assembly that Member States are elected to the Council.

IFATCA was represented at the Assembly by a delegation consisting of Mr. Duncan Auld (President and CEO), Mrs. Helena Sjöström (Deputy President), Mr. Ignacio Baca (EVP Technical), Mr. Peter Van Rooyen (EVP Professional), Mr. Jeffrey D. Richards (RPAS Panel Member for IFATCA), Mr. Thom Metzger (The Controller Magazine Editor) and Mr. Jean-François Lepage (IFATCA Liaison Officer to the ICAO Air Navigation Commission).

During its 40th iteration, the Assembly produced and reviewed more than 640 working papers and information papers. IFATCA co-signed five working papers with other industry organizations (ACI, CANSO, IATA, ICCAIA and IFALPA) on topics of mutual interest, such as commercial space operations integration, the need to address harmful interferences to GNSS signals, the need for standards and guidance to mitigate the risks related to unauthorized UAS operations, the future of frequency spectrum needs in aviation and UAS traffic management.

Among the 640 working papers, the main topics covered were: environment-related issues and the CORSIA initiative (62 papers), security and cybersecurity (55 papers), facilitation (40 papers), ATM-related matters (36 papers), economic issues (31 papers), the “No Country Left Behind” (NCLB) initiative (28 papers), safety management (25 papers), flight operations (24 papers), Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) (23 papers) and the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USOAP CMA) (23 papers).

Immediately before the Assembly, the Executive Board gathered for a three-day meeting, also in Montréal. The presence of the entire executive in the city that is home to ICAO was not a coincidence; it was an excellent opportunity for some of the EB members to meet with other international organizations such as IFALPA and ITF, while for others it was the perfect moment to work on logistic and financial issues at the IFATCA office, along with Tatiana, our Office Manager. Meanwhile, our Liaison Officer to the ICAO ANC, Jean-François, was putting the final touch to the interventions drafted by the group for the Assembly and took care of the necessary coordination and arrangements with some of the key industry partners and States present at the event.

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IFATCA joins with global partners to call for new guidance on drone operations

Important issue raised at ICAO’s 40th Triennial Assembly in Montreal

Montreal, 10 October 2019 – Airports Council International (ACI) World and its global aviation industry partners have addressed the pressing need for standards and guidance to address unauthorised drone operations to the 40th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly.

ACI World, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA), International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) presented a paper – entitled The need for standards and guidance to mitigate the risks of, and to improve response to unauthorized UAS operations – which stated that disruption to airport operations by drones is a matter that requires urgent attention by ICAO, States and industry.

In addition to the safety risk which comes directly from unauthorized drone – or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – operations, several major airports have been shut down by drone sightings around the world and this major disruption has led to frustration for passengers and substantial economic costs.

The ICAO Assembly supported the working paper, recognizing the safety risks associated with the unauthorized presence of unmanned aircraft in close vicinity to commercial aircraft and airports and noted the offer from industry to assist in drafting suitable guidance material.

The Assembly was invited to request ICAO to establish a process to allow the industry to provide input to mitigate the risks of, and improve government and industry responses to, unauthorized drone operations, such as:

  • developing guidance material
  • developing a generic concept of operation that could be used by States to establish procedures, and,
  • defining taxonomy related to UAS incidents and accidents.

ICAO noted the offer of the industry to assist in drafting the above guidance material.



“The issue of unauthorized drone incursions is a clear and present risk to airport operations around the world,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “ACI is ready to join our industry partners to work with ICAO in drafting new international guidance material which builds upon existing standard, guidance, and regulations to protect operations and assist airports in responding to incidents. The industry needs harmonized processes for the detection of – and counter measures against – unauthorized drone operations that may interfere with international aviation.”

“The issue of unauthorized drone incursions is a clear and present risk to airport operations around the world,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “ACI is ready to join our industry partners to work with ICAO in drafting new international guidance material which builds upon existing standard, guidance, and regulations to protect operations and assist airports in responding to incidents. The industry needs harmonized processes for the detection of – and counter measures against – unauthorized drone operations that may interfere with international aviation.”

IFALPA President Captain Jack Netskar said, “It is critical that all States address the risk to aviation safety due to the unauthorized use of drones in controlled airspace. IFALPA has already produced some guidance material aimed at flight crew on what to do when a drone is reported or encountered with specific actions that can reduce the risk of a collision. We believe a collective effort by industry and regulators to mitigate these risks will lead to a harmonized set of standards and guidance for all stakeholders to implement.”

IFATCA President & CEO Duncan Auld said, “Air Traffic Controllers require clearer procedures for the handling of unauthorized UAS. Controllers are expected to make informed decisions based on established rules, without any ambiguity. A risk-based procedure will allow more practical management of these situations, where often the complete closure of an airport introduces significant complexity and associated risk into the ATM system.”

In addition, the Assembly reviewed a paper – entitled UAS Traffic Management – which was presented by ACI, IFALPA, IFATCA, and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA). The Assembly recognized the value of ICAO’s activities towards the development of a common framework for UAS traffic management and recommended that ICAO be urged to accelerate and expand its work on the development of a full regulatory framework for this.

The Assembly reviewed an additional paper – entitled The safe and efficient integration of UAS into airspace – presented by CANSO, IATA, IFALPA, which outlined the expected growth of the UAS sector, and requested ICAO to consider establishing a framework through which it can work with industry on developing provisions for new airspace entrants. The Assembly agreed that UAS should be a key focus of the assessment on new entrants that the Assembly will submit for the consideration of the Council.



Notes for editors

  1. Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2019, ACI serves 646 members, operating 1,960 airports in 176 countries.
  2. IFALPA is the global voice of pilots. An international not-for-profit organization, IFALPA represents over 100,000 pilots in nearly 100 countries. The mission of the Federation is to promote the highest level of aviation safety worldwide and to be the global advocate of the piloting profession; providing representation, services, and support to both our members and the aviation industry.
  3. IFATCA is the recognized international organisation representing air traffic controller associations. The Federation has been representing air traffic controllers for more than 50 years and has more than 50,000 members in over 125 countries.
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Just Culture: Where are we going now?

IFATCA will be publishing several short articles on our website in the coming days. The articles will be asking important questions about the current status of Just Culture triggered by the conviction of an Air Traffic Controller in Switzerland. It is the purpose to trigger thoughts and ideas for how to proceed.

To describe one of the operational dilemmas that convicting individuals for being involved in incidents, we would like to tell a story that could happen to any of us:

Following the Swiss Federal Court verdict of an air traffic controller for an incident where nobody was hurt and no material damage was done, a conflict materialized between the duty of the judiciary and the needs of a safety-relevant reporting system in complex systems. Through this, aviation is subjected to a stress test.

You are driving your car on a small road in the countryside you are not familiar with. You find yourself suddenly driving 70 km/h by some houses with small children playing on the sidewalk. You suddenly realise you are in a village, but you missed the road sign. Looking back, you see it is there but the sign was mostly hidden by branches from a tree that outgrow towards the street.

You are a responsible driver and want to prevent somebody else falling in the same trap and possibly hitting a child, so you drive to the local authorities (a police station) and report your experience, arguing, one day someone might hit a kid involuntarily. The mayor is grateful and will trim the tree, the parents of the local kids probably agree, but the police officer says: you were driving 70 in a 50 km/h zone? Here you go: a 150 EUR fine!   

So, tell me, what are you going to do next time you find yourself in a similar situation? Go to the police again?

Is this the way we want to go in the future of Air Traffic Control?

It looks like today, the common law, which is applicable to every citizen, is also applied to an air traffic controller who reports an incident. If this is the case then should you do the same as most normal citizens do: i.e. not report your own mistakes or violation of laws to the authorities, whether it is your regulator or the police. You should not be incriminating yourself, there are even laws for this (like the USA 5th amendment).

The danger of all this:

Once again, common sense means reporting incidents to prevent they become accidents. Our authorities are implementing Just Culture to protect us from disciplinary actions when dealing with incidents reporting and investigating, but this should also have been extended to the judiciary level. Failure to do so, will be treating us just like normal citizens before the law, but then, following that logic, we should act like most normal citizens too, and this means keeping our mistakes for ourselves.

We need to make the case for a change in the law for professionals, similar to the recent Italian laws for medical doctors; You should not be punished for doing your job according the best practices and for reporting and talking about your honest mistakes while performing your job. But this needs to be done FOR EVERY country that wants to apply Just Culture and a free incident reporting system.

Achieving this is one of IFATCAs top priorities.

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Bridging the gap – are we fighting windmills?

IFATCA will be publishing several short articles on our website in the coming days. The articles will be asking important questions about the current status of Just culture triggered by the conviction of an Air Traffic Controller in Switzerland. It is the purpose to trigger thoughts and ideas for how to proceed.

This article explains why we need to continue pushing for Just Culture and educate the Judiciary and prosecutors.

“Despite the efforts to bridge the gap between aviation safety (ultimately the passengers’ safety) and the judiciary, the Just Culture concept is challenged by the recent Swiss Federal Court decision.

These court cases in Switzerland have allowed Just Culture to be debated in public, with an understanding of the Just Culture concept and the acceptance that the Swiss legal framework has to change in order to be compliant with the ICAO and EU regulations and to continue the improvement of aviation safety.

A contribution factor to this could be the joint training for aviation experts and judicial authorities provided by Eurocontrol and the international umbrella organisation of air traffic controllers, IFATCA.

A few years ago such a debate would not have been possible as the notion and the importance of the Just Culture would have been unknown to most of the public and the administration of justice.”

Click here for the full article

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Is the Justice System ready to adapt to a more connected and interrelated world?

IFATCA will be publishing several short articles on our website in the coming days. The articles will be asking important questions about the current status of Just culture triggered by the conviction of an Air Traffic Controller in Switzerland. It is the purpose to trigger thoughts and ideas for how to proceed. In the second article we are asking: Is the Justice System Ready to adapt to a more connected and interrelated world?

Is the Justice System Ready to adapt to a more connected and interrelated world?

On 12 April 2013, two aircraft, a Ryanair and a TAP Air Portugal, unintentionally converged in the complex airspace over the Napf region (Lucerne, Switzerland). The safety nets on the ground and in the air worked as planned, so that the situation could be defused quickly. There was no personal injury or damage to property. In may 2018, the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona sentenced the air traffic controller on duty to a heavy fine for negligent disruption of public transport. The Federal Court has now confirmed this ruling. This is the first time in Switzerland that an air traffic controller has been convicted with legal effect.

The aviation industry has always been an industry where collaboration and connectivity has been at the forefront to achieve improvements. Especially safety and efficiency has been at the centre of attention. Improvements have been achieved through enhanced equipment, standards and rules, interdependence between many stakeholders, implementation of safety nets and collaboration between operators at the sharp end. In short it is fair to say that the Aviation Industry relies on teamwork to make it possible for the flying public to move from A to B.

Sidney Dekker (author of several books and articles about Just Culture) put it this way, ‘It takes teamwork to succeed as well as it takes teamwork to fail’. If this is true, then we have to ask ourselves whether it makes sense to convict and fine individuals for trying to do their everyday job? Of course, this doesn’t include cases where operators at the “sharp end” are guilty of wilful misconduct in any form. Such cases amount to acts of sabotage, gross negligence or substance abuse etcetera. But for all other cases where individuals, who happen to be the person executing and implementing the work of the team, it is time to think differently.

The justice system in Switzerland responded to an incident with the conviction of an individual. That might be the right thing to do according to the world of justice and courts. But if that is the case, Switzerland and maybe other countries, has a problem in a world with teamwork and connectivity and how they handle incidents and accidents. It is time to change the Justice System to adapt to a more and more connected and dependent world.

This verdict has implications for the everyday handling of air traffic in Switzerland and maybe Europe-wide. It has already led to a reduction in airspace capacity in and around Switzerland and depending on the on-going cases, (there are two more pending at the courts in Switzerland) it might have permanent consequences for the air traffic.

Fortunately, there are possible solutions to the problem. We suggest that justice systems start to look for systems problems instead of holding individuals responsible for systems mishaps and failures. Justice systems in Germany as well as in the Unites States are using corporate responsibility in cases where a system has affected society negatively.

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