IFAIMA, IFATCA, IFATSEA and ITF joint statement on Air Navigation Services

During these trying times, IFAIMA, IFATCA, IFATSEA and ITF would like to offer our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost a loved one to the pandemic. We express our sincere sympathies to those affected by the virus and the measures in place to combat the spread, and share everyone’s concerns with regards to the long term impacts on society.

We understand the restriction of passenger flights is an effective mitigation to the spread. However, it must also be recognised that the efficient transit of freight flights is critical to the timely distribution of medical supplies and personnel. In a number of remote locations, it is of paramount importance to facilitate the timely operations of MEDEVAC flights; these air missions are indeed essential to transport those who require immediate and critical healthcare towards facilities that can accommodate their needs.

Amid this pandemic, Air Traffic Management (ATM) staff and, in particular, air traffic controllers continue to work, keeping our skies safe. They provide crucial services to the medical, humanitarian, military, repatriation and cargo flights still taking place. International organisations, governments, regulators and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) must ensure continuity of operations by complying with the health and sanitary requirements that this situation demands. They must also provide sufficient financial and regulatory support to the ANSPs to fulfill their mission [1].

IFAIMA, IFATCA, IFATSEA and ITF are working closely with the relevant United Nations agencies and other key international organisations to provide guidance material, gather and share best practices and offer support to those associations and professionals in need of assistance.

In the longer term, the COVID-19 pandemic will remain a global health emergency for the foreseeable future and has triggered an economic catastrophe. Millions of people are already suffering the dire economic circumstances as businesses shut down, income is reduced, and jobs disappear.

We thank those governments that have put in place income protection for workers and urge that any remaining people not covered should also be assisted.
It is crucial that governments understand the importance of aviation and support the aviation industry. Laying off highly qualified staff and/or implementing irreversible cost-reduction measures will delay the recovery of the aviation industry and should be avoided at all cost. Protecting these jobs in this crisis and enabling the training for existing and new staff will guarantee that aviation can support functioning global supply chains and ensure that they are capable to lead in the economic recovery when the pandemic has been contained.

The current situation highlights that Air Navigation Services (ANS) are part of a country’s essential infrastructure, playing a key role in the distribution of much-needed medical and other supplies to address this health crisis. This was for instance recognised by the EU Ministers of Transport in their most recent video conference [2] at the end of April 2020. Regrettably, the funding of this critical infrastructure is at risk due to the flawed financing mechanism that includes airspace users wanting to defer the payment of route charges already incurred. This will severely impact both the current and future operation of ANSPs

IFAIMA, IFATCA, IFATSEA and ITF therefore call on governments to provide immediate financial and regulatory support for all air navigation service providers, in order to ensure the provision of air navigation services is financially supported to overcome this crisis and ensure that sufficient essential qualified staff is available when commercial air traffic returns. We also urge to investigate alternative and sustainable ways of financing these and other essential services, making them less dependent on volatility and economic downturns.

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IFATCA PCX & CEO Message on COVID-19 Crisis

In normal circumstances, the IFATCA family would be gathering in Singapore at this moment for our 2020 Annual Conference. Unfortunately, over the past months and weeks, the world has dramatically changed from being very well connected to one of isolation. Instead of travelling to and from all corners of the world, many can not even visit their close relatives and friends.

Aviation is one of the most affected industries, with many airlines having grounded their fleet. At the same time, it is worth noting that our profession continues to play a crucial role in bringing medical supplies to the regions where they are most needed.

There’s no doubt that the world will overcome this challenge. What is not yet clear, is what the long term effects on our industry, the economy and society overall will be. But there is no doubt that aviation professionals, including air traffic controllers, will continue to play a crucial role in recovering from this global crisis.

In the meantime, our priorities as professionals should be:

  • To ensure the safest possible circumstances for air traffic controllers worldwide.
  • To guarantee the continuity of the service given the vital role in combating this crisis.
  • To counteract the possible long-term effects of this crisis, including the ability to revert when demand increases again.

Short term thinking and exclusive focus on economics have dearly cost our industry in the past. Drastic cutbacks now will make long-term recovery a lot more complicated and uncertain. It is an essential message that IFATCA and other staff representatives must bring to those in charge.

Our strongest assets as controllers are our flexibility and resilience. These will be tested to the fullest in the coming weeks and months, as will be our professionalism and motivation. This health crisis impacts each one of us, as do the measures to combat it. IFATCA, its Executive Board and Member Associations will do their utmost to support each one of you in maintaining the necessary focus.

We can and we will get through this.  With communication, cooperation, and collaboration we have always helped each other in the best of times and the worst of times.

Let us continue to work together to help each other as our founding associations envisioned.

We are IFATCA, we are strong and we will recover.
One Sky, One Voice, Since 1961.

Duncan Auld,
IFATCA President and CEO

Over the coming days and weeks, we will be adding information and resources to the IFATCA website. More sensitive information will most likely end up in the member-only section. While this is a global pandemic, we ask Member Associations to coordinate through their Regional Vice Presidents.

Download the statement (PDF)


International Civil Aviation Day

Every time I fly, I am still amazed by the miracle that is aviation. Strapped into a seat on a several hundred-tonne machine, it powers forward and slowly moves away from the earth, the only realm of humanity for millennia. This was only a dream of great minds for centuries. The aircraft defies gravity and crosses land, mountains, seas, and international boundaries, in a matter of hours connecting people from every corner of the globe.

Saturday, December 7 is International Civil Aviation Day, a brief yet relevant reminder of all we have achieved over the past century.

Since the early 1920s, air traffic control has developed as an integral part of the aviation community, building what is undoubtedly one of the most complex systems in the world. An often unseen and under-represented part of the industry, it has been at the core of the exponential growth of the aviation industry. We are soon to celebrate 100 years of air traffic control in 2022, a fitting time to look how far we have come, but also to forge the road ahead.

On a similar note, ICAO is turning 75 this year. For the last three-quarters of a century, they have consistently been a symbol of unity and direction. This United Nations Organisation has been the corner-store of international aviation standards. Without their leadership and guidance, it is difficult to imagine where we would be now.

Air traffic is predicted to double over the next 15 years and we already face a critical shortage of aviation professionals. We urgently need to recruit a young and diverse future workforce to continue the innovation and development of our industry so it can cope with the challenges of the future. Society is changing fast, let us embrace generational change and adapt to the modern world in ways we have never imagined.

We often hear that aviation is the safest form of transport and statistically, it is true but this is no reason for complacency. We have many challenges ahead as the industry will evolve at a rate not experienced before. We must be innovative, flexible, and creative. Now is our time to shine.

As I board another flight tomorrow, I will take a moment to recognise all the people, the millions of people over the years, that have made aviation the amazing achievement that we see today.

Happy International Civil Aviation Day.

Duncan Auld
IFATCA President & CEO


IFATCA & IFALPA highlight concerns on Just Culture

The first ICAO European Aviation System Planning Group (EASPG) is currently being held in Paris, France. Our EVP Europe, Tom Laursen, presented a joint IFATCA-IFALPA paper on the effects of criminalisation of incidents in the context of Safety Culture. The paper and its conclusions were supported by many Sates representatives and the meeting plans to adapt the detailed conclusions into firm recommendations.

The ICAO EUR office also suggested that they should start workshops on this. It’s another important initiative taken by IFALPA and IFATCA to try to advance Just Culture in aviation as a means to improve safety.

The report can be found here.


IFATCA Asia/Pacific Regional Meeting in Nepal

The 36th IFATCA Asia/Pacific Regional Meeting was held from 21 to 23 November 2019 in the Aloft Hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal. This event was organised by the Nepal Air Traffic Controllers’ Association and supported by more than 60 aviation entities. It was a highly attended regional meeting, with 14 Member Associations present. Another three had given proxies, meaning that only two associations from the region were not represented.

It was the third IFATCA gathering in Nepal, after the first regional meeting in 2004 and the annual Conference in 2012.

Apart from a number of highly appreciated presentations and discussions (see, four regional Vice-Presidents were elected to assist EVP ASP: Cheryl Yen-Chun Chen, Taiwan (North-Asia); Niranjan Dallakoti, Nepal (South-West Asia); Greg Okeroa, New Zealand (Pacific); and Rudy S. Boctot Jr, Philippines (South-East Asia).

The next Asia/Pacific Regional Meeting will be held in Cebu, the Philippines.

Think Safety – Sofia, Bulgaria

The workshop participants in Sofia, Bulgaria

Last week, IFATCA held its 11th Think Safety workshop. The course was coordinated by the Bulgarian Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations and sponsored by the Bulgarian Air Navigation Service Provider (BULATSA). It was organised at the Novotel Sofia airport Hotel. The course brought together different stakeholders from the Bulgarian service provider – different departments, including people from their legal department. Staff from the Bulgarian Civil Aviation Authority also participated.

left to right: Tom Laursen, Alfred Vlasek and Anthony Smoker

The course, or rather the interactive workshop, was facilitated by Anthony Smoker (UK), Tom Laursen (DK) and Alfred Vlasek (AT). The participants had the opportunity to improve their understanding of safety and investigation processes, and especially on how these interact with a just culture.


IFATCA AFM Regional Meeting in Hammamet, Tunisia – Day 3

The third and last day of the 30th IFATCA Regional Meeting of the Africa Middle-East Region started with the closed session for Member Associations. The meeting adopted the agenda for the 30th AFM RM and accepted the report from the 29th meeting in Abuja, Nigeria (2018).

Mr. Duncan Auld, President and CEO of IFATCA, then presented an update on the upcoming Conference to be held in Singapore in March 2020. He discussed the ongoing preparations, registration process and visas. Mr Auld continued with an update on the Federation’s budget and the adjustments that were made by the Executive Board since the Conference in Conchal, Costa Rica, in order to meet the requirements set by the Directors at Conference.

Mr. Wickel Yannick Elidjé (Côte d’Ivoire) presented the conclusions of a survey conducted within the AFM Region to find out what were the main issues and challenges of the Member Associations.

Mr. Walter Litto Mashaba (South Africa) introduced the problems caused by the lack of a SSR codes allocation scheme in Africa, and proposed certain solutions as a way forward.

Mrs. Nadia Bomowongo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) summarized the challenge of ICAO language proficiency in the region and walked the participants through a review of the current situation in Africa.

Mr. Ahmad Abba then provided the participants with an excellent presentation on the current status of the Safety and Just Culture in the AFM region.

Finally, the Kenyan Member Association presented an offer to host the 2020 AFM Regional Meeting in Mombasa, Kenya. The offer was accepted by the meeting.

The meeting was officially concluded by Mr. Habib Makki, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Tunisia, Mr. Skander Khalfallah, Secretary General of the Tunisian Association – Association Tunisienne des Contrôleurs de la Circulation Aérienne (ATCCA), and Mr. Duncan Auld, President and CEO of IFATCA.


IFATCA AFM Regional Meeting in Hammamet, Tunisia – Day 2

The second day of the 30th IFATCA Regional Meeting of the Africa Middle-East Region started with a workshop on the Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) provisions that will become applicable next year, on 5 November 2020.

Mr. Mohamed Smaoui, Regional Deputy Director- ICAO Cairo office in Egypt, gave a detailed overview of the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) contained in Annex 11, paragraph 2.28, and Appendices 5 and 6. Mr Duncan Auld, President and CEO stressed the need for FRMS to be supported by a robust safety oversight system. Mr. Jehad Feqir (IATA) presented the FRMS strategy from the airline perspective.

A panel of experts from different fields in aviation then interacted with the audience and discussed the implementation of FRMS in the region. The panel was moderated by Mr. Mohamed Smaoui (ICAO-MID, Cairo, Egypt), and was composed of Mr. Jehad Feqir (IATA), Mr. Mohamed Rejeb (ACAO), Dr. Hanéne Djmail (CEMEDA), Cptn. Souhaiel Dallel (IFALPA), Mr. Duncan Auld (IFATCA), Mr. Fateh Bekhti (IFATCA) and Mr. Jean-François Lepage (IFATCA).

The afternoon was dedicated to a joint IFATCA-ITF workshop: Working Together – Conflict Management and Resolutions, animated by Mr. Mohamed Dauda Safiyanu (Africa Regional Secretary – ITF) and Mr. Fateh Bekhti, Executive Vice-President Africa Middle-East.


IFATCA AFM Regional Meeting in Hammamet, Tunisia – Day 1

The first day of the 30th IFATCA Regional Meeting of the Africa Middle-East Region started with official opening remarks from Mr. Skander Khalfallah, President of the Tunisian Air Traffic Controllers Association – Association Tunisienne des Contrôleurs de la Circulation Aérienne (ATCCA), Mr. Lofti Mhicen, CEO of the Office de l’Aviation Civile et des Aéroports de Tunisie (OACA), Mr. Fateh Bekhti, IFATCA Executive Vice-President Africa Middle East (AFM), Mr. Duncan Alex Auld, President and CEO of IFATCA, and His Excellency Mr. Rene Trabelsi, Minister of Transport and Tourism who officially opened the meeting.

The event then continued with two presentations from the Tunisian CAA (Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile (DGAC) de la Tunisie), an overview of the air navigation system in Tunisia provided by the national Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), and a presentation of the situation in Tunisia offered by the local Member Association, ATCCA. OACA then presented their training support initiative for the Arab Civil Aviation Organization (ACAO) Member States. All presentations were focused on the need for more comprehensive training in the African region and highlighted regional cooperation as a key enabler for achieving such goal.

In the afternoon, a discussion took place on the many items on the work programme of the Professional and Legal Committee (PLC) and Technical and Operational Committee (TOC) of IFATCA, presented by Mr. Jean-François Lepage, Liaison Officer to the ICAO Air Navigation Commission, and an overview of the IFATCA Equality, Diversity, and Ethics Task Force (EDETF), was presented by Mr. Sverre Ivar Elsbak.

Mr. Peter Van Rooyen, Executive Vice-President Professional, gave an in-depth presentation on the many workshops offered by the Federation. This was followed by a presentation from Mr. Mohamed Smaoui, Regional Deputy Director- ICAO Cairo office in Egypt, joined by representatives from IFALPA and IFATSEA, who shared their experiences and initiatives with regards to training in the aviation industry. Mr. Hennie Marais, Chief Air Traffic Services ATNS South Africa gave an entertaining and thought provoking presentation on the links between training and professionalism in aviation.

The day concluded with presentations from our sponsors: United ATS, and Indra.


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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