Three Thousand Air Traffic Controllers Lacking Worldwide
The worldwide shortage of air traffic controllers, excessive use of overtime and the absence of just culture were among the pressing issues addressed by the more than 00 delegates at the 47th Annual Conference of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations (IFATCA) that was held in the East African city of Arusha, Tanzania, between 10-14 March 2008.
In addressing the staff shortage and the consequent safety issues, IFATCA resolved that its Member Associations should discourage air traffic controllers from working overtime and to be aware of their obligations concerning the number of working hours permitted within the framework of the applicable laws. Citing the immediate need for an estimated three thousand controllers, Marc Baumgartner, IFATCA President and CEO said: This shortage of controllers, which is evident in all regions Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and North and South America represents a serious hazard to the flying public as we strive to maintain a safe and efficient air traffic system handling ever increasing numbers of flights. This dire situation is exacerbated when air traffic service providers, in an effort to keep the system running, resort to mandatory or forced overtime.
Excessive overtime amid the continuing growth of air traffic results in mental and physical fatigue that threatens the health of air traffic control personnel. We call upon States and Air Traffic Services Providers worldwide to cognise this potential hazard and to take immediate steps to mitigate the serious risks posed, stated Mr. Baumgartner.
The Federation expressed their continuing concern at the state of aviation in South America where the slow move away from military led to civilian based aviation authorities continues to pose problems. While noting some positive moves in Argentina, Brazil is yet to recover from the repercussions of the mid-air collision over the Amazon in September 2006. The harassment and prosecution of air traffic controllers involved in this tragic accident is clear evidence that the just culture principle is sadly not being applied. The philosophy of blame and criminalisation directly inhibits the development of safety practices. Working with our industry partners and other aviation stakeholders, together with the States and ICAO to promote just culture is our immediate priority, said the IFATCA President. There is no greater legacy that we can bestow upon the traveling public than the safest, most efficient and resilient air traffic system. Air Traffic
Management is the backbone of an aviation industry that continues to sustain worldwide economic growth, concluded Mr. Baumgartner.