Air traffic control challenges in Africa and worldwide

Sufficient resources should be directed towards establishing robust and independent safety regulations

Objects and problems associated with air traffic control can be mastered only by international co-operation, mutual understanding and an exchange of ideas and  experience. It is fitting, therefore, that Air Traffic Controllers of all nations should unite in a world-wide professional federation, which is based on the  principle of co-operation in all professional matters.
IFATCA is an independent, non-political, non-profit and non-industrial Professional Federation representing more than 40,000 air traffic controllers in 128 countries  worldwide.

Air Traffic Control Challenges
IFATCA promotes and uphold a high standard of knowledge and professional efficiency among air traffic controllers, and assists and advises in the development of safe  and orderly systems of Air Traffic Control.

What are the future challenges to be faced by controller’s throughout the world? In the immediate and short term, most IFATCA members will be facing the current  crisis being experienced by the global aviation industry, acknowledged as the largest crisis ever faced in the modern aviation history.

However, the crisis will not last for long and public confidence in flying will. This is predicted to re-introduce the challenges similar to those existing before the  crisis.

The predicted doubling of the 1997 traffic figures will take five years longer and will most probably be achieved by 2020 instead of 2015. In general, it can be said  that the challenges can be categorised into the following: Political, Economic, Technical, Human Factors and Safety.

Air Traffic Control Safety
Safety has always assumed to be taken for granted. In recent years safety has been reduced to an inherent factor of the industry and the ATCOs have had to fight to  retain safety as the cornerstone of our profession and the industry as a whole.
The vision of IFATCA on safety is that as a result of the changing nature of the present ATM system, which involves many factors ranging from the status of the ATS  providers to the reduction of separation standards, there must be one constant in the process: safety.

It is essential that sufficient resources should be directed towards establishing robust and independent safety regulations at global, regional, and national levels  to encompass ATM equipment, procedures and personnel. The establishment of any safety standard is predicated on the successful completion of approved verification,  evaluation, and validation procedures and processes.


Air Traffic Management Considerations

1. Political
Attempts to privatise ATC like airports are currently underway throughout the globe. However the aspects of privatisation in ATC and it’s competitive elements are  giving concern to our Member Associations. Since there is a lack of real investment into long-term projects, to increase capacity there is a need for investment into  safety and ground infrastructure (e.g. more runways).

2. Economic
More traffic, less delays and at a lower cost - this conundrum will certainly not be achieved in the coming years. States must be aware of their responsibilities to  sustain the Air Traffic Providers ability for service provision in order to meet the political vision.

3. Technical
As a major stakeholder, IFATCA fully supports the development of the global ATM system. However, as a stakeholder in the ATM system we are committed to the inclusion  of the controllers’ viewpoint in all future developments of the ATM system, at all stages of its development from the concept through to operational reality.

4. Human Resources
There is a current i.e. shortage of ATCO’s in Europe which has to be resolved in the coming years. Furthermore one third of the current workforce will retire in the next few years. This is the largest challenge for the current ATC environment. Authorities and Air Traffic Service Providers will have to commit resources now to hire  sufficient staff to cope with this inevitability.

In conclusion IFATCA is confident that the traffic will continue to grow in the coming year albeit slightly slower than forecasted, and that the current slow-down  should provide the opportunity for States and Service Providers to catch up with some of the delays in providing adequate staffing, appropriate procedures, and  reliable system development to overcome the current problems.


The challenges for ATM have not changed to those prior to the current crisis. This will require all stakeholders to work together to overcome these and place the industry on the correct footing to move forward.


IFATCA - International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations

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