IFATCA 2030+ – Africa & Middle East

The IFATCA Africa Middle East Region comprises 47 Member Associations (MAs). Although there were a few multiple replies received from some MAs, 18 of these MAs completed the questionnaire, giving a 38% response rate. This was a disappointing response rate that was similar to that in the Americas region. These 2 regions had the lowest participation rate to the survey. This inadvertently demonstrated the fragility of the A55 directory as primary means of contact, and the immense diversity within this region.

Focus on the region

A majority of the respondents (84%) supported a combination of strengthened regions with a global focus. They felt that there should be more delegation of power/ initiative and budget to the region to find solutions for regional issues. It was felt that a decentralised aspect would create more flexibility and increase the effectiveness of MAs and their roles in the parent body. The information flow from MAs through the region and then on to the global level should be enhanced. This regional focus was reinforced by the respondents as, when asked about the possibility of a regional TOC and PLC, overseen by global committees, 83% replied that this was a favourable solution. It was thought that this would allow different regions to apply their own expertise and experience to local topics, whilst global subjects could be addressed by the global committees. A resounding 100% of replies indicated that more should be done to address regional issues. It was suggested that having a regional office could increase the effective exchange of information throughout the local Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) community. More assistance through financial and organisational means could be offered. More exposure to the Speak English Program would be beneficial. More effort should be made to ensure no ATCO is left behind in terms of their protection, education and the technical equipment they use.

Conference and meetings

Consideration was given to both regional and annual conferences. For regional meetings, 55% replied that they thought the duration should be increased to 4 days. One respondent proposed that it would be best to hold regional meetings twice a year. The majority of those who thought the current duration was just right shared their concern on the financial burden of attending conference. More thought and preparation should also be given to the existing meeting format to ensure their effectiveness. A second virtual meeting may be helpful as well. Most of the comments indicated that although face to face meetings were preferred, 59% of respondents expressed their wish for hybrid conferences. This was mainly due to the financial and time commitments required to attend physical meetings. MAs felt that the following 5 topics were things that they thought were most important at a regional meeting: workshops, networking, learning from peers, latest developments, panel discussions. In order to limit the liability that MAs are exposed to during the organisation of conferences, the respondents shared some considerations such as the EB subsidising the conferences, engaging a professional conference agent, utilising Federation’s voice through the EB in writing letters for sponsorship and to seek support from other MAs in the region.

Regional issues

The MAs felt that the topics of most concern to the region were very varied. Most comments point towards the protection of ATCOs in their work. This could include working towards improvements in safety, just culture, social and service standards and the initial and continuous training of ATCOs. The implementation of CISM in those MAs that were not fortunate enough to benefit from it. The extension of the SEP to the region was also mentioned several times. Some issues of concern also include the need to develop procedures to ensure that MAs were implicated during incident investigation and/or disciplinary proceedings were fairly treated. Technological developments are also of concern to the region, as was the procurement of ATM equipment and their associated serviceability. There was also mention of creating an internationally recognised University degree level training program for ATCOs to increase career options and remuneration levels. The promotion of the profession of an ATCO region wide may also help improve working and social conditions.

Increase in membership fee

Although reference to expenditure by MAs attending conferences was a major concern, 53% of the respondents indicated that they would be willing to increase membership fees, with a majority of them indicating that they are able to accept an increase of between 10-15%. This increase would be on the proviso that considerable lobbying should be undertaken to increase recognition by authorities and also remuneration by employers. More support should also be given to MAs in terms of training at all levels of their organisations, which could include an increased in the number of workshops and symposiums. The increased funds should also be used to help in the support of less fortunate MAs. For the MAs that opposed a potential increase in fees, they shared that they are themselves financially limited, or that they do not feel the need for more employed IFATCA staff and that fees should be supplemented by sponsors.

Regional participation in IFATCA work

AFM MAs shared that in order to increase the feeling of social cohesion, more importance should be given to working closely with other organisations such as ANSPs, NSAs, ICAO and other UN bodies. It was thought that a virtual platform allowing training workshops for MAs where participants could interact would be beneficial. Liaison visits between MAs, sporting activities and give-away (lanyards/ key rings) production would enhance the identity of the IFATCA brand. Team building activities during annual/ regional conferences. A respondent felt that the IFATCA EB should make interventions at international meetings more often with regard to non-compliance to ICAO standards (as IFALPA do regularly). This could lead to work improvements. The publication of documentation on the IFATCA website (training/ standards/ best practices and ICAO publications) should be made easily accessible. 59% of MAs indicated that they are willing to volunteer for IFATCA. They believed that volunteering enables gaining knowledge of IFATCA activities, acquiring technical knowledge, socio-professional and managerial qualities whilst working in a multicultural environment. It also allows networking with peers. The survey results also showed that ANSPs and NSAs that ATCOs have broad knowledge on the profession and new technologies. It is also worthwhile on a social level. The problems of finance and time available were the greatest hindrance to volunteerism. English proficiency levels, the process of how to apply for positions and not perceiving to have the technical knowledge level required are also inhibitors to volunteering.

Information availability

60% of MAs indicated that they are familiar with IFATCA manuals and guidelines. However, more can be done, and some suggestions included communicating more frequently via dedicated articles on a particular subject in ‘The Controller’ magazine or on other aviation websites. The availability of the information in different languages should also be considered.