IFATCA Celebrates 'International Day of the Air Traffic Controller'
Friday, October 21, 2011
For 50 years, the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations has been working on behalf of controllers across the globe in the name of workers’ rights and safety for employees and those who use the sky to travel. IFATCA has been an invaluable supporter of NATCA throughout its 24-year existence, and there is no reason to believe it will be anything different in the future.
Today, October 20, is the annual celebration of IFATCA’s “International Day of the Air Traffic Controller.” It marks the federation’s half-century of advocating for aviation safety and fighting for the rights of controllers.
“We are extraordinarily proud and excited to stand with controllers from around the globe today in celebrating our great profession and the international community that we have built and grown under the great leadership of IFATCA through the years,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said.
Jacob Wachtel, the first chairman of the Israel Air Traffic Controllers’ Association, sparked the idea for a worldwide organization representing air traffic controllers in 1956, and five years later, the association began with 12 affiliate unions across three continents. As air travel has grown to serve the entire world, nations rich and poor, IFATCA has grown to have 137 affiliates and more than 50,000 individual members.
As the union representing by far the largest and busiest airspace in the world, NATCA has had an important role in shaping IFATCA policy, and vice versa. As the American air system has grown, the world has tended to follow its lead. Having IFATCA’s support has allowed NATCA to promote American controllers’ remarkable safety record and techniques across the globe, ensuring that travelers worldwide can trust that their travel will be just as safe as it is here in the United States.
“The growth of aviation has made the world a much smaller place and the importance of IFATCA in representing the best interests of aviation safety through higher standards and also modernized equipment and procedures cannot be overstated,” NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said. “NATCA has been proud to have many of our past and current members and officers serve in leadership roles in IFATCA and our participation in global aviation safety efforts remains one of our highest callings.”
The expansion of IFATCA has been remarkable and has mirrored the dramatic growth in air transportation from 1961 until now. When NATCA began out of the ashes of the PATCO strike, IFATCA was instrumental in providing worldwide support for the controllers who guide nearly half of the world’s air traffic, and gave the union a natural base of support across the globe.
IFATCA and its affiliates have never wavered in their commitment to safety. The safety standards across the developing world are dramatically better than they were not more than a few decades ago, and NATCA has had a critical role in showing other nations how to keep air travel safe and reliable for the millions of people who use it every single day.