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NATCA Celebrates 50 Years of IFATCA During 'International Day of the Air Traffic Controller' - (10/20/2011)

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The National Air Traffic Controllers Association congratulates its worldwide partner, the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA), on its 50th anniversary of advocating on behalf of those who keep flights safe and operating smoothly across the globe. From its beginnings in 1961, IFATCA has grown to represent over 50,000 members across 137 different associations on six continents.

IFATCA’s support has been instrumental, as NATCA has grown to represent more than 20,000 safety professionals. U.S. controllers have a treasured ally in IFATCA to coordinate their efforts with controllers across the other three designated regions.

“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.

Today 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. 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, IFATCA began with 12 affiliate associations across three continents. As air travel has grown to serve the entire world, nations rich and poor, IFATCA has grown to have over 11 times as many affiliates.

While the federation’s size has grown, its mission remains the same; to promote safe and efficient air travel with the same high standards worldwide, to help develop and assist in implementing modernized air traffic control systems, and to hold its members to a high standard of excellence and professionalism. Air travel has grown from a luxury to something relied on by millions of travelers every day, but IFATCA’s members have always put forth the strongest possible effort.

“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.

NATCA members operate by far the world’s largest and busiest airspace, and the partnership with IFATCA has allowed both to work together and focus on their common goal: making the world’s airspace as safe and efficient as possible.

IFATCA and its members have taken their wealth of knowledge and helped developing countries get their fledgling air industries off to a productive start, by sharing skills and resources in the name of serving all those who use the world’s airspace to travel, no matter where they may live.

Fifty years have passed since IFATCA was founded, and NATCA will do everything it can to ensure that the next 50 years are marked by safety, growth and strength.


The National Air Traffic Controllers Association represents over 20,000 highly skilled controllers, engineers and other safety-related professionals.

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