Shortly after World War II, the United Nations Organization came into being and soon gave birth to several specialised agencies, one of which was the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The fact that ICAO was to make decisions on aviation policy without pilot representation immediately began to interest several pilots' Associations. Airline pilots begun to realise that they were citizens of the world in many respects; their daily work took them across the boundaries of many countries, and they were often dependent upon distant municipalities or States to provide them with the facilities necessary for their personal safety and that of their passengers. They became, therefore, vitally concerned with national and international affairs related to aviation.
To exercise some control over these forces, pilots had to put themselves into a position of showing determined leadership, in aviation and to achieve this they had to organise on an international basis. This was the reason for the birth of IFALPA in April of 1948 during a conference of pilots' associations held in London for the express purpose of providing a formal means for the airline pilots of the world to interact with ICAO.
The belief then was that the unique perspective of pilots operating in scheduled flying would be of critical benefit to the creation and adaptation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) through which ICAO regulates international civil aviation. This belief holds true today backed up by more than 60 years of experience. Today, IFALPA numbers over 100 Member Associations and represents in excess of 100,000 pilots from around the world.
What We Do
Virtually every part of the Operating Specifications of ICAO has been influenced to some degree by IFALPA pilot representatives. Our contribution may be as obvious as drafting entire sections of an Annex which is subsequently adopted, or as subtle as prevailing in an argument for or against a proposal in one of the many ICAO Technical Panels. In either case, the end result is the same. The continuing input of Line Pilots brings reality and balance to what can, at times, be the intensely political and economic process of drafting operating conditions for the airlines of the world. When procedural change does or does not happen, it is significant for aviation safety. Equally, when a technological solution for a persistent problem is finally mandated, safety is improved. In both instances, IFALPA pilots will have been involved for many hours, presenting and advocating the Air Line Pilot point of view.
ANC Observer Status
IFALPA and IATA (International Air Transport Association) are the only organizations granted permanent observer status to the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC). In terms of significance, this is one of the major accomplishments of IFALPA. Among the many activities of IFALPA, the one most familiar to our members is our accident investigation and support work. When an accident occurs, the accident investigation expertise of IFALPA is quickly brought into play. Both investigation and representation skills are frequently required, particularly if the flight crew has survived the accident. All pilots benefit by ensuring that all the factors underlying the accident are properly identified and resolved. If properly done, each accident investigation can result in significant improvements to aviation safety. Experience has shown that the involvement of properly trained and experienced Line Pilot investigators early in the investigation process is essential to a full and complete investigation and analysis.
Co-operation between Member Associations
Positive co-operation between Member Associations in times of need continues to be an invaluable benefit of IFALPA membership. Many examples of this strength occur on a regular basis with IFALPA heading up teams of Incident and Accident Specialists, or giving other assistance, while providing these services at a moment's notice. Criminal Prosecution
At the same time, a different set of IFALPA representatives have attempted to assist flight crew members who have been involved in an accident and face criminal, regulatory or disciplinary action as a result of an accident. The ability of the various Member Associations to provide assistance post-accident to their fellow IFALPA members may be considered one of the greatest benefits of membership in IFALPA to the average Line Pilot.
IFALPA Major Accomplisments
The following are examples of major achievements gained by the work of Air Line Pilots:
Centreline Approach Lighting
In 1953, ICAO adopted a set of standards for centerline approach lighting developed by an IFALPA pilot.
In 1955, as a result of an accident investigation, a Line Pilot was instrumental in the development of instrument comparators. A year on, the IFALPA Cockpit Standardisation Study Group adopted the "Basic T" instrument layout as its policy and convinced ICAO to make the design a worldwide standard for cockpit instrumentation layout.
Hijacking & Carriage of Dangerous Goods
As early as 1960, IFALPA was leading the industry in concern over aircraft hijacking and the carriage of dangerous goods. Obviously, these two subjects are still at the forefront of IFALPA's concerns and continue to demand close attention. When dealing with such issues IFALPA are able to act in cooperation with industry and government.
Aircraft Manufacturer Relationships
IFALPA enjoys excellent relationships with Airbus, Boeing and Embraer and has had significant input into the design and modification of the newer products - a tradition which really goes back to the DC-8 introduction and continues with IFALPA's input into the A380, EMB190 and B-787 aircraft. Representatives of the manufacturers are regular attendees at IFALPA technical committee meetings, where give-and-take on operation of the various models is encouraged for the benefit of all.
On the subject of airports, the signage seen around the world today is largely the product of an IFALPA development project which was ultimately adopted by ICAO as the international standard. This standard was a quantum improvement in aids to navigation while taxiing and undoubtedly has prevented many a ground collision caused by disorientation on the airport surface.
Extended Range Operations
IFALPA has worked with both European and North American regulators and manufacturers to develop comprehensive standards for Extended Range Operations for both twin engine aircraft and, more recently, all aircraft operating over remote Polar Regions.
RVSM & ACAS
IFALPA was fully involved in the initial implementation of Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) in the North Atlantic, and the subsequent implementation by Eurocontrol in domestic European airspace. To address the risks of mid-air collisions, IFALPA has long advocated installation of ACAS equipment and mandatory procedures for both pilots and controllers when a Resolution Advisory is issued by the equipment.
The same can be said of ongoing efforts to minimize the risk of collisions on the airport surface, commonly called Runway Incursions. In addition to airport design, operating procedures and future technology, IFALPA has focused on airport capacity enhancement procedures which seemed to greatly increase the risk of collision by the reduction of safety margins inherent in the procedure design.
In the field of performance, IFALPA has consistently injected the views of the pilot at all points and over a sustained period. In the 1950s operators failed to allow fully for the excessive effect of wet runways on jet aircraft. This effect was not satisfactorily compensated for by the discounting of reverse thrust credit and the result was an undue number of landing overruns or aborts on wet runways. It took from the 1950s until the 1990s to get wet-runway accountability universally into State airworthiness regulations. That it did get there was certainly due in large measure to IFALPA.
Approach and Runway Lighting
From the 1950s, progress in the field of lighting was steady and, to a large extent, made under conditions in full cooperation between IFALPA, IATA and the ICAO States. IFALPA contributed to these achievements step-by-step; from approach-lighting, to visual approach indicators, to narrow-gauge runway lights and, finally, to taxiway lighting.
What has been said regarding approach lighting can certainly be repeated in the case of the instrument landing system (ILS). That this guidance system was eventually installed at most international airports was, at least in part, due to vigorous worldwide campaigns by IFALPA.
IFALPA's achievements in the operational field, though involving less conspicuous campaigns than those mentioned above, were nevertheless very significant. For example, IFALPA contributed greatly in developing procedures for co-ordinating responsibilities as between pilot and radar controller, and also drafting what eventually became the standard format for radiotelephone reporting. IFALPA secured, via ICAO, the systemised allocation of alpha-numeric call signs.
After the events of September 11th 2001, IFALPA became a founding member of the Global Aviation Security Action Group (GASAG), an industry group established to co-ordinate the global aviation industry's inputs to achieve an effective world-wide security system and ensure public confidence in civil aviation. GASAG was instrumental in providing a consolidated view on aviation security improvements, in particular regarding cockpit doors, Air Marshalls and training issues. IFALPA also actively participates in the ICAO AVSEC Panel and related working groups to develop amendments to ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for Annex 17 (Security) and the AVSEC Manual. IFALPA members advise National and Regional Authorities on the development of operational and training guidelines in aviation security.
The building of Hong Kong's airport at Chek Lap Kok (CLK) was an opportunity for IFALPA to provide input into the planning of one of the world's major new airports. The Federation worked hard for its say and, in doing so, highlighted many of its operational concerns worldwide. IFALPA made significant design inputs into the airport, including renaming the stands, apron markings and visual aid signs, and also had input into CLK's airport docking guidance system. IFALPA influenced operational decisions at CLK through its involvement on a variety of groups and sub-groups, including: the New Airport Safety Committee (NASC), the Visual Aids Working Group (VAWG) and Windshear and Turbulence Warning System Working Group. IFALPA has also influenced airports elsewhere, with extensive work carried out by Committees and local pilot Associations in relation to Amsterdam's Schipol and Germany's Munich airports and, more recently, at Bangkok's new airport.
'Critically Deficient' Airspace
IFALPA, in late 1996, publicly made an issue on safety in the skies over Africa. This move spurred an international effort to improve safety and modernise the management of African airspace. In response to the concerns highlighted by the South African pilots, IFALPA formed a European/African (EUR/AFI) working group, which tasked a group of carefully selected pilots to formally record any and all shortcomings and deficiencies encountered during operations in African airspace. What evolved was a comprehensive database of general, enroute, terminal area and aerodrome problems that existed in Africa.