International Day of the Air Traffic Controller - 20 OCTOBER 2008
Air traffic control has developed from the humblest beginnings into a highly sophisticated and technology dependent occupation. And even as we are on the cusp of an even more dramatic leap of new technologies, many people remain unaware of just what an air traffic controller does and few comprehend just what is involved in keeping aircraft safely apart, but close enough so that they get to their destinations as efficiently as possible.
Making the world of air traffic control more accessible is one of the aims of IFATCA, a body that has been in existence since 1961. The idea of a world body for controllers was first proposed in 1956 by Mr. Jacob Wachtel, founder and first chairman of the Israel Air Traffic Controllers’ Association. He received positive feedback from the many associations in various countries he wrote over the next few years and eventually a working group was formed to prepare for the foundation meeting of the European Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations (EFATCA) for 19 – 20 October, 1961 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
However, during the course of the conference it was made known that at least twenty other national organizations also had expressed an interest in joining such a federation. And so a representative body of air traffic controllers that was founded by twelve European countries has grown to 134 Member Associations representing more than fifty thousand air traffic controllers worldwide.
Today the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) is a respected organization within the aviation world whose opinion is sought on key issues and who participates actively in international forums involving the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), EUROCONTROL, and the European Union among others.
The International Day of the Air Traffic Controller not only marks the anniversary of IFATCA: it also celebrates the men and women who 24/7 help make air travel the safest possible mode of transport.