Controllers pressured to stay on past retirement

Europe’s controller workforce is warning that extending the age by which its members can retire  – due to either economic or political pressure – flies in the face of known impacts on fatigue and stress.

A recent summit of European members of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) heard how insufficient staffing at several air traffic control agencies, combined with a general increase in traffic levels, has led to an increase in people leaving the profession due to fatigue, stress and burnout.

“Ageing controller workforces, higher retirement ages, stringent cutbacks in personnel, recruitment and training by air navigation services providers have an unfiltered impact on a number of European member associations,” IFATCA said. “The investment in people – the air traffic controllers – remains a vital issue in this highly complex and technical environment.”

“While the implementation of better tools and technologies in many workplaces help the controller’s duties, it cannot replace the human actions necessary to guarantee overall safety. Just Culture and health protection of air traffic controllers in the execution of their profession require more attention than ever before.”

IFATCA’s European executive vice president Zeljko Oreski, encouraged further collaboration within the industry: Europe is faced with challenging issues that can only be resolved with true collaboration among all stakeholders involved. Air traffic control associations have comprehensive experience and constructive ideas that are significantly valuable in finding positive solutions.”

The European Regional Meeting of IFATCA, was held between 9-11 October in Tallinn, Estonia. More than 150 participants representing 38 of the 44 member associations in the region attended the meeting. ATCEUC, IFATSEA, the European Cockpit Association (ECA), SESAR and EUROCONTROL were also in attendance.

Read: NATCA calls for action on controller staffing


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