Social dialogue, staff involvement needed more than ever: ATCEUC

Europe’s controller unions have expressed their deep disappointment in the recently published proposals of the Wise Persons Group (WPG) to allow a future ATM system able to cope with challenges such as capacity, resilience, sustainability and cost.

ATCEUC said that although it was in agreement with the European ATM 2035 vision of ‘a customer focused Single European Sky that meets future needs for aviation services and environmental goals’, it believed that the business and economic aspects are given too much priority.

“The continuous references to the market, as the preferred option for ATM, or the establishment of a strong economic regulator are seen as one of the solutions,” it said. “Unfortunately, recent experience has proved that focusing mainly on costs has unintentional negative consequences for the quality of ATM services and is jeopardising the ability to increase in capacity.”

Reviewing licensing and training requirements for controllers should not be used as leverage for any reduction in the quality of controller training which is designed to ensure the competence of a controller and is essential in delivering a safe ATM service for the travelling public, it argued. “Safety must remain the most important issue and must not be compromised in any shape or form. Just stating that Safety is paramount and not acting accordingly is not enough.”

ATCEUC said it is in favour of initiatives that support improvements in quality of service, but some of these recommendations are proposing a fundamental redesign of the existing ATM system.

“Changes of this magnitude will affect not only the staff but also providers, industry and states. Full participation of all stakeholders in the design and implementation of any future ATM system will be essential for success.”

“What ATCEUC sees as lacking in this report is a strong commitment to Social Dialogue which should be the main change management driver that will enable us to transform this vision into a concrete and realistic roadmap to 2035.”

ATCEUC said it is requesting the European Commission to include staff representatives in an exchange of views about the WPG Report with the aim of having a wider vision about the opportunities ahead but also about the challenges its workforce faces.