IFALPA's Hall of Fame

IFALPA is celebrating its 70th anniversary next year and ALpha-Omega has been asked to provide material for some articles that will appear in the Interpilot magaziine.  The request is for a few short paragraphs to cover a few highlights of IFALPA activity during each decade. As you inmagine it is pretty cahllenging to compress 10 years activirty into a few words!

I have drafted some ideas shown below which Christoph Schewe (IFALPA Managing Director) seems to think suits the need, but I cannot cover the period from 1988 on very well, particularly after I retired in 2000 so younger members need to fill in the gaps! Please could members take a look at the draft below and by comment on this forum suggest changes if you feel there is a major aspect overlooked, and also add in the same general style to cover the missing years. 


IFALPA by decades. 

1st decade 1948-57

IFALPA's initial membership was only 13 Associations.  Among other subjects the first Conference was concerned with were some that still resonate today, such as Flight Time Limitations. Over the initial decade, ideals for industrial policies on seniority and mutual assistance proved difficult to implement and the majority of progress was in more technical areas.

Major efforts were put into securing the  legal status of commander, including fighting for pilots imprisoned following accidents weather minima etc. The first technical study group was created in 1952, and addressed serious Airworthiness deficiencies under discussion at ICAO. In 1956 the Regional Vice President structure was started to help bring attention to the serious airport and air traffic control deficiencies in much of the world. 

ICAO's planned reduction of oceanic separation standards became a major concern, coinciding as it did with the inexorable removal  of first Radio Officers and then Navigators from long-range aircraft cockpits.

Second decade 1958-67

This led to the "Battle of the Atlantic", in which IFALPA pushed for data collection that by 1966 successfully demonstrated that the proposed reductions were not safe without further major technical improvements.

The technical study group structure was expanded, and as early as 1959 the All Weather Operations Study Group had a firm policy advocating the use of Head Up Displays, and IFALPA representatives were putting a line pilot's perspective into many external forums.  Through this period the industry was seeing the transformation of propulsion from piston to turbine and from propeller to pure jet engine. Policy requiring vertical guidance for all turbo-jet operations sadly remains valid today.

Criminal liability issues continued to be of concern, but by the end of IFALP's second decade one issue had exploded into prominence, with the emergence of hijacking and other forms of unlawful interference - sabotage and shooting down of airliners - as a tool for regional political purposes.  

Third decade 1968-77

From 5 civilian hijackings in 1967 to over 85 in 1969, IFALPA's campaign for effective action dominated the next 10 years. It included worldwide cessation of operations and its President addressing the UN: and by 1977 the number was down to about 30 a year.

On technical arguments, a noise abatement 2 segment approach proposal (a 6 degree descent to 300ft in all weather conditions) was stopped in its tracks. New navigations systems emerged and IFALPA was invited to participate in work on advanced projects including supersonic airliners including the Concorde.

Fourth Decade 1978-87

New major challenges in this period included a continual battle to ensure that the airline industry's quest for better economics would not be based on unrealistic assumptions about the operational realities pilots faced on a daily basis.  The "designing out" of Flight Engineer position was strongly opposed in many forums, but was ultimately a lost cause. 

The same quest for reduced costs posed major challenges to IFALPA and its member Associations in the industrial field as large national carriers came under pressure from smaller newcomer as the political environment increasingly favoured deregulation.  

Subsequent to the crew complement debate, the realisation by manufacturers and operators that their new large twin engine aircraft, developed initially for transcontinental use, could also have trans-oceanic range led them pushing for the simple removal of all historic limitations on twin engine usage. 

Learning from failure in the crew complement battle, IFALPA's position on this issue was to provide both evidence of the realities which made this actively dangerous, and specific proposals for compensating additional regulations. This approach was strongly supported by all interested parties except the operators and manufacturers, and led to the Extended Range Operations rules which have kept long haul twin operations safe.

Collaboration with manufacturers increased with Airbus and Boeing sending representatives to participate in IFALPA internal activity, and inviting IFALPA input to refine their own projects such as fly-by-wire and electronic flight instruments. Participation in many other external discussions led to increasing respect for line pilot involvement in human factors and aeromedical research.

Fifth Decade 1988-97   ????

Sixth Decade 1998-2007

Seventh Decade 2008-2017



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