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IFATCA 2013: EGATS Delegation Update #2

Committee A (B. Romanik)

We continued working our way through the agenda with the workprogramme of CAC (Constitutional Committee). First papers discussed were regarding observers and clossed sessions at conferences. Only minor changes to the existing bylaws were proposed and accepted. Still EGATS had to point out a discrepancy that appears because of this changes and requested CAC to align the positions as part of next years working program. The first interesting item was the report given by the Secretary General of ITF about the liasion with IFATCA, why it is so important and the problems that ETF - the European branch - has with IFATCA. He spoke as well about the London meeting, where all disagreements were cleared at first, but the peace treaty did not last.

Phillippe Domogala, as deputy editor of The Controller presented the disagreements on the budgetting of the magazine. He said that as a result of the ongoing discussion, the editorial team is very demotivated and the editor will likely stop. Fred Deleau makes a statement that PM was doing a perfect job and its a pity that we loose him. PCX replies that he hed been in contact with PM and tried to explain the accounting practises, but Philip still refuses to accept. DP will contact Philip and try to convince him to reconsider.

Last item before the lunchbreak was the possible move of the siege social – IFATCA's constitutional address – presently being in Geneva! The board explained that it would have a lot of advantages to move to Montreal and so far – under legal advice – no negative side could be identified! The directors allow the EB to further investigate and produce a proposal for next years conference. After lunch nominations
and elections were conducted, again EGATS had to intervene as the proceedings for appointment of the office manager as EB Secretary
seem logical but are a breach to the constitution.

Patrik Peters will be put forward to final plenary as deputy president.

All in all I must say that this day we saw more activity from the directors but the quality of some papers presented were really poor, as
policy was not regarded or discrepancies overlooked!

Spain was accepted to host the annual conference 2014 in Gran Canaria, and bulgaria offered to host 2015 confernce.

Committe B (R. Vigorita)

The Technical Committee, B, discussed a number of important and complex topics. To start off, they conducted a study on the possible re-categorization of wake turbulence. Where most countries use the standard L-M-H-S categories; USA and Switzerland use 5; UK uses 6; and a few countries use some totally different approach.

While it is recognized that the current standards - based solely on weight - are obsolete, the way forward isn't as easy. Currently we apply the same kind of separation between a 142 ton A310 followed by either a 124 ton B757 or a 19 ton ATR72! Everyone appreciates the need to address this in a more selective way. A study, meant to optimize wake turbulence categories, was initiated by both the FAA and Eurocontrol in 2005. They looked at 61 different a/c types, representing roughly 80% of all traffic. It was initially decided to use 6 different categories (from A to F) based both on wake strength and rolling coefficient. These were operationally tested in Memphis airport with a net result of +15% in capacity. This is a very limited feedback however, and the aim for the future would be to move away from categories altogether, and just look at each pair of different a/c and apply the appropriate separation minima. However, with roughly 1200 different types of a/c flying the world's skies, there could be around 1.5 million different combinations. Technology would have to come and rescue the otherwise overwhelmed ATCOs.

To make things even more complex (or accurate, depending on how you look at things), the third stage of this study will no longer look at static pairs of a/c but rather at dynamic ones, taking into consideration every pair at any given moment based on the current and actual weight, speed, weather and so on.

Next subject the committee looked at was one on mode S transponders. Although in MUAC, we all know and appreciate the positive effects of having mode S to cross-check the selected levels amongst other things, there are issues related to it: the 'simpler' issue is for APP units where pilots sometimes intentionally select different levels as otherwise instructed to fly optimal trajectories. Where does the responsibility of an an ATCO lie to correct pilots in such known cases? Even more important, the TCAS RAs could be down linked to an ATCO's position, opening a whole new world of responsibilities and legal maze that we do not truly need. However, mode S derived data are widely used especially in the European region and could be used to enhance STCA, if the data are guaranteed to be not corrupted.

An interesting presentation was given by our colleague from Hungarocontrol on a new software called MergeStrip that will eventually aid ATCOs in efficiently sequence traffic while allowing them to fly more ideal vertical profiles. Very effective and cheap to implement, it seems to work a lot better than Point Merge.

One interesting topic was UAS (unmanned a/c systems). Not so much on how and why the RPAs (remotely piloted a/c) shall be separated with the same standards as applied to normal a/c when flying through civil airspace, but especially for four controversial topics:

  1. most of these RPAs are non-RVSM (to cut costs)
  2. there are no procedures on loss of communication (links between RPA and its remote pilot)
  3. the largest RPA is just a copy of the Piaggio P180, therefore becoming more and more a plane than a drone
  4. IFATCA normally doesn't support mixed mode operations, and a/c plus RPAs flying in non segregated a/s is viewed as a mixed mode

One interesting topic was the study of UDPP (user driven prioritization process). Still a concept in SESAR, coming under the umbrella of ATFM, it's a study on how the airlines could have input on how delays are allocated, choosing and cherry picking delays (in so far as practicable) as they see fit to better meet their business objectives and remain profitable, specifically for unexpected capacity reduction (WX, RWY closure, system problems, staffing...). Eventually slot management will be available to airlines where ad hoc slot swaps (or sales) will be acceptable. However such procedures shall never have a negative impact on ATC provision. Non compliance to UDPP will carry penalties, but not for ATC while in the provision of its services.

One topic of paramount importance was discussed, such as a possible amendment of ICAO Annex 13 (accident investigation) where proposals to include victims' families (and their lawyers) in the investigation process were presented. Thankfully, these proposals were unequivocally shot down by ICAO itself because it presented a problem of possible anonymity (following the cold blooded murder of our Danish colleague in Switzerland) and most importantly to guarantee that the investigation processes remain fully independent.

Joint Committee B & C (F. Deleau)

Today's meeting had Committees B & C join up. Since a number of years, this is done because the issues and presentations brought to both Committees often overlap. It is also good from a logistics point of view, as some reports have to be presented to all B and C delegates: it avoids those with reports in both committees running from one to the other. The only drawback for EGATS, and its a very light one, is that we have to follow a lot of pure airport issues...and as we know, there aren’t a lot of airports above FL 245...
As Raf was also following the combined session, I took the chance to jump to Committee A.

So my report for today's activities will be a few sentence to express a feeling but also a reality: people spend a lot of time preparing high quality reports for IFATCA and its members. It takes a lot of time and energy to try and capture one year of meeting participation, analysis, etc in a written report. They then come to a conference and flash as much as possible into power point slides and for most read out of their slides, which is or should already be known as people receive the reports before. Some take ages to come out with their conclusion and too often, they lose the attention of people along the way. That’s a real shame. As I wrote yesterday, a lot of good material and reports are presented but it simply does not reach the audience after one continuous hour of powerpoint. This one just a point I thought was worth mentioning as today's reflexion.

Tomorrow, EGATS should be briefly in the spotlight when the discussion about SES and FABs. My presentation consists of 3 pictures and I don’t intend to talk for hours! Just to make the necessary points with the needed information. That's all.