Transgression in Service Providers

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Transgression in Service Providers

43RD ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Hong Kong, China (SAR), 22-26 March 2004

WP No. 167

Transgression in Service Providers


This work item resulted from Conference in Buenos Aires 2003, where discussions noted the concerted efforts among international organizations within the industry, for co-operation in today’s aviation environment. The concept for this paper was validated following IFATCA’s participation in the ICAO Air Navigation Conference 11, in the fall of 2003. ANC 11 provided a “blueprint” for a comprehensive concept of an integrated, global ATM system, based on clearly established requirements up to and beyond the year 2025. Mature, professional relationships must exist among all aviation partners in order to progress. Whereas safety must continue to be the highest priority in the planning and implementation of any future ATM system, it could be argued that the relationship between Air Navigation Service Providers and their employees is a potential ‘weak link’ in overall system safety and a ‘roadblock’ to cooperation.


In recent years, IFATCA Member Associations have noticed an increase of occasions whereby their respective ANSPs have committed certain “transgressions” with respect to working agreements and local issues. These “transgressions” could be described as actions taken by the Provider that violate or go beyond the prescribed limits or boundaries of an agreement. Any conscience effort to employ such measures can only be regarded as an attempt(s) to gain an advantage during a period of negotiations or, a tactic designed to influence the collective psyche of a group at a particular time.

Such transgressions include but are not limited to, the Resource Utilization Subsystem (RUSS) and the Extended Computer Display System (EXCDS), which is built on the Integrated Information Display System (IIDS). Implementation of EXCDS into complex towers has exposed a multitude of unforeseen software glitches. Other transgressions include the suspension and continued manipulation of Familiarization Flights and the dictatorial use of Shift Logic in the workplace. Another example is a case of a Certified Agreement being signed off on the basis of joint ANSP/Association working groups being established to progress and quickly resolve (within 4 months) critical areas such as career restructure (including equal pay for equal work) and fatigue management strategies. Eighteen months later there is still no resolution is sight for either area, largely due to lack of commitment on the part of the ANSP. Staff morale and faith in the employer has severely affected.

While these transgressions may appear to be “harmless” in nature when viewed in isolation, together, over time, they undermine the credibility and trust in relationships between the ANSPs and employees. Good relationships take time to build. Where there is a lack of trust between two parties, the result is almost always an adversarial relationship. We can ill-afford the negative effect this ‘undermining’ behaviour can have on our aviation system. We must work together to cultivate an environment that promotes understanding, co-operation and most importantly, mutual respect.

In today’s environment, Regulatory Requirements related to Safety issues call for both State and Service Providers to implement Safety Occurrence Reporting Systems. By sharing knowledge and experience(s) by way of comprehensive and systematic reporting, air navigation incidents can be prevented, or perhaps more realistically, be significantly reduced.

IFATCA takes the position that voluntary reporting systems are essential; however, there may be certain reluctance among individuals to participate and freely provide safety-related information for fear of some sort of retribution, or consequence(s). This is a real fear that comes primarily from two directions: the long-standing practice of focussing blame on system components (ie: air traffic controllers, pilots), and a lack of mutual respect between many Service Providers and its’ employees. Both are counter-productive and stifle the reporting process; however it is the second factor, the “lack of respect” issue that is the root of both.

The aviation industry has an effective system to learn from incidents and accidents and has achieved an impressive safety level. The free flow of safety related information among the various levels and players in the industry is key. Safety reports are forthcoming only when their originators (e.g. pilots, controllers and maintenance staff) are secure in the knowledge that whatever deficiencies they do report will not backfire on them. A necessary improvement to the process will be to provide for assurances of trust, respect and fair treatment. To be successful, we must examine our working relationships. The system of today and of the future demands that all work as one; if we do not, true system safety is in jeopardy.


Transgressions from accepted and agreed to conditions of work, or other “denials of responsibilities” by any party destroys credibility with others and reduces cooperation in such vital areas as voluntary safety reporting. This has a negative influence on industry wide system safety.

The safe functioning of the aviation system is dependent on many elements. Included, but not limited to, are rules of the air, operational procedures, air traffic services procedures and personnel. System safety is dependent not just on individual elements, but on the way in which the people, procedures, technologies and information interact in the operation of the system.

Global utilization, management and interchange of information is the enabler of significant change in the future roles of all participants within the ATM system. A cooperative and collaborative environment driven by the need for safety, and not commercial expectations is needed.


To insert in the Manual on page 4423 new paragraph:

2.3 Trust and Mutual Respect

2.3.1 Air Navigation Service Providers and their respective employee groups shall develop mechanisms that foster an environment of trust and mutual respect in order to improve the capability to compile, assess and disseminate safety-related information with and each other, as well as with other international aviation organizations.

Last Update: September 29, 2020  

March 24, 2020   841   Jean-Francois Lepage    2004    

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