On the 26 January 2020, GATCO, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) and the Association of UK Flight Information Service Officers (AUKFISO) sent a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Grant Shapps, requesting the inclusion of representatives of their organisations on the Airspace Strategy Board (ASB) which sits at the top of the UK Airspace Modernisation Strategy (AMS) governance structure.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has rejected that request claiming that it does not believe the ASB is the right forum for our organisations and that GATCO and BALPA are already part of the Airspace Modernisation Engagement group and of the National Air Traffic Management Advisory Committee (NATMAC).

The request of GATCO, BALPA and AUKFISO was made after reviewing the composition and terms of reference of the ASB and the meeting minutes of past ASB meetings. It is particularly concerning to see that the ASB includes representatives from governments, NATS, airlines, airports, general aviation and environmental and interest groups but that the main actors in the system are not included: air traffic controllers, pilots and flight information service officers. Those professionals operate the UK aviation and ATM systems safely, orderly and expeditiously daily, in one of the most complex airspaces in the world, had have extensive expertise and knowhow on all maters relating to ATM airspace, technology and operational procedures.

GATCO, BALPA and AUKFISO strongly believe that operational staff are an instrumental part of the solution to present and future aviation and ATM challenges. Failing to acknowledge and address that will result in the AMS repeating the mistakes our industries made in the past, where lack of operational insight and unrealistic expectations have resulted in a situation where are we are still trying to tackle the challenges the industry was already facing 20 years ago.

GATCO members can read both our joint letter and the DfT’s response here.