Aviation unions – keep up with remote towers technology changes

June 2, 2017

The ITF has produced a ‘living document’ to help its civil aviation unions keep up to speed with the constant changes in remote towers technology.

Super-fast fibre networks, high definition cameras and remote sensing technology mean that the concept, testing and deployment of remote tower services is advancing rapidly. The In Focus document will track developments in individual countries and provide updates on regulatory efforts, and will be updated whenever necessary.

At a conference in February 2016, ITF unions discussed the issues involved in developing remote towers. They didn’t oppose the introduction of the technology but raised several concerns over the social impacts on their members and the operational effects on air safety.

They said the regulatory framework should be led by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ensure minimum standards were globally applied but that regions and nations should be able to regulate higher standards. They also agreed that air navigation service providers (ANSPs) must fully consult unions from the start and involve them throughout testing and implementation.

The ITF’s new document examines all these issues and is based on the federation’s and its unions’ involvement in every major discussion at the ICAO since the February conference. To keep up the pressure on the ICAO – particularly to consider the human factors involved in simultaneous operations (more than one aerodrome being operated concurrently by one person) – the ITF established a working group and in September 2016 submitted a working paper to the ICAO’s 39th assembly.

The In Focus document looks at testing and deployment of remotely operated towers in European countries, Canada and the United States. It also examines how best the ITF and its unions can be involved in the ICAO work programme.

ITF civil aviation section secretary Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez commented: “It is critically important that unions are involved in every aspect of this developing technology to ensure that it does not harm workers or threaten safety. We hope this living document will help you navigate your way through changes in your own countries as well as understand the bigger picture across the industry.”

Read the document.

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