International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations

International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations

Infobox Union
name= IFALPA
country= International
members= 100,000
full_name= International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations

founded= 1948
office= Surrey, UK
people= Carlos Limon (Mexico), president
website= []

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) was created during a conference of pilots’ associations held in London in April 1948 for the express purpose of providing a formal means for the airline pilots of the world to interact with the then newly formed UN body the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The belief then was that the unique perspective of pilots operating in scheduled flying would be of critical benefit to the creation and adaptation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) through which ICAO regulates international civil aviation. This belief holds true today backed up by nearly 60 years of experience. From this founding element, membership of the Federation has grown to over 95 Member Associations representing well in excess of 100,000 airline pilots world-wide.

Influencing ICAO

Virtually every part of the Operating Specifications of ICAO has been influenced to some degree by IFALPA pilot representatives. Their contribution may be as obvious as drafting entire sections of an Annex which is subsequently adopted, or as subtle as prevailing in an argument for or against a proposal in one of the many ICAO Technical Panels. In either case, the end result is the same. The continuing input of Line Pilots brings reality and balance to what can, at times, be the intensely political and economic process of drafting operating conditions for the airlines of the world. When procedural change does or does not happen, it is significant for aviation safety. Equally, when a technological solution for a persistent problem is finally mandated, safety is improved. In both instances, IFALPA pilots will have been involved for many hours, presenting and advocating the Line Pilot point of view.

ANC Observer Status

IFALPA and International Air Transport Association (IATA) are the only organizations granted permanent observer status to the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC). In terms of significance, this is one of the major accomplishments of IFALPA. Among the many activities of IFALPA the one most familiar to our members is our accident investigation and support work. When an accident occurs, the accident investigation expertise of IFALPA is quickly brought into play. Both investigation and representation skills are frequently required, particularly if the flight crew has survived the accident. All pilots benefit by ensuring that all the factors underlying the accident are properly identified and resolved. If properly done, each accident investigation can result in significant improvements to aviation safety. Experience has shown that the involvement of properly trained and experienced Line Pilot investigators early in the investigation process is essential to a full and complete investigation and analysis.

Accredited Accident Investigator Scheme

IFALPA has developed the "Accredited Accident Investigator (AAI) Scheme", which involves the accreditation of pilot investigators who will provide the most professional contribution to any state investigation. These accredited representatives understand pilot culture, human factors and operations and as such are a valuable asset to any investigation. They are also valuable in determining recommendations that will be effective in preventing recurrences and in promoting aviation safety. All candidates go through an approved international accident investigation course and their training, qualifications and experience is carefully reviewed by IFALPA.

Co-operation between Member Associations

Positive co-operation between Member Associations in times of need continues to be an invaluable benefit of IFALPA membership. Many examples of this strength occur on a regular basis with IFALPA heading up teams of Incident and Accident Specialists, or giving other assistance, while providing these services at a moment’s notice.

Criminal Prosecution

At the same time, a different set of IFALPA representatives have attempted to assist flight crew members who have been involved in an accident and face criminal, regulatory or disciplinary action as a result of an accident. The ability of the various Member Associations to provide assistance post-accident to their fellow IFALPA members may be considered one of the greatest benefits of membership in IFALPA to the average Line Pilot.

Major IFALPA Achievements

The following are examples of major achievements gained by the work of Line Pilots.

Cockpit Instrumentation

In 1955, as a result of an accident investigation, a Line Pilot was instrumental in the development of instrument comparators. A year on, the IFALPA Cockpit Standardisation Study Group adopted the "Basic T" instrument layout as its policy and convinced ICAO to make the design a worldwide standard for cockpit instrumentation layout.

Hijacking and Carriage of Dangerous Goods

As early as 1960, IFALPA was leading the industry in concern over aircraft hijacking and the carriage of dangerous goods. Obviously, these two subjects are still at the forefront of IFALPA’s concerns and continue to demand close attention. When dealing with such issues IFALPA is able to act in cooperation with industry and government.

Aircraft Manufacturer Relationships

IFALPA enjoys excellent relationships with Airbus, Boeing and Embraer and has had significant input into the design and modification of the newer products - a tradition which goes back to the DC-8 introduction and continues with IFALPA’s input into the Airbus A380, Embraer 190 and Boeing 787 aircraft. Representatives of the manufacturers are regular attendees at IFALPA technical committee meetings, where open discussion on operation of the various models is encouraged for the benefit of all.

Aerodrome Signage

On the subject of airports, the signage seen around the world today is largely the product of an IFALPA development project which was ultimately adopted by ICAO as the international standard. This standard was a quantum improvement in aids to navigation while taxiing and undoubtedly has prevented many ground collisions caused by disorientation on the airport surface.

Extended Range Operations

IFALPA has worked with both European and North American regulators and manufacturers to develop comprehensive standards for extended range operations for both twin engine aircraft and, more recently, all aircraft operating over remote polar regions.


IFALPA was fully involved in the initial implementation of Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) in the North Atlantic, and the subsequent implementation by Eurocontrol in domestic European airspace. In addition IFALPA has been closely involved in RVSM implementation in Asia as well as the Caribbean and South America. Looking to the future the Federation is playing an active role in RVSM development in Africa To address the risks of mid air collisions, IFALPA has long advocated installation of ACAS equipment and mandatory procedures for both pilots and controllers when a resolution advisory is issued by the equipment.

Runway Incursions

The same can be said of ongoing efforts to minimise the risk of collisions on the airport surface, commonly called runway incursions. In addition to airport design, operating procedures and future technology, IFALPA has focused on airport capacityenhancement procedures which seemed to greatly increase the risk of collision by the reduction of safety margins inherent in the procedure design.

Aircraft Performance

In the field of performance, IFALPA has consistently injected the views of the pilot at all points and over a sustained period. In the 1950s operators failed to allow fully for the excessive effect of wet runways on jet aircraft. This effect was not satisfactorily compensated for by the discounting of reverse thrust credit and the result was an undue number of landing overruns or aborts on wet runways. It took from the 1950s until the 1990s to get wet-runway accountability universally into State airworthiness regulations. That it did get there was certainly due in large measure to IFALPA.

Approach and Runway Lighting

From the 1950s, progress in the field of lighting was steady and, to a large extent, made under conditions in full cooperation between IFALPA, IATA and the ICAO States. IFALPA contributed to these achievements step-by-step; from approach lighting, to visual approach indicators, to narrow gauge runway lights and, finally, to taxiway lighting.

Instrument Landing System

What has been said regarding approach lighting can certainly be repeated in the case of the instrument landing system (ILS). That this guidance system was eventually installed at most international airports was, at least in part, due to vigorous worldwide campaigns by IFALPA.

Procedural Matters

IFALPA’s achievements in the operational field, though involving less conspicuous campaigns than those mentioned above, were nevertheless very significant. For example, IFALPA contributed greatly in developing procedures for co-ordinating responsibilities as between pilot and radar controller, and also drafting what eventually became the standard format for radiotelephone reporting. IFALPA secured, via ICAO, the systematized allocation of alpha-numeric call signs.


After the events of September 11, 2001, IFALPA became a founding member of the Global Aviation Security Action Group (GASAG), an industry group established to co-ordinate the global aviation industry’s inputs to achieve an effective worldwide security system and ensure public confidence in civil aviation. GASAG was instrumental in providing a consolidated view on aviation security improvements, in particular regarding cockpitdoors, Air Marshals and training issues.

IFALPA also actively participates in the ICAO AVSEC Panel and related working groups to develop amendments to ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) for Annex 17 (Security) and the AVSEC Manual. IFALPA members advise National and Regional Authorities on the development of operational and training guidelines in aviation security.

Airport Planning

The building of Hong Kong’s new airport at Chek Lap Kok (CLK) was an opportunity for IFALPA to provide input into the planning of one of the world’s major new airports. The Federation worked hard for its say and, in doing so, highlighted many of its operational concerns worldwide. IFALPA made significant design inputs into the airport, including renaming the stands, apron markings and visual aid signs, and also had input into CLK’s airportdocking guidance system. IFALPA influenced operational decisions at CLK through its involvement on a variety of groups and subgroups, including: the New Airport Safety Committee (NASC), the Visual Aids Working Group (VAWG) and Windshear and Turbulence Warning System Working Group. IFALPA has also influenced airports elsewhere, with extensive work carried out by committees and local pilot associations in relation to Amsterdam’s Schiphol and Germany’s Munich airports.

Airport Liaison Representative Scheme

The Federation has recently launched the Airport Liaison Representative (ALR) Scheme. The objective of the ALR Scheme is to enhance safety at all airports served by IFALPA pilots by building a rapport with airport personnel in order that airport safety issues can be identified and addressed before they become a safety threat.

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