BALPA is the professional association and registered trade union established to represent the interests of all UK pilots
Rob Abel
IFALPA Acting President

BALPA is a founding member of the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations (IFALPA). We asked Acting President, Ron Abel, to explain IFALPA’s mission, and how it goes about it.

Since 1948, when IFALPA was founded at a conference of pilots’ associations held in London, we have served as both a voice and visionary for advancing aviation safety of behalf of all airline pilots around the world. As IFALPA interacts with what is arguably the most influential international body affecting aviation, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), we have unparalleled credibility and access to decision makers as they debate myriad safety issues, including airline accident investigation. 

Aviation accidents, and the very personal need to do more to prevent them, were among the forces that inspired IFALPA’s would-be members to join together in London that day. Fast-forward to today, and we find many in the general public and news media who rush to point to a single cause for each accident or incident. 

IFALPA and safety advocates across our industry know better, and IFALPA are keenly aware that accidents result from a collection of factors. Unlocking the chain of events leading to an accident or incident has been instrumental in creating our industry’s enviable safety record in the past. It remains central to continuing their work to preventing accidents in the future. 


Key to IFALPA’s work is turning knowledge gained through investigation into effective safety recommendations. We take the initiative on emerging safety issues and long standing concerns and communication the latest information to their members. In a recent example, IFALPA learned that between 2011 and 2015, about 65% of all recorded accidents occurred in the approach and landing phases of flight. Researchers identified unstable approaches as a significant factor in these accidents. As a result, IFALPA, in cooperation with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (IFATCA), and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) developed the second edition of a manual that enhances overall awareness of the contributing factors in unstable approaches and details proven prevention strategies. 

Safety is also everyone’s responsibility. Crew Resource Management (CRM) developed more than 30 years ago for conflict resolution purposes and now improves the proficiency and competency of individual pilots and flight crews as a whole. By making the most of all available resources, CRM helps to coordinate the independent actions of key people involved in a flight operation and takes our industry to the next level in promoting safety.

We will be blogging more about IFALPA in the run-up to, and during the IFALPA Conference this year in Montreal in May.

Posted on 21 February 2017

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