Air Traffic Control – 100 years
IFATCA plans to celebrate 100 years of air traffic control in 2022. A number of activities across the world will highlight this significant milestone. The main event will take place during our Annual Conference, which will be held in the United Kingdom – one of the cradles of Air Traffic Control as we know it.
The 100 years celebration will mark the achievements of all of us, controllers, assistants, support staff, engineers, scientists, all of those in manufacturing industries that have created the tools we use, as well as organisations and service providers. It is a shared history, as much an achievement of all of us and one in which we hope you will join IFATCA in celebrating. Finally, our celebrations will not only be about the past: they will also showcase what we are doing in the present and what we will be doing in the future.
After extensive research, we propose 1922 as the year in which air traffic control began in earnest. The first internationally agreed rules, drafted in 1919 by the Commission Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CINA) were ratified by 10 countries in 1922.
The first mid-air collision between two commercial airliners over Normandy (France) in April 1922 further encouraged the UK, France, Belgium and The Netherlands to implement guidelines for keeping aircraft separated, thus forming the basis for air traffic control as a service to avoid collisions. While air travel remained rather exclusive for the rich and famous, especially the routes across the English Channel quickly became popular as flying could save a considerable amount of time compared to a ferry crossing. One such route was the one between Le Bourget (France) and Croydon (UK). Both airports recruited controllers and constructed dedicated sheds that were the precursors of an ATC tower. France started to recruit and train controllers around that time (1921-22), and the first ATC licence on record was issued in the United Kingdom in February 1922 to Jimmy Jeffs, who worked at the Croydon tower. These ‘towers’ also began exchanging information with each other, to help keep track of each aircraft’s progress – using little strips of paper!
IFATCA has established a Task Force, chaired by Philippe Domogala, to coordinate the activities leading up to the 100 year celebrations. IFATCA’s Member Associations are invited to research the beginnings of aviation and air traffic control in their respective countries and development over the years. Their input will be compiled in a book, a series of articles and possibly an exhibition that will be offered to various aviation museums around the world – at least one in each of IFATCA’s four regions (Africa/Middle-East, Americas, Asia/Pacific and Europe).
Our plan is to use the June 2021 Le Bourget Paris Air Show and the planned re-opening of the control tower in the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace to formally announce and launch the celebrations.
The highlight of the celebrations will be an event during the 2022 IFATCA Conference, involving key players in today’s Air Traffic Control/Management as well as Air Traffic Controllers from across the globe.
Having established contact with some of the key organisations that played a significant role in early ATC, IFATCA is still looking for partners willing to share our 100-year milestone. This includes companies, organisations, administrations and providers that in one way or another contributed to how air traffic control developed over the past century, not just at the start.
If you’re interested or would like more information, please contact the IFATCA 100 Year ATC Task Force – see below for contact details.
Anyone willing to contribute or looking for more information can reach us via firstname.lastname@example.org