Thursday 13th November 2014, Colombo: The International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) recently conducted its regional conference at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo. The conference was hosted in Sri Lanka for the first time and brought together pilots and aviation officials from across the region in an effort to discuss technical issues and the latest industry updates. Spearheaded by the Airline Pilots’ Guild of Sri Lanka, the conference aligns with the Mahinda Chinthana which strives to make Sri Lanka an aviation hub in the region.
The event was followed by a gala dinner and was attended by Civil Aviation officials, Captain Martin Chalk, Deputy President, IFALPA, Captain Amornvaj Mansumitchai, EVP Asia Pacific, IFALPA and Captain Druvi Perera, COO, SriLankan Airlines. At the event, a special award of recognition was presented to Captain Gehan Fernando, a veteran Captain of Sri Lankan Airlines, who was felicitated for his many years of service and contribution to IFALPA.
IFALPA is the global voice of pilots’ associations and the global conference has been taking place in London since 1948. This regional conference brought together members associations from Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and provided a formal platform for them to address their concerns and suggestions. These insights will be taken to the global IFALPA conference and from there; they be addressed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN-body which outlines the principles and techniques of international air navigation. IFALPA was set up with the belief that the unique perspectives of pilots operating scheduled flights would be a critical benefit to the creation and adaptation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) through which ICAO regulates international civil aviation. Having operated for over 60 years, this belief has proven to be true and IFALPA now represents over 100,000 professional pilots from 100 different member associations.
Commenting on the conference, Capt. Martin Chalk, Deputy President, IFALPA stated, “It is with great pleasure that we hosted the annual regional IFALPA conference in Sri Lanka for the very first time. This conference plays a crucial role in helping us identify and rectify areas of concern affecting the aviation industry. We received valuable input as a result of this year’s conference which was well-attended by member associations from across the entire region. These discussions play a significant role in uplifting the safety and operational standards of airlines around the world, and this in turn aids the continuous development of the global aviation industry.”
Speaking at the Inauguration Dr. Ravindra Ruberu, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation said, “I believe pilots are a fortunate group of professionals who are held in high esteem. It is indeed a pleasure to be here today as this is the first time a regional conference of this nature has been held for pilots in Sri Lanka. This conference in particular is of the utmost importance as the outcome contributes to the development of the global aviation industry through ICAO. The Sri Lankan Government is committed to making Sri Lanka the aviation hub of Asia. This is the vision that His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has and I am thankful that the Airline Pilots’ Guild of Sri Lanka is playing a role in making this vision a reality.”
The IFALPA conference was conducted as part of the Mahinda Chinthana, which strives to strengthen Sri Lanka’s position as the aviation hub of the region. The conference helped outline key issues and developments that are affecting the aviation industry in the region.
IFALPA was instrumental in providing safety regulations for Air Ceylon in the 1950s and also provided valuable expertise for major airport renovation projects. The security and technical guidance provided by AFALPA in the 1970s was also extremely useful for the country. Today SriLankan Airlines as well as all other leading airlines around the world, continuously benefit from the guidance and solutions suggested by IFALPA. The contribution made by the conference attendees will help draft proposals and suggestions which can be taken up at the ICAO technical panels. The input of pilots brings a practical balance to the intense political and economic process of drafting operations conditions for the airlines of the world. When procedural changes occur, it significantly impacts aviation safety. Additionally, when a technological solution for a persistent problem is finally mandated, safety for the entire industry is improved. IFALPA pilots put hours of thinking and discussion into presenting and advocating a pilot’s perspective at the conference. Their views provide the information and support needed by the global aviation industry to promote the highest levels of aviation safety around the world. Captain Amornvaj Mansumitchai, EVP Asia Pacific, IFALPA hands over a token of appreciation to Dr. Ravindra Ruberu, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation. The delegates of the IFLAPA Regional Conference.