Study on Air Traffic Controller (ATCO) and Engineering Staff (ATSEP) social issues and working conditions
van der Plaat, A.
Over the past decade, the social issues and working conditions of Air Traffic Controller (ATCO) and Engineering Staff (ATSEP) in the Air Traffic Management industry (ATM) have been affected by growing air traffic. This study provides a clear landscape of current and future social issues and working conditions of ATCOs and ATSEPs in the EU Member States. It consisted of three separate tasks. The first task (included in the interim report) showed the convergence of operational performance of the Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) over Europe. However, the ANSPs relied on different operational practices to achieve these results. To understand what drove these diverging practices, we concluded a second task (the case studies) comparing the changes in social issues and working conditions in five ANSPs, and assessing the driving forces that caused changes in these conditions. Different organisational practices, other social dialogue models and institutional context (national rules, national supervisory authorities) helped explain the divergences. The third task focused on understanding how ATCOs and ATSEPs expected future social and working conditions to change. We organised a set of scenario workshops to discuss with different stakeholders in the ANSPs three futures with varying degrees of EU-harmonisation and air travel growth. ATCOs thought that their future work would not be significantly different from today. ATSEPs, on the other hand, saw essential changes in technology and organisational practices. Even so, their future working conditions would be affected by technology, new traffic demands and changing social relations. To deal with these factors, the workshops' participants identified separate mitigating measures to reduce possible impacts. These core mitigating measures are mainly more training and flexible working times, which ANSPs should negotiate with the staff organisations and trade unions. The workshop participants suggested 23 examples of mitigating measures. The future of ATM is currently rather unclear, given the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Further growth in air traffic seems the most probable scenario, but to what degree? ATCOs and ATSEPs have been instrumental in the past decade to deliver the substantial economic development of the ATM industry. Their continued support remains essential for future growth. ANSPs need to learn from the diverging practices and understand what can help them and their ATCOs and ATSEPs. They should have that discussion in the forum offered to them by DG-MOVE.
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European Commission, Brussels