Establishment of “Rules of Operation for Air Traffic Control” in México.
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The Rules of Operation for Air Traffic Control are a set of technical, administrative and labor-related guidelines which make up for those voids not covered through ordinary law, such as the Civil Aviation Law, its rulings, and/nor the new Air Traffic Management manual. Those guidelines follow a direct relation with the attributions related to the Controllers’ license (a certificate to work as an Air Traffic Controller specialist); also with labor related rights enshrined in the Federal Law of Workers at the service of the Federal Government, and those in the Air Traffic Controllers’ General Work Conditions. Rules of Operation regarding airport’s times of operation, and schedules and times of availability of ATC services; what ATC unit will provide which services; minimum required personnel per ATC unit; training; working schedules; time on leave (vacations) and times off duty; working overtime; attendance control and allowable tardiness; work-position relief and peer waiting time; confidential and sensitive information related to inner and national security and safety; access to the strategic facilities from where Air Traffic Services are provided; safety protocols for personnel and facilities; emergency protocols in case of natural disaster events, social revolt events and operational risk; evacuation plans in case of emergency; adequate and necessary furnishings, equipment and services for Air Traffic Controllers and access to those services provided for by the Federal Government Worker’s Security and Social Institute (ISSSTE), and by the ATC Specialist’s Designated Medical Examiners and the Mexican Civil Aeronautical Authority.
The establishment of the so called “Rules of Operation for Air Traffic Control”, is a safety measure which must be valued by all air transport users in Mexico and throughout the world, since we all want to travel protected by the highest efficiency and safety standards, which will assure the safeguarding of our lives, of our physical integrity and the protection of our property.
Similarly, the establishment of these Rules of Operation must concern all air transport companies, both local and international, who cover the cost for a safe and efficient public service.
But most of all the establishment of Rules of Operation for Air Traffic Control as a safety measure must concern the Mexican government, guarantor of air safety in its territory and the exclusive purveyor of Air Traffic Services in México. As such, the Mexican government must observe all international treaties signed in the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO, and more than 50 other treaties regarding air transportation, signed in common with individual countries.
According to data obtained from the Mexican aeronautical authority, on the year 2016 domestic airline carriers transported, inside the national territory and using exclusively state-controlled infrastructure and services, 53.6 million of passengers. At the same time, foreign carriers transported 29.1 million air travelers, including tourists, business men and multiple travelers. This adds up to more than 82 million passengers who were safely flown in the Mexican airspace, and represents an increase of 10.7 percent with respect to air travelers in the year 2015.
On the other hand, according to data originating from the very Mexican aeronautical authority, the airfreight market showed an increase of 5.1% compared to the year of 2015. From 695.1 million tons of cargo transported in 2015, in 2016 730.3 tons of cargo were transported with security and efficiency. By apportioning these data, domestic national carriers transported 328.5 thousand tons of cargo, while foreign carriers transported 401.8 thousand tons from and into the national Mexican territory.
Apart from the latter data, and the economic impact generated by air transportation of passengers and cargo in general, we must emphasize that the aeronautical sector does not only carry out a duty of transporting people and cargo, but moreover, the aeronautical sector also contributes by serving people and whole communities which do not directly make use of air transportation but which receive indirect benefits, such as in the cases of attention to disaster assistance.
In this same way, the state infrastructure and the services to air navigation inside national territory contribute to government intelligence toward national and inner security. These constitute operations which regular air transport do not perceive, but which are vital to the governability of the Mexican State.
Forming part of the infrastructure and services aimed at providing Air Navigation services, we can find Air Route Control Centers, and airport Control Towers. In these chambers Air Traffic controllers work and operate, being their main role to keep safety of air operations, by maintaining an orderly flow of air traffic, and secondarily but not less important, they do this encompassing as much efficiency as possible. All of this happens while following adherence to several technical and judicial-administrative rules and norms which manage the risk involved when several flying apparatuses operate at the same time in a given territory.
Nonetheless, since air transport is a dynamic-natured activity which keeps constantly evolving, the adaptation of multiple rules and orderings which regulate the activity becomes mandatory. This of course includes Air Traffic Controllers, who are workers assigned to the Mexican government agency called “Servicios a la Navegación en el Espacio Aéreo Mexicano” SENEAM S.C.T. This agency’s managing director has systematically opposed to and blocked the establishment of the Rules of Operation for the Air Traffic Control.
All the above leads us, in all due respect but also with a firm conviction, to demand that the Mexican federal government, through the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (Communications and transportation department) to finally establish the Rules of Operation for Servicios a la Navegación en el Espacio Aéreo Mexicano SENEAM.
It is important to point out that the establishment these Rules of Operation should by no means be considered an act of a good-will or gracious concession: they are public policy tools which warrant legal certainty for air traffic controllers while at work, tools which assist in maintaining air operations safety, tools which help to protect the airlines´ assets, but mainly, tools which contribute to guarantee the integrity and the life of those millions of passengers who are air transported inside the national territory.
By setting up these Rules of Operation for Air Traffic Control, controllers will be enabled to keep the all-vital function of surveillance of air operations, in all the flight phases: take-off, climb to enroute, leveled flight, descent and approach and landing, including all ground maneuvers to move to and from the runways to the parking and passenger disembarking areas, all with the highest level of safety, order and efficiency. Each of these phases is controlled from a different kind of room: be it the top of the Control Tower in the airports, or the dimly-lit control centers where controllers follow the track of airplanes in radar screens; from each of these facilities controllers continually issue all the necessary instructions for air operations to be carried out with the highest level of safety and efficiency, all for the benefit of passengers, air transport companies and whole countries, who keep an eye on Mexico as a country with a history of keeping some of the highest international air transportation standards.
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