Shortly after World War II, the United Nations Organisation came into existence and soon created several specialised agencies, one of which was the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The fact that ICAO would be making decisions on aviation policy without pilot representation immediately began to interest several pilot Associations. Airline pilots had begun to realise that they were citizens of the world in many respects, since their daily work took them across the borders of many countries. Pilots were often dependent upon distant municipalities or States to provide them with the facilities necessary for their personal safety and that of their passengers. Therefore, pilots became vitally concerned with national and international affairs related to aviation. This concern remains today.
In 1948, as a result of an international treaty signed after World War II, active steps were taken by ICAO to set aviation industry standards for worldwide adoption. Pilots everywhere realised they needed an organisation through which their views could be presented and their requirements met. To have meaningful input into this process, pilots knew they had to establish themselves in a position of leadership in aviation, and to accomplish this goal had to organise on an international basis. This was the reason for the formation of IFALPA in 1948. Captain Len Moray was the first to represent Australia at the IFALPA inaugural meeting in London in 1948. Initially, the Federation had a membership of 13 Associations. Today, IFALPA numbers over 90 Member Associations and represents in excess of 100,000 pilots. Among its cardinal principles are there is no distinction of members on the grounds of race, colour or creed, and political issues are not discussed.
IFALPA is a federation of national pilot associations. It is not a union of pilots, and it is not a pilots’ association, but a true federation of autonomous national units. IFALPA’s external objectives are to provide a democratic body to present an international pilot opinion on social and professional matters, and on international aviation-related legislation, technical developments, and standards of safety. IFALPA’s internal objectives are to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas on technical, professional and industrial problems, to promote discussion among pilots on all matters of common interest, to advance the professional status of the pilot by encouraging progress in these technical standards and to foster goodwill and comradeship among the pilots of the world.
The original Australian Member Association was the Australian Air Pilots Association (AAPA), later known as the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP). As the rules of IFALPA allow for recognition of only one Member Association in any one country, AusALPA was formed on 25 March 1997 in conjunction with the Australian and International Pilots’ Association as an umbrella organisation to allow all Australian pilots to have representation at IFALPA. Over the years, AusALPA and IFALPA have shared many members who have worked on improving the working conditions and safety within the aviation industry both internationally and within Australia. Today and going forward you will nearly always see AusALPA representatives at IFALPA's annual and various regional and committee meetings. There are a number of AusALPA representatives in leadership and chair roles with the IFALPA portfolios.
Image 1: IFALPA Conference, Sydney, 1952; Image 2: IFALPA Conference, Sydney, 2004