Response to IFATCA

Santo Domingo,D.N.

Mr. Alexis Brathwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

IFATCA

Mr. Brathwaite,

The Dominican Republic civil aviation authority hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter dated on February 26th 2014 in which the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations (IFATCA) surprisingly expresses concerns regarding alleged deficiencies in the provision of the air navigation services in the Santo Domingo Flight Information Region.

Since IFATCA is a well-known organization that values among its objectives the promotion of high standards of knowledge and professional efficiency among air traffic controllers, as well as to closely co-operate with international and national aviation authorities and institutions concerned with air navigation, it was expected to be an objective mediator between its members associations and the institutions they work for, and should investigate the reality of the situation, relating safety and continuity of air transport.  It has been a real disappointment to learn that a non-discriminating global organization of your principles and experience would have expressed this abrupt statement without consulting the real facts.

In that order, we would like to refer you to our letter dated March 25th 2013, on which this Administration requested IFATCA’s intervention to exhort its Member Association of the Dominican Republic, ADCA, to accept and reach agreements in the table of negotiations, and above all, to avoid the use of industrial actions as a leverage for negotiations, taking into consideration the harmful repercussions that such actions could inflict to an activity and industry from which the Dominican Republic depends so much. In that same letter, we left the option available for IFATCA to contact this Administration to cooperate in the best interest of your Member Association, the Federation that you represent, now I may add, and international civil aviation. Unfortunately, in that occasion, our plea went unheard, since no response was received from you, in almost a year, until this letter, a total proof of bias conduct. So let us introduce you to some of the actual facts.

Your Member Association has denied repeatedly in local media its intention to apply industrial actions to support the demands for improvement in their wages; however, we should direct your attention to the document “CONFLICT ALERT DOM. REP CAA – ADCA” prepared and remitted to IFATCA by ADCA, on March 17th 2013, which clearly expresses their intention to utilize these methods to push an agreement that we never refused to have, and that is also evidenced in my aforementioned letter addressed to IFATCA.

On that occasion, the government of the Dominican Republic made use of all its available resources, including our request to IFATCA, to maintain open the channel of communications with ADCA, in order to preserve their collaboration for the sustainable growth of the air transportation system of the Dominican Republic. For several occasions we expressed ADCA that our door was open to discuss their demands, and agreed some meetings to which they did not attend, without reason or notification, and decided to close the communication with me and use other means to achieve their objectives. The aforesaid is also clearly stated in the document “CONFLICT ALERT DOM. REP CAA – ADCA”.

To make things worse, and for reasons that we yet fail to comprehend, ADCA showed no intentions to reach an agreement with this Administration. Nevertheless, we arranged a salary raise of 35% that would benefit every technical member of our staff, including all ATCO’s.

Much to our regret, ADCA has now decided to attempt to destabilize the same organization and system from which they make a living, system that supports the cornerstone of the economy of our nation, with irresponsible actions and public statements that show no relation with the reality of the air navigation system of the Dominican Republic. This behavior is penalized by the national laws that rule every public servant. To put you in context, please allow me to quote the IFATCA Technical and Professional Manual, policy LM.2.6. USE OF RECORDED DATA; “IFATCA policy is that: Audio, visual and area recordings, together with associated computer data and transcripts of air traffic control communications are intended to provide a record of such communications for use in the monitoring of air traffic control operations, and the investigation of incidents and accidents. Such recordings are confidential and are not permitted to be released to the public. Such recordings are not to be used to provide direct evidence such as in disciplinary cases, or to be used to determine controller incompetence.”

In line with that, it would be prudent to advise your Member Association of the Dominican Republic to act accordingly.

Aware of the responsibility assumed by the Dominican Republic with the international community, under the framework of the Chicago Convention, this Administration had to address this issue, applying legislation by which we are all ruled. In any case, the courts of justice of the Dominican Republic are there for all rights and duties to be claimed, for the democracy that we enjoy provides liberties that are set to be used responsibly.

We acknowledge the importance of the Federation that you represent; however, we cannot accept your comments about the provision of air traffic services in the Dominican Republic, basically because they are not true, and are not supported by objective evidence that can be used as a valid reference for the international community, and with that you are making the same mistake of your Member Association of the Dominican Republic, trying to place, national and international, authority under judgment, and to take discussions to grounds that the Civil Aviation Authority of a Sovereign State cannot lower to.

The Dominican Republic accounts with a robust air navigation system, leading the regional implementation planning and endeavors of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). At the same time, safety oversight of the Dominican Republic is amongst the top of the world, showing and effective implementation (EI) of the eight critical elements of a safety oversight system of 86.19 %, and a 90.21 % compliance of ICAO air navigation standards and recommended practices, according with the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program of ICAO. These results have been reaffirmed by several ICAO visits, including the Regional ATM, CNS, and AIM officers. That means that the Dominican Republic is a State with a solid civil aviation system. These are valid facts that the international aviation community adheres to.

Furthermore, to consolidate the continued investment to the air navigation system of the Dominican Republic, we have completed the installation of two brand new Area and Terminal Control Centers, including all its associated systems and equipment, applying the latest technology for air traffic control.

In addition, we would like to remark that the academic level of our air traffic personnel has been enhanced with the operation of our Aeronautical Sciences Academy, which has the endorsement of ICAO being the first certified TRAINAIR Plus Center of America and third globally, and the approval by the Board of Higher Education of the Associate Degree in Aerodrome Control, supported with state of the art ATC simulators. Since 2011 our Academy has prepared 103 new air traffic controllers.

 If we put in a regional context the working and rest periods, basic salary and package of benefits, and the technology put at hand in order to fulfill their job, we can assure that the air traffic controllers of the Dominican Republic benefit from working conditions compared to those of the top air navigation service providers throughout the world. That being said, the civil aviation authority of the Dominican Republic has the obligation to demand a conduct of all stakeholders that preserves the integrity of the aviation system.

Recently, the international recognition of the Dominican Republic civil aviation system has been ratified with our election to occupy one of the 36 seats of the ICAO Council, with an unprecedented support.

Rest assured that the voice of the civil aviation authority of the Dominican Republic will be well heard in any international forum in which our system would falsely attempt to be discredited.

Unfortunately, it took IFATCA almost one year to intervene on this issue, if doing so when we requested, ADCA wouldn’t have handled this issue the way in which they did, damaging the status and the credibility they once enjoyed. IFATCA never responded, nor acknowledged receipt, to our previous letter from March 25th 2013, and now addresses the office of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Dominican Republic with false allegations and in a tone that lacks the due courtesy expected to establish a relationship of mutual respect and recognition.

This Administration is always open to find ways to improve international civil aviation, but this has to be done with facts, and respect to the rule of law and international best practices, and cannot be accepted under the basis of pressure and threats or ignoring the authority of the office I occupy, since even though ADCA is a recognized entity, their members individually are employees of this Institute and public servants of the Dominican Republic.

Finally, we expect to receive a written apology, clearly stating that IFATCA was misled and not aware of all the facts involving this situation, urging its Member Association to demonstrate the professionalism expected by your organization and also acknowledging the openness showed by this administration in last year’s communication.

That been said, the Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation invites any concerned stakeholder of the industry to visit and see for themselves the wellness of our sound, efficient and, above all, safe aviation system.

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