Christoph Schewe, Managing Director of IFALPA introducing his association

When was your association founded?
In 1948

Where is your association based, how many members do you have & in how many countries?
After 64 years in the UK, in 2012, IFALPA relocated its HQ to Montreal, Canada, which is considered to be the Civil Aviation Capital of the World due to its unique density of aerospace related organizations, industry and regulators. 

IFALPA is a true Federation of independent national Air Line Pilots’ Associations in almost 100 countries on all continents. As a rule, only one Member Association per country can join.

Who are your members?
As stated above, nearly 100 national Air Line Pilots’ Associations are IFALPA Member Associations, with over 100,000 professional pilots as their individual members.

What is your mission & aim of the association?
The mission of IFALPA is to promote the highest level of aviation safety worldwide and to be the global advocate of the piloting profession; providing representation, services and support to both our members and the aviation industry. 
IFALPA is an independent not-for-profit international organization that is mainly financed by its Member Associations.

What are the major challenges facing your association?
Apart from keeping up with constantly advancing safety and technical issues, from the organizational view we are facing structural changes in the aviation environment that influence our membership and the way we can represent pilots: While decades ago each country basically had one professional pilot association and one or very few major (national)  airline(s), today’s aviation industry does not stop at borders. Airlines operate over different countries with different legal and regulatory systems, while IFALPA’s Member Association are still organized nationally.

Members are monitoring closely the benefit of being a Member Association; keeping or even expanding membership and improving our services and benefits are constant challenges.
Financial restrains make it necessary to review regularly the need for and benefits from attending or doing meetings.

What kind of events are organised by your association?
We have one annual general assembly (“IFALPA Conference”) which is easiest described as a 500-50-5 meeting: 500 participants from 50 countries come together for 5 days.

Beyond this bigger event, we do about 20 international meetings with group sizes ranging from 13 to 50 participants, each meeting being 3 days long.

What is the decision process behind the selection of a destination/venue?
Any meeting starts with one of our Member Associations showing interest in hosting one of those meetings. 

For the IFALPA Conference, a formal decision is made two years in advance by our Member Associations regarding the country, after verification that the suggested venue(s) are suitable for the event. The final decision on the exact venue rests with the Executive Board. 
The process of attracting a Conference usually starts 4-5 years before the date.
With regard to the smaller working group style meetings, the Executive Board decides on the locations for the upcoming year at the end of each year.


Can you share your insights about the latest trends within the association community?
With regard to our main event, the annual Conference, we are very traditional in the way this event is carried out, with rare changes to the formal and agenda. Large parts are dictated by formal requirements.

However, by facing the above described challenges and to improve the efficiency and attractiveness, we are open to ideas of different formats. Technology can help to shorten formal processes, e.g. electronic voting.


What does your association do in terms of legacy, do your meetings have a societal impact on the destination?

As any meetings starts with one of our Member Associations being interested to host a meeting, it is up to them to decide about the local impact. Our meetings are IFALPA-only, so we are not getting much attention from the general public. A IFALPA Conference often highlights a special anniversary of the hosting Member Association. Sometimes it is also to attract attention from the local government.

Are you looking to forge collaborations with other associations? If so in what areas of expertise?
I think any exchange and cooperation in organizational aspects are of benefit, as international organisations often face the same challenges, independent of their specialty. 
Be it ideas for membership campaigns, the mix of employed staff and volunteers, dealing with limited financial resources, global communication, international subscription collection and currency conversion – we can learn a lot from each other and improve efficiency, or just confirm that the way we do it so far is good.
As an example, when three associations each have their annual meeting in the same city, they should know of each other well in advance and negotiate together.

For more information on IFALPA you can check their website: