FAI President's letter - August 2011

Dear Air Sport Friends,

This time of year in most parts of the world is the time for competition and other aerial activities, and I have just gone down to Denmark to participate in the Swedish (!) Nationals for hot air ballooning - I like the idea of sharing Nationals in other countries; I would be happy to receive other examples.

But of course FAI business rolls on.

Thanks to excellent work within the Finance and Reporting Task Force, with Finance Director Bob Clipsham as Chair, we now have the material and procedures for a FAI Consolidated Budget and economy in line with our auditors’ recommendations. There are still questions about this but basically it is one common economy system rather than many.

One issue is the role of our Vice Presidents.  I now found out we have 49 FAI Vice Presidents! VPs are FAI representatives, most of them in their own country, but not much is heard of their work. It is, and should be, an honour to be FAI VP, but is should also come with some obligations.
 I was glad to hear one of them recently made a speech as FAI VP, at a very big event in Asia. But what was said, what were the conclusions and recommendations?  The VP role must be clarified. It is not just a door-opening title, it also a responsibility towards the rest of FAI. In my opinion, a VP represents FAI in a member country or in a commission field of activity.

One of our VPs, John Aldridge, FAI President for Hang Gliding and Paragliding, CIVL, has unfortunately been taken seriously ill and is temporarily replaced by CIVL VP Aúgust Gudmundsson. We wish John a quick and full recovery.

FAI is criticized for being “Eurocentric”. This is unfortunate, and we must all contribute to have a global outlook on FAI and air sports. Therefore, the Executive Board will propose the introduction of Regional Vice Presidents, RVPs. With a RVP the President and the Executive Board will have somebody looking after the interest of that region, promoting regional activities, and representing FAI in regional negotiations, as well as reporting back what’s going on. I hope we will get support for this concept at the coming General Conference.

During the last years there has been a trend to increase the number of commissions in FAI. We have the Air Sport Commissions (ASCs), and I am glad to report that we intend to transform the Technical Commission for Amateur Built & Experimental Aircraft (CIACA) into an ASC, opening for more records and competition in this area. The exact wordings will be decided by the GC.
And we have the technical commissions for medico-physiological questions, environmental issues, aviation & space education, and airspace & navigation systems. These are all very important areas, but do they all need commissions with annual assemblies with delegates from all over the world?

Do we need so many commissions or could some be transformed into expert groups? Would this in fact be more efficient? Is it economically responsible to ask our NACs to send delegates to 16 assemblies (yes, 16 annual commission assemblies!), and to have FAI officials at all these meetings to take care of voting procedures etc? I hope we one day can see a consolidated Air sport week conference with seminars, exhibitions, air show, etc, rather than all these scattered annual meetings.

The Executive Board has started up Expert groups for IT as well as for New technology, and are looking at transforming the technical commission CANS (Airspace and Navigational Systems) into two expert groups. Basically, an expert group will get a mission and come back with a report, or be asked to monitor a specific area of interest. We are also discussing starting an expert group for Special events. However, after discussion at the ASC Presidents’ meeting, the other technical commissions remain as they are, as a result of our intention to consult with and involve our Commission Presidents more on FAI strategic issues.  

As I wrote in my previous letter, to restructure a 105-year old non-profit institution run mostly by volunteers is sensitive. The proposals from EB to introduce overall change means (sometimes major) Statutes changes and this is not as easy as it may seem. Fortunately FAI has a special Statutes working group (SWG). However, SWG works on instruction from GC and only considers suggested Statutes wording changes, so we need to have the full written Statutes change detail before SWG will consider it.

In the middle of all this came the resignation of our Secretary General. I congratulate him for his new position as CEO of FIM, the International Motorcycle Federation, and on behalf of all of us wish him the best of luck. Those of you who can go will have the opportunity of saying goodbye to him at our General conference in Belgrade.

The work to find his successor is moving forward. We decided not to advertise or bring in a head-hunter firm this time but rather look in our aviation and/or sport environment for this. We are confident we will find someone fulfilling our requirements.
It might sound like we are rushing to change the FAI; the reality is that the grand old lady is getting a little creaky at the knees and the organisation is not always delivering what the members expect. We do need to look at ourselves, our internal relationships and the way we do business and – a year on from the initial suggestions – we need to be ready to adopt necessary changes in Belgrade. If we miss this opportunity, it will cost us all another year before we can move forward and nothing will happen until October 2012.
Your support of the board and the work we are undertaking is greatly appreciated and I look forward to us all being able to make the best decisions for the FAI for the future in Belgrade.
Meanwhile, have a continued good summer – or winter!

Best regards,      

John Grubbström