FAI President's letter - August 2013

Dear Air Sport Friends,

I would like to start this letter by informing you that our Secretary General Jean-Marc Badan unfortunately announced his decision to step down from his position as of Nov 30th. The reasons for his decision are general dissatisfaction with the nature of the daily work in his position, too high a workload as well as some health concerns. This was announced at our recent Executive Board meeting. I and the Board are of course very unhappy about this decision, especially as we are very pleased with his contributions, but we respect his decision. You will have the opportunity to thank Jean-Marc Badan at the General Conference.

The search for a new Secretary General will start with the publication of this letter. Now that you all know about it, I hope you will help me with suggestions for a new Secretary General. The Executive Board has set up a small but high priority working group to manage this important task. Candidates are invited to submit their written application and CV by Wednesday 25 September 2013 (12.00 CET) at the latest by e-mail to sec.gen@fai.org. Applications will of course be dealt with confidentially. Please phone or e-mail me, should you need further information.

You can understand Jean-Marc Badan’s decision in the light of the difficulties encountered during the last year. We have been working with the old and the new accounting systems in parallel, and the full implementation of the new FAI consolidated accounts proved to be significantly more complicated than initially expected; I take this opportunity of gratefully mentioning the hard work of Mme Cosette Mast : Without her devotion to get it right it would still be “a mess” (to quote a Commission). The work with the IPETA issues (the company set up by three IPC Bureau members on behalf of IPC) has consumed a lot of attention and time (and legal costs) but now finally we have a Memorandum of Understanding between FAI and the FAI Parachuting Commission (IPC) regarding this, as well as a signed Share Transfer Agreement, a 31-page legal document provided by IPETA lawyers. IPETA will now be a company owned by FAI but run by IPC, setting up Parachuting events, primarily Canopy Piloting events. I wish the parachuting community good luck with this venture. There has of course been more; you will hear our Secretary General’s report at the General Conference.

My conclusion after three years as your President is that the time has come to have an in-depth look at the FAI goals, priorities and structure, and to clarify the role of the Secretary General and his staff at the Head Office. We will I hope be able to discuss this in Kuala Lumpur, and I intend to publish additional information and discussion material shortly. Are we doing what you Members expect? Do we have the right focus and priorities? Should resources be allocated differently? Should our Commissions be more autonomous within the FAI framework? And more. I look forward to an interesting debate on these and other subjects in order to give guidance to the Board for a better FAI future.

I had the pleasure to visit the IWGA World Games in Colombia a few weeks ago, where we had extremely successful Paragliding Accuracy and Parachuting Canopy Piloting competitions right in front of the enthusiastic crowd which numbered in their thousands despite the Event taking place on a suburban air force base. We also had an extremely well performed demonstration of Indoor Aeromodelling where the full stands were enthusiastically asking for more. Thanks to the hard work of our officials in our Commissions, our local officials and the firm foundations set by Rob Hughes in months of preparations, we can now proudly report that air sports are a natural part of these huge multi-sport Games, with some 4,500 athletes competing. The Executive Board has thanked and congratulated Rob Hughes on the success.

The General Conference in Kuala Lumpur is in a few weeks, and I understand the preparations are well under way after a number of initial difficulties such as getting the website running. We appreciate the postponed deadline for early bird registration and the invitation to bring youngsters in the delegations. The air fare discount hoped for is regrettably not there, but getting your own ticket on Internet is usually cheaper than a discount on the regular price anyhow. I look forward to seeing as many as possible of you in what I hope will be an important Conference setting down strategic decisions for the FAI future. And it will be exciting to use the new electronic voting system! (The Statutes now demand paper voting on some issues, but I hope we can agree to override this with electronic voting, thus saving a lot of time). For the first time this year, the brand new “Milestone Trophy” and “Youngster Award” set up with our Global sponsor Breitling will be awarded.

But most of all I hope the Conference will find unity on the way forward for our federation.

We will also hear on recent developments within the area of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and I take this opportunity of reminding you of Europe Air Sport’s recent success in influencing the European Commission's policy statement on Remote Piloted Aircraft. Executive Director Beat Neuenschwander recently set up a summit meeting on the development of UAS activities, which are taking over more and more of the airspace available to air sports, and you will hear more about this at the conference.

But, let’s not forget our job is all about facilitating aerial activities, be it competition or recreational, and having fun in a safe and responsible way! Air sports generate responsible citizens and should be on the curriculum at every school!

See you at the Conference and

Soft landings,

John Grubbström      
FAI President