CONVEX – an abbreviation for Conference and Exhibition used to be a regular if demanding event organised by the Guild of Air Traffic Control Officers. We believe the term was first derived by George Wilson and Brian (B C ) Jones in the late 60s or early 70s. For quite a long time CONVEX was as much a “brand” as GATCO and served as the Guild’s roughly biennial external presence in (mainly) commercial aviation and aerospace whilst GATCO dealt with the in-ATC issues. However when major issues arose in UK ATC, Convex provided a platform to publicise those issues in a wider forum.
When GATCO started to run CONVEX there were few open fora in which anyone could highlight and debate issues impacting on the air traffic services. The GATCO events, initially dealing with UK issues, were therefore ground breaking and well supported from within and outside ATC. As issues inevitably became European or even more widely international Convex would from time to time embrace wider international themes to highlight them within the UK. Each Convex, GATCO would invite speakers and would present its own positional paper on behalf of controllers. Sometimes we would close the conference with our paper, sometime we would open the debate.
Chris Stock and John Levesley have scanned in presentations at some of the CONVEX events below. Chris has also provided some words to give the background to Convex 78 and its theme. All the ’78 working papers are available as downloads below.
“CONVEX 78 – The Divided Sky – Civil Military Co-ordination
In 1977, Anglia Lodge (pre-modernisation) offered to host CONVEX 78 in Cambridge. After some, but not much, discussion, the topic for the Convex was decided. It was a bit of no-brainer when you consider that Anglia geographically covered 7 very active USAF bases, 5 RAF bases, 2 civil airports and 3 heliports. Over a dozen separate ATC terminal units were linked into the area radar units located at Eastern JATCRU and Midland Radar. The civil element at Eastern had responsibility for the airways and Upper Air routes over the North Sea. I was responsible for devising the Convex technical programme and speakers and fortuitously for me, I had time on my hands to concentrate on Convex. I was an area radar instructor at Shawbury and during the summer of 1978, the ARTS simulator was scheduled for replacement which meant no courses were run for 3 months and the instructors were kicking their heels! Some embarked on a canoe expedition down the Mississippi, another, Terry Crowhurst (Guild secretary in the late 80’s) was sent to Saxa Vord to open up Shetland Radar and the remainder stayed at Shawbury to design and validate new simulator exercises. Once we had announced the title and subject matter of CONVEX 78, it became clear that there was an element of controversy because I was contacted by senior people from the military and civil sides of the house. One of the first calls was Bill Woodruff, Controller NATS who was very keen to write the introduction to the Convex papers mainly as he did not agree with title – The Divided Sky – not surprising as he was head of the national joint civil-military ATC organisation. Several air rank officers made contact wishing to participate to ensure the service point of view was heard. Unusually, I was not short of material for the conference but it did indicate that there were underlying sensitivities and, no doubt, politics playing a part.
Within military ATC, there were separate organisations, area services under MATO and terminal ATC under the different RAF commands. This split manifested itself in the management of ATC, area services were managed by professional ATC officers whereas terminal ATC was under the control of the flying branch whose primary interest was to ensure operational primacy. So when CONVEX 78 was being planned, the concern from the military point of view was that there was enough airspace available for training and major exercises and from the civil aspect, the need to cope with expanding traffic demands. The focal point for these conflicting demands was in the provision of area services; needless to say, there were entrenched views on both sides but hopefully, some light was shed on what appeared to be intractable positions – and closed minds.”
Chris Stock , 14 Dec 2015
CONVEX 78 The Divided Sky (Military-Civil Co-ordination)
CONVEX 80 International Chaos or Control – ATC into the 80s
CONVEX 87 International Airspace and Airports – a crisis of capacity
CONVEX 89 Uniting Europe’s Skies
EUROCONVEX 93 convex-93-gatco-paper convex-93-egats-paper convex-93-ifatca-paper CONVEX 95 International Aviation Technology … in place of Skills.
GATCO Int. Conference 2001 Safe, orderly and adequately staffed