Contrary to fears that the South American venue could have a negative effect on the turnout, some 250 attendees from all over the world converged on Rio and enjoyed a program comprising mainly first-class presentations and the special atmosphere of one of the most beautiful cities of South America.
For OITAF, the World Congress,
which is held every six years, is the most important item on the calendar of events, where the big decisions are taken on the organization’s ruling bodies and activities for the next six-year period. At the OITAF General Assembly held on October 24, the outgoing president Jean Charles Faraudo handed over to his successor Martin Leitner, and the long-serving Secretary General Heinrich Brugger was followed by Markus Pitscheider, who – like his predecessor – is head of the Ropeway Authority in Bolzano, Italy.
The main thrust
of the 2011 OITAF Congress was to offer full coverage of the subject of ropeways in the urban environment. Not only were most of the presentations on the first day devoted to this topic; urban ropeways also played a part in several papers presented in the working sessions on “Transportation by Rope and Tourism”, “Sustainability of Transportation by Rope, Environmental and Social Aspects, Economic Efficiency” and “Technology and Safety”. That pattern had been anticipated by ISR in an OITAF Congress Special published in six languages, with a keynote article on urban ropeways by Professor Josef Nejez, in which the ISR’s Technical Editor explained the relevant terminology and took a look at the ropeway systems deployed.
The excursion on the second day
of the Congress was also directly connected with the topic of ropeways for urban applications, and the visit to Poma’s Aerial Tramway in Rio de Janeiro was an impressive experience. With the construction of this high-capacity ropeway link in the favelas area of Complexo do Alemao, comprising five consecutive stages of a gondola system operating with 10-passenger cabins, Poma has produced a feat of ropeway engineering whose socio-economic impacts on a suburb that had previously had only poor public transport cannot be overstated.
On the third
and last day of the Congress, attendees were treated to presentations on a wide variety of subjects before it was time for the representatives of the two big ropeway manufacturing groups Leitner/Poma and Doppelmayr/Garaventa to make their final pitch, in which they presented the latest developments in ropeway engineering for the urban environment and their innovations for ski area operations.
The social highlight of the Rio Congress
was the gala dinner at the end of the event, at which the outgoing president Jean Charles Faraudo and the newly elected Martin Leitner held their closing speeches. The buffet, good wine and an enchanting samba dance display combined to generate a great atmosphere and ensure that attendees would take home fond memories of the 2011 OITAF Congress.