PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - Darwin ATC. Nothing to see here, move along
Old 3rd Oct 2014, 23:08
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Join Date: Apr 2007
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Yes RENURPP most disturbing report in oh so many ways, not the least being that this investigation and final report took 2 years to complete...

Ben Sandilands seems to be the only one (see my post here), of the aviation media fraternity, that can not only see the enormity of this incident but also dares to shine a light into the murkiness of what lies within a very ugly aviation safety framework (which unfortunately includes the transport safety watchdog themselves..) in this country...

Some of the comments from the Planetalking article are well worth regurgitating.., especially this one from Geoff (in plain English) for a better understanding of the current dysfunction of ATC civil vs ADF:

Posted October 3, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

ghostwhowalks – this was suggested to defence way back when the TAAATS system was being introduced by the then CAA. They were also offered the TAAATS system and space in the two centres then being built in Melbourne and Brisbane for their controllers. They knocked back both.
Dan Dair – Defence asserts that the RAAF training does match civilian training and that their controllers are issued with “ICAO” ATC licences. (Airservices controllers are issued with CASA ATC Licences.) There can be no “requirement” for military ATC to be equipped to meet civilian standards because CASA has no jurisdiction over the RAAF. (For instance their pilots fly in civilian controlled airspace but they do not have civilian pilot qualifications)

Confirmed sceptic – your comment confirms what I have been told about military ATC career progression. They send the most junior ATCs with only Tower training to the joint-user bases to gain experience with civilian traffic. These ATCs are then given approach control training on the same bases before being posted to more intensive military jobs such as Williamstown and Pearce. They also change jobs every 2 to 2 1/2 years. Hence Darwin controllers probably have very little experience.

Airservices tends, although there will be exceptions, to train controllers on en-route sectors where the traffic is cruising, at steady speeds, and there is usually strategic separation being applied. (Meaning you get time to plan what you are going to do next). Moving to approach control or a Tower usually comes later. Also Civilian controllers do not move around much so become specialists at the job they are doing.

I personally subscribe to the US and UK practice where miltary ATC only staff military bases. That is not to say that as a civilian pilot you cannot fly into a military base, it will not however be cloaked with civilian airspace categories (A,C,D, and E) giving the impression that it is a CASA regulated environment. Adopting US/UK practice would also remove the ridiculous amounts of Restricted airspace that surround our major population centres for the use of an air force with less aircraft than the US Marine Corps. (Nothing derogatory intended, it is a fine air force. It is only the airspace arrangements I am criticising)

On a final note, sadly there does not seem to be a move to put anyone on the CASA Board with civilian ATC operations experience. CASA do not just regulate pilots and airlines. I would volunteer but the phone never rings!
And a choccy frog award to comet's, slightly tongue in cheek.., observations about this rather bizarre pic...


Posted October 3, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

That image of Darwin’s ATC console, at the top of this article, is bizarre.
It looks like it’s operating out of a farm shed. Scroll back up the page and take another look.

Look at the uneven corrugated iron walls. Look at the crude portable metal computer stands that hold up crucial monitors (eg the long-range and weather displays).

There’s even a thermometer glued to the main console. What’s that there for? If it’s to measure the temperature of the computers, then an automated alarm would be more appropriate. It must be there to measure the room temperature for the staff. Note that drinks are allowed to sit on the main console (spill risk).

There are rolls of paper and piles of paper stored on the upper air vents of the console, above what look like cathode-ray monitors. This would block the air vents, as well as cause a fire risk.

It’s quite amazing that ATC can look like it’s being run inside a chook shed.
IMO this is a rather apt pic to where aviation safety sits in the pecking order of concerns for the miniscule, the government and the MSM in Oz...


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