View Full Version : (LGMT) Lesbos controller overslept.

29th Sep 2008, 17:08
Tower still sleeping?

29th Sep 2008, 17:29
Please explain! Obviously loses a bit in translation from Australian...

29th Sep 2008, 17:33
No, woke up by media reporting live.
Big anecdote here.
Early in the morning ca 6:30 local, three airlines holding over the LGMT for 30' or more, because the controller overslept :mad:.
CAA internal inquiry in progress.

29th Sep 2008, 17:38
Flights wait as Greek air traffic controller sleeps

Two planes have been forced to circle over a Greek island awaiting permission to land after an air traffic controller overslept and was late for work, Greece's civil aviation authority said.
The Transport Ministry will launch a probe into the incident at the airport in the island of Lesbos that delayed a domestic flight from Athens and a charter from Slovakia, the YPA aviation agency said.
The air traffic controller told his bosses that his mobile phone alarm had broken down, causing his tardiness, according to Greece's Net television.
While the planes circled over the island, the airport director called one the controller's colleagues.
After waiting 30 minutes, the two aircraft landed safely, YPA said.
The European Commission told Greece in September to improve its oversight of airport safety to conform with EU rules or face action before the European Court of Justice.

Flights wait as Greek air traffic controller sleeps - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/09/30/2377422.htm?section=justin)

29th Sep 2008, 17:51
That is interesting and has happened to me many years ago in the 1980s, in the hold at Zakinthos for the RT to be answered.........in a B73-2, so not too much spare motion lotion!


29th Sep 2008, 17:58
I,ve had it happen at the smaller Spanish airports a couple of times fortunately the phone woke them with a call from area.Visited Gerona tower when I was tech. there with time to kill a decade ago there was a bedroom on the floor below the visual control room and a television in the tower with a Spanish soap gabbling away.Very relaxed atmoshere shall we say.

29th Sep 2008, 19:13
And nobody on this forum has ever overslept and been woken up by a crew mate to make the wheels with seconds to spare........?:rolleyes:

29th Sep 2008, 19:22
Visited Gerona tower when I was tech. there with time to kill a decade ago

Well, things have changed a bit there since 1998. Now they actually have commercial flights every day (quite a few of them too). One wouldn't now dream of paradropping there when it's too windy up north in LEAP.

Not saying they're the sharpest in the trade, mind you.

Mark in CA
30th Sep 2008, 00:58
We've heard stories about pilots falling asleep and missing their airports. Now, a female tower controller at the airport on the Greek island of Lesbos "overslept," keeping two arriving airliners circling for 40 minutes as they attempted to contact the tower for clearance to land.

Planes circle isle after controller overslept | Oddly Enough | Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUSTRE48S5UV20080929)

30th Sep 2008, 06:59
OK, apart from the lingo games about the name of island there is an issue there regarding not the fact that somebody overslept (it can and happens to anyone) but the fact that there was no immediate back up! A double shift maybe!
To resolve the issue another controller was called that was closer to airport!

30th Sep 2008, 07:10
So at that time it was an "uncontrolled" airfield.

Runway clear? Land.

30th Sep 2008, 07:35
The Greek CAA will probably be very harsh on this controller, but its their own fault by not having a STANBY ATCO..
Good that the airliner which arrived had brought enough holding fuel and that they did not have to divert.
Perhaps a bit too much Plomari the evening before?:D

Old King Coal
30th Sep 2008, 07:48
hetfield wrt "Runway clear? Land. "

It's not quite a simple as that, i.e, aside from doing a 'flypast' to visually inspect the runway (which many airlines do not allow, i.e. fly pasts) there's also the issue of RFS (Rescue and Fire Service) cover, and is ones insurance (and that of the airport) still valid should something should go wrong whilst the airport is (technically) closed?! Etc, etc...

Remember that we're talking here of about jet airliner(s) packed with passengers - not a light aircraft. Therein, imho, the safest & most professional course of action would be to hold overhead the airport and hope that the airport opens before one gets down to 'CMR fuel', and / or in advance of that (i.e. reaching CMR fuel) divert to ones nominated alternate.

30th Sep 2008, 09:34
Years ago, in my Air taxi days, do remember holding over Sligo, with a Chieftan full of car parts, waiting for the tower to open.

20 minutes later, landed, upto the tower to pay the landing charges, sheepish controller apologised for her tardiness, apparently held up on the way to the airport by a flock of sheep on the road! Didn't even have the landing fee discounted!

30th Sep 2008, 09:45
OKC...in many countries, the airport is not closed when the ATC facility is unmanned..it just becomes an uncontrolled airport

30th Sep 2008, 10:09
it's not as easy as saying there should be a 'standby'.

a lot of the smaller domestic units all around the world are worked by solo watch controllers - have worked a couple of these myself.
at least it was only a 'hold up' due to a late controller and not a 'closure' (or TIBA) due to NO staff! - as is happening more and more.

she is probably a good controller who had a bad day and is now copping the associated sh1t for a very easy to make lapse. I just hope that we don't end up losing another controller by it getting blown out of all proportion.

good luck to her
ps - ask for a pay rise to get a new alarm clock!:ok:

30th Sep 2008, 10:11
@Old King Coal

Sorry, please don't take me too serious on that one. ;)

30th Sep 2008, 10:11
I had it once late evening in Djibouti.

We were calling calling calling... no answers

When finally the guy took the mike still panting he apologized in French: Excusez-moi commandant mais j'ai du aller faire caca....
(Excuse me captain but I had to go for a sh.t)

30th Sep 2008, 12:09
Just happened last year in Sylt/Northern Germany (GWT/EDXW) that an incoming X3 73G had to hold for the delayed controller.

30th Sep 2008, 20:04
So, what is the big deal about the controller not being there on time, when you have a power failure or the almighty computers fail no one hears about that. he/she should have call in sick.

Soap Box Cowboy
30th Sep 2008, 20:16
Hehe, had it several times that controlers were not there. Excuses being..

In the toilet
Out to lunch
Simply not there
Running the little shop next to the tower.
Radio not working.
Sleeping off the big new years party.

Solution has always been to "buzz" the field, checking runway and winds and transmiting like it was an unmaned airfield.

The low pass usually got them up on the air. :E

Usually followed by frantic transmitting "Aircraft overhead, aircraft overhead!!!!"


Mister Geezer
30th Sep 2008, 20:47
This happens from time to time... bet the controller won't do it again though!

3rd Oct 2008, 22:22
In a responsible ATC unit, the last controller on duty would have stayed on until relieved surely?

3rd Oct 2008, 22:56
Amen, manrow. Did the previous controller just walk away when his/her relief did not show? He/she is the one who should be disciplined. :mad:

Alpine Flyer
3rd Oct 2008, 23:09
Could be that the previous controller locked up the tower the night before. I do dimly recall waiting for an AFIS operator to return from his lunch break on an even smaller island airport.

3rd Oct 2008, 23:29
Smilin, manrow,
Let's not be too harsh here.
If LGMT is not H24, then the 'Sleepy Lesbian' (:E) may have been the first in, (and maybe he/she had to undertake an aerodrome inspection prior to opening ATC). Did the ATC centre not try to pass inbound estimates over the landline prior to the arrival of the 2 A/C over the holding facility?
Who hasn't unintentionally overslept? We are, afterall, 'only human'. :ok:
Safe flying!

4th Oct 2008, 00:59
Zooker, the issue is not oversleeping. The issue is why the previous controller left without a relief. :ugh:

4th Oct 2008, 08:17
LGMT is not open 24H.

For those that don't understand this:

* nightshift goes home-locks up

* tower closed

* morningshift comes in-opens up

* tower open

There should be some sort of back-up system in place in cases like these, and maybe there was one, but didn't work, but then again, this is Greece...siga siga!:ok:

barry lloyd
4th Oct 2008, 08:46
Well said klm-md11
Do people out there really imagine that all airports are open 24hrs?
LGMT does not have a lot of movements even during the day, thus the number of ATC staff is limited.
It's happened before, and it'll happen again. I was on the flight deck of a PIA flight many years ago, commencing descent into Tirana (Albania). Despite Belgrade calling them on the landline and numerous calls over the radio, they did not respond. The captain did a low pass, and one by one the lights started to come on. It seems that the transport to take the staff home (no private cars allowed in those days) had not turned up, so they had decided to have a party in the tower, and overslept. Mind you it was 0530!

4th Oct 2008, 09:20
Details of ATC availability should be in the Aerodrome (specific) section of the relevant state's AIP.
Keep a sharp lookout!
Soap Box, out of curiosity, what do they sell in the little shop next to the tower?

4th Oct 2008, 11:31
This is not only one controller's fault, this is an airport's operations failure.
LGMT is not a huge station, all are paid to be at their positions, 1 hour before the first arrival. and they ended up, the ACC in Athens inform by phone the airport director at his home, that they were missing the controller, with flights already holding overhead. And the excuses they present are on the border of ridiculous.

4th Oct 2008, 11:42
It's been said in one or two ways, but here's the simple fact;

No ATC comms, airfield unlicensed.

Unlicensed airfield, no Air Transport operations.

Without communications, how would the pilot know if the CFR service of the required Cat is available? That's only one of a zillion reasons why the only option is to hold while trying to establish communication, and divert when necessary if that cannot be done.


It's not an emergency situation, unless and until there is insufficient fuel to divert to an open, licensed airfield with the correct CFR Cat available.

OKC was absolutely right. But it's not just a "professional" course of action to choose to divert in those circumstances, ie no ATC Comms. There is no other option.

4th Oct 2008, 12:21
Dealing with Greek ATC System always called for some tolerance and flexibility.

But it also works the other way round.

Some year ago we were on our way to Paros island. Last Charter Flight of the year thus no pax on the leg to Greece enabled us to top up the tanks. Together with a strong tailwind it became clear in the air that we would make it into Paros without the usual en route fuel stop.

Problem: Paros would not be open yet at the new ETA. So we called Athens and asked them for help. Athens called Paros ATC an airport authorities at their homes and told us that it had been arranged to open the airport 3 h earlier.

Of course landing 3h before schedule left us waiting for pax. So ATC closed the airport again and joined us for a late brakfeast into Paros village

4th Oct 2008, 12:47
A few years ago I was working as the weather observer on duty, strategically located in the tower cab, right next to the controller at a controlled airport. Early in the morning, massive CAVOK.
The controller didn't arrive in time -- someone had slashed the tires of his car and he had to find a cab first. He phoned me just in time when a certain dark-blue/yellow low-cost B737-800 arrived precisely on time -- they always do. :rolleyes: I contacted the radar unit, and they put them in the holding pattern. Controller arrived about 20 minutes late. Aircraft landed 15 minutes late. No problem.

Had to lend him a lot of Euros so he could pay the cabbie.

Controlled field --> no controller in place --> no-one to say "Cleared to land" --> no landings and take-offs. None at all, neither IFR nor VFR. :ok:

Piltdown Man
4th Oct 2008, 13:08
Good man! It would be too easy to call in sick, but this guy didn't. He told the truth! I admire this man's integrity. Shame other professions appear to have so little.


4th Oct 2008, 18:46
I have been to Lesbos many times before and I must say that the lesbians are very nice people indeed.

4th Oct 2008, 20:32
Happened at BLK not so long ago, only kept morning deps on ground as apposed to holding arrivals...........Quite like Lesbos is BLK, full of lesbians and queer folk:rolleyes::rolleyes:

The Moss:ok:

4th Oct 2008, 22:14
This is insane. What happens if someone in the vicinity has an emergency and needs to land ASAP? Do they turn off the NAVAIDS at night too? What a crock. :mad:

4th Oct 2008, 22:20
Wow, now there's something I didn't know before.

Every single airport in the USA stays open 24/7, no matter how small and how little traffic, with full CFR cover in case someone "in the vicinity" has an emergency. Presumably that would be up to Cat 9, or maybe just the Cat probably needed for the runway capability?

And I guess "vicinity" is within 100 miles or so. Not far, is it, at jet speeds? Perhaps 200, just to be on the safe side.

We learn something every day on pprune.

4th Oct 2008, 22:25
We're not talking about an FBO, or are we? I thought we were talking about government officials abandoning an airfield which presumably has an IFR capability. Surely ICAO rules prohibit this. :ugh:

4th Oct 2008, 23:05
Smilin Ed,

To accept arriving and/or departing public transport flights, in Greece just like the US of A, an airport has to be fully open and manned. That means having a fire service ready for action at the Category needed for any aircraft that lands or takes off, ATC open and operating (Approach and Aerodrome, perhaps combined), lighting operative, Navaids etc etc.

It's not like an aircraft carrier, where these things are usually available because no-one can go home, there's enough people to work 3 shifts, and Uncle Sam picks up the bill without needing to make a return on capital.

So, believe it or not, there are airports that do close up when they are not needed for commercial operations, like at night. No-one pays them to stay open 24/7, so not only do they not do that, they couldn't do that. And in spite of my attempt at humour above, I think you'll find some in the USA.

An FBO, incidentally, is a business operating on an airfield, not necessarily an airfield. But some FBO's do own and operate the airfield as well, so confusion is forgiveable.

5th Oct 2008, 01:31
Who really cares??

The guy arriving overhead and finding the field abandoned, that's who. :ugh: If a private facility wants to close, that's their business, but publicly owned facility is there to serve the public. Are we talking about a private or public facility? Fifty years ago I heard about fields in Europe and Africa which turned off the lights to save money. Surely we're beyond that now.

5th Oct 2008, 15:51
Smilin Ed

Outside the USA, the home of private enterprise, a lot of airports are indeed privately-owned.

Even in the USA, it would appear that public owners do not invariably squander taxpayers' money by staying open all night when there are no operations scheduled.

Do you have any notion of the cost of keeping all those people there "just in case"?

There will always be somewhere reasonably close that is open, ie a major city airport.

Looking at airports in West Virginia, for example,

KMRB Attendance: MAY-SEPT 0700-2100, OCT-APR 0700-1900


KHLG Attendance: MON-FRI 0700-2300, ALL SAT-SUN 0800-2000

Now, you can argue that of those only Charleston is used regularly by airlines, and you would be right (I think). But the others are publicly-owned, and have runways that are lit (as far as I can see) and quite long; they have navaids, and would be useful in a real emergency to comeone who has nowhere else to go. What they may not have is a CFR service at the right category, but that doesn't seem to worry you.

Lesbos isn't that big either, and there are plenty of airports open 24/7 reasonably close by.

If you seriously believe that every public airfield should be open 24/7, I suggest you take up your crusade with the FAA. When the USA does it, I'm sure the rest of the world will follow.

7th Oct 2008, 06:59
Apsen/Pitkin County: gov. owned (county), USA, tower-controlled, scheduled airline operations (UA, F9) - and closed for 8 hours each night.....

Aspen Airport - Procedures (http://www.aspenairport.com/procedures.asp?type=3)

Salina KS (KSLN), city-owned, airline service (Great Lakes), twr, USA
Tower operates 700am-1100pm local
The Airport Guide :: Airport Information for SALINA MUNI (http://www.the-airport-guide.com/airport.php?airports_id=5349)

Eagle, CO county owned, airlines, USA, tower-controlled, twr operates 7am - 7pm local, airlines United X, American, Delta, Continental, (some seasonal) Eagle County, Colorado (http://www.eaglecounty.us/airport/flight.cfm)
The Airport Guide :: Airport Information for EAGLE CO RGNL (http://www.the-airport-guide.com/airport.php?airports_id=3675)

etc etc etc.

Any one of these has to be opened by an early morning tower staffer who is not replacing anyone - and if (s)he oversleeps....

9th Oct 2008, 09:21
Hands up - a number of years ago, I fell asleep and hadn't plugged the phone into the socket in my 'bunk' (back office..). Nightime (MIl) bad weather inbound from the states, and the wind had changed onto the non ILS runway. I'm guessing ATC had had a nap too, and when they needed me to spin the GCA Radar they couldn't get me. - I learned about not sleeping from that.:\

kick the tires
9th Oct 2008, 09:34
Obviously a slow news day in Oz if this sort of thing is headline news down under!!! :ugh:

9th Oct 2008, 09:59
slow news day?
not really when you consider that Melbourne is the second largest Greek city after Athens!:)

10th Oct 2008, 08:36
Smilin Ed

Take it up with the NRA.

Or realise that sometimes sh!t happens.

I holidayed (vacationed ) in Greece( Corfu ) years ago, it was quite difficult to even make an international call, you went to the telephone exchange in Kerkiyra, and waited (hours) . American tourists in there brandishing AT&T cards and demanding to be put through NOW.

You gotta remember, some days you're the windscreen and sometimes you're the bug.

14th Oct 2008, 22:11
AR1, ditto.

Left a Regional Carrier holding for a little over an hour one morning, spookily for exactly the same reason as the poor individual on Lesbos! Privately-owned, commercial, Controlled airport I must add.

And before anybody asks or suggests it; no, I had not abandoned my post, even though I was the one who had closed up the previous night after the last arrival. It was expected that I would leave the airport and go home (as far as I know the insurance only covered Night Watchmen to be on the premises overnight unless there were aircraft moving, but I'm open to correction on that one).
Luckily I had managed to get all of the Opening-Up Checks and Inspections completed and had given a Landing Clearance before the Ops Director arrived (not at all happy about having been woken from his bed so early I might add!).

Copped a lot of flack for that one I don't mind admitting. :uhoh:

The really strange coincidence was that years later I ended up jump-seating on the same Regional Carrier due to an overbooked flight, and guess what? It was exactly the same flight crew from that infamous morning! The relationship only became fully apparent half-way through the flight during conversation, and needless to say much joviality ensued! The pilots themselves weren't at all bothered about the situation, either at the time or later when it was realised what we all had in common. :}
Their bosses at the airline were a different matter, however, as they informed me. They saw the incident as a golden opportunity to score political capital and screw ever more concessions out of the airport operator! :cool:

viktor inox
15th Oct 2008, 12:11
Regarding the island of Lesbos: are all inhabitants there called Lesbians?

15th Oct 2008, 12:12
No, only the women.

15th Oct 2008, 20:56
I don't know what all of the fuss is about.
The female controller probably received a severe tongue lashing from her female senior controller and so now all is forgiven.