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Carlos Kaiser
18th Jan 2019, 06:05
Smacks of ‘Union Flu’.

Seriously, no back up?

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-18/sydney-airport-delays-after-air-traffic-controllers-call-in-sick/10727254

Roger Mayday
18th Jan 2019, 06:32
Perhaps desperately understaffed with no one available to come in. Happened a few months ago and will happen again I suspect .

On eyre
18th Jan 2019, 06:55
Quickly make it a CTAF and everybody get well again - seriously ������

Carlos Kaiser
18th Jan 2019, 07:26
Perhaps desperately understaffed with no one available to come in. Happened a few months ago and will happen again I suspect .



If Air Services put a few ads on Seek they might find some way to cure this dreaded flu.

There’s about 140,000 reasons that might just work.

Carlos Kaiser
18th Jan 2019, 07:38
The mass sickness just happens to coincide with mid summer days in Sydney. It might be interesting to see how many of them come back to work having partaken in some vitamin D therapy on their ‘sick beds’.

KZ Kiwi
18th Jan 2019, 08:44
The mass sickness just happens to coincide with mid summer days in Sydney. It might be interesting to see how many of them come back to work having partaken in some vitamin D therapy on their ‘sick beds’.

Just like pilots.

Good on them.....sticking it to the man.

mikethepomme
18th Jan 2019, 09:59
Some accusations i'm sure the of Sydney controllers would find unfair, unfounded and pretty insulting.

I know I would be if it was my group that was short staffed, and we metered traffic or closed airspace. The reality is that people get sick... that might be the controller, their children, their partner... and for whatever reason they can't work. In that case there are x number of replacements that are asked to come in on there days off to cover the shift. Sometimes you can't get people to come in at short notice on days off... it actually amazes me this doesn't happen more often... you'd be surprised how much overtime controllers are putting in to stop it happening on a regular basis.

73qanda
18th Jan 2019, 10:12
When you flog people for more than about 18 months the rates of legitimate ilness do in fact rise significantly. So does the rate of alcohol consumption ( while off duty of course).

Cloudee
18th Jan 2019, 10:36
No doubt some manager got a good bonus for cutting “surplus manpower” and saving lots of money. Should that bonus be repaid if those same cuts are proven to have been too deep?

Chris2303
18th Jan 2019, 19:06
With all the hot weather SYD has been having lately the incidences of food poisoning may increase, as will sunstroke.

slack
18th Jan 2019, 19:30
while it would first appear not very professional BUT I wonder what the management in air traffic control working conditions, bonuses, feather beding, etc are like. I suspect the management is not filling in. Over to you management.

Dee Vee
18th Jan 2019, 21:21
while it would first appear not very professional BUT I wonder what the management in air traffic control working conditions, bonuses, feather beding, etc are like. I suspect the management is not filling in. Over to you management.

bwahahahahaha... Didn't you know, management have families and hobbies and pets and the 7.30 report to go home to! they can't stay back and help out...

err.. I mean, "sorry, we would love to help, but are not certified, or lapsed/expired, so by law we are not allowed to, no point us staying here and making it worse, tootle pip, off to home we go"

hawk_eye
18th Jan 2019, 21:30
This can’t be considered unprofessional at all, and to call it Union Flu is totally disingenuous.

The fact of the matter is that there are times when multiple people can call sick on any day, and your employee numbers should be able to cover that. That the entire air traffic control system in this country relies so heavily on the controllers working their days off should be cause for concern. When controllers start leaving for better pastures in the Middle East, South East Asia and North America, exasperating the controller shortages, then this is probably a good indication as to the terms and conditions the front line staff work under.

Given that Airservices primary role is to provide ATC and RFF facilities - it strikes me as odd that only half the work force is made up of air traffic controllers and fire fighters. Airservices (as a wholly owned Government Enterprise) made a $75m profit last year based on revenues of close to $1.1b from airways revenue. Given the significant amount in navigation charges they pay, I don’t think it would be unreasonable for the airlines to expect that Airservices manages their labour force appropriately by ensuring adequate staffing levels (through ongoing and increased recruitment and improving Ts and Cs to retain experienced staff).

So rather than targeting individuals, it may be a little more helpful to take a bit more of a systematic look into what caused yesterday’s mess.

gordonfvckingramsay
18th Jan 2019, 21:50
I'm sure no has participated in un-PIA here, however it doesn't defy logic that ASA (or whomever these ATC's are employed by) have failed to realize that people are what make the whole system work. People who fly them, work in the cabin, maintain them, forecast weather, push them back, load the bags and manage air traffic are breaking down. The company I work for has had an 80% increase in sickness since their last drive for efficiency. The system is broken and the only thing anyone can do is self manage fatigue, stress etc. by going sick. It's about the only way people can stay safe AND employed.

CurtainTwitcher
18th Jan 2019, 22:43
THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

cLeArIcE
19th Jan 2019, 00:02
Smacks of ‘Union Flu’.

Seriously, no back up?

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-18/sydney-airport-delays-after-air-traffic-controllers-call-in-sick/10727254

Union flu...? Seriously ..?

You have obvisouly never worked at a chronically understaffed organisation. People can only take so much. Eventually they crack.

Who here can honestly say that after a long few years of smashing hours, standbys call outs, minimum rest on every over night and incompetent management causing delays that your 'care factor' has not sunk to a level that is below what it should be. We are all professionals but, we are also human.
I will happy accept the odd ATC delay if it means those boys and girls are getting the down time they need to function safely and happily.
​​​​​​I had a fellow crew member apologise and walk off a flight a few years ago simply because the poor guy had reached his b*llsh*t limit. He went from being completely normal to that of a tierd defeated man in a matter of seconds. I was a little annoyed at the the time but looking back on it now I am thankful he walked off.
Take that sick day or call fatigued when you need to. No one will thank you for not doing it but, they will happily hang you out to dry when you don't and your performance suggests that you should have. :ok:

megan
19th Jan 2019, 01:20
As an industry attempts are made (CAO 48 or whatever it's called these days) to regulate the work cycle of flight crew, and hopefully manage fatigue, which we know it doesn't do effectively. What about the controllers? Do they have a system in place? A case could be made that their input to the safe running of IFR aviation is just as important as those on the flight deck.

WhisprSYD
19th Jan 2019, 01:44
As an industry attempts are made (CAO 48 or whatever it's called these days) to regulate the work cycle of flight crew, and hopefully manage fatigue, which we know it doesn't do effectively. What about the controllers? Do they have a system in place? A case could be made that their input to the safe running of IFR aviation is just as important as those on the flight deck.

- max 10 shifts in a row without a clear day off
- a ‘worlds best practice’ FRMS that is pretty rigid when you are trying to adjust your own roster to manage your own fatigue or have a life outside work... but can be broken at management discretion in the name of service continuity

certain units/towers have been relying heavily on overtime to plug holes for a long time. Sometimes everyone’s mandated 1 day off in 10 happens to fall on the same day and all the holes can’t be plugged

neville_nobody
19th Jan 2019, 06:06
Was it a genuine bout of sickness or was it a organisational error dressed up sickness in a PR campaign?

I will happy accept the odd ATC delay if it means those boys and girls are getting the down time they need to function safely and happily.

The point is though that you shouldn't have to. When you look at the fees being paid for a ATC service they can at least staff it properly, and that includes some sort of standby system.

bazza stub
19th Jan 2019, 09:18
The point is though that you shouldn't have to. When you look at the fees being paid for a ATC service they can at least staff it properly, and that includes some sort of standby system.

But what about the double digit profit growth year on year?

cLeArIcE
19th Jan 2019, 09:33
Was it a genuine bout of sickness or was it a organisational error dressed up sickness in a PR campaign?



The point is though that you shouldn't have to. When you look at the fees being paid for a ATC service they can at least staff it properly, and that includes some sort of standby system.

Oh don't get me me wrong you are 100% correct. The system Is broken. But I don't for a second blame the individual controller's for that. They are just dealing with the giant turd sandwich that they have been handed.

27/09
20th Jan 2019, 01:41
Similar problems this side of the ditch. Been on going at one location at least, so not just a one off event, from what I've heard. Have to wonder how it comes to this. It has the appearance of profit over service.

BlockNotAvailable
20th Jan 2019, 10:20
Oh yeah fatigue is messed up. If we're too tired to work, we still have to drive to work and be fatigued at work. Or... we can stay home and have it count towards our sick leave (go get a cert from Dr), which at set intervals of days taken get reviewed in meetings with line managers. No pressure there!!
:ugh:

Duane
20th Jan 2019, 12:49
The mass sickness just happens to coincide with mid summer days in Sydney. It might be interesting to see how many of them come back to work having partaken in some vitamin D therapy on their ‘sick beds’.

Whats your agenda here Carlos?

Service unavailability would probably have to do with the fact that the tower roster has relied on about 3 people doing overtime a day for the last 18 months. Are you expecting people to be slaves to the organisation and come in on their days off during the holiday season where people with families would rather spend time at home with their families?

If you want someone to blame, look squarely at management. This sort of short staffing will get worse (and potentially far worse) before it gets better. Tower simply has not been training enough people to cope with attrition, and to add to that lots of potentially amazing opportunities are opening up all over the world (cough Hong Kong) that are offering better pay, better conditions and an experience that Sydney just cannot offer. Combine that with ASA no longer taking international recruits because of government policy, and the extremely high failure rate of the college (a few adds in seek wont help) and you have a stick of dynamite ready to go off. Overtime lengthens the fuse, but how long can you honestly expect someone to work with only a 1 day break. A man isnt a machine, people need down time.

etrust
21st Jan 2019, 09:55
A lot of BS being implied here.

Those who know the facts, know the facts.

Which is probably why you are not hearing the real facts.

sunnySA
21st Jan 2019, 13:29
A lot of BS being implied here.

Those who know the facts, know the facts.

Which is probably why you are not hearing the real facts.
Fact: Sydney Tower has had a number of resignations in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Fact: Sydney Tower has had a number of retirements in 2017 and 2018.
Fact: Sydney Tower roster is running at high levels of overtime.
Fact: Not all missing shifts on the Sydney Tower roster have been covered by overtime, a large number have been marked as "no replacement available".
Fact: In 2018, there was more than 1,000 days of overtime worked by staff in Sydney Tower.
Fact: In 2018, there was more than 8,500 hours of overtime worked by staff in Sydney Tower.

There will be others putting forward alternative facts.

As Duane said "This sort of short staffing will get worse (and potentially far worse) before it gets better."

28right
21st Jan 2019, 13:42
What shift pattern is being worked, that gives only one day off in ten? The UK ATCs at most units operate a 5 team system on a 10 day repeating roster, with a legal limitation of controller duty hours. They have had that since 1996, is Sydney ATC not operated with similar conditions.

ex-EGLL
21st Jan 2019, 14:57
What shift pattern is being worked, that gives only one day off in ten? The UK ATCs at most units operate a 5 team system on a 10 day repeating roster, with a legal limitation of controller duty hours. They have had that since 1996, is Sydney ATC not operated with similar conditions.

I don't think it is the shift system that gives 1 off in 10 rather a restriction that limits you to 9 straight days of work i.e. regular shifts and overtime combined.

sunnySA
21st Jan 2019, 15:35
What shift pattern is being worked, that gives only one day off in ten? The UK ATCs at most units operate a 5 team system on a 10 day repeating roster, with a legal limitation of controller duty hours. They have had that since 1996, is Sydney ATC not operated with similar conditions.
Firstly, Sydney Tower (and the rest of Australian ATC for that matter) don't work in teams as you have in Heathrow or Gatwick.
The roster pattern is based on two sets of rules, Principles of Rostering (or Hours of Work) that defines the length of shifts, the number of hours between shifts, the minimum and maximum number of shifts in a block of shifts, the minimum number of hours between blocks of shifts. These rules are listed in the Enterprise Agreement (Industrial agreement). Sydney Tower has blocks of shifts that contain 3, 4 or 5 shifts in a row, and it is the overtime shifts that could mean an ATC might work 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or even 10 shifts in a row. A combination of regular and overtime shifts. At 10 shifts in a row, then the ATC must have a day off. Once again these rules are listed in the Enterprise Agreement.

Overlaying the Enterprise Agreement Principles of Rostering (or Hours of Work) is another rule-set, well actually two sets of FRMS rules. One set of rules must be applied when a roster is published (the Strategic rules) and another set of rules that need to be applied when allocating overtime or initiating changes to a published roster (the Tactical rules).
The Enterprise Agreement rules of a maximum of 10 shifts in a row has existed for about 30 years and pre-dates NATS legal limitation of controller duty hours by nearly a decade. What hasn't happened is that the maximum 10 shifts in a row rule should have been brought back incrementally to 9, 8 or even 7 shifts in a row.

Unfortunately the Australian ATC system is heavily reliant on individual giving up their day off to cover short term and long term absences (and in some cases, training and projects).
And, the Enterprise Agreement also dictates that an ATC only has to give 2 weeks notice to resign (it takes roughly 2 years from when HR places the advertisement in seek.com until the person is licensed to work in ATC).

evansb
21st Jan 2019, 16:39
Somewhat uncomfortable thought, but I am thinking automation will solve the human staffing problem about 10 years from now.

Del Prado
21st Jan 2019, 19:46
Maybe but I’ve been hearing that for 25 years and the day automation takes over is still touted as “about 10years away.”
Too many variables for automation to handle at the moment, that’s not to say it will never happen but tasks that require judgement are roles that computers struggle with and humans excell at. It may be easier, and there appears to be more appetite for, automated aircraft but I’m not sure the flying public will ever buy that one.

goodonyamate
21st Jan 2019, 20:13
I don’t know how, but what is needed is an industry wide response to how aviation is changing. Pilots, cabin crew, engineers, ATC, ground staff, baggage handlers, all getting flogged more for less pay, more time away from family and less time off. Days off are no longer for recreation, they are simply recovery from the ever increasing duties forced on us by morons with blue ASIC’s. We all get ruined whilst a select few walk away with millions. Aviation is not a profit Centre, it is a means of public transport.

How can this happen?

patty50
21st Jan 2019, 20:26
Somewhat uncomfortable thought, but I am thinking automation will solve the human staffing problem about 10 years from now.

Full auto won’t happen for a long time. They seem to be pushing for remote towers by video pretty hard. Then they can just switch on Coffs, Launceston, Alice etc whenever they have a RPT. Which will work great until a controller is at their fourth airport for the day and stuffs up.

At least they’ll have jobs for plenty of Change Coordinators in the mean time.

Traffic_Is_Er_Was
21st Jan 2019, 23:09
I worked in a shift system that necessitated a lot of overtime to make it work. There were always those that said yes, and those that said no. The ones that said yes made a lot of money, which is why they said yes (apart from some professional pride in maintaining the service they were trying to provide). Eventually, enough of even those people said no. The company then couldn't provide the service, suffered operationally (thus financially and reputationally), and they cracked and employed more staff.
If ATC are expected to work 3 of their 4 days off and you want that to change, say no to the overtime. Has to be everyone though, because as long as enough keep saying yes (which appears to be the current situation), things won't change.

Super G
22nd Jan 2019, 00:07
The problems that AsA currently have around sufficient staffing can be traced back to one thing - entrenched government policy.

As a government owned entity the politicians expect AsA to return a profit every year, preferably growing year on year. AsA's stated organisational goal is the safety and expedition of Australian air traffic and the people who work on the front line are absolute disciples when it comes to that stated aim. Unfortunately politicians and the supplicant upper management who do their bidding see AsA as a profit center rather than a collective of professional individuals doing their best to keep the travelling public safe and moving. Expecting a safety organisation to continually return a profit by cutting resources is not consistent with maintaining best practice or building a motivated and professional work force.

The only answer is to move toward the model of Nav Canada which is a non profit, non share holding company with aviation experts dedicated to ensuring world's best practice in everything they do. The proof is in their results. Since 1996 they have moved from being a malfunctioning government department to the world's leading ANSP. Removing the stifling government bureaucracy has released the power of innovation and invention and NC now sells ATC equipment and software to ANSP's around the world, including to AsA. In addition NC are in the process of launching shoe boxed sized satellites into orbit with Space X and once operational these satellites will enable WASS and ADSB coverage across the globe at a fraction of the price it is now.

Nav Canada fund their operations from a floating fee on on every domestic and and outbound international flight ticket. The Canadian public don't mind if it goes up slightly (which it hardly ever does due to NC's other revenue streams) because they know it funds the safest airspace in the world.

Our government cannot continue to keep pulling the rubber band of safety in this country and not expect it to eventually snap. The notion of 'affordable safety' is a misnomer and something government flunkies roll out to a public who don't really want to know how their airfares stay so low. The model is not sustainable and is only held together by the dedicated men and woman staffing the towers and radar screens, flying the planes and maintaining the ageing equipment. Sadly there are other individuals who will seek to exploit and profit from this dedication to safety. This must end.

etrust
22nd Jan 2019, 02:10
Some of those 'facts' might be considered 'inconvenient'!

Automation? Same argument as pilot-less planes really. Remember, there are already a lot of automated sub-systems within the overall ATC system, that augment the human decision making.

They fail.

And when they do, the human takes over. It slows things down, but it is fail-safe, not fail-complete.

Even automated towers require a person looking at the displays. But the reality is, Australia does not have the bandwidth to transmit the data required. Not yet anyway.

Lead Balloon
23rd Jan 2019, 22:31
Our government cannot continue to keep pulling the rubber band of safety in this country and not expect it to eventually snap. The notion of 'affordable safety' is a misnomer and something government flunkies roll out to a public who don't really want to know how their airfares stay so low. The model is not sustainable and is only held together by the dedicated men and woman staffing the towers and radar screens, flying the planes and maintaining the ageing equipment. Sadly there are other individuals who will seek to exploit and profit from this dedication to safety. This must end. A lot of confused concepts and responsibilities in there.

Can you quote a single “government flunky” who’s used the phrase “affordable safety”?

In any event, the inescapable fact is that we get the level of safety we are willing to pay for, and there is no such thing as limitless money or perfectly safe.

When an organisation expects more and more to be done by fewer and fewer people whose dedication and professionalism is being exploited, that’s not a consequence of the concept of “affordable safety”. That’s just the bog-standard combination of managerial short-termism, opportunism, greed, incompetence etc. I do not intend to be offensive to all the dedicated and professional ATC and support staff out there but - sadly - they are part of the problem. While ever they allow themselves to be exploited, they will be. Unfortunately the Australian ATC system is heavily reliant on individual giving up their day off to cover short term and long term absences (and in some cases, training and projects).If it is indeed their day off, individuals don’t have to and shouldn’t be giving it up. They need to learn to use a very important word: NO.