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TopBunk
22nd Jun 2003, 05:28
Just wondering whether any ATC guys are around who can explain what is going on these days.

This evening coming back in at about 2000z, holding delays were building with EATs being issued. Ok, so not uncommon, but 30 mins holding on a Sat night is unusual.

Tower were operating single frequency on 118.5 and ground single freq on 121.7. From TCAS, final spacing to 09L was 4-4.5 miles which is unusual (I was A319 behind BMI similar) and expected 2.5nm. Got landing clearance about 1000ft - most unusual - usually at 300ft.

Question - staff shortages causing delays (combined freqs and hence increased spacing) or some industrial unrest.

Maybe you suffer from the Henley/Wimbledon/Royal Ascot prblems that BA do with cabin crew, or maybe it was just the nice weather!?

lloyd christmas
22nd Jun 2003, 07:21
Basically down to staff shortages as well as sickness (happened last night as well). Simply not enough people available to cover the required legal fatigue breaks. Tower bandboxed on to the one frequency (118.5), one person doing departures and arrivals, which is why the arrivals spacing had to be increased to 5 miles during peak periods and therefore inbound delays.

I think you might find that this will happen more often over the next few months whilst staff levels are low at heathrow.

TopBunk
22nd Jun 2003, 15:10
lloyd C

Thanks for that - as I suspected. I guess I'll take an extra bit if fuel inbound for the forseeable future there.

As an aside (and with no criticism aimed the ATCO's, who are the best around), what are the management doing. We have a leading world facility undermanned. Maybe it is all part of the BAA tactics to justify a 3rd (sic) runway. The home base operators pick up a hefty fuel overhead just by operating in/out of LHR, not to mention that turnarounds have to be planned longer - and we pay mightily for this 'priviledge'. It's about time the resources were put into the infrastructure instead of being creamed off by the BAA and government.

Rant over - back to work.

Rcekon I've spent over 120hrs in the LAM hold in the last 14 years!

WMD
22nd Jun 2003, 16:53
Indeed - what are management doing? They knew that there would be a staff shortage last night. Did they try to get other controllers in on overtime? (Sorry AVA's) It would have been alot cheaper than the cost to all the airlines that had to hold for half an hour last night!

WMD

eyeinthesky
22nd Jun 2003, 17:24
Interesting..

The story that reached us at Swanwick was that someone had been suspended following an incident and this necessitated the bandboxing of two positions.

Chinese whispers, or another example of not admitting the real problem???:confused:

flowman
22nd Jun 2003, 17:35
Interesting that the decision was taken to let you guys fly around in circles for half an hour rather than regulate. I guess the reason is that they would have had to own up to "staff shortage" and somebody would be accountable for the delay. I suppose that means some manager somewhere would have jeopardised his bonus. Better to waste your money instead.
I notice that today Dover/Lydd sectors are combined producing 23000 minutes of delay. And the reason?.... "Thunderstorms"
Never heard of combining sectors because of the weather, especially when it is being run at the normal acceptance rate.
Lloyd C, how many controllers are on at EGLL today? We have a regulation there today with a rate of 35/60 to 0900, and 37/60 after 0900. I know you had bad weather earlier but not 0630-1600. Again the reason is given as thunderstorms. Just curious!

flowman

lloyd christmas
22nd Jun 2003, 19:05
Top Bunk - Regarding the unit being undermanned. Hard to believe isn't it. As you say "a leading world facility". You would think that controllers would be tripping over each other to get in there. But its completely the opposite. Reasons?

The past few years has seen a fair amount of controllers leave other units in the UK to train at Heathrow - one, maybe two have been successful and validated here. It can take up to a year to validate, so you can imagine the wasted time this has caused.

They've even tried training Dutch and German controllers, but again this hasn't worked.

People hear about this and think whats the point. Why give up what you've got to come here and probably not even make it through the training. There is no large pay differential between Heathrow and say Manchester. We are paid an outer London allowance, but this is out of line by far with the cost of living/house prices etc. So why bother?

The only real success at Heathrow with validations has been with people fresh from the college of ATC. The only reason I can suggest for this is that they have no experience of other units(apart from a brief time On the Job Training as part of the college course), so they come here and don't know any different and get on with it. Whereas it may be more of a shock to the system for the experienced controllers. Heathrow is very busy and intense but I don't want to argue about whose unit is busier than whose, I'm only trying to guess at what the problem is.

Therefore - you have low staffing levels, and it is only taking one or two people off sick to have to start bandboxing busy frequencies.

WMD - there are no AVAs/overtime at present at Heathrow, although I believe this might happen sooner rather than later.

Flowman - not sure about the number of controllers on today, but know there was sickness on the night shift last night which is probably why the regulation was on for early this morning.

Gonzo
22nd Jun 2003, 22:24
Top Bunk.

re: BAA, well, we've asked for a fillet to be put in near T4 which would cut down to zero the number of threshold crossings of 27L (if 27L for landing, it creates fluctuations in the glide path signal), but BAA hav said that it would cost 1.5m, so we'd need to present them with a detail cost-benefit study and a business case for it.

Flowman. This morning the weather was pretty interesting! We were chasing the wind up until 1130, there were thunderstorms coming through up until 1330Z when I went home. Normal staffing as far as I knew. Worse tomorrow. Much worse I am told.

Gonzo.