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Night slots at LHR

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Night slots at LHR

Old 6th Aug 2004, 01:03
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 33
Night slots at LHR

At about 2230G this evening 2 aircraft at the hold for 09R were sent back to stand. Can anyone tell me why. Something about not being allowed to take off. One was an East African 767.

bmimainline is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2004, 08:17
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: LHR/EGLL
Age: 41
Posts: 4,333
I'm guessing that the airport authoirty wouldn't let them take off because they didn't have a slot for the night jet ban, which comes into effect at 2330 local.
Gonzo is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2004, 08:51
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Staines
Posts: 4
This happened the other day after all the chaos caused by Wx to a Hellas Jet. The airport has a night jet ban quota which the airlines can apply for and utilise to depart after the ban 2330-0600 for Outbound and Inbound aircarft. The airlines that regulary need theese tend to have the most quota BA,VIR,BMI,SIA,AAL etc any of the airlines with the big jets that come in from the Far East of East Coast early morning. Thus is why we get a glut of inbounds at about 0500 then nothng until 0600 when the jet ban finishes. The ones before count for quota. Becasue of the delays the other day the airport authority were allowed to let those airlines with Jet ban quota depart after 2330 by the DETR. Those without Hellas,East African,Gulf Air and a whole host of others have to be airborne before 2329. We in ATC bust a gut to try and make it hapen but we sometimes don't know which airlines have quota or not. Not something we want to get involved with. On a number of occasions over the past few days airlines have called up for start, knowing they have been refused by the Airport authority. ATC has been stretched to the limit becasue of the normal night shift manning falling far short of the requirement, so no one has been able to co ordinate with the BAA as to who can and who can't go. The airlines get to the hold and are then told by the BAA Duty Manager that they can't depart. We have no choice but to return them to stand.

It's possibly the most frustrating thing on the world to the airlines,passengers and ATC. We just want to get rid of you at that time of night (In a nice way)!

Things will change I am sure after the experience of the past week. Alot of lessons have to have been learnt.
finelay is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2004, 09:46
  #4 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 33
Of course there is no excuse for calling for start in the knowledge that you do not have a jet ban quota. I am a little surprised though that there is not a little bit more flexibility from the DETR. The delays of the last few days have been pretty serious and unavoidable. I was just thinking about how on earth I would explain that one to the passengers having reached the holding point!

bmimainline is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2004, 10:05
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 375

You and I both know that it a complete fallacy to say that current ATC night staffing at LL "falls far short of requirement". Three on nights is adequate staffing for normal operations and the problems have arisen not because of staffing but because of extreme weather conditions causing a massive backlog and also because the BAA keep releasing more slots post 2200.

DO you want five on nights just in case it this happens again? And where do you get these people from? Take day shifts away when there is guaranteed traffic just to cover the possibility that something might go wrong at night.

The move to four on a night IS sensible to cover the shoulders when it is getting more and more busy but you cannot overstaff nights just in case this kind of event happens again. you'll leavre yourself short on the days...

Point Seven is offline  
Old 6th Aug 2004, 12:32
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Staines
Posts: 4
Fair point P7 but I will clarify my thoughts on this a bit;

All too often these days we are finding ourselves relying on peoples goodwill to stay beyond their published hours to make the operation work. The protections that are there to ensure Controller fatigue is limited are pushed and broken because of the situation on a more and more regular basis. Over the past 6 months I have seen problems on nights due to late traffic and a lack of staff more than at any other time since I have been at Heathrow. Historically we always had 4 people on a night shift and yes this was 5 years ago and it led to allot of inefficient use of staff. As you rightly say slots are becoming available at the shoulder periods of the day and therefore we need to look at the implications of that. 4 on nights is not a bad start, but my major concern for the other night was the lack of forethought to call in an AAVA to cover the traffic on the night shift. We were a phone call away from shutting Heathrow to all in coming traffic last Tuesday, this did not happen because we managed to bandbox GMP onto Ground 2 and contain it as best as possible. When things like this happen we need contingency staff be they rosterd or called in on an ad hoc basis. 3 on nights and the 'Commercial risk' that was accepted for that man power plan is no longer a valid situation. The Commercial Risk we accepted I argue was never ours to accept in the first place. At the end of the day it is the airlines that bear the brunt of any ATC staffing exasperated delays.
finelay is offline  

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