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Struggling For Control...

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Struggling For Control...

Old 4th May 2006, 22:42
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Join Date: Jul 2002
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Smile Struggling For Control...

Hi there,
I've recently unearthed a video containing a copy of a BBC documentary about the UK ATC system back in the eighties. As an aviation enthusiast (in particular with ATC and such like) I kept it and have been able to convert it into "digital" format.
The documentary was entitled "Struggling for Control" and was broadcast in 1988 (I think). It covered some of the shortfalls of the equipment in use at the time, and the concerns over safety at that time. There are some great shots of the West Drayton facility and the systems in use. A short domestic flight from EGBB to EGKK (Brymon Airways) is followed from the ATC perspective to show the complexity involved behind the scenes and how some of the issues at the time were contributary factors to an airprox within the London TMA.
I was wondering if any of the ATC folk here on PPRuNe had any memories of the film being made, or any other stories from around that time.
I've grabbed a few stills from the documentary here...

Regards,
Sean
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Old 5th May 2006, 01:27
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I'm sure I remember watching that when it first aired.
Any chance of getting hold of a copy of your digital version?
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Old 6th May 2006, 11:06
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I've put a compressed (and therefore "lowish quality") copy of the file here which should work with Microsoft Media Player. Its still a fairly big download at 42MB.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/hannah....ForControl.wmv

There must be some folk on this forum that were present when it was filmed or even have a "starring role" in the West Drayton control room...

Cheers,
Sean
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Old 6th May 2006, 11:42
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Sejo thank you very much for uploading this clip for us Gentleman Dave Vaughan still works for NATS in a fairly senior position. Steve Hall (another gent) works with me and I know he reads this board I'm not at work next week but I'm pretty sure you'll get a response. Brought back memories for me

Thanks again

BD
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Old 6th May 2006, 11:59
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Hi BD,
Glad you liked it! I knew when I recorded it back then as an aviation obsessed teenager it would be worth keeping
If you drop me a PM with a postal address, I'd be happy to send you a better quality copy on DVD which you could circulate to any interested colleagues.
Or even better if there are any guided tours somewhere up for grabs I could bring a copy in person
Cheers,
Sean
PS It certainly looks like it was a challenge at the London TMA sectors with so many people crowded round each position...so much so I think the film shows one bit where someone accidentally head butts Dave Vaugnan while he is on the phone. I can only presume its all a lot calmer these days?
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Old 6th May 2006, 12:26
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Originally Posted by sejo
Hi BD, Glad you liked it!
Very much , despite having worked at West Drayton twice (first in 1978) I had not seen that broadcast.
If you drop me a PM with a postal address, I'd be happy to send you a better quality copy on DVD which you could circulate to any interested colleagues.
Or even better if there are any guided tours somewhere up for grabs I could bring a copy in person
Pm'd you
PS It certainly looks like it was a challenge at the London TMA sectors with so many people crowded round each position...so much so I think the film shows one bit where someone accidentally head butts Dave Vaugnan while he is on the phone. I can only presume its all a lot calmer these days?
It was indeed quite cramped and it could get very hectic, particularly for the Sector Chief (which was the role Dave was doing then) who did all the coordination. Obviously there has been enormous change but some things don't change. Where they spoke about the 9020D and the Host Computer System having FAST startovers, that still happens sometimes. A computer is a computer and if you put garbage in you get garbage out, however our Flight Data Procesing computer systems are very much more resilient now. When there is a failure it is investigated and measure put in place to stop it happening again.
The programme touched on the introduction of Flow Control, now called Traffic Management its a real growth industry Much more of an integrated system now though throughout Europe.
Probably the biggest physical change has been with the move of the Area Control task (Terminal Control still resides at West Drayton until next year) to the new (well it opened in 2002) centre at Swanwick. The introduction of electronic coordination reduced phone calls by about 90% and there is none of the crowding round you seen in the programme.

Cheers
BD
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