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ATC situation in Spain

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ATC situation in Spain

Old 25th Jul 2010, 23:10
  #81 (permalink)  
 
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Chesty,

I believe the point he's trying to make is that, going back to the publication of the roster, all those hours are to be meant as working hours. He isn't complaining about having to be there per se. He is just letting you know that they actually are there (question from leatherpants about stdby time comes to mind).

Leatherpants: it isn't english at all actually, turns out I'm human after all. Big surprise there? What mob? Are you here just to stir things up? Good luck...not.

Again, for the thousand time, I am not defending any position. I just believe that what has been imposed to the ATCO's in Spain is wrong. No need to be a genius to understand that lots of these problems are a consequence of the new law. But here we are throwing sh1t between ourselves. Like that is gonna sort anything. I mean, some pilots here complain that working to rule achieves nothing, and that controllers not being flexible only makes pilots not being flexible. Woohoo! I am going on holidays tomorrow and taking the eurotunnel with my own car. You all lose.

SAFETY ladies and gentlemen is what I'm about. Make controllers work 28 out of 30 days, treat them like scum on TV and press, and at the same time reduce their breaks, T&C's, increase workload...well, hardly surprising there may be problems. This wasn't the controllers decision. Are they acting correctly? Probably not, nobody's perfect. I believe though that the system in Spain os going down to bits and it is not just the guys fault. If the captain decides to sink the ship little is there to do for the people in the engine room. Even if they try they have a big job ahead. Which they do, there's plenty of room for improvement. There always is everywhere.

Safe landings.
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Old 25th Jul 2010, 23:45
  #82 (permalink)  
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andrijander, you got the point!

I was just about to clarify my previous post for those that didn´t get what I meant. You were faster, my dear colleague!

You guys just can´t imagine the new media campaign we are suffering for the last weeks. It is absolutely overwhelming, and I don´t know if we ATCO´s in Spain will ever be socially considered again as ordinary citizens once the situation settles (if ever ...)

And the sad thing is that all that matters for some is that they get "their" shortcut or "their" not filed FL, etc ...

I keep on reading some of you guys repeating the same lies I have already denied and explained about our actual wages, T&C´s, AENA´s instructions regarding shortcuts and FL´s and CTOT´s ... Why don´t you just read my 3 or 4 last posts in this thread? Are you really interested in the true information to help you understand and make up your mind, or you just wont stop ranting like kids with their whims denied?

On the other hand, thanks a lot to all of you that understand what is happening to us, and contribute with your point of view to this thread.

Saludos!
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Old 26th Jul 2010, 07:53
  #83 (permalink)  
 
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I remember a shortage of controllers in Spain around twenty years ago. I seem to remember one of the reasons given was that lots were going off to become pilots and joining Aviaco etc.

It is a bit ironic really given the subsequant development of our respective terms and conditions and the disappearance of a number of airlines. However I think it demonstrates that we do have common interests and that our professions are sadly going in the same direction.
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Old 26th Jul 2010, 17:36
  #84 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
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However I think it demonstrates that we do have common interests and that our professions are sadly going in the same direction.
Absolutely true. Not the best time to work in aviation... easy to go down, impossible to go up...
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Old 26th Jul 2010, 17:42
  #85 (permalink)  
 
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And by the way, the situation is absolutely getting out of hand here. I just have no idea of what their REAL (and apparently well planned) intentions are.
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Old 27th Jul 2010, 10:03
  #86 (permalink)  
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Rosters, rosters, rosters ...

Hmmmmmmm ....

Regarding rosters, I just read a discussion about Ryan Air´s, and I couldn´t be more surprised:

http://www.pprune.org/showthread.php...89#post5830489

It looks like you guys have 5 days of work and 3 or 4 days off, that is about 12 days off in a month! WOW!

Is this standard in all airlines? Can it be even better? I supose this example could be one of the worst, due to the bad press this company has.

Be careful: our Spanish semiliterate Minister of Development Mr. Blanco might consider you a cast of privileged lazy scum and could proceed against you to guarantee air transport service. After all, he gets a lot of votes that way, and pilots are also a good target like ATCO´s.

BTW, you can take your time to compare these rosters to ours: let´s see whose´s bigger ...


Saludos!
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Old 27th Jul 2010, 18:39
  #87 (permalink)  
 
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p_perez, if you want pilot's pay and conditions then become a pilot!
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Old 27th Jul 2010, 21:09
  #88 (permalink)  
 
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to P_Perez,

Thank you for the lengthy posts you have written in this thread. They give a valuable second opinion to all the rumours and distorted facts you hear from time to time. As a pilot I expect that there is far more that joins us than what divides us and some of the conditions you are facing are truly unsustainable. I am also impressed by the dignity of your replies to some unfounded and cheap attacks over the last weeks on this forum.
However, (hold your breath here) you have had the misfortune to be the first Spanish controller that I have met on the Interwebs and after having been based for three years in Madrid, I've compiled a list of suggestions for your learned consideration. It is not meant in a condescending, neo-colonial way, they are merely bits of advice on offer in case you wonder what you (not you, but Spanish ATCOs) could possibly improve on. Some stuff I would tell you if we met up in a bar as friends. Also, I know pilots can be lazy, short-fused and ignorant and some of your previous post have already confronted my with some of my old stupid habits. Thank you for that. Lastly, some of my suggestions may have been debated elsewhere already but since they were on my list anyway, I left them there.

General R/T

- Stop repeating yourself when giving instructions. One clear instruction is enough, one callsign and we will respond. Saying the same clearance twice makes you sound like an amateur.
- slow down your rate of talking. It is confusing since a lot of us are non-native speakers and it makes people nervous - including yourself. We roll our eyes when flying in African airspace with controllers spitting out instructions like a machine gun because they think it sounds really professional or cool; well it doesn't - it sucks and it's difficult to understand. Some of the best controllers in the busiest European airspaces, eg. London Approach, speak very calmly and measured, without a hint of stress in their voice. It instills confidence among the pilots and makes everyone more relaxed. I am aware that Spanish is usually fast-spoken so this would require a conscious effort.
- if we miss an instruction, don't start talking to us in a patronizing and condescending way. eg. ' FastJet123 I Say Again ' in a loud slow voice like you would talk to your 95 year old grandmother. Ok we missed it and we're really sorry, get over it and just repeat the instruction.
- avoid the use of 'recleared'. it's use is confusing and no longer recommended (and so is 'charlie charlie' for that matter.)
- avoid 'climb and maintain FLXXX'. We will generally not climb to FLXXX, stay there for ten seconds and then descend a few thousand feet. It would be pointless and so is your instruction.
- use 'continue' heading iso 'maintain' heading. 'Maintain' is used for FLs and not headings as disambiguation.
- not your fault but...get some new microphones because the sound quality of your transmission is among the worst in Europe. Some controllers should check however that they speak into their microphone and not just facing away ogling at their good looking colleagues. When you say that they're unreadable, you hear this characteristic adjusting-rumble and suddenly you hear them twice as good! (this is your fault)

En route

- as you approach the end of the cruise segment and prepare for descent, you can from time to time see other traffic going to the same destination placed exactly on your same location two or four thousand feet below. When both aircraft nearly simultaneously ask for descent, a 25 minute battle for airtime to ask for stepped descents ensues. Can't you give us speed separation 50nm out or when we enter your sector to avoid this annoying problem.
- It appears you don't acknowledge PAN calls, only MAYDAYs ? Is this correct; I have my info from hearsay so not sure. Definition of PAN (from the French: panne - a breakdown) indicates an urgent situation of a lower order than a "grave and imminent threat requiring immediate assistance", such as a mechanical breakdown or a medical problem. All pilots know it, most would use it, unless in Africa.

Descent

Spain is one of the only countries I have flown to were aircraft separation is either 50, 70 or 90 degrees off track. It is soo frustrating. Can you please seperate based on speed or with less then 45deg heading changes? It would remove another world of frustration. Of course, any argument in your defense is immediately invalidated since Spain is the only country where this happens, ha!

Holding

You really have to give us an idea of how long we will likely have to hold. An EAT is all we need and we use it to make our decision to divert or not and if so when. It is a difficult decision with big implications (rescue flights, hotel accomodation, buses, loads of paperwork and this is before declaring an emergency due to low fuel). They give them in most countries so if you wanna join the cool cats...

Approach

once you start giving speed control, you have to continue it and end it.
eg. 'maintain 160kts until 4nm' or 'free speed'
It is the only way that pilots will respect your request. Many times pilots start reducing their speed on their own initiative because they can see they're catching up the slower traffic ahead. In this case the pilots should tell you but many are reluctant or forget. Adding to the problem is the multiple frequency changes on approach where speed instructions from one controller are not passed on to the next one.

Ground/Air

stop favoritism for Spanish aircraft. I know it was mentioned earlier on and defended by ATCO's stating that it doesn't happen, but it still does. Over the three years I was based in Madrid, I have seen an improvement but it is sooo unprofessional. Just put yourself in our place. We don't ask for favors, just a fair treatment to any of your customers. Don't think you see this kind of favoritism in places like London or Frankfurt.

regards
Dries is offline  
Old 28th Jul 2010, 01:58
  #89 (permalink)  
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Who wants to be a pilot??!!

fireflybob wrote:
p_perez, if you want pilot's pay and conditions then become a pilot!
I frankly don´t remember saying I would trade myself with a pilot. You should see me driving my car, so don´t mention an airplane! And add to that having to endure the pain in the arse of the Spanish ATC ... Are you kidding, man?

Jokes apart, my interest in comparing rosters with those of pilot´s is just the answer to the interest many pilots have shown in the wages and T&C´s of Spanish ATCO´s, mostly as munition to attack us. Have a look at all these individual messages:

http://www.pprune.org/atc-issues/416...ml#post5718762
http://www.pprune.org/atc-issues/416...ml#post5773337
http://www.pprune.org/atc-issues/416...ml#post5774696
http://www.pprune.org/atc-issues/416...ml#post5816560
http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/4...ml#post5730435
http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/4...ml#post5751413
http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/4...ml#post5752470
http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/4...ml#post5817174
http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/4...ml#post5823593
http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/4...ml#post5828538
http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/4...ml#post5829480

I was only showing how hypocrite they could be. Comparing your 12/16 days off a month with our 4/5 days off was meant only for the activation of proper "bells and whistles" regarding SAFETY, mainly YOUR safety, because after all, we Spanish ATCO´s will be sitting in our chairs, very close to terrain, through out the whole august roster, while you guys ...


Dries wrote:
Thank you for the lengthy posts you have written in this thread. (...)
Well, thank you very much for your kind and constructive post, Dries. I recognize myself in many of the errors you mention. To justify a few of them, I would say that they were taught to me by some of my senior colleagues, whom I very much respect, that had to learn the profession the tough way. Anyway, with your permission, I´ll print your list and it will be shown around in my ACC. For sure it will be read with interest, mostly among the new generations.


Last friday, july 23rd, a very serious incident happened at Madrid ACC. A TV crew from the state TVE1 was visiting the installation as part of the making of a documentary about the situation of Spanish ATC. Prior to the entrance of the TV crew to the main hall, an AENA manager named "Antonio" (I suspect he is a former ATCO that "fell to the dark side" for €€), aided by a nameless AENA employee, entered the hall and started removing all the posters and signs about our conflict with AENA, which had been placed progressively by my colleagues since feb. 5th:




And this is the video of what happened, in the middle of the ACC operation, with pilots and controllers trying to comunicate (MUST SEE!!!!!):

YouTube - Acoso laboral de Aena a los controladores del Centro de Control de Torrejón y censura informativa


This is an example of the censorship AENA is applying to all the installations and staff related to ATC. Journalists have their entrace forbidden to all AENA ATC work places, and this has also been aplied to some politicians that have shown interest in knowing 1st hand our real situation. It is also an example of the daily pressure AENA management is putting on ATCO´s and of what they care about SAFETY in our job.

Similar situations have been repeated in other towers and ACC´s, with AENA management staff disrupting the normal operation to deliver personally mandatory "express services" to already (on the job) overworked colleagues.

More information as soon as I can post it.


Saludos!

Last edited by p_perez; 28th Jul 2010 at 14:43. Reason: Gramar ...
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Old 28th Jul 2010, 02:24
  #90 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Apr 2008
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Meet our president ... ¡ZAPATEROOOOO!

Sorry, I just received the link and couldn´t resist myself. At least, I´m going to bed with a smile in my face!

I´m very pleased to introduce you to the President of the Spanish Goverment, Mr. Zapatero (Shoemaker) and his indubitable charm over other world leaders:

YouTube - Plantón de Berlusconi a Zapatero escena íntregra 10 mayo 2010

YouTube - Zapatero Lidera la Cumbre de la OTAN en Bucarest


Saludos!
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Old 28th Jul 2010, 07:43
  #91 (permalink)  
 
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p_perez let's make a deal: you take my "leader" (the one shown in 1st video) I'll take yours..
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Old 28th Jul 2010, 14:47
  #92 (permalink)  
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To deci: I accept your proposal, eyes closed!
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Old 28th Jul 2010, 18:37
  #93 (permalink)  
 
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Anyway, with your permission, I´ll print your list and it will be shown around in my ACC. For sure it will be read with interest, mostly among the new generations.
That would be too much honour for me but of course you have my permission!
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Old 28th Jul 2010, 21:26
  #94 (permalink)  
10W

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The manager handled it badly and clearly played in to the hands of those wanting to make their political points on camera.

On the other hand, how professional is it to jump up and start ranting and raving when you are plugged in on an operational sector ? Don't you give a stuff about the traffic you are controlling ?

Two wrongs don't make a right.

The 'controllers' involved need to consider what holding an ATC licence, with safety accountabilities, actually means. Reacting and losing control when you are supposed to be providing a service to aircraft within your sector does nothing to help promote your case against the Government and AENA. The impression it creates in aviation professional circles is that you are hot headed and a potential risk to air safety. Your state of mind is also probably not conducive to providing a safe service since you will be thinking more about the confrontation which just occurred instead of the service you should be providing.

The time to react and make your points known is once you are unplugged and where it won't distract your colleagues.

If you can't do that, you're in the wrong job.
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Old 28th Jul 2010, 23:27
  #95 (permalink)  
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To 10W:

this situation extends since feb. 5th until now, almost 6 months! The controllers at Madrid ACC have seen in all this time:
  • how the management has taken absurd and dangerous operational decisions;
  • how their days off have been confiscated by AENA at the companys own caprice;
  • how mothers have had no other option but to take their children to work, on a mandatory night service, imposed on a day off, because they couldn´t find no one to babysit them;
  • how a calibrator aircraft has been authorized on a very busy morning, creating absolute chaos, with the intention of opening disciplinary actions against some ATCO´s and hold them as hostages to trade them in the negotiation with our union;
  • how their colleagues over 57, one morning, were led like cattle out of the control room by AENA staff, labeled as useless for a job they had been doing for many years;
  • how they are obligued to work on rosters none of you would endure;
  • etc ...
6 months, half a year, enduring this situation, how long are my colleagues suppose to stand it without any reaction? After all, the AENA manager and his herd is not supossed to be allowed inside the control room, and it looks like he was finally chasen out. It´s the same as you pilots are not supossed to let anyone alien to your job in your cockpit for security reasons. Open your eyes, and put the blame on the people that caused this situation, not on the ones that suffer it.


Saludos!
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Old 29th Jul 2010, 11:27
  #96 (permalink)  
30W
 
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p-perez,

Whilst most have both concern for your fight with management, the distribution of the Ops room video clip really does no good for your cause, and in deed is extremely worrying for both your users and for yourselves.....

I know frustrations and tempers are at boiling point amongst you all, but the video clip shows a TOTALLY unprofessional workplace. The proximity of industrial propaganda to controller workstations etc is totally unacceptable in my opinion. The distraction level provided by yourselves, WITHIN an operational area is totally unprofessional. Your employer DOES have the right, and indeed DUTY to control what distraction lies within the close proximity of the operational workstations.

Imagine how this video would look in a court of law following an incident/accident in Spanish airspace (we all hope that doesn't happen!).

Based on the video one of your colleagues has posted, you risk not only safety, but also your own licenses... controllers who have left an operational position would be legally culprable, with all the sad ramifications that involves.

AENA, equally culprable, could also right now use the video if they so choose to run disciplinary hearings against your colleagues for their failure to carry out their professional duty whilst 'operational'.

I thank you for coming on here to share the awareness of the current Spanish situation, and help us understand the issues involved. Warn your colleagues however, that release of such videos is in itself an extremely dangerous way of highlighting 'the cause', and could well come back to bite them.....

Saludos
30W
Capt 757/767
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Old 30th Jul 2010, 01:55
  #97 (permalink)  
 
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1. Is quarter of a million quid a year not enough to be an ATCO in Spain?

2. Without getting into the standard of service we get down there - are they worth twice what a UK/EU ATCO earns?

3. Ok you may have me on operational ATC matters - but if we cant get a direct why the restrictions on a cruise level between say 390 and FL450 - theres nobody to bother in the descent in the main between those levels and we'll come down early if you like.

4. How have we coped in the last 10 years with the operational problems you describe or is just coincidence that these problems are more apparent whilst Spanish ATC are fighting for Ts & Cs

Our destination is in the UK - regardless of what sector we end up in we always have to make certain levels at certain places which are far from optimal - not complaining about that - thats just life in the big city, but its important that we get a good level earlier in the flight to make economic sense

Im sorry but it waddles like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, its lays eggs like a duck then its a duck.

This is the result of work to rule by the Spanish, I fully appreciate the need for action you only have to read some of the posts on here to realise it but all you're/they're doing is increasing emmisions, burning fuel, inconveniencing passengers.

GO ON STRIKE - make people aware of your plight get instead of trying to cause death by a thousand paper cuts
I have read the entire thread and there is no point in fighting between ourselves. We are part of the same decaying business, aviation, infected by the virus of low cost. I will gladly answer your requests, no pilot harrasment of any kind, nor childish attitude. I have registered just to bring my point of view, as I see there is being some discussion here treating ourselves as ennemies, when the common ennemy is the employer, both pilot's and ATCo's, and the governments introducing the low cost and the low safety rates.

1. Quarter a million is a very good pay. I work in an ACC (not a small tower) and I hope I could gain that much, even before the decree. After february 5th, this amount is just a fairy tale (it was possible before for a few if they worked a lot, now it's just impossible).

2. I don't know the pay of UK controlers, and I would not compare to them, not because I feel less, but just because I don't know any of them so how could I judge... That said I feel respectful towards them, until they show me some evidence to change my mind. But I believe that we are payed less than UK controllers for the same amount of hours. If what you're comparing is the income (not the salary but the total income including huge overtimes) of a pre-decree spanish controller working more than 600 hours overtime (paid at 2.5 times the ordinary hour) to a UK controller working his basic shifts, it is impossible that it would ever ends the same. If you ask me, I could recognise that 600 hours a year are too much overtime, and that the prize of the hour was quite high. But to compare, you have to compare the same thing, and I don't think that our salary is any bigger than UK's ATCOs (though I could be wrong). Anyway, this situation is not possible anymore, overtime have been forbidden by direct orders from above, and now we are forced to work that huge amount of hours (that keepsbeing too much imho) at the prize of 0.8 times the ordinary hour. And it is not just a question of the prize. Having Sex is not the exact same thing as being raped, if you ask me. Even if there's penetration involved in both cases.

3. There is being severe overloads in Spanish skies these days. And by severe I don't mean "c'mon lazy boys let's work from time to time" but more "there are too many planes here around, this situation is absurd, I don't wanna be here, I want to cry". If you want, I can detail you some of these situations, but let's answer your question. Those overloads are cause because AENA, despite being in the hot summer season, is opening the least amount of sectors everyday, no matter if the traffic load is high. And as we are the only country in the world where ATCOs don't have the capacity of claiming flow actions, then non operational staff, from their offices, decide to accept a lot of traffic with the weakest possible configuration. So 1 the sectors are strongly overloaded to the point of us startinf to feel fear. Fear for you and the passengers, and fear to fail in providing safety, our main task. We have reported these overloads to the AESA, the safety agency, and instead of investigating and assuming that AENA has to change the way ATC is operated in Spain, they pedantly declare that AENA's flow management staff is perfect and that if there were any overloads at all, they are due to ATCos for giving directs and different FL as those requested by crews in the Flight Plans. So the Safety Director from AENA, Mr Cozar, repeats the message to us and ties our hands. I used to give directs every time I could, I used to give the FL desired by the crew (obviously if available), but I cannot anymore. It is not some kind of punishment nor making you aware of my poor T&C situation. It is just that I can be fired if I give a direct because my sector allows it, and then three sectors later or in the next FIR ruled by AENA, there is an incidente caused by overload. I mean fired. And by the way, as the sectors are usually overloaded these days, I can also give a bad time to a colleague.
Do I think Mr Cozar is right? No. I would better work in a scenario where AENA accepts the reports on overloads, accepts its responsibility and tries to solve it, with magic like... Open more sectors? And then I could give directs again. I really wish I could. Believe me if I tell you that it makes my eyes bloody painful to watch an airplane perform a complete SID in my screen. But I have to. We have reported more overloads after all this stuff, and half of them have been archived without further investigation because AENA safety staff calims that we gave direct routing. Even when it is not the case, but in their opinion, just reading the time of departure and the time over the FIR limit, they decide the flight was given a direct routing.

4. Really simple. In the last 10 years, shifts were populated after agreements between AENA and USCA. If you ask me, I'll be honest, some were over populated just to generate overtime hours. But overpopulation of shifts doesn't work against safety. So if 5 sectors were needed for the duty, sometimes we had 6. Now, we are always under the lowest possible configuration. That means that even if the configuration allows 120 traffics/hour and the demand is 160 traffics per hour, AENA will not consider opening another sector, nor calling people to work overtime to open it, even if the new law allows it. They have orders of not payig a sole overtime hour. Now if 5 sector are needed we are forced to use 4, even 3. So all the sectors are at 100% or even 110% capacity (as now AENA considers that 110% isn't enough for regulations). When the sectors are at 80% capacity, I can give directs to everybody, and even if it causes a 10-15% deviation from flow previsions, the sectors will still be under control. If the sectors are at 100-110% real load, then the 10-15% deviation due to direct routing or FL changing is impossible to assume.

So, as pilots don't tend to understand that matters in real time, I really make the effort of explainig it to them, but I have not always the time to do it on the frequency, and I feel that some leave swearing and unhappy with me and the service I provided. I never have forgotten that I am providing a service. I do not consider myself the one on command, or superior to the pilots or whatsoever. I do my best to help, don't give importance to some childish attitudes as "I could have overtaken that traffic" and the like and try to keep relaxed, kind and constructive. Believe me, I am not able of giving direct to outgoing traffic and I wish I could. I still give directs to the incoming traffic when I can, as I am able to see if there are overloads in the TMA and act consequently.

Finally I will answer your last 2 comments:

Even if your destination is UK, departing from the Canary Islands you will have to cross Madrid FIR. If you depart my TMA and your route does not involve any AENA FIR, then I would be glad to shorten yours or any other pilot's route.

And finally, we cannot strike. For 3 reasons. We are legally fighting the new law. AENA is trying to force us to go to strike far before the decree, from early 2009. If we did so, then as the conflict would be between us and AENA, the government would immediately act as a referee, and force then the new T&C not as they are now, imposed, but as a new collective agreement. Secondly, when we go to strike, the minimum services declared for us are 100 to 110 %. So the strike doesn't stop the air traffic at all. You get all the inconvenience of the strike (bad press and government's referee) with no benefits as the service will work exactly the same as if you don't strike. And third, we cannot force a savage strike, not respecting the minimum services, because we have from 2003 an "Air Safety Law" performed by another minister also very keen to us, that entitles the government to fine us with only 250.000 € if we attempt against the coninuity or safety of the system. Believe me, if we could gain something by strike, we would have done it far before.

Sorry for the length of the message, I hope it answered some of your concerns.

In fact, what we Spanish ATCOs hope you'll do next time you are denied a direct routing, instead of blamig/hating the ATCO, please fill in a report, or protest to the ANSP, AENA, asking for more sectors opened! We' ll all be happier if they cease to work at the limit, and, on top, to blame us on all the concerns provoked by their arbitrary decisions.

Sincerely
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Old 30th Jul 2010, 02:05
  #98 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Spain
Age: 46
Posts: 4
You have provided a link into the lion's den as far as us pilots are concerned. So in the full knowledge that I am probably going to get mugged by a band of angry and of course overworked controllers let me say the following.

Your roster does of course look as though the scheduling system is out of control. However given that most of the single days off are actually 48 hour periods free of duty most of us pilots could point to similar stretches.

You do not provide detail as to what duties you are expected to perform during this time. Is any of it standby, reserve or whatever you call it?

It looks as though your employer is attempting to respond to the sickout by scheduling every controller to the limit. That way he has maximum flexibility to respond.

We have at average 4 stanby services per month. But it's just fiction, since the decree, and it's being almost 6 months now, I only kept at home during one of the stanby's. We had 3 controllers per sector. Now we get 8 for 3 sectors. The missing one is covered by the ex-rest time of the others, provoking a lot of short relays, and a lot of sector shifting. Both are declared of high risk in safety studies. Instead of programming 9 people for 3 sectors, and if at the end I have 8 then we can handle it that way, they systematically plan the least number of sectors possible, and without any extra controller "just in case". As in every business, there are people who fail, due to injury, sickness, baby birth, surged relative or whatever. So with the low planning they do (just to avoid spend money) nearly all the satndbys are called, even days before the work shift.

As to your final paragraph, it happens just the opposite way, as they schedule to the limit, there are increasing sickouts.
El Molo is offline  
Old 30th Jul 2010, 02:13
  #99 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Spain
Age: 46
Posts: 4
General R/T

- Stop repeating yourself when giving instructions. One clear instruction is enough, one callsign and we will respond. Saying the same clearance twice makes you sound like an amateur.
- slow down your rate of talking. It is confusing since a lot of us are non-native speakers and it makes people nervous - including yourself. We roll our eyes when flying in African airspace with controllers spitting out instructions like a machine gun because they think it sounds really professional or cool; well it doesn't - it sucks and it's difficult to understand. Some of the best controllers in the busiest European airspaces, eg. London Approach, speak very calmly and measured, without a hint of stress in their voice. It instills confidence among the pilots and makes everyone more relaxed. I am aware that Spanish is usually fast-spoken so this would require a conscious effort.
- if we miss an instruction, don't start talking to us in a patronizing and condescending way. eg. ' FastJet123 I Say Again ' in a loud slow voice like you would talk to your 95 year old grandmother. Ok we missed it and we're really sorry, get over it and just repeat the instruction.
- avoid the use of 'recleared'. it's use is confusing and no longer recommended (and so is 'charlie charlie' for that matter.)
- avoid 'climb and maintain FLXXX'. We will generally not climb to FLXXX, stay there for ten seconds and then descend a few thousand feet. It would be pointless and so is your instruction.
- use 'continue' heading iso 'maintain' heading. 'Maintain' is used for FLs and not headings as disambiguation.
- not your fault but...get some new microphones because the sound quality of your transmission is among the worst in Europe. Some controllers should check however that they speak into their microphone and not just facing away ogling at their good looking colleagues. When you say that they're unreadable, you hear this characteristic adjusting-rumble and suddenly you hear them twice as good! (this is your fault)

En route

- as you approach the end of the cruise segment and prepare for descent, you can from time to time see other traffic going to the same destination placed exactly on your same location two or four thousand feet below. When both aircraft nearly simultaneously ask for descent, a 25 minute battle for airtime to ask for stepped descents ensues. Can't you give us speed separation 50nm out or when we enter your sector to avoid this annoying problem.
- It appears you don't acknowledge PAN calls, only MAYDAYs ? Is this correct; I have my info from hearsay so not sure. Definition of PAN (from the French: panne - a breakdown) indicates an urgent situation of a lower order than a "grave and imminent threat requiring immediate assistance", such as a mechanical breakdown or a medical problem. All pilots know it, most would use it, unless in Africa.

Descent

Spain is one of the only countries I have flown to were aircraft separation is either 50, 70 or 90 degrees off track. It is soo frustrating. Can you please seperate based on speed or with less then 45deg heading changes? It would remove another world of frustration. Of course, any argument in your defense is immediately invalidated since Spain is the only country where this happens, ha!

Holding

You really have to give us an idea of how long we will likely have to hold. An EAT is all we need and we use it to make our decision to divert or not and if so when. It is a difficult decision with big implications (rescue flights, hotel accomodation, buses, loads of paperwork and this is before declaring an emergency due to low fuel). They give them in most countries so if you wanna join the cool cats...

Approach

once you start giving speed control, you have to continue it and end it.
eg. 'maintain 160kts until 4nm' or 'free speed'
It is the only way that pilots will respect your request. Many times pilots start reducing their speed on their own initiative because they can see they're catching up the slower traffic ahead. In this case the pilots should tell you but many are reluctant or forget. Adding to the problem is the multiple frequency changes on approach where speed instructions from one controller are not passed on to the next one.

Ground/Air

stop favoritism for Spanish aircraft. I know it was mentioned earlier on and defended by ATCO's stating that it doesn't happen, but it still does. Over the three years I was based in Madrid, I have seen an improvement but it is sooo unprofessional. Just put yourself in our place. We don't ask for favors, just a fair treatment to any of your customers. Don't think you see this kind of favoritism in places like London or Frankfurt.

regards
Thanks for sharing those tips. Always a good time for learning a little bit.
I also say "maintain heading" but I never trated a single traffic differently according to nationality. NEVER . And believe me, I will not defend ATCo doing it, if they are any, but also blame this behaviour. I don't work in Madrid, but it is hard to believe that this is a common attitude... I believe it happens as you are quite a few pilots pointing at it, but I want to think that these are isolate cases. We are talking about our work here, one thing you believe in and that you want to perform the best way possible. The normal attitude among men is to perform brilliantly, independently of the task assigned.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, it is good to have feedback from "the other side".

Regards
El Molo is offline  
Old 30th Jul 2010, 08:43
  #100 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Spain
Posts: 65
IFATCA

Latest IFATCA (International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers´Associations) press release: (original here: http://www.ifatca.org/press/270710.pdf)



Is a collapse of the Spanish National Air Traffic Control System Inevitable?

Spain’s Transport Minister, Mr. Jose Blanco, announced that his government will employ military air traffic controllers to guarantee the continuation of civil aviation traffic. This is a dangerous, but not altogether surprising, development.

In February, IFATCA questioned the necessity and expected outcome of Spain’s Royal Decree. IFATCA pointed out that the Decree punishes air traffic controllers for the past economic mismanagement of the ATM system. IFATCA also noted that forcing any specialist in a safety critical field to work in a climate of fear and intimidation is detrimental to the safety of the system. Any recourse to military controllers will simply add another group of specialists to an untenable situation. This will compromise safety and further exacerbate the obviously deep seated problems in the system.

In 1973, sixty-eight persons lost their lives in a mid-air collision in France after military personnel were ordered to control civilian traffic. These lost lives should be enough to prevent any government from contemplating using military staff to control civilian traffic. Military and civilian control is fundamentally different. Providing “rapid training” to military personnel is inappropriate and dangerous.

The problems of the system can only be solved by a commitment of all parties to work together collaboratively for a pragmatic solution. IFATCA is assured that Spain’s air traffic controllers are committed and willing to make reasonable compromises. IFATCA calls on the Spanish Government to respond with the same level of commitment and ensure that the management of AENA proposes similarly reasonable and pragmatic solutions that respect international as well as European law and recommended practices. Only this will safeguard the interest of the flying public and the Spanish air traffic control system and its professionals in the long term.


IFATCA is the worldwide organization representing more than fifty thousand air traffic controllers in 134 countries. Amongst its goals are the promotion of safety, efficiency and regularity in international air navigation and the protection and safeguarding of the interests of the air traffic control profession. www.ifatca.org




P. S. Today we are expecting another Royal Decree-Law against Spanish ATCO´s, the 3rd in 6 months. This is not normal governmental action: this is simple retaliation and revenge. More information after the cabinet meeting this morning.
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