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Spanish ATC? WHY?

Old 2nd Aug 2013, 02:10
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Spanish ATC? WHY?

My Dear Spanish ATC Controllers,

I have been flying in and out of Spanish airspace over the last few weeks... And have done so for many years.

I know you are very clever, thoughtful, intelligent people, this is why you do this job... Yes?... I know the answer is yes.

It seems that some are back to the usual unhelpful inefficient selves again sadly. surprise surprise.

My Spanish colleague on a couple of flights heard the locals getting all the short cuts.... He was embarrassed, and wanted to say something on the RT but thought it wasn't worth it.

My understanding of Air Traffic Control was that you control an aircraft from A to B in a safe and expeditious manner. This is what the UK, Dutch, German, Swiss, Portuguese, Greek, Scandinavian, Irish ATC [in no particular order] et al do so well. And I thank you all for a job very well done, and for the humour we share when it is 03:00Z and we are all still at work but would rather be at home in bed.

Spanish ATC, please sort your selves out, you bring shame on a great country. every pilot who flies through your airspace hears the negative way you control aircraft, and every aircraft you control pops over to Lisboa, or Brest, or Santa Maria and then talks to a helpful ATC controller who it is a pleasure to talk to.

How come we get no direct routings even if it makes only 2 degrees difference to our track, but yet when we leave Spanish Airspace in any direction, every other sector controller says to all of us XXX direct where ever you want to go?

It wastes time, fuel, environment and anything else you can think off.

Please redeem yourselves and show us how fantastic you can be. I know you can be great.

I really mean it! Come on
fokker1000 is offline  
Old 2nd Aug 2013, 06:42
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I don't suppose I'd feel too helpful had I been treated the way they are. Really they need independent mediation and a fresh start with a government/union truce, but I fear they are a few years too late for this. The whole situation is a mess and repercussions will be felt for a generation.

As for being taken off flight-planned route or stepping off any standard procedure - the argument that has been rolled out many times is that under new draconnian laws the individual ATCO is liable for jail and eye-watering fines. Would you step off an SOP with this constantly hanging over you?

The issue and resolution is not with the individual ATCO, rather a system which is dangerous and broken.
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Old 2nd Aug 2013, 13:33
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I must say i have to agree with the above. Only in Spain can the government impose new legislation over night. Lets not forget that i believe AENA found themselves in so much not due to the controller pay, (I mean they did earn a lot but only 1 day off in august amd being forced to come in if needed?).
Then when all this kicked off, they used the controllers as scape goats and told the public in Spain that its because of them that there is this huge deficit.
To this day, the government hasnt come out and said its because of the very poor management of AENA.

With Europe getting involved, i can only see it getting worse I'm afraid and the only thing that is left for controllers is to make sure they do everything by the book in case they go to jail or get heavily fined as is the case in a few European countries now.

The way I look at it is that to be a controller, you used to be a professional person doing a great job to the best of your abilities but I fear Europe is trying to take that away with SES 2+.

The original post suggest that quite a few other agencies do send direct routeings but I dont think it will be a case of bringing Spain up again to what they used to be, my fear is that the rest od Europe will go the same way.......

Sorry, it is a little pesimistic.
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Old 3rd Aug 2013, 02:32
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Thank you guys. I mean it.
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Old 3rd Aug 2013, 18:51
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First of all let me join Sonnendec thanking for you tempered response.

To the OP, as you can see spanish atcos face huge amounts of pressure which have nothing to do with the traffic load (although that one is also way over the top with Aena ignoring sector capacity figures).

Besides that, there are other factors which might contribute to your negative experience of our work. You might not be aware that Aena has not trained new controllers since the last batch from 2006. This obviously means serious understaffing (even Eurocontrol agrees to that... you might want to check the reason codes for delays within spanish airspace... see how much belongs to "ATC Staffing" or "ATC Capacity"... and no, no "ATC industrial action") and Aena has only managed to barely hold on to it by relocating staff from privatized towers.

I am lucky not to work in any of them but if half of what I've heard from thos who did is true they are a huge safety risk waiting to explode from "risk" to "fact".

Might I enquire on what route you were flying? Several ACCs have currently several trainees (from the privatized towers) on frequency. They have been rushed through their local endorsement with blatant disregard for safety just in order to have them available (at least on the paper) for the peak summer times. Don't expect a freshly minted route atco to be able to accomodate all requests for direct routings while barely being able to keep up with the traffic load.

I will be flamed for this but nevertheless: You may know that about a week ago we had a terrible train crash in Santiago with 79 victims? The morning after all headlines blamed it on the driver and our Dear Ministry (read as in: North Korean's Dear Leader) of public works was praising the safety of our railsystem and that the train was making 190 km/h when at that specific curve it had to make 80 km/h maximum.
Now I am aware that the driver does also have partial responsibility for what happened but in this morning's paper was the amusing fact that our railway system is going to be upgraded with a newer safety mechanism (already widely in use here but not on that specific curve) which will reduce the speed on that curve to 30 km/h maximum (I thought 80 was safe?) automatically.
And the question is, couldn't we have done all that before killing nearly 80 people? Read carefully and apply insight to spanish air traffic control.

Fly safe.
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Old 3rd Aug 2013, 20:03
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What is the reason they do not train new staff?
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Old 3rd Aug 2013, 20:32
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good question,
now watch the answers,
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Old 3rd Aug 2013, 21:03
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Hey, but there must be a reason other than some union 'deal'. It seems that the situation has been 'dealt with' and now they have all these King's decrees, abnormal fines etc. So what is the problem with training new staff? If lack of staff is a major problem, this should be the first concern to AENA management. OK, I can imagine the process can be inefficient, especially if there are a lot of vacancies to fill, but, if I get this right, there are no new trainees at all?
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Old 3rd Aug 2013, 23:31
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The way I read it, they're not being allowed to recruit any new staff to train. Some towers have been 'privatised' and the AENA controllers transferred to other units without the correct ratings ie they've got ADI/ADV (Aerodrome Control) ratings but not ACC/ACS (Area Control) ratings.

Last edited by chevvron; 3rd Aug 2013 at 23:35.
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Old 4th Aug 2013, 09:45
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What is the reason they do not train new staff?
Money, as simple as that.

Not only in ATC. For example, Spain's National Police Academy: normally around new 5.000 police officers per year. This year only around 150.

In my airport, there were 12 ladies doing the cleaning in the terminal building, 8 were fired on may (beginning of the high season). So now 4 ladies have to do the work of 12. In my TACC there were two ladies cleaning from monday to friday, one guy that did the glass/window cleaning, and one lady that cleaned on weekends. Both the guy that cleaned the windows and the lady that came on weekends have been fired. So now the two other ladies have to do their work also.
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Old 4th Aug 2013, 11:53
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Interesting and sad all the above is it goes no way to explaining why nationals are treated 100% better than 'forrins'. Professionalism should mean you do not take your grievances to the aircraft. Spanish ATC has been doing it 'this way' for at least 25 years. Time to grow up?
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 01:27
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I'm also curious as to why domestic carriers are allowed skip the queue in Spanish Airspace? Any controllers in Barajas who could shed some light on this on here? Also there have been a number of incidents where Shanwick/Maria have sent in oceanic clearances that Madrid have taken 25 mins or more to deliver, resulting in level busts due to a flight being given 5 mins to climb 2000 feet and increase from m075 to m078 with a tailwind. This has been going on for years, reasons?

Last edited by Una Due Tfc; 8th Aug 2013 at 01:34.
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 10:51
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"Now I am aware that the driver does also have partial responsibility for what happened but in this morning's paper was the amusing fact that our railway system is going to be upgraded with a newer safety mechanism (already widely in use here but not on that specific curve) which will reduce the speed on that curve to 30 km/h maximum (I thought 80 was safe?) automatically.
And the question is, couldn't we have done all that before killing nearly 80 people? Read carefully and apply insight to spanish air traffic control."

Daermon, I agree, Looks like a stitch up of the driver by the authorities to cover up the fact that the railway’s design and operating procedures were fatally flawed. We could end up with a Uberlingen situation here where the driver gets so blamed by the victims that his life is at risk, when it was maybe only 10% his fault, if that.

To use an aircraft analogy this railway is like trying to land a 747 on autoland on a short runway and then at the threshold telling the pilot to switch to manual and somehow loose a lot of speed to stop going off the end. At the same time ATC call him up and issue other instructions he has to respond to.
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 13:23
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Okay, we get the message... the rail disaster is a very good analogy of what could soon happen in Spanish airspace if working conditions don't improve, according to some controllers there.

We're all aware of the gross mis-management of AENA, the embargo on recruiting new staff, the gruelling shift hours and overtime, the draconian fines for not complying with procedures... but do any of these explain or justify the favouritism of certain (or all?) controllers, why domestic carriers are getting short cuts and the rest are not? Is the question too thorny to answer?

Does it depend on the personal attitude of each individual controller, whether he or she has a nationalist grudge against foreign airlines? Is there some secretive AENA rule in force, encourageing such favouritism? Do AENA corruptly receive some form of commission from domestic airlines for each short cut they get? Surely (I hope) the answer is no to all of these questions. But what then is the reason? There must be some incentive, some motive to explain this.

Come on, AENA controllers, lets address the very first question of this thread. Or do you also face a 250,000 Euro fine for revealing too much information on public forums?
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 14:10
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Maybe apparent local favouritism is less of an issue than people think. I like to think I am utterly fair when someone has to have priority. That is my job. I also feel sure that my main airlines get priority more often than visitors just by pure 50/50 law of averages it will seem to airline X that based airline A always get served first. This would be an illusion based purely on numbers. Add the paranoia of speech in a foreign language and I can understand how it could feel as though you are being cheated.

I have many priorities as a controller and near the top of them is to keep my job while all around are feeding me opportunities to lose it. It is not an easy job and jumping the queue with someone because they speak the right language or support the right tail fin takes a lot of extra work. While not impossible I just don't believe that a workforce derided in one breath as being incompetent suddenly gains the extra skill to weave their favourites to the head of the queue all the time.

What I find easier to believe is that a stretched and put-upon workforce are doing the best they can under trying circumstances with morale at unimaginable lows, yet they still manage to move traffic in vast numbers (MAD must be busier than LHR now; BCN is busier than LGW).
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 14:52
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I agree with you Dan Dare. I have worked in three different countries and four different airports and together with all of my colleagues we have always applied the common-sense and logical law of least average delay, where no one aircraft is overly penalised or delayed, regardless of nationality... unless, of course, there is an unusual situation or emergency that could jeopardise safety, and that aircraft(s) is unduly given priority.

Fokker1000 is not the only one who has complained here... there have been many, many similar complaints in the past, and not all at overworked and understaffed MAD or BCN... hence my apparent frustration. Don't get me wrong, I fully applaud AENA controllers for moving vast numbers of aircraft, as safely as they can, under such threatening and demoralising conditions for many years now. But the instances of alleged "favouritism" seem to be a lot more frequent and coincidental than those (if any) from other countries. Judging by the posts on this forum alone, that cannot be denied.

Edit: Regarding the paranoia of speech in a foreign language, fokker1000's colleague was a Spanish native, so could obviously understand and was embarrassed at what was going on.

Last edited by Out The Gap; 8th Aug 2013 at 15:00. Reason: Addition to post
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 15:19
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These claims of 'favouritism' go back at least 40 years in the UK to my knowledge and probably further. It will always happen as pilots don't have adequate knowledge of the task of a controller and how priorities are decided to get the most orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic.
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 16:55
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as pilots don't have adequate knowledge of the task of a controller and how priorities are decided
- indeed. However, despite your noble motives, in Spain "the most orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic." applies to national carriers and has nothing to do with 'fairness', I'm afraid. Like cancelling all Eurocontrol slots at MAD and releasing 1 Spanish carrier every 3 minutes. Been there, got the T-shirt, and dropped the MAD aerodrome manager into deep doo-doo with Maasticht Yes.
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 17:30
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Used to be BOAC first, followed by BEA, then all the rest!
My first fam flight into Glasgow with Dan Air (748), the crew said 'how come BEA get to go in first and we get held off?'

Last edited by chevvron; 8th Aug 2013 at 17:30.
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Old 8th Aug 2013, 19:09
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Better staff travel
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