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ATCO Shortage UK

Old 8th Apr 2018, 13:11
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ATCO Shortage UK

Seen elsewhere on the forum that Gatwick was temporarily closed last night due staff sickness.

Then NATS seem to be struggling for valid ATCOs, so having to recruit from non nats units.

By all accounts, most non nats units really really struggling for valid ATCOs.

Self funding drying up with the course costs going through the roof. Where are all the replacements coming from?

We seem to be in high demand at the moment. Maybe itís time we all got a pay rise... Iíll show myself out...
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 13:16
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I was in UK ATC from 1972-2002 and we were always short. However, if Gatwick really closed due to staff sickness someone's head needs to roll.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 14:04
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Originally Posted by HEATHROW DIRECTOR View Post
I was in UK ATC from 1972-2002 and we were always short. However, if Gatwick really closed due to staff sickness someone's head needs to roll.
There are some who predicted this might happen at Gatwick after NATS lost the contract. Wonder if the new Edinburgh ANSP is aware?
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 14:14
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I was in UK ATC from 1972-2002 and we were always short.
I worked for NATS for a period during that time too - I think you need to have a think about what short-staffed means. If there was a shortage, I would not have expected all those EGs, LCs and gash days - but there were plenty about - and normal working was 2 on, 2 off in many cases.

That said, it is a different world now with rules on maximum working periods that are strictly enforced, and the bar to enter and stay in the profession much higher than it was. All these rules introduced in the name of safety, with little if anything demonstrable to show any improvement in safety, but certainly constraining the supply of controllers available in the market.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 15:04
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Originally Posted by LookingForAJob View Post
I worked for NATS for a period during that time too - I think you need to have a think about what short-staffed means. If there was a shortage, I would not have expected all those EGs, LCs and gash days - but there were plenty about - and normal working was 2 on, 2 off in many cases.
I was with NATS during that period.
In the late '80s, the ATCO complement at Farnborough was increased from about 14 to about 21 so as to provide sufficient ATCOs to cover 7-day working with the opening of the airfield to civil traffic. However several of these were ex college instructors or ex HQ staff who had finished their 'tours' and made it plain they didn't want to be at Farnborough, with the result that failures to validate and 'compassionate' postings out meant that by the time civil traffic started operating, we were back down to our original number and HQ staff like Gordon Dogget came down to 'convince' us we should 'stretch' ourselves to work weekends.
It transpired he really wanted more experienced controllers to apply for postings to LATCC to cover a shortfall and post less experienced types to Farnborough which meant a heavy training workload and the crunch came after one airshow when Roger Budgen came down on a monday, delivered some envelopes to our boss, then left again before they were handed to the controllers they were addressed to.
The envelopes contained details of compulsory postings for several of the experienced controllers, the first ones taking effect within a couple of weeks!
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 15:37
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I worked for NATS for a period during that time too - I think you need to have a think about what short-staffed means. If there was a shortage, I would not have expected all those EGs, LCs and gash days - but there were plenty about - and normal working was 2 on, 2 off in many cases. That said, it is a different world now with rules on maximum working periods that are strictly enforced, and the bar to enter and stay in the profession much higher than it was. All these rules introduced in the name of safety, with little if anything demonstrable to show any improvement in safety, but certainly constraining the supply of controllers available in the market.
In many other cases, the four-watch system (3 duties in four days) was worked to its full extent, a disgraceful practice IMO. It may be difficult to show empirical evidence of improvement in safety as a direct result of SRATCOH but it only takes a little knowledge and thought to see how essential such regulation is - all credit to those involved in developing the regulation of working hours, all of whom did a thorough, logical and professional job.

2 s
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 16:44
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Originally Posted by 2 sheds View Post
In many other cases, the four-watch system (3 duties in four days) was worked to its full extent, a disgraceful practice IMO. It may be difficult to show empirical evidence of improvement in safety as a direct result of SRATCOH but it only takes a little knowledge and thought to see how essential such regulation is - all credit to those involved in developing the regulation of working hours, all of whom did a thorough, logical and professional job.

2 s
I would not argue with 2 sheds, in the UK context but, when we were eventually forced into SRATCOH working in Jersey, it made us work longer hours, more often, & introduced the dreaded day duty. It also did absolutely nothing to improve safety. Itís introduction was resented by all - including the management , who lost the flexibility which the previous system afforded them.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 19:01
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Don't quite understand that, Keith - SRATCOH regulates the maximum hours. It sounds as if the previous "flexibility" was a management contrick! Also, I thought that the CI were part of the UK when it suited and not when it didn't! :-)

2 s
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 20:27
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Before attributing reason for this closure, especially in terms of contract changes, perhapas we need to find out if itís Gatwick Tower or Gatwick Approach that is the cause of the closure.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 20:55
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Well, let's hope it's the former, Gonzo.

A 'Global Leader' shouldn't be in this situation.

To quote a line from my favourite film:-

"It's a false economy to invest in cheap goods".

I guess, on this occasion, EGKK did.

A shame.
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Old 8th Apr 2018, 22:25
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I posted this comment in the ATC visa thread but this one seems more appropriate.
If the same recruitment standard for ATC staff had been applied to "Human Resources" staff (aka 'Personnel'), I'm sure the UK ANSP's wouldn't be in the state they are today. From my observations in the UK in nearly 50 years, they seem incapable of providing for the troughs & crests of ATCO retirements. Lessons are not learned. The only mitigation I can see is that they have probably been influenced by the 'bean counters' ! I wonder if anyone is ever called to account for the mismanagement. HR seems to be fireproof. (Rant over) ....

Last edited by off watch; 9th Apr 2018 at 07:13.
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 07:14
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I got it wrong.
According to the papers it was Gatwick tower staff, not FIN/INT

Last edited by whitelighter; 9th Apr 2018 at 20:03.
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 11:56
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2 Sheds

IIRC Scratcoh came about due to pressure being applied by GATCO, which was concerned at the excessive hours being worked at several 'non-state' ( sorry chaps of a sensitive nature! ) airfields, particularly with a new provider.

At Heathrow we worked MMAANN or MMAADD - a D1 would start at 0800 following the previous afternoon finishing at 2200. Which was great for those rostered on D1 as their days off started generally at 1430 on the second day shift into 4 whole days off. Being a long distance commuter I was often able to swap shifts and work AMAM, spending the time between A and M sleeping in the dormitory or a spare office. This of course saved on the numbers of journeys to work and the amount spent on fuel!

After Scratcoh that swap option plus AAD1D1 were no longer legal as the new law laid down a minimum break of 12 hours between shifts. It certainly wasn't wanted by us in CAA as it limited personal flexibility.
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 13:27
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Anyone able to verify the lack of ATCO situation was it TWR (DFS) or FIN/INT (NATS)?
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 14:45
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Originally Posted by TCAS FAN View Post
Anyone able to verify the lack of ATCO situation was it TWR (DFS) or FIN/INT (NATS)?
Doubt if it was FIN/INT as there should be sufficient cross trained staff at Swanwick to cover sickness.
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 14:54
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It was not INT/FIN.
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 14:56
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BBC news report clearly suggesting that it was a local problem.
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 17:14
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Originally Posted by 2 sheds View Post
In many other cases, the four-watch system (3 duties in four days) was worked to its full extent, a disgraceful practice IMO. It may be difficult to show empirical evidence of improvement in safety as a direct result of SRATCOH but it only takes a little knowledge and thought to see how essential such regulation is - all credit to those involved in developing the regulation of working hours, all of whom did a thorough, logical and professional job.

2 s
I remember 4 watch at LATCC and Lindhiolme.

LATCC was A (2pm - 8pm); M (8am - 2pm) then back in at 8pm that same day for a 12 hour night shift usually split into first half, second half or long sleep; rest of that 3rd day was sleep, followed by day off, then repeat.
When I went to Lindholme, they worked the same hours but they worked A (first day) M ( 2nd day), then off until 8pm on the third day, then sleep followed by a day off so instead of a 4 day cycle it was 5 days.
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 17:20
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Originally Posted by LookingForAJob View Post
BBC news report clearly suggesting that it was a local problem.
Wonder how DFS get away with rostering only 3 controllers for what is normally 4 control positions ie Air, GMC, GMP and delivery.
I suppose the last two could be bandboxed when it's not too busy but Air needs total concentration; I've been in a 737 (on a 'Fam Flight, remember them?) at 4nm on 08 with another lander ahead and the controller has still got 2 departures away before we were cleared to land (or do they not do that any more).
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Old 9th Apr 2018, 17:26
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Are you saying the 4 control positions used to be open all night? I doubt it. Many positions can be bandboxed on to one, even when busy at night, it's still far less than day time operations.
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