ATC Issues A place where pilots may enter the 'lions den' that is Air Traffic Control in complete safety and find out the answers to all those obscure topics which you always wanted to know the answer to but were afraid to ask.

Remote towers

Old 26th Feb 2019, 11:22
  #21 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Costa del Swanwick
Posts: 774
Originally Posted by Dan Dare View Post
Cost cutting in staffing is chronic and has made ATC everywhere much less safe. So why is there no outcry? I'd liken it to smoking in the 1960s - everyone was doing it and it was thought to be unhealthy, but the risk was downplayed. Smoking tends not to kill you straight away and some smokers live to very old age, but nobody today would argue that it is good for your longevity.
How is it "much less safe"? Evidence please.
250 kts is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2019, 13:31
  #22 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Rapunzel's tower
Posts: 453
Originally Posted by ZOOKER View Post
good egg,

Went to Sainsbury's today too. The 'vinyl' album display is getting bigger each week.

Sheeesh Zooker, you're starting to sound like a stuck record!
good egg is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2019, 16:37
  #23 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: far far away
Posts: 14
Cost cutting is the future for any ANSP. Those pesky controllers who have ensured safety for years are now a financial liability when it comes to contract renewals due to pensions costs etc etc. as the bulk of any ATC contract is staffing costs. The business rationale behind it all is quite shrewd. Sell the dream to a gullible airport director, tell him how efficient a remote/digital tower is, tell him how much he can save over the life of a 10 year contract, any bean counter will have a semi once you tell them how much they can save and how impressed the airport owners will subsequently be. Produce reams of safety analysis and toothless regulator approvals, job done.

Result - strip the current building of all equipment, lease the new equipment to the aforementioned gullible airport director, again saving costs rather than buying it outright. Fast forward to the end of the contract - the ANSP now has the airport by the throat. Theres no equipment in the building any more, if it is even still there. The contract cost has now doubled but there's nothing the airport can do. It will now cost exponentially more to re-equip the building to the required standard, they can't even get a new ANSP to come in cos there's nothing there to provide a service with.

Or maybe I'm just old and cynical.
escaped.atco is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2019, 17:02
  #24 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: jersey
Age: 69
Posts: 1,071
Old & cynical ? Maybe. But, also largely correct ! Then again, I’m the same as you.
kcockayne is offline  
Old 26th Feb 2019, 17:05
  #25 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 74
Posts: 8,244
Thanks Heaven I'm out of it. I saw what I considered to be the best days of ATC....
HEATHROW DIRECTOR is online now  
Old 26th Feb 2019, 19:23
  #26 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: LHR/EGLL
Age: 40
Posts: 4,276
Originally Posted by escaped.atco View Post

Result - strip the current building of all equipment, lease the new equipment to the aforementioned gullible airport director, again saving costs rather than buying it outright. Fast forward to the end of the contract - the ANSP now has the airport by the throat. Theres no equipment in the building any more, if it is even still there. The contract cost has now doubled but there's nothing the airport can do. It will now cost exponentially more to re-equip the building to the required standard, they can't even get a new ANSP to come in cos there's nothing there to provide a service with.

Or maybe I'm just old and cynical.
Not sure it’s quite that clear-cut.

Perhaps there’s a big dial on the wall at the airport, with various increments, as to where the airport sends all the data to the remote tower; the big dial points towards ACME ANSP Remote Tower Centre right now, but hey ho, the current incumbent has lost the contract because they didn’t reduce their price out of complacency, thinking they had a lock-in......come the switchover day, that ‘gullible’ airport manager reaches over from his desk, and with a smile on his face he turns the dial to Foreign ANSP Remote Tower Centre, who bid lower, and have spent the time since the announcement training up their own controllers, and everything just carries on. Just cheaper. The airport manager smiles as he looks at how many Remote Tower Centres are inscribed on his dial, and they’re increasing in number all the time.

The airport manager leans leans back and smiles while thinking of the next contract renewal............

Gonzo is online now  
Old 26th Feb 2019, 21:40
  #27 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 74
Posts: 8,244
Meanwhile the REAL workers are shifting traffic..
HEATHROW DIRECTOR is online now  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 06:16
  #28 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Rapunzel's tower
Posts: 453
Originally Posted by HEATHROW DIRECTOR View Post
Meanwhile the REAL workers are shifting traffic..
That’s just a touch disparaging...
good egg is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 08:41
  #29 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Herefordshire
Posts: 959
I don't think so! HD may not remember this - as I think Approach had already left - but back in the mid 90s we in LL TWR enjoyed a few weeks without a GM ( the one-eyed golfer was away somewhere 'really important' ) and Manager ATC left to take up a new post ( GM KK ? ) before his replacement had been appointed.

Did we miss them? Not at all! We the REAL workers still shifted the same number of aircraft, Watch Managers exercised what control was needed, Training Officers still oversaw U/Ts, LCEs still kept their beady eyes on standards - it was a shame that the GM ever came back!

In the many years since I retired many people have asked if the job was stressful. My reply was that the most stressful part of it was management! Most of them a complete waste of space. Rant over!

By the way Gonzo and Good Egg are too young to remember the debacle when the Cardiff contract came up for renewal in the late 70s - the outcome describes managers to a T!
Brian 48nav is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 09:45
  #30 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: LONDON England
Age: 47
Posts: 244
Remember it well, 48Nav. Not much changes. 😉
autothrottle is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 12:46
  #31 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: far far away
Posts: 14
Originally Posted by Gonzo View Post


Not sure it’s quite that clear-cut.

Perhaps there’s a big dial on the wall at the airport, with various increments, as to where the airport sends all the data to the remote tower; the big dial points towards ACME ANSP Remote Tower Centre right now, but hey ho, the current incumbent has lost the contract because they didn’t reduce their price out of complacency, thinking they had a lock-in......come the switchover day, that ‘gullible’ airport manager reaches over from his desk, and with a smile on his face he turns the dial to Foreign ANSP Remote Tower Centre, who bid lower, and have spent the time since the announcement training up their own controllers, and everything just carries on. Just cheaper. The airport manager smiles as he looks at how many Remote Tower Centres are inscribed on his dial, and they’re increasing in number all the time.

The airport manager leans leans back and smiles while thinking of the next contract renewal............

And I'm not sure its as clear cut as that either. The glaring issue is going to be the actual controllers again, I know they are an inconvenience and and expensive nuisance BUT at this stage of the game they're still needed. Lets say ACME have the contract, they're in a portacabin far far away from the airport to the north for example. The airport decide to change to NITS Solutions but their portacabin is also far far away to the south for example. The controllers working for ACME realise that NITS Solutions are a bunch of cowboys that they don't want to work for, how then is NITS Solutions going to satisfy the problem of having actual people to run the show? They may well have all the toys, they may well have the means of ensuring data links are secure and all the cost that goes with that but with no controllers they don't really have a runner. As much as the regulator role has diluted and become a rubber stamping exercise depending on the paperwork that has been produced, I really can't imagine a scenario where they would think 20+ green field validations is safe. Plus I can't imagine any airport being keen on the media getting wind that they've employee a brand new ANSP with sweet FA experience other than sims all to save a few quid. The other point, and I apologise now for bringing it up, is brexit. How will remote towers play out if they are in vastly different jurisdictions. Can you imagine Jose in Madrid getting a green field validation in Cardiff having never worked there or experienced the airport in his life?

I know times are getting desperate but surely sanity and common sense has to still be considered. Or maybe someone has done an APSA and decided that neither of the aforementioned have any part to play when it comes to profits and cost cutting. I really am old and cynical, must go and take my meds!

escaped.atco is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 17:27
  #32 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Moon
Posts: 180
Obviously it is the old cynical ATCO’s who have a problem with remote towers. No matter what anyone says it is all about a perceived cost saving. I presume when HIAL centralise the towers at Inverness they are planning to reduce staff because one ATCO can now do several airports ( just like having several enroute validations ).
Although the H&I airports are not busy ( I worked at one for three years ) they may get their traffic rush at the same time.

Say for instance you are a valid on a “ Western Isles” grouping i.e EGPO and EGPL. Before I retired PO use to get an inbound rush of three a/c and usually at least one departure ( remember this is combined ADI and APC ). PL would also put a departure on request. Does the ATCO on duty decide to ignore PL and concentrate on PO or vice versa. This could cause delays however it will be safe, it will just be a reduced customer service which could be overcome by having a PL valid and a PO valid ATCO on at the same time so what is the overall gain in having Remote towers.

I feel some people have been blinded by the potential of modern technology and think if it’s old it’s bad.

Today I went to the bank to pay in a paper cheque and had to use one of the new automatic check pay in machines. I of course made a mess of it so luckily a bank clerk who stands by the machine all day came over and helped. Would that clerk not be better employed behind a counter.

I then went to a large high street shopping chain and tried to use my digital “Sporks” card which is on my iPhone ( getting down with the kids ). I have yet to see this card work by scanning, the readers don’t accept it, at one point the shop assisistant asked if I had the actual hard copy of the card! Get a grip

The above examples show two new modern systems which may look ok on paper, however the customer experience is not enhanced one iota!

Some people will say that on a remote tower you can attach labels to the aircraft to help retain idents etc. Well to be honest if you work at a tower and you can’t remember the traffic order from the FPS perhaps you shold not be working there.

Several years ago HIAL went down the let’s recruit locally road. There is a video somewhere on the net where a locally recruited islander is waxing lyrical about having a very good job and also able to live on the island of his birth. I bet he is p*ssed off now! Maybe that’s one of the reasons HIAL ATCO’s are holding a ballot for strike action.

A lot of the ATC community will probably be thinking its only Highlands and Islands.

Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it!

Rant over time for wine.

Rgds
AyrTC

Last edited by AyrTC; 27th Feb 2019 at 17:41.
AyrTC is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 17:47
  #33 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: LHR/EGLL
Age: 40
Posts: 4,276
Originally Posted by escaped.atco View Post
And I'm not sure its as clear cut as that either. The glaring issue is going to be the actual controllers again, I know they are an inconvenience and and expensive nuisance BUT at this stage of the game they're still needed. Lets say ACME have the contract, they're in a portacabin far far away from the airport to the north for example. The airport decide to change to NITS Solutions but their portacabin is also far far away to the south for example. The controllers working for ACME realise that NITS Solutions are a bunch of cowboys that they don't want to work for, how then is NITS Solutions going to satisfy the problem of having actual people to run the show? They may well have all the toys, they may well have the means of ensuring data links are secure and all the cost that goes with that but with no controllers they don't really have a runner. As much as the regulator role has diluted and become a rubber stamping exercise depending on the paperwork that has been produced, I really can't imagine a scenario where they would think 20+ green field validations is safe. Plus I can't imagine any airport being keen on the media getting wind that they've employee a brand new ANSP with sweet FA experience other than sims all to save a few quid. The other point, and I apologise now for bringing it up, is brexit. How will remote towers play out if they are in vastly different jurisdictions. Can you imagine Jose in Madrid getting a green field validation in Cardiff having never worked there or experienced the airport in his life?

I know times are getting desperate but surely sanity and common sense has to still be considered. Or maybe someone has done an APSA and decided that neither of the aforementioned have any part to play when it comes to profits and cost cutting. I really am old and cynical, must go and take my meds!
Ha! Common sense disappeared a long time ago, and sadly controllers have been complicit in that.

My example was just to show that just because the control console is miles away from the airport, it doesn’t make it any more difficult for the airport to change ANSP. Yes, I can certainly imagine an ATCO in a remote tower centre in Madrid getting a validation at a UK airfield, the ANSP s/he works for only has to get UK ANSP accreditation from the UK CAA. Not difficult. There’s an ATC training provider in Spain churning out trainees for the UK right now. Not much more work to wholly conduct that training offshore. DFS have also been approved to conduct UK ATC training in Langen, have they not?

Gonzo is online now  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 18:01
  #34 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 16
Originally Posted by AyrTC View Post
Well to be honest if you work at a tower and you can’t remember the traffic order from the FPS perhaps you shold not be working there
If you have 5 easyjets or ryanairs at the holding point and ground has sent you the strips in the wrong order by mistake, you can see how "heads up" labels can become useful!!
mike current is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 18:55
  #35 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Moon
Posts: 180
mike current I was more thinking along the HIAL lines of a BN2,JS41 and a SF34

Rgds
AyrTC
AyrTC is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 19:34
  #36 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: far far away
Posts: 14
Originally Posted by Gonzo View Post


Ha! Common sense disappeared a long time ago, and sadly controllers have been complicit in that.

My example was just to show that just because the control console is miles away from the airport, it doesn’t make it any more difficult for the airport to change ANSP. Yes, I can certainly imagine an ATCO in a remote tower centre in Madrid getting a validation at a UK airfield, the ANSP s/he works for only has to get UK ANSP accreditation from the UK CAA. Not difficult. There’s an ATC training provider in Spain churning out trainees for the UK right now. Not much more work to wholly conduct that training offshore. DFS have also been approved to conduct UK ATC training in Langen, have they not?

I get the whole training scenario, a rating from a training college is one issue but a unit remote tower validation is another matter altogether! The thought of a Spanish or any other country you care to name, getting ANSP contracts within the UK and validating controllers on units that they have never ever seen makes me shudder. I still can't get my head round how they would circumvent the actual unit training process if they haven't been trained by any currently valid OJTI types. Couple that with the fact of securing data lines through several different countries and I'm sure it would all be fine. Surely nothing could go wrong there? I respect your opinion but from the bottom of my heart I hope you are wrong.

As far as AyrTC says, I don't believe controllers have any problems with technology. If you look at the rate of change there has been over the last 30 years then I don't think anyone could argue that all of the innovations have been detrimental. SSR is one simple tool that has improved controlling techniques and abilities beyond belief, there are many others. The problem is that remote towers are being pushed for one reason, that is cost saving and so called efficiency. Safety may be given lip service with the PTZ cameras, if these cameras are so fantastic then bolt them onto the current towers! It's as though someone has come up with a solution to save money, now they need to justify the problem to solve. It's all the wrong way round in my humble opinion. But hey ho, we live in the days of the bean counters, risk assessments and outsourcing. As others have said, maybe in years to come some bright spark will come up with the idea of having real towers at real airfields to ensure safety.
escaped.atco is offline  
Old 27th Feb 2019, 20:03
  #37 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: LHR/EGLL
Age: 40
Posts: 4,276
Originally Posted by escaped.atco View Post
I get the whole training scenario, a rating from a training college is one issue but a unit remote tower validation is another matter altogether! The thought of a Spanish or any other country you care to name, getting ANSP contracts within the UK and validating controllers on units that they have never ever seen makes me shudder. I still can't get my head round how they would circumvent the actual unit training process if they haven't been trained by any currently valid OJTI types. Couple that with the fact of securing data lines through several different countries and I'm sure it would all be fine. Surely nothing could go wrong there? I respect your opinion but from the bottom of my heart I hope you are wrong.

As far as AyrTC says, I don't believe controllers have any problems with technology. If you look at the rate of change there has been over the last 30 years then I don't think anyone could argue that all of the innovations have been detrimental. SSR is one simple tool that has improved controlling techniques and abilities beyond belief, there are many others. The problem is that remote towers are being pushed for one reason, that is cost saving and so called efficiency. Safety may be given lip service with the PTZ cameras, if these cameras are so fantastic then bolt them onto the current towers! It's as though someone has come up with a solution to save money, now they need to justify the problem to solve. It's all the wrong way round in my humble opinion. But hey ho, we live in the days of the bean counters, risk assessments and outsourcing. As others have said, maybe in years to come some bright spark will come up with the idea of having real towers at real airfields to ensure safety.
Believe me, I hope I’m wrong too, but I suspect that’s the way things are going.

You can see it already with the SESAR trials and sims in area/en route. ‘Any controller, any sector’ is the mantra. No local expertise, but compensated for by massive levels of tool support, telling the ATCO what to do. Likewise, Surface Managers and Integrated Working Positions, if we put aside the practical issues of putting such a system into real-life ops, make the job petty easy for 99% of the time. I’ve tried one simulating Paris CDG GMC bandboxed and after about 30 mins I was handling the same traffic as two or three ATCOs do there today. I say that not as a demonstration of my capabilities, far from it, but as an example of how tools and safety nets (reactive and predictive) can make the job so easy (for 99% of the time) that even non-ATCOs can make a decent fist of it. And that’s the holy grail.



Last edited by Gonzo; 27th Feb 2019 at 20:28.
Gonzo is online now  
Old 28th Feb 2019, 09:23
  #38 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: far far away
Posts: 14
Any controller, any sector? Haven't heard that one yet but then my work has always been ADI/APS. I've read bits and pieces about SESAR but it hasn't really filtered down the entire business yet, I'm sure it will though at some stage. It's a bit like saying any pilot, any aircraft. Sure the principles are the same and for 99% of the time you'll be flying along quite happily - snag is when the proverbial hits the fan, you have a human so far behind what's happening that it may well prove unrecoverable.

Unfortunately I refer back to what I stated earlier, if someone knows what they want as an end result then simply write the risk assessment to suit. That way it all looks good on paper. It's not that long ago when I was coming through training. all students were told under pain of death that they were never to vector on the ATM, regulator would strip their license and all hell would break loose. Fast forward a few years and let's do RITT. Thats not enough, now its lets have one controller doing several airports. Where does it all stop? Do we need a major or catastrophic incident to show that sometimes efficiency and cost cutting has limits? I hope not. Unfortunately my experience in recent years has been ideas and plans coming down from senior management to middle management, the mantra isn't "will this work?", rather "make this work if you want your performance bonus and career progression."
escaped.atco is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2019, 10:59
  #39 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Location
Posts: 53
From experience I’m already surprised how busy traffic has been with RIT being used. I wonder if when the regulator signed off on it that they expected that level of traffic to be handled....
GASA is offline  
Old 28th Feb 2019, 14:01
  #40 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: London
Age: 37
Posts: 306
Isn't the issue with remote cameras being the only eyes on the airfield that a drone could literally cover the cameras with something and close the airfield? I am thinking of the new London City digital tower.
Skipness One Foxtrot is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.