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Gatwick Flow Rate?

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Gatwick Flow Rate?

Old 26th Sep 2023, 16:29
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Merci beaucoup Luc Lion!
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Old 26th Sep 2023, 16:50
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Bear in mind the 'legal limit' for alchohol is far lower for controllers (and presumably aircrew) than it is for driving a car.
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Old 26th Sep 2023, 17:29
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I think the best way to view this current situation is like a game of Jenga. Each block being a different factor in UK aviation running efficiently. Over the last few years (last decade maybe &#129300 blocks have been getting removed here and there and for a time it was okay but now itís getting quite wobbly as more blocks shift. No one party is really to blame here and finger pointing wonít get us anywhere.

Is NATS to blame for the issues at Gatwick? Yes and no. The problem started, as it did across the company, when they ignored the upcoming retirement issues. However recruitment has mostly managed to mitigate that for now. ANS taking Gatwick messed things up there. The issue created by NATS wasnít sorted after they lost the contract and itís showing now that they have it back.

As mentioned Gatwick is notoriously hard to validate at so itís not a quick fix. The fix was needed prior to NATS losing the contract and whilst ANS had it.

Will other units follow suit? That remains to be seen. Covid was the real issue. New validations werenít possible during the pandemic. Valid ATCOs struggled to get time never mind pushing trainees through.

Could something have been sorted with NATS, the CAA and UK gov to allow things to keep moving more smoothly than they did? Probably but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The argument regarding letting the trainees go doesnít really float either. While I personally think they should have been kept on, from a business perspective it just didnít make sense, particularly when the financial future of the company was unknown. We now know that the finances were sorted so it would have been okay. Again, hindsight.

Validations for trainees who werenít let go havenít even finished yet. So the trainees who were let go are only just coming into the live operational environment. Given that Covid financial help ended ages ago could any company have realistically been expected to keep anyone on for that length of time with no return at all? Ultimately the sacked trainees wouldnít have made any difference to todays problems.

Regarding recruitment as far as I know the process has been streamlined and more people are coming through. This just means that the drop out rate is increasing and the trainees that do come through to live training are of a poorer quality and are struggling/failing. Is the training to blame fully? Probably not. Outdated airspace and increased demand is equally to blame.

This all comes at a time where thereís pressure to be greener and return to being profitable whilst trying to negotiate pricing with the regulator and airlines in a similar situation. Michael O Leary makes me laugh when he criticises NATS staffing levels saying it needs to improve whilst simultaneously pushing back on NATS budget and how much he needs to pay for services. Canít have it both ways.

Does NATS have issues? Yes. But so does everyone else and itís a lot deeper than just recruitment or training.
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Old 26th Sep 2023, 22:24
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Originally Posted by Alsacienne
Can military ATC not be drafted in to help out?
Many civilian trainees that passed a selection process, an initial rating course, a Gatwick specific simulator transition course and 300 plus hours of live training have failed to qualify.

Military ATC training is to a lower standard so unlikely to be a solution.

The high failure rate of training is the real problem behind Gatwick shortages. Plenty of money and resources were thrown at it by the previous ANSP without success. Covid is only exacerbating the problem of an already tight roster.
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Old 26th Sep 2023, 22:37
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Originally Posted by mike current

The high failure rate of training is the real problem behind Gatwick shortages.
This has always been the case.
I know of two controllers, already experienced elsewhere, who were posted there and were told to their faces 'we're going to make sure you fail'
It was only one or two OJTIs who would do this; most of the guys and gals there were OK. I don't know why people would do this; one of the trainees told me 'if your face didn't fit, you were failed on purpose'.
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Old 27th Sep 2023, 02:49
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Why is Gatwick such a challenge for ATC vs LHR or MAN? Is it the single runway issue for the Tower controller?
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Old 27th Sep 2023, 04:52
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I've always thought that if a control position needs a super human to operate it then maybe the position/operation/system should be changed.
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Old 27th Sep 2023, 09:03
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Tower Controller issue?

Originally Posted by Skipness One Foxtrot
Why is Gatwick such a challenge for ATC vs LHR or MAN? Is it the single runway issue for the Tower controller?
At Gatwick the most difficult position for ATCO validation has always been ďGROUNDĒ. The airport manoeuvring areais relatively small in geographical size leading to lack of available stands therefore making stand occupancy a very serious problem. Aircraft then have to ground hold awaiting stands cause taxiway blockages for movements and this is worsened by the number of towed movements required to move aircraft on and off the stands. Necessary airfield works further complicate the ability to move aircraft on the ground. The airport continue to attempt to satisfy the demand for increased movements by airlines when perhaps a stop to this is put on until infrastructure is improved and maybe a second ďGROUNDĒ ATCO is established in periods. Alas there is likely to be a long wait for the necessary ATCOís to achieve validation and meanwhile the problems will be exacerbated by the planned use of the Northern Runway for dual runway operations. Such use of the Northern Runway May of course resulting more failures for trainees validating on the ďTOWERĒ position! At least bear in mind the increased stress on validated ATCOís which may be an issue at present?
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Old 27th Sep 2023, 10:57
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Originally Posted by brianj
At Gatwick the most difficult position for ATCO validation has always been “GROUND”.
Forgive me if I'm a bit out of date but at the larger airports, doesn't the 'Ground' controller work in concert with the lighting panel operater who selects/deselects the centrelines and stop bars and the two must operate in total harmony to make things work.
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Old 27th Sep 2023, 11:33
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Does make me wonder sometimes whether we could do with two separate ground frequencies for different parts of the airport like a lot of other bigger airports. Sometimes it’s really hard to get a call in and lots of people not listening out and stepping on each other is a frequent issue.
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Old 27th Sep 2023, 13:09
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Originally Posted by FlyboyUK
Does make me wonder sometimes whether we could do with two separate ground frequencies for different parts of the airport like a lot of other bigger airports. Sometimes it’s really hard to get a call in and lots of people not listening out and stepping on each other is a frequent issue.
But that would mean Gatwick Airport Ltd having to spend money; I dare say the controllers (now NATS again) have suggested it but unless there is sufficient money to fund such a thing it would fall on deaf ears.
NATS will have negotiated a contract which just about covers the present system but any increases of staffing, equipment etc would need a new contract too especially when you have to take into account extra staff on new control positions also needs extra staff to provide more extra rest periods as required by the CAA.

Last edited by chevvron; 27th Sep 2023 at 13:20.
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Old 27th Sep 2023, 21:50
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Originally Posted by Flight Master
I think the best way to view this current situation is like a game of Jenga. Each block being a different factor in UK aviation running efficiently. Over the last few years (last decade maybe &#129300 blocks have been getting removed here and there and for a time it was okay but now itís getting quite wobbly as more blocks shift. No one party is really to blame here and finger pointing wonít get us anywhere.

Is NATS to blame for the issues at Gatwick? Yes and no. The problem started, as it did across the company, when they ignored the upcoming retirement issues. However recruitment has mostly managed to mitigate that for now. ANS taking Gatwick messed things up there. The issue created by NATS wasnít sorted after they lost the contract and itís showing now that they have it back.

As mentioned Gatwick is notoriously hard to validate at so itís not a quick fix. The fix was needed prior to NATS losing the contract and whilst ANS had it.

Will other units follow suit? That remains to be seen. Covid was the real issue. New validations werenít possible during the pandemic. Valid ATCOs struggled to get time never mind pushing trainees through.

Could something have been sorted with NATS, the CAA and UK gov to allow things to keep moving more smoothly than they did? Probably but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The argument regarding letting the trainees go doesnít really float either. While I personally think they should have been kept on, from a business perspective it just didnít make sense, particularly when the financial future of the company was unknown. We now know that the finances were sorted so it would have been okay. Again, hindsight.

Validations for trainees who werenít let go havenít even finished yet. So the trainees who were let go are only just coming into the live operational environment. Given that Covid financial help ended ages ago could any company have realistically been expected to keep anyone on for that length of time with no return at all? Ultimately the sacked trainees wouldnít have made any difference to todays problems.

Regarding recruitment as far as I know the process has been streamlined and more people are coming through. This just means that the drop out rate is increasing and the trainees that do come through to live training are of a poorer quality and are struggling/failing. Is the training to blame fully? Probably not. Outdated airspace and increased demand is equally to blame.

This all comes at a time where thereís pressure to be greener and return to being profitable whilst trying to negotiate pricing with the regulator and airlines in a similar situation. Michael O Leary makes me laugh when he criticises NATS staffing levels saying it needs to improve whilst simultaneously pushing back on NATS budget and how much he needs to pay for services. Canít have it both ways.

Does NATS have issues? Yes. But so does everyone else and itís a lot deeper than just recruitment or training.
What a truly pathetic list of excuses.

So '127 qualified trainees would have made no difference to the current staffing shortage', etc. Really?!

Go and have a look at yourself in the mirror please 'FlightMaster' (in case you're unsure you're checking for integrity).
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Old 28th Sep 2023, 09:06
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Originally Posted by Neo380
What a truly pathetic list of excuses.

So '127 qualified trainees would have made no difference to the current staffing shortage', etc. Really?!
I am am not familiar with the Gatwick situation but I can very well compare staff shortages, complexity of work positions , ability to accept trainees on OJT and training failures rates. which are similar to my old Centre environment. And then the points made by Flight master are all relevant.
A few facts of life in ATC.
1- the more complex the traffic situation , the longer it takes to validate and the higher the failure rate will be. .
2- The longer it takes to validate the more OJT ( e.g. Coaching on live traffic) you will need. and there are only so much positions you can put a trainee on.
3- More trainees arriving in one go mean less training time OJT for each , =even longer training times and more demand on available coaches.
4- if your departure rate exceed trainees income, you will have people just finished validating being promoted to coaches themselves to train the new arriving trainees, This leads to dilution of expertise.

This is a perfect vicious circle if your ability to train new people to replace departures and the raise of traffic has not been planned correctly many years before. Cancelling 127 trainees ( and I wonder how many of those 127 were planned for Gatwick) was indeed a mistake in hindsight., Even more so since the traffic rebounded to post 2019 levels in almost one go,, which was definitively not what was expected in 2020. Hindsight is a wonderful thing to apportion blame.

One thing could really help : a complete redesigning of the airspace to be it more simple to operate , to make training easier and faster.

Finally this is not a UK thing ,almost everybody operating complex ATC systems is in the same situation . in Europe the German DFS is one of them , and the US/FAA at its large complex facilities. Look at the staff shortage and failure rate in New York ARTCC , Towers and Tracon .
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Old 28th Sep 2023, 09:09
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Originally Posted by Neo380
What a truly pathetic list of excuses.

So '127 qualified trainees would have made no difference to the current staffing shortage', etc. Really?!

Go and have a look at yourself in the mirror please 'FlightMaster' (in case you're unsure you're checking for integrity).
Hear hear. Surely the most basic requirement of any business is to recruit, train and retain enough staff!? You can't blame Covid for ever.
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Old 28th Sep 2023, 10:07
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Originally Posted by Neo380
What a truly pathetic list of excuses.

So '127 qualified trainees would have made no difference to the current staffing shortage', etc. Really?!

Go and have a look at yourself in the mirror please 'FlightMaster' (in case you're unsure you're checking for integrity).
Whatever your views on the 127 nobody posting on here has any evidence one way or the other to say whether keeping them would have made any difference in this situation.

If NATS has had enough suitable trainees to put through the process at Gatwick since they regained the contract then releasing the trainees during the pandemic is not a factor. None of us have seen the action plan agreed between NATS and Gatwick so we don't know who is currently going through the system or, if they are ab-initio recruits, which ATC College produced them.

There is a hole in the system which would have occurred whether or not the trainees were retained. At the time with the contact restrictions in place, both legally and necessary to protect the operation, nobody was able to carry out the on the job training required to turn ATC College graduates into actual controllers. The final stages at the College also involve close contact between instructor and student so they would have been stuck on that few weeks from graduation for quite some time.
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Old 28th Sep 2023, 10:10
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With reference to the "127 qualified trainees" I would be truly astounded if any organisation anywhere in the world was keeping staff during COVID just in case they won a contract at sometime in the the future for an organisation short of staff. NATS have only recently regained the Gatwick contract and ANS for their whole time there were trying to train people fast enough to match their needs.

A unit the size of Gatwick can't sensibly have more than 5 active trainees at a time. Training takes about a year and there will always be some attrition so it would be a good year when you get 4 new qualified ATCOs. These also have to replace people moving on/burn-out/retirements/loss of medical/etc.so it would be surprising of they can be fully staffed by the 2030s. Hindsight is a marvellous thing, but maybe airports and ANSPs should do their best not to get short staffed in the first place.
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Old 28th Sep 2023, 10:12
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Originally Posted by ATC Watcher
I am am not familiar with the Gatwick situation but I can very well compare staff shortages, complexity of work positions , ability to accept trainees on OJT and training failures rates. which are similar to my old Centre environment. And then the points made by Flight master are all relevant.
A few facts of life in ATC.
1- the more complex the traffic situation , the longer it takes to validate and the higher the failure rate will be. .
2- The longer it takes to validate the more OJT ( e.g. Coaching on live traffic) you will need. and there are only so much positions you can put a trainee on.
3- More trainees arriving in one go mean less training time OJT for each , =even longer training times and more demand on available coaches.
4- if your departure rate exceed trainees income, you will have people just finished validating being promoted to coaches themselves to train the new arriving trainees, This leads to dilution of expertise.

This is a perfect vicious circle if your ability to train new people to replace departures and the raise of traffic has not been planned correctly many years before. Cancelling 127 trainees ( and I wonder how many of those 127 were planned for Gatwick) was indeed a mistake in hindsight., Even more so since the traffic rebounded to post 2019 levels in almost one go,, which was definitively not what was expected in 2020. Hindsight is a wonderful thing to apportion blame.
.
None of those 127 were planned for Gatwick. At the time NATS didn't have the contract for Gatwick and it wasn't expected to be renewed until 2026. Any student controllers intended for Gatwick would have been at Langen or another College if ANS were using independent colleges.
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Old 28th Sep 2023, 10:43
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Originally Posted by Neo380
What a truly pathetic list of excuses.

So '127 qualified trainees would have made no difference to the current staffing shortage', etc. Really?!

Go and have a look at yourself in the mirror please 'FlightMaster' (in case you're unsure you're checking for integrity).
I would love to know what NATS have done to you to make you so bitter.

I specifically said I thought sacking them was the wrong idea from a personal standpoint. I think it was absolutely shocking.

However being able to see the bigger picture rather than just jumping to oh NATS are the devil doesnít suggest a lack of integrity by any means.

For the record you wouldnít have 127 qualified trainees ready to combat the staff shortage. You would have 127 (minus failures) trainees who have passed through the college and are ready to start on the job training. The overwhelming majority of these trainees were en route and wouldnít be able to impact anything. The ones who were airports would have been posted prior to the Gatwick contract changing hands so the answer to how many of them would be earmarked for Gatwick is a massive ZERO.

As stated the trainees who had reached this stage already and werenít let go are only just validating. Letís not ignore the fact that those close to validating pre Covid needed to start OJT from near enough the beginning after Covid due to the CAA requiring this and traffic levels meant they couldnít just jump back to where they were. The 127 would not be anywhere near this stage unless they were the few who ended up at an airport.

Ultimately the staff shortages at NATS are their own fault. But this has been in the making for well over a decade. There are however a huge number of additional factors that have contributed to making this worse in certain places.
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Old 28th Sep 2023, 11:18
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But if the 127 had completed their training they would have increased the pool of available controllers at a time of national (international?) shortage and allow people to move around the system. Yes, maybe the current shortage couldn't be predicted, but binning people so near to the end of training looks short sighted.
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Old 28th Sep 2023, 11:35
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Originally Posted by SWBKCB
But if the 127 had completed their training they would have increased the pool of available controllers at a time of national (international?) shortage and allow people to move around the system. Yes, maybe the current shortage couldn't be predicted, but binning people so near to the end of training looks short sighted.
It was explained earlier that NERL (the regulated business) canít recruit and train controllers and then pass them to NATS solutions (the low cost arm? which recently won the gatwick contract) because that would give an unfair commercial advantage to NATS solutions.
Like it or not, ATC at airfields is a competitive environment.
Perhaps itís this race to cut costs and win contracts that caused the staff shortages at Gatwick which NATS very recently inherited from the previous ATC provider.
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