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Gatwick Flow Rate?

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Gatwick Flow Rate?

Old 14th Sep 2023, 16:53
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Gatwick Flow Rate?

Seems as though there are a ton of cancelled/delayed flights at LGW, with numerous diversions to LTN/other airports. Reportedly down to lack of ATC personnel.... anyone know more?
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Old 14th Sep 2023, 17:29
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Confirmed as a shortage of ATC staff by Gatwick airport twitter. Apparently short notice staff absence.

To have no spare/ standby/ slack for one controller going sick is really poor. Massively understaffed at LGW - you’d like to think the CAA would get involved.
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Old 14th Sep 2023, 17:36
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Seems to happen quite often now. Does it have anything to do with the change in contract a while back for LGW ATC service?
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Old 14th Sep 2023, 17:53
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Originally Posted by Dct_Mopas
Confirmed as a shortage of ATC staff by Gatwick airport twitter. Apparently short notice staff absence.

To have no spare/ standby/ slack for one controller going sick is really poor. Massively understaffed at LGW - you’d like to think the CAA would get involved.
not the first time it’s happened at Gatwick in the last 12 months or so.. getting a bit tiresome now
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Old 14th Sep 2023, 19:51
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Originally Posted by Dct_Mopas
Confirmed as a shortage of ATC staff by Gatwick airport twitter. Apparently short notice staff absence.

To have no spare/ standby/ slack for one controller going sick is really poor. Massively understaffed at LGW - you’d like to think the CAA would get involved.
What exactly could the CAA do to all the shortage problem? There is no magic solution. It requires good quality trainees in adequate numbers -but not too many many that there aren’t enough training seats! And still it takes many months to validate them.
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Old 14th Sep 2023, 20:55
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Typically organisations that employ controllers are driven by someone who watches a spreadsheet. Activities such as COVID, 9-11, contract renewals always concentrate the mind on the bottom line. Little relevance is given to the time it takes to train and the actual number of seats available to train in. This latter is normally the major problem.
Years ago we were training controllers in a European country and were told how many we had to provide classroom/simulator training for that year - All for one tower. It turned out that the actual On Job Training capacity was about 10% of the numbers receiving basic training.
Sadly the magic solution is always some years back - bean counting rarely looks further than the CEO's KPI's and bonus needs and normally they have moved on (with bonus) before the crises occurs.

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Old 15th Sep 2023, 06:11
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Originally Posted by brianj
What exactly could the CAA do to all the shortage problem? There is no magic solution. It requires good quality trainees in adequate numbers -but not too many many that there aren’t enough training seats! And still it takes many months to validate them.
or fewer flights
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 07:39
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Originally Posted by SWBKCB
or fewer flights
This is indeed par t of the problem. The bean counters generally cater for the average numbers of flights , not the peaks. In addition if an airline decides to move its hub from an airport for another one, the balance of traffic is sudden , meaning from decision to first flights can be weeks ( or even days in some cases. ) Recruitment to fully ops controller in a major airport is anything from a year ( for transfers) to up to 3 years for ab initio. So you'll always be behind.
Another unspoked factor is part time. Due to the ( welcomed) feminisation of the job , since it is rather well paid, many are requesting part time after their first kid, so you might have the numbers on paper but not available 100% of the time ,

That said, if a single controller call in sick and its supervisor is unable to immediately find a stand by duty to fill the gap, and this is causing the kind of disruptions we have see in EGKK, then it shows how tight their operations are .
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 07:53
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Angry

Originally Posted by brianj
What exactly could the CAA do to all the shortage problem? There is no magic solution. It requires good quality trainees in adequate numbers -but not too many many that there aren’t enough training seats! And still it takes many months to validate them.
Er, stop NATS firing all 127 of its trainees during Covid (some were two weeks away from qualifying)? It's not as if this isn't a recurring problem for NATS, that they should have got on top of by now, and having taken a £1.5bn loan the 'speadsheet' argument is mute - this was straight mismanagement, hence: 'https://travelweekly.co.uk/news/air/ryanair-calls-for-resignation-of-nats-chief-after-latest-gatwick-flight-disruption' (the 7-figure bonus won't have helped)!
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 08:10
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Doesn't this issue go back several years when NATS lost the ATC contract at Gatwick?

The new Gatwick company did such a 'great' job that they eventually handed it back for NATS to run. NATS inherited all the problems and a lot of them don't get resolved overnight, particularly with staff shortages.

Not that NATS are squeaky clean. Their recruitment and training policies over the last few years leave a lot to be desired.
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 08:17
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NATS only got the contract back 11 months ago, the rot set in under ANS.

Neo380 or MoL pointing the finger at NATS are way off the mark.

https://travelradar.aero/nats-gatwick-airport/



The underlying problem generally with Air Traffic staffing is you have a small number of qualified people doing the job.
Say you need 4 or 5 ATCOs to run a radar bank or tower, to add another for contingency adds 20/25% to cost base. The sums are very different for an airline with 100s of pilots qualified on the same equipment.
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 08:24
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Originally Posted by Del Prado
NATS only got the contract back 11 months ago, the rot set in under ANS.

Neo380 or MoL pointing the finger at NATS are way off the mark on this occasion.

https://travelradar.aero/nats-gatwick-airport/



The underlying problem with Air Traffic staffing is you have a small number of qualified people doing the job.
Say you need 4 or 5 ATCOs to run a radar bank or tower, to add another for contingency adds 20/25% to cost base. The sums are very different for an airline with 100s of pilots qualified on the same equipment.
Not way off at all - sacking all 127 trainees, when there was no financial need - and then complaining that you are short staffed, when you’ve just done the exact same thing a few years ago, is dysfunction.

NATS (staff) can take just as much blame for the ANS contract as anyone - failing 21/23 trainees (at one point) might have been because of the £1,000/day overtime rates, but it was also always the intention to force the contract back into NATS hands.

So be honest, and check your facts, please - this was a situation of NATS making.
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 10:00
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So they should have kept the trainees on in case they won a contract 2 years later?
A contract that shouldn’t have been available until end of 2025?

You might think that’s a great way to run a business but it’s not something the customer would be happy to pay for.

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Old 15th Sep 2023, 10:02
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Gatwick aren't the only airport short of controllers
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 10:13
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Originally Posted by Del Prado
So they should have kept the trainees on in case they won a contract 2 years later?
A contract that shouldn’t have been available until end of 2025?

You might think that’s a great way to run a business but it’s not something the customer would be happy to pay for.
NATS regret it. And NATS created ANS because one of its MDs couldn’t put up with the internal dysfunction any longer.
So yes, I do think you honour your commitment to a trainee when they’re 98% through training.
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 11:07
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The underlying problem generally with Air Traffic staffing is you have a small number of qualified people doing the job.
Say you need 4 or 5 ATCOs to run a radar bank or tower, to add another for contingency adds 20/25% to cost base. The sums are very different for an airline with 100s of pilots qualified on the same equipment.
True, and not true as well. Especially considering that having a generous standby level at all times is cash wise peanuts considering the rest of the cost of running ATC at the worlds busies single runway airport. And even more so considering not doing so will increase the pressure to legislate financial responsibility in for a service promised and not provided, a service airlines have to pay handsomely for. After all, they are liable for measures they have to take to accommodate their customers. And for exactly that reason airlines nowadays actually play for peaks, not averages, and usually a higher than normally needed crewing level. You can operate a shorthaul aircraft on a full schedule at 3,5 to 4 crews per aircraft. However, it is usually done at 6 to 7 as that allows a much higher stability of the operation. Which is needed, in part due to ATC systems all over europe having not the required personnel and no financial incentive (liability) to provide it.
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 11:12
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Originally Posted by Denti
True, and not true as well. Especially considering that having a generous standby level at all times is cash wise peanuts considering the rest of the cost of running ATC at the worlds busies single runway airport. And even more so considering not doing so will increase the pressure to legislate financial responsibility in for a service promised and not provided, a service airlines have to pay handsomely for. After all, they are liable for measures they have to take to accommodate their customers. And for exactly that reason airlines nowadays actually play for peaks, not averages, and usually a higher than normally needed crewing level. You can operate a shorthaul aircraft on a full schedule at 3,5 to 4 crews per aircraft. However, it is usually done at 6 to 7 as that allows a much higher stability of the operation. Which is needed, in part due to ATC systems all over europe having not the required personnel and no financial incentive (liability) to provide it.
As already stated NATS raised £1.5bn (BILLION!) mid-Covid, which more than covers the remainder of trainee costs (they were on apprentice rates already!) - the 'spreadsheet' excuse for what is now a serious issue just doesn't work.
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 11:26
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Originally Posted by Neo380
As already stated NATS raised £1.5bn (BILLION!) mid-Covid, which more than covers the remainder of trainee costs (they were on apprentice rates already!) - the 'spreadsheet' excuse for what is now a serious issue just doesn't work.
NATS can't subsidise the NSL operations with NERL money. Whether or not it should have kept the En-Route trainees is one debate. Whether or not it should have kept any Airport trainees is far more complex and a different debate.

If NATS had emerged from the Covid crisis with a retained pool of trainees it would arguably have given them an unfair advantage over other suppliers such as ANS. Although of course those trainees, even if they fully completed the college, are a long way off providing any solution to the current issue. From ab-initio to the world's busiest single runway airport is quite a jump.

Last edited by eglnyt; 15th Sep 2023 at 11:26. Reason: removed errant character
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 11:36
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There is a well crafted excuse for every piece of mismanagement in this organisation, but the truth is we’re back in ‘famine’ now, so ‘feast’ will follow and ‘famine’ will follow that.
It’s a cultural problem, as if succession planning is ‘something we don’t do here’.
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Old 15th Sep 2023, 12:02
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Originally Posted by Neo380
There is a well crafted excuse for every piece of mismanagement in this organisation, but the truth is we’re back in ‘famine’ now, so ‘feast’ will follow and ‘famine’ will follow that.
It’s a cultural problem, as if succession planning is ‘something we don’t do here’.
Indeed. In most industries if such a high proportion of staff failed to reach the point at which they provided any payback on the investment made then you'd spend a lot of time refining that system until you remedied that problem. In ATC that "failure" has always been painted as success because we obviously only want the best people to succeed.

Feast and famine is a little harder. The airline business is tied to the world economy. Setbacks and in particular the length of them are difficult to predict. The setbacks after 9/11 and Covid were much shorter than most people expected. That after the 2008 crash was much longer. Somebody has to pay for that period you keep training controllers ready for the inevitable upturn and nobody wants to, least of all governments. The government funded ANSPs after 2008 cut back far more than the one funded by its customers that you dislike so much.
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