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Mega Merged: AsA ATC staffing levels

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Mega Merged: AsA ATC staffing levels

Old 31st Oct 2007, 20:02
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Hello everybody...



Despite a shaky history of industrial relations, US ATCOs still maintain a system whereby two controllers are rostered per station. That way no matter what happens there is always a full-qualified back-up every minute of the day or night.

This expensive product they are supplying is otherwise known as "Safety."



Sunfish do you have some sort of psychological problem? You think that is funny?
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Old 31st Oct 2007, 21:06
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And the SAFETY CASE is where?

I would have assumed that under the ICAO and CASA imposed requirements for a comprehensive and transparent Safety Management System, a change of this nature and magnitude would require, at the very least, a Safety Assessment, and quite possible a Safety Case. - PARTICULARLY IN LIGHT OF THE FINDINGS OF THE UBERLINGEN ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION!

Such Safety Case must have been produced for CASA, and CASA must have replied - in writing - that the changes proposed satisfy their expectations for maintaining Airservice's certification.

If this has NOT happened, then I suspect that both CASA and Airservices are in breach of their respective safety obligations.

I suspect that there is no requirement for this Safety Case [if it has been done] to be available in the public domain - but there IS an obligation for Airservices to say that it HAS, in fact, carried out said Safety Case, and for CASA to say that it HAS approved said Safety Case, before these changes were implemented.

I also suspect that an appropriately worded FOI request would force Airservices to make available said Safety Case - if it exists.
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Old 31st Oct 2007, 21:19
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I find myself wondering if the AsA cost cutting is responsible for the downward spiral in the quality of timely weather reporting in Australia in the last year or so...there is a noticeable trend being commented on more and more of late.

It is also noticeable in the ME...specifically the UAE...another bastion of cronic ATC staff shortages.
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Old 31st Oct 2007, 22:32
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As a Melbourne based RPT user of Airservices “services” I have noticed that they are deteriorating. We were also delayed going into Melbourne on last Thursday evening and from what I gathered everyone was getting hit with long delays caused by Melbourne Tower not having enough ATC’s. What worries me (enough to make my first ever post) is that this is not an isolated incident. I have noted at various times around the country in the last 2-3 years,

- Airspace has not been manned by ATC due to lack of staff and has been made
TIBA procedures;

- Towers have been closed due to lack of staff;

- ATC’s understanding of aircraft performance has fallen. Some of the things I have been asked to do are barely within the laws of physics let alone the capability of an RPT jet.Want me to slow down and then speed up, let me know early enough and I reuce the cost index-that gives me long enough to make a difference..

- Frequency congestion is becoming a real problem because ATC’s appear to trying to do more than one job. For example Melbourne Tower has been regularly saying on the ATIS that Melbourne Ground and Melbourne Clearance Delivery are being done by one ATC due to a staff shortage. Getting a word in under the circumstances can be difficult and the controller often sounds tired and/or stressed; and

- Flightwatch is a lottery as to whether you can get through to them (according to my son who flies recreationally)

I have also noted the recent debate on PPRuNe about Airservices only staffing night shifts with one person. Am I correct in assuming that if I call for help on the ATC frequency the person who answers can only provide very limited assistance until the proper ATC returns? From a “Team Resource Management” perspective I – as the Captain – need to know whenever part of the “Team” is not able to perform their normal duties and I have always been taught (and fully agree) that ATC is part of the “Team”. From the Airservices document posted here on PPRuNe it appears that I will not be told if the ATC service is limited. Is that true? If it is then as far as I’m concerned Airservices is withholding information that may affect the safety of my flight.

I also heard a rumour some months back from an FO I was flying with that I thought was unlikely at the time but I’m now wondering - after finding about single person night shifts – if the rumour was true. The rumour went along the lines that the taxiway lighting system at Melbourne Airport failed one night in July and that the Tower began to stop RPT traffic because taxiway lights are an AIP requirement for RPT aircraft. The Airservices managers/supervisors at the time told the ATC’s to keep operations going even though the ATC’s pointed out that it would be in contravention of AIP. The managers/supervisors then told the ATC’s that the pilots were solely responsible for compliance with AIP and ordered the controllers to only tell pilots that the lights were not available without reminding them about the AIP requirements. They were then to provide normal clearances but “225” pilots who followed the clearances for not complying with the AIP.

The Airservices managers thought they could avoid any responsibility for the non-compliance but still collect the revenue that each non-compliant operation generated. Apparently, the ATC’s refused to follow the orders because they felt professionally obliged not to lead pilots into a trap!! Even after their jobs were threatened and they were told that Airservices would organise with CASA to cancel their ATC licences (to stop them working anywhere in the world as ATC’s) they still refused to comply. It was only the taxiway lighting failure being rectified that stopped the matter going further. What a "service" where there is this sort of contempt for operational staff and the customers...

I still have trouble believing the rumour could be true because if it is the utter recklessness of Airservices towards the law and its customers safety is astonishing. You only have to look at Freedom Air’s night time taxiway excursion at Melbourne a couple of years back to know the potential risks. If Airservices is now more interested in money than anything else I guess things like this might be possible. Are there any PPRuNe ATC’s who can confirm/deny the rumour? Because if it’s true I want to express my deepest thanks to the involved ATC’s for their courage and integrity. I’m nearing retirement and I’ve got a clean record that I want to keep and I’m not sure I would have remembered the AIP requirement.

Let me emphasise that I don’t blame the frontline ATC’s for the problems that seem to be happening everywhere. It’s obvious by the outbreak of open dissent here on PPRuNe by ATC’s that they are just as concerned.

All the problems seem to come back to a lack of “investment” by Airservices in its people and infrastructure. We all know the airlines having been attacking the T&C’s of their staff (pilots in particular) in order to reduce costs – although I am yet to find the accounting standard that says ever rising management/executive bonuses are not also considered “costs”. Is this “short term money before anything” mentality also happening in Airservices?

After 30+ years in the industry I thought I had pretty much seen it all but I must say the possibility that the ATC system has “gone rogue” is a new one for me. With what I have observed and heard all I can say - as an outsider looking in at Airservices - is there seems to be more than a whiff of crisis surrounding the organisation. It might behove those of us who ply our trade in the skies and have to use Airservices “services” to consider them “suspect” and exercise extreme caution when using them.

I know this has been a long post but there are enough demands placed on flight crews by airlines without a broken ATC system adding to them!

Retirement can’t come fast enough…
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 00:54
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Smackdown

Well Said!

Cannot confirm or deny the ML lighting situation as I don't work there. BUT I find it totally believable about Management as described by you.

ASA MANAGEMENT THINK NO FURTHER THAN THEIR NEXT BONUS.

And that is the way it is.
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 01:18
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What worries me is that the person manning the console has no "authority to act" (so we don't break the regs... cute), but is able to respond in an emergency situation. Side issue, the service is not being provide in this time, so why are they charging for it?

Main issue, during TIBA no service is provided, but someone usually monitors the frequency for emergency calls and response. So why not go TIBA for this particular purpose, IMHO, becuase it looks bad so don't do it, so lets hide all evidence of providing exactly the same service we do when decalring TIBA; by not declaring TIBA. But what is the difference, the pilot knows, the public knows and there is an increased history of TIBA use.

It's the same thing, without the situational awareness in the cockpit; = this procedure is less safe than TIBA.
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 06:54
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Originally Posted by puff
What also happens if the only rated person on duty has a family emergency or medical problem that needs for them to go home immediately, who would fill the chair then ?
While am very concerned about this practice, it should be noted that single person ops are not uncommon (some radar towers and many regional towers) and so the arguement above is not as significant as the way in which AsA has proposed to manage breaks.
RI
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 08:08
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Oh, and on the subject of SLEEPING ON DOGGOS!

I seem to recall someone telling me that a few years back, the Airservices BOARD SAFETY COMMITTEE and thence the Airservices BOARD specifically directed that management cull the practice, direct management at the main centres [including Sydney] to stop the practice - AND provide a written assurance to the CEO and BOARD that sleeping on doggos did NOT take place.

I'm told that Sue Smith provided such an assurance for and on behalf of one Mr Ken McLean.

Seems odd that some years later that same person is refering to a practice that should, in theory, not be happening by BOARD direction - ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE UBERLINGEN ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT!
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 09:12
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Angry ASA are a POC

all this is in response to some information I have received from an ATC mate of mine, makes one shudder in their shoes

this is the problem with AsA is that an air traffic control service should never be run as a private enterprise irrestpective of being 100% owned by government.

As soon as you get a board of directors answering to the minister, with the charter basically being provide is with the best dividend every year, then the holy dollar will become of prime importance not SAFETY.
this is where AsA and its useless bunch of managers have come unstuck. they have written themselves contracts that give them huge bonuses if they come in under budget. So what does a business need to do to achieve this:
cut costs. how do you do that: keep minimal staff, employ some very creative bean counters (who also get big bonuses to be creative), make the staff work harder.

Oh yes forgot, SAFETY costs money so we will now have AFFORDABLE SAFETY, single man doggos, controllers not validated for a specific sector providing breaks for a sector they are not validated for, (that s ok as the chances of a fk up are small and we can afford that) oh and yes, dont let the fkers sleep that is not very productive as it costs us money and we will need to hire more staff and that will fk up our bonuses


Dont worry, we will threaten the staff with cancellation of license because our mates at CASA will do what we want and are as spineless as a limp dick, and the travelling public and stakeholders will never know because the union Civil Air is as weak as piss and the staff are now running scared in the face of AWA's (if the Libs are elected) in 2008 and licence cancellation.

Yep we have all bases covered, just wish this election would hurry up and pass then we (the management can rest easier).

Wrong arsholes, the game is up and you are about to be found out and your manhood will be stripped away.

Oh yes by the way, because they now have new ALM managers (who do not control either and crossed to the darkside of AWA's...gee maybe we can make then provide breaks because they have held a license at some stage) and the ALM's now also delegate some of their workload, which they knowingly took on in the switch to the darkside for the extra money, bacuase they have just realised, shit I will have to do work at home, after hours and I wont have a life, fk that, we will delgate our to the lower life line controllers and tell them they may jump some extra increments which in reality we have no authority to do and cant, but they are dumb fks and dont know. This is the mentality of AsA.


Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh that feels better, NOT because all pilots and their pax/cargo will deal with this daily now, wondering who is really at the other end.

out

Last edited by Capt Zorro; 1st Nov 2007 at 09:29.
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 09:46
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Tell us what you really think Zorro!

Cheers,

NFR.
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 09:59
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Is it correct to say that the practice now in place at ML CEN has been used in BN CEN for some time?

There seems some inference to that in the instructions there somewhere.
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 10:34
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Is it correct to say that the practice now in place at ML CEN has been used in BN CEN for some time?
My understanding is that Brisbane Centre has ostensibly rostered only single coverage for night shift unless more were required due traffic; but never before has an orchestrated 20 minute break (in an apparent to attempt to avoid OH&S and Fatigue issues) been supported by the 'break procedure'.

CASA now says that "NO reg break is apparent" because you aren't providing the service when giving someone a break (remembering you're not current/recent/endorsed/rated or combinations thereof); well the person on the break isn't providing the service are they? So who is?

If no service is being provided why is it a secret? Why not go TIBA?

People in CASA have you asked ASA the bigger question? If not, why not?
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 10:37
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Dear mod, can we combine these two threads...

http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=298425
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 10:51
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Captain Midnight you are correct. Previously one controller did the whole shift with someone listening out on toilet/smoke breaks.
Then management at ML center decided (correctly) that the right fatigue management process was to double staff night shift so staff could nap and a business case was written to justify this. It was initially resisted by controllers (who wants to work twice as many doggo's?) but after coming into practice has been nearly universally embraced.
Unfortunately BN center didn't follow suit. So now management says we're short staffed and can't justify this (how dare the lazy bludgers get paid to sleep, they can do that at home with their wives every other night), previously we did single person, they still do everywhere else, it must be safe.
Unfortunately the CA specifies a minimum 20 min break per shift, previously a blind eye was turned to this and breaks were managed on a "mate, can you listen out while I take a leak" basis. Maybe 3-4 minutes, definately not 20. Hence we now have unrated people providing breaks on doggos.
Whether you get rated controllers or not, rest assured by 5 am they will be onto about their 12th or 13th hour since clocking on at 6 the previous morning and be knackered with no sleep in previous 6+ hours.
What could possibly go wrong?
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 11:03
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Wellconcerned, you refer to the practice of staff sleeping at the console on single person doggo's. This should never happen, but I've been there and sometimes it's hard to keep the eyes open.
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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 08:48
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Creeping myself but as most of the guys went to the pit when the AUD to US was in the late 40s and is now in the low/mid 90s, it in real terms is not an 85% increase. If anything, it is just the same a 3%. Plus you got to live in a shit hole. Just my opinion. Not going to debate it so don't bother.

Sure AsA are a pack of carnts but if you get on the horse and treat the place with complete contempt and expect nothing from it, you will be much happier. I bashed my head against a wall for years, now I don't give a crap.

Realistically, they won the battle. In the grand scheme though, they lost the war. They lost their work force and lets be honest, ATCs are generally a very bright bunch with so much to offer. These twits have no idea how to get the most out of their number one asset.
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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 09:50
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Their
_____

I was getting about a Hungee at the time and now about 140. The 15000 doubled to exchange is 30 then plus the 40% is about 42 so you/they get around 10% better growth. Sure it is more but drop a zero on the end to get this homeboy into a towel on the head. I have watched your posts over the years and it seems to me you make them to convince yourself you made the right choice.

Lets not forget however tha AsA are carnts.

Last edited by tobzalp; 2nd Nov 2007 at 10:01.
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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 10:09
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We have drifted of course but seeing YOU brought it up, what was your starting coin and what is it now?
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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 10:47
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I guess it gets down to weighing up whether or not you want extra pay to live in a sandpit, hot unbearable summers, living in a complete different social society and the chance if you move there, it may break up your marriage, and if thats the case, then spending the rest of your time living away from your family and friends wherever that may be?

Or living in one of the best countries in the world, best living standards, a stones throw from your family and friends, bearable summers, live sport, but working for a stupid company.

I know what I'd rather not look back on approaching retirmement age and be thinking, "sh!t I've spent the last (x) amount of years here, I no longer know my friends back home, and my kids dont know me, let alone not having witnessed them grow up. Unfortunatley money talks for some.........
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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 12:49
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Angry

Love this thread, about time the truth was finally put out there.

What was once a great organisation is truly a mess.

I believe that unfortunately we are well beyond the PNR, its going to be a hard rough landing.

Wait till the EBA negotiations commence, there could well be an exodus from ASA as yet again despite being in a good bargaining position (ie nil staff) we can anticipate being treated like crap.

I have no doubt that all ATC's are well over being treated with contempt and as an expendable resource (more like expense). Lets face it the money is OK if you've been in for a while but if you have just joined and got a degree or even a trade why would you want to work 24/7 for 60k when you could probably get paid 70k anywhere else (ASA wake up and smell the coffee).

The clowns in senior management continue to advertise for bean counters, internal auditors and ALM's, I expect that it might soon dawn on them that no service delivery (environment) is possible.

Whilst they were busy contemplating the next cost cutting measure to ensure a reasonable bonus the core business was completely disregarded and consequently has degraded to the point where not even furiously pushing the ultimate fall back button (UFB, radar fixit) will be of any use as its been faulted for months and the only tech available that can fix it has just been shown the door! Along with all the plants in the building, sorry i meant organisation (one of those cost cutting measures)!

TFN, go you good thing. Please go!
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