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Mega Merged: AsA ATC staffing levels

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Mega Merged: AsA ATC staffing levels

Old 30th Dec 2007, 08:23
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well Scurvey,

Looks like you got me. The election was a bit later in the year than I had anticipated, and the new Minister is still picking up the pieces.

For 'end of the year', substitite - very early in 2008. The Minister needs to bang some heads together, and also fins a suitable candidate for Board Chairman.

Oh, and in case you think ATC staffing will be the 'issue du jour' - think again. The Minister will have made his decision on a range of issues - including ATC staffing - but mostly around airspace [mis]management.

Re the wind ups - good to see I've managed to catch you too - I'm falling about laughing as I type....
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Old 31st Dec 2007, 15:28
  #142 (permalink)  
 
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Seems James Thurber's creation has got out again....get back onto the medication Wellconcerned!

Happy New Year to everybody!
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Old 31st Dec 2007, 16:02
  #143 (permalink)  
 
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Safety Warning over air travel

Now the mainstream news.com.au (front page) has a hold of the story...

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22993355-2,00.html

Scathing letter outlines safety threat...
Situation compared to that of Africa...
Authority denies safety compromised...
Lack of adequate staffing blamed...

Authority rejects claims of mismanagement, safety risk

Airservices spokesman Terry O'Connor admitted there was a shortage of trained controllers, but he rejected claims of mismanagement and said safety was not at risk.
"We're aware of the issues they have raised. It's something that's been a potential concern for us for some months," Mr O'Connor said.
"But this suggestion that we're somehow trying to hide the situation is simply not true."
Peter Gibson, a spokesman for Australia's air safety regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, said he was not aware of a shortage of air traffic controllers.
"Shortages are the job of Airservices Australia to manage," Mr Gibson said. "Our responsibility is to make sure whatever they do is done within the appropriate safety standards."
Airservices said that it had increased its intake of trainees and was looking at trying to attract controllers from overseas.



Should be an interesting year for Australian ATC; both ATC and Canberra. Good luck.
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Old 1st Jan 2008, 00:04
  #144 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Herald Sun, January 01, 2008


Safety warning from air traffic controllers over travel

AIRCRAFT carrying hundreds of people are flying over populated areas across the country without supervision as air traffic controllers struggle to keep up with the workload in the skies.

And the controllers say Australia's proud record of airline safety is in jeopardy because the body overseeing the nation's airways is not training enough controllers.

The Herald Sun has seen a scathing letter from the national union of air traffic controllers to Airservices Australia complaining of a "critical threat" to continued flight safety.

Airservices Australia is a government-owned corporation that employs 90 per cent of Australia's air traffic controllers.

Civil Air Australia president Michael Haines told Airservices Australia that airspace is being left uncontrolled "on an almost daily basis due to the lack of adequate staffing".

"At the same time, I fear that Airservices is concealing from regulatory and safety organisations the fact that airspace is closing due to low staff levels," Mr Haines wrote.

Airlines are notified when airspace is not controlled and they must decide whether to continue flying through the area.

The Herald Sun has learned airspace over Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Coolangatta south to Coffs Harbour, central Australia, western NSW and Launceston has been uncontrolled at times during the past month.

A pilot claimed that services normally provided by Melbourne tower were unavailable because of staff shortages on at least one occasion last month.

CAA said the boom in air travel was putting extra strain on an air control system already at breaking point. Some stressed controllers are deliberately avoiding phone calls on their days off so they can have a break.

A Qantas pilot, who declined to be named, compared the air traffic control situation in Australia to Africa.

"It's a bit backwards for a developed country like Australia," he said.

"The fact that nothing has happened is down to the pilots and the air traffic controllers doing the best they can with what they've got."

Airservices spokesman Terry O'Connor admitted there was a shortage of trained controllers, but he rejected claims of mismanagement and said safety was not at risk.

"We're aware of the issues they have raised. It's something that's been a potential concern for us for some months," Mr O'Connor said.

"But this suggestion that we're somehow trying to hide the situation is simply not true."

Peter Gibson, a spokesman for Australia's air safety regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, said he was not aware of a shortage of air traffic controllers.

"Shortages are the job of Airservices Australia to manage," Mr Gibson said.

"Our responsibility is to make sure whatever they do is done within the appropriate safety standards."

Airservices said that it had increased its intake of trainees and was looking at trying to attract controllers from overseas.


"Airservices Australia is a government-owned corporation that employs 90 per cent of Australia's air traffic controllers." Anyone know who employs the other 10 %? Are they hiring??

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Old 1st Jan 2008, 00:17
  #145 (permalink)  
 
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Could the other 10% be employed by the RAAF?
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Old 1st Jan 2008, 00:42
  #146 (permalink)  
 
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yeah good point, and I know they are hiring
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Old 1st Jan 2008, 02:41
  #147 (permalink)  
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See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

I see CASA has its head firmly planted in the ground, again!!! What a sad state of affairs.
 
Old 1st Jan 2008, 09:24
  #148 (permalink)  
 
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Anyone know who employs the other 10 %?
Bahran, Dubai & CERCO - they're just waiting for start dates!
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Old 1st Jan 2008, 09:30
  #149 (permalink)  

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Ah, but give CASA their due, if there's blue tailed 767's to ground, you can count on them!

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Old 1st Jan 2008, 10:56
  #150 (permalink)  
 
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My favourite part of the article is where the ASA spindoctor says " We have a fatigue management system which is designed to ensure controllers do not work more than a safe number of hours" What he neglects to say is that even though it is designed that way, that is not how it is used.
I believe the company that produced it is not at all happy with the way ASA use their software. One example is a controller coming in early to work a night shift, 2300- 0600 vice the following days 0700-1500, funnily enough due staff shortage.
The aisle supervisor noticed in the morning that the 0700 shift had not been deleted from the controllers roster, meaning the machine had him having an hours break and then starting work again. Out of curiousity he got the software to check the fatigue score. The machine worked out that the controllers fatigue would have improved after having a one hour break and then working an 8 hour shift. That is correct , this fatigue management systems answer was you would be less tired at 1500 than 0600 even though you hadn't slept.
An answer was eventually forthcoming,(small panic) that your body clock resets at sunrise.
So next time you are out very late , think as long as I can see the sun come up, I can last til tonights sleep.
There are loads of examples of the fatigue tool being manipulated to come under the magical 80 fatigue score. person X will be over tonight , manipulate machine until it is not over 80. How? Finish person 15/30/45/60 minutes (whatever it takes) early on their morning shift(leaving morning shift short!). The fact that the controller started at 0500 doesn't seem to matter, or , instead of starting at 0000 come in at 0100.
Fatigue management is regarded by management as something to get around rather than something to enforce.
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Old 1st Jan 2008, 11:04
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I'm the first to be critical of AsA management and am aware that CASA is a spineless organisation at the moment (doggo staffing, launy tower hours etc), but CASA aren't responsible for holding AsA to account over staffing. So long as all processes are legally complied with CASA won't care about TIBA airspace, just like they don't care when Airlines cancel services. It is up to the customers & shareholders to hold management accountable.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 03:47
  #152 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Dog One
Its a national disgrace that a capital city international airport has insuficient ATC staff. The situation really warrants a senate investigation and the public hanging of those found guilty of creating this problem.
Originally Posted by Courier Mail
"It's a national disgrace that capital city international airports have insufficient ATC staff," one pilot said.
"This cannot continue for too much longer before safety is compromised. Surely it's time for all parties to sit down and figure out a solution."
A bit of "licence", but probably correct direct.no.speed. We are being trolled.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 09:13
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The inside word is that the ATC college does not have the formal go ahead for ANY courses in 2008 yet Lots of talk being kicked around, but nothing in concrete yet.

Might be worth a pointed question to TFN in the current press debate, "EXACTLY how many new ATCs will be trained this year?"
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 09:32
  #154 (permalink)  
 
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Keep in mind Peter Gibson from Casa is a tool, who would not know if bum was on fire. He would not know anything about ATC, training ATC etc
I reckon we will see a nice little ATC strike sometime this year, lets see how the big boys in ASA in CB handle this. Imagine the problems if the domestic airline system shut down for a few hours or a few days because of no ATC.
Bet Macquarie Bank, Qantas, Virgin and a few others would be very happy and so would their legal teams.
2008 the year if the industrial dispute.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 10:50
  #155 (permalink)  
 
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Careful Stationair,

Wellconcerned will have the AFP onto you!
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 11:14
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Just to add to what Direct.no.speed wrote, ask how many of the latest recruits (excluding the 1 or 2 from OS) came from the RAAF.

And then ask the RAAFies about their manning problems. It's just robbing Peter to pay Paul, somewhere services will deteriorate due to lack of staffing.

At purely military bases the reduced service will largely be felt by military only, but at the joint user bases (Darwin, Townsville and occasionally Williamtown, depending on who you ask) military controllers handle all civilian traffic for the area as well (which in DN's and TL's case far outweighs the military traffic - around 90% civil).

And don't buy the company line of "xx number of recruits to replace xx number of retirements/resignations" - not all recruits will pass the course and of those that do, some will still fail to get rated. We should be training 10% more than we need to allow for this.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 17:31
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xx number of recruits to replace xx number of retirements/resignations" - not all recruits will pass the course and of those that do, some will still fail to get rated.
Very good point. Of the 36 that started my course, 7 of us have ratings.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 19:10
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An enquiring Journo (or please God, research assistant for the Minister of Transport) should also ask "What's the recruitment/selection timeframe?" - In my case 12 years ago, 4 stage selection took 1 year!

Then they should ask "What's the duration of the college simulator training?" [again, about 1 year]

Then they should ask "What's the average age of your controllers? How many will retire in the next two years?"

And that's before they even try and ascertain how many are thinking about going overseas.......

Love that quote from AsA spokesman something along the lines of "yes, there is a staff shortage. No, it is not due to mismanagement" - Well, who's fault is it?
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 21:06
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I wonder how long CASA is going to bury its head in the sand. I can't believe they said there has been no safety issue when I know that lots of aircraft, including RPT jets, have been flying through TIBAs. I think Mr and Mrs Citizen would be alarmed to know that they were out in the ether......no safety problem though.

And staffing - jeeeze....AsA have been told for the last 2 or 3 years that this was going to happen. Now they play dumb and say that we didn't know, but will try and fix it. Too late people, the horse (or in this case, air traffic controller) has bolted!

The staffing problems and many TIBAs are the direct result of level 3 managers going ahead with the new SDE airspace against the better advice of the project managers to wait. The controllers too asked questions of how they were going to staff the newly designed sectors. Management answer - we'll do it with lots of overtime. They had to say 'YES' to protect their bonuses - don't want to look bad further up the chain, do we?



Well, the ATCs have had a gut full and have therefore opted not to take massive overtime and therefore give up time with their families and friends. No longer will the system be propped up by people trying to do the right thing by their mates - it has gotten beyond that now. A few years ago, people would cover shifts to ensure their mates, and the travelling public, were looked after. Now though, that good will has been lost.

The Service Delivery Line Managers should step down immediately and grab a headset. Either that, or should not be paid bonuses this time around. Bonuses are for performance.

Here's how you performed - poorly.

Pushing ahead against the informed, professional and accurate advice of your project team is not good.

Relying on overtime to cover KNOWN staffing issues is not good.

Constant airspace closures and the safety issues involved is not good.

Getting CASA to cover your ar$e is not good.

All time low morale leading to massive resignations an people wanting to leave is not good.

TFN - you must do something. You can't train your way out of it - the time to do that was 3 to 5 years ago when the organisation was told of the impending problem. No one in AsA management should be getting any bonuses until this is fixed. Whatever the ATCs ask for in the upcoming Certified Agreement negotiations, give it to them - they are the ones who deserve a bonus.

Thanks for reading.

Showa.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 23:03
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Happy New Year all ... I feel thoroughly refreshed. Now where were we?

Two points:
  1. If CASA don't believe there is a safety issue with RPT jets flying in TIBA airspace, why don't they permanently designate it G Airspace ... which has an even greater safety margin than TIBA?
  2. Apart from the above, how would you guys suggest that ASA go about fixing the current staffing problem ... in really practical ways?
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