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Flightwatch – 27 VHF outlets being closed

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Flightwatch – 27 VHF outlets being closed

Old 16th Nov 2007, 00:29
  #101 (permalink)  
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Bluerider777, the external inquiry won’t help in the short term. As has been pointed out a number of times on this thread, virtually all of the Flightwatch staff have already gone – so it wouldn’t have mattered what the Court ordered, there is simply no way of instantly turning the independent system on again. That is the reality of the situation.

The inquiry will take a number of months, but the fact that Airservices has agreed to leave all the equipment in place means that there is a very good chance of re-instating an independent system that is properly thought out, properly managed, and staffed with people who are properly trained.

I think there is a chance now of getting a better result than if this had never happened. I believe this because Airservices had allowed Flightwatch to run down until it was so ineffective, many people didn’t really care if it remained or not.

Now there will be a focus on the type of Flightwatch/Flight Information Service given in other leading aviation countries such as the USA and Canada. In both of these countries the service is fantastic, with trained operators who can actually give weather advice to both IFR and VFR pilot – not just repeat a weather forecast.

We all have to make sure now that this external inquiry is given the correct information. I believe it is very important that we allow all of the facts to come out so a rational decision can be made on this.

If an independent stand alone Flightwatch doesn’t add to safety in a cost effective way, then I will support it being combined with ATC. We would then be quite different to other leading aviation countries, and that is why I think a proper cost benefit study will show that the independent service should not only remain, but should be enhanced.

On the other topic, yes I have checked the thread on unqualified controllers during breaks at night. I’ve also spoken to a number of controllers about this and had a number of emails/private messages on PPRuNe.

The only thing I can suggest is that those concerned try to contact the Airservices Chairman, or a Board member, directly. I would imagine that the Board is exposing itself to grave risk in having non-qualified people manning a sector when the pilots in the controlled airspace have not been told.

As an example, a pilot may need to request a diversion around a Cb at the last moment, but the controller is not at the console, so the remaining person has to say, “Standby.” This could result in the difference between a safe flight and an aircraft being torn apart in turbulence.

Just why Airservices would allow this risky system is beyond me. I know that they are not getting pressure from the Government to constantly improve profits or to reduce staffing levels. The Government (especially the Minister) is paranoid about aviation safety. If someone communicated that additional controllers were needed, it would clearly be supported by the Minister.
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 00:44
  #102 (permalink)  
 
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Dick, .
The Comet.
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 02:17
  #103 (permalink)  
 
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Dick, as some of the other ATCO's have said on here it goes against the grain to say this, but well done.

On the ATCO unqualified break relief and staffing issue (not wanting to hijack this very important thread just explaining one quick thing), it needs to be understood that ASA have not intentionally ended up with not enough ATCOs. Yes some management decisions in the past have meant they have been misguided into thinking they weren't short staffed when they actually were but over and above that there is a chronic world shortage of ATCOs and it is only getting worse.

The reality is that when a suitable person looks at ATC as a career, they look at a failure rate of at least 50%, shift work on horrible rosters for the next 25 years, extremely low training salary that just keeps you above the poverty line (in the US the trainees actually have to get a second job to try to stay above water), and for the most part these people have so many other high paid options with less risk that they forget about ATC as a career.

Anyway sorry for the diversion from the thread, well done and hopefully this may be a wake up call for ASA (but don't hold your breath!)
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 03:50
  #104 (permalink)  
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AirNoServicesAustralia, I do not understand why the Airservices Australia management does not publicly state that they are having difficulty in getting enough ATCs.

For example, many airlines in the world are stating this known fact in relation to pilots. Rex has stated that they have had to close down routes because of a shortage of pilots. Why then isn’t Airservices stating that they are having difficulty in obtaining an adequate number of air traffic controllers?

I can assure you that if I was involved in the management or Board of Airservices, I would be making this very clear. After all, as you state it wasn’t an intentional situation that Airservices Australia has got itself into, but it is a fact of life. Surely there is an obligation to the Minister (and to the people who fly in Australia) to explain the real situation. That is what I’d do anyway.
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 06:18
  #105 (permalink)  
 
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the Flightwatch operators actually equipped with a proper terminal that can show the Bureau of Meteorology weather radar graphics.
Flightwatch already has access to the Bureau of Meteorology weather radar.

Is that what you are asking about Dick?

What will a proper terminal do differently?

The met site only show rainfall and not cloud in anycase.
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 07:20
  #106 (permalink)  
 
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Dick buys a puppy

Dick, I have been asked to pass on the following from my sources and connections.

As has been pointed out a number of times on this thread, virtually all of the Flightwatch staff have already gone
No; this is not the case. A large number have left but there are still sufficient staff to perform the flightwatch function as a stand-alone entity.

There are 75 staff working quite happily in ausfic and who do you think is do the ghosting?

The same staff who run the VHF console are capable of working the HF consoles and in the Briefing Office, the NOTAM office and the communications centre. The ausfic staff are in the main, multi-function people and this has enabled the rosters to be cut to the bone.

As a result of VRing 19 people this year, there significant amounts of overtime being performed and there is a pool of very capable people available but the replacement of absences is very very difficult.

The VHF function is being done with exactly the same staff on exactly the same console using exactly the same frequencies as before any of this “transition” started – just now it is on overtime with a 3 hour lack of service in the morning as merely an attempt to do some “load shedding” and a result of poor long term planning.

If you think this is going to change you really need think this through again.


very good chance of re-instating an independent system that is properly thought out, properly managed, and staffed with people who are properly trained
Dick, You really are dreaming.

You might get an independent system but you have no chance of any more staff or facilities because of the mammoth that is the “wonderful” SDE project and the fact that they just VRed 19 people out of the place!

There will be no more people doing the job than what you have available now. The old’n Bold retired ATCs that Civil Air proposed is a fanciful notion I’m afraid.

Many arguments have been made for new staff but there is not going to be recruitment into the Flightwatch function and if there was, there is a significant training requirement for both systems and procedures.

And I’m sure that the Flightwatch people will not appreciate your insinuation that they are not properly trained at this point.


with trained operators who can actually give weather advice to both IFR and VFR pilot
Clearly you do not understand the recent change to the provision of FIS by ATC as a result of the VH-PYN in-flight break up.

Because ATC screwed up issuing a SIGMET, (and 3 times in fact to VH-PYN) ATC can no longer make assessment of weather and must now merely pass on any new weather information so that the pilot makes all the operational decisions.

If an ATC is not able to do this, it will be interesting to see you get up a proposal for some other entity to do so.

Besides that, you have wanted and fought for autonomy for years and now you want other people “in the cockpit” – make up your mind Dick!


Flightwatch to run down until it was so ineffective,
What is ineffective about the Flightwatch function?

It is an on-request service and not able to crystal ball your needs.

More VHF coverage would be good apparently but they are only running the remnants of the old Flight Service system that the aviation community, and as orchestrated by you, was happy to see the end of.

You don’t want to pay for services but yet you want the services. Interesting concept.

Last edited by JackoSchitt; 16th Nov 2007 at 07:25. Reason: Missed a bit
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 08:47
  #107 (permalink)  
 
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The old’n Bold retired ATCs that Civil Air proposed is a fanciful notion I’m afraid.
How so? There are about 6 people in the fighting for their careers due LOEQ in the system right now, it's not always about retirements. failed trainees, or those who have medical issues etc; but more than capable enough to provide flightwatch.
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 09:25
  #108 (permalink)  
 
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Pirate,

Civil Airs (dismissive?) statement was that the old retired ATCs could simply turn up an start work - and that was where my statement was directed.

You are taking things in another direction with using ATC Failures and the medically unfit.

Why are they undergoing LOEQ? - performance issues perhaps? gee, that's nice, dump 'em into someone elses lap to sort out? someone say "MR BEAN"

They possibly could be used but they would certainly have to undergo training and assessment the same as any other operational staff.

Ausfic staff are multi-position capable and utilise knowledge from more than one area to perform any particular specific function. There really is no such thing as "simply doing VHF" I'm told.

Depending on their level of knowledge (how long they been training for?), and given that even most long term ATC know stuff all about ausfic and its services (or even where ausfic is by most accounts) and it would certainly not happen overnight.

All this is a moot point really beacuse Dick has swallowed Airservice's filibustering and taken home a cur from the pound.

Last edited by JackoSchitt; 16th Nov 2007 at 09:40.
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 09:31
  #109 (permalink)  
 
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Dick Smith said:
As an example, a pilot may need to request a diversion around a Cb at the last moment, but the controller is not at the console, so the remaining person has to say, “Standby.” This could result in the difference between a safe flight and an aircraft being torn apart in turbulence.
If I found myself in that situation, I would quickly come to the conclusion that penetration of the CB represents a much greater risk to the aircraft than an un-authorised deviation from the planned track.

I would remain on track as long possible. I would then turn the aircraft to pass around the weather and follow it up with a "PAN PAN" call.

Please don't tell me there are Pilots in Command out there that would choose to fly through a CB and risk "being torn apart in turbulence" never mind the possible hail, lightning, and severe icing!!

Last edited by Blip; 16th Nov 2007 at 12:17.
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 11:38
  #110 (permalink)  
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... hook ..... line ...... AND ..... sinker!
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... who can see where all this is headed? ..... more than a few I suspect!
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Leadsled .... Oh do please enlighten us!?
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.... then again .
I think there is a chance now of getting a better result than if this had never happened.
... strap on the plastic boys and girls!!
I believe this because Airservices had allowed Flightwatch to run down until it was so ineffective, many people didn’t really care if it remained or not
..... transplant AMATS and the summary removal of FLight Service (OCTA) .....
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Griffo ... I know without knowing you, that you cringe like I do reading this crap!
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So the Messiah (is seen to) save part of FW (until after the election) ... OOW AHH ....fabie!
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....... now what about the nationwide FS (that provided FW and directed traffic information) ... you know ... the service Dick removed!?
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.... anyone got the CBA or RA for those changes??
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....... Hmmm yeh, we know the drill ....... operational folks signed off on it so it is not the fault of the water walking feckwit!
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Flightwatch (like so many aspects of your ATS service/s) has been GBE'd, corporatised, restructured, resized, remade, into less and less for no tangible result except (Liberal) Federal Government Profit!
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..... but keep going Lead et al ....... less for more is a nice legacy thus far ...... well done!
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as for me .... I could not give a rats testicle anymore .... Roll on retirement!
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Dick
.
Check your PM’s

Last edited by Scurvy.D.Dog; 16th Nov 2007 at 12:01.
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 12:12
  #111 (permalink)  
 
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Dick, I congratulate you on your efforts thus far. As an ATC in Melbourne Centre, I never thought I'd see the day when I would be agreeing with you on anything! Your voice on this matter is a victory for common sense.

Today was a crappy day weather-wise on the East Coast. TS all day long to the west of YSSY neccessitating in never-ending diversions and level changes. On top of that it was a Friday afternoon ! To state the obvious, we were flat out all day. Towards the end of the day a VFR pilot flying low level OCTA requested numerous wx information for enroute and destination. Without going into detail, it took quite a few minutes between separating and coordinating the rest of my traffic, which was all over the place, before I could give this poor bugger the info he needed. In the end I was getting a bit exasperated with this guy, who was of less importance in the priority heirarchy. I eventually got around to getting him what he wanted, and he was happy. No doubt he was aware of how busy I was.

When I unplugged, I thought about it. This punter needs the correct information on which to operate safely, and there should be someone, somewhere who can give that to him. On days like today we are flat out looking after the traffic we can see, let alone the VFRs we can't. It's on days like today that these guys need updated wx information, yet ironically we can't provide it because we're too busy. I fear for the day that some poor bugger spears in because he requested the latest thunderstorm information and we kept pushing him to the back of the queue because we are busy handling wx diversions with international and domestic jets. It's madness in my book. I just hope I'm not the bunny sitting in the chair that day.......
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 20:21
  #112 (permalink)  
 
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Hear Hear, Hoss! Well said, and thank you for posting that story.
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Old 16th Nov 2007, 20:22
  #113 (permalink)  
 
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HOS2310 wrote:

Dick, I congratulate you on your efforts thus far
But don't fall for the three card trick and stop now. Keep going because your getting a right royal snowjob!


As for the rest of Hos's post...........


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Old 16th Nov 2007, 21:37
  #114 (permalink)  
 
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Scurvy

Your pessimism is simply breathtaking. At the very least, one person is attempting to do something about the situation instead of sitting back bitching and moaning constantly.

But your are right……..it is time you retired!
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Old 17th Nov 2007, 00:06
  #115 (permalink)  
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Pessimism is built on reality! .. hypocracy and ideology are built on other things!
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As I have said in earlier threads on the FW subject, I (like most others) agree standalone FW is a necessity. My concern is what exactly Dick thinks FW should be, thus the quotes above.
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Having spoken with him this morning about this issue, he has undertaken to spell out here how he sees the future of FW. If it is as suggested, then of course he has my support.
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My pessimism is built on ‘once bitten twice shy’, maybe that is misplaced this time around?! … time will tell!
But your are right……..it is time you retired!
... concensus ..... and happy to oblige!
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Old 17th Nov 2007, 10:31
  #116 (permalink)  
 
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Back from Holidays SDD?

Good to see you back!

J
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Old 17th Nov 2007, 23:59
  #117 (permalink)  
 
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BOM Wx radars and actual diversions apart from obvious lines of cells, have very little to do with each other. Totally useless and displaying the info on the screens would not assisst anyone in any way.
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Old 18th Nov 2007, 07:06
  #118 (permalink)  
 
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Leave the LOEQ guys out of the equation, unless and until they are qualified to do flightwatch.

Airservices passed a couple of LOEQ guys into SAR in the early 90's, no quals, no desire, no nothing.

No wonder that Aviation SAR did not rescue a single pilot out of Bass Strait.

Remember "Search without Rescue"?
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Old 18th Nov 2007, 07:42
  #119 (permalink)  
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Thanks Dave!
.
Check your PM's
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Old 18th Nov 2007, 07:54
  #120 (permalink)  
 
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Dont get carried away yet

Dick,

I was having a coffee with a colleague from my former work today and after talking to them, I decided to have a read of the letter from Airservices Lawyers to your Lawyers.

Sorry to tell you, but from my experience of the Management of Airservices , they are spinning you a line right out of “Yes Minister”. (Their response has 3 elements that could be called a 3 card trick!)

It is a SOP for before any review is started that one already has determined the result of the review. It is pointless to have the result uncontrolled.

Any review will validate what Airservices has have already done (and continue to do), else they will have to recant their stance thus far, and this would never do.

1. On the question of safety. This comes back to the question of why FIS was established external to traffic (ATC) as part of the NAS architecture in the first place? Answer: To make it all (the ATS system) safer/better.

Putting FIS back to Traffic (ATC) when they are busy makes it less safe. Civilair certainly understands it and I reckon blind Freddy can see it too.

One shouldn’t need to make the safety need in an adversarial way, but it will probably work out that the side with the cleverest spin doctors (Airservices) will be uppermost. E.g Look at the comments about the figures they have quoted already on the number of calls per day.

§ I used to work on the Flightwatch consoles and I can tell you, we had hundreds of contacts per day. These contacts and other tasks made the operator very busy at times, e.g. processing electronic data associated with Sartimes, taking phone and intercom calls (yes phones on an air-ground console) that the pilot never hears and then at the same time taking the radio calls.

§ And the radio calls were not just for weather briefings on a specific location. The calls were for diversions, delays, amendments to Flight Plans and occasionally to pass a company message such as an ETA and a fuel requirement. I doubt that they counted these.

§ I always felt that after the in-flight weather information that I passed, (being the most important after traffic information) that the pilots really appreciated it when I was able to give that little bit of service, especially if they were looking at alternatives when the weather was crappy. And despite my masters objections – I has happy for it to be “free”.

2. On the External Review. I think you will really need to use your good auspices with the next government to get the right people on the review, and to get good terms of reference. There is still a big job of work for you here.

3. On the “hold of further transition” pending the review outcome.

The hold is no big deal to get excited over - I understand that the ghosting was planned to end on 20 Dec. One would assume that the ghosting will continue until the review is sorted. Given possible new government, new minister, low priority, XMAS close down of Airservices – it will be months away unless you or RAPACs can put a fire under Airservices/.DOTARS in the meantime.

I understand that the next RAPAC is South Queensland at Archerfield on 20th November. I’m sure you can find the coordinator’s contact from the CASA website.

The AusFIC needs to keep only one person per day on the roster, weekdays only - to keep the reduced hours that they have been doing since 27 Sep. Flightwatch VHF merges onto the HF consoles outside core daytime hours. So do not think that all the staff have gone and it can not continue or even be rolled back to full service. It can, but it is an ask of the remaining staff.

I understand that if you really pushed for it, there is scope to make a full roll back of external Fightwatch on VHF except for one Frequency that was changed to ATC about a week ago. I think this rollback could be achieved very quickly with minimal fuss as the facilities are still there and (barely) enough staff to do it. There is still a couple more to take their redundancy in the next few months.

On the morale of the remaining AusFIC staff, I guess most of them are appalled at the whole thing, but their dedication to doing overtime to keep it going is amazing. There have been only a handful of times that Flightwatch on VHF has not been available due to a shortage of staff. Contrast this with the number of occasions of TIBA because ATC staff have not been available.

Where are we at today? From what I understand, in the meantime, in absence of advice to the contrary – Pilots still being told by those ghosting the Flightwatch VHF that the service is soon to be no longer available as standalone.

On the assertion by Airservices that notice would be provided to industry that the remaining “15%” of the transition is deferred, - I understand that at the time of writing there are no specific NOTAM or corrections to the AIPSUP yet.

Another thing. The cut of 19 staff in AusFIC was understood to be part of overall cuts of 200 in ATC during 2007 as part of the efficiency gain delivered by Service Delivery Environments (SDE). In reality, this cut of controllers was stymied and indeed 30 controllers were recruited from overseas. One might ask what gives here? But that would be a whole new issue for you to get your teeth into!

And a final observation. 100% safety would be achieved if no one flew. Pilots make a choice to fly and it is a calculated risk underpinned by good training, good maintenance and Air Traffic Services. The last is the responsibility of Airservices and is not up to the individual pax/pilot. IF these changes go ahead, that balance changes too.

AusFICer
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