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PER ATC - Worst in Australia?

Old 12th Aug 2011, 08:20
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Okay, it's been a year since I worked in the area sectors but I am sure it hasn't changed that much.

Firstly, the movement rate depends on the runways and the met conditions. Best case is 21/24 VMC, then it's 26 arrivals an hour based on gaps of 2-2-3. The 3 at the end is for a departure so theoretical movement rate is 35/36 an hour. Given it's now winter there, I imagine there's been a few instrument approach periods. Then, for 03 or 21, it's blanket 3 mins between arrivals. Don't ask about 06/24 only VMC or IMC, it's a nightmare scenario for the sequence.

That might not sound like much but this is what the flow bases his plan on and allows aircraft to call approach and be given speeds at worst; very, very rarely are you guys vectored around by approach to achieve the sequence because the delay is almost wholly absorbed by the area guys. Contrast that to here in the sandpit where we hold to give Dubai 20nm between arrivals and they still get vectored an extra 10+ track miles to get the sequence right. Which is better: flow planning a tighter sequence and approach having to fix it with vectors or almost all the delay being absorbed by area?

The NOC PTL thing is supposed to smooth the peaks of traffic; if there are still peaks that require holding, either the NOC has gotten it wrong or the traffic hasn't followed their times. Sometimes the NOC is going to get it wrong - plan on 21/24V but it ends up being 03I - 6 less planes an hour means you guys are going to do some circle work. My guess is that it is mostly people not abiding by their PTL and there is nothing the area guys can do about that. The person who can do something is the flow - if they have the list and are given the power to make queue jumpers (hate that description) stick to their PTL, things will change inside a week. Right now, they don't have that power. The flow has to sequence based on what they get presented with, not what the NOC in CB has decided is the order. Get AsA to change that, and your lives improve significantly.

lk, I have no knowledge of the situation you describe but I always trained my kiddies to look at the sequence as a whole and not just what the flow has put in the particular aircraft. Sometimes it's hard to have the time to do that - Sunday evening can be that sort of time if they are short of staff. All I can ask is please do not get rude or aggressive on the phone - I know controllers who do and think it is the height of unprofessionalism.

As to the ATIS, a while ago, the book was changed and we got told that we were to only advise that the ATIS had changed, not what the changes were. As always with things of this level, some stick strictly to the book, others keep doing what they have always done. That's all it is.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 09:59
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If the ATCOs cannot enforce a PTL the system fails. They can enforce a feeder fix time so why not a PTL?
Some flow controllers do sometimes, but it can make the situation worse. I recently had a turboprop given a 20 min hold, because they were about 40 mins early. Then;

a/c - we only have 15 mins holding fuel
atc - roger, is JT suitable?
a/c - negative
atc - advise alternate
a/c - we are not carrying an alternate
atc - we can only bring you in early if you declare fuel emergency
a/c - we are not declaring fuel emergency
atc - ????

I do agree though that the PTL should be abandoned. Even with the best intentions, there seem to be valid operational reasons for airlines ignoring them. Also, there is no way anybody roughly on time should get 40+ mins of holding (which is far from unusual), but we don't seem to have the will or resources to go back over each sequence to establish what went wrong. Its no consolation to crews, but I can assure you its not much fun working your behind off all shift and knowing the service provided is rubbish.

My advice, don't complain on here, don't complain on frequency, don't even bother phoning in afterwards. Get you companies to complain, and the higher the better.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 10:27
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Yeah I don't think we should be blaming individual ATCs here. The system is far from perfect, and Perth is the farthest from perfect in a bunch of far from perfects! They're just doing what the system tells them to do.

And if you reckon Perth arrivals is bad, don't get me started on the terminal, and the planning of the airport layout & works!!

I have cringed on a couple of occasions with skippers who are getting way too old and grumpy for this job, and have said "I should give them a serve" while we're trundling in on descent speeding up & slowing down. It's not going to achieve anything except convince him you're a tosser (which may be approximating the truth in some cases). Just chill. He's doing what his book tells him to do, just as Alan Joyce's book tells us not to care if we're more than 15 minutes late, don't have anywhere near enough meals, or don't have a working IFE.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 11:06
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Even with the best intentions, there seem to be valid operational reasons for airlines ignoring them
Its called 'Schedule'.

I often hear people saying ATS stands fo ATService, which is true. We (airline/charter) are also providing a service. A service to our customers, the passangers. If our 'schedule' states we will have them returning to Perth to their homes, loved ones, connecting flights or what ever the case may be, then it is reasonable for them to assume (and make arrangements) based on that scheduled arrival time. That is OUR service. And it is OUR reputation that gets stained. I cant tell you how many times (and its getting more frequent) that I hear pax complaining that "your airlines crap. You never run on time", all because we delay on the ground to wait for our PTL time. We make appologetic PAs, and you can rest assure that I blame it fairly and squarly on WAC and not ATC, but the punters aren't interested in excuses.

Our average ground delay yesterday was 34 mins (and that was after a 30 min taxi delay to depart Perth), but often our ground delay is 1 hour. A 1 hour ground delay for a 1.5 hr to 2 hour flight. Thats just plain rubbish. The system (although not the fault of ATC front liners) promotes in my opinion PTL breakers, and I dont blame them one little bit either.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 12:04
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Like most (now privatised) airports in Australia, or roads or rail - it is lack of infrastructure investment
Your dead right here. The problem doesnt start at the 21 holding point. The problem starts 5km further down the Tonkin HWY, Leach HWY, Great Eastern HWY or any other road leading into the airport.
Then you have insufficient Check-in counters, a joke of security (who seem more concerned about getting there 50% of crew quota), and a departure lounge that is being increased in size to cater for the pax numbers of 2 years ago, and not now or future growth.
The whole airport is an embarrasing joke.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 13:19
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Monople - I don't disagree with anything you said, which is why I think its time to scrap PTL's, but
If our 'schedule' states we will have them returning to Perth
As an airline you are providing a service that relies on a third party, finite resource, RWY space. A travel agent can't sell more tickets than there are seats on your plane, and we can't have 40+ arrivals in one hour. Your schedule has to be realistic, and collectively, airlines are making promises that cannot be kept. Which was the point of PTL's, to make the schedules possible by limiting demand to capacity.
A 1 hour ground delay for a 1.5 hr to 2 hour flight. Thats just plain rubbish.
The length of the flight doesn't factor (maybe it should?) For example, 30 scheduled arrivals in a one hour period, single RWY ILS approaches (20 arrivals an hour) and you are number 30, scheduled to land at 0100. At 0100, only 20 of the 30 have landed, leaving 10 to go at 3 minutes each, you get a half hour delay. Now lets say its 40 scheduled (not uncommon), you've got an hour, 45 scheduled and its 75 minutes. It adds up very quickly.

Maybe we need to go a step further. Rather than airlines submitting their schedules each night as a wish list, and then getting a ground delay, maybe slots need to be allocated on a more strategic level, i.e. when the schedules are being written, or monthly or something.

Now in a sensible world, capacity would be increased to meet demand, but I think we can assume thats not gong to happen. It would be an interesting exercise to work out how much delays cost the airlines and then work out what you cold get by spending the same upgraging the airport.

The one grain of comfort in all this is that while the service may be rubbish, no one's complaining about safety.

Last edited by Nautilus Blue; 12th Aug 2011 at 14:18.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 16:06
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Spread the FIFO ops over 7 days rather than mid-week clusters. Makes better use of the finite resources - terminals, taxiways, runways, airspace and aircraft.
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 16:40
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That is OUR service. And it is OUR reputation that gets stained.
But what can the operational ATC do to give you a better service? Everyone wants the most efficient service, nobody wants to be number two in a dead heat. "It's about the runways - stupid" Is a quote often attributed to ATC efficiency. In Australia it is extremely rare for airspace to reach capacity unlike Europe or the US (except when they are short staffed), but it is often common for the runway requirement rate to exceed capacity.

PTLs are only as good as the compliance. Similarly CTMS times are only as good as the compliance. A small operator into Sydney from regional destinations was caught, when they eventually audited the CTMS program, of intentional and deliberate non-compliance (stated as company policy-internally)... This made the original CTMS seems to be totally flawed. Nobody could understand it such a simple concept cocked up all the time.... The PTLs assigned and/or ground delay times are likely not communicated with the operational ATCs... Then the above mentioned scenarios about only having the 'standard or notified' holding fuel means instant bump up the queue, delaying those otherwise complying or simply 'arriving after' the cheater. Also as mentioned above if the NOC is involved then expect it to be cocked up... Harsh but unfortunately true if the rumors are to be believed.

The same applies to a certain "cheap" Irish carrier who regularly file FL280 to avoid airway delay times in Europe and as soon as they are airborne they ask for FL370. The sector that has the congestion may be 10+ sectors ahead so they get what they want, but it causes problems further down the line. We had advice that we couldn't give any level to them if they didn't plan it because of issues 7 countries away... But most controllers say happy days up you go...

Note the other thread about SY and political interference - CAPTHREAT... Sydney operates somewhere between 25 and 50 movements below capacity in VMC essentially due to noise management. Some LTOP modes are only allowed to be changed when delays exceed a certain cut off figure... This is in the name of service too... Just not to the flying punters/drivers...

FIFO schedules are massive contributors to the bottle necks, but not the only cause. The WA population is still climbing so it's likely to get worse not better. More seats per movement (bigger a/c) will improve things, but how likely is that?
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 23:51
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OK Agreed we should be playing the ball not the man. However ASA are allegedly the "service" provider therefore I think the title is warranted. This rant is not about the girls and boys at the ATC desks but about the woeful state of the sysytem.

Get this. Out and about last night hear EK420 being given holding instructions "for the sequence" for the love of dog, he created the sequence when he left DXB 10+ hours earlier (and I bet his ETA didn't vary by more than a minute).

As for my own experience. Departed to allow us to arrive at PTL +/- a couple of minutes. RWY 21 WX Severe fine. and still coped 20 mins slow down. Just seems to be the norm.

If this is indicative of the competence of NOC/ASA..... Dog help and preserve us.

Think the pitiful infrastructure is worthy of another thread "standby for holding instructions"
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Old 12th Aug 2011, 23:59
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WAC to sell slots at PER

Here's a corker. Heard on the grapevine yesterday that the "brains trust" at WAC have been examining the Gatwick model with regard to slot allocation and charging. Oh goody more revenue from those hapless flyers...
.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 01:08
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Hi All.

In regard to infrastructure:

Gatwick Airport:

http://www.nobleair.com/hubs/lgw/charts/aeradd1.gif

How many high speed taxiways?

Perth Airport:

http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/...PHAD01-127.pdf

How many high speed taxiways?

The brains trust at WAC surely have been investigating Gatwick. But no, I dont think they have investigated the difference in infrastructure between the two ports....

Regards.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 01:12
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a service that relies on a third party, finite resource, RWY space
NB, I think most of us understand that, and that's why most of us don't blame the guys/girls on the other end of the radio. Although I admit that the questioning sometimes sounds a little unjust.

Maybe we need to go a step further. Rather than airlines submitting their schedules each night as a wish list
Maybe it could be staggered by issuing departure slots ex Perth the night before. The current taxi system is also cheated. If the 'system' knows we are arriving, surely it could also know when we depart. I have hard that the morning rush (between 6 and 8) is at around 53 movements an hour. On the current single Rwy op, thats a higher rate than Gatwick.....

It would be an interesting exercise to work out how much delays cost the airlines and then work out what you cold get by spending the same upgraging the airport.
Im sure if the right people asked, every company will be able to produce the costs. I believe WAC actually did ask for this in the last meeting. I would be interested in knowing the results too.

Spread the FIFO ops over 7 days rather than mid-week clusters
missy, your preaching to the preachers.

But what can the operational ATC do to give you a better service? Everyone wants the most efficient service, nobody wants to be number two in a dead heat
Blockla, probably nothing, but as I said above, most people understand this. Based on NBs figures above, anyone scheduled on the tail end of the sequence, will always be shafted by at least an hour. Maybe this will eventually be enough for the Mining companies to change the schedule out of Perth by an hour. Surely that will relieve the system a bit. But in any case, I would be happy to be number 2 or 3 or 4
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 01:23
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direct.no.speed/Blockla - Jim Shoos has a point though. The cause of the delays are out of our hands, but how we deal with them isn't.
Departed to allow us to arrive at PTL +/- a couple of minutes. RWY 21 WX Severe fine. and still coped 20 mins slow down.
We can't blame that on the NOC or WAC or the airlines, that is an ATC problem. If we don't have the willpower/resources/ability to enforce the PTL system, then it should be withdrawn.

kimberleyEx - I think the people running WAC know all they need to know i.e Gatwick has competition, PH doesn't. WAC does not exist to provide a service, it exists to make money.

Monopole - what I was getting at was that collectively, the airlines schedule their ops on the assumption that RWY space is infinite. Maybe it would be worth putting a rider on the schedules like "Between #### and #### arrivals in to Perth may experience delays up to one hour due airport capacity shortfall" and see how the WAC like it!
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 01:31
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WAC is currently trying to build the infrastructure that they needed for 2007! The final result is going to be a patch-work of knee jerk short term fixes to a critical problem. Opportunities have been missed to build a few high speed exits - SY is an example where they can be built in a narrow corridor of land.

The slot time process is flawed, as is the PTL - however what alternatives are being proposed? If your colleagues are rorting the system, then that is is an issue for you take up with them - not ATC.

The underlying issue is that you move from a 3nm standard near Perth, through a 5nm standard and upwards as you get further away. You can not compare it to the Radar J curve that exists on the east coast.

Why don't all operators have ADS-B? Why don't pilots push for their companies to install to allow greater flexibility? They don't want to pay the money, but the cumulative cost of the delays and holding hasn't been taken into account.

The problems are systemic and are borne of neglect and buck passing. Sadly that is a by product of the cost recovery model and 'profit at all costs' mgmt mentality that is todays norm.

Pilots bagging ATC's or vice versa is counter productive. Pressure needs to be put on the companies and corporations upwards to government. Unfortunately the federal government is a car crash and can not be counted on for anything resembling help or leadership.

I still do not understand why Perth based operators have not been united in their attack on WAC? Why they have not been untied in their attempts to lobby government (particularly one Senator X who is aviation friendly).

The people operating the system at that level love the anti-ATC or anti-pilot threads like this as it defers attention away from them. As previously stated, play the ball not the man.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 01:39
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The big problem with these PTL's is that we can't often make them on return to PER as we were delay 30 - 60 minutes off STD due to the morning taxi slot times.

We have two options the government regulates and tells FIFO that they cannot all come and go at the same time or a substantial amount of Julia's mining tax gets spent on upgrading EVERYTHING at and around Perth.

I don't think it's fair to tell FIFO that they can't come and go when they want. That's akin to telling the work force in Perth CBD that they can no longer all drive to and from the city in peak hour. So that leaves a massive infrastructure upgrade.

First and foremost a parallel runway for 21/03 (and none of the crap about WAC already having sold all the land, have a look down next time you fly over, the only thing in the way is a big car park and some go cart track). This may seem a bit pie in the sky, however I don't think it would be hard to get the majority of politicians on side as they all do a lot of flying and would get caught up in this holding on a regular basis.

At the same time as this a major rework of the taxi ways as to incorporate high speed taxiways, on the existing runways. I appreciate that this would cost a large fortune however it's nothing compared to the dollars FIFO are pulling out of the ground and it's them that are causing this massive spike in demand at PER so make some good use of this mining tax.

There are already plans to upgrade all the road intersections around PER. So at least we will be able to get to the airport so we can hurry up and wait.

Finally enough is enough. Pearce was fine back in the day, but now it's ridiculous. Their airspace needs to be the same size as Jandakot's and the can have a little corridor to Gingin and another out to their airspace over the ocean. Get rid of all that airspace near to the north of Pearce. We are not a war. When we are they can have whatever they want. There's plenty of room to train up at Learmonth if they want to do it over land. If they ever need to defend anything in the country they are going to be flying out of that base looking after our gas so why not get used to the place while you are training! I have a lot or respect RAAF but they don't have and real schedule it doesn't matter when and where their training happens.

Finally once we actually have a world class airport we match the airspace to is so we can have realistic number of arrivals and departures per hour.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 01:44
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Nauticlus Blue;

Can't agree with you more!! For that reason alone, it is a moot point debating all of this. WAC arn't interested in providing a service. More about $$

Flightfocus:

Reference ADS-B. I believe all the modern Airlines (E-190, B737NG, Airbus A320/330) are now standard with ADS-B.

The Aviation white paper has a completion date for the fitment of ADS-B. Dec 2013 sounds Correct.

In the case of the Fokker 100 (Main type of FIFO jet at Perth). Fokker sevices have announced this year a integrated GNSS fitment to include ADS-B or a standalone one. In the case of Skywest & Alliance (prob network as well), due to the White papaer mandate, these operators are required to fit it. Unfortunateley, it takes time to fit the fleets (16 apprx F100 at Perth). So not a case of not wanting to fit it.

I think Boeing are already offering a Mod for their B717. So wouldnt be surprised to see Cobham/QF link fitting it too. Same for the 146.

The benefits of ADS-B are there, and all oerators are aware of it, its just not a quick installation. Not wanting to spend $.

Cheers.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 02:08
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The big problem with these PTL's is that we can't often make them on return to PER as we were delay 30 - 60 minutes off STD due to the morning taxi slot times.
Now as an ATC if find that massively embarrassing, we've given someone an instruction and then made it impossible to comply!

The slot time process is flawed, as is the PTL - however what alternatives are being proposed? If your colleagues are rorting the system, then that is is an issue for you take up with them - not ATC.
I disagree. Its up to us to enforce them, or as I said, scrap it altogether.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 02:45
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The NOC is endemic of what's going on in ASA. Just another useless bit of window dressing and empire building. Ask any OM in Melbourne what they think of them, what purpose they serve and what value is added to YOUR ATC service.

It all looks nice and pretty when you show an airline manager through there though doesn't it? Smoke and mirrors.

When ATC is resourced properly, (core & mature staffing is the new buzz word) movement rates are taken out of politicians hands and airports and airways systems are considered as national infrastructure, (not a cash cow for an investment bank with dubious business values) then AND ONLY THEN will you get the service you pay for.

ATC's are heartily sick and tired of this type of interference from people and managers who've never been an ATC or who just couldn't cut it at the console. Most of us now just rock up, do the job, cop your insults and shake our heads at the monumental incompetence that has infiltrated our day to day working lives.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 02:59
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Before I lose those with a short attention span
IT IS ABOUT RUNWAY CAPACITY

You can believe whatever you like but if you donít change runway capacity the level of delays will continue.
Runway capacity is determined by a bundle of things. Normally in visual conditions runway 21 and 24 for arrivals the arrival rate is set at 26 per hour. This reduces to 20 an hour for EIA for most runway combinations. There are other rates depending on runway configuration. Currently the arrival rate is 18 per hour in all conditions because of the works limiting taxiway availability. I have heard that works will limit arrival rates until at least December 2012.

The Flow at Perth applies priorities as per AIP which effectively means next in line gets the next landing time. There are no agreed rules about delaying an aircraft to the NOC delivered time. If pilots want aircraft delayed until their NOC time you (yes you) will have to organise those business rules with Airservices and the other operators. While you are there you may come up with a rule for those that are late.

When the new CDM system comes in the Flow can delay a non-compliant aircraft, up until the promulgated holding. So even with the new rules a pilot who disregards a NOC time may still push into the queue. These are the incoming agreed business rules.

The idea that the lack of ADSB due aircraft equipment outside radar coverage is I believe a furphy introduced by WAC to take some of the heat off them. The radar sectors outside 36nm Perth accept out bound aircraft at the radar standard (5nm) so no ADSB problem there. The departures controller releases aircraft in the morning push as fast as the tower can launch them. This part of the process is especially efficient if successive aircraft are on different SIDs, so no ADSB delay there. Inbound I expect the controllers trying to get aircraft in the air out of Tom Price etc would love to have more aircraft fitted with ADSB, but getting more aircraft airborne quicker here will lead to more airborne holding.

Therefore the ways to reduce airborne holding is to increase the runway capacity, this is build more runways; or reduce the number of aircraft, that is use bigger ones; or spread out the traffic to the runway capacity. Places such as have a similar single runway capacity to Perth. High speed taxiways help with runway occupancy but most of the benefit is getting departures away between successive arrivals. The parallel taxiways at Perth I understand are too close to the runways to allow for high speed taxiways.

So what can be done?
The blame shifting needs to end and the weakest point or the point most able to give a real increase in capacity needs to be addressed. This solution also probably has the longest introduction time frame which is why progress should start now. I have a long handled shovel and am willing to help. Maybe WAC could organise a good old fashioned busy bee.

What will happen?
I expect the blame shifting will continue. Which will mean calls to 8620 by pilots wanting to whinge to someone and with what ATC can do to answer your problems you may as well ring your mum. I expect some of the worldís best pilots like Jim Shoos will post in places that Iím one of the worst ATCs in Australia. Iíve had thirty years of the best telling me Iím the worst so Iíve made up a badge.

And pilots will continue to disregard one of the things introduced to reduce holding and as there are more planes everyday holding will get longer and longer. I trust you all have a plan as to where you are going to land when the weather turns bad or there is a disabled aircraft at Perth and places like Pearce are not available due works.
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Old 13th Aug 2011, 03:17
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Pilot folks explain this to me. Last Wednesday night in a 2 hour period, 24 of the 48 domestic aircraft were over 25 minutes early for their PTL's when they departed. Surely if the PTL system is ever going to have a hope of working then the pilots need to collectively help by departing at the correct time. As an ATC we could penalise one or two offenders each hour to enforce the times, but how are we ever supposed to penalise half of the inbound aircraft?
As an ATC I'm getting pretty sick of copping lip from pilots when they receive a delay only to point out to them that they departed an hour early for their PTL. Changes their tone pretty quickly.
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