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Darwin ATC. Nothing to see here, move along

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Darwin ATC. Nothing to see here, move along

Old 3rd Oct 2014, 22:09
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Darwin ATC. Nothing to see here, move along

I have always been extremely watchful flying into and out of this place and this example explains why. Be careful up north.
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Old 3rd Oct 2014, 23:08
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User Beware - Who is really watching the shop??

Yes RENURPP most disturbing report in oh so many ways, not the least being that this investigation and final report took 2 years to complete...

Ben Sandilands seems to be the only one (see my post here), of the aviation media fraternity, that can not only see the enormity of this incident but also dares to shine a light into the murkiness of what lies within a very ugly aviation safety framework (which unfortunately includes the transport safety watchdog themselves..) in this country...

Some of the comments from the Planetalking article are well worth regurgitating.., especially this one from Geoff (in plain English) for a better understanding of the current dysfunction of ATC civil vs ADF:

Posted October 3, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

ghostwhowalks – this was suggested to defence way back when the TAAATS system was being introduced by the then CAA. They were also offered the TAAATS system and space in the two centres then being built in Melbourne and Brisbane for their controllers. They knocked back both.
Dan Dair – Defence asserts that the RAAF training does match civilian training and that their controllers are issued with “ICAO” ATC licences. (Airservices controllers are issued with CASA ATC Licences.) There can be no “requirement” for military ATC to be equipped to meet civilian standards because CASA has no jurisdiction over the RAAF. (For instance their pilots fly in civilian controlled airspace but they do not have civilian pilot qualifications)

Confirmed sceptic – your comment confirms what I have been told about military ATC career progression. They send the most junior ATCs with only Tower training to the joint-user bases to gain experience with civilian traffic. These ATCs are then given approach control training on the same bases before being posted to more intensive military jobs such as Williamstown and Pearce. They also change jobs every 2 to 2 1/2 years. Hence Darwin controllers probably have very little experience.

Airservices tends, although there will be exceptions, to train controllers on en-route sectors where the traffic is cruising, at steady speeds, and there is usually strategic separation being applied. (Meaning you get time to plan what you are going to do next). Moving to approach control or a Tower usually comes later. Also Civilian controllers do not move around much so become specialists at the job they are doing.

I personally subscribe to the US and UK practice where miltary ATC only staff military bases. That is not to say that as a civilian pilot you cannot fly into a military base, it will not however be cloaked with civilian airspace categories (A,C,D, and E) giving the impression that it is a CASA regulated environment. Adopting US/UK practice would also remove the ridiculous amounts of Restricted airspace that surround our major population centres for the use of an air force with less aircraft than the US Marine Corps. (Nothing derogatory intended, it is a fine air force. It is only the airspace arrangements I am criticising)

On a final note, sadly there does not seem to be a move to put anyone on the CASA Board with civilian ATC operations experience. CASA do not just regulate pilots and airlines. I would volunteer but the phone never rings!
And a choccy frog award to comet's, slightly tongue in cheek.., observations about this rather bizarre pic...


Posted October 3, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

That image of Darwin’s ATC console, at the top of this article, is bizarre.
It looks like it’s operating out of a farm shed. Scroll back up the page and take another look.

Look at the uneven corrugated iron walls. Look at the crude portable metal computer stands that hold up crucial monitors (eg the long-range and weather displays).

There’s even a thermometer glued to the main console. What’s that there for? If it’s to measure the temperature of the computers, then an automated alarm would be more appropriate. It must be there to measure the room temperature for the staff. Note that drinks are allowed to sit on the main console (spill risk).

There are rolls of paper and piles of paper stored on the upper air vents of the console, above what look like cathode-ray monitors. This would block the air vents, as well as cause a fire risk.

It’s quite amazing that ATC can look like it’s being run inside a chook shed.
IMO this is a rather apt pic to where aviation safety sits in the pecking order of concerns for the miniscule, the government and the MSM in Oz...


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Old 4th Oct 2014, 00:16
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Darwin ATC. Nothing to see here, move along

Here we go, another Military ATC bashing thread by another bunch of know it all civvies wanting to steal jobs for themselves.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 00:32
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Here we go, another Military ATC bashing thread by another bunch of know it all civvies wanting to steal jobs for themselves
Well in the fair dinkum department if military ATC can't cut the mustard for whatever reason the jobs should go to the civies. It is going to be pretty bad if Military ATC caused an accident between two commercial operators with all these other incidents on the record.

It would be interesting to see a incident/traffic handled ratio between the two systems.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 00:43
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And for balance, from the same Sandiland's Weblog
  1. Comparing professional military air traffic controllers to terrorists and fools is just absurd, in the most extreme way. Ben, you’re on track again to poll strongly in the annual ‘Australia’s Worst Journalist’ Award, to which you are a consistent contender. Well done, blogger.
    You got to feel for these young ATCs, ADATS (AIR 5186) was commissioned in 2000, 59 months late and not fully integrated with the civilian ATC system, and it seems like it still isn’t. What’s worse, is that Defence planned to replace ADATS under AIR 5431 in 2010-12, promising a system that was nationally integrated. Meanwhile, traffic has increased, and with the elimination of personnel (Flight Data Operators) to assist in managing the integration issues, these ATCs are being set-up for failure. I guess it’s cheaper to flog your horse harder than buy a new plough, and you get more votes buying Super Hornets than ATC Computer Systems.
    ghostwhowalksnz – Up at 5:34am advising the world how to be more Kiwi. Bless your woolly socks.
    Dan Dair – Great points, but with standard ATC licenses, should bring standard ATC pay scales. But then you get retention issues, and degrade military experience levels.
    Confirmed Sceptic – You were cleared for take-off with an amended STAR? You want to try that story again? Holding for 2 minutes? Did they not know who you were?
    ianjohnno – Maybe instead of inhibiting deletion of the emails, they could just fix the military system? You don’t deal with these issues on the civilian system.
    julius grafton – Mate, you have been holding onto that grudge for 15 years, it must feel good to finally talk about it.
    comet – Some very good observations there, it certainly doesn’t look like Melbourne Approach. Google ‘TAAATS’ for a comparison. Worlds apart.
    by ValiantUsher on Oct 3, 2014 at 7:03 pm
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 01:29
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VH-UFO, if you can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen/Darwin!

ATC is appalling in the Darwin terminal area. In fact it is the worst I have come across in my flying(destinations shrinking by the day) throughout the world. The problem seems to lie in that nobody, within the Darwin ATC, will acknowledge there is a problem. The UFO's reply is the typically defensive approach to this criticism, they take it personally, rather than acknowledging the problem and applying a fix. If you can't see that it is in need of a fix then you are also a part of the problem.

UFO, you might think we are being a bit harsh, but if you want to know, Darwin is the one place that pilots consistently brief/remind each other that ATC is a threat. It is of no coincidence that the majority of my and others ATC war stories come from Darwin.

It is time to fix the problem.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 02:01
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Darwin is the one place that pilots consistently brief/remind each other that ATC is a threat
What he said.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 03:40
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And another thing, UFO...who is serving whom in your world? In my world you exist to serve us. Time for some serious civilian oversight.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 04:00
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My memory might be failing me, but that pic doesn't look like DN Approach when I last visited.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 05:44
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Darwin ATC. Nothing to see here, move along

Thats exactly right Compressor.

But some fools will grab hold of anything and bash the hell out of individuals and organisations and backstab to suit there own agenda because the poor dear's may have once been vectored a couple of miles off track or been told to reduce speed and not got their own way.

If you have such a problem with Darwin ATC, file those ASOR'S, bet you haven't though.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 06:03
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If you have such a problem with Darwin ATC, file those ASOR'S, bet you haven't though.
People do however it all gets bogged down in government bureaucracy and blame shifting and nothing changes.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 06:28
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This is not just Darwin / ATC in Townsville also pose a threat to Aviation
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 08:53
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Another vote for change with regards to Darwin ATC.

Having operated in various parts of the world, I have the same conclusion: DN ATC is a threat that should be briefed for, only for the reason that they are incompetent.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 09:04
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My memory might be failing me, but that pic doesn't look like DN Approach when I last visited.
You may well be correct, however the ATSB indicates the source of the photo as the DOD.

UFO, I see no comments bashing the hell out of any individual with one exception, post #10, and that is your post.
As for wanting your job, I suspect there are more RAAF guys applying for AsA positions than vice versa.

Have you read the report and are you able to dispute any of the facts? Believe it or not this was a serious matter, thank god for TCAS and an observant couple of flight crews.

Over the last 25 years I have submitted multiple, and I mean multiple safety reports regarding Darwin ATC. I am sad to say I see absolutely to reason to continue doing so unless it is a serious incident and will be followed up seriously by an external (To RAAF) organisation.

Always brief Darwin ATC as a threat! Its not a joke.

Last edited by RENURPP; 4th Oct 2014 at 10:29.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 09:28
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Darwin is the only place outside of Indonesia where I often scratch my head.

The classic used to be 'cancel speed above and below, maintain max speed to the field, track direct for a five mile final, leaving 3000 contact tower on xxx. When contacting tower, xxx number 2 follow the Cessna 206 on a five mile final.

Always causees a flurry of flaps, gear and speed brake followed by the raised eyebrows

Got to love the tower party though
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 13:18
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I don't work with the higher workload frequencies of DRW ATC, but, with my limited interactions on GND I actually find them quite accommodating, co-operative and forgiving with my daily towing activities.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 13:27
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They seem to be a little more relaxed and practical.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 20:53
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I think, having spent a few 3 month periods flying out of DRW that the costs to a business of operating into the DRW ATC environment is a disgrace. The extra track miles, holds and vectors around nothing in visual conditions, just so the RAAF can get some free practice, is a significant cost penalty. I once told someone in Vincent management that he should invoice the RAAF for training costs. Pity they didn't, might still be in the air!
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 21:34
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I don't necessarily agree with the personal attacks nor the generalised smears on the ADF ...........


I have to admit the from my seat there is a genuine concern of "what the hell are they going to throw at us today" frame of thought when I sign on for a Darwin, Townsville or Williamtown pairing.

I don't speak for the whole of my company but I have yet to fly with a FO or another Captain who does not have the same uneasy feelings as I.

For heavens sake it has taken the year 2014 to arrive just to get an ATIS at Williamtown. My belief is that this has only occurred because our fleet of 737NG's were being delivered with no ADF's hence no ability to pick up the ATIS.

For the ADF apologists .....

Why is the very obvious chorus of concerns just the meanderings of a group of pilots with an agenda or an axe to grind?

Why is it that we should have to submit reports for the very obvious inefficiencies that occur on a daily basis?

Is this what modern aviation has now become?

Perhaps, just perhaps there may in fact be a problem.

Trouble is nobody is listening.
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Old 4th Oct 2014, 22:59
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Are you chappies putting reports in or just whinging and whining as has become the Australian custom?
To answer your question Jack:

Because Australia had become an embarrassing, red tape ridden, bureaucratic joke when it comes to doing business.
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