reports: Air traffic control: the cleaner will talk you down

A grumpy air traffic controller writes:

Further to the story last week about the controllers occupying consoles they are not endorsed for; here is the text from the TLI (temporary local instruction) addressing the issue. Also see here for additional commentary:


To facilitate short breaks from an active console or position, a supervisor or Manager may approve a person who holds an Air Traffic Controller licence and who holds a valid Class 3 Medical Certificate, but who is not currently endorsed for the position/function, to: (a) maintain a listening watch at the relevant console or position; and/or (b) relay to an aircraft, verbatim recorded instructions issued by an appropriately endorsed controller for that console or position.

To me, what this is designed to allow is for a Tower controller to be called down and asked to sit in front of a console (could be either radar or procedural) that he has never seen before and read from a bunch of flip-cards. What could possibly get better than effectively asking the cleaner to do ATC? Well, read on:


Additional requirement and/or limitations:

  1. As a guide, a "short break" would not be expected to exceed 20 minutes. Timing... needs to take into account of pending activity and the... break should... be delayed until a time of little or no expected activity.
  2. A normal... HO/TO is to be conducted prior to the endorsed controller vacating the position and when the endorsed controller returns to the position. Verbatim instructions from the endorsed controller shall be recorded in the same way that the HO/TO is recorded. The endorsed controller shall also advise what Eurocat inputs are allowed in this handover. All instructions shall be recorded on a scratch pad for use by the non endorsed controller.
  3. The endorsed controller must advise adjacent units that he/she is vacating the position and again when he/she returns.
  4. The endorsed controller must be on call to return to to the console.
  5. In the absence of specific instructions to be passed from the endorsed controller ... a person maintaining a listening watch must not initiate communication and must limit replies to phrases such as STANDBY or WILL ADVISE, and
  6. The person maintaining the listening watch must not provide any clearances or instructions to aircraft (except as permitted in (b) above) unless there is a threat to the safety of air navigation; but
  7. The person to whom the endorsed controller issued the handover in 3 above: *Is permitted to provide a flight information service; and *Is expected to respond to issues affecting the imminent safety of air navigation.
  8. Any situation which does not constitute an immediate compromise to the safety of air navigation must be dealt with in accordance with clauses 5 and 6 above and must be resolved and/or handled by the endorsed controller. All transmissions received shall be recorded on the scratch pad noting time, call sign and response. A specific handover and takeover is to be conducted prior tot he endorsed controller resuming the position. The ECS ML SY ALM's are happy to provide a briefing one on one to the TMA staff.