The Australian Media is continuing to take a keen interest in the increasing number of Airspace closures due to a lack of Air Traffic Controllers.
This follows the closures over the last couple of weeks of Perth Terminal Control Unit, and Melbourne Tower.
Today online journal Crikey noted some more recent closures:
Last night Canberra Terminal Airspace was closed by way of a NOTICE TO AIRMEN or NOTAM; this was due to staff shortages on the "CENTRAL HIGH ROSTER" from Melbourne Centre; this includes enroute controllers and terminal controllers. The one, terminal rated controller for the afternoon shift was at work from 1400 until 2300 (normal closing time for Canberra). The morning shift extended their shift from 0700 until 1700 (10 hour maximum shift length) to "provide a break". But they too were solo from 1200-1400. The above mentioned NOTAM was published around 1400, the airspace was shut for 30 minutes from 1900-1930. A Virgin aircraft with destination Canberra departed without receiving the NOTAM; they did not carry sufficient fuel to hold; so the poor terminal controller was "directed" to keep the airspace open until 1912 when the Virgin aircraft landed. This then enabled the controller to enjoy his 18 minutes "rest and comfort break" for the 6 hours of solo operations, from 1700-2300. This is safety Airservices Style, it's beyond a joke. To add insult to injury, the closure was against the published contingency plans, which clearly state (in paragraph 5.4) that Temporary Restricted Airspace shall not be used for contingency procedures. Airservices claim "all the time" that they have a robust safety management system "SMS" but they routinely ignore it. On the run plans, for god only knows what reasons, presumably to hide the evidence, are against the safety system ethos; I hear a safety assessment (SCARD) wasn't even conducted. Not good enough. PS: Did you hear about Melbourne Tower closing on Friday night?
Did you hear about Launceston Tower closing early yesterday and opening late today due staff shortages? Also Melbourne Tower was closed on Friday and Monday nights for the same reason. Also heard rumours of Canberra Tower closed too. [Civil Air Editors Note: Launy Tower was closed ALL DAY today, 29 Jan 2008, due lack of staff]
Extract from Crikey follow up on 31 January 2008:
Launceston air traffic control tower was closed for all of Tuesday (29/1) and most of Wednesday (30/1):
(Crikey accepts much of it's information from the public)