Following media coverage of ATC Issues from Crikey (www.crikey.com.au), from 18 June 2008.
An air traffic controller's wife writes:
As the wife of an Air Traffic Controller, I’m angry, disheartened, and in complete shock as to what is happening in our aviation industry at present and cannot sit back and just watch this all go by.
Air Traffic Controllers are crying out for help and clarification. At the moment Air Traffic Controllers who are not trained on and hold no rating for certain positions are sitting at consoles looking at a radar screen whilst their fellow Air Traffic Controllers get a short toilet break to get them through their eight hour shift....
Air Traffic Controllers on numerous occasions have contacted CASA and Airservices Australia to clarify their position as to the legal implications of these circumstances. So far, no official response has been forthcoming. Air Services Australia have their heads so deeply stuck in the sand about the huge staffing crisis they don’t seem to think this is a problem. The fact that they are only receiving one such break during a shift is again another issue in itself.
Airservices Australia chief executive Greg Russell stood up in the Senate Estimates Committee and said with a straight face everything is going well; just a little too much reliance on overtime at the moment. There are Air Traffic Controllers working 10 shifts on and with one day off and starting this cycle again. Air Traffic Controllers are being called not once, not twice but up to five times on their day off to come in and are being made to feel pressured to attend work to prop up the system. Controllers are being called on whilst on annual leave.
The direction to the air traffic control line managers is to not let the airspace close (TIBA) at all costs. Currently Air Services Australia are having air space closures on an almost daily basis and this is ever increasing. Air Traffic Controllers for the past 10 years have been trying to provide ideas and suggestions to assist with a long term vision to deal with staffing issues.
Whilst airports are seeing huge increases in air traffic, passengers and tourism in the next few years they will not have any Controllers to actually see these aircraft come in safely. They are sick to death of being treated like second class citizens on one hand, and then on the other being asked to help prop up the system for the love of the job.
I have had enough, and I am just a Controller's wife, who is very upset and sick to death of the way Airservices Australia run their business. Imagine how the Air Traffic Controllers are feeling when they face it every day and are banging their heads against a brick wall on every issue they raise.
The views expressed above do not neccessarily represent the views of Civil Air or it's members.