Following media coverage of ATC Issues from Crikey (www.crikey.com.au), from 12 February 2008.
CASA says there is no need to "regulate" ATC work hours, in the same way that pilot hours are regulated, because of the protections offered in the "Certified Agreement" (which could be negotiated away) and the robust Safety Management System operated by Airservices Australia. The existing Certified Agreement can be altered by a "Facilitative Agreement" (which truly means no protection) by majority vote; or individual vote depending on the FA offered. In recent times this, lack of regulation, has resulted in one ATC working from 2pm through to 5am, by "Facilitative Agreement". Rumour has it that last Monday a controller worked from 6am through to 12pm and then back again at work for another shift commencing at 4pm; a full 4 hour break between shifts; or 2 hours of down time (roughly) when you exclude the time taken to travel to and from work. It would also appear that no Facilitative Agreement was established so was it legal, one wonders if any safety assessment was done? The regulator must make this employer accountable; after all it is only air safety.
Sunday 10 February. Airservices has continued the tradition and closed more airspace for 3 hours, due to lack of staff. This time the "low" (HUM/OVN/DOK/JVS/YAS) airspace between Sydney and Melbourne, including the "High and Low" airspace in Southern NSW and Eastern Victoria; we call it SNO Sector (Snowy, as in mountains) Sector. See the links here, here and here for the closed airspace. When do you think this will gain political/media capital to fix the problem? Anyone checked the Airservices recruitment/employment pages; when are we getting these so called overseas recruits? Particularly given they aren't taking recruits at present. "Applications for the Global Search for experienced Air Traffic Controllers have now closed. Submit your application here to be considered for other future positions."
The views expressed above do not neccessarily represent the views of Civil Air or it's members.