Sat Dec 15, 2018 7:36 pm
Well, this has been an informative read, 17 pages of a great deal of Bristol bashing with a smattering of supportive comments. But one poster said “the situation at Bristol is disgraceful.........the unit should hang it’s head in shame.....” Thanks for that, just one question though, does that mean the airport, the ANSP or the staff themselves? Let me know and if it’s the staff, I’ll apprise my colleagues of the low esteem in which they’re held (well, the ones who don’t frequent these fora) as I’m sure that’ll make everything better.
Our EFPS system went live just over two weeks ago. With annual leave and sickness, not everyone has had time to bed in yet, but we’ll become more proficient with time. It hasn’t been helpful that our ‘O’ date was put back nearly 7 months, so our training had a significant break in it due to the summer season.
We also went live with a new Radar & Director set up after LARS ceased earlier in the year and due to the new workload split, the guys have been a bit more cautious as they get used to it. Add that to it being our busiest summer ever, and we have been stretched a bit. What you may not know, is that our old LARS frequency is now the initial contact radar frequency for all traffic. Radar then passes the IFR arrivals to Director to vector to final and onward to Tower. Radar deals with everything else - transits, local or arriving VFR traffic and IFR departures. So whilst you may think it’s not busy because of what you hear or don’t hear on 126.650, you don’t have the full picture.
As for ....
“There's VFR-transitable airspace from the ground up to FL105 and even more for IFR so am surprised every level was occupied.”
That’s not the full picture. Through our Class D you can transit VFR up to FL105. However, we abut Q63 (L9 as was) from FL75 to FL105, so north or southbound VFR traffic would be given not above FL70 (if it exists that day). It’s easier for us to have VFR transits below 2000’ (SERA permitting) through the zone but higher on the approach side if need be. 2000’ and below is controlled by Tower and is subject to their traffic.
Finally, without wishing to inflame what has always been an emotive subject, hypothetically if we were to have a dedicated LARS function again, who is to pay for it? From what I understand, the LARS payment per unit barely paid the total cost of 2/3 of an ATCO in later years, yet we were dedicating a seat, frequency, equipment and at least five ATCOs to that function previously. How would that be funded if it were possible to bring it back?
And please don’t forget, the ATCOs are being squeezed from all sides, guys who’ve taken years to train to do their job, try to do it to the best of their ability only to have goalposts moved (equipment, regulatory rules, management whims, contract changes etc) on a regular basis, are having to adapt to them at a time when staffing isn’t optimal yet demands grow greater each year.
The vast majority of ATCOs I know love their job and wish to do it well, but a lot of factors can influence our performance day to day, some of which have been touched upon earlier in the thread. But ultimately, it’s not a hobby, it’s our job, the thing that pays the mortgage, puts food on the table and allows for a few pink gins, we have a responsibility to fulfil, a licence to keep, rules to abide by and have to follow the direction given by our employer, what we do is largely dictated by shiny **** office dwellers like it as not.