Staff Shortage Hits Home

Well what can I say. It's been a while since my last post. We've also been running a six man roster with five people for god knows how long.

So far we have been handling it pretty well with only one closure due to the staff shortage and that was on a weekend. Some people might argue my location doesn't need the tower manned on a weekend anyway. In the end we had to close as the only FPC controller available had reached his ten working days in a row which is the maximum.

The overtime has been pretty good. As a journeyman I don't get my fair share of it, but I have managed to clock up nearly seven hours this pay period in ED. To make the roster work with only five people, we have removed one of the shifts and run one short, with the day shift doing overtime as required.

It seems to be the trend lately with tower closures becoming common occurrence. I can't see it getting any better anytime soon. There are controllers all over the country (including myself) waiting for a transfer. That whole process has come to a screaming halt. They have to "rob Peter to pay Paul" if they want to move anyone. Some might say poor management on ASA's behalf to let it get to this point.

ABC news reported that aircraft flying between Sydney and Brisbane flew without air traffic control earlier this month because staff in Brisbane called in sick.

It meant that flights were not monitored between Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay from 5:00pm (AEST) to 11:00pm (AEST) and pilots were forced to communicate with each other by radio to avoid accidents.

Entrepreneur Dick Smith (of all people) says low pay rates are forcing air traffic controllers out of jobs. I don't quite know about that, but all those in favour for a pay rise raise your hands.

"It's just unacceptable, we have a situation where the tower at Launceston has been basically closed down because of not enough staff and there have been safety incidents there," he said.

"Avalon airport, which has over a million passengers a year, doesn't have any air traffic control in the tower at all." Now there's a funny thought. Melbourne tower just had to advertise to fill eight positions! How the **** do they think they will man Avalon any time soon? When asked by a controller recently ASA chose not to comment on the Avalon situation.

Regarding the ABC report, Air Services Australia says the use of radio communication between planes when control towers are closed is an internationally accepted practice.

That may be true, however slightly irrelevant, and the fact still stands that if something isn't done to fix these problems soon we are all going to be a tired and angry bunch of mofo's like our controller buddies in the US.