Air traffic staff shortage leads to safety concerns

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Overworked air traffic controllers will continue to suffer due to staffshortages after it emerged that only three new controllers will pass throughtraining this year. The severity of the situation at National Air Traffic Services’ (NATS) £623mcentre at Swanwick, which is 40 controllers short of working capacity, wasrevealed to Personnel Today by David Luxton, national secretary at controllers’union Prospect. NATS hit the headlines last month after it was revealed that the number ofoverload reports – filed by air-traffic controllers when they feel theirworkload is so high, safety is being compromised – has doubled since thebeginning of the year. Luxton said there is no short-term solution to the staffing problems,because it takes three to four years of training before a controller becomesfully operational, and only three will be qualified to that standard by the endof the year. “Without enough staff, you have to shut air sectors. It’s like closingdown lanes on the motorway and trying to re-route the remaining traffic,”said Luxton. The staff shortages and resulting flight delays are now becoming so bad thatNATS is consider- ing re-employing retired controllers in non-operationalroles. Luxton said the problem was first highlighted three years ago, but wasnot addressed. “Controllers feel they have been ignored. They’ve been saying therewasn’t enough manpower for three years,” he said. Prospect is balloting its members later this month over a proposed 10 percent pay rise over two years. NATS has also agreed to a new incentive scheme to help retain staff and areview of employee relations, communications, manpower planning andorganisational culture. A spokesman for NATS said: “We have a number of people in differentstages of training, some of whom will be available before the end of theyear.” By Ross Wigham Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Air traffic staff shortage leads to safety concernsOn 20 Aug 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img