Friday, July 25, 2008
There is something strange going on in Australia and I’m not sure I can explain it. The most fundamental problem seems to be clear enough -- they’ve run out of air traffic controllers. The reason is the same as ours -- but with a twist. Airservices Australia -- the corporation that runs the air traffic control system -- didn’t hire enough controllers to replace those that are leaving. Many of their controllers are leaving to work in foreign countries. You would think a corporation would understand how competition works.
I guess the best thing I can do is let you read about it yourself. But first, a little background information. Airservices Australia is a government owned corporation. It’s one of the corporatized bodies the conservatives over here always point to as the wave of the future. The organization that represents the controllers is Civil Air. It looks like Civil Air and Airservices have just entered contract negotiations. To me, it looks like Airservices and the airlines are blaming their problems on the controllers. They don’t come right out and say it, but every time Airservices shuts down some airspace because a controller or two calls in sick, the next blurb you see in the paper is the fact that contract negotiations are starting. You’ll see some odd (for Americans) terms. They call it an industrial action as opposed to a job action, sick out or slowdown. According to my sources, there is no industrial action (yet.) Airservices is just out of controllers. It might also be helpful (or at least insightful) to know that Airservices Australia was first run by an ex-FAA guy named Bill Pollard. Mr. Pollard was head of Air Traffic prior to leaving the country.
It’s the shutting down of airspace that I find so disconcerting. It’s just a foreign (no pun intended) concept to me. There is very little uncontrolled airspace in the United States. The thought of air carriers flying around in high altitude airspace without any type of air traffic control is just, well, unthinkable.
I recommend starting with a rather thorough article from The Australian.
It's a jungle up there
”Former CASA chairman Dick Smith says air traffic controllers are right to warn about the danger of passenger jets flying through uncontrolled airspace, describing the practice as "incredibly unsafe". “
For further information, you can check out Civil Air’s web site. The have links to a whole host of articles and other information.
July 25, 2008