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Organisational aspects

The group leader had a number of projects and staff issues that had to be addressed and that were constraining his ability to effectively manage the Ocean sectors. Taken individually these issues were probably not significant, but collectively they established the environment in which the Group was required to operate. The en-route manager and the group leader developed a plan to overcome these issues and in the long term develop staff in the Ocean sectors. Part of this plan was for the group leader to train for and obtain Ocean sector endorsements.

Training plan

The group leader developed a revised training plan that was constrained by staff commitments and scheduled ab initio training. However, he was not aware of the differences in the operation of sector 8 in comparison to other procedural sectors. Had he undertaken the classroom or simulator training prior to on the job training, he probably would have had an understanding of the unique aspects and a better overall understanding of the operation of the sector.

The group leader and the nominated supervising controller had only spent a short time together but the latter was aware of the training aspects that had been covered up to the morning of the occurrence. Because of this aspect he probably had a better appreciation than the sector controller did of the group leader's ability. Consequently, he would have been in a better position to recognise that the trainee was not maintaining the traffic situation. He might have been able to assume control of the position at a sufficiently early stage to recognise the conflict.

The current training guide and workbook were based on training ab initio controllers. There was no procedure to assist controllers from another group to modify the training to suit their specific requirements. There would appear to be scope for development of a process for peer review of revised training programs that would ensure that essential training aspects are included in a program.

Supervising controller

The sector controller that offered to supervise the group leader was unaware of the trainee's level of sector knowledge. They did not pre-brief and consequently they probably both had different expectations as to the level of participation of the other in the operation of the sector. This aspect in conjunction with his operation of the controller pilot datalink probably caused the sector controller to be distracted to the extent that he was unable to maintain an adequate scan of the flight progress strips.

Flight progress board management

The approval for the B767 to operate at a non-standard level for the track flown cancelled the defence normally provided to the air traffic system by the use of standard levels.

Controller pilot datalink facilities

The lack of a controller pilot datalink training guide or training aid provides an opportunity for controllers to become distracted to the detriment of the management of aircraft separation. Controllers should be able to develop their controller pilot datalink system skills remote from the operating position.

Operating position

The positioning of the controller pilot datalink and the sector 8 operating console restrict the ability of controllers to maintain an effective scan of the flight progress strip board. Controllers are required to divert their gaze and attention from the board to operate the controller pilot datalink keyboard. Modification of the console layout to enable more ready access to the controller pilot datalink or alternatively, provision of a controller to operate the controller pilot datalink during busy traffic periods would alleviate the problem.

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