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Processes for monitoring controller workloads

Issue number: AO-2012-012-SI-01
Who it affects: Air traffic control - all operation types
Issue owner: Airservices Australia
Operation affected: Aviation: Airspace management
Background: Investigation Report AO-2012-012
Date: 18 October 2013

Safety issue description

The air traffic services provider’s processes for monitoring and managing controller workloads did not ensure that newly-endorsed controllers had sufficient skills and techniques to manage the high workload situations to which they were exposed.

Proactive Action

Action organisation: Airservices Australia
Action number: AO-2012-012-NSA-020
Date: 18 October 2013
Action status:

The ATSB was advised that:

Airservices does not support the finding indicating that our processes do not ensure that newly endorsed controllers had sufficient skills and techniques to manage the high workload situations. Airservices training and checking processes, which are also subject to ongoing regulatory oversight, ensure that controllers are appropriately trained and assessed to be competent to perform roles in their licensed environment with varying traffic volume, complexity and workload levels.

To further improve workload related risk management since the occurrence, two additional consoles have been installed in Aisle 3 of the Melbourne Area Control Centre to allow IND, BIL and ORE sectors to be separated. ATC [air traffic control] training for the IND sector has also been separated from ORE and BIL sectors.

Rostering arrangements have been amended to ensure additional controllers are rostered during peak periods. In conjunction with amendments to Western Australia airspace sectors, these arrangements allow IND sector to operate as standalone for the majority of the 24-hour period and ORE and BIL sectors to be split at peak times.
The commissioning of the radar at Paraburdoo has alleviated workload in the ORE and BIL sectors. In addition, CASA's ADS-B mandate effective in December 2013 will enable enhanced surveillance of the majority of aircraft operating in the ORE and BIL sectors.

Airservices has also established an ATC Workload and Complexity Reference Group to determine a suitable workload model to be used by ATC Shift Managers to monitor and forecast ATC workload on a sector by sector basis. This is aimed at further managing and mitigating workload-related risks.

ATSB response:

Date: 18 October 2013

Although Airservices disagreed with the identified safety issue, the ATSB is satisfied that the actions taken by Airservices since the incident satisfactorily address the concerns which gave rise to identification of the safety issue.issue.
    
   

   
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Status justification:

Although Airservices disagreed with the identified safety issue, the ATSB is satisfied that the actions taken by Airservices since the incident satisfactorily address the concerns which gave rise to identification of the safety issue.

 
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Last update 28 October 2014