Recommendation R20000285

Recommendation issued to: AirServices Australia

Recommendation details
Output No: R20000285
Date issued: 24 April 2001
Safety action status: 0
Background: Why this Recommendation was developed

Output text

As a result of the investigation the Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Airservices Australia review their risk management strategies with a view to developing procedures to assist in the identification of controllers that may be unfit for operational duty.

Initial response
Date issued: 24 May 2001
Response from: AirServices Australia
Action status: Closed - Partially Accepted
Response text:

I am writing in response to the above report [BO/200002379], which relates to an incident involving an A320 Airbus, VH-HYX, and a Boeing 767, VH-OGS, which occurred 222km SSE of Alice Springs on 9 June 2000. I refer also to my letter of 30 January 2001 in which I responded to the draft Aviation Occurrence Brief on this incident and Interim Recommendation R20000285, which has been issued as Recommendation R20000285.

In the above letter, I stated that Airservices essentially agreed with the factual findings of the report, however I must point out that the Airservices investigation did not find any reason to indicate that the controller was fatigued. In fact the Airservices investigation report states at section 2.3 Personnel, that the controller "seemed bright and cheerful prior to sitting at the workstation".

Whilst we do not accept there is any real evidence that fatigue necessarily contributed to this incident I must point out that Airservices has coincidentally instigated development of a fatigue management program aimed at assisting controllers and management in identifying and managing fatigue in the workplace.

Airservices stands by its statements regarding Recommendation R20000285 which are reiterated below for your information.

"Recommendation R20000285

The Civil Aviation Regulations clearly state that the onus is on the officer to ensure that they must not exercise the privileges of an air traffic controller licence if they are not fit in accordance with those Regulations:

CAR 105 Medical unfitness of holder of licence

"Where a person, being:
(a) the holder of an air traffic control licence.... suffers an incapacity..... that is likely to impair his or her efficiency in performing the duties...... he or she shall not perform those duties."

CAR 6.16A Holder of medical certificate: impaired efficiency due to illness

"The holder of a medical certificate must not do an act authorised by the ....... licence to which the certificate relates while..... impaired to any extent by an illness or injury, no matter how minor."

To ensure that this responsibility is clearly understood by all personnel, Airservices intends to affix a statement to this effect to air traffic control licences and to handover/takeover sheets. Air traffic controllers will be required to attest to their fitness at the commencement of each shift.

Airservices' Directorate of Safety and Environment Assurance now assesses air traffic control rosters against the Centre for Fatigue Research "Fatigue Analyser" to identify any rosters which in themselves may induce fatigue. We are also looking at other fatigue analysis tools to further assess this issue.

Notwithstanding that the onus is on operational personnel, Airservices has reminded line managers and Team Leaders of their duty of care responsibility to monitor the wellbeing of their staff and to ensure, to the extent possible, that staff are fit for duty.

The Civil ATS Operations Administration Manual states at Page 5-23 under the heading Team Leader/Line ManagerlOR Manager actions:

"When advised..... and doubt exists about the fitness of a person to work, that person must be stood down from operational duties..."

Airservices considers that it already has in place measures to ensure, to the extent possible, that management are aware of and respond to instances in which officers are not fit for duty. These measures have been reviewed as a result of this incident.

As Airservices has already conducted the proposed review and more, we consider that the recommendation is no longer applicable.

Last update 17 March 2016