Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201800029
Date reported 09 March 2018
Concern title Air Traffic Controllers with restricted hours endorsement working outside of restricted hours
Concern summary

Air Traffic Controllers with a Restricted Byron Endorsement (RBYN) working outside of restricted hours.

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: Airspace management
Concern subject type Aviation: Policies & Procedures

Reporter's concern

The reporter has advised that Airservices recently required ATC’s to obtain a RBYN endorsement, and that a Temporary Local Instruction was issued stating that ATC’s with the endorsement can only operate between 22:30 and 05:30 (local time).

The reporter stated that within weeks of the instruction being issued, ATC’s with the endorsement were being asked to operate outside of these hours and is expected to reoccur. The reporter queried why a local instruction was implemented only to be breached shortly after.

The reporter further advised that the endorsement is in place to ensure specific ATC’s are only managing light traffic in optimal conditions, and that working outside the endorsed hours, junior members are being expected to potentially manage heavier and more complex traffic conditions. 

The reporter is concerned that junior ATC’s with the endorsement may not feel confident raising objections with Airservices when asked to breach the endorsed hours and that a safety risk exists if non-qualified ATC’s are managing traffic outside these hours.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

Airservices Australia (Airservices) appreciates the opportunity to respond to the reported safety concern regarding Air Traffic Controllers with a Restricted Hours Byron Endorsement (RBYN) being asked to work outside of those restricted hours.

Airservices confirms that prior to enacting the restricted traffic endorsement, consultation with the applicable controllers was undertaken. In addition, the established safety change management processes were followed, including the undertaking of a safety risk analysis which involved traffic analysis of the flights transiting the applicable sectors. Controllers accepting the RBYN endorsement are required to confirm that the workload is suitable. The mechanism is published in a Temporary Local Instruction (TLI) (refer attachment 1)

Airservices notes that a concern was recently raised via our internal reporting system that is similar to the concern of the reporter. On this particular occasion, Airservices was unsuccessful at replacing a fully endorsed controller who called with a late notice of absence from duty. As a consequence, Airservices conducted a risk assessment and determined that the traffic levels, although outside the hours stipulated in the TLI, were suitable for a RBYN controller to manage the airspace. The airspace was not handed over to the RBYN endorsed controller until traffic management mitigation measures were enforced as per the TLI. The controller later reported that the traffic metering assisted with the management of traffic. In relation to the reporters concerns regarding controllers being asked to work outside endorsed hours in breach of the TLI, Airservices clarifies that a note in the TLI stipulates that the actual hours of operation may vary and are dependent upon operational requirements.

Notwithstanding, the TLI will be revised to explicitly state that the RBYN endorsement may be used to meet operational requirements outside the nominated hours of operation when traffic levels or complexity are assessed as suitable with the requirement to implement the identified traffic mitigation strategies in the event of increased traffic levels or complexity.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

CASA is satisfied that there is no ongoing risk to aviation safety. CASA will continue to monitor this issue in assessing the requirement for future surveillance.

Last update 23 January 2019