Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201700024
Date reported 02 March 2017
Concern title The number of controllers being trained in adjacent sectors causing significant disruption to aircraft on approach to Brisbane and the Gold Coast
Concern summary

The concern related to the number of controllers being trained over the previous months in the Gold Coast and Brisbane approach sectors which is resulting in disruption to the approach paths of aircraft on approach to Brisbane and Gold Coast.

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: Airspace management
Concern subject type Aviation: Air Traffic Control

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern related to the amount of controller training which is occurring on the Gold Coast and Brisbane approach sectors.

The reporter advised that over the last few months there have been a lot of new controllers in training in the Brisbane and Gold Coast sectors. The trainee controllers have often been operating adjacent control areas, and the communication between the new controllers has been inadequate. This has meant significant disruption to aircraft on approach. The reporter advises that they have been cleared to descend and turn on top of other aircraft, left without enough room to descend to commence an approach, or there is so much time between aircraft approaches, two aircraft could have landed easily.

This has added significantly to pilot workloads at a time when their workload is already high and the delays and extra fuel burn are costing operators a lot of money.

The reporter advised that it does not seem like the training provided to the new controllers has been sufficient before they are allowed to operate as controllers and the supervisors have not been stepping in early enough to alleviate the pressure on flight crews.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

Airservices notes that the nature of the concern is very general without any specific events to highlight the performance deficiencies. A review of Airservices occurrence database has not identified any events which correlate to the situations raised in the report. Notwithstanding, Airservices would like to provide a summary of training conducted by trainee controllers at the Brisbane Air Traffic Service Centre.

The training requirements for the endorsement which enables the provision of separation services at Brisbane and Gold Coast Terminal Control airspace is prescribed in the Brisbane TCU training manual. The opportunity to train in this environment is limited to experienced internal or external controllers, with either approach or extensive enroute control experience.

Controllers undergo 12 weeks of high fidelity simulation and a simulator exit performance check which they must successfully complete. Upon reaching a satisfactory level, the trainee then undertakes an additional minimum 200 hours of ‘on the job training’, facilitated by an experienced instructor.

The trainee's performance is monitored daily by the ‘on the job instructor’ and weekly by the training Air Traffic Control Line Manager and the control environment is continually monitored by a Terminal Approach Shift Manager. At periodic milestones, the trainee is assessed by a Check and Standards Controller to ensure the trainee is acquiring the necessary skills to perform at the required standard. The final performance assessment is conducted over a minimum of two days. If there is insufficient traffic during that period, the check may be extended until the assessor(s) are satisfied that relevant competencies have been demonstrated by the trainee in moderate to heavy traffic loads.

Airservices notes the reporter’s comments, however clarifies that it is a dynamic training area with a high training load which is expected to continue in preparation for the new parallel runway opening in 2020.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

CASA has reviewed the REPCON and notes that the report lacks the specificity and sufficient detail to enable CASA to comment further. However, the information provided in the REPCON will inform future surveillance of Airservices ATS operations in the Brisbane and Gold Coast regions.

Last update 12 July 2018