Approach Resilience Mode project

The TC Section, with the full support of the ATCOs’ Branch BEC, on Monday raised a dispute over the distinct lack of engagement and highly contentious principles around the Approach Resilience Mode project.
Since this program was first talked about the Section has asked to be informed about the project and requested involvement at all stages of its development.  This is because of the serious reservations our members held about what was being proposed and the concerns they have approached the Section to raise.
Unfortunately it has become apparent that this request has, at best, translated in to inviting Section representatives to the bare minimum possible, whilst at worst it appears that the Local TU has been deliberately kept away from involvement in this project.
This project will drastically affect a group of controllers within the TC operation who are already working an over hours roster to try and mitigate the consequences of decisions made by Unit Management in the past that have left the Stansted and Luton operations woefully short of staff.  To now try and force this procedure on these members without adequately engaging with their elected representatives and without listening to their concerns because of commercial pressures flies squarely in the face of the “safe in everything we do’’ mantra we all should operate to.
The Section yesterday raised these issues to the General Manager Swanwick in the hope that we could slow down the project and discuss the concerns of the members.  Unfortunately whilst acknowledging our concerns we were informed that training for this project would commence imminently. From these actions it is hard to arrive at any other conclusion other than that it is the Unit Management’s intention to drive ahead with this project without listening to the TC members concerns.
We recognise how disappointing this news will be to TC members. Rest assured that the Section and Branch will provide all support and help to members around this as necessary. 
The principles behind this project are purely driven by the commercial pressure being applied to NATS. The TC Section are a hard working, committed group of individuals but they are not ‘the union’; we are all part of something and every member needs to send a message that this commercial pressure and, in our opinion, the short cutting of the regular unit endorsement process is unacceptable in our operation.
As always, we are here for each and everyone of our members at any time.
TC Section
11th October 2018

9 thoughts on “Approach Resilience Mode project

  • John Tanner
    November 5, 2018 at 11:56 am

    This is a cut and paste from the CAA website, of the first two lines of ‘an introduction to Air Traffic Controller licensing’.

    “In order to provide an Air Traffic Control (ATC) service, an individual must hold an Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) licence, as well as the ratings and rating endorsements relevant to any specialist tasks”.

    I find it very concerning that Nats keep trying to find ways to solve various problems – of their own making! – by trying to get some fundamental changes to basic operating rules. I would hope the CAA would refuse approval of whatever it is they’ve been asked – I imagine it wasn’t ‘can we find a way to allow non-rated controllers provide a service that isn’t appropriate to their licence?’ The correct solution is, as always, have the right number of staff…

    Plenty of support for the TC guys from up north on this topic!

  • trevor johnston
    October 25, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Dear Members,

    Many of you who work on TC Approach will have seen an email from Jamie Hutchinson regarding a pause in the ARM project; I just wanted to write something on here to thank you all for your calm and measured opposition to the procedure and your messages of support for myself and the rest of the Section. We always welcome challenge as a Section however, on this topic, we have received nothing but support and appreciation from each of you.

    We will have an update for all of you as soon as possible

    Trevor Johnston
    TC Section Chair

  • John Welton
    October 17, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    I don’t like this. It goes against everything that I’ve worked for for the last 16 years, and many others have worked for for far longer. The idea that you no longer need to hold a specific validation/endorsement to work any given piece of airspace devalues our licences and demeans our profession. I understand why people were reluctant to walk out over pay and pensions, but this should be a rallying cry for industrial action if it goes ahead. This doesn’t only impact Essex/Luton controllers, it has far reaching implications for our entire profession, and we should fight it with every means possible.

  • clem lopez
    October 11, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    I am extremely concerned at the level of TU involvement within this project with a training analysis commenced and this is the first time we are hearing about it. I will echo john’s concerns around when are were it suits them. How about letting an AC or a PC sector put them on the ILS?. The decisions taken by previous “safety accountable” managers are never held accountable for their decisions. NATS are the masters of mitigations and mitigating when certain things can be implemented even if whatever it is doesn’t work or inadequate training has been provided and SARG will roll over again because NATS have given assurances about when this procedure will be used. Then it is all about the “do not worry, lessons have been learnt” saga once again. As far as I am concerned, there is a reason I hold a particular endorsement with a validation attached to it. If I have not got it, then I cannot do it. Simples!!
    I wonder if we have told the airlines and the public that there are going to be controllers that do not hold a validation associated with the controlling of said aircraft? Safe or safe enough?

  • Jonathan Howell
    October 11, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    Having had the misfortune of being told to attend a meeting on a spin shift, I then discovered it was to trawl through one of the recent incarnations of this “procedure” (where there was also TU representation). We made it very clear that this had to be a last resort before airfield closure and had to be done in complete agreement with the ATCO(s) concerned. This also has an impact on the TMA controllers, being asked to do things which they would not normally do (work deps off the deck, stack management, etc.).
    I will be watching extremely closely to see what gets published for use, especially considering the pace at which this seems to have gone. I would also encourage the TU to mandate inclusion within the notification process for whenever this is activated.

  • Matthew Richards
    October 11, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    John, you are absolutely correct.

    This will not stop here. A Stansted/Luton controller looking after Gatwick on a night shift could be next. And certainly a Heathrow controller looking after another approach sector on a night shift has apparently already been thought about.

    This is the start of a slippery slope….

    To control a specific sector takes months of training and leaning and practice. We then retain our currency because we continue to exercise our license on the sectors we are valid on.

    The amount of information that you will need to know for this procedure is a large part of the MATS Part 2 (about 13 or 14 sections from either the Stansted or the Luton section). However, this is a procedure that you may not do for months so how you would be expected to retain this information is anyone’s guess.

    The recent communication from management contains the phrase “when we receive CAA approval” which is worrying in itself as it implies that they somehow KNOW that it will be approved.

    Swiss cheese anyone!?

  • john morrish
    October 11, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    My thanks to the TC Section for bringing this to our attention. Personally I feel that this process has been somewhat ‘snuck in through the back door’. The only things I know of what is being planned is from heresay through conversations with colleagues in the ops room. I do not know the ins and outs of what is being proposed, only a rough one-line overview. And now we hear that training is imminent! Maybe I’ve missed some comms somewhere, but there’s certainly not been any particularly up-front information coming out, or opportunity to raise any concerns or objections.

    I hope that I am not in the minority amongst my colleagues, that the idea of operating a sector for which I do not hold a validation is abhorrent. I would urge us all to seriously consider the implications if this procedure is pushed into the ops room by unit management – this is not just a precedent for Approach units at Swanwick. If one ATCO can be pushed to operate a sector for which they are not valid, why not another ATCO – TMA and Area sectors included?

    Bottom line – If I am expected to operate a sector, I expect to have the appropriate training and a validation in my licence to back it up.

  • norman easter
    October 11, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Presumably if Nats management aren’t working together on this, then we as a TU will not be working with them in other areas until they are?

    It’s pointless having a get together at some future point to discuss kpi metrics and agree to adhere to them, yet again, and then be in the same position once more.

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