Letter To The Editor

Air traffic controller behaviour

10 Jun 2012

Dear Editor,

Your story (Out of control, page 10, Sunday edition) on air traffic controller behaviour in towers and centres is sensationalist and irresponsible.

Any allegation that there is a threat to passenger safety, or that staff are fatigued or stressed is completely false. Our air traffic controllers are highly trained and extremely professional. They take the safety of the community and their job very seriously. We are regarded as a world leader in air traffic safety. We continually monitor and review all staff behaviour, training and procedures to ensure that safety is never compromised.

The facts are that staff morale is at its highest level ever. Our 2012 Employee Opinion Survey shows that staff engagement is at 70 per cent. In our Air Traffic Group it is 66 per cent, up from 34 per cent in 2008. Sick leave has reduced from 17 days to 8 days per staff member per year and overtime has been reduced, with controllers working on average one overtime shift per month.

We have a robust fatigue management system in place that ensures controllers are well rested and able to remain focused and effective. This information was provided to your writer but was not reported.

We expect a high standard of behaviour from all staff in line with our organisational values, and we encourage reporting of all instances of inappropriate behaviour. We promptly deal with conduct issues as they arise using the appropriate policies and procedures.

Like any large organisation occasionally the high standards which we set are breached by a minority and in no way should that reflect on the hard working and dedicated staff that do their job professionally each and every day.

We employee over 3800 staff nationally including over 1200 staff in the Air Traffic Control group. The 16 incidents detailed in the report occurred over a period in excess of two years and were dealt with appropriately and in accordance with our policies and procedures.

Your readers can be assured that passenger safety is always our number one priority.

Yours Sincerely

Andrew Clark
Acting Chief Executive Officer
10 June 2012