11 July 2002
Danger reports in air traffic more than double
By Barrie Clement, Transport Editor
Reports of excessive and unsafe
workloads by air traffic controllers have more than doubled,
The National Air Traffic Services(Nats) document, leaked to Computer Weekly magazine, showed that in one particularly fraught week of June this year there were four near-misses. There was only one other in the rest of the six-month period. But the papers showed there were seven near-misses in the similar period of 2001.
The report also showed that
delays attributable to Nats as a result of operations at its new
The magazine said a letter
issued in June 2001 by the air traffic control company showed managers
were deeply concerned even then about "record levels" of delays
and at their worst were "twice what we would expect". A Nats
spokesman said the part-privatised company had 62 controllers in training
and when instruction was complete the situation would ease. "We actively
encourage all employees to report any incident which they think
* An Air Accident Investigation Branch report into an incident on an Airtours Airbus A320 from Gatwick to Majorca on 10 June 2000 revealed how passengers became "confused, distressed and highly anxious" when faulty maintenance forced their jet to make an emergency descent. Many suffered ear pain and some had chest pains when they struggled to don oxygen masks, some said to be faulty, after cabin pressure failed at an equivalent of 14,000ft.