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Air Traffic Controllers stay away from Ogle

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Air Traffic Controllers stay away from Ogle

Unread post by bimjim » Thu Jan 15, 2009

http://www.kaieteurnews.com/2009/01/14/ ... from-ogle/

Air Traffic Controllers stay away from Ogle
January 14, 2009
By Rustom Seegopaul

The Ogle Air Traffic Control Tower was unmanned yesterday.

The Ogle Airstrip Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower was yesterday unmanned, as three of the controllers reported sick and the others were unwilling to work above and beyond the call of duty, largely due to a situation where monies are owed to them by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

Given the lack of personnel in the ATC Tower yesterday, incoming and departing aircraft from Ogle apparently followed local procedure, which they normally do when the ATC Tower at Ogle is unmanned.

They contacted the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri, to plot their flight paths, but this was only done when they were airborne.

One controller at CJIA said that this placed additional pressure on the controllers there, because of the reduced time to plot the flight plan.

He said that when the air traffic controllers are on duty at Ogle, they would file the flight plan even before the aircraft starts up.
It was a similar arrangement when aircraft sought clearance to land at the Ogle Airstrip.

Speaking with staffers of the Ogle Airstrip, this newspaper was told that different radio frequencies are used between Ogle and the CJIA. The air traffic controllers at the CJIA switch between frequencies when the Ogle ATC Tower is unmanned and they would communicate with the respective aircraft.

This results in an added workload for the already overworked air traffic controllers at Timehri.
Added to this, it was reported that, oftentimes, the ATC Tower at Ogle is unmanned between 06:30 and 07:00 hours if the air traffic controllers are late for work.

The Ogle Airstrip does not operate after dark.

Owner of Roraima Airways, Captain Gerald Gouveia, in an invited comment, said that the ATC Tower at Ogle not being manned by any air traffic controllers was not unusual. “You have to remember that Ogle is not an international airport, and the incoming flights will just make contact with Timehri,” said Gouveia. “So, it’s not really that big of a deal.”

Repeated attempts to reach the Director of the GCAA, Zulficar Mohammed, for a comment proved futile, and the Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, said that he would not comment on the issue until he was fully briefed on it some time today.
The air traffic controllers had been threatening strike action over monies owed to them by GCAA.

They accused the GCAA of unfairly deducting various sums from their pay packets. The GCAA had said that funds were not immediately available, and that the matter would have been resolved as soon as the administration had attended to the GCAA bank balances.

The air traffic controllers sought the intervention of Minister Benn, who ruled that, instead of paying some members of staff monies dating back to several years, he would have paid a non-prejudicial, one-off bonus.

Since this sum would have represented a decrease in their emoluments, the Guyana Association of Air Traffic Control Officers (GAATCO) rejected the offer and threatened industrial action. Some of the workers immediately reported sick.
Following this, the Government decided to pay the air traffic controllers.

The air traffic controllers are contending that, after they agreed to resume duties, Minister Benn reneged on his commitment and decided that there would be no increase in their remuneration.

There were reports that the GAATCO had signed to this effect, but officials of this entity debunked such rumours, saying that they had never seen, much less agreed to, the arrangement.

This is just another one of the problems facing the ATCs of Guyana, adding to the deplorable condition of the equipment in the ATC Tower at the CBJ International Airport.

A near mid-air collision of an outbound Caribbean Airlines (BW 484) aircraft and an inbound Delta Airlines (DAL 383) flight prompted an investigation into the workings of the ATC Tower at Timehri, and it was discovered that much of the equipment at present in the ATC Tower, including the electronic displays for the barometer, temperature and wind gauges, is reportedly not working.

The Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) at the airport is also said to be unserviceable. The runway lighting control panel in the ATC Tower is also said to have been unserviceable since 2004.

The equipment is expected to arrive at the middle of this year, following a tender for an approximate cost of $666 million.
In addition to replacing equipment in the ATC Tower at the airport in Timehri, the bid also includes training for air traffic controllers on how to use the new equipment.

“The existing (Air Traffic Control) ATC system in Guyana is not safe, and it is not the fault of the persons tasked with operating the system,” said Gregory Fox, the captain who conducted the investigation into the near collision of the aircraft.

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