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FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:54 am
by KLASM83
In a certainly interesting development on the Air Traffic Control front, it seems that two days ago, a controller at LAS was having some sort of a bad night. You can hear the audio by clicking at here for the LiveATC archive.

Having worked the mid myself, I can understand being quite tired, however this seems a bit suspect. The full article is here, and while I will hold full judgement, it will be something to see how this shakes out.

It is good to see that they won't be combining positions anymore overnight-and if anything good comes of this- having two people to keep each other awake seems to be a logical choice that's been a long time coming.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:44 am
by ual763
I thought having two people in the cab was mandatory now ever since the last guy fell asleep?

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:23 am
by 32andBelow
ual763 wrote:
I thought having two people in the cab was mandatory now ever since the last guy fell asleep?

For our have 2 people in the tower but they rotate. KLAS also has a tracing on site with radar controllers working underneath the tower cab.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:45 am
by bravoindia
This is very unfortunate. It was a medical issue not a drug/alcohol problem per a friend that works at Vegas Twr. I’m a bit suspect of the pilots reactions. Some a bit savage I’m curious why even within the first few minutes no pilot had inquired if the controller was feeling ok. I feel bad for all involved.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:06 am
by mtnwest1979
From my perspective, it sounded somewhat like a hypoglycemic issue. Speech and such seemed similar.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:32 am
by Bradin
bravoindia wrote:
This is very unfortunate. It was a medical issue not a drug/alcohol problem per a friend that works at Vegas Twr. I’m a bit suspect of the pilots reactions. Some a bit savage I’m curious why even within the first few minutes no pilot had inquired if the controller was feeling ok. I feel bad for all involved.


Having just finished listened to the LiveATC recording, there were moments where the controller was incoherent, followed by moments of coherence, and then followed by moments of incoherence.

Without the knowledge we have now that there was a medical emergency in the KLAS tower, I don't believe I would have raised any concern until a somewhat prolonged period of time has elapsed - and very similar to what the pilots were experiencing.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:36 am
by LupineChemist
Bradin wrote:
bravoindia wrote:
This is very unfortunate. It was a medical issue not a drug/alcohol problem per a friend that works at Vegas Twr. I’m a bit suspect of the pilots reactions. Some a bit savage I’m curious why even within the first few minutes no pilot had inquired if the controller was feeling ok. I feel bad for all involved.


Having just finished listened to the LiveATC recording, there were moments where the controller was incoherent, followed by moments of coherence, and then followed by moments of incoherence.

Without the knowledge we have now that there was a medical emergency in the KLAS tower, I don't believe I would have raised any concern until a somewhat prolonged period of time has elapsed - and very similar to what the pilots were experiencing.


I guess I've seen the effects of a brain issue and you go back and forth between coherence and incoherence just like that. It really would have been worth calling 911 from a cell phone for either medical or drugs/alcohol. It was clear that she needed to get to a hospital immediately in either case.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:26 pm
by trnswrld
That is very bizarre to listen to. Glad no one was hurt, but I'm very surprised the pilots went that long without a serious question if everything was ok up there. One guy made the comment about getting someone up there that knows what they are doing, but it was more or less a snarky comment.
To the OP, I believe your topic title of FAA making staffing changes was something that happened a while back with the sleeping issues so thats not new. As for why she was by herself I'm sure is being investigated.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:47 pm
by musman9853
sounds like a stroke

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:59 pm
by Cubsrule
trnswrld wrote:
To the OP, I believe your topic title of FAA making staffing changes was something that happened a while back with the sleeping issues so thats not new. As for why she was by herself I'm sure is being investigated.


When you say “a while back,” is that before or after the AC near-mess in SFO? That controller was alone and working two positions.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:24 pm
by CrimsonNL
VASAviation posted a video with the ATC transcripts as well as subtitles where applicable;

https://youtu.be/Jv1kmuFOhWk

To be honest I'm a bit surprised she's up there on her own, would have expected a 2 controller minimum..

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:26 pm
by ual763
Isn’t there supposed to be a supervisor on duty in the cab at all times too?

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:43 pm
by KLASM83
ual763 wrote:
Isn’t there supposed to be a supervisor on duty in the cab at all times too?



Ideally, yes, but this is the chronically short-staffed FAA we're talking about here.

I hope this controller gets better! It took a lot of work to get up into that cab!

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:34 pm
by spacecadet
bravoindia wrote:
This is very unfortunate. It was a medical issue not a drug/alcohol problem per a friend that works at Vegas Twr. I’m a bit suspect of the pilots reactions. Some a bit savage I’m curious why even within the first few minutes no pilot had inquired if the controller was feeling ok. I feel bad for all involved.


The problem is that even if she didn't know it, she was putting flights at risk. She cleared one flight to runway 26 even though runway 1 was in use, for example, and she was clearing pilots to cross runways that were in use and to take off when it was obvious that she was not cognizant of the whole situation. It was only a matter of time before she caused an accident. So I can certainly understand pilots' irritation and I think they were actually somewhat restrained in their comments. She literally could have gotten a bunch of people killed.

Now, I understand that it was probably a medical issue (right now we have only your word for it, but I also said this in the other thread), but that doesn't really change things from a pilots' perspective. She's there to do a job and she can't do it, and the pilots repeatedly asked her to get someone else. Some of them also obviously called their company dispatch to try to get some help up there. So it's not like they did nothing. The pilots who did seem to get irritated mostly did so when the situation dragged on without resolution. I do agree that maybe one or two individual comments were probably out of line, like when one of them asked early on "is there someone up there who knows what they're doing?" But those were exceptions.

In commercial aviation, medical situations are unfortunate but they're also not really an acceptable excuse for poor performance. I'm not sure if it's this stringent for controllers, but for a pilot, an incident like this would probably be career-ending. You would lose your first class medical certificate. I'm not arguing that that should happen here because we don't have enough information, but I'm just saying that's the mentality a pilot's going to have about the situation. The safety of passengers is paramount; the considerations for one controller or pilot are secondary.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:47 pm
by dampfnudel
After the ATC issues over the years, I’m surprised that they didn’t implement the two person policy by now.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:01 pm
by MO11
dampfnudel wrote:
After the ATC issues over the years, I’m surprised that they didn’t implement the two person policy by now.


Would that mean three controllers on duty when one (of the two required) has to take a break?

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:08 pm
by trnswrld
This isn’t looking good. Latest word is it is alcohol and drug related.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:06 am
by Armodeen
I listened to the recording on YouTube today and man it was really painful to sit through. I hope the poor ATCO recovers well, although I assume a stroke would mean the end of her front line career unfortunately. The same following a hypoglycaemic episode I guess (concealed diabetes, perhaps?)

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:59 am
by EA CO AS
This definitely sounds like either extreme intoxication, or possibly even a stroke. I'm surprised she attempted to work through it instead of calling for a halt to operations once it became clear she was struggling; at one point she even laughs, which seems to rule out the stroke angle, but I could be mistaken. Good to hear how some of the flight deck crews voiced concerns to alert other airmen and asked for a supervisor.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:17 am
by 777PHX
I'm hearing she was drunk and had been on probation earlier in the year for a DUI.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:48 am
by 7673mech
spacecadet wrote:
bravoindia wrote:
This is very unfortunate. It was a medical issue not a drug/alcohol problem per a friend that works at Vegas Twr. I’m a bit suspect of the pilots reactions. Some a bit savage I’m curious why even within the first few minutes no pilot had inquired if the controller was feeling ok. I feel bad for all involved.


The problem is that even if she didn't know it, she was putting flights at risk. She cleared one flight to runway 26 even though runway 1 was in use, for example, and she was clearing pilots to cross runways that were in use and to take off when it was obvious that she was not cognizant of the whole situation. It was only a matter of time before she caused an accident. So I can certainly understand pilots' irritation and I think they were actually somewhat restrained in their comments. She literally could have gotten a bunch of people killed.

Now, I understand that it was probably a medical issue (right now we have only your word for it, but I also said this in the other thread), but that doesn't really change things from a pilots' perspective. She's there to do a job and she can't do it, and the pilots repeatedly asked her to get someone else. Some of them also obviously called their company dispatch to try to get some help up there. So it's not like they did nothing. The pilots who did seem to get irritated mostly did so when the situation dragged on without resolution. I do agree that maybe one or two individual comments were probably out of line, like when one of them asked early on "is there someone up there who knows what they're doing?" But those were exceptions.

In commercial aviation, medical situations are unfortunate but they're also not really an acceptable excuse for poor performance. I'm not sure if it's this stringent for controllers, but for a pilot, an incident like this would probably be career-ending. You would lose your first class medical certificate. I'm not arguing that that should happen here because we
have enough information, but I'm just saying that's the mentality a pilot's going to have about the situation. The safety of passengers is paramount; the considerations for one controller or pilot are secondary.


Serious?
A person is having a medical incident and their supposed to say time out let me get help - even if they didn't realize it?
How about a pilot rather then being snarky calling the next handover station and having them call someone on the phone?
Still where is the supervion on ATC part?

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:49 am
by aemoreira1981
CrimsonNL wrote:
VASAviation posted a video with the ATC transcripts as well as subtitles where applicable;

https://youtu.be/Jv1kmuFOhWk

To be honest I'm a bit surprised she's up there on her own, would have expected a 2 controller minimum..


The other controller was on a scheduled break when this happened. It sounded like a stroke, with other pilots were calling for assistance to the tower and one NK pilot basically telling everyone on frequency of the issue.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:15 am
by bravoindia
spacecadet wrote:
bravoindia wrote:
This is very unfortunate. It was a medical issue not a drug/alcohol problem per a friend that works at Vegas Twr. I’m a bit suspect of the pilots reactions. Some a bit savage I’m curious why even within the first few minutes no pilot had inquired if the controller was feeling ok. I feel bad for all involved.


The problem is that even if she didn't know it, she was putting flights at risk. She cleared one flight to runway 26 even though runway 1 was in use, for example, and she was clearing pilots to cross runways that were in use and to take off when it was obvious that she was not cognizant of the whole situation. It was only a matter of time before she caused an accident. So I can certainly understand pilots' irritation and I think they were actually somewhat restrained in their comments. She literally could have gotten a bunch of people killed.

Now, I understand that it was probably a medical issue (right now we have only your word for it, but I also said this in the other thread), but that doesn't really change things from a pilots' perspective. She's there to do a job and she can't do it, and the pilots repeatedly asked her to get someone else. Some of them also obviously called their company dispatch to try to get some help up there. So it's not like they did nothing. The pilots who did seem to get irritated mostly did so when the situation dragged on without resolution. I do agree that maybe one or two individual comments were probably out of line, like when one of them asked early on "is there someone up there who knows what they're doing?" But those were exceptions.

In commercial aviation, medical situations are unfortunate but they're also not really an acceptable excuse for poor performance. I'm not sure if it's this stringent for controllers, but for a pilot, an incident like this would probably be career-ending. You would lose your first class medical certificate. I'm not arguing that that should happen here because we don't have enough information, but I'm just saying that's the mentality a pilot's going to have about the situation. The safety of passengers is paramount; the considerations for one controller or pilot are secondary.



Very well put and I mostly agree. From experience though and also here I believe it applies, there are times to be firm and stern but professional. I thought here there were a few “snarky” comments. No doubt the pilots should be questioning it just like anything that is out of the ordinary but do it professionally.

Something I think is dropping off a bit lately in aviation both ATC and esp on the pilot side is radio etiquette and professionalism. Most of the time it starts with good habits and instruction.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:21 am
by National757
trnswrld wrote:
This isn’t looking good. Latest word is it is alcohol and drug related.


777PHX wrote:
I'm hearing she was drunk and had been on probation earlier in the year for a DUI.


These are some explosive claims. If true, will the FAA try to hide this information and claim this as a HR issue? In a perfect world, there would be full transparency and proactive communication to the traveling public regardless of whether it was a medical or substance issue.

Not likely in this case. This event occurred late Wednesday night and it took authorities until Friday afternoon to release a statement. This was only after ATC audio was posted online. The airport press release contained such CYA language like the following: "Our initial findings echo the FAA’s assessment that no safety events resulted from Wednesday’s incident."

Things must have been okay then since there were no safety events. :banghead:

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:26 am
by dampfnudel
MO11 wrote:
dampfnudel wrote:
After the ATC issues over the years, I’m surprised that they didn’t implement the two person policy by now.


Would that mean three controllers on duty when one (of the two required) has to take a break?

I would think it would only be necessary to have one additional controller on duty to hopefully notice if the other controller is impaired.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:28 am
by BoeingGuy
777PHX wrote:
I'm hearing she was drunk and had been on probation earlier in the year for a DUI.


Don’t accuse someone of that until you know the facts. I like my beer and party sometimes too. No way does she sound like she’s drunk. She gets progressively more incoherent, which doesn’t fit with showing up to work a few hours ago after drinking. Plus, she starts coughing later in the ATC recording. That’s not what most people I know do after drinking.

I could be wrong, but my guess is a medical issue.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:06 am
by sandbender
It's being reported that they were "incapacitated" and are on "administrative leave". That does not sound like hypoglycemia or a stroke.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:12 am
by EA CO AS
sandbender wrote:
That does not sound like hypoglycemia or a stroke.


Neither of which the FAA - or any other employer - would publicly share, hence the vague language. Something like being intoxicated, however, would result in criminal prosecution and would be public record.

My money is on a medical issue at this point, and if that's the case, that's all we'll learn.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:24 am
by SuperGee
BoeingGuy wrote:
777PHX wrote:
I'm hearing she was drunk and had been on probation earlier in the year for a DUI.


Don’t accuse someone of that until you know the facts. I like my beer and party sometimes too. No way does she sound like she’s drunk. She gets progressively more incoherent, which doesn’t fit with showing up to work a few hours ago after drinking. Plus, she starts coughing later in the ATC recording. That’s not what most people I know do after drinking.

I could be wrong, but my guess is a medical issue.


I agree. Jumping to conclusions that she was drunk or on drugs before facts are known does a serious disservice to the lady. It turns out that she did indeed have a stroke (not sure where and how they got that information though since HIPAA requires medical information to be closely head) and having to deal with rumors that she was drunk on the job can only complicate her life ahead. Strokes are no picnic and if that's indeed what she had, she's going to need all of the support and good will she can possibly receive in order to recover from it. I wish for the best for her.

According to this first YouTube clip (below), this controller is highly regarded in Las Vegas for her skill and speed and is the same controller who did such an impressive job handling the BA2276 fire emergency at LAS to rave reviews several years ago. It's sad that she will probably never again work as a controller and may not even be able to work again at all. This first clip also contains an easier to understand version of the audio of the tower incident. The second clip is of her work on the BA2276 fire for comparison purposes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv1kmuFOhWk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiNwbTsOpPg

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:32 am
by Bradin
SuperGee - curious but how do we know it's the same controller?

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:46 am
by SuperGee
Bradin wrote:
SuperGee - curious but how do we know it's the same controller?


If you look in the comments under the first clip, there is a commenter named "Las Vegas Aviation" who apparently does a lot of plane spotting at the airport during rush hour and is very familiar with the controller. That commenter points out the BA2276 incident. Also, if you listen to the second clip I posted (of the BA2276 fire - she doesn't show up until about halfway into that clip) or any other clip of the BA2276/tower interaction on that fire, her voice sounds very much the same as that of the lady in difficulty in this most recent incident. The voices sound similar to me at least.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:42 pm
by krsw757
sandbender wrote:
It's being reported that they were "incapacitated" and are on "administrative leave". That does not sound like hypoglycemia or a stroke.


This still could be anything, she probably had her medical pulled which would result in the administrative duties/leave.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:23 pm
by ATCSuggester
Not sure why any of the pilots didnt just contact Vegas approach or departure during the incident and inform them of the situation. The TRACON is at the base of the tower cab and they could have easily sent someone from down there to the cab to check on her as well as (most importantly) shut off all arrivals until the problem is solved. That's what the quick thinking pilots did at DCA when the controller fell asleep. Potomac TRACON went into uncontrolled field ops (one in one out) until the controller woke up.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:38 pm
by ual763
sandbender wrote:
It's being reported that they were "incapacitated" and are on "administrative leave". That does not sound like hypoglycemia or a stroke.


Are you kidding? It was a medical issue. The ambulance was called. This “administrative leave” you speak of is disability leave.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:46 pm
by Jouhou
sandbender wrote:
It's being reported that they were "incapacitated" and are on "administrative leave". That does not sound like hypoglycemia or a stroke.


Federal employee here, you get put on admin leave when there's an investigation, it's not a sign of actual guilt. If one has done something wrong, that admin leave gets changed to unpaid once the investigation is over.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:31 pm
by mjoelnir
KLASM83 wrote:
ual763 wrote:
Isn’t there supposed to be a supervisor on duty in the cab at all times too?



Ideally, yes, but this is the chronically short-staffed FAA we're talking about here.

I hope this controller gets better! It took a lot of work to get up into that cab!


I thought flying is all about the security and no cutting corners. If the tower at an airport is chronically understaffed, it has to be closed down or properly staffed.
It is a bit crazy and the FAA responsibility. They would frown on using one pilot on an airliner because the airline is understaffed.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:13 pm
by tlecam
Is the chronic understaffing due to budget issues or availability of resources? Sorry, I don’t know much about the ATC part of aviation.

I hope that the controller gets better, regardless of the nature of the illness.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:32 pm
by mjoelnir
spacecadet wrote:
bravoindia wrote:
This is very unfortunate. It was a medical issue not a drug/alcohol problem per a friend that works at Vegas Twr. I’m a bit suspect of the pilots reactions. Some a bit savage I’m curious why even within the first few minutes no pilot had inquired if the controller was feeling ok. I feel bad for all involved.


The problem is that even if she didn't know it, she was putting flights at risk. She cleared one flight to runway 26 even though runway 1 was in use, for example, and she was clearing pilots to cross runways that were in use and to take off when it was obvious that she was not cognizant of the whole situation. It was only a matter of time before she caused an accident. So I can certainly understand pilots' irritation and I think they were actually somewhat restrained in their comments. She literally could have gotten a bunch of people killed.

Now, I understand that it was probably a medical issue (right now we have only your word for it, but I also said this in the other thread), but that doesn't really change things from a pilots' perspective. She's there to do a job and she can't do it, and the pilots repeatedly asked her to get someone else. Some of them also obviously called their company dispatch to try to get some help up there. So it's not like they did nothing. The pilots who did seem to get irritated mostly did so when the situation dragged on without resolution. I do agree that maybe one or two individual comments were probably out of line, like when one of them asked early on "is there someone up there who knows what they're doing?" But those were exceptions.

In commercial aviation, medical situations are unfortunate but they're also not really an acceptable excuse for poor performance. I'm not sure if it's this stringent for controllers, but for a pilot, an incident like this would probably be career-ending. You would lose your first class medical certificate. I'm not arguing that that should happen here because we don't have enough information, but I'm just saying that's the mentality a pilot's going to have about the situation. The safety of passengers is paramount; the considerations for one controller or pilot are secondary.


Do you realize what nonesense you are writing? A medical situation is a medical situation. Some medical situation lead to a person loosing awarness. People behave like they are drunk or under druggs. It can happen in the same way to a pilot. Medical ckeckups try to rule out people who are susceptible, but that does not give garanties. It is one of the main reasons you have two pilots in a cockpit and in this case I would call it neglegience to staff the tower of a big airport with one person only.

In this case the FAA was more concerned with its budget than safety. Heads should roll by the people resonsible for staffing.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:00 pm
by barney captain
It happens every night in PHX as well. 5 separate frequencies (North/South Gnd, TWR and CLC Del) all get combined on to one controller. Stupid - even when the controller is on their A game.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:17 pm
by usxguy
tlecam wrote:
Is the chronic understaffing due to budget issues or availability of resources? Sorry, I don’t know much about the ATC part of aviation.

I hope that the controller gets better, regardless of the nature of the illness.


Not enough job candidates

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:37 pm
by FLLflyboy
usxguy wrote:

Not enough job candidates



There are plenty of candidates. Public ATC bids bring in tens of thousands of applicants. The problem is systemic *rant warning*

We'll assume for a moment the FAA has a hiring goal of 1,700 applicants for FY19 (made up number). They may "hire" exactly this number. By hire, I mean either send them to the academy in Oklahoma City or send prior experience, those with military and/or contract tower experience, directly to a facility. Among those 1,700 hired, a certain percentage will wash out of the Academy. A further percentage of those that graduate will wash out of training at the individual facilities. By the end of the year, the 1,700 the Agency hired on paper may have dwindled down to only 1,000 (again, just making up numbers but the situation is very real) which means you are already short-staffing the NAS 700 controllers. Compound this with the same practice over the last 20-30 years, and it's easy to see why facilities are critically understaffed.

Of course, this is also operating under the assumption that the FAA hiring process moves smoothly and swiftly.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:45 pm
by 32andBelow
FLLflyboy wrote:
usxguy wrote:

Not enough job candidates



There are plenty of candidates. Public ATC bids bring in tens of thousands of applicants. The problem is systemic *rant warning*

We'll assume for a moment the FAA has a hiring goal of 1,700 applicants for FY19 (made up number). They may "hire" exactly this number. By hire, I mean either send them to the academy in Oklahoma City or send prior experience, those with military and/or contract tower experience, directly to a facility. Among those 1,700 hired, a certain percentage will wash out of the Academy. A further percentage of those that graduate will wash out of training at the individual facilities. By the end of the year, the 1,700 the Agency hired on paper may have dwindled down to only 1,000 (again, just making up numbers but the situation is very real) which means you are already short-staffing the NAS 700 controllers. Compound this with the same practice over the last 20-30 years, and it's easy to see why facilities are critically understaffed.

Of course, this is also operating under the assumption that the FAA hiring process moves smoothly and swiftly.

They don’t have much of a problem filling academy classes. The real problem is so many people are eligible to retire. I think in another 5 or so years things will be retry staffed. The national staffing average is around 84% right now. Some Facilities obviously are much worse off than others.

It’s not like the facilities can locally train at any faster rate then they are currently receiving. Many have large training backlogs of academy graduates.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:03 pm
by kgaiflyer
"She gets progressively more incoherent, which doesn’t fit with showing up to work a few hours ago after drinking. Plus, she starts coughing later in the ATC recording."

I've had that experience with Spiriva (for COPD). I would require at least an hour before driving or doing detailed work - or going on duty.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:05 pm
by STLflyer
barney captain wrote:
It happens every night in PHX as well. 5 separate frequencies (North/South Gnd, TWR and CLC Del) all get combined on to one controller. Stupid - even when the controller is on their A game.


So what happens when that controller needs to use the john?

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:19 pm
by barney captain
STLflyer wrote:
barney captain wrote:
It happens every night in PHX as well. 5 separate frequencies (North/South Gnd, TWR and CLC Del) all get combined on to one controller. Stupid - even when the controller is on their A game.


So what happens when that controller needs to use the john?


Just like in this case, other controllers are on site for breaks/relief, just not present in the cab.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:49 pm
by MO11
barney captain wrote:
STLflyer wrote:
barney captain wrote:
It happens every night in PHX as well. 5 separate frequencies (North/South Gnd, TWR and CLC Del) all get combined on to one controller. Stupid - even when the controller is on their A game.


So what happens when that controller needs to use the john?


Just like in this case, other controllers are on site for breaks/relief, just not present in the cab.


What? I never had this....

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:15 pm
by barney captain
MO11 wrote:
barney captain wrote:
STLflyer wrote:

So what happens when that controller needs to use the john?


Just like in this case, other controllers are on site for breaks/relief, just not present in the cab.


What? I never had this....



That's exactly how this played out. The other controller was apparently in the building, not in the cab. Smaller facilities probably aren't that way.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:24 pm
by ATCSuggester
32andBelow wrote:
FLLflyboy wrote:
usxguy wrote:

Not enough job candidates



There are plenty of candidates. Public ATC bids bring in tens of thousands of applicants. The problem is systemic *rant warning*

We'll assume for a moment the FAA has a hiring goal of 1,700 applicants for FY19 (made up number). They may "hire" exactly this number. By hire, I mean either send them to the academy in Oklahoma City or send prior experience, those with military and/or contract tower experience, directly to a facility. Among those 1,700 hired, a certain percentage will wash out of the Academy. A further percentage of those that graduate will wash out of training at the individual facilities. By the end of the year, the 1,700 the Agency hired on paper may have dwindled down to only 1,000 (again, just making up numbers but the situation is very real) which means you are already short-staffing the NAS 700 controllers. Compound this with the same practice over the last 20-30 years, and it's easy to see why facilities are critically understaffed.

Of course, this is also operating under the assumption that the FAA hiring process moves smoothly and swiftly.

They don’t have much of a problem filling academy classes. The real problem is so many people are eligible to retire. I think in another 5 or so years things will be retry staffed. The national staffing average is around 84% right now. Some Facilities obviously are much worse off than others.

It’s not like the facilities can locally train at any faster rate then they are currently receiving. Many have large training backlogs of academy graduates.



Actually the majority of retirements from the massive hire in the 80s after the PATCO strike has already passed. At my facility there are only a handful of "older" controllers in their early fifties (mandatory retirements age is 56) and rest of us are in our twenties and early thirties(!!!!!!) You are right about some of the staffing challenges though. In order to train controllers once they reach the facilities you need to have adequate staffing to train them. If not, they sit around and twiddle their thumbs which isn't useful. Two, the current washout rate at the academy is 50% which means that the screen is working, but also terminates a lot of candidates. Thank goodness they passed the FAA reauthorization bill which means we get stable funding for the next 5 years which will help the pipeline of candidates contribute to flow smoothly.

One thing I will add to those commenting about it: LAS tower is NOT short staffed despite them only having around 30-40 controllers or so. It is one of the most desirable facilities in the FAA to transfer to and work at. They have a line of people waiting to go there that would show up tomorrow if they could. One person mids is a very common setup at most 24/7 facilities around the country excluding certain places (MEM, SDF, IND etc.) And it works very well 99.9% of the time. Unfortunately sometimes crap happens and this is the result.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:54 pm
by Flighty
Given that one person ATC sometimes happens, there needs to be a procedure for pilots to identify this problem and deal with it. I completely agree with the comments that this could get people killed. It is not a laughing matter any more than any other major system failure or crew failure is.

Re: FAA Makes Staffing Policy Changes After Vegas Controller Found Incapacitated

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:43 pm
by bravoindia
bravoindia wrote:
This is very unfortunate. It was a medical issue not a drug/alcohol problem per a friend that works at Vegas Twr. I’m a bit suspect of the pilots reactions. Some a bit savage I’m curious why even within the first few minutes no pilot had inquired if the controller was feeling ok. I feel bad for all involved.



It was not a medical issue and what I posted above earlier is incorrect. I was given incorrect information and could not edit. Apologies.