Staff shortage hurting airport control tower

Following last November’s crippling strike by unionized air traffic controllers, Director of Civil Aviation Kingley Nelson says the department is still operating short of staff.

However, in responding to fresh concerns raised by one of his predecessors, Nelson has assured that the situation does not pose any immediate danger to members of the travelling public.

“It has to do with availability of a minimum number of air traffic controllers per shift. Normally if it comes down that you have a minimum, a person might work a double shift just to make sure the numbers are there,” he explained.

However, he acknowledged, “we can’t go on doing this forever”.

“There is a reason why we are seeking to recruit new staff at the moment. They have to be trained for three years,” Nelson added.

He was responding to concerns raised by a retired director of civil aviation, who has pointed out that Barbados is currently way short of the required number of 66 air traffic controllers, with only about 38 trained and qualified persons employed at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

“They [the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport] are only now starting to recruit controllers this month. But they would not be ready to start working in the control tower to guide planes until 2018 because it takes three years to train a controller,” stressed the former senior official, who did not want to be identified.

However, Nelson said the situation remained manageable for the time being.

“We just want to make sure that we have enough staff; that the staff complement is such that we can have people working and have enough off time and that sort of thing,” he said.

The two unions representing the air traffic controllers – the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) – have also been pushing for improvements following last year’s temporary work stoppage by the air traffic controllers.

3 Responses to Staff shortage hurting airport control tower

  1. harry turnover February 11, 2015 at 10:23 am

    It does not take 3 years for a person to work in the TOWER Mr. Nelson.

  2. catipillar February 11, 2015 at 4:23 pm


  3. Tony Waterman February 12, 2015 at 6:41 am

    @harry turnover!!!!!!! First you were SEXIST and DISRESPECTFUL to an OBVIOUSLY well EDUCATED BLACK WOMAN, and now you are for some unknown reason MAKING a NEGATIVE reply to Director of Civil Aviation Kingley Nelson’s statement pertaining to the length of time it takes to fully train an Air Traffic Controller.
    Well !!! this is STRIKE TWO for you as Mr. Nelson is SPOT ON in his TIMING, according to “NATS” and who is “NATS”???

    NATS is the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services. Each year they handle 2.2 million flights and 220 million passengers in UK airspace.

    In addition to providing services to 15 UK airports, they work in more than 30 countries around the world spanning Europe, the Middle East , Asia and America.

    You should have put your BRAIN in Gear, before making your Statement on the subject of training of ATC’s, so here is the question and Answer from NATS.

    “”How long does it take to become an air traffic controller?””

    “”Students train at the College of Air Traffic Control for up to 12 months and work on high-tech computer simulators which recreate real air traffic situations for practical training. They are taught by instructors who have been controllers themselves. Once trainees graduate from the college, students are posted to a unit – either an area control centre or an airport control tower – and work as a trainee air traffic controller, building up valuable practical training and experience before being accepted and validated as a working controller. The entire process takes, on average, three years.””
    The Same time Frame as Mr. Nelson QUOTED.
    STRIKE ONE, STRIKE TWO, ?????????


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