Air Traffic Control – ‘When you Kick a Ball you Don’t Know Where it’s Going to Land’
Research into operational decision-making at Airservices was carried out in the Melbourne Air Traffic Control Centre, the Sydney Operations Room and the Sydney Airport Control Tower. Airspace is divided into volumes called sectors and individual air traffic controllers are licensed to work on particular sectors. Air traffic controllers are trained in how to respond in the event of unexpected loss of communications or radar capability. The effort of the operational managers goes into managing maintenance and operational conditions to ensure that the air traffic control system is never compromized. On the rare occasions when the air traffic control system fails or some external factor such as unexpected bad weather occurs, there are more obvious problems for the operational managers to deal with. In these cases, their focus is still on anticipating further problems, and on recovery.