Updated: Coming Soon To An Airport Near You – Strike, System Collapse… Or Both

Updated: St. Vincent Air Traffic Control Also Has Problems

On the heels of our letter from Barbados Air Traffic Controller “Sugargirl” comes a story of safety breaches at the ET Joshua Airport, St. Vincent. Two air traffic controllers have been suspended over the crash of an SVG Air plane on November 19, 2006.

Caribbean360.com SVG Air Reveals Damaging Information 

Many thanks for the tip to BFP reader and contributor Adrian Loveridge. 

BFP Reader “Sugargirl” Is An Air Traffic Controller Who Has Had Just About Enough…

I think it should be of interest to our beloved or not so beloved PM (depends on who you talking to) to take a more personal interest in recent developments at the island’s lone airport.

The Civil Aviation managers have run the institution almost to the ground, ignoring constant calls from controllers through their body for new communication
equipment over the last five years. This system is literall one more outtage from total and ever lasting collapse. A fate that will not bear well for the safety of
air traffic.

Calls for staffing have also been ignored to the point where there can now be no quick recovery as they also don’t have the equipment to train… It takes years to train a controller to the point where they can work independently. Also remember the new million dollar training equipment still mash up cause the same adminstrators forgot to place a UPS order with the equipment order.

The controllers have been trying to bear with all the defects in the name of keeping this island open to business but now in a masterful move the current acting DCA (the same one who thinks an aircraft transponder will get responses from squatters house wherever they may be) and Bessy Boy the Permanent Idiot Assigned as head of the department have taken to terrorising staff members. In their latest act of idiocy they have suspended a controller (already short staff) mind for an infraction that can also be easily lodged at their doorstep as they have failed over the years to provide adequate training.

In this case the punishment definitely does not fit the crime.They continue to single out the more vocal members of staff, the ones who have been saying the ignorance will stop to lodge all manner of petty grievances against them.

For all these sins against the traveling public and the untold stress added to what is among the top five in a list of the world’s most stressful jobs I believe those dedicated controllers have finally reached the end of the long long rope that Mr. Beckles, Archer and Manning have been using to tie pretty bows in the unsightly mess they have made of local civil aviation. So Mr. Lynch and Mr. PM some bonified strike action just might be coming your way soon… All this said I know nothing will be done until the controllers actually walk, or the equipment collapse which ever happens first.



Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Politics

27 responses to “Updated: Coming Soon To An Airport Near You – Strike, System Collapse… Or Both

  1. Wishing in Vain

    Grantley Adams International Airport the stress being the International, here we have our only airport sliding deeper into turmoil, we have ageing equipment which seems to have no priority on the scheme of things when it comes to being mordernised or upgraded.
    What is Lynch and Arthur waiting on to upgrade the facilities at GAIG ?
    Are we going to wait until an International airline gets into serious trouble and crashes in Barbadian airspace to then start looking into replacing all of this antique equipment ?
    Let me tell the two of you in place to make sensible meaningful decisions that if you wait to react after an accident would be extremely dangerous to our Tourism industry, even now I think if the airlines serving Barbados were fully aware of the extent of the poor standards that exist at GAIA they maybe not willing to operate in or out of Barbados.

  2. Hants

    I hope sugargirl mekking sport.

  3. Adrian Loveridge

    ‘Toppin: Trouble ‘brewer-ing at Grantley Adams’
    19 January 2006 – Nation

    Toppin stated ‘that only half of the orginal workers under the old airport wished to operate under the board, he said in the airports maintenance and development unit only temporary and junior staff had gone over to work with the board.’
    ‘Most of these juniors, he added were responsible for maintaining electronic equipment, radar and other communication systems, which presented A VERY FRIGHTENING SCENARIO’.

    The question still has to be asked, how can a Government (any) spend over $155 million to upgrade the airport and not allocate sufficent monies to safety and security?

    There were funds to purchase 4 totally unsuitable buses and unused trolleys.
    Yet none to include a medical facility initially.

    The airport still leaks and the air conditioning does NOT work adequately, yet according to at least one Senator, we have the ‘best airport in the world’.

  4. Rumplestilskin

    ”one Senator, we have the ‘best airport in the world’

    Comment resulting from Mount Gay or some of that strange stuff found hidden in cane fields?

    Really, this is absolute lunacy. I had thought that it was only the ‘superficial but still useful’ things like the arrival screen not working, but to hear that critical areas are in trouble is obviously terrible.

    But, Barbados has become the Mecca of propaganda and perception aka the building look pretty, so it must be okay.

    PM-In -Waiting Thompson has a helluva job coming.

  5. Pogo

    Whatfor they got buses at the airport? To save people walking a few hundred feet? How much did that cost?

    Pretty building we got at the airport but unhappy air traffic controllers is not good. Give them proper equipment training and pay for sure.

    And we better not see anyone hurtin’ on our sugargirl. She the whistleblower we need now before a crash kills the tourist trade.

  6. jinx

    And while your at it……..
    I recently observed a physically challenged lady in a wheelchair and with much difficulty, attempting to maneuver herself around a cramped and crowded washroom in the departure lounge of this newly designed, “state of the art” airport.
    I am afraid that not “everyone ” was included in the grand scheme of things!

  7. 1word

    “Are we going to wait until an International airline gets into serious trouble and crashes in Barbadian airspace
    to then start looking into replacing all of this antique equipment ?”


  8. DaVizibleStuff

    “How can (any) Government spend over $155 million to upgrade the airport
    – and not allocate sufficient monies to Safety and Security?”

    Because safety and security infrastructure are behind-the-scenes stuff that no-one sees or cares about(until the sand hits the fan!)
    and can’t be illustrated on the front cover of your election Manifesto.!

    It’s all about da vizible stuff, you see.

  9. ??

    I have to agree with most of the comments posted on this subject we simply cannot rely on old equipment and the resultant disgruntal staff to adequately operate our airport.

    As far as I am aware the ATC aspect of the airport is NOT managed by GAIA Inc. Perhaps it should be maybe then we would have better equipment installed.

    ATC is too important to be “running on empty”.

  10. common sense

    Perhaps the narrow passage for arriving passengers (with one or two officers to direct several hundred passengers at a time) to exit through customs could be looked at. It poses a serious security risk.

  11. Anonymous

    “As far as I am aware the ATC aspect of the airport
    is NOT managed by GAIA Inc.”

    I believe it’s under the Dept. of Civil Aviation,
    which is another separate entity

  12. Adrian Loveridge

    If just ONE Dollar of the 140% increased departure tax was allocated to Air Trafic Control, that would give them an additional $1.5 million annually to provide the best possible equipment, maintain service contracts, employ and train additonal staff etc.

    Plus if they sold the 4 useless buses initially purchased before they replaced them with another 4 suitable buses that probably another $800,000.


    If you are following these comments, can you tell us what happened to the Raytheon FIRSTPlus ATC simulator?

    Is it in use?

    And getting back to the GAIA Inc., and whether they or the Ministy of International Transport are responsible for ATC.
    Government took the decision to spend $155 million on airport improvements. They clearly had the responsibility of prioritising HOW this money was spent.

    Clearly, aircraft/passenger safety and medical facilities were not top of the list.

  13. Mr. Owen Arthur is the worst prime minister this country has had so far!! This BLP Government is the worst government Barbados has had since national independence in 1966!! And presently this BLP is the worst party out of the four parties currently operating in Barbados!!

    These three statements when added together certainly do lend credence to the worst judgments that could ever be formed and the worst fears that could ever be had right now by enlightened Barbadians about the serious deterioration, since 1994, in the quality of governance and public administration of the affairs of this country, and which must be being presently sadly experienced by those who live in Barbados.

    Allegations of there being no proper available communication equipment, there being no proper available training equipment, there being inadequate staff and other appalling deficiencies in the Air Traffic Controllers section of the Civil Aviation Department of the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport at the Grantley Adams International Airport, must indeed be of great concern and worry to not only those who fly into and out of the airport – pilots and other crew and passengers, but also those who work and live within the airport environs, the people of Barbados, and other peoples of other nation states world wide. If true, these allegations point directly to serious threats to air traffic safety and security at the airport, public safety and security, and point to the chaos and distress presently reigning within the the Civil Aviation Department, and of course a crisis of human resources management at this Department.

    What must appear very awful and reprehensible to the citizenry of Barbados, particularly, and global citizens, generally, is that these old and very probable allegations, and perhaps these old factual deficiencies themselves, continue to surface most unstoppably in the context of there having been spent over BDS $ 150 Million by this BLP Government to outfit and present this redeveloped airport in Christ Church “to the world”; there having been squandered over BDS $ 140 million by this errant BLP Government on a totally unfinished beautiful and ugly Kensington Oval; there having been wasted millions upon millions by this ossie moore BLP Government on the yet to be finished financial disaster Greenland Landfill, and there having been told by 3S SRL to the citizenry of Barbados that it will now cost BDS $ 360 Million to finish the Operation Freeflow project. Yet this same damned BLP Government CANNOT see it fit to raise just enough money to help resolve these critical lesser costly problems that are alleged to be happening at the airport?

    Serious problems like these that especially go unresolved for years and that go to the root of governance and public administration in this country, do provide sufficient evidence that Mr. Arthur is the worst prime minister Barbados has had so far, that this BLP Government is the worst government since national independence, and that right now this BLP is the worst party in Barbados. Part of the people’s solution to these problems is to remove this BLP Government from office Next Elections!!!

  14. Pingback: singlepilot.net » Updated: Coming Soon To An Airport Near You - Strike, System Collapse… Or Both

  15. ??

    Adrian, you get no argument from me on your comments. What I was saying is maybe ATC should have been under GAIA Inc then equip micht have been bought. My understanding is that ATC id Min of Int Transport

    The whole Bus issue is quite crazy as you suggest.

    HOpe this is posted as BFP seems to be in a moderating mood

  16. Yum Yum I like it


    Wow! Thats a new record – a sentence with 139 words in it. I almost passed out reading it to myself!

    PS – There’s also a 99 word sentence.

    (Keep the content short and interesting and I wouldn’t have to amuse myself with counting the words in your gangantuan sentences)

  17. PiedPiper

    I think that if the right information was passed onto the airlines and pilots that fly into Barbados, it would make some people s****. I have no desire to see tourism impacted on in a negative way in Barbados but at the same time when the safety of travellors is compromised, something needs to be done.
    I suspect that the regional airlines may already be aware of some of the problems but if the major international airlines were to be made aware…….all hell gonna brek loose.

  18. Wishing in Vain

    My feelings exactly.

  19. flyboy

    Dear Mr Loveridge I believe the million dollar simulator that mash up is the Raytheon FIRSTPlus ATC simulator?….and to think all without ever training a single soul….as a pilot that uses these skies I must admit this situation is worrying in the extreme

  20. Adrian Loveridge


    Thank you.

    According to Raytheon Canada own Media Release (24 February 2003) The FIRSTPlus ATC simulation System costs US$4 million.

    Why would the Government of Barbados and presumably the Minister responsible for Civil Aviation recommend such equipment and then not use it?

    I have emailed Adrienne White, the media spokesperson for Raytheon Canada Ltd and the head of the Barbados Civil Aviation Authority with that question.

  21. Adrian Loveridge

    All three attempts to contact the Barbados Civil Aviation Department, the Director of Civil Aviation and the Barbados School of Air Traffic Services had my email bounced back with error messages.

  22. PiedPiper

    Just a thought Adrian, seems your e-mail addy has been expunged or blocked from all government ministries?

  23. Adrian Loveridge


    Seems so.. you mean they won’t even sit in the same Government buildings as me?
    Well my email did go through to Val MacDonald, the media contact person at Raytheon Canada Ltd, so lets see if they can shed any light on the subject.

  24. The “infraction” committed by the controller mentioned in the piece penned by “sugargirl” had NOTHING to do with the idiocy of those managing the dept (of which they are replete) or any lack of training. That individual has been employed by ATC for more than 25 years. That person refused to carry out 2 basic functions anyone off the street would recognise must be performed in a control tower and is done everyday for every arriving aircraft.

    The first was that on 8 different occasions she made it very clear she would NOT accept information on a particular inbound flight because she believed that flight’s number should have been changed in order not to conflict with that of an outbound flight. However the temporary change had already been made to the outbound flight as authorised by the supervisor in the radar control unit, but she kept insisting that the callsign change be made to the inbound. She also threatened that she would transfer control of the inbound flight back to radar control from the tower if that unit did not change its callsign. In B’dos landing clearance is issued by the aerodrome control tower, unless certain circumstances pertaining to weather apply. That was not the case here. Landing clearance should not be withheld except for air traffic reasons or when determined by the ATS authorities.

    The second was that when control of the same inbound flight was transferred from radar control to the tower, instead of issuing landing clearance for that inbound flight, she at first refused to respond on the tower frequency to the aircraft and then telephoned the radar unit questioning why it was even calling on the tower frequency. The radar unit instructed the officer-in-charge, another controller also with more than 25 years experience, to issue landing clearance. She declared it could not be done by the tower, that the radar unit would have to do it and offered a wind speed and direction reading from the anemometer located in the tower. She was of the impression that both flights still had the same callsign and that she might have to call Mr. Manning about that situation. A third controller in the tower was then instructed by the supervisor in radar to issue landing clearance. Very soon thereafter the inbound aircraft was addressed by the first controller using the same callsign she was disputing, and she transferred it back to the radar control’s frequency for landing, while advising it there existed a “situation” being sorted out. She then telephoned radar, advised them that the runway was clear and gave them a wind reading for the flight. The radar unit had no choice but to issue landing clearance. After landing, radar was advised by the tower that the aircraft had landed, that it could be parked at a particular gate position, and that they would not speak to it using the callsign in dispute. That is as WRONG as could be. One does not refuse an aircraft landing clearance because of an internal dispute over it’s callsign! That is just crazy!

    There was a committee formed to investigate this incident, the findings of which were relayed to the relevant authorities. Unfortunately, this committee was comprised of individuals some of whom despise the first controller. Apparently a decision was made that the first controller would be “interdicted”. This is tantamount to a suspension at half-pay with no set limit. In theory an interdiction could last for months or even years until final resolution, and therein lies the unfairness and absolute potential for abuse and victimisation, which I totally believe will be attempted. I agree this open-ended type of punishment dos not fit the crime, but punishment is merited.

    The second senior controller has apparently not yet been interdicted or suspended. She however has acknowledged her wrongdoing. The first has not.

    Controllers are faced with a myriad of problems most of which do emanate from management’s incompetence, ignorance, arrogance and rear-view mentality, but this is not one of them. The 2 controllers were totally at fault.

  25. Big Mouth

    I’ve realised that whenever the public starts to criticise certain things in this country, the first thing that the ministers and associates in charge say is ” We have the best…” of “We have one of the best…”.

    I don’t care if when compared to other countries we are better. We still have a terrible 1.hospital, 2. airport, 3.prison system, 4.transportation system and all the other things that I choose to ignore because they are truly depressing and ridiculous.
    It simply means that the other countries are more terrible than you are. That’s definitely not a good thing to benchmark.

    Another things is, no one wantes to take the blame for anything. Inquests are conducted, money is spent and no answers are given.

    I could go on and on, but I don’t want to change the direction of this blog….

  26. In reference to my very first posting, I wish to make a few more points. At the time the dispute over the callsigns arose, there no longer was any contact with the outbound flight by the tower. Its control had already been transferred to the radar unit. Control of departing aircraft is transferred to the radar control within 1 or 2 minutes of departure. Therefore there was no conflict as far as the TOWER was concerned. Speaking as a trained radar controller, the first recognised the obvious potential conflict with there being 2 aircraft in the airspace at the same time with the same flight number, but the problems arose because she refused to accept that the outbound flight was the one that could be temporarily changed. She insisted it had to be the inbound because that was the flight which first operated in the airspace. However the radar unit had already effected the callsign change to the outbound and in any event it was not her decision to make as a controller in the tower performing the functions of aerodrome control. She made a fundamental error by refusing the information given to her regarding that flight (termed an estimate), ignoring its transmissions and then transferring it back to radar control without issuing landing clearance as she should have. This lady can at times be the epitome of stubbornness which on occasion in the past worked in her favour, but on that day created a whole lot of unnecessary confusion, which could have impacted negatively on the aircraft which just wanted to land.

    The officer-in-charge at the time agreed with the first controller’s argument and has now found herself in trouble as well. Unfortunately she has the type of personality where she can be easily persuaded, and despite here many years on the job, let her common sense go flying through the window in this instance. She afterwards did recognise she made a mistake, but it came too late with regard to the flight. I believe she too will be interdicted and held equally liable. Though she is not being perceived as the protagonist, she had the authority to override the first controller’s decisions and did not. At the moment she is on sick leave and I believe this is why she has not yet been interdicted, as there exists protocol which precludes instituting disciplinary action while someone is on holiday or sick leave.

    I really do wish the 2 ladies the best and I hope this matter does not drag out. Losing half of one’s salary is a devastating burden, and when paying a mortgage as one of them is, the possibility of losing one’s house is very real. That punishment definitely would not fit the crime. I don’t see them winning any appeal as the second lady has in effect thrown herself at the mercy of the authorities involved, and the protagonist I’m sure is going to fight it as she apparently still believes she did nothing wrong. I would however suggest to her she would not win except on some technicality which does exist, and instead focus her fight against the potential unfairness of this interdiction. This seems to be one method the civil service authorities use to rid themselves of those they don’t like, and then they procrastinate for as long as possible until the person financially sinks. Even if the person eventually gets their salary re-instated and is reimbursed what is owed, sometimes the damage to them is irreversible. I believe this is the plan for the lady who has been interdicted, as she has in recent years been one the main ATC representatives in negotiations with the Ministry of Int’l Transport for improved service and conditions. When one has to criticise the total incompetence that exists at the top of the civil service one becomes a target. One should never give them the rope with which to hang you, as she as done! Some of the dept heads in this Ministry are a particularly spiteful bunch and they are going to do their UTMOST to grind this lady into the ground. There’s no doubt in my mind about that!

    I’m finished for now but I do have some other comments regarding sugargirl’s posting which I’ll make later.

  27. Johnno

    It is a shame to say this…but most of us working at the airport can now say that the airport was better run when it was a Govt Department. This is really as shame…nuff said.