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Controller Workload

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Perhaps it would be realistic to accept that transient overload is inevitable on a busy sector and think about the solution, which as a system user, seems to me to be task prioritisation by the controller which I have often witnessed to be effective. It seems to consist of determining the way out of the overload by issuing a prioritised sequence of instructions to various aircraft in rapid succession. By pausing just long enough to get each successive readback and not at all before the next transmission, the controller effectively temporarily prevents aircraft initiating calls to ATC whether they are already on-frequency or just transferred from the previous sector. Whilst not desirable as a regular practice, this method does seem to me to be the least prejudicial to overall safety when overload unexpectedly and suddenly develops. I qualify this view by saying it holds provided it is only employed as a short-term fix and provided that controllers remain alert to the slight possibility that an aircraft might depart its clearance unexpectedly - due to a corrective TCAS RA or sudden emergency for example - and be unable to announce this.

That this approach seems able to resolve transient overload quickly is often not appreciated by pilots, who sometimes see transient overload as no different from continued overload as a potential safety issue even if their frustrated attempts to make contact were, as they invariably are, routine rather than emergency. Sometimes they forget that their aircraft is under ATC control and (usually) proceeding as planned on a clearance known to ATC.

It would be interesting to hear a Controller perspective on these thoughts!--Peter.Blackstone 12:13, 14 January 2008 (CET)

Editorial Comment

An interesting perspective. Probably the controller skill described is something acquired with experience rather than something that can or should be taught. What do you think?--Ian.Wigmore 10:29, 7 February 2008 (CET)