NOP – what is this?

On 24/01/2014, in Buzzwords explained, by steve

The abbreviation NOP went through a number of iterations over time, originally we used it to refer to the Network Operations Plan and it now stands for Network Operations Portal.

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It is a portal managed and run by EUROCONTROL and it provides a real-time picture of the air traffic flow and capacity management situation over Europe. It is a treasure trove of information and is interesting “reading” for professionals and enthusiasts alike.

A map shows where the current trouble spots are and a section called Network Headline News gives you the… well headline news affecting the network. You can find here information on, among other things, upcoming industrial action.

You want to know how many aircraft are expected on a given day? How many are currently airborne? How many have landed? How many more are still to come? It is all there. Delays in minutes (total, average per flight, en-route, airport…) are also all there for the interested visitor to see.
As if this were not enough, you can request pertinent information for the strategic, pre-tactical and tactical phases of traffic management while a post-operations tab takes you to any day you want to see in the past. Cute.

This is a place well worth a visit or even keeping a tab with this portal open in your browser to check on things every now and again.
Enjoy!

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Crossing the Line

On 11/01/2014, in ATC world, by steve

One of the first decisions taken when we started Roger-Wilco was to identify our authors by first name only. This was done not to hide anything but to create a more family feeling for the whole thing. As in real families, in the Roger-Wilco family also there have been events to mourn and events to celebrate. The latest cause for celebration is the new job our regular contributor, lajos, has started in earlier this month. Regular readers will recognize his name as the one bringing us The Tower Chronicles, subjective but fascinating and revealing accounts from the life of Ferihegy Airport. Lajos has changed his air traffic controller hat for that of an incident investigator… crossing the line you might say.

lineMost pilots and air traffic controllers will spend their whole life doing what they had been trained for and they bear the brunt of the profession and are happy in what they are doing. Others will become restless and feel the urge to try something new and different… to cross the line into new territory and new challenges. Most of the time they stay near to their original profession, what is more, they might even continue to practice it if for no other reason than to keep their license valid, but crossing the line is not as simple as some, who have never done it, imagine. It is doable, but…

For both personal and professional reasons, I have been in such a “line crossing” situation several times and by way of celebrating lajos’ having taken the plunge, I would like to share some of my experience with you. Who knows, it may be of benefit to someone, somewhere.

Even if the new job is just one floor below the original, even if one has known the new colleagues for many years, the first few days in the new job feel weird and unreal. New tasks, new viewpoints, different customs and attitudes… it is like getting along with a new girlfriend. It is nice and exciting but full of surprises and unexpected turns. Settling into the new position is only part of the story… the real shock comes when one goes back to the original place to do a bit of air traffic control for old times’ sake. Friends and colleagues suddenly become remote and some may even be slightly hostile. Do they feel deserted? Do they think you are cheating on them? Whatever… get used to it. The familiar is familiar no more. It is an all new ball game!

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The Professor is no more

On 10/01/2014, in ATC world, by lajos

profIt is my sad duty to start this year with a even sadder news. Sandor Gyori, known to most of us as Professor Gyori passed away on 5 January at the age of 74. He was called Professor by almost everyone and not by accident either. He has taught us the nitty-gritty details of our profession and I too met him for the first time at the local training course. His rugged appearance belied a man with a very big heart. But this big heart also gave him a lot of trouble over the years and apparently lasted only till this fateful day in the New Year.

Professor Gyori had been one of the “fathers” of the Ferihegy Control Tower but he was nevertheless always able to come down to the level of us, newbies in the business, even during one of the most exciting periods of Ferihegy’s varied life. Who else could manage to give us classes on the basics of air traffic control during the last round of works on the tower and the ops trials of its equipment? Thinking about it now, I would definitely not be able to do this. Not him, he just came to us and said what needed to be said in his characteristic monotone. May be he escaped to us to get a little rest… who knows? This will remain a secret forever now.

In early September 1983 he came to the department office proclaiming that we had a major problem. Aircraft departing from the recently commissioned No. II runway were making an awful lot of noise over the garden city spreading left and right alongside the extended centerline of runway 31. Residents attacked the airport in no time at all, shouting that this had to stop. Poor Professor’s nicely developed departure procedures ended up in the dustbin and to this day it is not permitted to take off and then fly straight from runway 31R. Instead, an immediate left turn is called for after lift-off to move the departure onto the extended center-line of runway 31L. This event was definitely not something that improved poor Professor’s health. But he remained the chief of the tower for a few more years regardless. Under his watch we still had the rotation whereby APP colleagues, one at a time, came to the tower for a period of two months, to return to APP with a lot of new insights and experience. This was an extremely useful system… but I have written enough about how this ended…
In time Professor Gyori had had enough of fighting the windmills and went back to APP as a simple controller. He stayed there until the new center was opened, whereupon he retired.

Click here to read the full article

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