WELCOME to yet another winter season in Chicago. Bad weather including icing conditions, are here. In that light, I thought I should update you on the ATR issue. Members of this local have had numerous discussions with users regarding ATRs and this is what we have learned. The latest I heard from a user was "I can't tell you the plane is not fixed." (get that one?) It seems however that there are some crews that have become uncomfortable when a significant amount of ice accumulated on their aircraft. With that in mind, what can we expect? However, crews that are less than satisfied with the condition of their aircraft, once icing is encountered, have already been requesting priority handling. This problem isn't going to go away any time soon.
I have investigated the paper trail regarding the GENOT of January 12, 1995 requiring priority handling to ATRs when requested. It seems those requirements are still in effect. Those requirements are that "ATC personnel shall provide priority handling to ATR-42 and ATR-72 pilots when they request route, altitude, or airspeed deviations to avoid freezing rain or freezing drizzle." So don't be surprised if this happens to you in the near future. We have tried to get the message to the ATR crews to be specific and use the phrase "request priority handling." Hopefully, this will prevent the guessing game of figuring out if a particular flight is having icing problems.
The Airways Facility office has replied to NATCA's inquiry regarding their staffing levels. The response seemed a bit watered down saying that "barring any staffing loss, they will maintain the same level of coverage as they have today." Could a staffing loss be imminent because of AF personnel being transferred to the new TRACON? Until we find out, it still remains to be seen if their staffing will be reduced to day shift only. In light of this concern, please, please report any significant equipment outage to someone in the NATCA office so we can keep a log separate from management.
I got an interesting note in my mail box last week and would like to share it with everyone.
"On 10-10 during the afternoon shift an Air Wisconsin BA46 asked about traffic at his altitude about five miles ahead. I responded with traffic twelve o'clock and twelve miles, approximately at the same altitude. The pilot then said he had the traffic on TCAS and visually at the same altitude and five miles, and it looked like a B737. I had no target at all within five miles of that position. A minute later the pilot stated the traffic looked like it leveled at a VFR altitude and they had lost it."
Are we seeing everything out there? Is our computer going in the same direction as Chicago Center's? Is this happening more often than we hear about? Good questions seeing as an Air Wisconsin pilot really has no reason to lie about a think like this. If you experience something like this, please let me know about it. Write me a note and put it in my mail box. If your not at O'Hare, you can write me at the NATCA Local C90 address. For you techno-wizards, Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.