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Author Topic: Overwhelmed ATC in Barcelona  (Read 5701 times)
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« on: January 06, 2013, 12:03:01 PM »

Here's an interesting recording of an (almost) overwhelmed ATC in Barcelona from December 23rd.

Low visibility caused several Spanish airports to close and also reduced Barcelona to single runway operations. The combination with heavy Christmas holiday traffic resulted in an extremely busy air space with long delays. The frequency was almost buzzing non-stop with pilots asking for ETA, requesting diversion (first to Girona, and when that was also overcrowded to Perpignan/France) and several aircraft declaring fuel emergencies.

The feed covered several frequencies, so it certainly missed many transmissions from approach. Still apparent that many pilot requests had to be repeated several times. Also, for a longer period, ATC seemed unable to provide any landing time estimates (many ETA requests were recorded, each answered with "I call you", but no more actual ETA responses).

The attached recording is compressed: there were very few gaps, but it's reduced to English transmissions, since most communication was in Spanish (only foreign carriers use English). Check the LiveATC archives for LEBL from December 23rd, 1900Z and 1930Z for the full recording.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find the pilot's quote from the AvHerald article "Let the aircraft land and put them on taxiways, car park, roof, ... but on the ground!". Maybe that was also lost due to multiple frequencies on the feed - or it was also in Spanish, and it's cut...

AvHerald has more on the events of December 23rd in Barcelona and on related ATC staffing and sector issues:

* LEBL-TMA-Dec-23-2012-1900Z-2000Z.mp3 (4060.55 KB - downloaded 3251 times.)
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 10:58:25 PM »

I never found the famous qote either, and I listened to the whole1 hr via the archives, including the Spanish whichI understood  just fine. The whole hour really didn't sound that bad to me. Controller wa soverworked, definitely, buyt not overwhelmed. And I'd say almost everyone did a good job on coms.
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