Monday, September 16, 2013

Air traffic controllers in trouble over pilot serenade

Madrid - A Spanish pilot was retiring after a 34-year-long career. To mark the occasion, air traffic controllers at Madrid's Barajas airport transmitted a farewell song over a dedicated radio frequency. Now they are in trouble.  Francisco Ubet flew his last flight on August 17th, and the air traffic controllers wished to give him a fond farewell in song. 

Playing a guitar and adding some fun words to Auld Lang Syne made for the perfect farewell ditty, which lasted a mere 35 seconds and can be enjoyed in the video above. 

On top of the serenade, when the plane landed, fireman at Madrid's Barajas airport performed a 'water arch' in the pilot's honor, a photo of which can be viewed here
He was emotionally overwhelmed by all the attention. 

Ubet told his colleagues:
"Thanks so much.  You are all great."
"Thank you, great service as always and thanks for all these years."

However, it seems the Spanish Airports and Air Navigation Association (AENA) didn't have the same feelings about the celebrations. 

Now the five Spanish air traffic controllers are in serious trouble over the incident. 

A note was sent to the air traffic controllers' human resources department stating that the controllers had broken the rules by broadcasting the message using the air traffic control radio frequency. 

The five controllers are now facing disciplinary action, but they are retaliating against their bosses. 

One of the employees told Spain's ABC newspaper:
"Nobody in their right mind could think a controller, or a group of controllers, including the shift supervisor, would put the security of passengers at risk. "
"This (what we did) has always been a universally accepted custom in the aviation world because pilots and air traffic controllers have a very close relationship."
Now a campaign has been started by Spain's air traffic controllers to see the punishment dropped. As part of this, the Union of Air Traffic Controllers is asking pilots to send a brief radio message of support on their approach to Madrid airport. 

A document (Spanish language) calling for solidarity with the air traffic controllers can be viewed here.

Original Article: