Legal Liability of Working with Unserviceable Or Inadequate Equipment

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Legal Liability of Working with Unserviceable Or Inadequate Equipment

39TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Marrakech, Morocco, 6-10 March 2000

WP No. 153

Legal Liability of Working with Unserviceable Or Inadequate Equipment

Introduction

At the 38th Annual Conference in Santiago Chile, working with unserviceable or inadequate equipment was placed on the work programme. This paper seeks to explore the legal liability of working with unserviceable or inadequate equipment and possibly form policies for such.

Discussion

Probably one of the most prevalent psychological stress factors on an Operational Controller is the fear that his radio and radar will fail simultaneously during peak period traffic. This anxiety should not be permitted to exist with today’s technological advances.

In order for any controller to undertake their role safely and efficiently, they need to be provided with appropriate and serviceable equipment. In many areas controllers are lacking suitable equipment hence limiting controller’s ability to provide the service required. Therefore there should be a mandatory requirement that ensures that controllers be provided with essential and appropriate equipment This will allow for confidence and precision on the path of the controller, which will inevitably enhance safety, appropriate flexibility, and efficiency.

Having been provided with the equipment it must be accepted that for the continued reliability of that equipment requires maintenance and support. Also when controllers are faced with unreliable equipment it is natural for them to expect it to be fixed or replaced. It is also natural to expect that maintenance section will be established to keep the equipment operational and regularly checked for accuracy.

Unreliable and irregular functional equipment can distract controllers. Such equipment should be taken out of service immediately. It is natural for controllers to try and continue using this equipment especially if it is essential to assist the normal ATC operations. Controllers should be very circumspect about using such equipment. Such equipment should be removed from use even if it directly affects the air traffic operations.

When equipment is withdrawn from use, controllers should ensure that due notification is effected to warn aircraft, especially if the equipment directly relates to normal flight operation. Pilots must be made aware of essential unserviceabilities and also be informed of its limitation on the provision of air traffic services occur because of equipment unserviceability.

Conclusion

In order for any controller to undertake their role safely and efficiently, they need to be provided with appropriate and serviceable equipment. Controllers should be made aware that they are the ones being exposed to liability if they continue to use unreliable equipment or continue to work when equipment fails. Unless they have clearly identify the limitations of their service and have it acknowledged by aircrew.

Existing IFATCA policy states that:

A controller shall not be held liable for any incident or accident resulting from a failure of an automated air traffic control system.

A controller shall not be held liable for incidents that may occur due to the use of inaccurate data if he is unable to check the integrity of the information received.

 

Recommendations

It is recommended that the following paragraphs be inserted on page 4413 of the IFATCA Manual in section 1.2 as paragraphs 1.2.3 and 1.2.4.

1.2.3  A controller shall not be required or compelled to use equipment that is known to be unserviceable, inaccurate or subject to irregular functioning.

1.2.4  To protect the controller against liability, it is essential that the failure or irregular operation of equipment used in the provision of Air Traffic Services be reported to the appropriate Management Authority as soon as possible.

Last Update: September 28, 2020  

March 11, 2020   226   Jean-Francois Lepage    2000    

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