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Letters / Technology for technology’s sake

On behalf of my former colleagues at HIAL and from myself, thank you for publishing my views on HIAL recruitment and retention.

https://www.shetnews.co.uk/2020/10/10/viewpoint-hials-air-traffic-controller-recruitment-a-view-from-within/

and

https://www.shetnews.co.uk/2020/10/12/remote-tower-technology-has-no-benefits-to-shetland/

As you can see from HIAL’s response, they aren’t listening. They parrot the same reply about having no other option but to stick to the course they have chosen. All those around them can see the perils ahead and have shone a spotlight on the hazards surrounding this project.

Their warnings go unheard.

HIAL have made it clear they think that nobody can stop them.  HIAL have made it clear they think that nobody can hold them to account.

The Islands Bill, which promised so much has been proved by HIAL to be worth so little. It has failed at its first test, proved by a Scottish Government funded organisation to be just another tick box exercise.

HIAL are on record as saying the findings of their Islands Impact Assessment will not change their direction of travel.

I have no political affiliations. The rights and wrongs of HIAL’s attitude to the Islands Bill I leave to our elected politicians and others to debate.

My primary opposition to HIAL’s plan to centralise air traffic control is that what they propose will be significantly less safe for our communities than the methods currently used.

The evidence presented by myself and John Doig to the Scottish Parliament petitions committee only touched the surface of our concerns. Hopefully the petitions committee will be able gather further evidence that will support a review of the HIAL project.

Our communities depend upon safe, reliable, resilient air links to provide access to the hospital facilities we don’t have. Myself and the other members of the teams that operate our airports understand this in a way that HIAL management and government ministers do not.

What HIAL proposes is technology for technology’s sake. It is being sold to them and to the public on promises, not cold, hard facts. The remote tower systems have never been tested in the extreme weather conditions we have.

The communications links necessary don’t exist, their reliability is questionable and the true financial cost is unknown.

What is the point of taking someone from a real life, real time view of an airport and putting them more than 100 miles away and making them dependent on complex technology that provides a compressed, condensed view of reality?

It is illogical.

There are tried, tested methods that can achieve HIAL’s stated aim of future-proofing air traffic services. They are safer, more reliable and have proven costs. HIAL’s current proposals should be halted and a fresh approach considered before it is too late.

HIAL’s main purpose should be to provide safe, reliable airport facilities to the communities that HIAL was set up to serve, not get involved in risky experiments.

I urge anyone with an opinion on this to make their views known through their community council, local government, MSP or MP. You could even write to a newspaper like me.

Time is ticking, the further HIAL continue on their course, the harder it will become to make them turn back.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Peter Henderson
Orkney