The recent completion of the Eastern Sunrise project to relocate all military air traffic controllers (ATCs) from West Drayton now sees RAF personnel working in tandem with civilian ATCs at a state-of-the-art control centre in Swanwick. Report by Neale Adams.
A few years ago, my brother was working in ATC, civilian side, when there was industrial action and RAF controllers were tasked to cover. My Brother said that there were a few hairy moments as RAF ATCs were trained to bring aircraft together, while the civilians were trained to keep them apart. When it came down to quick thinking and instinctive controlling there were obvious drawbacks in bringing in RAF controllers.
Things may have changed now though as this was back in the 70s, early 80s.
With respect Auld Yin, your brother may have been a tad biased in his comments even allowing for the passage of time.
RAF ATC personnel have never been trained to 'bring aircraft together'. That is the role of Fighter Controllers (who can also provide a full ATC service) on AWACS, 1 ACC and at GCI locations (although military ATC do sometimes conduct the more simple AAR joins).
Having routinely experienced civilian and military ATC services, I would take the latter any day. Military ATC (as the RN also have ATC officers) are required to be able to control on both primary as well as secondary radar (civvies would go wibble if they lost secondaries) and are also required to cope with higher traffic numbers and non-airways traffic than their civilian counterparts.
Indeed, it was a sad day when civilian working directives were imposed on RAF staff at LATCC(Mil) and ScATCC(Mil). Not for nothing is the CAA known as the Campaign Against Aviation.
Likewise, I've not noticed too many civvies in the desert controlling TLZs or re-establishing terminal services in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Sierra Leone or the Congo with only a wrecked ATC tower and a couple of radios.
Christ, I've just defended ATC! I must go and have a stiff word with myself!