Help for NZ Controller Killed in Christchurch Quake
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Last week, New Zealand suffered from a bad earthquake, with over 100 confirmed dead and around 200 still missing. Search and rescue efforts continue, and Christchurch remains in bad shape, with around half the city still without power or running water.
The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZAPLA) has been incredibly busy contacting every controller and pilot member in the area. Unfortunately, one of the tower controllers from Christchurch has been confirmed as a victim of the quake. Jeremy Thompson from NZALPA has provided the following information:
I am not sure where to begin really - the last few days have gone by in what seems like only a few hours.
We have now been able to contact the 600+ NZALPA members (both Pilots and Controllers) living in the Christchurch region and I understand most (if not all) have been accounted for.
The Earthquake resulted in the immediate evacuation of the Christchurch Radar Centre (the only one in NZ) and therefore the closure of NZ domestic airspace for approx 2 hours. The traffic airborne over NZ at the time followed the INTREPID traffic recovery plan (essentially a TIBA system) and all aircraft landed safely within a relatively short period.
The resumption of limited ATC services occurred following a check of the structural integrity of the building, and this was completed within 3 hours of the initial earthquake occurring. I understand there were a few aftershocks during this period, with at least that could be described as significant.
The controllers have been praised for their high levels of professionalism which assisted with the quick recovery to re-open the airspace for emergency traffic inbound to Christchurch.
The Control Tower at Christchurch Airport was NOT evacuated during this time and the controllers remained inside the tower for the duration of the Radar outage.
We are still working with some significant restrictions on the volume of traffic operating in the airspace, mainly becasue of the risk of further evacuation of the bulding that maybe required at short notice in the event of further significant aftershocks. These restriction will continue for some time.
Unfortunately for NZALPA and all its members, we did not escape the earthquake without loss of life. It is with deep regret that I advise the death of Jillian Murphy, an Air Traffic Controller who worked at Christchurch Tower. Jillian was off-duty at the time of the earthquake and was in the Christchurch CBD shopping, when the store she was in collapsed during the earthquake. Jill's family is shocked and saddened at the loss of their loved one, and the small New Zealand avition community is deeply saddened at the loss of a valued colleague and friend.
Jill is survived by her partner, Richard, and her children, Taylor (17), Bond (15) and Richards son Sam (20) who is currently training towards his ATC licence after Jill mentored him through the ATC selection process last year.
Jill was a vibrant, bubbly person that always had a smile on her face and made time to get to know her fellow Air Traffic Controllers and she will be always missed. The Controllers at Christchurch Tower are all in a state of shock after hearing of Jills accident.
NZALPA is taking steps to setup a Trust fund for Jills family that are left behind, and we would greatly appreciate any contributions that our IFATCA global connections can provide to assist us with growing this fund to provide for Jill's family in the years to come.
Donations can be made to the fund using the following details:
Bank: Bank of New Zealand
Bank Address: Wellington, New Zealand
SWIFT code: BKNZNZ22
USD payments: ABA# 021 000089
Bank Account Name: New Zealand Air Line Pilots Assn - NZALPA Jill Murphy
Address of NZALPA: 3 Airpark Drive, Mangere, Auckland, NZ
Bank Account Number: 02-0264-0365089-005
We are thinking of our fellow air traffic controllers during this difficult time, and we ask that you please keep them in your prayers. Messages of sympathy to Jill’s family can be sent to email@example.com.
Click here to read the touching article featuring Jill.