An hotel near Wigan has appointed an air traffic controller in anticipation of increased helicopter movements and landings.
Holland Hall’s events manager Tanya Kinder, has spent time with air traffic controllers at City Airport Manchester’s control tower as part of a process to understand the requirements of pilots and helicopters visiting the Up Holland venue.
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“I’ve never been involved in anything like this before. At first I thought it would involve shifting some cars in the car park to make some space for landing, but it is far more complex and wide-ranging than that,” said the St Helens 56-year-old.
“Spending time with Nick Duriez, the airport director, and air traffic control staff in the tower, as well as helicopter pilots, really opened my eyes as to both the level of responsibility, and also just how fascinating it all is.”
Mr Duriez said: “You can never have too much knowledge when it comes to aviation and safety, and even just a basic understanding of what a pilot has to deal with and the environment in which an aircraft operates is always useful.
“Tanya picked up some extremely valuable information even just speaking with one of the helicopter pilots for half an hour.”
Tanya’s responsibilities will range from ensuring there is correct pre-flight communication with the pilot, through to maintaining the landing area, keeping observers at a safe distance during takeoff and landing, plus emergency contingency planning, as well as guest and visitor service and hospitality.
The move comes after an increasing number of enquiries following helicopter delivery of family members for an 80th birthday party in the hotel’s events wing, after which several more flights followed, and in advance of the opening of its fine-dining restaurant.
Holland Hall Hotel owner Bill Kenyon said: “Tanya won’t be directing air traffic in the sense of talking to airliners, but she will take responsibility for ensuring every stage of the passenger and guest movement process runs smoothly and safely, from ensuring the helipad is maintained, through to making sure people duck down when they leave the helicopter, and provision of ground transfer from helicopter to hotel.
“We thought it important to experience what it’s like to be involved in air traffic control, albeit in a small airport, so she has an understanding of how pilots and aircraft operate.
“We will, of course, be restricting the number of helicopter flights to and from Holland Hall because we want to ensure that the arrival and departure of them remains a novelty rather than nuisance.”