View Full Version : Do you ever get annoyed with PPL students?
28th Aug 2002, 23:18
I am currently doing my PPL at a controlled airport in the UK. At first, the thought of pressing that button and talking to ATC filled me with dread. Indeed, on my first ever call, my instructor made me write everything down and in addition to this, he made me pracrise it. I still made a bodge job of the call though!
But now, I am into the solo circuit bashing stage, so I wondered if you ever get annoyed with people like me, who say things like..
"Err..Errr...could you repeat that last bit G-**"
Also, in my tiny experience, I have noticed something odd. Whenever I finish my solo session, I always thank the people in the tower for their help, and I always get a reply to this compliment. They always say thank you, but they say it as if they don't usually get any words of thanks.
I just wondered what you thought of this. Are pilots and ATC a world apart, with one camp not really liking the other, or am I just speaking a load of b*****s!
29th Aug 2002, 07:14
"I just wondered what you thought of this. Are pilots and ATC a world apart"
I spent several hours "up front", including the landing at Heathrow, in a BA 747 some time ago. The crew were the nicest guys you could hope to meet and did all they could to make we welcome. However, in the cold light of day it was obvious to me that yes, we are world's apart. Pilots have a demanding job which bears no relation to the work of ATC and vice versa. I was aware that the constant instructions from ATC were a severe intrusion on what they were doing, but they handled them all with no problem. I'd have cracked up after five minutes and told the controller to shut up!
Something similar happens on the very rare occasions when aircrew visit ATC (I'm talking about LTCC here).. I've certainly had very experinced pilots sitting with me who have had enormous difficulty understanding how on earth I do my job (most of my colleagues do too!)
I don't think it ever hurts to thank someone who has helped you; crews flying into Heathrow seem to work miracles on a daily basis to fit in with our requirements and I don't hesitate to thank them if it's appropriat6e.
29th Aug 2002, 07:21
Agree with all Barnaby said.....
For myself, no, never had a problem with low time Student pilots stumbling over the RT. You've got to learn somewhen, and pressing that button and talking to ATC can be very daunting first time, which most Controllers appreciate. They will remember the first time they stepped up to the ATC mike the first time and their own performance was probably less than stunning :) (Mine certainly was!)
A visit to the local tower would help you a lot, confidence wise. You'll find that the controllers up there are human too :) and you'll probably be suprised by how welcoming and willing to answer any questions they'll be. How do you go about getting a visit? Just ring them up, they'll have some sort of procedure for visitors I'm sure.
29th Aug 2002, 07:41
My ATC airfield has no less than 6 Flying Training Organisations and handles over 80 000 flights per annum. A large proportion of these are student or low time PPL's. With this volume of traffic, bad, stumbly RT at the wrong moment can be irritating (to say the least) but my colleagues and I generally accept that you have to start somewhere!
Echoing Barnaby's point, I'd strongly recommend that you learn the RT thoroughly before you get in the aeroplane. It's not difficult! If you commit to memory the meanings of the Standard words and phrases together with the items which must be read back, you'll be ahead of the game. You can practice this anytime...driving to work, in the bath etc. etc. There's no point waiting until you're paying for your instructors time! Every day, I hear people wasting money by using 100% of their concentration, trying to talk to me in a simple, but slightly technical language while thy're supposed to be learning to fly. Great way to spend £1.50 a minute!
See if you can organise a visit to the Tower too. I think it's useful for pilots to see how things work 'from the other side' and meet some of the people you're actually talking to.
The 'us and them' thing is a bit of a myth. Most ATCO's will have done some flying during their training. Of the 7 controllers at my Unit, 3 (including me) are current and 1 is a lapsed PPL, so there is a degree of understanding. At the end of the day, I'm providing a service of which you are the customer. Your landing fees pay my wages!
Praise is always nice but CAP413 does recommend avoiding excessive use of courtesies....it's much better practice to send cream cakes, fine wines and single malt whiskies to the Tower! (however, in your neck of the woods, 'beer and tabs' will probably suffice:D )
Barnaby the Bear
29th Aug 2002, 08:58
I definately agree with the cakes and wine theory!!!;)
At my unit, the flying club do include a visit to the tower as part of the initial training, and we try to explain what we are about. Although it has to be said that we only have one flying school, so we don't have a constant flow of people.
Saying that, visiting pilots often come up to the tower to have a look and they are most welcome.
I hope to learn to fly again soon, and I am pretty sure despite my ATC experience I will make some gaffs.
Just going back to the practising on the ground bit. You will also find that if you don't have to concentrate on getting the R/T right because it will become easier through practice, you will have more time to concentrate on the practicle flying aspect.
That was also the case during my ATCO training. Once familiar with the R/T, I could progress faster on the practicle side.
I won't say much more than that, except again Good luck, and don't forget the cakes!!!!!:D
29th Aug 2002, 13:40
My recent (and first) visit to a smallish regional airport, on a very quiet Saturday afternoon:
“ABC APPROACH, G-SXTY, REQUEST JOINING INSTRUCTIONS”
“G-SXTY, ABC APPROACH”
Now, bearing in mind I’m a fairly nervous 35-hour student who is used to (and was thus expecting) “G-SXTY PASS YOUR MESSAGE”, I (probably incorrectly) re-transmitted:
“ABC APPROACH, G-SXTY, REQUEST JOINING INSTRUCTIONS”
This was met with a very brusque:
“G-SXTY, WHO ARE YOU?”
Slightly startled, but taking this to be a snappier version of “PASS YOUR MESSAGE”, I gave him position, heading, altitude, etc & repeated the request. Back came the response [in best patronising schoolteacher voice]:
“NOW, I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO ASK THESE QUESTIONS SHOULD I, YOU SHOULD BE TELLING ME”, followed by the rest of his message.
Re-reading CAP413, he was probably correct; as soon as communication was established I should have given him my details, but . . . That little exchange flustered me for the next few minutes, to the point where I was more bothered about communicating than aviating. Not particularly good, and worse had I been solo. If I was bumbling my way through Heathrow Director’s frequency, I could understand his irritation, but from initial contact to handover to the tower, we were the only aircraft on the frequency.
I’ve visited towers before, listened to clumsier R/T than even I can manage, and marvelled at how controllers keep their cool with some of us. But please, if you’re tempted to give us some ‘additional briefing’, have a think about the effect it could have on a low-hours student.
Any advice on how I could better phrase my message gratefully appreciated!
29th Aug 2002, 14:08
It's been said before, and will need to be said time and time again - an effort needs to be made at all times; both between pilots on the flightdeck, between instructor and student, between ATCO and pilot as well as in numerous other instances, needlessly stressing people out is not good for safety, for PR, for clarity or blood pressure.
Such blatant rudeness as G-SXTY encountered here cannot be condoned. If it had been a busy day, then there is some excuse, and if the guy was having a bad time with the wife having run off with the dustman and the cat having eaten his breakfast, then he should either take leave or leave his problems at home.
As a professional pilot trying to get into a commercial flight into a regional airport with lots of training traffic with PPL's bumbling over the words and the field, I have on many occasions got impatient. However, I make a very conscious effort to keep RT communications professional and even-keeled, remembering that I was a learner once.
To treat a PPL student as a small child is insulting, patronising and downright RUDE. Had I overheard the above conversation I would have telephoned later and berated him for not sticking to approved RT procedure, quite apart from his attitude problem.
29th Aug 2002, 18:23
Flock 1, We can often tell who are experienced pilots and those who are not by their RT. Quite often the student or low hours PPL is hesitant and unsure of what to say. No problem! we will just slow down what we say and only ask one thing at a time because we have all been there whether it is as a student PPL or the first time taking to live aeroplanes.
There is no excuse for rudeness no matter what the provocation.
29th Aug 2002, 21:52
I'm appalled at the way G-SXTY was treated, wholly unprofessional :mad: :mad:
The unit I work at has a good few VFR movements with the localy based flying club, the UAS and other local airfield traffic requiring zone transit or a FIS.
The majority of times we can tell when it's a low time student who is nervous as they get the phraseology correct, but take a while to get it all out. But as has been said, everybody has to learn somewhere so unless it's REALLY busy, I'll be patient, otherwise I'll justy ask you to standby until a slightly quieter time.
In my experience it's the high hours ppl pilots that spend hours giving you their life story on a busy frequency cos they're concerned that they won't get a chance to get it all in.
We may not have the details of these flights, so we've got to get a strip and write everything down (usually looking in the book for those obscure destinations :) )
G-SXTY, I hope your experience hasn't given you the wrong impression, we will do our best to provide you with the service you want.
To all those life story people out there, when it's busy a callsign will do and we can get back to you for the rest when we've got a minute, if we forget, a gentle reminder with the callsign again when it gets a bit quieter, after all we are only human :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
31st Aug 2002, 11:20
i am also appalled at the treatment gsxty got
quite apart from anything alse making a low hours pilot nervous of air traffic could lead him to make dangerous errors through fear to tell atc anything and also take concentration away from flying the thing!!
and thanks is always gratefully received!!!!! - cakes are better!!
31st Aug 2002, 11:25
Put us all out of our misery - WHICH AIRPORT??
1st Sep 2002, 09:57
It was EGSH.
I’m sure it was a one-off though, as I’ve never experienced it before or since, and they couldn’t have been more helpful when I was back there yesterday. I guess being human entitles us to an off day every now and then.
In any case, thanks for the moral support – I did consider having a quiet word when booking out, but decided against it. As Captain Stable said much more eloquently than what I can, no-one in this business needs raised blood pressure. IMHO, being philosophical is a lot safer than reacting & getting wound up.
I’ll just remember to pack the cakes with my flight bag next time!! :) :)
3rd Sep 2002, 21:39
I don't think many ATCOs will have a problem with you requesting repeats of R/T messages etc, since....
1. it's always better to check and get it right than assume and make an a**e of it. This works both ways, too.
2. everybody makes mistakes anyway. Under pressure, I've turned "Golf Whiskey Yankee" into "Golf Winkey Wankey" and god was that embarassing.....
3. everybody starts somewhere, and in a few years time you might be sat at the front of a big shiny jet, speaking in that really cool accent they use
4. certainly NATS student ATCOs, possibly others, do a certain number of hours flying training so we know what it's like to be solo, scared and orbiting on downwind with an ATCO nattering at you!
And most significantly...
5. I have NEVER been given a load of verbal **** about delays, speed control, etc, by a low-hours PPL who is paying to do something they enjoy. Ironically the real grief comes from (admittedly a very few) commercial guys who are being paid quite a bit to do it!!!!!!!
Definitely take the chance to visit ATC if you can. Most ATCOs are very friendly, and there are now only a few that bite people on sight!!!!!
27th Sep 2002, 16:18
Not quite as bad, but whilst I was training, I received a nature lecture from the Tower, telling me how a fox was an animal with a big bushy tail, and lived in the wild killing chickens. I was *SO* tempted to reply that a foxtrot was a dance, but decided that I wanted to be cleared to land, and not sent around at £2 per minute!
28th Sep 2002, 16:49
Maybe that is the problem Youngskywalker. If they have only done fifteen hours and you are doing the "Full Monty" perhaps they are a lttle jealous!
For the rest of the ATC staff, most of us fly, and have quite a few hours under our belts on all kinds of aeroplanes, we will treat you with the courtesy and respect that you are entitled to, because we were all student pilots once!
28th Sep 2002, 22:21
I am sorry you should think the way you think. Maybe your airfield does have a problem, but I think you should see from the comments here that the vast majority of us remember that you are learning not only how to fly but effectively speak a foreign language at the same time.
One of the biggest problems I have encountered is that many flying schools place little emphasis on RTF procedures.
If your R/T was up to speed that would give you far more thinking time.
Life histories are an enourmous problem for us, the other main difficulty I have encountered is the lack of understanding of the phrase "standby".
You may find that a locally based ATCO will be prepared to help you with your R/T. I would be very surprised if there were not 1 or 2 members of the flying club who are ATCO's.
I well remember my very first exercise at the college with one aircraft in the circuit and one vehicle on the Apron and the shear terror that I may say the wrong thing. We are human we do understand .
But you must all learn your R/T it is an integral part of your Flying and should never be considered as secondary.
1st Oct 2002, 10:41
Cream cakes on the way for their forbearance (except when I call Tower instead of Ground when I skip the end of ATIS).
When Lindsey in the right hand seat gets totally circuit-happy he starts making strange vocalisations. Sometimes these are in the midst of my downwind call. Or when I flub my call on short finals and say "golf-bravo-gargle-gargle-oscar" and the right hand seat starts laughing whilst the mike is still keyed. Or one day when Pete(?) asked us what we were doing up there and we couldn't answer cos we were bouncing off the cabin roof. We got some real help getting down that day on 27 with 18kt gusting 35kt from 180 in a C152. Pete gave us constant windspeed info and I plonked it down with the rudder hard on the stops when it lulled. ILAFTD!
Many thanks guys and gals and I'll be out there again once the house building project is finished.
2nd Oct 2002, 19:54
I am known as being quite rude at times on the freq when dealing with pilots and do realise that it is wrong but usually the temper beats common sense to my mouth.
I did my ATC training at a busy field with lots of flight training mixed in with IF arrivals and deps etc and I also had to stumble over the words. We joke know when ever I fly or am in the TWR when we hear the student echo the instructors (EWX umm uh <left downwind> Oh left downwinf RWY __) but the same happened to me wilst I was being taught.
When we hear some one strugling we may curse when not transmitting but generally we slow the RT patter and give 1 instuctiona t a time. I t is in general better to do it this way cause if you don't and the pilot gets it all wrong how you conna fix that now.
The thankyou's are always appreciated and I agee that if I have asked a pilot to fly his aircraft in such a way that is not usual I will also thank them four thier help works both ways:D
4th Oct 2002, 10:47
AS previously stated by others, I do think that a degree of patience is required with low hours students, indeed all pilots - ATC is a profession after all.
What really gets my goat is poor instruction. I've just had an example of it.
Low hours student with instructor on board calls for start and readability. This I give him along with runway and pressure - no readback, what's the bl**dy instructor doing?
He then calls for taxi stepping all over another guys airways clearance readback - what's the bl**dy instructor doing? AND NO APOLOGY EITHER - bad manners on top of poor airmanship too.
Yet again, no read back of taxi instructions or pressure - what's the bl**dy instructor doing?
Ready for departure and he doesn't read back the take-off clearance, just starts to roll - what the bl**dy hell is the bl**dy instructor doing? :mad:
4th Oct 2002, 19:39
first of all in the raf we tend to say fox instead of foxtrot, probably becuase in air to air combat the kills are called fox ie fox 1 2 and 3. when i broke down on the m6 a few years ago i told the police my registration and the operator said "fox do you mean foxtrot?" so i explained that we called it fox. at cranwell the students used to visit us once a month. one day one of the arab students came in with a harrods bag, inside were two boxes of lose handmade belgian chocolates that hed brought as a present for us! these boxes were the size of a shoe box, it took us hours to eat them! imcontemplating doing my ppl or should i say nppl, although im used to speaking on the rt im not looking forward to it.
8th Oct 2002, 03:26
I am afraid that I have had both good and bad episodes with ATC - remarkably enough the good ones have always been outside my home ATZ when I am en-route (London Info are gr8! and very professional, and likewise for Luton App when they aren't too busy!)
G-SXTY, take consolation in the fact some of us have also suffered the humiliation on RT from ATC. This happened to me in my training when I mis-read a clearance given to a just departed aircraft and jumped the holding point stop-line, thereby effectively entering the active (although believe me, where I fly there is a good 150ft of taxi way between the line and the runway) I got a screaming female controller saying "G-****, hold short and read back!!!!!!" She was so stressed she completey panicked me and I just clammed up. As a student, that is a very negative experience.
I am by no means generally labelling controllers as snappy or unprofessional because the majority do a stirling job. But it is true to say that there is little understanding in what each person is trying to do, and as G-SXTY underlines, flying an aircraft (esp. in a busy circuit) can also be v. demanding. It is nonetheless rare (correct me if I am wrong) that a pilot snaps at a controller:confused:
Barnaby the Bear
9th Oct 2002, 12:07
I don't have a PPL, and yes I am completely jealous of people that can fly. (Just bought house can't afford to yet). But I do get to fly with club members and the flying school whenever I can. This gives me a better understanding of what is going on up there until such time that I can afford to pay for lessons.
Likewise, the club send all new students up to the tower for a visit , so that they can see what we do.
From my point of view (ATCO) yes I can get frustrated by new (and old) pilots, but when I was reletively new up here, I know that pilots were frustrated by some of my learning gaffs.
Swings and Roundabouts. Just so long as its safe!!!!!!
But I think that just simply getting to know your local flying school and nabbing the odd flight and pilots visiting ATC is a great help.
9th Oct 2002, 20:03
I'm training at the moment for my PPL, and I find the majority of ATCOs very helpful to student pilots, and only had the one negative experience (that was at Bristol, and I was messing up the sequencing by orbiting too far away from the field - believe me though, as a solo student a 737 piling down the ILS looks plenty close enough however far away you are! While it was my fault, I didn't know the airfield too well, and things like the distance at which to orbit isn't always easy to judge when things look new. Anyway, the guy got really snappy on the R/T about it.)
Had some great controllers though, who are very understanding towards students, and even had one female LARS controller at Yeovilton on a very quiet Wednesday (absolutely dead on the RT), at her suggestion, let me practice all sorts of strange calls and requests, just to get some experience of them. That is the sort of thing which really helps us students out. Bournemouth and Exeter are some other very good fields for helpful ATCOs, and I hope someone takes them some cakes soon!!!!
I think I'll start a new thread soon on fitness & exercise plans specially designed for ATCOs, as with all these cakes they're going to turn into a right bunch of fat bas***ds!!!:D
Barnaby the Bear
10th Oct 2002, 08:25
Not too much problem with that. We have to climb lots of stairs to get to the office. Unless there is a nice lift.
Besides its you pilots that have to watch the weight. Extra Fuel = Extra money!
14th Oct 2002, 22:15
I'm surprised to hear EGSH (Norwich) were rude. Last time I was there a few weeks ago the lady ATCO in Twr was so friendly and talkative it was almost embarrassing!
If I remember rightly Appr is run from RAF Coltishall. Always had the very best and most friendly service from both, I learnt there many years ago and have been back visiting a few times recently.
I have to admit though that I have the distinct feeling that if I sound "professional" I may get better service, increased chance of a zone transit, etc.....