ATC IssuesA place where pilots may enter the 'lions den' that is Air Traffic Control in complete safety and find out the answers to all those obscure topics which you always wanted to know the answer to but were afraid to ask.
Can someone explain what it is with the military and using QFE for everything (in the UK, obviously)? We transitted a Mil zone today (Class D not just MATZ) and were told to fly on QFE. We were below the cloud at 1500ft QNH. This immediately loses all reference to terrain and obstacles (unless you have two altimeters, we did), except for the airfield within the CTR which we were not inbound to. And how do they go on co-ordinating with each other? Must involve much arithmetic gymnastics, and for why?
On the way back we elected to climb to 3500ft IFR but again were put on the QFE (and an approx 500ft difference.)
I know the mil at one time were all QNH but went back to QFE. Now it seems all QFE rather than what we do in the civil world of QNH for intermediate approach and zone transits, and QFE for final approach and landing (and that's rare now at my unit.)
Seems odd but I am sure there must be an explanation.
Last edited by vintage ATCO; 28th Jan 2005 at 05:08.
We use QFE in and around our patterns at our aircrews request. Yes we did try using QNH in the mid nineties and confusion reigned.
If I was whazzing around at 380kts into radar patterns or visual circuits in my pointy plane the last thing I would want to be doing is messing around swapping pressure settings.
As a puddle jumper it is in your interest to join in the QFE game while transitting the busy Mil airspace and getting mixed up with the fast pointy jets. It makes co-ordination a lot easier if you are on QFE for us. Its always nice to sing from the same hymn sheet as they say. At the end of the day we are giving you a LARS to help you along safely and ensure you don't end up with a fast jet suppository.
Well for you guys everything bimbles around on the SAS or the good old QNH. As I said earlier, it's was the RAF pilots who decided to adopt QFE for all pattern flying,positioning into and visual circuit work. We don't really care what pressure you are on till you start getting mixed up with a of a load of fast jets whizzing around with pattern speeds higher than good old concordes.
At the end of the day as long as you get from A to B safely, with the correct separation standards and terrain clearance applied, we have done our job. It's nice to have co-operation as we go about our military task and thank you puddle jumpers for complying with what appears an alien concept.
Chill guys!!! The Mil uk use QFE for circuit work and approaches cos it is easy - the altimeter reads zero, followed as by a little bump as you land. Outside of the MATZ / Military Radar Pattern we obey all the same conventions as the rest of the aviation community (QNH / SPS). Why do sums when you don't need to? What is difficult or wrong about the alt reading zero at touchdown? and If you are flying in / near a MATZ why not accept that you are being safely seperated from traffic that may be fast moving, rapidly changing height (forced landing patterns as just one example) flying many and various sized and speed circuits in many and various configurations - and already damned busy. Frequently we bash the pattern / circuit specifically to practicie emergency procedures (train hard - fight easy!!). We tried QNH and didn't find ANY benefit that outweighed the use of QFE. If in / near the MATZ -transit traffic (on QFE) will be told the Sector Safety Altitude if IMC, based on the QFE. As you reset QNH leaving the "service" - it's back to the deal you usually use vs SALT! Think before using the big stick your carrying. Its a forum - just ask the Q (nicely)
OK, so there you go, the answer from the jockeys lips.
Mil Controllers serve both communties, that's our job. As long as everybody gets what they want, the fast pointy boys/C172 puddle jumpers don't hit each other, and everybody gets home safely, job done. Have a nice weekend and fly on what every pressure keeps you safe!
Well, thanks everybody. Thought I did ask the question nicely . . . .
I'm still not convinced though but accept what you say. Just thought it would be good to do what the rest of us do. And how on earth you do inter-unit coordination . . . . . Still, I don't sit in front of a radar display these days. But if you want to see busy, I'll show you busy . . . . .
VA, having controled within a CTR where some ac were on QNH, others on QFE, ac in the hold were on QFE or SAS and an adjacent US mil airfield with interlocking patterns was on QNH (inches), I can say that the maths gets somewhat interesting.
HD, Is there such a thing as a "civil" CTR? I was under the impression that the majority were anything but civil.
<<HD, Is there such a thing as a "civil" CTR? I was under the impression that the majority were anything but civil. >>
Oh shame... must be because I've gone! Seriously, it used to amaze me that if we got two Heathrow inbounds 500 ft apart all the bells and red squares went off and it was off to the boss before our feet touched the floor... Yet, hand over a civil a/c to Northolt and they could gaily pop it 500 ft above or below any of their traffic quite legitimately...
Stealth Moderator - Rarely seen on radar Moderator
Join Date: Jul 1997
Would it not be easier for pointy ended jockeys to learn about QNH Ops since that is what they will be forced to use when they undergo their IR and/or ATPL training at the taxpayers expense so they can get their job flying A340s for the Wooly Pully
Rather than the mil changing why not the civilians? Having experienced using both, QFE is (as said previously) much simpler. And sat at the runway threshold showing no altitude is (at least to me) logical. Try explaining QNH to the man in the street!
HD "Why do mil opt to be different to everyone else?"
If you look at JSP 552 (JSP 318A for those of us who can remember) and MATS Part 1 you will find few differences when they talk about the same stuff. Unfortunately, mil controllers tend to apply everything as per the book, whereas civil controllers sometimes tend to do otherwise. Specifically, ATSOCAS! (But lets not get into that again) As far as QFE/QNH is concerned, surely it's better to fly on a pressure setting that gives you a zero reading when you're on the runway? As others have said, it eases co-ordination problems when flying through or near to traffic patterns. As far as coordination with adjacent units is concerned, it's easy as long as you're used to doing those kinds of maths. Most controllers worth their salt will also have a guide made up in their head as to what separation is needed between certain altitudes/heights and differing pressures. Plus which, it's what we're trained to do, so it becomes second nature.