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Old 17th Dec 2012, 12:52   #1 (permalink)
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Should I complain about AFIS

I wish to raise a complaint abut the conduct of a radio operator at XXXX airfield. ( it's an 'information' )

I was the private pilot of G-XXXX and requested airfield information.

Apparently (and I'm quite willing to accept as true) I made a slight error in the read back of the information.

Instead of correcting me, the operator began what i perceived to be an extremely aggressive interrogation of me over the error. I was asked time and time again where I got the information from, and I was told I was 'hearing things' and the correct information was not re-past to me until I requested it again.

I am a low hours (TT 50 ish) pilot, and I had to make a conscious effort to put it out of my mind, so as not to distract me.

I have never experienced anything like it before.

So two questions, do the CAA regulate this service ?

And should I bother to complain to the airfield and or the CAA?

Last edited by Heath Row; 17th Dec 2012 at 21:16.
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 21:09   #2 (permalink)
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Heath Row

First, you should correct the title of your thread. If you are indicating that it was a Flight Information Service (you say, rather strangely,"it's an 'information'"), then it is not an ATC unit. According to your occupation, you, of all people, should be precise!

And yes, if it was as you describe, complain to the CAA.

2 s
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 21:11   #3 (permalink)
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Sure, I was using ATC as a generic term, but will amend!
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 21:19   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you, HR. The generic - for ATC and FIS - is Air Traffic Services (ATS) - but please feel free to be specific in this instance!

2 s

PS Gis a clue!
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 21:56   #5 (permalink)
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I don't think I should name the airfield, as he (is / may ) not be here to defend himself.

The whole exchange took about 90s, though, and carried on through other people's requests!

I may be overacting, but it was a huge waste of time, he could have just said 'correction 25R' instead of my 25L ( that wasn't the error, but it was of that sort of magnitude'

Last edited by Heath Row; 17th Dec 2012 at 21:57.
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 22:22   #6 (permalink)
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Fire it off to them and they will put it through to the right person at the CAA.

You can get some cracking FISO's and some crap ones just the same as pilots.

Don't take it to heart.

The CAA have in the past taken a rather dim view of FISO's who over step there remit.

And public telling offs on the RT are not the done thing be you AG/FISO/ATCO/PPL/CPL or ATPL.
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 22:53   #7 (permalink)
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I don't know for certain but FISO RTF transmissions may be recorded. If you wish to complain do it promptly before the RTF tapes are wiped.
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Old 17th Dec 2012, 23:49   #8 (permalink)
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"Mmm, I made a slight error in the read back of the information".

I think you will find that in the legal world that is not enough to get you off, being as you profess to being a barrister.

So, to your two questions.

Q1: "Do the CAA regulate this service?"

A: Don't know, but if you wish I will bring your "slight error" to their attention.

And what was your second question?

Q2: Oh, that's right "Should I bother to complain to the airfield and or the CAA?"

Hey, you are supposed to be the barrister here and you are asking us?

A: Only you can decide if you can be "bothered to complain". But perhaps a phone call to the "radio operator" and the "CAA" may be the first option that I would explore. But if you are after compensation for hurt feelings, well, my money is on you don't win. But, hey, give it a go if you think that you've got a genuine chance of winning.

Welcome to the real world. Reread line one and maybe do a little more study and gain a little bit more experience before judging others.

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Old 18th Dec 2012, 01:21   #9 (permalink)
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Argus, that's a little out of line.

The entire purpose of a readback is to pick up and correct any errors, as you know full well.

Normally this is done without any rancour whatsoever - it's just a factual exchange.

Or maybe you're just having an anti-barrister day?
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 06:08   #10 (permalink)
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AT - You'll no doubt be unsurprised to hear I expected a few responses like this. Barristers make mistakes, from time to time, although I'm glad to hear that most people seem to think we're superhuman. Have you never made a mistake??

And I've no doubt that my RT will get more attention from now on, but I also thought that I'd gauge 'public' opinion on here as to whether it should be reported.
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 06:50   #11 (permalink)
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AT is from Argadargada that says a lot
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 07:21   #12 (permalink)
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Not only barristers make mistakes, Heath Row. All humans make them. Even pilots, and ATC. It's human nature, and can't be avoided.

Once thought to be infallible, investigators/procedures designers now recognise that aviation professionals can and do fail, and engineer stuff in such a way that it is extremely unlikely that a simple error will result in a major event. A readback is a primitive (and usually fairly effective) example of this.

A way you might find useful to cut down the incidence of reading back the wrong instruction (if you've forgotten what was said, rather than having heard/interpreted it incorrectly) is to develop a shorthamd, for writing involved clearances and info down. ATC do this. It works. The real "agricultural" model involves a chinagraph pencil, and a piece of perspex, such as the one you look at the view through. Cleans off with a chunk of cheescloth.

Last edited by Tarq57; 18th Dec 2012 at 07:22.
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 07:55   #13 (permalink)
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Tarq57 - Of course, and this is rather my point. I wouldn't have considered it an issue, if he'd made a slightly sarcastic comment about reading my own writing, or the like. I'd have taken the rebuke and moved on.

But imagine this - I make the mistake (I assume), and get in response, not "correction, 25 Left Hand" or "Best you write it down sunshine, I said Left" but:

I didn't say Right.
Who told you that,
Where did you get that information?
Tell me, now.
Tell me.
You're hearing things.
Who gave you that information?

In rapid fire quick succession, someone else asks for airfield details, and he then takes up again-

Who told you Right, I didn't say that?
Tell me, who said that?

etc, etc.

For about 90 seconds start to finish! Now that's not a mistake on his part, that's a rather pathetic way to try to exercise some perceived "power" by someone who clearly has, as our American cousins say 'issues' !
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 08:08   #14 (permalink)
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I could tell a long story, but the gist of it is this...

CEO gets a speeding ticket, gets to work, yells at VP.
VP yells at secretary. Secretary yells at receptionist.
Receptionist gets home and yells at son, sends him to bed without dinner.
Son sees cat on the way to bed, kicks cat.
Probably would have been better if CEO went to receptionists house and kicked cat himself... but...

the point is, maybe someone had been kicking his cat all day long?

Sometimes we have to change people's perspective... and no, it's not your job to do that, he should have been professional

If I'm in similar circumstances I say something like "I'm sorry, I must have written it down wrong, I am new at this (depending on the circumstance, you might be able to say the dreaded 'Student Pilot'), would you please repeat the instructions". In his mind, all blame is shifted to me, and it usually diffuses the situation, but if someone were to listen to the recording they'd know where the fault truly rests.

Personally, I'd rather have the right information, and work together, than have an accident because I tried to land on 25L instead of 25R and then file a lawsuit from the hospital, or worse, have my wife file a lawsuit.
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 08:16   #15 (permalink)
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Heath Row.

This happened to me once a few years ago flying in Class G airspace, VFR and I "received a blast" from the local RAF unit even though I knew I was completely in the right (legally, morally, airmanshipwise, safetywise).

I called the unit the following day and asked to speak to the SATCO and explained who I was, what the issue was, and why I was phoning and finished by saying that I was about to write to SRG at the CAA about it as I felt it was a safety issue.

The SATCO admitted it was he who had given me the blast and that the reason for doing so was to "discourage" GA flyers from flying near their airfield as they had recently started to fly a new type of aeroplane and to be fair he apologized, so "nuff said" and I ripped up my letter to the CAA.

My point is that I have always felt a telephone call to the unit with a "threat" of taking it further is enough, particularly as such an intimidating manner is not conductive to flight safety especially with new and student pilots who may have been listening in to your transmissions.
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 09:41   #16 (permalink)
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DC10... That's what used to happen donkey's years ago. A quick verbal exchange on the phone and then a pint at the local pub.

If a pilot gets upset with ATC or v.v. it's always a good idea to talk to each other before getting out the pen and paper. However, there is no excuse for admonishments on the R/T.
Old 18th Dec 2012, 13:22   #17 (permalink)
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Was it Elstree?
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 13:47   #18 (permalink)
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I'd rather not play guess the airfield!
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 13:50   #19 (permalink)
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Must be Blackbushe or Fairoaks.
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Old 18th Dec 2012, 14:13   #20 (permalink)
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However, there is no excuse for admonishments on the R/T.
If the exchange was even halfway close to what the OP has described, that is not admonishing someone on the R/T but rather sounds like someone having serious personality and self-control issues (colloquially: he has lost it). Not to mention the fact that he's showing a complete and utter lack of professionalism. I don't think that pilots (especially low-hours ones) could benefit from such a distraction in any way. My advice is: report it immediately and in writing, and to hell with all the schoolyard bully types who have already (unsurprisingly) chimed in and will keep doing so.


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