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Old 27th Sep 2017, 07:09   #1 (permalink)
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handovers from europe to London control vs London information

I have seen a couple of posts a while back about this particular issue, is there anyone on here who can shed some light on it?

In short, lower level SEP type traffic files an IFR flight plan from europe to uk, and despite being on an IFR flight plan, gets handed to london info 124.6 instead of continuing with london control.

I have done two trips recently where it all worked reasonably well, but my colleague did the very same trip and got handed to 124.6 who then had to try and negotiate a clearance, ended up suggesting freecall southend for radar service but had to descend 2300 and remain clear etc.

Both of us filed IFR flight plans, and my experience was better but not ideal

Outbound denham it works really well, clearance passed from the tower on start, climb on route to join controlled airspace at brookmans park, headings @ FL80 thence to the coast and a handover to the (very good) approach controller at lille or ostend , on the star or vectors to the ils. Coming home it seems to be a little less systematic, one trip handed on to southend for radar, next trip handed to thames radar. Southend were great and we remained in controlled airspace right til stapleford then descent below the TMA. Thames were a little less helpful, had to descend to 4000 DET-LAM which was fine but just before LAM pushed out below the TMA, but still offered a handover / service from Heathrow Radar at 2300 ft OCAS. Would have seemed much more sensible to have been at say 2500, under positive control and above the VFR traffic. At least I didn't get dumped onto London Info which is effectively an enforced IFR cancellation just when you don't need it.

Anyone got any advice or alternative viewpoints ?

My suggestion was to refuse the handover and request handover to london control instead, after all you are in or about to be in their airspace... But what about lost comm in IFR with no VFR weather below MEA ? continue with the flight plan? but there is a possible argument that says the flight plan isn't in the system which is why you get handed off to Info, so you are now a lost comm a/c in the TMA with no flight plan. Not good...
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Old 27th Sep 2017, 08:14   #2 (permalink)
 
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You may have filed IFR but were you in controlled airspace when you entered the London FIR? If not you won't get transferred to London Control as they won't accept you.
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Old 27th Sep 2017, 09:07   #3 (permalink)
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That is a question I will need to ask my colleague to be sure , but he had an IFRdeparture clearance from Ostend, via KONAN which would appear to me to be in controlled airspace for sure. One would expect a coordinated handover at that point.
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Old 27th Sep 2017, 11:27   #4 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by custardpsc View Post
Coming home it seems to be a little less systematic, one trip handed on to southend for radar, next trip handed to thames radar. Southend were great and we remained in controlled airspace right til stapleford then descent below the TMA. Thames were a little less helpful, had to descend to 4000 DET-LAM which was fine but just before LAM pushed out below the TMA, but still offered a handover / service from Heathrow Radar at 2300 ft OCAS. Would have seemed much more sensible to have been at say 2500, under positive control and above the VFR traffic. At least I didn't get dumped onto London Info which is effectively an enforced IFR cancellation just when you don't need it.

Anyone got any advice or alternative viewpoints ?

My suggestion was to refuse the handover and request handover to london control instead, after all you are in or about to be in their airspace... But what about lost comm in IFR with no VFR weather below MEA ? continue with the flight plan? but there is a possible argument that says the flight plan isn't in the system which is why you get handed off to Info, so you are now a lost comm a/c in the TMA with no flight plan. Not good...
That routing with Thames inbound is the same as they use for all City and Biggin inbounds so it was easy to initally treat you as one of those, however I'm surprised Thames didn't transfer you to Farnborough North on 132.8 as you approached LAM; Farnborough could give you at least traffic service below the LTMA until you got Denham in sight, it's precisely the sort of thing London LARS was designed to do as well as helping pilots to avoid controlled airspace in what is a complex and busy area. You might try working Farnborough on the outbound leg as well. The important thing is, London Control willl not offer you a service below controlled airspace.
As for the IFR flight plan not being in the system; if you got an IFR clearance out of Ostend it will be in the system. When you file the flight plan it goes to IFPS in Brussels and they re-send it to all enroute ATCCs and your departure and destination airfields but not to FIR or places like Thames Radar, Southend or Farnborough. If you do want to try talking to Farnborough either inbound or outbound, you must ensure the plan is addressed to them EGLFZPZX. Get Denham to give them a ring on your behalf as you taxy out if you have chance.

Last edited by chevvron; 27th Sep 2017 at 11:38.
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Old 27th Sep 2017, 20:46   #5 (permalink)

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Well, it's going to depend on
1) how busy we are
2) how busy the next sector is
3) whether Lille/Paris/Brussels decide to call us
4) the level you have filed at
5) if Europe have had a yes on the call before (if not they may call London Info who will almost certainly give a service where London control may not)
6) the day of the week
7) the time of day
8) other sector factors such as para dropping

Outbound is more straightforward as you are largely with the flow of traffic, so your being (I'm assuming, sorry) low and slow is not so much of an issue.
Coming back in, not so simple. You are likely to be mixing it with all the Thames traffic hence will often get descent and handed off to Thames. The airspace around there can be a bit complicated!

In general in the LTMA we will try and give you a service if we can, but don't underestimate how complicated you can make our sectors. We try, but we are balancing all the time now and so sometimes it will be no. Nothing personal.

As an aside, London information are not allowed to talk to aircraft in controlled airspace so if we can't give you a service they will have to ask you to ensure you remain outside.

Ask more if there is anything I haven't covered or you'd like more info.
Cheers,
Northerner
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Old 27th Sep 2017, 21:42   #6 (permalink)
 
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It boils down to your cruising level. For instance if you leave Ostend and climb to FL60 IFR, as soon as you cross the UK FIR boundary you leave controlled airspace (base of CAS there is FL85 IIRC). Ostend has no other option but to pass your details to London info.

London info will try to arrange a join when you hit controlled airspace again west of DVR, but as mentioned it's generally too complicated for the LTMA to accommodate this.

If you were to cruise at FL100 then it would be a totally different matter. Brussels control would coordinate you with the relevant London sector and you would remain inside controlled airspace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by custardpsc View Post
My suggestion was to refuse the handover and request handover to london control instead, after all you are in or about to be in their airspace... ].
Being handed over to London info means you are going to be outside controlled airspace on crossing the FIR boundary. As mentioned London info can not work traffic inside controlled airspace. Refusing to be handed over would likely result in being told to squawk 7000 and continue en-route.
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Old 27th Sep 2017, 23:33   #7 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy5616 View Post
It boils down to your cruising level. For instance if you leave Ostend and climb to FL60 IFR, as soon as you cross the UK FIR boundary you leave controlled airspace (base of CAS there is FL85 IIRC). Ostend has no other option but to pass your details to London info.
As I suspected and hinted at in #2
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Old 28th Sep 2017, 07:10   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for very helpful responses

What a great set of answers ! many thanks to all concerned.

I will find out what my colleague filed and what his departure clearance was, I am speaking based on anectotal evidence. If he had an IFR departure clearance and a flight plan in the system similar to mine, it must have been in controlled airspace. But it is clear that there are a number of factors in play here.

From my own trips:

Northerner - that was exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks for typing a detailled reply, really helpful. Yes, low and relatively slow. I think on both my trips FL080/N120 outbound from memory. That makes a lot of sense about the routings and the traffic flows.

Quote:
In general in the LTMA we will try and give you a service if we can, but don't underestimate how complicated you can make our sectors. We try, but we are balancing all the time now and so sometimes it will be no. Nothing personal.
I knew it wasn't easy. (or personal) Just not what the complications really were. Asking so that I can try and fit in to the system better, and to judge what the alternatives are and what might happen if one is descended early on a bad weather day etc etc.
Presumably on an accepted IFR flight plan, the answer won't be an actual no, but will involve a premature descent to VFR and or a longer routing as I have experienced, Are there any suggestions that work better with the flow for (say) Ostend or Lille to Denham than what I filed ?

I had:
EBOS N0116F090 KONAN2M KONAN DCT ITVIP DCT DET N601 BPK VFR EGLD

An alternative route that validated but was a bit longer ended DET-L9-CPT - VFR EGLD Would that be easier on all concerned ? Is that more likely to be flown as filed ? or does that get in the way of heathrow departures and likely to be descended early and VFR/OCAS before say WOD? or any others that might be better? I did read the SRD and there are very few suggestions for EGLD.

Chevron - thanks, what actually happened was Thames said to descend OCAS and "Heathrow radar are happy to give you service, contact them on ... " and so I did and worked them at 2300ft from west of stapleford until time to change to denham. Outbound, no need to talk to farnborough, the clearance from london control was relayed from denham tower on start and worked just fine. My flight plan was in the system for sure in both directions. I do wonder what happened to my colleagues though. I think that he tried to bring it forward an hour and it must have got cancelled instead, so it is conceivable that he got an ( adhoc) IFR clearance out of the EBOS airspace but no flight plan and thus when the controlled airspace changed level as Jimmy and you point out he was (understandably) on his own to renegotiate or go VFR !
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Old 28th Sep 2017, 07:38   #9 (permalink)
 
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I can still hear the TC cry..."Dump it on Thames"
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Old 28th Sep 2017, 12:21   #10 (permalink)
 
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'he tried to bring it forward an hour and it must have got cancelled instead'.
With a VFR flight plan, this is a simple 'CHG' message for the ETD, but with an IFR plan, you HAVE to cancel the original plan and re-file it with the new ETD, so this may be where it was 'lost'.
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Old 29th Sep 2017, 17:42   #11 (permalink)

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Hiya.
So if you come in via Ratuk up towards Det at FL80 you're going to get right in the teeth of the LC outbounds and depending on the pressure then be in the way of LAM so you are likely to get descent to be 4000' at DET for Thames to then get you through. LAM Thames and LL are unlikely to want you cruising through east of LAM at min stack or min stack+1000 so South won't have much option.

If you come via DVR it will be similar, depending on inbounds via GODLU for City and Biggin, and also the MC ins which we have to get to FL80 at ATSAP and under the LC traffic so again you will likely get descent.

You can file to go through BIG towards CPT and I'll go back to my first list!!! Some days you will be lucky and go right through and get descent at CPT but more likely you will either be sent the "long way round" south of the Heathrow stacks across Gatwick but if outbounds from KK are busy (!) you may even get the "very long way round" south of KK and then back up so adding significant miles to your trip.

Inbound to Denham you are entitled to file in to work LL approach so routing on a BIG star and then subject workload they will take you and descend you over the top of LL and usually (I think... not an expert on this one) hand you off to Northolt approach.

To be honest, far from "Dump it on Thames" They are often the best placed to give you a service.... and very helpful they are too, in what has become an increasingly busy set of 'minor' airfields.

Best times to fly? Sat pm and Sun am with LC closed!

If you'd like a particular option then ask and we'll do what we can, but be prepared for a longer routing/early descent...

Hope that helps.
Cheers,
Northerner

Last edited by Northerner; 29th Sep 2017 at 20:12. Reason: to make it make sense!
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Old 1st Oct 2017, 18:53   #12 (permalink)
 
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Filing via the Heathrow stacks and expecting to integrate with Heathrow inbounds is a bad idea. Northolt won't work the LD inbounds as a rule and expect to hold for as long as the Heathrow inbounds do.
Plan 15/20 mins extra fuel.
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Old 2nd Oct 2017, 17:10   #13 (permalink)


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Originally Posted by Del Prado View Post
Filing via the Heathrow stacks and expecting to integrate with Heathrow inbounds is a bad idea. Northolt won't work the LD inbounds as a rule and expect to hold for as long as the Heathrow inbounds do.
Plan 15/20 mins extra fuel.
It does depend on who's on though
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Old 3rd Oct 2017, 04:48   #14 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by Radar_Monkey View Post
It does depend on who's on though
Quite, but we don't want it becoming a habit...
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