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ATC Question - Northbound Routings over East Anglia - 1990
This may seem a deeply obscure question, but the background is as follows:-
In the late-'80s, there were severe capacity problems in the Daventry Sector of UK airspace, causing delays particularly for UK domestic traffic. I used the Teesside-London service intensively at this time, so had first-hand experience of this.
As a partial solution, northbound Teesside (BMA), Aberdeen, and Newcastle services (the latter two being BA) were routed out towards Clacton VOR northbound, then given radar control by Eastern Radar up to around Ottringham. This was pretty radical stuff for the time, as East Anglia was firmly military country, apart from origin/destination civil stuff, and the odd overflight such as East Midlands-Amsterdam.
I'd love to know how much resistance the military put up to this, what their reservations were, and how it actually worked in practice.. There was never any pattern to which flights would be flight planned up that way, and the first I used to know about it was the different SID out of Heathrow. There never seemed to be a huge amount of vectoring around traffic (as someone who listened to the Eastern frequencies told me (allegedly)) , proving that it was actually a jolly good idea, and a logical use of airspace.
For those who can't remember, the military controlled most of the airspace roughly east of the M1 and west of the M6, and the Daventry Sector was mightily busy.
I've seen a photo of an intercept of a BA 757 by Tornados which was captioned as a "celebration" (!) of the success of system a couple of years after it started.
Any recollections from ATC professionals would be welcomed.
This airspace was what is known as today as class G with a few exceptions such as Danger Areas. As such it is open to all. London Military did not 'control' it as such but would provide a radar service to anyone who requested it not just military traffic. The type of service below FL245 would be Radar Advisory (roughly equivalent to 'De-confliction Service' nowadays) with Radar Control being applied to cross controlled airspace at place like Ottringham. Above FL245 it was Radar Contol. Military Area Radar controllers are limited normally to a maximum of 4 aircraft, hence the frequencies would only sound busy when there was congestion and lots of traffic information and advisory avoiding action might be passed.
That was probably slightly later, as Dan Air were still doing the Newcastle at the time when the East Coast routings first started.
When Air UK started EDI/GLA - STN, they seemed to favour this route, too. I once heard a Pennine Radar controller down-grade the service to flight information "due to density of traffic" to one southbound Edinburgh when approaching The Vale of York. This woke the crew up somewhat. I didn't think that this was allowed...
This woke the crew up somewhat. I didn't think that this was allowed...
What, waking the crew up?
I didn't work that area in those days but regularly handed traffic off to London Mil when it was going off-airways. Often wondered whether the crews would have been quite so happy if they could see the amount of off-route traffic there was.
I even wondered whether some of the crews realised what service they were getting and what protection it provided from other traffic. It wasn't called 'Injun country' for nothing......
No, downgrading to flight information service due to density of traffic.
My memory may have played tricks, but (some people might allege that possibly) I used to monitor Border then Pennine for many years at my desk, day in, day out, and I was used to (allegedly listening to) the fun and games involved in keeping JPs doing aeros, most other RAF types, and even non-radio Italian fast jet formations, etc, apart from civil stuff. I'm not far from Great Dun Fell and (should it be alleged that I listened to ATC), I could hear the controller, too. Great entertainment.
On this occasion, I distinctly recall the service being downgraded, although it may have been to "radar information", although I'm pretty sure it was "flight information".
The note of disbelief in the voice of the Air UK chap on the 146 was amusing. He was routing roughly NEW-GAM, which took him smack through the Vale of York, which, as a general plan, didn't seem that wise. The Pennine chaps always seemed to coordinate well with other agencies so as to not let them dump traffic right in the middle of patches of busyness. Not so on this occasion.
I haven't (allegedly) listened in for years, but note that stuff inbound from the south east for Teesside/Newcastle now stays south of what used to be B1, then turns north-ish near UPTON and skirts the area. This seems a bit odd now, as there were never any major airmisses I heard about in the old days, nowadays there appears to be generally less mil. traffic, and civil stuff has TCAS. (Thinks - I wonder how crews would have coped in The Vale with multiple RAs in the old days if TCAS had existed - as you imply, ignorance is often bliss)
Thanks for the insights!
Last edited by Midland 331; 30th Dec 2012 at 12:14.