View Full Version : Crap ATC at TFS today.

Captain Slack Bladder
14th Apr 2001, 05:24
Have just got back from TFS after the usual Charter Pilots day out on a Friday. They've got this bloke in the tower who it seems has a new procedure to increase the number of daily movements. It basically means that he clears a B737 to take off whilst we are still decelerating thru 80 knots in a 767. When I asked him (politely) after we had cleared the runway if he was aware what he had done I was told that "I am allowed to do this". Oh well me thinks.
So of we go on our way home when the same tosser clears someone to land (not land after) as we pass thru 90 knots.

OK it was a nice day, and we could all see, but this is gash ATC and there was no rush. Bearing in mind what happened on the runway at TFN all those years ago, you would think that ATC at TFS would be less inclined to cut corners. Anyone else had the same experience?

14th Apr 2001, 06:18
Happens at KPHX, KORD, KJFK, KMIA all the time. Why not go up to the tower and have a chat sometime.

Captain Slack Bladder
14th Apr 2001, 07:11
Sure, I know that in the US, you are "cleared to land" when you are number 5 on the ILS. I don't have a problem with that, but in Europe it does have a different meaning. When a UK controller issues a landing clearance,you can be sure that he/she is satisfied that the tarmac is empty. Some even have it down to a fine art, "XXX 123, the surface wind is BLAH BLAH BLAH, you are now cleared to land on runway 456". Unless they use the "after the landing/departing" we all assume that the strip is empty.

14th Apr 2001, 09:21
Completly agree with your last post Captain Black Adder however being a "charter pilot"too I must admit I have spent many moments sitting at the hold waiting for clearence to take off, even though called ready immediate and being told to wait 'cause the traffic that's 8 miles out has been cleared to land.
Guees you carn't beat good old uk atc!

[This message has been edited by FLAMEOUT (edited 14 April 2001).]

14th Apr 2001, 09:42
Captain Slack Bladder - I am sure you are right and yes there is a big difference between ATC at the busy European airports where "land after" is common and TFS.
However, if there is something you are not happy with then why not file an MOR - if enough of us did so then perhaps something would be done and also they would all be on the record in the event of an incident?


14th Apr 2001, 12:35
And whilst we are talking about TFS ATC, why is it that on arrivals, you often get kept very high, whilst one of those Inter Island props, is flat out to get in before you. Of course its a Spanish aircraft thats why???

Now that really pisses me off, Spanish ATC favouring their own Nationals, would never happen in UK or most other countries in Europe http://www.stopstart.fsnet.co.uk/smilie/angryfire.gif

14th Apr 2001, 14:20
Quite agree with you EGGW, it is hard to accept when the spanish limit you to max rate of descent of 1000 fpm from FL300 and you can hear spanish chatter on the radio. You just know that you have been stitched up again!!

Raw Data
14th Apr 2001, 16:44
Actually, in my experience flying in Europe, it is only in the UK that the runway must be clear before you are cleared to land. Places like CDG all clear you to land when number 5 for the ILS etc. Same happens in othe Euro major airports too.

14th Apr 2001, 18:30
Raw , you`re badly mistaken there.

I`ve only seen it in the U.S.
Since about 3 years or so, controllers at some airports in Europe may use the phrase "land after", but I`ve never heard it used, and most certainly not in CDG.

14th Apr 2001, 19:15
That spanish pilots in spain are number one is nothing new. And that most of the controllers have now feeling of how a big aircraft behaves (you cannot slow down and go down), also nothing new.
Back to the point. I found in the Jeppy on the 10-4 for LEPA a remark, that to increase the traffic flow, pilots will receive landing clearence with the previous still on the runway as a local procedure. May be, it´s also at TFS ???

Captain Slack Bladder
14th Apr 2001, 19:46
To clear an aircraft to take off while the runway is still occupied is b*ll*cks. I would not object to the "land after the departing" if the landing a/c was on short finals, but this guy was about 5NM out. Strikes me of gash practice.

14th Apr 2001, 20:14
Sorry Static but it is you who is mistaken.

At CDG on the southern runways ATC do issue landing clearance to a max of 3 aircraft at a time.
I should know I go there most days...

14th Apr 2001, 20:58
http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/eek.gifA very shoddy practise I agree, however:
1 - If you dont like it you can always elect to continue the approach.
2 - You can go around.
3 - Land after the departing is an authorised procedure in the UK, which is only allowed at EGKK,LL, (and I think EGCC.
4 - File an MOR and bang the chief pilots table.

Judging from the comments posted, you would think that you dont have your own minds, and must do as ATC tell you.
The safety of the aircraft and passengers is your responsibility, do something about it.

14th Apr 2001, 21:33
In the US the controller can clear you to land and take off (e.g. LGA) when the runway is occupied. He/she is applying "anticipated separation" which has been approved for use over there.

In the UK, and I believe most of Europe, the situation is different. As has been mentioned, LHR, LGW and MAN can clear you to "land after the departing" prior to it being airborne. This is also anticipated separation just not taken to the extreme of our American friends or it seems the Parisiens!

The controller has to be satisfied that a number of different criteria and conditions are going to be met prior to issuing the clearance. One of these is that the pilot of the landing aircraft is visual with the departing traffic. Even though it is in the judgement of the controller that the required separation will exist, the pilot is responsible for accepting the clearance.

If you don't like it, don't accept it. It all comes down to professional trust in the end. It seems that you trust the Americans and the British but have a problem with the French and the Spanish.

When you fly into the US do you refuse to be cleared to land number 3, or do you accept it because its a fact of life over there and you trust them to get it right?

Not having the "full picture" due to use of native tongues will, IMO, reduce the trust you have in the controller because you don't know what he is saying to everyone else.

In a few years when our capacity constrained airports are bursting more than they are now, this might be a more widespread procedure along with Land And Hold Short Operations (LAHSO) where responsibility for ensuring separation is given to the pilot.

To get these procedures approved, certainly in the UK, takes a lot of research, simulation and safety analysis. It won't just happen overnight.

Its just like 2.5 mile spacing on final and reduction in vortex wake separations were a few years ago. "That'll never happen"... but that's a different thread!

Raw Data
15th Apr 2001, 01:12
Static is indeed mistaken... I too went there every day until recently. Happened all the time.

Other European airports where I have been cleared to land when number two or greater, include Brussels, Bergen, Eindhoven, and once in Frankfurt.

15th Apr 2001, 01:22
AND....Zurich, Amsterdam...well the list goes on. Do we see a problem here? Ah yes, it is the UK who (all the time) seems "out of step" in aviation matters. Wonder when they will wake up?

15th Apr 2001, 02:33
Landed in ALC this evening and we were just turning off the centre line towards the high speed exit when they cleared an aircraft to land. I find it terrible that they do this, we were still in the middle of the runway!


In the UK we operate to (arguably) the highest safety standards in the world. Some of our practices may be Dickensien but they err on the side of safety. I would think twice if I were you when stating that we are "out of step" in aviation matters lest you should be considered "gash".

On leaving London this afternoon, one of the sectors was very, very busy and the female ATCO was brilliant, and all the a/c replying were very professional, quick and curtious with their replies. I was just thinking how amazing it was that people from such a diverse range of nationalities, i.e. Europeans, Asians, Arabs, et al were all working so well together when the whole thing was let down by United XXX needing to be called three times before that ATCO got a response. You could almost hear the tutting around the TMA!

15th Apr 2001, 04:42
Yes indeed, "arguably" is the operative term. I would argue that the ATC services in, for example, FRA, AMS & ZRH are just as good (if not better) than LHR. Lets face facts, the UK is just slightly ah...."different" than the rest of Europe. When UK crews go to other locations they will just have to "go with the flow", or not go at all.

15th Apr 2001, 04:52
411A ,
your reply seems to suggest that the UK way of handling Air traffic ,being so pedantic as to say "CLEAR" to land is unexpeditious,and yet the busiest airspace in Europe is still dealt with.
Admittedley we are not moving the same traffic as in the states but we do it on single (or in HTW,s case) dual runways. We do not have the physical space to operate on 9 or 10 runways or to speed control aircraft from up to 200 miles out.
The most important point though,I feel ,is that when I give a pilot an instruction, they know it to be Absolute.
The runway is clear,the go around track is clear, the overhead is clear and therefore you are cleared to land.
If you want to tell aircraft they can land when they are number three,use another phrase ,but do not tell them they are CLEAR

ATC Watcher
15th Apr 2001, 10:23
Common guys, wake up ! the airlines that employ you are putting all posible pressure to ATS service providers to eliminate delays, while planning increasing number of movements in their schedules.They are the ones that are asking for this.
On the other end, if you do not like these new procedures,why not just refuse them and go around, if enough of you do it, I am sure the beans counters in your airlines will figure it out fast that it was cheaper to keep the old (safer) procedures.
But do not shoot at the TFS TWR guys or girls, they only following the procedures their authorities have dreamed up to increase runway capacity.

They do it in the US all the time, yes, but their number of incidents and runways incursions and collisions is second to none in the world as well.
For a real chill in the spine, try a LAHSO procedure in Boston. (Last one I saw reminded me of the old James Dean movie when the 2 guys are speeding in their respective cars in opposite directions, waiting for one of them to chicken out and avoid he collision.
This was in the US of A as well...

P.S. :
Just wondering,on my own ,how a new privatised NATS will react to similar demands , especially if those are coming from their own board of directors .

White Knight
15th Apr 2001, 10:43
EGGW, with regard to your comment about the Spanish looking after their own, I have to say that it is only (as usual) the UK who are impartial to the nationality of the aircraft that they're dealing with....
The standing joke in our company is that Dublin ATC will stick you in the hold at TULSO so as to accomodate a Shamrock who's just departed CDG,AMS,JFK etc and make sure he gets in first...And that kind of thing happens everywhere in Europe.
Give me London ATC any day of the week, although I have to add that I love the way the Yanks do it......

Oldie Volvo
15th Apr 2001, 13:59
In some respects, Canaries ATC do a good
job in a busy piece of airspace. Remember
the days before TFS had a one-way system
around the island ?

However there are problems on almost
every time I go down there these days.
Most of these are trivial and annoying rather
than in any respect dangerous. However the
age-old problem of local prejudice towards
national operators is without doubt one of
those facts of life which will not change in
the forseeable future.

Don't you sometimes wish that the whole
place was about an hour further north ?

Speaking of the Canaries - is the direct
translation from Spanish to English the

BINTER = Cowboy who does not or will not
speak English ?

15th Apr 2001, 14:58
411A - I resent the fact you think the UK ATC system is 'out of step in aviation matters'. I think even you know just how untrue that statement is. The words you are looking for is we are SAFE. Our procedures are fair and SAFE, our seperations have to be proven to keep it SAFE, anticipations of a pilot are plain ridiculous. What is that going to achieve in an incident other than a big mess to clear up again? 'Oh, the pilot was in the wrong' because he didn't take that first high speed due to the 2000' tailwind? Obviously ATC are fully aware of all the factors (yeh right). I think if you don't like the procedures elsewhere or even in the UK you should file an MOR, that's what they are there for. Improvements come from paperwork to be investigated, NOT grumblings on a busy frequency. If your company doesn't like you doing it, then they certainly haven't got your best intrests at heart.

----to keep 'em SAFE, "you gotta keep 'em seperated" (quote Dexter Holland-1993)

15th Apr 2001, 15:47
Bagheera (and any other UK ATCOs in PPrune)

I would like to tell You that UK ATC is by far simply the best I've come along.
Back to the topic: there is a number of airports (Stockholm Aarlanda has not yet been mentioned) where You are cleared to land being not number one. I don't have a problem with that UNLESS You are totally aware of that !
Especially CDG with soon 4 parallel runways and intermittent inbound traffic to Le Bourget also passing through the approach path is a very bad example of flying without knowing how many aircraft are still ahead to land on the same runway.
THIS is the only reason I am glad I've been learning french at school, I can figure out much more traffic around than if I would only speak english. Shame on french laws for prohibiting ATC to talk english to french aircraft !

Wouldn't it be interesting to see a ranking of good/bad ATC in the view of pprune's pilots?

My votes are:


This Airbus is o.k., but why did it come with a RENAULT key ??

Night Rider
15th Apr 2001, 17:20
I really worry about some foreign ATC units sometimes. The following two examples happened to me recently...

1. Taking off on runway 20 at Barcelona, ATC cleared an A320 to land on runway 25 before we had passed the intersection on the takeoff run !!!

2. After landing on runway 18 at Stavanger, ATC cleared the aircraft behind us to land BEFORE we had vacated the runway.

Someone clearly should "have a word" with these controllers. This kind of ATC procedure is an accident waiting to happen !!!

Captain Slack Bladder
15th Apr 2001, 21:40
Interesting that I was told to continue approach at AGP today. The Tower only issued the "cleared to land" after the BY757 was airborne. Double standards?

Yellow Snow
15th Apr 2001, 21:49
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">I would argue that the ATC services in, for example, FRA, AMS & ZRH are just as good (if not better) than LHR.</font>

I would hope that this is true for the dutch, as they are trained by UK controllers!

15th Apr 2001, 23:38
ATC Watcher, it won't matter what our board of directors want to do to increase the capacity at our airfields and in our airspace. The standards are set by the safety reguator, as are the procedures, they are safe, orderly and as expeditious as they can be given the constraints that we work with.
The US system based on anticipated separation is all well and good if the pilots are on the ball and do what they are expected to do.
I've lost count of the number of times I've cleared an a/c for i"immediate" ttake off, only for the pilot to sit on the runway for close to a minute before applying the power, so the poor guy / gal, on short final, who was expecting late landing clearance while i attempt to make the best use of limited runway capacity gets sent round, and the guy on the runway has to hit the brakes.
Imagine if I'd given a "land after the departing", we're then into the realms of essential traffic information, an almighty loss of separation and a whole lot of paperwork and the subsequent interviews

Give me a system that is safe and deosn't rely on what the controller thinks a pilot will do!

Turn left heading 230, close from the left, report established

Raw Data
16th Apr 2001, 00:13
There is no doubt at all that UK ATC is the safest in the world; light years ahead of, for example, the French, where politics seems more of an issue than safety.

However safe UK ATC is, it is certainly not the most expeditious. The Americans probably get that crown, but then they compromise ultimate, bulletproof safety for speed and convenience. Some might think that the USA is less safe on a practical level, but the facts appear to be that they have very few incidents directly attributable to their ATC procedures- so the issue becomes one of national ATC policy.

I remember with some amusement, a few years ago, watching Mary Goldring quizzing a senior ATC person as to why LHR does not reduce separation to US standards to get better runway utilisation. The amusing bit was watching the ATC person trying to explain why, without appearing rude or disparaging. He did well, I thought- besides, Mary Goldring knows basically nothing about aviation. She couldn't comprehend the safety v. speed argument at all.

The point here is that governments set ATC standards and policy, taking the best advice they can. It is not up to ATCOs, they simply enforce policy, so don't get down on other countries' ATCOs when they operate in accordance with their SOPs.

However, this from ATC Watcher displays an alarming lack of insight into the problem:

&gt;&gt; On the other end, if you do not like these new procedures,why not just refuse them and go around, if enough of you do it, I am sure the beans counters in your airlines will figure it out fast that it was cheaper to keep the old (safer) procedures. &lt;&lt;

The bottom line is, no company is going to have much sympathy for, or patience with, pilots who do such a thing- particularly if the company is happy with the procedures. That is quick way to get yourself very unpopular indeed!

Me, I'm with Bagheera.

16th Apr 2001, 02:25
On the same lines,

how often do ATC hear the line "we have vacated" from an aircraft still in the middle of the runway? Always goes down well in low vis. We ain't gonna tell ya if our SMR/GMR/ASMGCS (whatever it's called this month) is working or not, and as soon as you report vacated a flight level or runway the theory is that it's ours to re-allocate. All I say is, please don't report vacated when ya haven't!!

16th Apr 2001, 05:14
Would have to agree that the controllers at LHR do exercise extreme patience with acft that are told...."cleared for immediate takeoff" and then sit...and sit...and sit.
Wonder why they just don't push up the taps and GO? Picking their nose perhaps?

Raw Data
16th Apr 2001, 18:25
Don't be silly, 411A. Could be a number of things. Common ones include cabin not ready (for example if a pax stands up and tries to use the toilet, believe me it happens), minor tech glitch, last minute amendments to a brief, etc. I don't think they do it intentionally- although they should know better at a place like LHR...

ATC Watcher
16th Apr 2001, 19:27
Raw Data : my remark (that you quoted) was meant to be sarcastic, not to be taken ad verbatim !

The one that pays our salaries is always right isn't it ?

(Ooops, too sarcastic again....)

16th Apr 2001, 21:29
To maxmobil , the ATC expert....

When I want to know if a steak is good, I'm asking a butcher , and when buying a new car I try to get advices from a car distributor.
If I want with some pretension to know if an ATC OPS Center is good or bad ( those two adjectives seems to be very poor to qualify an ATC service... ) I will surely not ask a pilot !!!.
Your vision of ATC, from the sharp end of radio communications, is to real ATC work what is a Disney cartoon compared to the the last Spielberg movie.
I spend roughly 17,000 hours of ATC OPS business most of them in this soon 4 runways airport north of Paris. This means I have heard a lot of these whimpering comments about ATC coming from cockpit experts.( I still d'ont understand why ATC managers d'ont hired Pilots - I mean anglo-saxon pilots, the crack regiment - instead of ATC/O . What kind of wonderfull air world we can get after that!!)
To come back on your statement about the use of french on frequencies and your assumption that it can figure you more traffic around , I am pleased to welcome on PPrune a pilot who can fly an aircraft when sharply - with no ATC training- monitor 4 frequencies at the same time,wich should be the case at the airport cited above !!!
But may be it's a reason why 12% -roughly- of the upbound messages should be transmitted twice before you answered...
We are at the begenning of the 21th century, it's time to leave your piedestal, do YOUR job as a professionnal, and let ATC/Os do THEIR JOB for which they have been trained.

Read the ICAO initial statement of the choice of an international language for aviation : english was an intermediate choice by default before work groups can find something else. We are still waiting for such work groups since that time but political lobbies have been invented...

I am optimistic about the democratic future of mankind but I am afraid that the use of english language will remain the last surviving totalitarism....

16th Apr 2001, 22:57
Read the ICAO initial statement of the choice of an international language for aviation : english was an intermediate choice by default before work groups can find something else. We are still waiting for such work groups since that time but political lobbies have been invented...

I am optimistic about the democratic future of mankind but I am afraid that the use of english language will remain the last surviving totalitarism....

Come on A7700, are you trouly suggesting that we should use french... as THE ICAO language ???

16th Apr 2001, 23:27
Some American pilots have quite enough trouble coping with English, one shudders to consider the problems they might have with French.

16th Apr 2001, 23:51
Let's face it. If you want to hear crap ATC, go to CDG. I'm flying in there several flights a week. Last week I was cleared to land on first call to tower as usual- as number six. And when you really like to hear wat's going on around you, the suckers are talking french. If I remember correct, there was a Streamline SD330 accident involving a Liberté MD80. Wasn't that the same crap ATC talking frog language again. And do not talk about pilots and ATC controllers. I have my 5 years working both TWR and ATCC, so I know the difference between pilots and wannabees.


Raw Data
17th Apr 2001, 00:00
ATC Watcher -

Sorry mate, I'm not very clever, if you don't use the ole smilies it's hard to tell what you mean!! ;)

A7700 - Your written English and spelling are marginal, which makes you 200% better than some of the people in CDG ATC!!

OK, OK, sorry, couldn't resist it.

Point is, there are some things French ATC around CDG do very well indeed, for example sequencing and speed control (I have never had to hold in three years flying into CDG). However, they are sometimes difficult to understand, and sometimes issue contradictory instructions (especially on ground).

Some recent gems include being cleared to cross 26R whilst an A320 was rolling for takeoff on that runway, being cleared above FL100 on departure only to have it cancelled when we were only 200 feet below the path of another aircraft, and having to "descend urgently" (this before TCAS), being cleared to descend on the ILS when there was another aircraft directly below us on the localiser, ending up halfway down quebec taxiway and coming face to face with a 777 who had been sent the other way... and on it goes. I have filed more MORs in the three years I have been flying in French airspace than in my entire career outside French airspace.

If we don't answer, it is often because we are looking at each other in the cockpit, trying to work out what it is we have been told to do.

Last week, flying down to Chambery, we were cleared to a reporting point that neither of us had heard of, and wasn't obvious on the map. I asked the ATCO to spell the reporting point, and he REFUSED!!! I mean, what is that all about?

Sorry, the various communication difficulties at CDG are both serious and unsafe, and until you guys recognise that, and do something about it, those of us who know will always be nervous in French airspace.

Finally, it has been said that if we make a mistake, we die. If ATC make a mistake, we die. An ATCO is in no danger whatsoever, but pilots have frequently been in danger around CDG. That fact alone, gives us the right to comment. We do our job to the best of our ability, but we are sometimes badly let down by those safely on the ground...

17th Apr 2001, 05:07
When LHR ATC says...."are you ready for immediate takeoff?".... this means NOW, not next Tuesday. Likewise, when on the runway, "cleared for immediate takeoff" does NOT mean....start a brief, or even ammend one, it means GO. If not ready for immediate, get out of the way and make room for those that are. Wonder what part of "immediate" is not understood? Briefings should ALL be complete before entering the runway.

17th Apr 2001, 06:22
There is an an element of xenophobia here.
If you don't speak the local language how do you know what favours are given to nationals over strangers?
In favour of the Canaries I have to say that I feel quite secure under their control.
The only irritation I normally have is not being cleared for immediate take-off when the next arrival is miles out.
Turkey has modernised and is pleasant to visit with the new Bodrum better but still iffy and Greece is more relaxed than the frenzy of high density no radar chaos of recent years.
One corner of Europe does still worry me though and it is south east Spain which means Alicante, Almeria and Malaga.
I can't feel safe until I am somewhere north of that area.
I can't put my finger on it but I just feel that there are too many anecdotal incidents in that region.

17th Apr 2001, 13:45
Last year, at AGP, I was cleared to takeoff with another aircraft still blocking the runway. I readback the takeoff clearance and added the words, "after the runway has been vacated", the controller replied " no, you go now!". I filed an ASR, as I was not happy with the situation, and subsequently got a reply from the Spanish ATC appologising for the misunderstanding but adding that under the Spanish AIP that landing and takeoff clearances whilst the runway is occupied can be issued. So now you know.

17th Apr 2001, 17:58
Here's a situation for you all:

I was going into Exeter on Saturday (admitedly in a C172) and was number 1 after a landing A320 I think. As the A320 was slowing to clear the runway, another A320 called up the tower and asked for his clearance. Tower then duly gave the guy all the info he needed which was then read back as usual. Before the controller had time to hit the transmit button, the A320 called for taxi. ALL this whilst I was pottering into 26 with a then clear runway in front of me and no landing clearance.

As we all know, the "decision" height in a C172 is about 3 feet, so I was cleared to land just before I hit the deck which wasn't enough warning to make me happy if you ask me.

Was this the correct way to go about things or was Mr A320 being a bit greedy and single-minded on the radio??

Answers on a postcard...

DJ @ 87.7 Xpression FM
Pilot @ Exeter Airport...

Raw Data
17th Apr 2001, 18:24
Three possibilities here:

If you were not happy, you could have initiated a go-around yourself! Probably not worth the bother as you appear to have rightly concluded.

The ATC guy could have told the A320 to "standby" while he cleared you to land.

The A320 could have been more aware, but then he probably couldn't see you and wouldn't have had much idea about your proximity to landing.

Or they could just ban those big noisy Airbii from EXT...!!!

Raw Data
18th Apr 2001, 02:07
411A- Sorry, just re-read your post, of course you are right. "Immediate" means just that, there should be no delay- quite right.

19th Apr 2001, 07:08
Raw Data,
Completley agree with you that if something goes wrong its you guys at the sharp end, I always bear that in mind in my clearances and instructions ,hence my stringent defence of the use of the term "CLEAR". (Have to mention a stray NDB approach that had the tower personnel ducking behind there desks though!!!)
DJXL...for future reference you should not cross over a runway threshold without clearance to land ( this is not a critisism it is a safety point). Without knowing the full circumstances I cannot comment further but a controller should endevour to "control" the frequency,ever heard the slow drawl "x raaaay Liiima the suuuurfaccce wiiind is twooo sevvven zeero deeegreess at fifffffteeeeen knottts ,youareclearedtoland28" thats not the controller having a brainstorm, just stopping anyone else from calling in a critical situation.