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View Full Version : BA108 intercepted on April 30'th


Miraculix
1st May 2016, 08:44
Heard that BA108 had been called again and again and again on 121,5 on april 30'th 2016, by multiple ACC and other aircraft.
In the end one could hear that an air force reported "BA108 you are being intercepted by *** air force".
Only then did BA108 come up on 121,5 and reported operations normal.

DaveReidUK
1st May 2016, 08:51
British Airways flight to London Heathrow intercepted by fighter jets over Hungary (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/01/british-airways-flight-intercepted-by-fighter-jets-over-hungary/)

Sheikh Your Bootie
1st May 2016, 09:05
Yup, i was in the area and heard all the repeated calls on 121.5 by ATC and other aircraft. Then the response by 108 when intercepted.

I can empathise with having 121.5 turned down at times due to unnecessary chatter, but there are other tools available to remind us of FiR boundaries.

All ended well.

Jetjock330
1st May 2016, 09:47
Heard it too on 121.5 taking place, whilst we were passing by at F390 eastbound. Same airspace. Heard him acknowledge the "other aircraft insight" and confirming ops normal and in contact now on 124..... with Budapest I believe.

Kennytheking
1st May 2016, 09:48
Dunno why these ATC units don't have SELCAL on 121.5. FFS, its a free app:ugh:

Nineiron
1st May 2016, 10:26
The idea of monitoring 121.5 with a spare radio, whenever operation permits, is so that a transmission from anybody, anywhere at anytime is is heard. An aircraft at altitude over a remote area is in a unique position to relay a signal. Selcal would defeat the object and there should not be other traffic on this frequency.

Basil
1st May 2016, 10:31
Regrettably not uncommon for ATC to fail to transfer flight to next freq. Then, when pilot notices and calls, they are out of range and it then takes time to re-establish comms with current FIR.
Agree guarding 121.5 is a sensible habit.

Kennytheking
1st May 2016, 10:47
Nineiron,

Actually, I am fully aware of that. Regrettably there is way too much chatter on the frequency, often interfering with proper communications on the primary frequency.

And don't even get me going about the UK and their Gdamned "practice pans". more often than not I find I have to turn 121.5 off because unlike others, I can only process 1 frequency at a time.

My point being this....."loss of comms" is hardly such an earth shattering event that it requires an intercept.

Caveat.....obviously I do monitor 121.5, as it is SOP. However, I have had to turn it down/off and occasionally found it that way some time later. Mea Culpa

jimjim1
1st May 2016, 11:37
If armed interceptors are sent to "investigate" airliners often enough, one day the holes in the cheese will so align as to produce a tragic result.

I suspect that something should be changed.

Incidentally, I flew on Easyjet recently and one of our party reported seeing "fighters" rather close to the aircraft. Flight details will be sent by PM on request by PM.

Jetjock330
1st May 2016, 12:42
A British Airways flight was intercepted by fighter jets (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/05/01/british-airways-passenger-plane-intercepted-by-hungarian-fighter-jets.html) over Hungary after the passenger plane lost contact with air traffic controllers.
Hungarian authorities reportedly issued their highest alert after the Boeing 777 passed over its border unannounced on Saturday afternoon.
Two Hungarian Air Force Gripens were scrambled to identify the aircraft which was en route from Dubai to Heathrow.
According to air safety protocols, pilots must make contact with air traffic controllers on the ground when passing from one country's airspace to another.
The Gripens reportedly took off at 12.55pm before the BA flight made contact with ground control.
A BA spokesman said: "Communication was quickly restored with air traffic control and the flight landed normally at Heathrow."

beardy
1st May 2016, 13:28
The idea of monitoring 121.5 with a spare radio, whenever operation permits, is so that a transmission from anybody, anywhere at anytime is is heard. An aircraft at altitude over a remote area is in a unique position to relay a signal. Selcal would defeat the object and there should not be other traffic on this frequency.


If Nigel is not responding on 121.5 then he has probably turned the volume down and he, not SECAL, is defeating the object of tuning it. SELCAL would get his attention which is a good idea as a last resort if he is not responding. Most commercial aircraft are fitted with VHF and HF SELCAL, why not deploy every tool in the box to establish communication?

The Ancient Geek
1st May 2016, 13:33
Coffee with no biscuits for Nigel. Plus a load of paperwork.

Daysleeper
1st May 2016, 13:56
And in the UK soon the prospect of an unlimited fine.

CAA consultation (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/507292/increased-fines-infringements-of-air-rules.pdf)

PersonFromPorlock
1st May 2016, 14:31
My experience is with military radios, but I assume civil radios also continuously monitor guard (in addition to the active frequency) unless guard is toggled off. Which does happen, because of clutter.

A simple hardware solution would be a 'guard-pause' function on future radios, which would turn guard monitoring off, or reduce its volume, for a set period (say, ten minutes) and then resume it.

roulishollandais
1st May 2016, 15:17
Recently a young Alsacian paraglider was very proud to tell at the bar, he had flown from The Treh (Vosges in France) to Germany crossing the Boarder, where he landed and being searched by his older friends that he was in the Schengen Area !!! (Flight recorded). They seem to have a big Hole In rules learning... No fighter in the sky for interception that day

Airbubba
1st May 2016, 15:48
My experience is with military radios, but I assume civil radios also continuously monitor guard (in addition to the active frequency) unless guard is toggled off. Which does happen, because of clutter.


The civilian radios I've used don't monitor guard unless you dedicate a separate receiver to the task. Most of the planes I've flown in recent years have three VHF transceivers with one dedicated to VHF ACARS. There is also HF and SATCOM mixed in the selector panel. A lot of buttons with multiple opportunities to mess up.

Post 9-11 we really are more aware of the requirement to monitor guard in the U.S. domestic environment. It's always been a requirement on international flights as far as I know.

You have the 'guard police' who come up on the frequency to scold perceived violators of their radio discipline policy. 'You're on guard!' is their eternal cry, even when someone is legitimately trying to seek emergency assistance.

Every night over the central U.S. the guard police catch hapless FedEx crewmembers calling MEM ops on 121.5. Maybe it has something to do with their standard radio setup during preflight.

And, on occasion, you get a magnificent PA announcement on guard by a Skygod from a formerly bankrupt Once Great Airline (e.g. AA, DL, UA). :ok:

I've certainly been asked to try to contact an aircraft that missed a frequency change. And, most ACARS installations can sound a chime in the cockpit if the company sends a wakeup message.

Wouldn't BA 108 normally have CPDLC comms with the LHCC controllers prior to entering the airspace?

student88
1st May 2016, 16:00
Coffee with no biscuits for Nigel. Plus a load of paperwork.


What a really useful, insightful and inspiring post.

atakacs
1st May 2016, 16:46
Wondering about Hungarian air force procedures - do they actually have 24/7 coverage ? Given the size of the country and timing involved it would not be completely trivial to pull out this intercept.

Wirbelsturm
1st May 2016, 17:18
I believe almost all European countries operate one form of QRA or another.

Una Due Tfc
1st May 2016, 17:36
Dunno why these ATC units don't have SELCAL on 121.5. FFS, its a free app:ugh:

Dunno why all you airlines don't have selcal equipped aircraft, I mean Ryanair don't for example

Joe_K
1st May 2016, 18:12
I believe almost all European countries operate one form of QRA or another.

Almost all European countries will be members of NATO, and thus integrated into NATO QRA procedures and command structures. That includes Hungary, which also shares a border with a country which experienced a shooting war as recently as 2014 and during which a number of aircraft were shot down (besides the infamous MH17 at least two MiG-29, one SU-24M, three SU-25, an Ilyushin Il-76, an Antonov An-26 and an An-30). With all that happening literally next door, one would expect the Hungarian air force to be on the ball.

Also Hungarocontrol describes itself as an "integrated" ANSP, in charge of both civilian and military traffic. I assume that means there isn't much delay in scrambling the fighters.

Capot
1st May 2016, 18:28
Moving on from the specific case of BA108 to the very relevant CAA Consultation referenced by Daysleeper, one para of that document caught my eye when I glanced through it when it came out......

4.9 Where prosecutions do occur, whilst the fine amount is
unlimited the fine will have to be proportionate and have to have
regard to the financial circumstances of the individual being
fined.
Hmmm, I thought, that's a new approach to justice that opens up interesting possibilities; would a BA Captain on the top scale, huge pension all lined up, be fined a lot more than, say, an Easyjet Captain on the entry scale for Easyjet Captains, no pension lined up yet, for precisely the same offence?

I'm not responding to the consultation because it's not my business; but if I were regularly flying as PIC on flights where radio communication is a legal requirement I would have a very strong view on the CAA's proposals.

By the way, does anyone know what "designation areas" means, in the following extract?

SERA.5005 Visual flight rules (VFR) This requires VFR flights operating within or into designation areas or routes to maintain continuous air-ground voice communication watch......

Doc Savage
1st May 2016, 18:47
A user on Flyertalk posted some pictures and a video of the intercept. See post #9 and #16.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1762968-fighters-scramble-meet-ba-aircraft.html

OldLurker
1st May 2016, 18:55
does anyone know what "designation areas" meansProbably a typo for "designated areas"?

Chronus
1st May 2016, 19:27
For those who seem to think storm in a tea cup, was it worth it and all that, I`d say remember Helios 522. No excuses for turning the volume down or not keeping on guard freq.

TBSC
1st May 2016, 19:57
Wondering about Hungarian air force procedures - do they actually have 24/7 coverage ? Given the size of the country and timing involved it would not be completely trivial to pull out this intercept.


Hungary is policing the airspace of Slovenia as well (as the latter does not have military jets). Ref. the lost comm: might be useful to have the phone number of your OCC accessible for ATC units. With a quick phone call and an ACARS message the scramble can be spared most of the times. Introduction of CPDLC will also decrease the risk.

ShyTorque
1st May 2016, 20:02
My experience is with military radios, but I assume civil radios also continuously monitor guard (in addition to the active frequency) unless guard is toggled off.No, unfortunately not - the second radio needs to be tuned to the frequency.

As far as the "guard police" go, in UK on 121.5 it's usually airline pilots getting it wrong, due to finger trouble when trying to call handling agents.

The other annoying ones are those calling up to request a "Practice Pan" in advance of the actual call. If they just listened out then made the actual call it would require two fewer calls! If it's inconvenient then London Centre would tell them so and they could desist until another time.

Having said all that, it's hardly rocket science, if 121.5 is deselected due to distraction, to remember to turn it on/up again. I manage to do it single pilot I monitor 121.5 even though I'm not actually required to do so in Class G, where I spend most of my airborne time.

Ian W
1st May 2016, 20:27
It is interesting that everyone seems to be treating this lightly. Given a military system that is being continually challenged and the current terrorist alert state this intercept could have ended very badly. This is a defense/defence of countries from potential attack. For all anyone in the defense/defence agencies knew this was another United 93 over an hour transit into another sovereign country without calling them is not at all clever not even dilatory, this is outright hazarding your aircraft and extremely poor airmanship. I have been on the other side of the situation a few times luckily before 9/11 so the pressure was less but we still had extremely close incidents with fighters having to do visual idents on aircraft that had failed to clear their entrance into the FIR/UIR.

Imagine night poor VMC or even IMC the fighter pilots both flying armed aircraft and both on edge as this is definitely not an exercise, missiles perhaps already locked on to your aircraft. Extremely twitchy as they know this is possibly an airliner full of pax but being told maximum caution it may have been hijacked. How close are you to being headlines for several weeks? If that doesn't get you thinking then it should.

The best option in these cases would be to add the cost of the alert and fighter scramble to the route charges for that airline. I can assure you that one case of that eyewatering cost and none of you would forget to monitor FIR/UIR boundary crossings.

I understand the stupidity of pilots using guard as a chat frequency and the UK practice pan system ought, like the UHF guard, to have a parallel practice frequency rather than clutter 121.5. If you find non-emergency chatter on guard is interfering with monitoring it - do not just switch it off raise an MOR or make an ASRS report.

This could easily have become a case of the crew and pax of the aircraft in question not arriving home. But the fighter pilot and his entire chain of command would have had to live with the actions - think about it.

alwayzinit
1st May 2016, 20:29
Wear headsets, follow the route progress on a bleeping chart and not just the magenta line. Its not brain surgery..................................
Come on guys!!

Wirbelsturm
1st May 2016, 21:44
It was a screw up. From my experience (luckily not being on the receiving end of an intercept but occasionally in the past on the giving end) it is easy to do with multiple frequency changes, call aheads, box changes etc.

It's not brain surgery but it's what these guys/girls do every day, day in day out, year after year and one day they made a mistake. So shoot them.

:ugh:

captplaystation
1st May 2016, 21:57
Capot,

Don't think they are too interested in the opinion of pilots, given that the opening paragraph of the document is


" The Department for Transport has actively considered the needs of blind and partially sighted people in accessing this document. The text will be made available in full on the Departmentís website. The text may be freely downloaded and translated by individuals or organisations for conversion into other accessible formats. If you have other needs in this regard please contact the Department."


Doubt that covers too many pilots.

I think a healthy suspicion of "too long too quiet" is as good a defence against this as anything, but, even in Europe there are lengthy silences in certain sectors at certain times. Totally agree Re SELCAL /CPDLC etc, Ryanair can probably be crossed off the list, but would imagine a BA777 has a few options ATC could have used to try & establish contact. If nothing else why don't they simply ask a proximate aircraft to call on it's 2nd box on the last frequency it was known to be monitoring ? air to air is assumedly going to "outrange" calls from the ground.

Sir George Cayley
1st May 2016, 22:55
Are BA 777s three cabin? If so why not call Row 1A on the Sat Phone and ask them to pass a message to the flight deck via the i/c?

jack schidt
1st May 2016, 23:36
Simple way to contact crew, as has happened in the past, is to get the affected company to ACARS message or Telcom the pilots that agencies are trying to radio contact them. Either company aircraft in the area can alert their company that the offending aircraft is not responding to ATC, or the controlling agencies can landline call the company operations about the situation.

A similar event occurred with an EK crew who were given Final Warning letters and a financial penalty.

Most modern FMS/C's allow time markers or a fix range or radial circle to be put at any waypoint. Be professional and alert yourself at the FIR waypoint as well as good RT comms discipline by ALL in the air (listen out and no chatter on 121.5) and on the ground (handover before aircraft is out of reception range).

Airbubba
2nd May 2016, 01:14
Introduction of CPDLC will also decrease the risk.

Don't Hungary and BA already have CPDLC? :confused:

I show a requirement on the chart to log on to LHCC 15 minutes prior to entering the Budapest FIR.

andrasz
2nd May 2016, 05:33
Wondering about Hungarian air force procedures - do they actually have 24/7 coverage ?


Yes they do. However with training and operating budgets drastically cut, HAF pilots usually hover around the minimum hours needed to retain currency, hence they jump at every opportunity to do some more flying. As such intercept flights do not count into the training budget, their frequency is somewhat higher than in other FIRs. I'm sure everyone involved was pretty sure it is just another loss of comms exercise, and a great opportunity to take up the birds for a spin.

icelandflyer
2nd May 2016, 06:21
Imagine night poor VMC or even IMC the fighter pilots both flying armed aircraft and both on edge as this is definitely not an exercise, missiles perhaps already locked on to your aircraft. Extremely twitchy as they know this is possibly an airliner full of pax but being told maximum caution it may have been hijacked. How close are you to being headlines for several weeks? If that doesn't get you thinking then it should.

I think you're being a bit over dramatic here. It's not Top Gun, air intercepts are well practised and well drilled. The jet will not be "locked on" ready to fire.

Firstly the interceptor is in a highly permissive environment, it has no need to defend itself and therefore no need to have constant lock. Secondly the aircraft will be not have the master arm switch on unless it is in the process of engaging. Finally the decision to bring down a civilian airliner is made most likely by the head of state, his deputy or defence minister, the "on edge" pilot will be a trained military officer capable of realising it's not an exercise and subsequently behave as such.

IcePack
2nd May 2016, 07:51
Too long too quiete. Before 9/11 we were coming north bound to UK when HF selcal from our company ops. "Please contact ATC". Now we looked at each other & transmitted no answer. But "a big but" we could still hear the controller a female voice & we were positive that we had not been called. We were monitoring guard as well. So no quiet period at all. Weird.
Anyway after trying another freq given to us on guard all was well.
I still don't know what occurred but believe it was a failure to hand us over to next freq in the same FIR. & somehow the frequency was receiving another station via ducting.
So mistake on our part maybe/proberbly, but talk about coincedance having two female controllers on the same freq but the transmitters miles & miles apart. As for no one coming up on guard I havn't a clue.
Anyway since then I was very carefull even getting a chuckle from a French controller after calling after parsing out of his FIR. "XXXX, xxx123, position!". Lack of handover actually happens a lot so guess some on here will also advocate shooting the controller.

zonoma
2nd May 2016, 08:10
There is a thread running in ATC Issues here (http://www.pprune.org/atc-issues/577965-why-isn-t-selcal-used-contact-us-121-5-a.html) discussing ways of contacting an aircraft other than 121.5.

CPDLC would be a great method if the message was available, aircraft would log on, crews were trained, however as in nearly all cases none of these happen let alone all three for it to work, it looks like CPDLC is just another system that most controllers will remember with a chuckle.

AirBubba - if you log onto Budapest 15 minutes prior to entry, how does the previous centre contact you using CPDLC? I ask as most of the sectors I control will be crossed by a B777 in less than 10 minutes. If they are already logged on to the next FIR before even entering the sector then doesn't that defeat the object in the first place?

zonoma
2nd May 2016, 08:20
4.9 Where prosecutions do occur, whilst the fine amount is
unlimited the fine will have to be proportionate and have to have
regard to the financial circumstances of the individual being
fined.
Is this not more referring to what is involved cost-wise for each intercept as all are different. Firstly, how far do the fighters travel supersonic (ie burning lots of fuel)? How long do they stay airborne? If the decision is to instruct the aircraft to land somewhere that is not destination, the compensation to the aerodrome concerned and any disruption that ensues? The local police force that greet the aircraft? It's not simply getting some fighters airborne and getting an airliner to say hello and all is ok.

McDoo
2nd May 2016, 08:28
The CAA proposal includes a suggestion that 121.5 should be monitored at all times.

Most of the aircraft I fly are only fitted with two VHF boxes, so how are the crew supposed to get ATIS/VOLMET or talk to handling agents etc? Are owners going to have to fork out for a third unit?

Also, I note that they have magnanimously allowed that the pilot may not be prosecuted if the loss of comms was the fault of ATC. No mention of prosecuting the controller then? ;)

TBSC
2nd May 2016, 08:44
@Airbubba
Don't Hungary and BA already have CPDLC? I show a requirement on the chart to log on to LHCC 15 minutes prior to entering the Budapest FIR.

Quote from the Hungarian AIP (I quess the last sentence is the main thing here):

"The controller-pilot data link communication (CPDLC) application provides a means of communication between the controller and the pilot, using data link for ATC
communication. CPDLC services are available for ACFT in the entire Hungarian airspace above FL285.The following CPDLC services are provided in this airspace:
•DLIC (data link initiation capability)
•ACL (ATC clearances and instructions)
•ACM (ATC communications management)
•AMC (ATC microphone check)
The use of CPDLC is not mandatory in this airspace and is conducted at the discretion of ATC and at the initiative of the pilots concerned."

Uplinker
2nd May 2016, 08:56
I think the problem is that there are so many aircraft airborne these days, and ATC sectors have been combined; that VHF ATC comms are becoming so busy (in Europe) that in some regions there can be near constant chatter on Box 1. Add to this the conversations on 121.5 between old mates and it becomes unmanageable at times.

In just the last week, I missed calls three times from Box 1 because they were 'stepped on' in my headset by stations on 121.5. I think I will have to start putting in ASR's about this.

Sometimes one has to actually turn off 121.5, but then of course how do you remember to switch it back on?

As an ex communications engineer, I like "personfromporlock's" idea of a temporary mute button: A non-locking button that you pressed which would mute box 2 for, say, one minute.

useless
2nd May 2016, 09:03
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOSZS5EPk_o

Uplinker
2nd May 2016, 09:43
Another perhaps easier solution would be if the ECAM memo (or equivalent) would display the message '121.5 NOT MONITORED' in Amber.

This assumes that the software of the ACPs (audio control panels) would be capable of modification to detect if : the box 2 audio buttons were selected, and/or that 121.5 was dialled up in the active channel.

Airbus and Boeing et al can have this idea for free in the interests of better safety.

Capn Bloggs
2nd May 2016, 11:03
Another perhaps easier solution would be if the ECAM memo (or equivalent) would display the message '121.5 NOT MONITORED' in Amber.

Good idea! :D

Wirbelsturm
2nd May 2016, 11:42
Another perhaps easier solution would be if the ECAM memo (or equivalent) would display the message '121.5 NOT MONITORED' in Amber.

EICAS already does it for frequencies given over CPDLC on the 777. Once the correct freq has been dialled in on Box 1 the EICAS message frequency changes from white text to green text.

Wouldn't take too much to add an alert similar to 'Pilot Response' linked to box 2.

wiggy
2nd May 2016, 12:55
The EICAS message/alert might be the way to go but a couple of observations:

1. Are you going to have the alert displayed every time you deliberately go off 121.5 to get ATIS or talk to company et.al (Yes, I know on some types there's the luxury of having 3 VHF Boxes,but it seems some types don't).

2. Will an alert be triggered, if, say, VHR X has 121.5 as the active freq, , the crew have correct audio selected on the ACP but volume(s) is/are turned down.

M.Mouse
2nd May 2016, 13:54
....it looks like CPDLC is just another system that most controllers will remember with a chuckle.

CPDLC is in use on the North Atlantic (has been for at least 8 years to my knowledge) and is used and welcomed by controllers and pilots alike. It is many times easier and more efficient than passing position reports on HF!

I no longer fly commercially and cannot comment on its use elsewhere.

FullWings
2nd May 2016, 14:11
There was a good suggestion on this thread that ATC and/or the military could have rung up BA Ops and asked them to ACARS the aircraft in question with a frequency to contact. BA 777s have satcom as well, so ground agencies could have made a call, too.

Seems like something that should be set up in the command centres of the various civil/military ATC units. Could save a bit of bother and expense for all.

I donít know the exact frequency of this kind of incident but I think itís quite high - possibly several times a day over the whole of European airspace...

Airbubba
2nd May 2016, 15:08
A similar event occurred with an EK crew who were given Final Warning letters and a financial penalty.


I'm guessing a Final Warning letter means that you're on Double Secret Probation. :eek:

AirBubba - if you log onto Budapest 15 minutes prior to entry, how does the previous centre contact you using CPDLC? I ask as most of the sectors I control will be crossed by a B777 in less than 10 minutes. If they are already logged on to the next FIR before even entering the sector then doesn't that defeat the object in the first place?

Good point, I'm wondering if that 15 minute prior rule is legacy verbiage from the Cold War ball notes for voice communications on that route.

The use of CPDLC is not mandatory in this airspace and is conducted at the discretion of ATC and at the initiative of the pilots concerned.

So maybe they weren't using CPDLC, it sure would have been nice for the controllers to be able to send up a ding with a frequency.

I donít know the exact frequency of this kind of incident but I think itís quite high - possibly several times a day over the whole of European airspace...

Perhaps several incidents of temporary lost comm a day but I don't think that many intercepts would go unnoticed in these times of selfies with the hijacker and social media.

wiggy
2nd May 2016, 15:09
ATC and/or the military could have rung up BA Ops and asked them to ACARS the aircraft in question

I've seen that done in a slightly different way - ATC asked a "same company" aircraft on freq (i.e. us) to contact base to initiate the above string of comms.

I guess doing it that way saved ATC ringing directory enquiries and also the cost of an international call....:ooh:

Edit to add: Genuine query - as anyone here actually used CPDLC with Budapest?

Uplinker
2nd May 2016, 16:44
wiggy
The EICAS message/alert might be the way to go but a couple of observations:

1. Are you going to have the alert displayed every time you deliberately go off 121.5 to get ATIS or talk to company et.al...........

2. Will an alert be triggered, if, say, VHR X has 121.5 as the active freq, , the crew have correct audio selected on the ACP but volume(s) is/are turned down.


It wouldn't be up to just me obviously. We would have to agree on the best protocol.

1. Could do, or perhaps not until after say 1 minute of non monitoring 121.5, so the caution will not appear straight away when PM is talking to company or getting weather, but will pop up after a time period - to be determined?

2. There is no technical reason why not.


Perhaps an even easier way of doing this would be to monitor the audio output of box 1 downstream of the ACP selector and volume control and trigger an Amber ECAM caution or Memo "Check Comms" after a period of radio silence longer than say a few minutes. This would detect sleeping receivers, un-selected radios and radios turned right down.

Jetjock330
2nd May 2016, 17:13
At times when I hear my fellow Company "missing" on frequency, I have sent a message to our NOC, Network Operations Center on CPDLC and ask them to tell XYZ to go on 123....45 for ATC (requested ATC freq) and 2 minutes later they on frequency!

IcePack
2nd May 2016, 17:55
Most loss of coms in my experience are America based Airlines coming off the Nat tracks early morning. & orange ones in the BDX fir.
So I wonder if some form of fatigue is involved. Please don't think I am having a go at anyone/airline as it may be just that there are more of those operators in those FIRs.
(numbers game)

balaton
2nd May 2016, 19:05
Hi Guys,


I just can confirm that the Hungarian ATM system has been fully CPDLC capable for a couple of months now... but only if the aircraft is logged on!

Lonewolf_50
2nd May 2016, 20:20
If armed interceptors are sent to "investigate" airliners often enough, one day the holes in the cheese will so align as to produce a tragic result. How very nice, a thinly-veiled insult aimed at military pilots. Just being armed won't get anyone killed.
Its going through that whole control/decision bit that has the potential for that, which includes a lot of mugs on the ground these days sine micromanagement of everything being all the rage. In this case, that most odious modern trait, micromanagement, lends a few more layers of "oops" prevention than not.
Do you, or any other air transport pilot, need to be reminded of how innocent a large plane isn't unless you know who's in there and what they're doing? I doubt it. Verification got a hard push towards Ops Normal since a fateful day in 2001. No sir, we don't get to un-write history.

In this case, it's nice to see that comms were eventually established and all ended well -- as it should.

Chesty Morgan
2nd May 2016, 20:27
I think you're seeing insults where there are none.

Accidents happen, as I'm sure you know, and you're more likely to be shoot by something that is armed than by something that is not.

Lonewolf_50
2nd May 2016, 20:39
Accidents happen, as I'm sure you know, and you're more likely to be shoot by something that is armed than by something that is not. We are all aware of KAL 007, among others, on both sides of the equation. What we can't do is pretend that the increased tension in the air is something that can be wished away, and with a finger pointed at those whose profession is handling the armed birds, just as PPRuNe is at it core for those whose profession is handling the unarmed birds, I found it (and Ian W's overwrought follow up) to be indicative of an unfortunate divide between camps.

Joe_K
2nd May 2016, 22:07
Most loss of coms in my experience are America based Airlines coming off the Nat tracks early morning. & orange ones in the BDX fir. I assume these are usually resolved without an intercept? The recent intercepts that come to mind are AB2266 from MUC to AGP, intercepted near Toulouse by the French about 2 months ago, BA108 discussed in this thread and today's AF1558 from CDG to NCL, intercepted by RAF Typhoons.

Quick look elsewhere also shows an Egypt Air flight intercepted by Israeli F15s last month and a Monarch flight intercepted by Croatian MiG21s last year.

wiggy
3rd May 2016, 05:28
balaton

Thanks for the info, the reason I asked is that the Budapest CPDLC facility has not yet made into some company's manuals.

Capt Ecureuil
3rd May 2016, 19:36
I've seen that done in a slightly different way - ATC asked a "same company" aircraft on freq (i.e. us) to contact base to initiate the above string of comms.

I guess doing it that way saved ATC ringing directory enquiries and also the cost of an international call....:ooh:

Edit to add: Genuine query - as anyone here actually used CPDLC with Budapest?

Wiggy, a company aircraft did ask LHR to ACARS them, not sure if that's what got them back in comms

Emma Royds
3rd May 2016, 23:15
It's worth noting that there is a likelihood that the BA 777 involved was not capable of logging on to Budapest CPDLC, unless a retrofit to the CPDLC interface had been carried out.

Budapest is a non FANS based CPDLC system and in my outfit, only 777s that are around two and a half years or younger can log on to such CPDLC connections. BAs -200 airframes are a little older than that if I can recall correctly. The newer aircraft enable you to select if the CPDLC connection is FANS equipped or not and for Budapest, the FANS selection box should remain unticked when logging on. For connecting to Maastricht (for example), the FANS box would be ticked whilst logging on as that is a FANS based CPDLC system. Older 777 airframes do not allow you to differentiate between a FANS or non FANS based CPDLC connection and default to all connections being FANS equipped. Therefore connecting to the likes of Budapest will not be possible. The same applies to the likes of Rhein and Copenhagen who have a non FANS based CPDLC system.

My basic understanding is that FANS CPDLC connections use ACARS technology to send and receive messages and the alternative uses the ATN network to send and receive messages.

I myself have used CPDLC with Budapest with no problems!

sandos
4th May 2016, 05:06
Couldn't CPDLC logging-on be made automatically? In my mind such a system becomes much more useful, specifically as a side-channel for lost comms, if the pilots didn't need to do anything except maybe once at the start of the flight (entering a callsign/ID/authentication, whatever), and it then handles log-ons by itself. I realize this might be difficult for technical and legal reason, such as it not being easy from GPS position to determine where to log in....

balaton
4th May 2016, 09:04
Hi All,


The Budapest ATM system was upgraded in line with "VDL Mode 2" CPDLC specs by EU requirements. (The older FANS was out of question).To my knowledge, the deadline for the full implementation in EU states is 2018.

Shaka Zulu
4th May 2016, 11:07
Budapest CPDLC is currently not an approved logon for use on BA aircraft. So other procedure (currently) required to re establish lost comms

Ian W
4th May 2016, 12:00
Couldn't CPDLC logging-on be made automatically? In my mind such a system becomes much more useful, specifically as a side-channel for lost comms, if the pilots didn't need to do anything except maybe once at the start of the flight (entering a callsign/ID/authentication, whatever), and it then handles log-ons by itself. I realize this might be difficult for technical and legal reason, such as it not being easy from GPS position to determine where to log in....

Once the ATN-B2 system is operating on VDL2 initial CPDLC logon will be automatic. The current controller is known as the 'Current Data Authority' and on handover the controller's system initiates a 'Next Data Authority' message identifying the next controller's CPDLC identity to the aircraft systems which then will transfer the CPDLC connection to the next controller.

Problem is that CPDLC is rather like sending an SMS text message from your cell phone. You do not know that it has been read by the crew until/unless you get a response.

Thridle Op Des
4th May 2016, 12:09
As a 'frequent flyer' on this route, my sympathy goes out to the BA crew and a strong dose of being thankful for my good luck (thus far) not to be on the receiving end of a 'close inspection'. One of the most insidious issues we have to face is the sectorisation that is invoked in many European FIRs. In the Bucharest FIR there is a frequency change about 40 miles from the Budapest FIR, least when you expect it (too soon for an ATC FIR handover, too soon to expect an inter FIR handover). Germany is another classic case in point, it seems that if you are heading E-W in Germany, you get a freq change every thirty miles (slight exaggeration I know, but the point is made). We can use various techniques to alert us to the passage from one FIR to anther, but we are blissfully unaware of how each FIR is divvied up into sectors.

zonoma
4th May 2016, 13:37
Question for CPDLC air traffic controllers - does your system give you an option to send a message to an aircraft to inform them they are "lost comms" or similar? The UK has both ATN and FANS CPDLC capabilities but no message available to solve a lost comms issue, there is however a "stuck mic" message!!

balaton
4th May 2016, 14:01
We have "CHECK MIKE" msg and "FREQUENCY CHANGE" msg available, the latter would be more useful in COMLOSS cases.

notapilot15
4th May 2016, 15:07
CPDLC is not above fallacy. EK-LH loss of separation incident is a clear example.

There will always be mistakes when humans are involved and failures when technology is involved.

NOSIGN
4th May 2016, 23:15
Jack Schidt - I never thought about building range rings over fir entry/ exit points. Thanks for the good idea.

Uplinker
5th May 2016, 08:14
Yeah, or put in abeam lines.

wiggy
5th May 2016, 09:06
All the above is good for FIR entry/exit but as another frequent flyer on the specific route in question I'd agree with the point Thridle Op Des made about the size of some of the sectors.

de facto
6th May 2016, 11:35
Regrettably not uncommon for ATC to fail to transfer flight to next freq. Then, when pilot notices and calls, they are out of range and it then takes time to re-establish comms with current FIR.
Agree
Poor us pilots....how about opening your damn enroute chart,select/highlight the FIR entry waypoints in your FMC,and if not called by the relevant ATC then remind them.

notapilot15
6th May 2016, 15:58
Did Europe ever contemplated single FIR? Is it even possible.

Una Due Tfc
6th May 2016, 16:45
Militaries would never allow it. They're the biggest opponents of SES already

notapilot15
6th May 2016, 23:19
That is interesting. 121.5 appears to be a nuisance over Europe and fighter jets on your tail if you miss a call for few minutes. Someone should rethink the entire process.

Ian W
7th May 2016, 00:01
Did Europe ever contemplated single FIR? Is it even possible.

It is getting close to that. You may not have noticed but the airspace in Europe is being split into 'Functional Airspace Blocks'. These are blocks of airspace that are very similar. So the whole of central Europe is one FAB known as FABEC. UK and Ireland airspace are one FAB. This is part of the move toward user preferred trajectories. The routes are being simplified already and you can plan from entry point of the FABEC to exit point of the FABEC for example. Step 2 of the 'SESAR Master Plan' will see all fixed routes removed from European airspace (more correctly EUROCONTROL States airspace) from exit of the departure TMA to entry of the destination TMA.

This is a huge change.

Concurrent with that the North Atlantic Oceanic Track Structure will cease to be published in 2025. All transatlantic flights will be user preferred trajectories, or in SESAR parlance, Business Trajectories. It might be a good idea to start chatting with your dispatch to see how they intend to work with airspace without air routes. It will not be a simple change for dispatch.

zonoma
8th May 2016, 17:41
This is a huge change
...that will not work in a large portion of UK airspace, and I imagine several other European sectors also. Not forgetting that this principle doesn't allow natural avoidance of Danger or Restricted areas which will add workload to the controller concerned which just means even more restrictive flow measures when these areas are active.

FABEC is a wonderful idea on a politicians piece of paper, which is where it should stay.

Reverserbucket
9th May 2016, 10:20
FAB's have already demonstrated clearly that they simply don't work. SES is indeed a great idea and a noble cause strongly supported by airspace users but just have a look at the recent attempt to implement a common transition altitude across the EU and you will quickly see how difficult the process of establishing a workable single FABEC is.

Ian WIt is getting close to that It is not.

A Squared
10th May 2016, 09:04
Dunno why these ATC units don't have SELCAL on 121.5. FFS, its a free app:ugh:

A good idea, but it's not going to work in every case. The airplanes I fly have 3 vhf reviewers, we only have SELCAL on 2 of those. We normally monitor 121.5 in the receiver which doesn't have selcal.

ShotOne
10th May 2016, 17:02
re. Putting range rings/abeams to show fir boundary, at best this is only minor help since many ATC freq changes aren't at an FIR.

Lonewolf, calm down dear; that comment didn't seem a slight, veiled or otherwise. It's a fact that if you put a heavily armed supersonic warplane close to an airliner which isn't expecting it, there's scope for things to go wrong, however professionally it's operated.

A Squared
10th May 2016, 17:20
... since many ATC freq changes aren't at an FIR. Yeah, but in the context of getting intercepted, the really critical ones are.

ShotOne
10th May 2016, 19:03
Ok, a squared, you fly through Russia/US/wherever with no comms but without crossing any FIR boundaries and let us know how you get on.

A Squared
11th May 2016, 02:18
For some reason you're trying to put words in my mouth I didn't say. I'm not really sure why you're playing such a inane game, but nothing I said indicates I believe that you wouldn't eventually get intercepted. Of course you would, eventually if ATC was unable to re-establish communications. What I meant was that lost comms as you cross a FIR boundary more likely to result in an intercept sooner than a lost comm situation within the same FIR. Point being that frequency handovers are important everywhere, but more critical at FIR boundaries.

ShotOne
12th May 2016, 18:17
I'm not saying it's a bad thing to do, a sq, just that it would only help in a small proportion of cases. As to the chances of interception, the main factor there is WHICH FIR. Some states (France) are very quick to give their boys some practice. Others (Switzerland) famously couldn't produce an interceptor even for a real hijack!

The UK CAA want to solve this issue punitively with unlimited fines for pilots. Interestingly there's no mention of any sanction for controllers who cause a loss of communication.

Uplinker
17th May 2016, 08:03
If that is the case (UK CAA fining pilots) then they are going to have to do something about the extremely busy frequencies. On some there is near constant talk, with no gaps, and it is exhausting having to listen to all that continuous chatter while also talking SOPs to our other pilot and the CM in the course of our flying.

Add in unnecessary chatter on 121.5 and the total amount of information we have to listen to and monitor sometimes becomes almost unmanageable.

Is there a legal maximum level of traffic in a given ATC sector, and if so does anyone know what that level is?