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TheOddOne
22nd Feb 2023, 10:16
ATC825 – Use of Guard channel for practice PANs
In the latest CHIRP - Air Transport, the old chestnut about the UK advocating GA students practicing PAN calls on 121.5MHz - the internationally recognised emergency VHF frequency has arisen again.
Historically, I believe the RAF set up the Distress and Diversion Cell (D&D) in the UK to aid the larger number of inexperienced Military pilots flying less reliable aircraft around the UK, when there was less coverage on regular frequencies. This might be unique in the World. They chose to use the International emergency frequency of 121.5MHZ.
The complaint from the rest of the World is that this frequency is monitored by all airliners 'on Guard' and that this distraction causes loss of comms and annoyance.
One suggested solution is a second frequency for practice, as the RAF already use on UHF. Not only is this going to be expensive but also it's just not actually using the emergency frequency. You might just as well use a local frequency, which brings me to my point.
Locally the Royal Navy aircraft use both their own station Approach frequency and our local airport Radar frequency for practice PANs, As far as I am aware, they don't use D&D. In discussion with our local RN ATC, they correctly pointed out that the first port of call if you have a problem should be the unit you are already working.
Now, I teach all our students to always be in contact with an ATC unit and obtain either a Basic or Traffic service. In the case of our long cross-country, we may get out of range of a local Lower Airspace Radar Service (LARS) in which case there is an excellent Nationwide service called London Information - not Radar (though there are suggestions they have access) but used properly a great resource.
So, contrary to the advice from the RAF, I'll now be teaching my students how to make a practice PAN with our local Radar units. They both indicate a willingness to participate (subject to workload).
Maybe it's time to either disband D&D altogether or if the RAF think they still need it (really?) then at least have a sea change in how we teach practicing emergencies.

TOO

ShyTorque
22nd Feb 2023, 11:17
I’m surprised that professional aircrew complain about the correct and legal use of the distress frequency. If a practice transmission is intrusive (and I agree that sometimes it can be), it’s the mere flick of a switch to temporarily deselect 121.5. Another flick of the switch re selects it. If it causes a temporary problem whilst working another frequency on another radio, arguably there’s no need to listen on 121.5 anyway.

Perhaps some long haul crews don’t like their afternoon nap being unnecessarily disturbed, or find that correct use of the guard frequency causes an interruption of the football/tennis results that they’ve asked for, or blanks out the puerile animal noises and belching that some seem to amuse themselves with on the frequency.

MrAverage
22nd Feb 2023, 17:27
Not using D&D for Pan call training would deprive them of much needed practice would it not?

Hats.On.To.Fly
22nd Feb 2023, 18:10
As a long time FI, the various schools and clubs I've instructed at have all received phone calls from D&D to make practice calls on Fx to help their staff with training. It's use for a position fix for students is paramount, airspace in the UK is complex and the CAA encourage it's use to prevent incursions before they occur. I've encouraged my students to use it sooner rather than later to help, and not to be afraid of using it.

Moody airline crew having their naps interrupted by training is a rather pathetic excuse to disband or ban training on 121.5. What's even worse is morons saying "GUARD, GUARD" on Fx during a call, thankfully only a few times in many years, but I'm sure it will happen again.

So in short, no. Training on 121.5 is required on both ends, and is a very useful tool for both commercial and GA.

BigEndBob
7th Mar 2023, 09:35
I would use D&D and also Birmingham radar for fix and qdm back home, until one day Brum said can't help you, so thought sod em, shall not bother again. Haven't for 6 years now.

Dan Dare
7th Mar 2023, 11:35
There was a time when most UK ATC towers had VDF available and very useful it was too - not least when D&D would sometimes telephone local towers when their own DF couldn't raise an adequate fix. Unfortunately the accountants couldn't justify it and most were withdrawn.

meleagertoo
7th Mar 2023, 15:45
Sadly there is always a suspicion (stronger in some instances than others) that solo studes or PPLs lost on cross countries sometimes abuse the system to find their way home or get a position fix. I've heard many where we looked at each other and said "that isn't a legit Practice Pan!".
The Guard! Guard! police are seldom British who recognise the system, much more often Europeans to whom it is not familiar.

Whopity
7th Mar 2023, 20:11
"that isn't a legit Practice Pan!". Any pilot who wishes to request a Training Fix or make a Practice PAN may do so. CAP 413 details the process and they are included in the GASCO Webinars aimed at preventing infringements and the latest copy of the Skyway Code states"Please practice as much as you want. It is free and one day it may save your or another person’s life. All calls are legit!

albatross
7th Mar 2023, 20:44
One thing that I recall was that, years ago in Canada, folks used 123.45 to talk to another aircraft without cluttering up an ATC channel.. “ABC for XYZ meet me on Numbers Victor”. Most useful.
Then the DOT/MOT got all upset and said it was forbidden due to the requirement to use the freq for “Operational Needs”.
We never saw any facility using 123.45.
We asked some DOT/MOT inspectors where this sudden change had come and from whom. The answer..”We don’t know it just suddenly came down from ‘The Very High Priced Help’ with no explanation given.
Requests for a new air to air channel sank without a bubble into the bureaucratic morass.

Whopity
8th Mar 2023, 09:11
I think 123.45Mhz was used Internationally as a chat frequency however; the fact is that it was not allocated for that purpose and could have been allocated to another Service. Whether or not it was is a different matter. Radio requires a degree of discipline and if everyone chose a frequency for their own specific purpose the whole thing would degenerate into chaos. That said, the Military were very good at picking their own frequencies and GPS appeared in unallocated bands. At the start of GPS, the UK Post Office offered to supply licences for £5 each!

BEagle
8th Mar 2023, 10:04
ICAO Annex 10 states that “123.45 Mhz shall be designated for use as an Air-to-Air communications channel to enable aircraft engaged in flights over remote and oceanic areas, out of range of VHF ground stations, to exchange necessary operational information and to facilitate the resolution of operational problems“.

Regrettably, at least on the North Atlantic, it was often plagued by anything but 'necessary operational information'!

fitliker
8th Mar 2023, 12:10
One thing that I recall was that, years ago in Canada, folks used 123.45 to talk to another aircraft without cluttering up an ATC channel.. “ABC for XYZ meet me on Numbers Victor”. Most useful.
Then the DOT/MOT got all upset and said it was forbidden due to the requirement to use the freq for “Operational Needs”.
We never saw any facility using 123.45.
We asked some DOT/MOT inspectors where this sudden change had come and from whom. The answer..”We don’t know it just suddenly came down from ‘The Very High Priced Help’ with no explanation given.
Requests for a new air to air channel sank without a bubble into the bureaucratic morass.
Go guns 130.30
Go Canada 118.67
Go Company your company frequency
Then go ***** plus a nickel lots of frequencies to gossip about the weather on :)

meleagertoo
8th Mar 2023, 14:40
Any pilot who wishes to request a Training Fix or make a Practice PAN may do so. CAP 413 details the process and they are included in the GASCO Webinars aimed at preventing infringements and the latest copy of the Skyway Code states" All calls are legit!

Yes, of course. But that refers to Training Fixes and Practice PANs. I'm surprised you seem to have a cognitive blank between the legit use of a training facility and its abuse. If lost the ultimate procedure is to use - guess what - the thing you were trained to use - a PAN call, not a practice pan or training fix! If this were not the case why would we make a distinction between them? Just because cops train with blue lights doesn't make it legit to use them when they're late for a tea break, despite their having a superficially identical effect.
Use of either of these when actually lost wilfully obscures the fact that this isn't a training exercise in good weather where everyone knows perfectly well where they are, but in reality it's at best an urgency situation that could rapidly escalate. That dishonestly puts the controller in quite another mindset and the perpetrator in a self-inflicted increase of hazard.

So no, not all calls are legit at all.

btw, the reason we have no air-to-air freq in UK is because aircraft radio installations are subject to strictly controlled use by the licencing regulations which state categorically that they are authorised for air to ground and ground to air comms only. As every UK pilot with a RT licence ought to know from basic air-law and radio training...(probably a carry-over from early Post Office regulations on radio transmissions which were exceedingly restrictive),

albatross
8th Mar 2023, 16:48
Meleagertoo
“btw, the reason we have no air-to-air freq in UK is because aircraft radio installations are subject to strictly controlled use by the licencing regulations which state categorically that they are authorised for air to ground and ground to air comms only. As every UK pilot with a RT licence ought to know from basic air-law and radio training...(probably a carry-over from early Post Office regulations on radio transmissions which were exceedingly restrictive),”

Please forgive a stupid question:
Since radio frequencies are to be used only for Air to Ground and Ground to Air Purposes only.
If I hear a Mayday or Pan call from another aircraft while I am airborne does this mean I can not respond to it?
If I am intercepted and Ace McCool in his pointy fighter is threatening to turn me into falling debris on 121.500 I can not respond to his calls? Is he not in violation of the same regulations? I assume as he is military he is not limited to solely A>G and G>A comms otherwise he could not berate his long-suffering #2.
The Mother Country sure have some strange rules and regulations. I assume these date from daze when you only had radios with 2 or 3 crystal controlled frequencies to transmit on.

As an aside: Well I remember when car/truck CB radios became popular in North America in the early 70’s and we started to hear folks using terms like 10-4, What’s your 20? and See you on the flip-flop. Fortunately a short lived habit. The memory of the berating that one tower gave to a miscreant silly enough to use such terminology still makes me smile.
Cheers.

Whopity
9th Mar 2023, 14:12
Looking at a Practical Guide to the use of D&D services:
Practice Pan and Training Fix requestsThe D&D actively promote pilots to use the facility to conduct Practice Pan and Training Fix scenarios under normal flight conditions, so that they are familiar with the service that can be provided, should a real emergency occur. The D&D are there to help aircrew and conducting a Practice Pan and Training Fix also provides D&D controllers the opportunity to hone their skills too.



The system can be used for any pilot within the UK FIR and it is a free service
The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
The service is available for pilots who are lost or who are unsure of their position
The service is available for practice/training fixes whenever requested

Fl1ingfrog
9th Mar 2023, 15:07
Since radio frequencies are to be used only for Air to Ground and Ground to Air Purposes only.
If I hear a Mayday or Pan call from another aircraft while I am airborne does this mean I can not respond to it? ​​​​​​​

CAP 413

Relayed Emergency Message 8.24
Any aeronautical station or aircraft knowing of an emergency incident may transmit a distress message whenever such action is necessary to obtain assistance for the aircraft or vessel in distress. In such CAP 413 Chapter 8: Emergency Phraseology 8 June 2020 Page 9 circumstances, it should be made clear that the aircraft transmitting is not itself in distress.

You may find this elsewhere under the heading called; 'common sense'

Cole Burner
9th Mar 2023, 15:23
btw, the reason we have no air-to-air freq in UK is because aircraft radio installations are subject to strictly controlled use by the licencing regulations which state categorically that they are authorised for air to ground and ground to air comms only. As every UK pilot with a RT licence ought to know from basic air-law and radio training...(probably a carry-over from early Post Office regulations on radio transmissions which were exceedingly restrictive),

Could you provide a link to these categorical regulations please as they don't seem to be mentioned in my aircraft radio licence and I may have inadvertantly broken the law using the radio air-to-air on the numerous times I have flown in formation over the last 40 years.

albatross
9th Mar 2023, 19:43
CAP 413

Relayed Emergency Message 8.24
Any aeronautical station or aircraft knowing of an emergency incident may transmit a distress message whenever such action is necessary to obtain assistance for the aircraft or vessel in distress. In such CAP 413 Chapter 8: Emergency Phraseology 8 June 2020 Page 9 circumstances, it should be made clear that the aircraft transmitting is not itself in distress.

You may find this elsewhere under the heading called; 'common sense'

As you post I am able to relay a distress message to a ground station or initiate a distress message to a ground station upon seeing an aircraft in distress. However should I be stupid enough as follow the word of the law I could not enter into air to air comms to advise the aircraft that I have relayed the distress message for or initiated one on his behalf nor advise him his wing is, indeed, actually on fire or that there is a suitable airfield in the vicinity of which he may not be aware.
As you say “Common Sense” should prevail. Besides in an emergency you may do anything necessary to save life be it your own or someone else’s.

Whopity
9th Mar 2023, 21:28
Article 45 of the ITU General Radio Regulations makes it clear that communication between aircraft stations is possible and gives the ground station the right to intervene:
45.4 § 4 If an aeronautical station finds it necessary to intervene in communications
between aircraft stations, these stations shall comply with the instructions given by the aeronautical
station.

Fl1ingfrog
10th Mar 2023, 00:42
However should I be stupid enough as follow the word of the law I could not enter into air to air comms to advise the aircraft that I have relayed the distress message for or initiated one on his behalf nor advise him his wing is, indeed, actually on fire or that there is a suitable airfield in the vicinity of which he may not be aware.

You may do all of that. If the 'mayday' aircraft is able to receive messages then they will, of course, hear you relaying. The ground station will be in the best position to co-ordinate actions that should follow. If the aircraft is able to divert then it will not be a mayday situation but a 'pan' which is classed as an urgency and ATC will best advise of a suitable aerodrome taking into consideration a number of factors; it would follow that you would then relay on behalf the ATC unit to the aircraft in question. Cluttering the frequency with unnecessary calls will not help, even if well meaning.

albatross
10th Mar 2023, 15:50
You may do all of that. If the 'mayday' aircraft is able to receive messages then they will, of course, hear you relaying. The ground station will be in the best position to co-ordinate actions that should follow. If the aircraft is able to divert then it will not be a mayday situation but a 'pan' which is classed as an urgency and ATC will best advise of a suitable aerodrome taking into consideration a number of factors; it would follow that you would then relay on behalf the ATC unit to the aircraft in question. Cluttering the frequency with unnecessary calls will not help, even if well meaning.

All well and good.
However you may have relayed the “Mayday” or “Pan” on another freq. or even on HF or via Sat Phone. The Pilot may be doing the “aviate, navigate , communicate” prioritization of his actions and not have heard you relay as he completes Emergency Checklists. If the initiating aircraft called Mayday you relay it as a Mayday. The decision to divert does does not guarantee the ability of the aircraft to reach the diversion destination so you do not reduce it to a PAN call. In Canada the ATC unit can be 100s even, in the case of Arctic Radio, 1000s of miles away and be completely unaware of the abandoned but serviceable runway 20 miles from the aircraft’s position. Many factors will affect how and why you communicate with the aircraft in distress. You may even divert to intercept him as SAR assets can be many hours away. Common sense will dictate your reactions.

meleagertoo
14th Mar 2023, 17:00
Please forgive a stupid question:
Since radio frequencies are to be used only for Air to Ground and Ground to Air Purposes only.
If I hear a Mayday or Pan call from another aircraft while I am airborne does this mean I can not respond to it?
If I am intercepted and Ace McCool in his pointy fighter is threatening to turn me into falling debris on 121.500 I can not respond to his calls? Is he not in violation of the same regulations? I assume as he is military he is not limited to solely A>G and G>A comms otherwise he could not berate his long-suffering
Those are indeed extraordinary questions, or they would be if I didn't think you were being a wind-up.
Listed in order if silliness...
1)You kow full well that military are not subject to the came rules that civvies are.
2)You also know full well that 'nothing in the regulations should prevent whatever action deemed necessary being taken in the event of an emergency' or words to that effect.
3) The fact remains that ALL aviation frequencies including 123.45 are for stated purposes. While some are for glider comms or dedicated to fire and rescue services or company comms (also not supposed to be used for air to air...) all Air Traffic frequencies are designated air to ground and vv. Thus it is abundantly clear to all but the most obtuse that they are NOT for air to air or ground to ground use and may not be used as such.

Genghis the Engineer
17th Mar 2023, 19:28
Just in passing, like many UK instructors I regularly have my students carry out practice PAN calls, for all the usual good reasons.

However, "Training fix"?, honestly I think that the last time I heard that phrase was around 32 years ago when I was a UAS Cadet Pilot. Is that actually still in use by anybody anywhere?

G

Whopity
17th Mar 2023, 19:38
Is that actually still in use by anybody anywhere?

SRG1171 FRTOL Practical Test Training Syllabus Item 6.9 Training Fix.

albatross
17th Mar 2023, 19:56
Those are indeed extraordinary questions, or they would be if I didn't think you were being a wind-up.
Listed in order if silliness...
1)You kow full well that military are not subject to the came rules that civvies are.
2)You also know full well that 'nothing in the regulations should prevent whatever action deemed necessary being taken in the event of an emergency' or words to that effect.
3) The fact remains that ALL aviation frequencies including 123.45 are for stated purposes. While some are for glider comms or dedicated to fire and rescue services or company comms (also not supposed to be used for air to air...) all Air Traffic frequencies are designated air to ground and vv. Thus it is abundantly clear to all but the most obtuse that they are NOT for air to air or ground to ground use and may not be used as such.

Sir: I was responding to your post which seemed to me pretty definite with no mention of any exceptions. [ QUOTE] . “Meleagertoo
“btw, the reason we have no air-to-air freq in UK is because aircraft radio installations are subject to strictly controlled use by the licencing regulations which state categorically that they are authorised for air to ground and ground to air comms only. As every UK pilot with a RT licence ought to know from basic air-law and radio training...(probably a carry-over from early Post Office regulations on radio transmissions which were exceedingly restrictive),”[END QUOTE]

Sorry if my silliness offended you.

Genghis the Engineer
17th Mar 2023, 19:59
SRG1171 FRTOL Practical Test Training Syllabus Item 6.9 Training Fix.

Not disputing it's still in the manuals, just whether anybody, anywhere, is actually doing them.

G

Cole Burner
17th Mar 2023, 20:14
Is that actually still in use by anybody anywhere?G

On our way home from a lunchtime bacon butty and cup of tea on a lovely afternoon last summer we were asked by the FISO at the aerodrome we had visited "D&D have requested that you make a training fix on 121.5 if you have time on your way home as they are working on the triangulation system"

So we did! Probably about 35+ years since the last one!

Whopity
17th Mar 2023, 22:05
Not disputing it's still in the manuals, just whether anybody, anywhere, is actually doing them.
As of June last year the 1171 requires a sign off to say that you have done one!

Genghis the Engineer
18th Mar 2023, 23:13
As of June last year the 1171 requires a sign off to say that you have done one!

Being picky, it says "Training Fix | Practice Urgency"

A Practice Pan, yes, absolutely. A separate Training Fix doesn't seem to have been called for from that wording does it? This seems to imply one or the other, but in reality I'm assuming everybody does the latter.

G

rarelyathome
18th Mar 2023, 23:49
Being picky, it says "Training Fix | Practice Urgency"

A Practice Pan, yes, absolutely. A separate Training Fix doesn't seem to have been called for from that wording does it? This seems to imply one or the other, but in reality I'm assuming everybody does the latter.

G

For my PPL students, ideally both but certainly one or the other. The key thing is to remove the mystique of 121.5 and give the student the confidence to use it if the need arises. In my view, it’s a good item for the biennial flight with an FI as well.

Whopity
19th Mar 2023, 10:53
This seems to imply one or the other, but in reality I'm assuming everybody does the latter. In a RTF Test the candidate will be required to demonstrate either a VDF request or obtian a Training Fix so needs to know how to do both.

Fl1ingfrog
19th Mar 2023, 11:00
A Practice Pan, yes, absolutely. A separate Training Fix doesn't seem to have been called for from that wording does it? This seems to imply one or the other, but in reality I'm assuming everybody does the latter.

Before help to a pilot can be provided the D&D unit they must first pinpoint where you are. A position fix obtained by D&D is always a part of it. Simply stating that you are lost is enough or another urgent scenario if you wish. The unit will seek to triangulate from the pilots transmissions and then if necessary involve the best RADAR station, to help, that may be available. This is why 'practice pans' are useful practice for D&D as well as the pilot and why they encourage it.

Whopity
19th Mar 2023, 13:22
Last summer an aircraft was below cloud in the Massif Central, he could not climb out of the valley and was not visible on radar however Limoges ATC saw his VDF response and were able to assist him to get out of the area of high ground using VDF alone. Whilst this may seem to some like a hangover from the past, it proved to be a very useful aid. Any method of finding out where you are when you are uncertain is worth using and should be taught.

Fl1ingfrog
19th Mar 2023, 15:28
When Inverness gained Radar they also continued to retain the VDF facility. Owing to high ground the Radar was limited at the lower levels. they would regularly home light aircraft who didn't know they were off track (lost). They still have the use of VDF, I note, even with the GPS carried by most aircraft.