View Full Version : No need for R/T at Heathrow ?

2 six 4
20th Dec 2002, 10:19
Danny leave this one running for a while because everybody should read this statement quoted from the NATS Chief Executive

Mr Everett (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=75793)

Wee Jock
20th Dec 2002, 10:58
I particularly like the bit about the readback system. It works so well during R/T failure...

:eek: :eek: :eek: thrice:eek:

20th Dec 2002, 12:05
"Loss of radio communication with an aircraft is not an aviation safety issue"

If ever we needed a reason to oppose the privatisation of ATC, here he is. He should resign immediately, because he does not enjoy the confidence of the professional aviation community. We don’t need Al Qaeda to put our aircraft in jeopardy. We have the DTI putting guns on our aeroplanes without our knowledge, and some kind of painted loon who thinks pilots shouldn’t have to talk to anyone whilst they’re locked in the cockpit.

Do you know, I always wondered why you have to wear a uniform to fly an airliner. Simple really, have you ever seen the monstrous foul ups that suits make when they get near aeroplanes?

God save us all.

I’ll take on the opposition anyday. It’s my management I can’t beat!

Monkey C
20th Dec 2002, 15:15
Strictly speaking he's right isn't he? I mean there are established procedures for voice comms failure aren't there? If these are unsafe they'd better be reviewed and updated, perhaps you can post the required ammendments here.

I always thought existing procedures would allow an aircraft with radio failure to remain safe and make a safe approach and landing at its destination airport. After-all ATC would still have both primary and secondary radar information for the aircraft in question. Which along with flight plan information would allow them to maintain separation.

It might well mean; re-routing, diverting, delaying and cancelling all the other aircraft, but that's a customer service issue, not a safety issue. When there's only one plane in a sector, with or without radio that's about as safe as it gets!

If Mr Everett didn't explain that in his next sentence, I bet he dealy wishes he had.

(That should fan the flames a little me thinks; my work here is done.)

2 six 4
20th Dec 2002, 19:17
Monkey C. Listen again to the BBC recording. The ATCO says we are talking about unexplained and sometimes undetected cutting out of some messages from aircraft to some controllers. Don't know of any design or procedures that copes with that sort of eratic serviceability.

20th Dec 2002, 21:17
R/T failure was certainly a safety issue when it happened to me once a long time ago.

I almost became apoplectic when I learned of these remarks, until I remembered that Mr Everett was merely following the time honoured tradition amongst NATS managers of not having any appreciable knowledge about the real purpose of the service. I suppose some of us had hoped that PPP might at least yield some competence in this area. How silly!

20th Dec 2002, 23:29
Monkey C,

If you read the analysis of any aviation accident, you'll invariably find that the outcome is the result of, not one catistrophic error, but a confluence of errors in a chain, resulting in disaster (or a really uncomfortable fright :( ). R/T is one of the most important links in the chain. Just last week, we had a serious incident due to communication falure, allied to incorrect information in the flight plan (nothing is infalible). The comments such as have been made are nothing short of scandalous and smack of deserate attempts to paper over some fairly sizeable cracks in a creaking operation. By that, I refer to the management and not the efforts of my colleagues west of REFSO and BLUFA.

21st Dec 2002, 08:50
Probably not strictly on the subject of the tread, but the standard ICAO loss of radio procedures are in desperate need of amendment.

Any airline aircraft built within the last fifteen years that has suffered a total loss of radios is obviously suffering other, possibly dire technical difficulties, so the last thing the crew needs to do is delay their landing by maintaining cruise level until reaching the approach aid and then descending in the hold. This might have been a great idea with a DC 4, where the cruise altitude was 9,000’, but maintaining 37,000’ until overhead the approach aid and then wasting twenty minutes descending in the hold is just plain silly. At the very least, it gives the loss of radio crew an extra problem of arriving at the instrument approach minima with considerably less fuel than they would have had if they had been able to descend at their normal descent point some 120 miles before the initial approach aid.

The current procedures also cause far more problems for both ATC and every other aircraft in the area, for in unnecessarily lengthening the time the aircraft in difficulties remains airborne, they inconvenience and delay all other traffic in the area much longer than they should.

The Australians (who are, let’s face it, not usually renowned for ‘cutting edge’ aviation legislation of procedures), saw this problem as early as 1984, when they changed their national loss of radio procedures to the far more sensible ‘maintain expected flight profile and proceed to land without delay’. (I don’t have a copy of the Jepp in front of me, but I’m sure someone will set me straight if the intent of the Oz procedures is anything other than that.)

In this age where damn near every flight attendant in every crew I’ve ever flown in carries a mobile phone, why in the world doesn’t ICAO come up with a really novel loss of radio procedure, (and one which I suggested some three of four years ago to my local CAA) and publish a phone number to ring in the event of loss of radios on the chart or in the Emergency Section of the Jepp?

Gawd, if we could convince them to institute something as earth-shattering as the Australian procedure or the phone number idea, we might one day get someone to address the question of offset enroute tracking.

I’m not holding my breath on either…

21st Dec 2002, 09:06
Wiley, I don't know where you are based but I think you'll find that the European RT failure procedures got an overhaul this year.

You can see a summary of the UK procedures here (http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/ATS013.pdf) .

22nd Dec 2002, 22:45
Wiley and Spitoon. I think you have missed the point entirely. Follow the links and listen to the interview.

It appears that there has been intermittent cutting out of London ATCC's R/T or possibly the receivers to or from some controllers.

The NATS Chief Executive describes that as not a significant safety event.

Agree or disagree with his evaluation seems to be the question.

23rd Dec 2002, 17:14
'why in the world doesn’t ICAO come up with a really novel loss of radio procedure and publish a phone number to ring in the event of loss of radios on the chart or in the Emergency Section of the Jepp?'

I'm sorry to say it, but I couldn't help thinking of that scene from Airplane, 'Thank you for calling Air Traffic Control, we're not in right now so please leave a message and we'll get right back to you...'

Stranger things have happened.


23rd Dec 2002, 20:24
I haven’t been to Europe for quite some time, Spitoon, so I’ll take your advice and read up on their changed procedures. But at a guess, I’d bet London to a brick they’re nowhere near as straightforward and sensible as the Australian procedures of ‘get the broken aircraft on the ground asap’.

b]Findo[/b], look again and you’ll see that I introduced my post with “Probably not strictly on the subject of the tread,…. My internet café computer wouldn’t/couldn’t follow the links to listen in to the interview, so I couldn’t comment on what the gentleman in question said. However I agree, from the reactions of others, that it sounds like typical non-specialist ‘management’ “head in the clouds” gobbldegook, (which is perhaps a most unfortunate turn of phrase in this case. What we need is someone in this gent’s position whose head is in the **** clouds - up among the aeroplanes his organisation is supposed to be controlling!!).

I have to agree that anyone who could say that a loss of radio isn’t a Flight Safety matter, (particularly if it’s the controlling agency, like London Centre or LHR App for example, who’s lost the radio in ) has a rather different definition of Flight Safety to most of us.

As for my suggestion re the emergency phone number. Why in the hell not don’t we have it for emergency situations? Most of us (except the people in ICAO HQ, it would seem) are bit young to remember blinking green Aldis lamps and Verey pistols.

23rd Dec 2002, 20:31
Sorry Findo but I didn't miss the original point just off topic a bit and responding to Wiley's plea - the procedures have had the sort of overhaul that Wiley wants.

On the real point of the thread - whether intermittent RT failure (or correct operation depending on your perspective) is a safety risk - there really is no argument. Of course it is.

I started to put a response to Monkey C's post together the other day when I read it but then realised he was just having a joke. He is, isn't he?

The simple fact is, in the busy terminal areas that NATS look after, clearances are not procedural and the system relies upon immediate, reliable and clear voice communications.

26th Dec 2002, 04:53
- the procedures have had the sort of overhaul that Wiley wants. Just read the new European procedures, Spitoon, and they’re still calling for the non-radio aircraft to maintain cruising level to the initial approach aid, so I’d hardly call them the ”overhaul that Wiley wants”.

Take a look at the Australian procedures and tell me which ones you’d rather follow if you were down to no radios, (or if you’re an ATCO, which system you’d rather have a no-comms aircraft follow to more QUICKLY get rid of him).

I hear what those of you who are ATCOs say about the still unresolved problem of the cround agency losing radio comms from your end, and I agree 100% that the potential for ummm.. ‘difficulties’ is high in such a scenario.

But let me repeat again, purely from the perspective of an individual aircraft losing comms, why in the world don’t they publish an emergency phone number for each major ATC area so that should such a situation occur one day, there’s an easy ‘last ditch’ channel open to ATC for the no comms aircraft? Could it be that they’re afraid multiple aircraft would be calling Mumbai’s ‘emergency no comms’ phone line every night of the **** week?

26th Dec 2002, 11:28
Suggest you buy a Pooleys pilots diary - got all the a/f numbers there so you can ring on your company mobile"!!

Or ,if you are really stuck,then get your PLB out and use that!!;) :rolleyes: