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Survey: Pilots and ATC

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Survey: Pilots and ATC

Old 3rd Feb 2011, 07:54
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sweden
Age: 34
Posts: 57
Survey: Pilots and ATC

I would like to invite all controllers to participate in a survey regarding the interaction and attitudes between pilots and ATC. Whether you work in a small TWR or busy ACC your input is valuable.

Pilots and ATC - Understanding what happens on the other side:
Questions for controllers

If you are a pilot (and don't also work as a controller), use this link:
Questions for pilots

Thanks for your time!
LMX is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2011, 08:26
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 1,820
Suggest it would be helpful to know a little of your (aviation?) background, why you are doing the survey, and what you plan to do with the results.
spekesoftly is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2011, 09:04
  #3 (permalink)  
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LMX: I concur with spekesoftly. In the UK we are always suspicious of questions like you are asking when you are being so economical with your background and reasons for asking.
chevvron is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2011, 09:19
  #4 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sweden
Age: 34
Posts: 57
Maybe I was too hurried when posting. I got similar replies in the Safety & CRM forum (where I cross-posted for, hopefully, more pilot responses) which is entirely understandable.

The survey is for an exam paper which forms part of my flight training. I have a CPL IR/ME (frozen ATPL) and also have a background in ATC training (Eurocontrol ab-initio and simulator pilot) and aeronautical charting.

I want to investigate whether pilots and controllers have the same views or different views regarding their roles as well as operational procedures. Are pilots taught enough about how ATC operates? Do controllers know what the priorities of the pilots are? Are both sides on the same page regarding how to operate the transponder or what happens during an emergency descent? Is there an "us-and-them" attitude amongst some pilots and controllers?
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Old 3rd Feb 2011, 09:26
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
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Is there an "us-and-them" attitude amongst some pilots and controllers?
Only from ATCO's!
Ryan5252 is offline  
Old 4th Feb 2011, 08:43
  #6 (permalink)  

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PPRuNe would need to know what the results are intended for and where they will be published before agreeing to allow this thread to remain.

It's long been our policy that PPRuNers who contribute to anything, survey or questionnaire wise, should be able to see the results of their input.
10W is offline  
Old 4th Feb 2011, 11:17
  #7 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
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Location: Sweden
Age: 34
Posts: 57
A summary of the survey will definitely be posted here. This was also requested by several contributors.

10W, I'm also talking to another moderator about this.
LMX is offline  
Old 5th Feb 2011, 12:50
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Thanks for that sweeping generalisation chevvron. I for one am not always suspicious of anything , but take each case at face value. At what point did you become a spokesman for us in the uk. By all means tell us what makes you suspicious but allow me and others to express our own feelings. It's a survey for goodness sake. As far as i can tell , at no point did they ask for your bank account details. Its also a survey about ATC and pilot interaction. Hardly the most secret or potentially damaging information in the world.
blueskythinking is offline  
Old 5th Feb 2011, 15:12
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Southampton
Posts: 300
Bluesky, you will note from the Thread starters own post that he got similar responses to Chevvrons on other Forums. It would seem Chevvron is not as out of step in the UK as you seem to think. LMX is conducting an online survey! That is, by definition, a sweeping generalisation and Chevvron answered in kind.

As for the information being "hardly the most secret or potentially damaging in the world", there are rules my company requires us to follow regarding talking to outside agencies as well as laws governing listening to and rebroadcasting air ground communications (see sticky). These rules and laws are there because individuals are very often totally unaware how much damage their actions can cause in the wrong circumstances.
Arkady is offline  
Old 5th Feb 2011, 15:53
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: wimborne
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arkady-why is an online survey a sweeping generalisation? It can be as specific and targeted as any survey I suggest. I suspect I work for the same organisation as yourself and am not aware as to any restrictions on me completing anonymous surveys, online or otherwise. In fact we have been encouraged to do so on many occassions. Chirp , BA , Ifatca to name but a few. A question about whether I think pilots are overpaid is hardly going to bring Nats or any other company to its knees. If i considered any question to be likely to compromise my companies privacy or security rules, ( not laws in most cases) , I would refrain from answering it. But I appreciate that yourself and chevvron feel the need to protect your equally well qualified colleagues.
blueskythinking is offline  
Old 17th Mar 2011, 14:10
  #11 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sweden
Age: 34
Posts: 57
As promised, here are the results of the survey. There are 34 responses from pilots and 86 from controllers - probably because the link was posted here in the ATC forum rather than in a more pilot-specific forum area.

Answers from pilots
Answers from controllers

There was also a lot of written feedback, mostly along the lines that ATCOs and pilots need to interact more, have more fam flights/visits and so on.

Right now I'm finalising the paper itself, and I'll send it to those of you who provided an email address in the feedback form. You could also send me a PM if you want the paper once it's finished.

To everyone who participated, thanks for your time and input!
LMX is offline  
Old 17th Mar 2011, 17:52
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: meh
Posts: 660
I'll sum it up for you in a nice easy line.

Anyone with enough time and money can be a pilot.

Congrats on your A+
Plazbot is offline  
Old 17th Mar 2011, 18:11
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: UK
Posts: 34


Cue mass hysteria...
SS10 is offline  
Old 17th Mar 2011, 18:13
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 343
Interesting results. I would like to see more of the "other comments" quotes from the bottom.
Glamdring is offline  
Old 18th Mar 2011, 11:37
  #15 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sweden
Age: 34
Posts: 57
Here are some of the comments. Some of them are from a different copy of the survey which I sent to friends and colleagues, hence the many comments from pilots (there were a total of 145 responses from pilots from both copies of the survey).

From controllers:

"I have always felt it to be beneficial for interaction with other aviation users, especially between pilots and ATCOs. This rarely happens. Pilots visiting ATC generally have to do it in their own time at their own expense. ATCOs (in the UK) can only visit the flight deck with weeks of notice and approval of director of airline flight ops. It is done on their own time and expense. I feel more interaction is important. It will only happen if our CAAs mandate that regular visits MUST be made as part of continuation training. Prior to 11 September 2001 it was normal that I would travel in the flight deck - even to go on holiday if I was travelling on my own. Every visit helped me to learn my job. Trainee ATCOs and many of my colleagues forget that pilots have lots of other tasks as well as listening to the radio."

"Yes, some of the questions are overly simplistic and do not display an understanding of my task as an ATCO. Although I have answered the questions, the validity of any results I believe is not very high."

"I am amazed at how little the airline industry knows or cares about ATC and ATM. It is a grossly incorrect statement to say that we work toward common goals. Airlines schedule their company's aircraft to arrive/depart at the same time without any other consideration and pilots often seem to know nothing about ATC yet are often quick to suggest how we do our jobs and who should be first, second, etc. without any knowledge of a much bigger picture of the overall situation we have thru monitoring hundreds of miles of airspace and detailed agreement between adjacent ATC units for their safety and both of our mutual customers - the paying customer and overall efficient use of airspace."

"We don't get to talk to aircrew since our centre was moved 235 miles from the airport. It's always good to meet socially over food or a beer or two. Many younger ATCOs I now work with seem to have little interest in aviation.
A shame."

"It all comes down to money. It costs ATC to relieve controllers to train understanding in aircraft operations. It costs airlines in allowing ATC to visit and cross-train. It costs airlines to relieve pilots to visit ATC. It costs ATC to provide time and staff to allow visits.
Money makes the world go round and also stops it turning as it should. Profound huh? That's ATC for you. Out. :-D"


"The statement that pilots understands the role of ATS goes the other way around as well. ATCOs doesn't fully understand the performance of aircrafts, as every individual aircraft is unique. We have the general idea of performance, but sometimes you are not able to perform as we wish. I hope pilots and ATCOs can share knowledge and experiences in a better way in the future, and not complain about one another, as they do from time to time."

"A very good survey! It's very important that we as pilots and controllers understand each others' profession and in my point of view we have to learn a lot more about each others' profession to be able to interact more professionally on the frequency. Understanding each other can make the difference between a fatal or a successful outcome of an incident. It's very sad that cut-downs have been made in the controllers education regarding jump seat flights etc in order to save money, it makes us less professional! In my opinion study visits or similar should be made to the opposite part at least two times a year to ensure the understanding of what tasks the other part have to take care of that one may not know of."

"It would be great to have more interaction (fam flights) with the pilots. I did not have them in my training but I know that has been corrected for future ab initios."

"I think as well as fam flights for controllers there should be fam visit of TWR/ACC radar/procedural for pilots. These should be part of a yearly refresher training as things change... and each ATC center is different from the next!
This is the way to get pilots and ATCO to work as a team which understand each other (this is lacking quite clearly so far). More importantly, attending pilots' "emergency situations" simulations would be very useful for controllers as time can be very critical in those situations and a good understanding can make the difference."

"Questions like "Pilots/Controllers are overpaid/have good working conditions" are unanswerable like this because itís too general."

"Very interesting survey... I did miss the option "I don't know" to some questions though.
I think we can learn a lot from each other, and in an ideal world ATCO's (I'm one) would have to spend a minimum of hours on the jump seat to appreciate pilots workload, but also to understand the equipment. It would greatly improve the quality of service we provide. But in a time where every euro counts... not gonna happen."

"Some of those questions were very generic and one should maybe have the possibility to explain. For example the one with the a/c at FL350 in emergency descent. if there is traffic at FL150 as a controller all you can do is inform the pilot about it and try to turn the other aircraft away. We cannot instruct the pilot to stop of at a level above. All we can do as controllers is advise."

"It would be very beneficial to have workshops between pilots and controllers where topics could be discussed in order to understand each other's work."

From pilots:

"All of our lives would be better if we could meet face to face in either a professional or social basis."

"A few questions are geared towards jet flying and are non-applicable to the private pilot."

"Controllers are not commonly appreciated for the service they provide, quite often under stressful conditions. Likewise I get the feeling at times as a pilot that the controllers don't quite understand what is happening in the cockpit. This goes both ways!"

"Please remember us rotary pilots. When we arrive at an airfield that is not used to helicopters we are sometimes regarded as a necessary evil by ATC. This is not helped by the fact that during ATC training, helicopters are used as 'spoilers' to disrupt an established flow."

"I have a pretty good understanding of the work of ATC, however the service supplied by the Spanish ATC for several months now is appalling. Standard routing and only allowing you to depart at the exact time of your CTOT (not 5 mins before) needs to be stopped somehow. When pilots ask for a direct, the answer given is: continue standard routing for the time being."

"My answers to the questions are very much dependent on which area in the world we are considering. Overpaid ATCOs might very well exist in Spain but that is not the case in Sweden. Similar with pilots. This is also true regarding other questions such as adequate English knowledge."

"ATC is very different in different regions."

"Both Pilots and Controllers should be frequently reminded not to yell or use bad language at each other. Better to get in touch by telephone after flight. This happens more often in Norwegian airspace than in international airspace."

"Know the limitations of the aircraft being controlled. Make procedures easy, not complicated."

"Italian controllers are the worst in Europe! A flight to ex. Rome is always filled with surprises!!!"

"Spanish Air Traffic Controllers are overpaid."

"Well I am tired of companies like Ryanair pressing on with their time pressure, and often flying with minimum fuel and request priority. Sometimes I often see preferred airlines sneaking in the queue for departure, without any slot. While all controllers are employees, I see that most Ryanair pilots (2000 pilots) are on contracts as self employed. Self employed with only one customer (Ryanair) is tax evasion. Self employed contracts could be terminated without any employee security, hence Ryanair's management force crew to take decisions that could compromise air safety. How many "not fit for flight" you think Ryanair contractors have made recent years? Not a single one. Why? Their contract could be terminated. Is it normal to never be sick or feel not fit for flight every day, every months, several years, later decades! And every airline would in the end, have to impose these kind of crew cost lowering tax scheme to be able to compete, or other words survive. My guess, we will have to wait for an accident before politicians or federal aviation authorities react, as usual.
Only the French had their eyeball on Ryanair for these kind of tax evasion, what about your country, your airfield? Just wait until Ryanair pressures your landing fees, airport fees, your controllersí terms and condition will bust as well"

"ATC controllers are welcome to come and sit on the jumpseat MUCH more often than they do now."

"I often find Norwegian controllers taking a long time answering back on first contact. Much longer than other nationalities. This is on all types of frequencies, ACC, APP, TWR and GND. Elsewhere in Europe I would call again, and sometimes I do in Norway as well. This is counterproductive as almost on every occasion they heard me the first time, but just did not reply. Why this is, I do not know. But I find I sad as it is ruining Norwegian controllers otherwise good reputation."

"It would be great if as part of a Instrument rating or Commercial rating, a visit to an ATC facility was required. Either that, or a video showing all the work a controller does behind the scenes (i.e., coordinating, checking strips, separation, etc.) so that pilots could see why ATC is busy when the frequency is quiet.

In the USA, prior to 9/11 ATC controllers could "ride along" in the jumpseat and see the operation from the pilot perspective. Most controllers would say that had been very valuable. It would be nice if that could get started up or established as a part of ATC advanced training (at the facility)."

"We all work in high stress environment. Employees for ATC are welcome to be with us in the cockpit. It is always good to know the work load we all have in all portions of a flight, as well as we pilots should know the workload you have in the different ATC units."

"Concerning working hours I would not change my four days off in a row for anything, but, the days at work are too long. The funny part is that a part of the EASA making subpart Q is mainly pilots."

"Pilots and ATC should have more unformal meetings to talk about how to make aviation control easier, safer, and "hint" each other about cases that cause irritation."

"Norwegian controllers (esp. Oslo ATC) should work on their professionalism. Attitude (more friendly and attentive), not at least towards the occasional "lima-november" private pilot. Look to Sweden, Denmark, UK! Be on the ball when an aircraft reaches assigned level and give new clearance before pilots having to remind ATC. This is a Norwegian phenomenon!"

"I've been flying commercial since 1998. I've always missed more interaction between pilots and controllers. I believe this would greatly increase the level of mutual understanding of concerns and needs.
Learning more about each others' ways of thinking and problem solving would improve safety and efficiency."

"There is a big difference between ATC-controllers in European countries. I will not rank, but my experience is that Norwegian ATC is not polite compared with Sweden, Maastricht, England etc."

"There is very big span between how the different controllers in Norway handle the amount of traffic. Seems as if some could need a bit more training in congested areas. But when that is said, they are fare better than their colleagues in southern Europe, but not as good as English controllers and those you find in the USA."

"Pilots and Controllers should come regularly together, as part of training, in order to better understand the issues and problems of each other."
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