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Alternate airports named on Flt plan - responsibilities

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Alternate airports named on Flt plan - responsibilities

Old 24th Aug 2016, 16:24
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Alternate airports named on Flt plan - responsibilities

Hi ATC colleagues. I'm search for your thoughts and experience re diverting.
Due weather at destination, the a/c needs to divert. They tell ATC their intention to divert to their planned and nominated alternate on Flt plan. ATC contact said airfield and they respond no they won't accept the aircraft.
Is this okay? If so is there a way prior to Flt to be sure they will accept( barring unexpected eventualities, i.e. Poor weather or runways blocked,power failure etc.)?

The crew could declare an urgency or emergency to try force the airport to accept but it seems a bit extreme.
Appreciate your help folks
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Old 24th Aug 2016, 18:00
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If the destination airport is very busy under normal weather and then poor weather requires a diversion to your flight planned alternate then you can expect many other flights doing the same. This often results in your alternate airport filling up very quickly with other diverted aircraft resulting in that airport not being able to accept any more diverts because either there is no parking space available or the ground handling companies or Terminal capacity can't cope.

When selecting an alternate make sure your airline has a contract agreement in place with a ground handling company at that airport otherwise you could wait a very long time
for handling. Even if you you did have a contract handling arrangement in place it can still take a long time to be handled as other non-diverted scheduled flights at the airport may take priority.

There are many variables that result in alternate airports not accepting diversions.
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Old 24th Aug 2016, 19:01
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It depends, whatever you wrote in your FPL does not really matter much, as long as you have notified the alternate of being such. Just from writing it into the FPL does not mean they even get a prior notice. As PIC is responsible for appropriate flight planning it may be necessary to get clearance from the alternate before putting it in FPL. Same as for PPR airfields, filing a FPL does mean nothing for PPR, you have to do that manually. Same for alternate - IF you want to avoid being forced to declare emergency in case of diversion, your choice.

Last edited by ChickenHouse; 25th Aug 2016 at 08:07.
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Old 26th Aug 2016, 01:40
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I have known a requested div to be refused by TAG Farnborough as the crew had not requested PPR and did not declare an emergency. The crew argued that it had been on their flight plan but as it was IFR, the flight plan had not been sent to either TAG Farnborough or ATC Farnborough whereas VFR flight plans do get sent to alternates.
Course ATC got blamed for being 'un co-operative' by Northolt ATC (intended destination), but it was not ATC's decision to make; TAG send ATC a daily list of expected arrivals and anything which asks to land and is not on that list ATC has to call TAG to approve it/not approve it and there's a clear paragraph in the AIP (which I wrote) saying that just filing a flight plan to Farnborough does not constitute a request for PPR.

Last edited by chevvron; 26th Aug 2016 at 07:31.
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Old 28th Aug 2016, 06:15
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The permission is only valid until just before your wheels hit the runway. Real life is annoying because it gets in the way of planning. But it is always the operator's responsibility to make sure the alternate is open, that the weather and airfield are suitable and that permission to use it, if required, has been obtained.

PM
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Old 28th Aug 2016, 08:10
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Chevron
Thanks for your point about alt not being notified via Flt plan if IFR. Do you know where I might find a formal reference to that? Is it Europewide or just UK.

A situation that arose was in Italy and initially the FBO refused and hence as you describe ATC refused. FBO person refused because they were ' a little busy' that day and on their own, not because there was any parking or other issue.
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Old 29th Aug 2016, 01:12
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I realize this site is UK centric, but my experience in US ATC is the FP alternate is just a technicality, like showing your 8th grade math teacher how you arrived at an answer on your homework. Once airborne, and confronted with the need to divert, the typical airline crew consults with dispatch and makes a decision based on actual fuel remaining and existing weather, not what was forecast 4-6 hours ago. As a US terminal controller, I never had a clue what the crew or company filed as an alternate. Never saw the FP, only the clearance into my airspace.

One of the things I taught my instrument students as an instructor pilot was that you were never "locked" into going to your filed alternate. Tell ATC where you want to go next, and they'll do their best to route you there.
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Old 29th Aug 2016, 01:39
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Originally Posted by pilot1957 View Post
Chevron
Thanks for your point about alt not being notified via Flt plan if IFR. Do you know where I might find a formal reference to that? Is it Europewide or just UK.

A situation that arose was in Italy and initially the FBO refused and hence as you describe ATC refused. FBO person refused because they were ' a little busy' that day and on their own, not because there was any parking or other issue.
The FPL forwarding is done by IFPS. You or your agent addresses it only to IFPS and it's up to IFPS to send it on, however you could try asking the agency who files it for it to be addressed to your alternate too.
The situation with a VFR plan is that you address it to destination and if you fill in an alternate, AFPEx will automatically send it there too; not sure about other systems like Skydemon though.
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Old 8th Sep 2016, 20:33
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In my days the IFR flight plans were NOT sent to the Alternates destinations. Doubt this has changed but I stand to be corrected.

Interesting enough I landed quite a few times in Nassasuaq (Greenland) and know the place a bit . At beginning of ETOPs it was used extensively to meet ETOPS criteria, but the AFIS agent there was not aware of the types and numbers of a/c actually doing this, as he got no copies of Flight plans.
The runway length and strength was indeed able to receive the A300/310 and B757/767 twins of those days , but that was about all, no hangars , no stairs , no fuel in sufficient quantity , a small hotel able for max 100 people if rooms were shared. The next ( small) town is 1/2 h per helicopter. Runway usable in one direction only, and often shitty weather, etc..etc..

I always wondered if anybody of OPS of those airlines had actually talked to someone that visited the place, or they just selected this alternate looking at a map..
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Old 12th Sep 2016, 10:49
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Join Date: Aug 2016
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When we're planning flights we work of the basis that if it's an AoE and as WX it's a valid alternate unless told otherwise. We got a mildly worded email from the French at LFTH saying that if we planned on using it as an alternate then we'd need to request a PPR (bit of overkill but hey ho).

I'm also under the impression that whenever an airport is filed as an alternate then they get a notification as we got a hefty charge from an airport in the Azores for an out of hours charge when we used them as an ETOPS ALT down to the Caribbean.
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