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Heathrow Director

Old 24th Aug 2017, 00:03
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Heathrow Director

Quick question about Heathrow Director frequency 119.725.

Was flying into LHR the other night around 7pm, LHR was reasonably busy and while on Director frequency there appeared to be two seperate controllers working the frequency. Curious if this is standard practise or if was just a shift change or controller under training.

Can't recall having ever previously heard two controllers simultaneously controlling one frequency like that before. Both controllers controlling the same flight as well, with instructions following for the same callsign from both controllers, not just one talking to north traffic and one for south traffic.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by EI_DVM; 11th Nov 2017 at 10:51.
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Old 24th Aug 2017, 00:35
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One of the voices is that of the Approach controller who will be present when it is particularly busy or, for various reasons, the frequency for BNN/LAM is combined with the frequency for OCK/BIG. He/she will answer your first call e.g if holding is required or to issue descent clearance if you are already in the hold. This controller also liaises with adjacent sectors and can fine tune the approach sequence to minimize wake separation on final approach.

The other voice is the radar controller, known as the Intermediate Director, who will issue all the heading/speed instructions.
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Old 24th Aug 2017, 16:34
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Thanks for the information, that does seem to correspond to what I heard on the radio alright.

Out of interest though in times of high levels of holding how come the frequency isn't just split into holding and intermediate approach like at other airports with a holding controller?

Also how does two controllers work in practise, I assume they are both sitting next to each other? Who decides who gets to talk next, and how the plan is going to work as the frequency is full, there's hardly a gap to be had in transmissions for there to be time between the two of them to liaise.

Just curious as it seems like a rather unusual set up with two controllers, although obviously it works very well, LHR is the best controlled airport in the world in my experience, and perhaps if there are advantages in having two controllers work the same frequency it's a model that could be copied to other, less organised airports, but I'm at a loss at the moment to see why the frequency couldn't be split.
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Old 25th Aug 2017, 13:22
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EI-DVM,

I may be out-of-date here, but I always understood the the 2 'intermediate' approach control positions for EGLL were manned by 2 ATCOs per frequency.....These were, or maybe still are, the positions that control the holding-stacks and the a/c leaving them. BNN/LAM and OCK/BIG. The 'final director', responsible for the final turn on and approach spacing, was usually single-manned.

Another possibility is that the 2 voices could have come from an ATCO trainee, and his/her instructor/mentor?

If anyone who's current on EGLL approach could tell us how it works at the present time, it would be interesting to catch up.

Also, many of the U.K. area frequencies have 2 ATCOs on them, called Radar/Co-ordinator, or Tactical/Planner. It is usually the Radar/Tactical's voice that you hear, but the Co-ordinaor/Planner, occasionally transmits messages.

Last edited by ZOOKER; 25th Aug 2017 at 16:31.
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 11:33
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Funnily enough was only reading this thread the other day - I think this explains the dual controllers heard on a single frequency.

http://www.pprune.org/atc-issues/306...-director.html

Morning.

119.72 is the Intermediate Director on the Northern side; there is another on the southern side on 134.97.

The northern Intermediate director, being the busier, is deemed the Master Director and in theory he/she plans and communicates the landing order to Int South. Once the arrival delay has got to more than about 10 minutes we offload this work to a support controller; this controller takes on all the non-radar phone work and the initial calls of stack arrivals. This leaves Int N to get on with the primary task of radar direction.

Both Int N and the support controller operate on 119.72, sat imediately next to each other. It is a technique of operation that one picks up quite quickly. The support guy will instinctively know from what he can see on the radar when the radar guy is going to need the r/t. Sometimes we trip over each other but it is relatively rare. Support's primary r/t task is the laddering down of traffic in the stack and whilst this is important for maximum level availability, the radar task takes priority.

Once we get over about 15 minutes delay the support task is further enhanced (in preparation for EATs) by handing off the planning role to a supervisor. This leaves support free to concentrate on supporting his radar man (an essential task). A tardy support controller makes radar's task difficult.

Having agreed, and established the arrival order, the two radar directors, Int N & S, hand traffic off to 120.4 in the landing order for him to sequence accurately.

Hope that helps.

.4
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 14:18
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Also, many of the U.K. area frequencies have 2 ATCOs on them, called Radar/Co-ordinator, or Tactical/Planner. It is usually the Radar/Tactical's voice that you hear, but the Co-ordinaor/Planner, occasionally transmits messages.
For occasionally, read never, especially in London en-route. I don't know if they do at Scottish and I know they do it in Ireland, but not for London
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 16:13
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Originally Posted by The Many Tentacles View Post
For occasionally, read never, especially in London en-route. I don't know if they do at Scottish and I know they do it in Ireland, but not for London
Used to up until Feb 1971; the procedural contoller was at West Drayton and the radar controller was at Heathrow (north side where Compass Centre now stands) then we moved into the new control room at Drayton. I was on the last watch on the 'old' system. We closed down the radar unit at Heathrow after the evenng watch took over, then next morning we took over from them at West Drayton.
It was the old 4 watch system in those days where you did an afternoon then a morning, then a 12 hour night watch the same day ie A-M-N-sleep-day off over 4 days then repeated.
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 16:42
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Surprised to hear that, Tentacles, and many thanks for the update, sejo.

When March' went from Mediator to NODE-M in the early 1990s, both the ATCOs were allowed to use the frequency, and this continued until at least 2011, after the move north.

Under the Mediator system, there was usually only one ATCO per freq', as the Chief Sector Controllers didn't wear headsets.

When EGCC got very busy in the late 1980s there was a facility to 'man-and-boy' each position, where another bod would plug in to help, in addition to the CSCs.

I think P and E was introduced at Atlantic House, round about 1979.......I picked up a copy of 'Airway' at my final selection board that year, and remember reading about it.

I thought when LATCC moved to Swanwick, with the 3 bods on each 'banana', it was a similar set-up. ScATCC had evolved largely to a one ATCO per frequency system by the time nPC came on-stream.
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 18:02
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NOBODY at West Drayton ever worked the full 4 watch system, it was carved up so that if you were working the N you usually got the M off and if you did the M you got the N off. I know 'cos I woz there.
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 21:42
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Ah, the good old Sector 8!


Originally Posted by obwan View Post
NOBODY at West Drayton ever worked the full 4 watch system, it was carved up so that if you were working the N you usually got the M off and if you did the M you got the N off. I know 'cos I woz there.
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 23:28
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Ah, the good old Sector 8!

Aye, happy days.
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 14:05
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Originally Posted by obwan View Post
NOBODY at West Drayton ever worked the full 4 watch system, it was carved up so that if you were working the N you usually got the M off and if you did the M you got the N off. I know 'cos I woz there.
On 'D' Watch you did, but the 'N' was split up as 1st Half (2000 - 0300), Second Half (2000 - 2230 and 0300 - 0800) or Long Sleep (2000 - 2300 and 0600 - 0800)
I know cos I was there too!
Lindholme, where I did my Area Radar endorsement, did an extra day between the 'M' and 'N'. They also used a procedural 'D' man, but this time at Barton Hall (Preston) up until both places were closed in about '74 or '75; I was there in '73.
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 16:12
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On 'D' Watch you did,


I would suggest that your colleagues might have been taking advantage of your good nature
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 17:54
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Originally Posted by obwan View Post
On 'D' Watch you did,


I would suggest that your colleagues might have been taking advantage of your good nature
I can assure you that on 'D' watch, both controllers and assistants worked the hours I stated, the only concession being that less people were required for the N so a few (very few) got an N/R (Not required)
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 19:20
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Chevvron - I think Barton Hall closed in 1975. I worked there between '70 and '73 and remember Sector 25 (high level) was the first to be transferred to W Drayton.

Great place, great people, great times.
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 20:50
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I was an ATCA on B Watch, & can remember doing both M & N duties on the same day. True, we often either did the M OR the N - but not both. But, there were times when we did both. At other times, as Barry said, we had the good old sector 8. I remember that we had a shortage of ATCO 4s which resulted in those that we had doing M & N together quite often.
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 21:11
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Obwan must have been an A watch person. Their culture of minimal manning continued in the 5 watch age.
B watch kept fully manned so the card school could keep going. C watch was on another planet anyway and D had a magic system for sector 8s.
I may have been there - if only I could remember.
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Old 7th Feb 2019, 23:12
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Do we still have to advise Heathrow director of aircraft type on initial contact. Don't see that info in the Jepps anymore.
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Old 8th Feb 2019, 07:58
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Yes please, type and variant.


But never the QNH. That seems to be a habit creeping in and itís a real waste of precious RT time.
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Old 8th Feb 2019, 11:08
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What, if any, are the advantages of having the Approach/Radar controllers for the London airports located at Swanwick rather than the individual airports, like it used to be ?


Given that Southend is regarded as a London airport nowadays, what are the chances of its Approach/Radar function being ensnared by Swanwick ?
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