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Is it me... or the UK ATC system?

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Is it me... or the UK ATC system?

Old 8th Apr 2011, 22:30
  #41 (permalink)  
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So am a little surprised he couldn't understand and accept a direct Lambourne?
At risk of sounding defensive, I never said I couldn't accept direct Lambourne. I did say:

It took me a moment to find Lambourne and punch it in the GPS
As I mentioned before, I do feel like I have a reasonable understanding of the UK system. I dutifully respond "deconfliction service" when asked OCAS, I "pass my details" when asked, etc.

Nor do I want to give the impression that I was lost like a ball in the tall weeds. When I was told to "route Daventry" or "NATEB" or "Brookmans Park" or any other fixes I punched in the idents and went on my merry way.

Asking for the Lambourne identifier was the only thing I asked for that day.

As a foreign pilot it can be tough to see how any intrinsic benefit some of the unique UK procedures may have outweighs the lack of standardization, therefor I appreciate the clarifications and background that many have given in this thread.
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Old 9th Apr 2011, 07:41
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This post takes me back to the days of scud running PA31s ect up and down the UK flying in cloud VFR which is a UK thing as the concept of Flight Following for VFR and low level IFR does not exist here.

So in cloud VFR (IFR flight plan filed and IR held) requires that you have a good old VFR toppo chart and look at it before you go flying, figure out where you will be OCAS and dumped by the controller who will not hand you over.
Remember its up to you who you choose to talk to when OCAS.

In general the low level ATC service in the UK is very good but differs from unit to unit most are very good, but the bad ones are total crap.

One day they will figure out that the american Centre Control system is cheaper and better which means tower controllers sit in towers and look out of the window and approach controllers all work from the centre and provide vectors to all airports and flight following with automatic hand overs.
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Old 9th Apr 2011, 22:44
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up and down the UK flying in cloud VFR
Please explain the Visual Flight Rules to me as I have only been flying for 35 years and have yet to understand how flying in cloud can be defined as VFR.
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Old 13th Apr 2011, 11:28
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wwelvaert/all

Those of you who fly OCAS at times may want to take a look at this new free on-line flightplanning tool, which has just been launched with NATS endorsement. Had a brief look myself and seems to offer more guidance and in a more comprehensible form than has been available to date.

SkyDemon Light

might I also suggest that OCAS if you are unsure as to who to call, give London Info a call. If they can't offer you an appropriate service, they will suggest someone who can.

Savannah Jet
AC FISO London ATC
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Old 13th Apr 2011, 20:00
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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My point, one will be asked for position fixes and obscure reporting points only published on a VFR chart when flying IMC on a OCA/IFR flight plan.

In cloud VFR got it !!!

35 years how impressive.
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Old 19th Jun 2011, 12:41
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Originally Posted by wwelvaert
at some point in this thread I fear my true nationality will surface.
Well, even without reading your full name on your blog, I could have guessed your true nationality!

I'm glad to see you got some useful replies to your excellent post.

I agree 100 % with Radar's reply #20

Oh, BTW, I like the opening sentence you used when you first met your wife!
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Old 19th Jun 2011, 13:52
  #47 (permalink)  
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5) At one point near NewCastle (don't land there after 8:00 pm) a controller tells me to squawk 7000 and go to the next frequency. Like an idiot I comply, only to be told by the next controller to maintain VFR clear of controlled airspace. Took a few minutes to sort out the idea that I was on an active IFR flight plan on an assigned route.
Not sure exactly were you were at this point but there is a weird idiosyncrasy with the airspace over the north of England in that some of the airways actually change their MEA depending on the time of day; during the night they are lower because the base of controlled airspace drops - I have no idea why this is the case - perhaps someone from ATC could answer?

Scotland to London/the South in general is actually a flight I do quite a lot airways and when flying at c FL90/100 or whatever when one leaves controlled airspace close to Scottish/English border one contacts London Information - they will have a copy of your flight plan and will be able to co-ordinate a rejoin for you when the you meet controlled airspace further south. It can at first be very disconcerting to be told "7000, remain outside of controlled airspace" when you are not expecting it but it doesn't mean your clearance has been lost - it just means that while you are leaving controlled airspace the airways radar units don't want to be worrying about you. At FL100 or above you can call "Military" and get a service from them I think. They may also remind you to fly the correct quadrangle level which is sometimes a +500 FL depending on you level (another silly UK only procedure that differs from everywhere else!)

As for Biggin/Thames and London I'm slightly surprised to hear about your experience; I've always found them helpful. Approach info not on the ATIS is a bit annoying but it is something one has to live with - some airports like Southampton for example put it on others don't.

In general the one thing above all else that makes flying IFR in the UK a bit of a pain is the ridgy closed and class A airways system with everything else apart from airports being G. It has the advantage of protecting IFR from the riffraff I guess but for GA ops its a pain because it often leads to one either getting stuck outside the system or chucked out of it! In the US, where most airspace is E I find flying airways in a light aircraft must easier.

As for the controllers themselves having flown in the UK, Europe and the US I think the UK's are the most professional and diligent - but not necessarily the friendliest.
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Old 19th Jun 2011, 13:56
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<<sometimes a +500 FL depending on you level (another silly UK only procedure that differs from everywhere else!) >>

Funny.... that's precisely the system I worked in Africa 40 years ago!!
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Old 19th Jun 2011, 23:10
  #49 (permalink)  
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Funny.... that's precisely the system I worked in Africa 40 years ago!!
Interesting to note it's not just the UK...

It is not however ICAO and while in of itself its not a bad separation system I really don't see the point in having such a difference. Especially since when one is outside of controlled airspace VFR traffic rarely follows it anyway...
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Old 18th Jul 2011, 02:49
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Wow, for people that are so angry in this post it sure has gained a lot of attention!!
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Old 18th Jul 2011, 22:49
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Vino

Please explain the Visual Flight Rules to me as I have only been flying for 35 years and have yet to understand how flying in cloud can be defined as VFR.
Presuming the fact that IFR and VFR are flight rules not IMC or VMC then it is a puzzle at what rules an aircraft is flying to if in cloud and not flying IFR rules? It is a puzzle to me having once nearly collided with a glider flying in clouds!
What was he flying? impossible for a glider to fly IFR in cloud unless he could fly a quadrantal level ( V unlikely)
How do you fly VFR in cloud as you are not meeting the legal requirements of VFR?
Yet gliders are legally allowed to fly in cloud with aircraft not equipt for IFR flight and their pilots not rated to do so.
When gliders fly in clouds what rules are they flying to OCAS

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Old 18th Jul 2011, 23:20
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Don't quite know how you know that you "nearly collided with a glider in cloud" since you wouldn't be able to see. But ho hum
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Old 18th Jul 2011, 23:32
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Christian

Take my word for it if its that close you will see it in cloud where vis is prob 100 to 200 metres. Posted the whole incident which generated a long thread here at PPRuNe about 18 months back! and was reported.

Pace
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Old 18th Jul 2011, 23:38
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fair enough. Must have been a bit nerve racking!
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Old 18th Jul 2011, 23:45
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A miss is as good as a mile prob a 1 in a million but still possible OCAS but would still like to know what regs the glider fraternity are flying to in IMC OCAS?

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Old 21st Jul 2011, 12:14
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I fly into Biggin quite often, usually from the south so I kinda know what to expect and I understand that the ATCOs are very busy and I try to accommodate them in what ever request they ask me as quickly and efficiently as possible, it’s called good airmanship. UK ATC is very very good on the whole unlike some of their southern or eastern European brothers but sometime UK ATCOs have the ability to fcuk it up on a grand scale. Not a problem we all make mistakes, but the thing that gets me the most when either I make a mistake or they make a mistake is the utter arrogance I get back from them on the RT.
And I often think that they look down their noses at Aircrew as some sort of inconvenience. All to often I feel for the poor Crew who are at the end of a 12+ hour sector approaching London, English is not their first language and they don’t get it first or second time by which time the controller is becoming frustrated and sarcastic in his tone. Patience gentlemen…..is there such a thing as ‘good groundmanship’ .
And before I get shot down I have visited NATS at Swanwick and take any opportunity to visit towers and have always encouraged FAM Flights where possible.
If all the aircraft in the world were grounded tomorrow then there would be no ATC but if ATC were shut down tomorrow Aircraft would still fly in some capacity.
You are here because we are here….aren’t we both very lucky to have each other.

Descend flight level of stairs and Turn left heading for the pub!!!!!!

RARA…..
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Old 21st Jul 2011, 19:52
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RAPA,

Excellent post. Methinks you have hit the nail on the head. Ignorance of each other's environment (with its' pressures and limitations) is a growing problem. Certainly the recruits to our unit over the past decade or so have less and less interest in aviation in a general sense. there isn't the appetite to acquire a 'bigger picture'. The fact that familiarization flights are a thing of the past doesn't help either.

From experience, you, as aircrew with an active interest in seeing the 'other side', are definitely in a minority. Unfortunate but true.

Radar
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Old 21st Jul 2011, 21:36
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I relative of mine used to work at NATS Swanwick as well and I have had several visits there, one in fact before the facility was actually open - was certainly a weird experience wondering around all these radar screens which were on and running but had no one manning them.

All the controllers I met seemed very professional - sitting down and listening to the Heathrow Director frequency for example while next to the actual controller was very impressive.

In the air I've never had the feeling in the UK the ATC wasn't sympathetic to my general aim to reach my destination in a timely fashion even if crossing the London Terminal Control Area in a C182 at 140kts isn't exactly making life easy for them. That said I have overheard some exchanges similar to what RAPA Pilot mentions...a bit of patience from both sides and things are easier.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 08:26
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To add the non standards ATC calls in the UK airspace.
1. The idea of "say aircraft type to Radar" Why ???? Doesn't the controller have this information ? We are just blocking the freq which is already busy.
2. The unique TCAS terminology calls used the UK. Why don't we all use the suggested ICAO terminology ? if each country would come up with a different set of terminology, in particular during a time of high pressure such as a TCAS maneuver, where will all this lead to ?
3. Why insisting on pilot to say SID, altitude passing, altitude cleared to ?
4. Why saying QNH.... after you have said information X received ?
5. The insisting of calling the VORs by their full names, instead the 3 letter code doesn't help, in particular if he said VOR was not part of the original route.

I am neither UK, US or Europe pilot based. In my opinion, the US ATC is much user friendlier.

Generally, I find the UK controllers to be above average. But the uniqueness of the system is what causes confusions with outsiders.

Last edited by tournesol; 29th Jul 2011 at 08:41.
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Old 29th Jul 2011, 09:03
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1. The idea of "say aircraft type to Radar" Why ???? Doesn't the controller have this information ? We are just blocking the freq which is already busy.
3. Why insisting on pilot to say SID, altitude passing, altitude cleared to ?
4. Why saying QNH.... after you have said information X received ?
1. Mistakes can be made on flight plans so we need to make sure that you are the correct type of aircraft shown on the flight strip in front of us. What we don't want is getting less than the required vortex spacing required or you being parked on a stand that you can't use
3. We need to know the passing altitude so as make sure that you Mode C data is accurate. The SID needs to be confirmed to make sure you go the right way and the cleared altitude needs to be confirmed to make sure you don't bust the clearance and end up hitting something coming the other way.
4. because the QNH can change before the new information is transmitted.
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