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-   -   ctaf procedures (https://www.pprune.org/pacific-general-aviation-questions/332842-ctaf-procedures.html)

Clarie 2nd Jul 2008 01:39

Bloggs I understood that Dick Smith wanted a straight copy of the US system which works well, but the regional airline pilots wanted so many changes made it no longer resembles any system at all. :ugh:

Capn Bloggs 2nd Jul 2008 02:05


You seem to have come off whatever you were on yesterday :) I enjoyed your tiff with Puff.

aircraft travel at very different speeds and CTAF very different traffic volumes and types.

The 'one size fits all' CTAF hardly fits the variation.
For exactly that reason "about 10nm" doesn't fit either. It would be a simple matter to make a call 5 minutes before entry into an ATZ as Mark puts it, and in any case once you are in it then you use that freq. The old rules of 5nm/3000ft and 15nm/5000ft worked well. Simple, and everybody knew exactly what to yabba dabba on.

if the unique Australian CTAF R and Transponders in E were world's best practice - the world would be following us. They are not.
Who said they were and who said the world had to follow us? Who said we had to follow the world? Will we follow world's best practice and allow handguns in the home? You may think looking out the window of your jet dodging no-radio lighties is fun. I don't.


Dick Smith wanted a straight copy of the US system
Yes, he did, but without the radar, the Flight Service Units and the Follow Me girls. Fly about in the bush sometime - it's a bit different here.

james michael 2nd Jul 2008 05:38


He twaddled once too often!! But, I do have high regard for his logic in most cases and it was a bit of fun.

I think if you re-read your last you are circular to a point. My reading of the NAS is that the 10 Nm is recommended BUT the critical point is to remove distance boundaries as a fixed trigger and insert logical radio change or listen steps depending on speed and CTAF operations.

ANY distance boundary fails to differentiate between the time left to arrival of the Tiger Moth and the Dash 8 (which has landed, disgorged, engorged, and departed between the TM call at 10 Nm and its landing :))

CTAF R and E TXPDR are in a climate where Australia claims to adopt world's best practice. We don't for cultural reasons. As far as 'no radio' lighties goes, it's CASA again that is the hurdle - the Microair radio that works well in Jabirus etc is type limited and not TSO in GA aircraft to my knowledge. I believe there is NO - repeat NO - reason for non-radio aircraft these days, even if it's an Icom handheld with an external aerial (again, not acceptable to CASA). Too much prescription and adherence to CASA mindsets of the days when crystal sets were the airline communications and transponders had to be warmed up to stabilise the (now defunct) crystal oscillator.

Guns - not world's best practice so I disagree re that. Nor are aspects of the NAS - calling intentions on final is too late and, since you mention flying in the bush, my own experience is that (fortunately) the top of descent call by VFR is still used by most as an extra alert as well as the NAS approach.

Looking out the window dodging no-radio lighties cannot be fun. Nor is dodging a Metro coming at a student pilot who is conducting a landing on the most into wind runway, not a SAAB 340 trying to push a student on first solo NAVEX out of place in the circuit position to save time and avtur.
My point being that my own investigations disclose that behavioural and safety problems are right ACROSS the span of pilots and it's time this RPT/GA cultural crud was put to bed and matters examined on human factors and safety case basis.

Steps down off pulpit :)

antzx6r 2nd Jul 2008 06:04

For some, the migration to "lighties" (sounds like... mmm nevermind) is not so much a cost thing as a sea change kind of thing. One airline pilot put it that after listening to a damn headset all week, he craved the uninterupted(no radio) freedom of UL flight on the weekends. Taking that freedom away is a bit much IMO. Personaly (never having had the airline experience above) I get right into the radio stuff. But horses 4 coarses. :ok:

werbil 2nd Jul 2008 14:36

Departure calls are extremely useful where there is significant terrain shielding - YSHR is a classic example - taxi calls cannot be heard by aircraft inbound from certain directions, inbound calls from aircraft arriving from certain directions cannot be heard by taxiing aircraft.

Confusion on which rule applies - there should be none. Anything in the CAR's is a legal requirement. Nothing in the AIP is a legal requirement unless specific provision has been made for it to be a legal requirement in the CAR's.

As far as I am aware, the the only calls legally required to made by a non rpt aircraft are: inbound to a CTAF(R), inbound intending to make a straight in approach, prior to entering a runway at a CTAF(R), and in the vicinity of of a CTAF(R). In the vicinity of an aerodrome is specified in the CARs as 10nm and at a height that could result in conflict with aerodrome traffic. The above are what the CAR's legally require. Any other calls are only "recommended" by the AIP - such as taxiing, turning in or entering the circuit, 3nm and 1nm.

Likewise the requirement for turning crosswind - the only legal requirement that I am aware of is the requirement to climb to 500 feet above ground level unless you require to turn earlier for terrain avoidance or are taking off from water (seaplanes have an exemption). The climb to within 300 feet of circuit height is only "recommended" by the AIP.

Before I get flamed, I am not suggesting to ignore recommended procedures just because they cannot legally be enforced. However there are numerous occasions where the safest option does not include complying the the recommended procedure. Choosing when to follow and when not to follow recommended procedures is command judgment. Recognizing that a pilot may do so is essential for safe aviation rather than blindly following 'recommended' procedures.

JM :ok: to the last post

PS I am happy to be corrected on legalities - references to Regs to be included please.

Capn Bloggs 2nd Jul 2008 14:57

he craved the uninterupted(no radio) freedom of UL flight on the weekends.
I didn't know Dick flew airliners.:}

Ultralights 2nd Jul 2008 15:45

So, how is my straight in approach?
straight in approach

im PIC, pax took vid, and no, the comments on the screen arnt the actual radio calls, just to let people know where to make them.

i wonder if it would be worthwhile taking video footage with radio calls, and making a series of short educationamal videos for ops at a CTAF?

james michael 2nd Jul 2008 20:10


Looked good, can we have some of your wx please :)

A video could be good. Trouble is, like safety seminars, the good people watch or attend - the ones who need it - don't!

But my research shows that the NAS 2C CTAF changes is acknowledged as an example of an extremely poorly done education process. When CASA and DOTARS revisit the education, perhaps a DVD will be in the pack.


I'm with you. Establish minimal safe mandatory procedures and allow pilots to exercise discretion in the recommended ones. Problem with CASA is that they regulate each flight from your sleeping tablet the night before to your maintenance release after landing with so many rules and regulations that if the average flight was a camping trip in your 4WD you'd just give it away and walk to the pub.

There must be rules and regulations but at some point there needs to be emphasis on the PIC acting safely from go to whoa of own volition backed up by simple commonsense guides. If you get to a busy CTAF with training it's laughable to have to try and get a call in between the multiple NAS calls when you know quite well you are number 4 and can see the guy in front anyway.

Dick Smith 3rd Jul 2008 00:41

Clarie, you stated:

Bloggs I understood that Dick Smith wanted a straight copy of the US system which works well, but the regional airline pilots wanted so many changes made it no longer resembles any system at all.
You are 100% correct. The fascinating thing is that the regional airline pilots who wanted the change had absolutely no interest in finding out how the system worked in the USA – the country which invented aviation.

The current mixture of prescription and non-prescription is a disaster. The plan was to make the whole process simple and standardised to get greater compliance – as undoubtedly happens in the USA. What we now have is something more complex and more confusing. Whereas regional airline pilots may be able to follow the complex prescription, many private pilots would not be able to.

These regional airline pilots are not flying around in Australian built aircraft, they are in modern certified aircraft from other leading aviation countries. What they have developed with the CTAF procedures is a classic “Nomad” – a mixture of so many different systems and features that the whole procedure is confusing and less safe.

antzx6r 3rd Jul 2008 01:00

Well put werbil. I was not actually aware of the distinction between CARs and AIP. Maybe more of this(distinctions) needs to be added to RAA's BAK theory. Although, I don't actually remember reading it in my Aviation Theory Centre BAK and Flying Training Manual either... I could be wrong tho. So don't blast me, i'll go home and check that out.
I was taught to make manditory calls (+ a few extras for traffic) and told which to make for safety sake and what height to climb to as a minimum(CARs). When I asked about 700 agl I was told "just to make sure of being at cct height for downwind, so I can't shoot my instructor just yet. (He could have expanded and told me where he based that rule tho)
But it makes sense. If ur in the middle of nowhere at a bush strip, you've been flying around the area all day and there is no-one else in the air. It is kind of stupid to make all those calls to the roos(just in case one is getting ready to line up) but for safety sake minimum heights etc are a must (obviously). And on the flip side, at a busy CTAF(R) it's irresponsible, not to mention down right dangerous, to cruise in making only a 10nm inbound because thats the only "requirement" in CARs. We are pilots. Decision making is our main job in the air, so decide. And stop blasting peole that don't decide as you do. Put it down to experience.
As a rider I learned pretty quick that not everyone is so good at using mirrors and blinkers. I can get agro about it and keep doing things my way(and not live very long), or I can take that into consideration and expect everyone on the road has tunnel vision and is out to knock me down and just ride around them. Keep them in my revision mirror.:cool: So aviation is ahead as this goes, because as a rider I need to bend some laws in order to be safe. (I've done it in front of cops - they know, or most do) We don't need to bend any laws in aviation. We keep the minimums and fly for a safer standard using AIP. ie. extend the upwind to keep a safer cct, make some extra calls for others safety if the cct is busy. Not so others can see how professional you are, no-one gives a S:mad:t.
OK that'll do. Feel the love people. Fly safe.

ps. I never actually mentioned Dick but on the subject I think he has the right idea and CASA only took on a small portion of his sugestions thus muddying the waters even more. Its easy to pick a scapegoat.


USA – the country which invented aviation.
That's if you don't believe that NZ bloke did it first???


Capn Bloggs 3rd Jul 2008 01:46


The fascinating thing is that the regional airline pilots who wanted the change had absolutely no interest in finding out how the system worked in the USA – the country which invented aviation.
Using your own words, CODSWALLOP. RBA went, observed, then wrote a long speil about how things ARE NOT ICAO in the USA (aviation invented there - spare me - so what?). They are the same clowns that just allowed everybody to carry handguns.

antzx6r 3rd Jul 2008 02:04

Granted, they're an agressive nation and they've taken way too long to get rid of guns and racism. But their history relates to finding out what works best for all and aside from the corruption bread by greed and the violent way to get results they do have a long(ish) history to learn from. We souldn't just ignore it because we don't like the colour of their patriotism.

EMB120ER 3rd Jul 2008 03:12

Hello All

The 10nm is not RECOMENDED, it is in fact in the CAR's.

In the vicinity of an aerodrome is defined as 10nm

CAR 166, makes some interesting reading, like it specificaly lists the areas where you can join a circuit.

25 Penalty units

I am a bit surprised that some of you gurus didn't know this !!

Thermal Bandit 3rd Jul 2008 05:02

US airspace model :bored: last time I checked US stood for Unserviceable

Dick Smith 3rd Jul 2008 05:04

EMB120ER, the 25 penalty units ($2,750) means that if a cropduster at a grass strip in the middle of nowhere joins straight onto base, or joins on a final of less than 5 nautical miles, he or she is up for that fine.

Of course, CASA inspectors ignore it – that’s why they have so little credibility. I don’t blame the inspectors. Imagine working for an organisation that brings in unique prescriptive requirements with substantive fines (because that’s what a few uninformed and closed minded regional pilots want), knowing that they have absolutely no intention of enforcing them.

Capn Bloggs 3rd Jul 2008 06:41


that’s what a few uninformed and closed minded regional pilots want
Not quite. The problem is that you wanted no radio, no rules, "free in G" everywhere, even when the airport was frequented by RPT jets.

Keep the spin coming, son. :D

VH-XXX 3rd Jul 2008 08:19

It would be near impossible to enforce given electronics, radio waves, over-transmitting etc. The penalty units system is a load of crap and I'd love to see them try to hit the every day flyer who has the money to fight it for not making a 10 mile call.

james michael 3rd Jul 2008 09:36


I'll stand behind my earlier comment re 'recommended'.

If you read the NAS 2C SGM 10/05, and AIP ENR Page 1.4-6, specifically 4.2.2 and 4.2.3, and consider CAR 166 defines 'in the vicinity of' rather than recommended procedures, I think you will agree:
1. A pilot operating by the NAS2C material or AIP could claim to have operated legally under appropriate guidance.
2. The calls are recommended - for high speed at 30 Nm not 10 Nm.
3. CAR 166 would not hold up as a penalty point provider, particularly as the NAS2C material defines the CTAF as a procedure not a dimension.

There's even a let out in the AIP where operational considerations prevent calls.

Too much prescription and the CAR 166 unable to cope with reality.

Re comments of others about the USA. The USA NAS is now probably as old as the Harvard and that's tired, out of date, and needing lots of care. After my recent ride in a Jeep, I don't hold the USA up as excellent in any way. Perhaps WE need to define our airspace and procedures to suit OUR country which is entirely different to the USA. (sorry Dick)

Wonder what the Toyota definitions of airspace could bring us :)

xxgoldxx 3rd Jul 2008 12:29

now there is so much #rap about frequency selection it is rediculous.. the old CTAF/MBZ was pretty straight fwd I reckon..

just imagine the sudden urge to land your chopper with a rapid decent from 4500 for whatever reason, mechanical, pax or other, at 15 mile from the local RPT/GA?flight training location.

Should I be on the discreet CTAF (R) (not 10 mile yet)??, area ( im VFR and thats not encouraged)??, 126.70 because its now "all other landing area's"?? (well who else is aware that the paddock is now a landing area) ?? or just say nothing cause its too hard.. (all thats required VFR).

Busy area, put a boundry around it and get people to talk to each other.. if it does nothing why do we insist on CTAF(R) and even CAGRO ?

Check out some of the big and busy areas in the country.. all the local operators stick to what was essentially the old MBZ procedures up to either 5 or 10000 anyway cause it works.....

EMB120ER 3rd Jul 2008 13:03

HI james

I just spent 45 minutes typing out a reply with lots of quotes and tech stuff, but PPrune glitched on me and its off in cyber space some where.

Sufice to say, I really appreciate your good attitude toward knowing whats where in the pubs. Very rare nowdays.

But I don't agree with all of your thinking about following the AIP as if they are rules, as they are not and nor are thay the only set of (CASA approved) procedures in use at many CTAFs.

I don't belive that you have any right to be judging credability.

Muffinman 3rd Jul 2008 13:43

The MBZ is alive and well - read on...
Same here EMB120ER... lost about 25 minutes of tip tap..:{

Quick summary.... arrr F:mad: it. CTAF comms and procedures are clearly laid out.

When can we expect to get the following crap fixed?


CAO 82.3.5B.1 and 10.4

james michael 3rd Jul 2008 21:50

EMB and Muffin

I was strike three - I feel better now - when I did my original reply above it was far more detailed but it cradhed also, thus the crack the sads with the system much briefer one as you too EMB.

In an unqualified legal sense, I would argue that the average pilot would win a case based on conformance with the NAS 2C material and the current AIP. I suggest the Court would find the pilot had acted within the bounds of the reasonable man and particularly as the CTAF is defined as a procedure with NO physical boundary.

But in the ultimate, and common sense, if you look at the analyses of MTAF and MBZ matters you may find they were a safety shield 'in the mind'. The brain thinks at its speed = time to analyse and decide, therefore the NAS concept of giving calls at an appropriate distance (not too far or too often) is good commonsense. Where NAS goes astray is too many circuit calls, and in a training environment the intentions call on final is too late - you need to know on the base turn if its a full stop or T&G to establish the correct separation.

I also believe that the VFR pilot training package (which has a little IF flying to ensure one learns about vertigo :)) should have a section later in the training (at NAVEX stage) where one learns a little about IFR procedures at CTAF to comprehend the workload and approach basics. This would greatly assist ensuring separation. I have put this suggestion to CASA.

Mark1234 4th Jul 2008 02:52

Didn't expect to stir up so much response..

Seems to me that this just creates a confusion zone: e.g. If I'm plodding around in a 172 at 2500ft, 12 miles outside the ctaf (i.e. going around), I'll be on the area freq. That nice turboprop screaming in is on the ctaf at (say) 30nm.. So now we're in the same airspace on different frequencies - so much for aided see and avoid!

Nice for the ctaf to have more warning maybe, but I'm getting no warning whatsoever that he's about to come bombing through my level..

It would seem to make more sense to have a defined ctaf that was appropriately sized for the operations. For that matter, it seems to work OK having a one size fits all for GAAP a/d.

Still, ya get's what ya gets I suppose <shrug> Shall just get on with it :)

james michael 4th Jul 2008 03:05


I think you need not worry. The turboprop will be on the area and the CTAF because it will have a minimum of two comms and be calling on area also.

Have a look at AIP ENR 1.1 - 43.

What does surprise me is the number of pilots who lack situational awareness by not using the area frequency to keep track of who is who in the zoo, get the Wx given to IFR, etc. Certainly there's a lot of calls not related to one's immediate location but you filter them out and ensure situational awareness of those that may affect yourself.

I laugh at some systems that play CDs etc for your enjoyment en route - perhaps they should shift to playing "Nearer my God to thee" for those not maintaining a proper listening watch :)

antzx6r 9th Jul 2008 23:47

You're very correct QCPog. Seems like people are getting confused between legal manditory and good airmanship radio calls. Legally the only calls needed are the few mentioned previously and only in CTAF(R). If we all wish to stay alive however, yoall better be making more calls than that when you here any other traffic in the ctaf. The legal min. is for use in those remote CTAF(R)'s where there is the occasional RPT stopping in but not much other traffic. Making CASA enforce a crap load of calls in these situations would just be annoying and give a perseption of "one size fits all" for our ADs, which is not really applicable for a land like ours. So use that noggin guys (and gals... sorry) and make the calls nessesary for the conditions. Out.


werbil 11th Jul 2008 10:32

The problem with excessive unnecessary calls in a busy environment is that more significant calls may be over-transmitted. I have experienced countless occasions where two pilots have jammed the frequency on each other, sometimes with both starting and finishing their calls at the same requiring a 'two in together' broadcast to be made to be able to find out what either of them are doing.

Rather than blindly making every recommended call, developing a situational awareness of other traffic in the area and making appropriate calls will IMHO result in the lowest potential collision risk. There are huge differences between the type and density of traffic around different aerodromes, and unfortunately as a result the 'one size fits all' solution is inherently flawed.

QSK? 12th Jul 2008 01:05

Making every recommended call when one is the only aircraft operating on the CTAF is a bit like using your indicators on your car when making every turn at 3am with no other cars around !

DraggingAir 12th Jul 2008 06:58

I thought that too..
...years ago when I was overflying a CTAF at 5,000'. I had made no calls leading up to this. Directly overhead I had a gut feeling, made a call and within a minute or so 4 other aircraft had called and identified themselves, one in the circuit below, one at around 2,000' and two others at the same level as me, both of whom I was then able to locate visually! :eek:

antzx6r 13th Jul 2008 23:57

Situational awareness
I find this and similar situations happening to me also. As a new pilot (75hr) i'm still developing this situational awareness. My instructor told me to have a pad and pen to write down call signs and positions as I here them. This is ok for navs but not for in and around ctafs. Does anyone have any technics for visualizing traffic positions or is it just a case of practice makes perfect. I'm not saying i blindly fly around the ctaf waiting for something to happen, but when the cct gets busy my mind goes into overdrive trying to keep count of who and what is where.:\ Joining mid xwind with 4 or 5 doing touch and goes is a nightmare. Any advice?

DraggingAir 14th Jul 2008 07:54

Some tips
  1. Monitor the CTAF frequency early and start to build a mental picture from at least 10nm or so out (assuming you are coming in at around 120kt). The faster your ground speed, the earlier you start to build the picture and the earlier you make your inbound call. Remember the recommended call is "by" 10nm, not "at" 10nm.
  2. Assuming 120kt for you and roughly 5 minute laps for those already in the circuit, any aircraft you hear make a call (turning downwind, base or final) when you are 10nm away will be in roughly the same position when you arrive. Write down the details of the relevant circuit traffic.
  3. Listen to the aircraft type to determine their relative circuit size and height i.e. 500', 1,000' or 1,500' AGL - so when you get there you know where to look for them.
  4. You don't need to worry about writing down details for aircraft that:
  • Have landed and are clear of the runway
  • Are departing on a track clear of your inbound track
  • Are overflying well clear of the circuit and clear of your inbound track
  • Are inbound to land but have an arrival time > 4/5 minutes either side of your ETA
  1. You should record details for aircraft that are inbound and will arrive within say 3 minutes either side of your ETA, especially their inbound track. Remember though that quite often their time keeping will not be the same as yours.
  2. It may be desirable to self separate with these aircraft early i.e. you will remain over water, they will remain over land, or you will remain north of the highway or north of the extended centre line of runway 24 while they remain south etc.
  3. (Don't forget to also record details of aircraft that are taxiing or lining up.)
  4. If you get a bit confused about who is where while you are inbound, use altitude to separate. For example, advise that you will maintain a given height until you have the other aircraft in sight. They will ideally maintain a different level until you can see and separate from each other.
  5. Use your assigned altitude indicator. In the previous case, if they are at 1,500, set 2,500' on your assigned altitude indicator and descend to and maintain that level until you have the other traffic in sight and are sure there is no conflict. Then set circuit height on the AAI and descend as required.
  6. Having said all this however, try to avoid making unnecessary calls to individual aircraft. Try to use the recommended broadcasts to ALL traffic which is the basis of 'alerted see and avoid'.
  7. One last thing. In the circuit you need to focus on the aircraft in front of you. Follow it and know where it is. Always. If it extends long on downwind, dragging you along with it, be ready for the aircraft behind you to possibly lose sight of you and turn base early and cut you off. If you extend upwind for separation with an aircraft on early downwind, again be ready for the aircraft behind you to possibly turn crosswind early and cut you off. So focus on those two - the one in front and the one behind.

werbil 14th Jul 2008 11:52

Making every recommended call when one is the only aircraft operating on the CTAF is a bit like using your indicators on your car when making every turn at 3am with no other cars around !
There is a difference - using indicators in a car will NOT blind other drivers from seeing you or someone else.

However inbound/overflying and taxying calls are essential at all times - these tell any other pilots that "I'm out here", "I'm monitoring the frequency", and "Broadcast at appropriate points if you could be in conflict". In hilly areas where terrain shielding can occur additional calls are essential as a taxying/circuit/departure aircraft may not hear an inbound/overflying aircraft.

werbil 14th Jul 2008 12:10

Keeping your eyes outside the aircraft as you approach the circuit is essential - as you say a notepad and pen is fine in navs but no good in the circuit.

What I do is to break aircraft in to different groups - where they are (circuit/departing/arriving) and where they are likely to be conflict. It is something that you develop with practice.

One way of helping developing the skills is to listen to aerodrome radio traffic on the ground - using an air band radio or scanner. Pick an arriving aircraft and relate the other traffic to it as it arrives. Even better be doing something else at the same time.

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