Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Non-Airline Forums > Private Flying
Reload this Page >

Aviate, Navigate, communicate

Private Flying LAA/BMAA/BGA/BPA The sheer pleasure of flight.

Aviate, Navigate, communicate

Old 5th Sep 2005, 10:33
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 13,638
Aviate, Navigate, communicate

Had an interesting incident yesterday, nothing bent and nobody hurt, but some useful learning points. It might be worth a CHIRP report in the fullness of time, but at the moment I'll share it with you fellows.

To set the scene, I'd done a long but enjoyable afternoon's aerial sightseeing, which at this point had amounted to about 3 hours of navigation around SE England. Whilst a little murky in places, with a less than distinct horizon, visibility was mostly 10km+ and my passengers were well behaved.

The last leg of the trip was Beachy head - Selsey Bill - Popham (two straight lines, more or less). It was late afternoon, and I'd made a call to Shoreham just before Beachy Head, who had passed me details of their local traffic and asked me to let them know before changing to my next frequency. My routing was parallel with the coast but about 5nm out to sea, the reason being that Shoreham was having it's annual airshow, and I needed to keep clear of that airspace.

No problems so far, I passed safely, and as I passed the airshow closed. At this point however the controller at Shoreham became clearly severely overloaded as she had to handle multiple traffic either trying to get into Shoreham, or get out in the few tens of minutes immediately after the show ended. I tried for about 5 minutes to get a call in to change frequency, but was unable.

So, as I was now skirting Solent Zone, I changed to their frequency, called, asked for flight information, and informed them that I had been able to establish 2-way with Shoreham to hand-off. On this, Solent instructed me to return to Shoreham and try again to get a hand-off.

So, flipped frequencies again, and tried again for another 2-3 minutes with no success. Eventually, I gave up and returned to Solent, re-established a FIS, and informed them that I'd still been unable to achieve 2-way with Shoreham (to be honest, by this time, I was probably too far away).

At this, Solent agreed to contact Shoreham on the landline (fair enough, if a bit late in the day), and then informed me that I had inadvertently entered their zone, and instructed a roughly 90° heading change to leave it.

This all got sorted out within the next minute or two, and apart from a slightly raised stress level on the part of myself and the controller, no damage was done. However, let's examine what happened here:-

- My initial attempts to contact Shoreham for a handover had raised my personal stress levels somewhat, degrading my concentration a bit.

- Being told by Solent (who, relatively speaking, were not busy) to return to Shoreham's frequency, then my frustration at still being unable to establish 2-way raised it further.

- This, and my concentration on communication, degraded my concentration on navigation, which should have been a higher priority. This, and the poor visual horizon, meant that I allowed my course to drift into Solent's zone. (Basically, I'd stopped navigating for a minute or two, and failed to appreciate a significant drift of heading). As a result I caused an infringment.

There isn't a villain of the piece, but two people could have done a better job than they did.

(1) Firstly and most importantly, I shouldn't have allowed a communication problem to degrade my navigation. I should probably have refused Solent's request to return to Shoreham frequency (look, if I didn't achieve 2-way first time, it's hardly surprising I didn't when I was further away and they were just as busy).

(2) Secondly, the Solent controller should have appreciated that (a) Shoreham is **** busy and hard to get a word in edgeways at the best of times, and (b) if a pilot reports an inability to establish 2-way with another field he means it, so don't make life harder for him than necessary - this is what the landline is for.

In the end, no damage done, but a valuable lesson learned for me and (I hope) a controller as well about airmanship.


N.B. Of course I may just be making all of this up, and this is an anonymous forum, so I'm sure nobody anywhere would be enough of a a*****e to make trouble for anybody over a post on PPRuNe.
Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 10:42
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Anywhere
Posts: 2,213
The problem with a CHIRP is it is totally anonymous, yet this is very definitely a unit (person?) specific problem.

It's accepted that if this happens and you make a request to "pass it on over the landline" then these things happen and you do it. The chances are (though I don't know for definite) that Solent will have a direct line or at least speed dial to Shoreham.

Speaking as an ATCO sorry, but black mark against the person concerned.
Chilli Monster is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 10:48
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 1,294
I would make the phone call myself in that situation, there would have to be a reason why the Pilot was unable to advise the change of frequencies to Shoreham, and then to subsequently have words as the pilot inadvertently entered their CAS does seem a little churlish.

Of course there are always two sides to every story, but given the same circumstances , as an ATCO I would have ensured we let Shoreham know of your change of frequency.
flower is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 10:52
  #4 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 13,638
I would make the phone call myself in that situation, there would have to be a reason why the Pilot was unable to advise the change of frequencies to Shoreham, and then to subsequently have words as the pilot inadvertently entered their CAS does seem a little churlish.
To be fair, the words were essentially "you have entered my airspace, turn immediately onto heading 090 to exit". He was perfectly polite about it.

Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 11:06
  #5 (permalink)  
Final 3 Greens
Posts: n/a

All credit to you for sharing your incident so that we can learn from it.

It shows how easily things can run away (albeit no harm done) when human factors intervene.
Old 5th Sep 2005, 12:11
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Blackpool, UK
Posts: 187
Well done Ghengis. Full marks for the post.

You've taught me another option for what I can do when I can't get 2 way with a station I'm trying to leave... prior to this its not been unknown for me to just go around in circles (well orbits) waiting for a lookin...!

And sharing experiences and learning from them is what I think is PPRuNe is all about.

Well done!!!


RotorHorn is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 12:56
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: London, UK
Posts: 778
What is the likelihood that anything would come of not telling the first station (Shoreham in this case) that you're changing frequency? Obviously it is good airmanship and polite and 'generally a good idea' but surely they'd not send out a search party if you didn't do it? Presumably it happens all the time. So why were Solent so insistent?
drauk is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 12:59
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Posts: 25,480
Good that you publicised this incicdent.

If you can't clear from the frequency you were on, it becomes rather like something in the 'rear view mirror'. The priority being to think about what's ahead.

Given the exact circumstances again, I would recommend:

1. Call the Solent controller and obtain the relevant clearance.
2. When (and only when) you've received that, advise that you weren't able to clear with Shoreham, so would he please do so for you.

If you are the sole licenced FRTO in the aeroplane, there is just you and one, maybe 2 radios. On the ground there will be several people and plenty of phones. Don't think twice about requeting that the ATCO gets an assistant to advise Shoreham.

I recall routeing near Solent once - and decided to call them to advise. I merely received a very curt "C/S, Standby". So I did, but continued on my way within 0.5 mile of their airspace. When they finally decided to speak to me, they were somewhat taken aback to be told "I was just going to advise you that I was going to be flying quite close to the edge of your airspace. Which I have been. But not now, so thank you and good-bye. Squawking7000toenroutegoodday"
BEagle is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 13:02
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: EuroGA
Posts: 13,786
FWIW I often have to go the next frequency if the last one is too busy to get the call in. Also Shoreham is occassionally so busy on the radio that one cannot make the call for anything up to 10 mins. And Solent often don't like providing a service to GA; I usually find them pleasant enough and they give an FIS but they get rid of you as quickly as they can; they have a lot of traffic with Southampton.
IO540 is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 13:16
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 27
I think you did the right thing changing frequencies, I'm suprised solent weren't more helpful initially. It can be stressful not being able to get a word in on the radio.

Last week when I was flying solo circuits (I'm still a student) the tower reported a cessna joining on base, and I was on late downwind at the time. I was looking and looking but couldn't see the damn cessna so I turned base a bit early just incase, then I tried to ask the tower about the cessnas position but the radio was busy. There was some guy on the radio recieving a long IFR clearance and 4 times he wouldn't read back correctly, so the controller kept repeating it, it was stressful not being able to ask the tower. Eventually I saw the cessna flying parrallel to me on a wider base leg, I wasn't sure if they'd seen me and I didn't want them to turn final into my path, still I couldn't inform the tower. In the end once I'd turned final I managed to tell the tower I was visual, just so the cessna knew where I was, as they were probably expecting to join infront of me. But it was very frustrating not being able to make radio contact.
EGTC is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 13:19
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 275
Beagle (or other pro)

Would your recommendation be the same if you were receiving a LARS service? For example:

A while ago it took me a long time to terminate a RIS from Farnbourgh due to heavy traffic and poor r/t reception and ended up calling Benson very late for a MATZ clearance.

The result was that I was routed west about, having to dodge the Harwell restricted zone and the Didcot towers. Unfortunately I could not go over the MATZ and stay VFR and was not going to “bust” the MATZ if the controller (for what ever reason) was telling me to stay clear.

Genghis good thread
egbt is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 15:49
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Posts: 25,480
1. I would only ask for RIS if I really needed it due to poor (but legal) VFR conditions.

2. In normal VFR conditions, I wouldn't be overly concerned at penetrating the Benson MATZ without advising them; I would, of course, remain clear of their 2000ft/ 2.5 mile ATZ.

Recently I was flying to White Waltham with a student and called for a MATZ penetration. Whilst in the MATZ, I asked for the London QNH as WW is under the LTMA - as indeed is Benson. Benson's reply to this request for information? "Remain on Benson QFE"....

Incidentally, I asked AOPA in Oct 2003 to investigate why Harwell's P106 still exists. Harwell is now a Business Park and the reactors were decommissioned 15 years ago. I'm still waiting for an answer!
BEagle is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 18:26
  #13 (permalink)  
Tabs please !
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Biffins Bridge
Posts: 708
I asked AOPA in Oct 2003 to investigate why Harwell's P106 still exists.
I wonder why a nearby "disused airfield marked for navigation purposes only" isn't. Mr Fraser was one very shocked balloon pilot who was practicing hedge-hopping & low approaches and crossed an innocent looking fence at the top of a hill expecting to see this navigation landmark. It was day 2 of the Gulf War

A phone call later that evening that began "Good evening sir... were you the pilot of G-B***" thankfully resulted in no further action.

Back to the topic... or at least where it's going... is it acceptable to break into a transmission if there is doubt over traffic that may cause a conflict ? The visibility at the weekend was particularly bad and I had trouble spotting traffic joining base when I was on downwind. Had the RT been busy, I would have been tempted to talk over the other pilot and make my apologies on the ground. What is the done thing ?
B Fraser is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 18:41
  #14 (permalink)  

The Original Whirly
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Belper, Derbyshire, UK
Posts: 4,331
What is the likelihood that anything would come of not telling the first station (Shoreham in this case) that you're changing frequency? Obviously it is good airmanship and polite and 'generally a good idea' but surely they'd not send out a search party if you didn't do it?
I once got out of range of Birmingham, from whom I was receiving a FIS, before I could sign off. When I got to my destination, they'd phoned...not sure if it was to complain or to make sure I was safe or both. So now if that happens, I ask someone to pass a message, or phone as soon as I'm on the ground.
Whirlybird is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 21:41
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Cambridge, England, EU
Posts: 3,431
What is the likelihood that anything would come of not telling the first station (Shoreham in this case) that you're changing frequency?
Well, according to my Air Law text book, whatever else was going on an Alerting Service was in effect. If an aircraft receiving an alerting service simply disappears from the frequency then the ATSU has to try to find them, ultimately ending up with Search & Rescue.

If they can find the time, I suppose.

And anyway, does what it says in the Air Law text book actually reflect real life?
Gertrude the Wombat is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 21:50
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Oop North, UK
Posts: 3,049
Excuse my ignorance, but flying regularly in this area this does not seem to make sense, just past Shoreham you would not be infringing Solent for another 15+ mins in most light aircraft, well past Selsey and Nav sould not then have been a problem as even in bad vis the IoW /Portsmouth should have been in sight before reaching Solent. (I have been out of the country so there may have been temporary restrictions in force that I do not know about - but this does not show on these postings).
foxmoth is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 22:20
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 403
why Harwell's P106 still exists
I can understand the question (like as if a little exclusion zone is going to prevent any unpleasantness).

There is still a lot of "old material" there, going back to the very earliest experiments. It is undergoing re-siting (within the Harwell complex) to protect it for a little longer than the original canisters could offer. The cost of this is enormous.

Unfortunately, a lot of this "material" is of unknown type and/or indeterminate radioactivity, from old gloves & suits to particles of unknown isotopes. Some has a half-life >100,000 years (so I am led to believe)...how dreadful that we impart this legacy to future generations.

Russell Gulch is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 22:20
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: The Twilight Zone near 30W
Posts: 1,934
Subject to your workload (clearly not possible in Genghis's case), is there any reason why you can't call London Info, who rarely seem snowed under, and ask them to make a phone call for you....?
Human Factor is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 23:24
  #19 (permalink)  

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Orlando, Florida
Age: 64
Posts: 2,586
Well - yeah.

That's why Whirly was chased by ATC (had the same happen to me years ago - orevious station called the one I was now working).

That's exactly why they are so keen to have you "sign off" - the Alerting Service is in action.
Keygrip is offline  
Old 5th Sep 2005, 23:51
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: EuroGA
Posts: 13,786
The reality is, however, that a lot of the time one cannot sign off because one cannot get a word in edgeways - short of turning the aircraft around and flying back a bit and trying some more, which is IMHO unreasonable.

Personally I try extra hard to sign off from a radar unit, but it is perhaps less necessary because they can see the squawk change from 0234 or whatever to 7000 so they know you have moved on.

A lot of people give you such a totally casual sort of FIS (Solent comes to mind here) that one doesn't feel guilty about it

In other places e.g. France at weekends (in the past, perhaps not anymore) the service can be so patchy that signing off just doesn't happen a lot of the time even when there is no radio traffic.

I also think that the extent to which ATC will be worried about somebody who vanishes depends on how the person sounded on the radio. If he/she was clearly struggling to manage the flight they might get quite concerned. OTOH if it is some IFR flight OCAS, navigating along IFR waypoints, at FL050, they are less likely to worry. OTOH such a flight is pretty unlikely to be talking to anybody who doesn't offer a radar service - what would be the point??
IO540 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.