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Air Traffic Control Question / United States

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Air Traffic Control Question / United States

Old 13th Aug 2013, 13:59
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Air Traffic Control Question / United States

Landed at a mid-sized class D on the east coast yesterday in my single engine turbine helicopter. Wind was light and variable from the south, and the controller gave me runway 11. Dropped a passenger at an FBO on the east side of the airport, then called the tower and said that I would like a departure north with a turn west (thinking that I could avoid overflying the rest of the field, which had ground operations going on, and accepting the fact that I would have a 2 or 3 knot tail wind). According to my best recollection, the controller told me to proceed to the intersection of Echo (taxiway E) and 11, depart north and then turn west. I called back and confirmed the same (proceed Echo and 11, depart north with turn west) then took off. When I called the controller to say I was turning west, he was pissed, saying that I had been supposed to take off on 11, turn north, and then turn west. Ignoring the fact that I repeated back to him what I thought he had said, indicating that at a minimum both of us weren't listening carefully enough, my question for the group is whether I should have been tipped as to his real intentions by the fact that he gave me a runway intersection instead of a taxiway intersection, and that he referenced the runway as 11, instead of as 29 which would have been closer to my direction of travel?
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 14:14
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I am based at a busy controlled airport in the Northeast. The controllers here prefer to treat helicopters much like airplanes and integrate them with the flow of fixed wing traffic. They are much happier when helicopter pilots don't ask for something different, but they will usually accommodate if possible. I am guessing that this makes their life easier.
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 14:48
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EN48

I take your point and have had the same experience, but when I am given an intersection departure, it is almost always on my requested course, or (in my experience) the air traffic controller will give me some other general vector to fly ex. I request departure west, and the controller tells me to proceed to an intersection and depart north with turn west, or what have you. My specific question here is whether the fact that he gave me a runway intersection should have been a clue to avoiding this misunderstanding.

PS: EN48 - Your handle made me smile - I am also a private guy who flies an Enstrom 480B, out of a small heliport just northeast of Newark. I travel up to KLEB regularly to visit one of my kids, and often stop into Sharkey's. And when I fly to KLEB and go to Granite, on the way out, I always request departure south, and the controller almost always tells me to proceed to intersection B and B2 and depart on course...

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Old 13th Aug 2013, 15:03
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Semantics.....he referenced Runway 11.

I would have assumed him to mean depart on 11.....from the Echo Intersection.....then make a left turn to North......and then at mid-field turn left again westbound crossing over Runway 11 at that point.

Commonsense would have you depart Runway 11 and then make a right turn at the end of the runway....westbound.

Did you think to call the Tower on the Telephone later to discuss what happened and figure out what it was that caused the misunderstanding?
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 15:09
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Didn't think to call him later, had a pretty busy day, but your reply is on point to my question i.e. should the fact that he referenced the runway, giving me a runway intersection as a departure point, have alerted me to the fact that he wanted me to depart on the runway as opposed to on course. Sounds from your reply like you believe this to be the case. If this happens again I will be more careful to confirm the actual instruction.
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 16:00
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You are correct----if he gives you a runway intersection departure he expects you to depart in the direction of the flowing traffic unless he says "From intersection RWY 11 and E depart direct West".

I always ask for "Present position departure to the West".
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 16:26
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Semantics.....he referenced Runway 11.
I would disagree. If I heard "cleared takeoff runway 11, depart north and then turn west" vice "cleared takeoff, depart north and then turn west" then I'd use the runway. Otherwise I'd do what i asked for...and what he said.

It's not an airplane, and the runway is just a convenient (for him) spot away from traffic and obstructions.
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Old 13th Aug 2013, 16:40
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What is the difference between runway 11 and runway 29 (other than a mere 180 degrees)?

Runway 11 was the active runway, the helicopter had used Runway 11, and the Take Off Clearance specified Runway 11.

In defense of the OP....the Take Off Clearance was not very clear.

I can see quite easily departing North bound from the intersection of runway 11 or 29 at Point Echo.....as Echo does not change....followed by a turn to the West.

That is why I would think a follow up phone call would have been my first action upon landing somewhere and have a chat with the ATC guys to determine what they wanted me to do and perhaps remind them of the fact most helicopter pilots prefer to do exactly as Gordy says....."From my current position.....departure Westbound across runway 11!".
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