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Unable to contact ATC over Africa

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Unable to contact ATC over Africa

Old 23rd Nov 2008, 21:49
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chuks

I have only 3 trips down thru AFI, but aren't most of those routes either Class F or Class G airspace? In which case, climbs can be done at anytime, as no ATC clearance is available. Correct me, if I am wrong. We usually travel above F410, so a bit above the problem

GF
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Old 23rd Nov 2008, 22:39
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The sad thing is that you could run the whole off Africa as CPDLC from a beach hut in Brighton !
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Old 24th Nov 2008, 08:47
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Chris - I know you well and I am ashamed of your suggestion that we were inexperienced pilot/navs with rookie copilots in the right hand seat.

I was a non - Hamble (Oxford) bright young thing.

I, and the others, held a full nav licence and you must know that the CAA didn't give them out easily.

There was considerable under supervision training (about six months in all parts of the world) and the exams were the ATPL exams with a couple of additional nav papers.

Most of the instructors were ex-straight navs.

What I do remember is the satisfaction at "being in command" of the navigation at the age of 24, the other guys would go anywhere you told them..

As for doppler over the desert, I don't recall it being a problem on the VC10 - maybe we were better than your straight navs!!

Africa was relatively easy, generally light upper winds, not much change in magnetic variation and a mercator chart

The most difficult sectors I found were the lhr to Caribbean in daylight - no loran, no consol (ahh consol!!), just sun (moon and venus if you were really lucky) for parts of the route.

The chart was a Lambert and grivation played an important part.

I think my best moment was a mer passage between Fiji and Honolulu - we were delayed as this sector was usually a night sector.

Best seat on the flight deck as you had a proper table to eat at (only reintroduced with the A320).

I'll stop waxing lyrical and await your apology!!

Alan
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Old 24th Nov 2008, 11:31
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The system isn't, umm, systematic!

The more experience I have the less I know.

The nice thing about most of my long range flights were that I was either in an unpressurised light piston twin at either nine or ten thousand feet with no oxygen or else in this Dornier 328 at its maximum altitude, 34 or 35 thousand. I didn't have to step-climb the Dornier so I would just go for F340 or F350 and that was that part sorted. In other words there was very little decision-making in the vertical plane required.

Then I just had to worry about comms. We always used that in-flight broadcast procedure on 126.9, we had a good HF and there was almost always some helpful airline crew above us somewhere to give us a relay.

I think that one trip Lagos, Nigeria-Gao, Mali-Marrakech, Morocco was the only one where I really had trouble with lost comms, on the sector from Gao. The thing was that it was a relatively long, maximum-range leg out over the middle of nowhere when contact with someone, anyone would have been good to have. We were flying upwind and we were lucky the winds were light. You know how you can pick up a wind change and that would have caused a diversion, when I would have needed to communicate.

As it happened we had no problem with the wind but I hate that feeling you get when the "holes in the cheese slices" start to line up.

We had a big discussion about flying offsets, since the Honeywell FMS made that simple. I have my doubts but ours was a very small operation so that we couldn't have a wide-ranging discussion about this.

I just don't like to see systems being tinkered with even when the basic premise is obviously sound. In fact it is exactly like the way you start out following a prominent track feature VFR, isn't it? Everyone stays off to the right.

That crash over the Amazon, well, yes, you could argue that "If the two aircraft were offset then it would not have happened." Err, yes, but... If perhaps both crews had been keeping a proper lookout in VMC as we are told to do, if perhaps the bizjet crew had clarified exactly which flight levels they were expected to use, if perhaps they had tried harder to establish comms and if perhaps they had not seemingly and inadvertently switched off their transponder, if Brazilian ATC had done a better job...

I don't think we can just take this one as a clear call for flying offsets because I don't think it is that simple. Once the official report is out then we can study the conclusions and say better whether offsets are the way to go for everyone.

Of course as long as you stay within the airway there's no legal barrier to flying offsets now and I cannot think of any objection to that other than my vaguely philosophical one.

One no-brainer that needs more emphasis is keeping that transponder on even when there is no radar. I still come across guys in Africa who say, "What's the point?" not having a clue about the recommendation for using the transponder or why. TCAS to them is just something "other guys" have.
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Old 24th Nov 2008, 11:37
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saeed khan

I Rember We Used To Fly To Sieara Leone On 747 No Sooner We Were Out Of Khartum Fir No Contact This Was Way Back In2003 . But Lately Flew To Nyala In Darfour Same Pitiable Condition So Keep A Good Look Out Safe Flying
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Old 26th Nov 2008, 19:35
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Quote from finncap:
Chris - I know you well and I am ashamed of your suggestion that we were inexperienced pilot/navs with rookie copilots in the right hand seat.
[Unquote]

Greetings Alan,

Perhaps we should have shared anecdotes on our previous incarnations before we retired from the A320...

I readily apologise for my simplistic remarks. Should not have presumed, as a former co-pilot of David Airlines - metaphorically speaking, of course - to understand the modus operandi in Goliath Airways cockpits.

You seem to be underplaying, however, the unpredictability of the position, direction and intensity of the sub-tropical jet over North Africa in winter: remember what happened to Libyan Arab Airlines' B727? I still contend that our specialist navs made life a lot easier for us, as well as offering a degree of pressure-pattern flying where permissible. The issue of pilots like you taking over the chart table, dividers and sextant soon became academic - with the introduction of INS - so the effort was arguably more trouble than it was worth.

In the meantime, as I said, we could have done with a bit more attention from some of your colleagues when we introduced 126.9 blind-broadcasting in the early 1970s.

Chris
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Old 27th Nov 2008, 07:11
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Chris

Apology accepted - I'll go back to clearing the snow.
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Old 27th Nov 2008, 18:41
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Go in the middle of the night from Lagos to Nairobi. From leaving Nigeria till reaching Entebbe it is incredibly hard to get to talk someone. Lucky if you do, SOP if you don't. Leaving nairobi to Benghazi is kind of the same thing. If Khartoum is awake he'll talk to you. Somewhere they can hear, but not transmit. Then you'll be an hour into Lybia before you can talk to a guy for a relay.
Niamey has a radar with quite a good coverage. They just won't tell you they got it.
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Old 27th Nov 2008, 21:06
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Niamey has a radar with quite a good coverage. They just won't tell you they got it.
Quite a contradiction in terms. either they give you an SSR code and say afterwards " radar identified " or they do not say anything. If they do not say anything ( as I suspect) it means they cannot use the radar you say they have for surveillance and separation purposes.
My information is that Niger has no civil radar operations ( just like Sudan at the moment)

On another subject ; if communications are as bad as you say they are, how is this compatible with current RVSM operations ? We were told that exept for RDC and Angola everyone else in the AFI region had 2-way reliable (upgraded) comms. Are the comments being voiced here recent ( i.e. in the last weeks ) or BOAC VC10 era ?
.
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Old 27th Nov 2008, 21:29
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Quite often and expecially during night HF com in AFI area are marginal, that's a fact.
how is this compatible with current RVSM operations ?
It is NOT compatible and I wonder how it's possible to authorize RVSM with such a situation.
Let's say that I can only suppose how... political ego, blind manager, project development by people unaware of realty.
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Old 28th Nov 2008, 19:37
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african radar

From ASECNA AIP :
ABIDJAN FIR

Abidjan is currently the only centre equipped with Radar implemented as experimental operation. As regards the rules, the Recommended Standards and Practices of ICAO in general, and
more precisely, those indicated in PANS - OPS (DOC 4444) Part 10"Use of Radar in Air Traffic Services", are applicable.
For precisions and restrictions with regards to the Centre of Abidjan,it agrees to refer to the local instructions of Radar operation contained in the aeronautical information circular N 4/A/91 of
January 25th, 1991. See pages 6 ENR1-6-01 and 6 ENR1-6-02.

NDJAMENA FIR UIR

1. Generality
In order to increase safety in Ndjamena FIR (TMA, UTA and FIR part included in 250 NM for Ndjamena VOR), RADAR has been implemented to provide monitoring and assistance to aircraft.

There is no radar in Niamey.
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Old 3rd Dec 2008, 17:38
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Squak 7500 and see if that gets their attention!

If it does...then say... "Negative 7500, Requesting higher, if able"
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Old 3rd Dec 2008, 18:03
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Squak 7500 and see if that gets their attention
They don't (in the main) have primary radar, let alone secondary

You have obviously never operated in Africa (or India or South America or ....)
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Old 4th Dec 2008, 07:20
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Squak 7500 and see if that gets their attention! If it does...then say... "Negative 7500, Requesting higher, if able"
Nice one, I am sure you have tried /done this over your own country or the US, they surely will appreciate the humor of it .

But more seriously : why would you do that in Africa and not at home ?
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