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Not ONCE...but TWICE at Birmingham

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Not ONCE...but TWICE at Birmingham

Old 16th Apr 2007, 14:36
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Not ONCE...but TWICE at Birmingham

Mahan crew failed to set local altimeter pressure
http://www.flightglobal.com/articles...-pressure.html
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 15:04
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They have a deadly practice at BHX of clearing a/c onto the ILS from a Flight Level - i.e. you join far out and intercept the G/S above the Trans Level, then you get handed over to Tower.

You will thus never be cleared to an 'altitude' - therefore it's easy to miss setting the local pressure (QNH) and fly the approach on Std Pressure.

This especially happens on RWY15, and the only thing that'll save you is good company SOP's and extreme vigilance. Or blind luck.

I wrote to my own FOM pointing out this problem. Got a thank-you, but nothing more, and have seen it happen again since.

Anyone flying into BHX 15 - watch out for it.
Alternatively, BHX ATC should stop intercepting approach from above the Trans Level.
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 15:20
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Maxalt, you will ALWAYS be cleared to an altitude at EGBB prior to being given descent clearance on the ILS.
15 Arrivals from the North are sometimes complicated due to Manchester giving us the traffic late, in which case you'll be given a range check and asked if you can lose the height, if you can't then you can expect a heading of CHASE and be vectored round to lose the height. I have never nor have I seen any of my colleagues give ILS descent clearance to an aircraft whilst still at a FL and not cleared to an altitude.
Why not come over to the tower and see for yourself the limitations we work under, you'll be made very welcome and it will give you an opportunity to voice your concerns with the controllers.

As for the Mahan incident, the aircraft was cleared to an altitude and failed to set the QNH:

The inquiry into the November 2006 event has discovered that the Iranian-operated aircraft had been cleared to 2,500ft (760m) as it arrived from Tehran. Instead of keeping to this height, the A310 continued to lose altitude even after air traffic control contacted the aircraft three times to alert the pilots. The presence of a tall mast in the vicinity then led the controller to order the A310 to perform an immediate climb.
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 16:52
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I'm not getting into an argument with you on this, but you are absolutely wrong to say you'll always be cleared to an altitude. I've had it happen on numerous occasions and I've flown into BHX hundreds of times.

I warned my colleagues - and they ALL reported having had it happen to them too.

Maybe talking about it here will change things. If you're BHX ATC its good you're aware of it.
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 18:14
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There will be lots of ASRs in the system then
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 18:24
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Maxalt is perfectly correct here - I have been cleared for an approach to Runway 15 at BHX many times from a flight level.

I know of one case where an approach to minima was being flown and the altimeters were still on standard at the OM. Fortunately the cross check caught the omission.

Clearing an aircraft for an approach from a FL is a disaster waiting to happen.
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 18:32
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I'll re-phrase my original post, you should always be cleared to an altitude prior to descent on the ILS as at a FL you will be outside the protected range of glideslope, if you're within the protected range at a FL then you'll be well above the glide.

If it happens to you then I would suggest that you submit a report either via your company or via the ATC Watch Manager on duty at the time, if controllers are doing this then it is clearly wrong and remedial action needs to be taken, but if we do not know that it is being done, then we can do nothing about it. Raising the issue through official channels will always have more of an effect than a quick posting on here.

Just the other day a Monarch skipper called to discuss the approach that he had just flown, he clearly wasn't happy, the net result was that we as EGBB ATC are now more aware of Monarch requirements when making an approach into EGBB, and he as a pilot is more aware of our procedures and limitations of airspace etc.
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 19:34
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Obviously i'm talking about my own personal experience of flying into 'BB but frequently we been given a heading to intercept the localiser whilst descending to a flight level (normally inbound CHASE, ie. descend FL50, turn left 10 to close the localiser blah blah) but once established, we have always been told to descend to an altitude before descending with the glideslope (ie descend ALT 2,500 QNH xxxx then further descent with the ILS)

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Old 16th Apr 2007, 19:59
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Am I wrong to believe something I learnt, lets say a loooooooong time ago, that once one is "cleared for ILS approach", it implies that one is also cleared to descent to the altitude from which one should intercept the glide slope?
I once was cleared direct to the FAF and at then cleared for approach from FL 150. OAT around minus 30C on the ground, and QNH in the 900; was that wrong or dangerous?
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 21:41
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Does anybody have a link to either report?
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 22:10
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Just because you have been "cleared approach" from a Flight Level is no excuse for not setting altimeters to QNH etc.

I am amazed by some of the comments here.
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Old 16th Apr 2007, 22:43
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osbo, I am not saying the situation is ideal or that there are not better ways of avoiding it but I am surprised by the way some contributors have sought to "externalise" the problem and "blame" ATC when, as professional aviators, the answer is in our hands! In every operation I have been involved in correct setting of the altimeters is part of the approach check.

Quite simply you cannot blame the ATC if you do not set altimeters for the approach!
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 05:31
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tubby:

AAIB report into incident involving F-OJHH
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 06:42
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It is true that the "problem" is not restricted to EGBB. Try R10 at LEAL... or 24 at LIRN... the list of airport clearing you for a procedural ILS from a FL is long.
It is also true that proper airmanship (such a nice word, really ) require us to have a look at the approach plate, define the next point and its altitude for proper positionning.
No headache here, just standard practice
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 08:05
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Ive lost count the times i have been cleared for the localizer at CDG at FL60 for 27R,ILS platform is 4000 feet qnh.
Approach checklist in our SOP,s should always pick up a mis-set altimeter if done correctly as the trigger for it is setting qnh,and cross check of all three altimeters.
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 09:07
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Transition Altitude

Reading through this thread, it strikes me that the Transition Altitude may be a factor. I believe that it is 4000ft at Birmingham - please correct if wrong!

This increases the likelihood of being vectored on to the Localiser whilst still at a flight level. 6000ft as used in many other UK CTR's reduces the need to establish at a FL. Perhaps the issues raised here (forgetting to reset to QNH) could be used as justification for raising the TA

Fly Safe!

DD
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 09:48
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Having flown in and out of Birmingham for the last few years I can understand the points people are making above. I think a lot of the valid points in this discussion have to do with the wording of the clearance issued.

It is common in mainland Europe to be "cleared for the ILS" allowing you to establish on the localiser and descend with the glidepath. In Paris for expample this is often when still on 1013. In the UK I can't recall ever being "cleared for the ILS". At UK airports it is normal to be "cleared to establish on the localiser" and once established on the localiser then "cleared descent with the glide".

In the Birmingham situation a heading from Chase is often given to establish on the 15 localiser, but this is only lateral navigation and not a clearance to descend with the glidepath. A descent clearance has always been given to an altitude before any clearance to descend with the glidepath. That said it can be a bit tight getting the height off from the north for 15 and I could see that if the descent wasn't managed properly that rushing could possibly cause crews to forget to set QNH.
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 11:45
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Originally Posted by nitefiter
Approach checklist in our SOP,s should always pick up a mis-set altimeter if done correctly as the trigger for it is setting qnh,and cross check of all three altimeters.
The problem in this case is that if you forget setting the QNH you miss that trigger altogether, so chances are you miss that checklist too. Proper distance/altitude (or outer marker) checks provide a better defence than the approach checklist, which I think merely provides a false sense of security.
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 14:57
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I always thought that when cleared for the procedure, one was cleared for the published procedure including any vertical profile.

Which was fine when fully procedural approaches were the norm. But now it's a mad dash to the localiser with speed kept high, perhaps a more clearly spelled out vertical profile restriction is indeed necessary?
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Old 17th Apr 2007, 18:35
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Devil

A lot of this comes down to the ridiculously low transition level at Birmingham. It's quite a few years since I last operated into and out of BHX but I remember that the SID's in particular all had a first level off as a flight level at just FL30 or FL40 if I remember correctly

Isn't is about time that we standardised the T/L throughout the UK, preferably somewhat higher than it is at BHX? It works fine in the US where FL180 is used. Below that, area or local altimeter settings are used. Oh, and before PPRuNe's version of the screaming Nimby's let fly (excuse the pun) the differences in pressure setting between adjacent regions is not going to be as big problem for someone not re-setting their altimeters when transitioning from one region to another.

In the US they use the much finer calibrated 100th's of Inches rather than the broader Mb's so the number of changes once below T/L during descent and approach to an airport would be fewer here than on the other side of the Atlantic.

It just requires the powers that be to make the decisions and to rewrite the rules to accommodate it. Why not standardise with the US (I can't believe I just wrote that as the xenophobic anti-US brigades will argue against it just because...) at FL180 or at least something higher than the stupidly low levels at BHX and at least as high as a couple of thusand feet above the highest MSA in the UK. Better still, why not have a nice cardinal number like FL100?

Having to reset altimeters whilst so close to the ground, whether during departure or arrival is not very clever. Better that everyone is using a setting that reflects the correct pressure for the region they're flying and making changes during less busy phases of flight.

Discuss...
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