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Spanish ATC

Old 24th May 2007, 18:40
  #101 (permalink)  
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I am not sure if there is no respect from the pilot community for the spanish controllers.

However i can understand that the respect goes down a little bit when your fellow controllers pull a stunt like the one below.

Last week on a flight to Malaga. We were maintaining FL340 and an Iberia was at FL360 roughly 5 minutes behind us. Subsequent descent and direct Martin was given by the controller. 5 miles before reaching Martin we received radar vectors and the controller vectored us 90 degrees to the right (away from the airfield) and told us to maintain our level. In the meantime the Iberia was given further descent and cleared to intercept the localiser. While this was going on we were vectored away from Martin by up to 15 miles. Once the Iberia was passed we were given our final vector and cleared to intercept the localiser.

As you can imagine we were a bit pissed off. And indeed the respect for that controller disappeared as snow in the sun. And just for your information the Iberia was 15 miles behind us when we received our first vector.

Unfortunately this happens fairly regular. However this doesn't mean that all controllers would do the same. It's probably the same with us pilots. You got loads of good ones and a few bad ones who spoil the show for everybody.

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Old 24th May 2007, 20:13
  #102 (permalink)  
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Flying Torquewrench,

Your post is the proof that you can give your opinion with respect, which i thank you.

I have never seen a situation like the one you are saying. Itīs nonsense to give you a delay vector if another aircraft is 15 miles behind, since none of you would have delay if you keep flying towards the field. I think the controller had another reason to take that decision, because, like you have been told, there is no reason at all to give priority to spanish companies, since they are not state companies anymore and they donīt give us any special treatment when we fly on vacation (like i said before british and german companies give us more and better conditions to fly). Anyway i take your word since you were there and i was not. Anyway, it could be that this controller made a bad decision or that he/she was pissed at your company, i donīt know.

"You got loads of good ones and a few bad ones who spoil the show for everybody"

You are right, but letīs look at the situation on the other way: you can speak, on a trip through Spain, with 6 or 7 spanish controllers, while i speak with a lot more english pilots in just one hour. Everyday i see one or two that really seem to not having any idea of whatīs going on, but i donīt finish my work day and go home saying: "British pilots dont know how to fly!", "Please teach those brits how to make a XXX approach", "Itīs a matter of time to have a major accident with a british pilot!" It would be stupid to think like that, since i assume that you are great proffesionals that try to make your job as good as possible every day, and our business is the same one, SAFETY. And i miss the same treatment from some of the ones that write around here.

Thanks for your opinion. Safe flights.
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Old 24th May 2007, 20:25
  #103 (permalink)  
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Flying Torquewrench, have a look here, at post number #36,
which I made nearly four years ago, describing a not dissimilar incident.

I made the following observation then:

"When I think back over the worst examples of this type of controlling I have observed, it is always after a more lengthy exchange than normal, between the pilot and the controller. I can only come to the conclusion, alluded to by Crackerjack, that most of this is “driven” by the (Spanish) pilots involved, but it is the controllers that are either “caving in” to their demands or are quite happy to go along with them.

The controllers, presumably, are unaware that this way of doing things is not the norm elsewhere, but the pilots for sure, know damn well that it is not!
(Well, maybe not the Binter pilots........)”

Some of the previous posts on this thread would seem to indicate that there are some signs of slow change taking place….
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Old 24th May 2007, 20:27
  #104 (permalink)  
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Let me get this straight.

Spanish ATCOs get better travel perks with British airlines than with Spanish airlines.


British ATCOs get better travel perks with Spanish airlines than with British airlines.

Can we swap?
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Old 24th May 2007, 20:38
  #105 (permalink)  
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Haha, Deal!
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Old 24th May 2007, 21:02
  #106 (permalink)  
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Thank for your reply. And my apologies if i, in my other posts, came across as having no respect for the controllers. Thats was not my intention as it wouldn't help our discussion at all.

I do understand that you speak to more pilots than we speak to controllers. But unfortunately the story in my previous post is not an exeption. As John Boeman confirms. You personally might not give any preferential treatment to spanish aircraft but other controllers do. And it can be very frustrating. Because we want to arrive on time at our destination also.

As an example read post #21 on page 2. Also written by me.

But one thing i would like to say to you about the Spanish language on the radio. Please believe me it does reduce our situational awareness. And you end up trying to figure out what other traffic is doing by looking at the TCAS display. And TCAS is not designed for that purpose.

As said earlier on this thread. The proficiency in English of the Spanish controllers on this thread is well above average. But the controllers who could do with a brush up course in English probably don't post in this thread.

All the best,

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Old 24th May 2007, 21:16
  #107 (permalink)  
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Being a frequent operator into Malaga I can assure you that being vectored out of the way to allow a Spanish national ahead happens regularly. On occassion there maybe sound professional reasons for these vectors but not always, the same applies for Madrid and several other airfields.
I don't think that some controllers realise how good an aid TCAS is an a TMA. It does not take long to figure out what is what and suspicious vectors can be quite obvious.
There is no smoke without fire and some unprofessional controllers are giving Spanish ATC a bad name acoss Europe.
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Old 24th May 2007, 22:13
  #108 (permalink)  
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Sonnendec, I did not intend to be insulting. My apologies. All I care about is that there are occasions, when flying in Spain, when I encounter difficulties which I don't experience as frequently elsewhere in Europa (apart from Italy). As have been mentioned before: "...loads of good ones, and a few bad ones..." etc.
I gave a few specific examples, to pinpoint what I experience as some of the issues... Not blaming all of you.
But hey, there are indeed bad pilots as well..(not talking about Spaniards)
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Old 25th May 2007, 10:52
  #109 (permalink)  
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It would seem that perceived standards of Air Traffic Control and pedestrian/zebra crossings have a lot in common. 99.9% of the time when one steps on to a ped'n xing in the UK, Northern Europe, US/Canada, Aus, NZ or Kong Kong/Singapore, then one stands a pretty good chance of making it to the other side of the road unscathed. I can't say - from my experience, that the same applies in Italy, Greece etc.

Last edited by Bedder believeit; 25th May 2007 at 16:30.
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Old 25th May 2007, 15:47
  #110 (permalink)  
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Coming back to the thread, this "perceived" safety issues have any statistic to back them up (for example ATC incidents in Spain compared to the rest of Europe) or are exactly that, "perceived" versus "real".
I Ford, you have missed the point, we are relating our experiences of operating day in and day out into Spanish airspace, and our "perceived" opinion is that there needs to be "real" improvement.
Don't forget for instance that we pilots also do our best to mitigate what we see as unsafe or questionable ATC instructions....
My Malaga Tale.....
B757 inbound to Martin and cleared to descend to 5500ft.....CB's all around, including one directly between us and Martin.
We advise approach that due weather we need right 15, and will then continue to Martin etc....
Approach advised that this is not possible, and that would we accept a left turn? (toward the high terrain) and descend to 3000ft and pick up the localizer at 15 miles......
Advised ATC that this was not possible due to noise abatement (the sound of crunching aluminum impacting mountainside at 250kts) and that we needed a RIGHT turn.
ATC..NEGATIVE you have Nostrum Dash 8 traffic 5 miles behind catching you....
and so on and so on........just another day in Spanish airspace
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Old 25th May 2007, 16:50
  #111 (permalink)  
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RYR738jockey, your voice recorder readout was the funniest thing. i could hear myself while reading it and i could hear the panic in my own voice!!

But on a serious note you came up with some really on the nose points they were:
"When in Spain...
1: I often find myself in a situation asking for confirmation/verification,
WITHOUT getting it.
2: the controller prioritizes according to his subjective perception, rather
than the ACTUAL situation. If I have a problem, I have to speak up in
order to get attention. Litterally using my voice.
3: I don't know what to expect. Changing ARR/SID/RWY...
4: I feel they don't care much about detailed knowledge. For instance, IFR
design parameters, MOCA's/MORA's/MSA's etc. MaŅana
5: ...last but, not least...Bad phraseology/language difficulties
Before you behead me, I don't have English as first language either."

Now a few people are still saying that things aren't that bad down there. I really dont know why they are calling you a liar! If lots of us say there is a problem, why do some people insist we are imagining it, and then compare spain to lagos? i wasn't on my college debating team, but some people here...well, need a lesson in logic!!

Bascially, ryr738jock has laid it all out. He has listed specific problems. I agree 110% and have experienced them ALL.

Can someone do something to fix them? And please dont make me puke by saying that you heard all this at heathrow and lagos so spain is really ok. when will you get it into your thick skulls. ITS NOT OK. THERE ARE PROBLEMS. these are safety issues, they need to be addressed, not compared with other countries.

Blaming it on culture is not acceptable. The spanish have fixed many problems and achieved great things throughout history with the same culture. why is it a problem for aviation and not any other walk of life in spain. This is an ORGANISATIONAL PROBLEM. This is a problem that ATC training and management need to take on board. They need to raise standards and stop the problems that 738jockey and every other jockey sees on a REGULAR BASIS.

rant you back..
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Old 27th May 2007, 11:13
  #112 (permalink)  
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Bomb3r harris :
THERE ARE PROBLEMS. these are safety issues, they need to be addressed, not compared with other countries.

Blaming it on culture is not acceptable.
I disagree on both counts. You need to make comparisons to know where you are, where and you are going to compared to your goal.
What is that goal is the issue here : is it no incident/no accident. or is it a reduction of your actual number or incidents by ,say halving it in 2 years , or is it 10 to the minus 6 ( the ICAO standard ) etc...
You also then need to see where you stand in the EU average , since Eurocontrol PRC ( Preformance review commission )is going to audit you, and compare you.

Then you need to know where your priorities are : is it moving taffic , more capacity to eleminate delays, is it above all to please the airlines-custommers , or it is improving at all costs your safety margins ?
It you are, la country dependant on the Turism industry, the answer might be different , than in you are, let's say, in the North part of Europe.

Then you decide where to put the pressure : fixing problems of course, but compared to what ? the problem reported here so far : e.g "a Binter or an Iberia was cleared before me" , and I got an " unsafe " clearance below MSL once while I was in a turn, " is not going to impress top ATM officials much .

Which bring me to culture : it is one of the most powerful element . I have learned that over the years. I use to say than in ATC to change a procedure takes 2 weeks, to change a working habbit or so called " Best Practice " is 6 months, but to change a culture is 20 Years "
Based on recent experience in my old Centre, ( re Hannover sectors for the initiated ) I would now say today , "over 30 years" .

Now my information is that Spain is tackling problems and been fixing its ATC at a much faster rate than many others. ( comparisons again !) I do not see a pattern of danger there ( unlike in teh USA at the moment with runway incursions for instance ) , and the reports are not coming from their major airspace users ( their natonal carriers ).

Culture.. Many here in this forum have a strong safety culture ( based on the UK system ) and would like to see this applied all over the world. Laudable wish, but different cultures move at different paces. The UK system is not the panacea either. Transposing it in a hurry to other cultures is definitively not the solution.

End of my ramblings : morale of the story, be tolerant for other cultures and be careful out there, and as I-FORD very correctly said :never delegate the supervision of your flight path to Controllers. Not in Spain, not in the UK, nowhere.
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Old 27th May 2007, 14:54
  #113 (permalink)  
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ATC Watcher:
"never delegate the supervision of your flight path to Controllers. Not in Spain, not in the UK, nowhere".

Generally, fine words, but I don't know if I fully agree with your last sentiment. One could say that it comes down to semantics about the intent, like or otherwise, what such words as "control", "supervise", "manage" and other like meaning words really do mean. Unfortunately, as time and technology drift by, then more and more aspects of piloting will likely be transferred to other areas, be they electronics, or the ground. By the same token, we may see various elements of "ground supervision" transferred to cockpit and electronics. Getting the three different groups (Aircraft Commander, Air Traffic Manager/Controller, and electronics/ computer) to all interface in an agreeable and like minded way has it's issues, and can be thoroughly contested for responsibilities. I guess you could intimate that the fairly recent collision over Germany/Switzerland is a good example of this "crisis in command". This is not a post that can shed light on resolving these issues, it's just the way I see things after more than 40 years in aviation.
Cheers ATC Watcher, I always enjoy reading your thoughtful posts.
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Old 27th May 2007, 16:04
  #114 (permalink)  
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BCN a couple of nights ago, vectors to 02, descended on reciprical heading to 757 also on vectors to 02 through his level "traffic" "traffic"
reduced at 30 miles out to 210.
left turn on downwind to intercept ILS again conflict with the same 757 (all a/c atc speed control)
vectored to within two miles of 757 who was told to reduce speed min app, then we were asked to maintain 180kts. already reduced to 160kts due closure rate on 757.
on informing atc already at 160 they became very annoyed asked to increase speed (at this point 757 1.5-1.7 miles ahead) due traffic behind, declined the invtation much to the displeasure of controller. (plate says 160 to 4dme).
ATC continued to rant for next two miles by which time 757 about to go around due no land clearance.
Absolute Crap controlling at every spanish airport I fly into a some point or other, gone around and directed to high ground in vmc with stop ALT 2000' below sector safe.
Generally I follow the SID/Star if offered short cuts, unless I have ground contact visually.
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Old 27th May 2007, 17:00
  #115 (permalink)  
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Today I had almost the same experience,
behind an airplane 3 miles and aproaching at a close rate,
BCN FINAL (119.1) keep 180 until 4 miles out (I was reducing already to 150)
Changed to tower : be advised you are behind an 737/800 that is 20 kts slower, continue the approach.
ME:Reduced to minimum approach speed.
BCN TWR to another aircraft behind me, your traffic is 40 kts slower, to another one behind us, the one in front of you is 70 kts slower.
Is this a controled airport where the aircraft are speed controled by ATC?
Anyway I landed after the aircraft in front of me expedited leaving the rwy of course with a late landing clearance and the one behind me as well, but it was a very close one.
Any comments regarding this situation?
Sorry this does not look professional in anywhere in the world and BCN airport
is being targeted to be a major hub in Southern Europe, not with this ATC.
I flew in all continents and this does not look an ATC of a major airport I saw much better ATC in the so called 3rd world countries and with worst working conditions for the ATC staff.
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Old 27th May 2007, 17:02
  #116 (permalink)  
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And again.

Sorry to perpetuate my own thread, I'm sure that's runs against all internet good manners, however yesterday's approach into AGP around 1100Z just reiterated my original point so well, I had to share it with you.

Unusually AGP were landing on 31. Passing over Martin VOR at FL200 doing 300kts, we were told by Malaga approach turn left ten degrees cleared to establish on LLZ for 13 !

We were somewhat concerned as this reduced my track miles by around 50 and left me with quite a lot of energy to dissipate ! TCAS showed at least half a dozen other aircraft on the procedure for / taking vectors to the ILS 31, and all of my flying to date as been geared up to thinking of the runway as a one way street.

When I tried to confirm this, the controller eventually (very unconcerned) tells me that it was his mistake, and that 31 was in use. Did that heading still apply ? Is there a new cleared level ?

Eventually told to descend to 'crackle hiss whine mumble...thousand feet' downwind, it took three attempts for other pilot and I to get him to confirm that it was 6000ft.

A reasonable, but not strong wind from the west was blowing each aircraft through the 31 localiser and they each had to improvise a heading to re-establish from the right. Each of the three preceeding aircraft did this and told the controller, yet the vectors were the same for us.

We suggested that he might like to amend his vectors for the following company aircraft, but....he was vectored through too !

I don't want this to degenerate into a Spanish bashing thread, some of their controllers are very good. Just not that one !

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who was at AGP yesterday morning and recognises this. A Thompson crew ahead of me had similar problems too.


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Old 27th May 2007, 18:40
  #117 (permalink)  
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Flying into Barcelona a couple of months ago the Easy in front of us was asked to keep 200kts to the marker on 07. He politely replied he'd do his best. If I remember the marker is about 1200 - 1300' height and I guess Easy was a 737 or Airbus. That shows a total lack ofappreciation of the pilots situation from ATC.
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Old 29th May 2007, 11:45
  #118 (permalink)  
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you really donīt want to perpetuate the thread?
To be honest guys, i was interested at the beginning, but now iīm starting to be fed up with all this.
I am currently at the atc school here in Spain, and have talked about this thread with some people there. I can assure you we try to improve as much as possible, iīll try to use the english language as much as possible, but people make mistakes, and if you GENERALIZE you are making a mistake too.
I donīt know what used to happen 30 years ago, but NOW we are NOT taught to give priority to anyone, others than emergency fligts.
Guys, your point is made.
If you donīt want to perpetuate the thread, donīt keep on doing it.
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Old 29th May 2007, 12:12
  #119 (permalink)  
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No Belk, everyone has moved on from the priority argument.

Now we're discussing incomptence instead.
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Old 29th May 2007, 12:37
  #120 (permalink)  
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I was referring to the whole thread, not only the priority stuff.
Discuss what you want, i still say the same, you wonīt get anything from generalizing but annoying people.
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