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practice pan

Old 18th Aug 2008, 12:51
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As long as only one country is broadcasting such training calls it's still fine (even if this mean they don't have consideration for neighbors), but how do you think it would be if all the countries were transmitting practice pan calls on 121.5 ? (it's not unusual to hear such calls as far as Paris)

Please keep in mind that the main benefit of 121.5 is to be dedicated to emergency calls and to remain relatively quiet, which would be seriously compromised if every country was performing such trainings. Hopefully most countries are refraining from abusing this frequency... except those who put themselves above others.
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 13:22
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The CAA did a survey last year to see where most transmissions originate from on 121.5 in UK airspace. They found that over 90%, I repeat, 90% of transmissions were from commercial aircraft accidentally transmitting on guard followed by the resulting guard police shouting ' you're on guard'. Less than 5% of transmissions were of a practice nature and less than 1% were genuine emergencies.

If the commercial fraternity (of which I am one) got their house in order 121.5 would be significantly quieter (I hear a practice pan less than once a month on a full roster).

I for one think practice pans are essential for encouraging inexperienced aviators to use the frequency when it is needed to enhance safety, and also help the operators on the other end of the line stay sharp.

As a previous contributor stated, if you don't like it stay out of UK airspace.

Just my two pennies' worth.

DP
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 14:17
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It's quite simple to state "if you don't like it stay out of the UK airspace"
How about if my company sends me there, should i refuse the flight, report sick ????

No, there's a much simpler solution to this:
1. stop the practice pan calls
2. Move the whole island to a remote location

You chaps decide which one to choose !
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 14:26
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Originally Posted by Locked door
If you don't like it stay out of UK airspace.
This is a very very smart answer that will help a lot !
For your information, those calls are transmitted far beyond the UK airspace...

Even if I absolutely agree with you regarding the nescessity of training, I don't see any need at all to use this specific frequency... as I said, it would be a huge mess if every country was doing the same.

When you are at your doctor's waiting room you appreciate to have some magazines to read. Some people sometimes choose to bring some of the magazines home and it's fine as long as it is occasional. If everybody was doing the same it would become an inconvenience for everyone.
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 15:03
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I recall the CAA survey as quoted by Locked Door was also mentioned the last time practice pans were discussed but I somehow missed the response from the "no practice pans brigade". I look forward to the elimination of practice pans so "mistakes" by the commercial fraternity can be in excess of 99% of the traffic on 121.5.

Bob
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 16:14
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OK so my last comment may have been a little strong, it wasn't intended to be.

Suggestion. Why don't those of you who get so irritated by practice pans simply tune the frequency but deselect the receiver? You don't need to listen to guard, there's no way a genuine call can be missed in UK or European airspace so why listen to it? You can turn it on again in seconds if you need to but in UK and Europe the first frequency you should declare your own distress to is the ATC unit you are already working on box 1. Any other commercial traffic in trouble will do the same so the only genuine emergencies you'll hear on guard are low level vfr aircraft that have no relevence to your operation anyway. You can always reselect guard if you start to operate outside of controlled airspace and feel the need to be able to contact other aircraft.

As a light single driver in my spart time I can tell you my toy only has one radio and it's very rarely tuned to guard as I'll be working local frequecies so if you try to call me on 121.5 I won't hear you.

Bottom line. Practice pans are a good thing and should continue. Most r/t on guard is inadvertant commercial rubbish and if you don't want to listen to it don't.

DP
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 17:38
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You are not required to monitor 121.5 in UK airspace, but you are specifically required to monitor it in most EU states, like France. Most Ops manuals also require you to monitor 121.5 in flight.
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 18:12
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I am intrigued by reference to the "discrete UHF frequency available to the military for practice pan calls."
My last visit to a military ATC facility was a long time ago, so either my memory may be faulty, or things may have changed since then... however, at that time, the UHF autotriangulation was available on 243.0 MHz. This was not a "training" frequency- this was the UHF Guard frequency, and subject to the same restrictions as 121.5. Having a UHF Guard channel was necessary because many military aircraft had no VHF radios.
The introduction of autotriangulation to the VHF distress frequency is a huge improvement in safety for light aircraft. Adding autotiagulation to another frequency for training would be hugely expensive, as it is not a simple steer, but involves feeds from receivers over a wide area.
For those listening outside the UK, it would actually be better if MORE light a/c made practice calls, as this would allow controller training to be done without asking transport aircraft (at much higher levels, and thus transmitting over a larger area) to make such calls.
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 18:52
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There is a designated UHF training frequency, for use in the London FIR, for pilot and controller training in practice urgency calls, thus freeing up 243.0.
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 21:50
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Originally Posted by sispanys ria
As long as only one country is broadcasting such training calls...
Let's get the facts right.

It's not "... only one country broadcasting such training calls".

It seems from the discussion that only the UK provides such a high-quality VHF direction finding and location service on 121.5.

So to me the question is rather: "Why does the rest of Europe not provide the same service, does not encourage the same level of practice calls, and does not sanction more severely the twits that use 121.5 for the latest football scores and donkey noises?".

See the previous posts. Practice PANs constitute about 5% of the traffic. Most of that practice comes in useful in the 1% of real emergencies (as also described).

Maybe the remaining 94% should be made to shut up, rather than the genuine practice transmissions?

Please keep in mind that the main benefit of 121.5 is to be dedicated to emergency calls and to remain relatively quiet
Exactly!

....which would be seriously compromised if every country was performing such trainings.
I BEG YOUR PARDON? Statistics clearly show this is not the case. Again, please get your facts right....

CJ
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 22:09
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Background Noise, thanks for that clarification. Does the UHF training frequency have the autotriangulation facility?
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 22:26
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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It seems from the discussion that only the UK provides such a high-quality VHF direction finding and location service on 121.5
Not just that; they also have specially trained staff. ATCOs specifically chosen and trained to deal with the emergencies. We are most fortunate here in that we have this excellent service and will not have to talk to some poor, recently validated ATCO who may be equally, or more frightened than the pilot with the problem.
I have a funny feeling that many of the complainants who whinge about practice Pan Calls do so out of sheer jealousy because their home country does not have the excellent, dedicated service which we are priviledged to have here in the UK.
I have never made a practice Pan call but have had to call D&D twice with genuine problems. They are simply the BEST.
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 22:45
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Originally Posted by Background Noise
There is a designated UHF training frequency, for use in the London FIR, for pilot and controller training in practice urgency calls, thus freeing up 243.0.
I may be totally wrong, but maybe you put your finger on it?
"...for use in the London FIR ..."
Only? You're saying it does not exist elsewhere?

Apart from requiring a separate and unique frequency allocation (difficult today on VHF), a VHF DF and auto-triangulation system such as D&D requires quite a major infrastructure. Duplicating that infrastructure for practice calls only (and then seeing the frequency abused also for football scores...) is not realistic.

Severely sanctioning the abuse of 121.5 for non-emergency and non-practice calls seems to be the only answer. D&D usually has the means to identify the culprits. So when?

CJ
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Old 18th Aug 2008, 23:45
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just a thought, but if these practice pan's are such a ball ache, or other body part ache for any of the lady pilots out there , and you consider them to be a big problem, then why just moan here. Thats like shouting at the tv .
why not put your report in an MOR ,or observation. i'm sure if it is such a big concern and they receive enough complaints, the CAA will consider the problem and allocate funds so that a practice frequency could be set up and promulgated, and the system upgraded.

Personally the idea of a practice pan freq sounds like a sensible idea, however, I dont think the problem happens enough to warrant the expense. If it was 50 times a day , ok i see your point. however, from the sounds of it it doesnt happen 50 times a year!
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 06:13
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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Background Noise, thanks for that clarification. Does the UHF training frequency have the autotriangulation facility?
Yes, we get the same service, from the same people. As for requests for PPs, the controllers obviously need practice as much as the pilots. I suppose that actual emergencies, or actual PPs, don't always occur at convenient training or examining times so other 'academic PPs' are occasionally asked for. The system itself needs checking and calibrating for accuracy every now and again. We do feedback observations about the service when necessary.
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 15:41
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I am surprised that no-one has suggested another possibility.

We all know that some people (presumably light aircraft) use the Practice Pan system to actually find where they are when "temporarily unsure of position" - one was recently heard from a joker who said he was on a "navigation exercise", and when asked pob said, "one"...Yeah! Right!

Couldn't really have been someone lost at Fl160 with 21pob - could it???

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Old 19th Aug 2008, 16:18
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Agaricus, the one at FL160 was almost certainly a transport aircraft, working another freq, who was asked to make the call for controller training.
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 22:41
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I know any Brit readers won't like this analogy, but it's true: practice pans are a bit like tobacco. If someone tried to introduce tobacco as a recreational drug today, it would stand less chace of getting through than heroin. Similarly, if we (or you, and you only, the UK) didn't already have Practice Pans and someone attempted to introduce them today, they wouldn't be allowed.

Fact: the UK has an extremely good DF system in place that can be very handy to a lost pilot. Unfortunately, it uses 121.5 and 121.5 only.

Fact: with so many aircraft now on 121.5 at any one time, (and many more of them, a long way from the UK now within range thanks to their high altitude than would have been in the days when this system was introduced) this very handy system is a total pain in the proverbial for everyone else apart from the hapless lost pilot (and others who fear they may wish to use the service one day).
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Old 19th Aug 2008, 23:29
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Good one, MTOW, I agree with you.

Practice Pans can be practiced at home, in the car to the aerodrome, or wherever. If it is practice, the only value is in getting the text correct and in the right order. Standard R/T. No need to involve ATC surely?

Real Pans should be used when the PPL/SPL is uncertain of his/her location, or is well and truly lost. (Or radio receiver failure, engine failure, etc, etc).

I heard a "Practice Pan" on 121.5 last week over Southern England, and the guy was clearly lost. So not "practice" then. Valid enough, but should have been a Pan call.

Final thought. Any place for Practice Maydays?
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Old 20th Aug 2008, 01:21
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Fact: the UK has an extremely good DF system in place that can be very handy to a lost pilot. Unfortunately, it uses 121.5 and 121.5 only.
Oops, I stand corrected.
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