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London ATC

Old 6th Jul 2001, 12:18
  #1 (permalink)  
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Post London ATC

Whilst I have the utmost respect for London ATC, an incident last week suprised me. At FL 390 we were cleared descent to FL 360, and told to expect FL 270 35 DME before LAM. No problem. Later we were cleared to FL 330. Finally at 44 DME LAM we were cleared below FL 330 to FL 270,and told to be level 35 miles before LAM! i.e we had 6000ft to lose in 9 miles! We managed, but only just. I remarked to ATC that it was a bit tight, but they replied that we had been forewarned of the requirement to be FL 270 35 before LAM. OK, but when we were finally cleared below FL 330, there was still only 9 miles to run to make FL 270. Maybe a one off, but would appreciate any comments from the ATCers out there. Cheers.
Old 6th Jul 2001, 13:24
  #2 (permalink)  
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If you were given a 'when ready' descent then I think it is reasonable for you to expect continuous descent to make that. In this case if you were levelled at FL330 then it seems that the ATCO perhaps had traffic in the way which necessitated a level-off, and in that case he/she should not put unrealistic level-by restrictions on you. on the other side, it is incumbent upon you also to keep us informed if you look unlikley to be able to make an expected level. Did you request further descent when you realised you were high on the profile? Sometimes other traffic can distract us from one task and a polite reminder can be very helpful.

If you are given a descend when ready, then PLEASE don't leave it until the last possible moment to descend so that if the wind's different or whatever you can't make the level. The restrictions are there to provide separation from crossing traffic (in your case on UL613 at FL280), and if you go through high at best you will cause some embarrassment; at worst, well it doesn't bear thinking about.

On another point, I have lost count of the number of times a/c say 'Request descent' and then don't descend. Don't ask for it if you're not going to do it as soon as cleared! Often we have to back-coordinate as you are in someone else's airspace and then you don't descend. I understand that you might be wanting to put the cleared level in so the FMS can follow the VNAV profile, but that doesn't really help us. If you ask for descent we will assume you mean NOW, not in 15 miles' time.

"Take-off is optional, Landing is mandatory"
Old 6th Jul 2001, 13:29
  #3 (permalink)  
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Can only make a general comment. It is getting so busy at times that expedition, comfort etc. are not considerations. Separate, and try to give as much info as possible.
Old 6th Jul 2001, 16:04
  #4 (permalink)  
The Zombie
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No longer is there any slack to play with.

Often am I asked to expedite or even best rate climb or descent.

What rate per minute exactly is 'expedite'?

Old 6th Jul 2001, 18:07
  #5 (permalink)  
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EXPEDITE: n. 'To cause aircraft to be flown by pilot, rather than accountant.'
Old 6th Jul 2001, 18:13
  #6 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

Agree with all the above.

I'd also like to make the point that, in order to "catch up" with our staffing plan, there is almost continuous training going on these days. Whilst many of these trainees will make excellent controllers, the vast majority no longer come from aviation-enthusiast backgrounds, and have to be taught what used to be instinctive. I'm fairly sure that, in the example above, the instructor would have discussed the situation with the trainee later, over a cup of coffee, and, hopefully, that particular individual will not ask for the impossible too often in the future.

That said, as also mentioned above, sometimes we DO have to ask the impossible just to make the system work. Sorry if it gets uncomfortable, but thanks for giving us that bit extra when required.

As for a rate of climb or descent for expedite, use the pitch of the controllers voice as a guide, and then add 2000 fpm !!!
Old 7th Jul 2001, 12:57
  #7 (permalink)  
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">On another point, I have lost count of the number of times a/c say 'Request descent' and then don't descend. Don't ask for it if you're not going to do it as soon as cleared!</font>
Eyeinthesky .. the problem is button pushers instead of proper pilots. I sit next to people who do this all the time. Our FMC gives a warning 15 miles before TOD saying "reset MCP Altitude". A lot of guys then shout for a clearance and then sit back for the next 10 miles until the VNAV profile takes the a/c down from cruise altitude.

Get yourself a fam flight and see for yourself.


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