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BA108 intercepted on April 30'th

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BA108 intercepted on April 30'th

Old 1st May 2016, 19:12
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Originally Posted by Wirbelsturm
I believe almost all European countries operate one form of QRA or another.
Almost all European countries will be members of NATO, and thus integrated into NATO QRA procedures and command structures. That includes Hungary, which also shares a border with a country which experienced a shooting war as recently as 2014 and during which a number of aircraft were shot down (besides the infamous MH17 at least two MiG-29, one SU-24M, three SU-25, an Ilyushin Il-76, an Antonov An-26 and an An-30). With all that happening literally next door, one would expect the Hungarian air force to be on the ball.

Also Hungarocontrol describes itself as an "integrated" ANSP, in charge of both civilian and military traffic. I assume that means there isn't much delay in scrambling the fighters.
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Old 1st May 2016, 19:28
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Moving on from the specific case of BA108 to the very relevant CAA Consultation referenced by Daysleeper, one para of that document caught my eye when I glanced through it when it came out......
4.9 Where prosecutions do occur, whilst the fine amount is
unlimited the fine will have to be proportionate and have to have
regard to the financial circumstances of the individual being
fined.
Hmmm, I thought, that's a new approach to justice that opens up interesting possibilities; would a BA Captain on the top scale, huge pension all lined up, be fined a lot more than, say, an Easyjet Captain on the entry scale for Easyjet Captains, no pension lined up yet, for precisely the same offence?

I'm not responding to the consultation because it's not my business; but if I were regularly flying as PIC on flights where radio communication is a legal requirement I would have a very strong view on the CAA's proposals.

By the way, does anyone know what "designation areas" means, in the following extract?

SERA.5005 Visual flight rules (VFR) This requires VFR flights operating within or into designation areas or routes to maintain continuous air-ground voice communication watch......

Last edited by Capot; 1st May 2016 at 19:41.
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Old 1st May 2016, 19:47
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A user on Flyertalk posted some pictures and a video of the intercept. See post #9 and #16.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1762968-fighters-scramble-meet-ba-aircraft.html
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Old 1st May 2016, 19:55
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does anyone know what "designation areas" means
Probably a typo for "designated areas"?
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Old 1st May 2016, 20:27
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For those who seem to think storm in a tea cup, was it worth it and all that, I`d say remember Helios 522. No excuses for turning the volume down or not keeping on guard freq.
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Old 1st May 2016, 20:57
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Wondering about Hungarian air force procedures - do they actually have 24/7 coverage ? Given the size of the country and timing involved it would not be completely trivial to pull out this intercept.

Hungary is policing the airspace of Slovenia as well (as the latter does not have military jets). Ref. the lost comm: might be useful to have the phone number of your OCC accessible for ATC units. With a quick phone call and an ACARS message the scramble can be spared most of the times. Introduction of CPDLC will also decrease the risk.
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Old 1st May 2016, 21:02
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My experience is with military radios, but I assume civil radios also continuously monitor guard (in addition to the active frequency) unless guard is toggled off.
No, unfortunately not - the second radio needs to be tuned to the frequency.

As far as the "guard police" go, in UK on 121.5 it's usually airline pilots getting it wrong, due to finger trouble when trying to call handling agents.

The other annoying ones are those calling up to request a "Practice Pan" in advance of the actual call. If they just listened out then made the actual call it would require two fewer calls! If it's inconvenient then London Centre would tell them so and they could desist until another time.

Having said all that, it's hardly rocket science, if 121.5 is deselected due to distraction, to remember to turn it on/up again. I manage to do it single pilot I monitor 121.5 even though I'm not actually required to do so in Class G, where I spend most of my airborne time.
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Old 1st May 2016, 21:27
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It is interesting that everyone seems to be treating this lightly. Given a military system that is being continually challenged and the current terrorist alert state this intercept could have ended very badly. This is a defense/defence of countries from potential attack. For all anyone in the defense/defence agencies knew this was another United 93 over an hour transit into another sovereign country without calling them is not at all clever not even dilatory, this is outright hazarding your aircraft and extremely poor airmanship. I have been on the other side of the situation a few times luckily before 9/11 so the pressure was less but we still had extremely close incidents with fighters having to do visual idents on aircraft that had failed to clear their entrance into the FIR/UIR.

Imagine night poor VMC or even IMC the fighter pilots both flying armed aircraft and both on edge as this is definitely not an exercise, missiles perhaps already locked on to your aircraft. Extremely twitchy as they know this is possibly an airliner full of pax but being told maximum caution it may have been hijacked. How close are you to being headlines for several weeks? If that doesn't get you thinking then it should.

The best option in these cases would be to add the cost of the alert and fighter scramble to the route charges for that airline. I can assure you that one case of that eyewatering cost and none of you would forget to monitor FIR/UIR boundary crossings.

I understand the stupidity of pilots using guard as a chat frequency and the UK practice pan system ought, like the UHF guard, to have a parallel practice frequency rather than clutter 121.5. If you find non-emergency chatter on guard is interfering with monitoring it - do not just switch it off raise an MOR or make an ASRS report.

This could easily have become a case of the crew and pax of the aircraft in question not arriving home. But the fighter pilot and his entire chain of command would have had to live with the actions - think about it.
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Old 1st May 2016, 21:29
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Wear headsets, follow the route progress on a bleeping chart and not just the magenta line. Its not brain surgery..................................
Come on guys!!
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Old 1st May 2016, 22:44
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It was a screw up. From my experience (luckily not being on the receiving end of an intercept but occasionally in the past on the giving end) it is easy to do with multiple frequency changes, call aheads, box changes etc.

It's not brain surgery but it's what these guys/girls do every day, day in day out, year after year and one day they made a mistake. So shoot them.

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Old 1st May 2016, 22:57
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Capot,

Don't think they are too interested in the opinion of pilots, given that the opening paragraph of the document is


" The Department for Transport has actively considered the needs of blind and partially sighted people in accessing this document. The text will be made available in full on the Departmentís website. The text may be freely downloaded and translated by individuals or organisations for conversion into other accessible formats. If you have other needs in this regard please contact the Department."


Doubt that covers too many pilots.

I think a healthy suspicion of "too long too quiet" is as good a defence against this as anything, but, even in Europe there are lengthy silences in certain sectors at certain times. Totally agree Re SELCAL /CPDLC etc, Ryanair can probably be crossed off the list, but would imagine a BA777 has a few options ATC could have used to try & establish contact. If nothing else why don't they simply ask a proximate aircraft to call on it's 2nd box on the last frequency it was known to be monitoring ? air to air is assumedly going to "outrange" calls from the ground.
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Old 1st May 2016, 23:55
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Are BA 777s three cabin? If so why not call Row 1A on the Sat Phone and ask them to pass a message to the flight deck via the i/c?
 
Old 2nd May 2016, 00:36
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Simple way to contact crew, as has happened in the past, is to get the affected company to ACARS message or Telcom the pilots that agencies are trying to radio contact them. Either company aircraft in the area can alert their company that the offending aircraft is not responding to ATC, or the controlling agencies can landline call the company operations about the situation.

A similar event occurred with an EK crew who were given Final Warning letters and a financial penalty.

Most modern FMS/C's allow time markers or a fix range or radial circle to be put at any waypoint. Be professional and alert yourself at the FIR waypoint as well as good RT comms discipline by ALL in the air (listen out and no chatter on 121.5) and on the ground (handover before aircraft is out of reception range).
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Old 2nd May 2016, 02:14
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Introduction of CPDLC will also decrease the risk.
Don't Hungary and BA already have CPDLC?

I show a requirement on the chart to log on to LHCC 15 minutes prior to entering the Budapest FIR.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 06:33
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Wondering about Hungarian air force procedures - do they actually have 24/7 coverage ?

Yes they do. However with training and operating budgets drastically cut, HAF pilots usually hover around the minimum hours needed to retain currency, hence they jump at every opportunity to do some more flying. As such intercept flights do not count into the training budget, their frequency is somewhat higher than in other FIRs. I'm sure everyone involved was pretty sure it is just another loss of comms exercise, and a great opportunity to take up the birds for a spin.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 07:21
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Originally Posted by Ian W
Imagine night poor VMC or even IMC the fighter pilots both flying armed aircraft and both on edge as this is definitely not an exercise, missiles perhaps already locked on to your aircraft. Extremely twitchy as they know this is possibly an airliner full of pax but being told maximum caution it may have been hijacked. How close are you to being headlines for several weeks? If that doesn't get you thinking then it should.
I think you're being a bit over dramatic here. It's not Top Gun, air intercepts are well practised and well drilled. The jet will not be "locked on" ready to fire.

Firstly the interceptor is in a highly permissive environment, it has no need to defend itself and therefore no need to have constant lock. Secondly the aircraft will be not have the master arm switch on unless it is in the process of engaging. Finally the decision to bring down a civilian airliner is made most likely by the head of state, his deputy or defence minister, the "on edge" pilot will be a trained military officer capable of realising it's not an exercise and subsequently behave as such.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 08:51
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Too long too quiete. Before 9/11 we were coming north bound to UK when HF selcal from our company ops. "Please contact ATC". Now we looked at each other & transmitted no answer. But "a big but" we could still hear the controller a female voice & we were positive that we had not been called. We were monitoring guard as well. So no quiet period at all. Weird.
Anyway after trying another freq given to us on guard all was well.
I still don't know what occurred but believe it was a failure to hand us over to next freq in the same FIR. & somehow the frequency was receiving another station via ducting.
So mistake on our part maybe/proberbly, but talk about coincedance having two female controllers on the same freq but the transmitters miles & miles apart. As for no one coming up on guard I havn't a clue.
Anyway since then I was very carefull even getting a chuckle from a French controller after calling after parsing out of his FIR. "XXXX, xxx123, position!". Lack of handover actually happens a lot so guess some on here will also advocate shooting the controller.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 09:10
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There is a thread running in ATC Issues here discussing ways of contacting an aircraft other than 121.5.

CPDLC would be a great method if the message was available, aircraft would log on, crews were trained, however as in nearly all cases none of these happen let alone all three for it to work, it looks like CPDLC is just another system that most controllers will remember with a chuckle.

AirBubba - if you log onto Budapest 15 minutes prior to entry, how does the previous centre contact you using CPDLC? I ask as most of the sectors I control will be crossed by a B777 in less than 10 minutes. If they are already logged on to the next FIR before even entering the sector then doesn't that defeat the object in the first place?
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Old 2nd May 2016, 09:20
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4.9 Where prosecutions do occur, whilst the fine amount is
unlimited the fine will have to be proportionate and have to have
regard to the financial circumstances of the individual being
fined.
Is this not more referring to what is involved cost-wise for each intercept as all are different. Firstly, how far do the fighters travel supersonic (ie burning lots of fuel)? How long do they stay airborne? If the decision is to instruct the aircraft to land somewhere that is not destination, the compensation to the aerodrome concerned and any disruption that ensues? The local police force that greet the aircraft? It's not simply getting some fighters airborne and getting an airliner to say hello and all is ok.
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Old 2nd May 2016, 09:28
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The CAA proposal includes a suggestion that 121.5 should be monitored at all times.

Most of the aircraft I fly are only fitted with two VHF boxes, so how are the crew supposed to get ATIS/VOLMET or talk to handling agents etc? Are owners going to have to fork out for a third unit?

Also, I note that they have magnanimously allowed that the pilot may not be prosecuted if the loss of comms was the fault of ATC. No mention of prosecuting the controller then?
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