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Lewis Hardcastle

atc-discussion Booker

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Lewis Hardcastle

Since this is a towered field, which sector should control it? There seems to be a decent amount of traffic lately and I've seen mixed responses from pilots and controllers as to whether this should be defined as a top-down airfield.

Thoughts?

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Sebastian Wheeler

Just a guess, but due to the proximity to LL, it would be LL_APP then LON_S if online. Could be LON_C but due to proximity and as you have mentioned, traffic, it would be more helpful IMO to give it to AC south for management, even if it is just "report holding short" when on the ground. 

 

If only the same could be said about EGLF traffic levels!

 

Seb

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Simon Kelsey

My suggestion personally would be LON_C as from a practical point of view our training area is north west of the airfield and firmly in (under) LON_C territory, thus saving a frequency change/boot to Unicom for 99% of departures if handled by anyone else.

Glad to see the traffic levels have been noted and I hope to continue to boost them! Do let me know if a decision is made re: top down so I can circulate to our instructors and students and thus avoid any mishaps.

Further coverage (top down or otherwise) would be excellent news for us; likewise I am happy to provide our 'pilot's notes' summarising the normal procedures in use at WAP if this would be helpful.

Best,

Simon

Edited by Simon Kelsey

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Sebastian Rekdal
15 hours ago, Sebastian Wheeler said:

Just a guess, but due to the proximity to LL, it would be LL_APP then LON_S if online.

I disagree. Heathrow, in my opinion, should only be responsible for traffic flying to LL and WU aerodromes, and should not provide ATS for any other aerodromes, especially if they're located outside LL RMA.

To me, TCNW - TCN - TC - LC - LSC - L would be the most appropriate top-down coverage if it was to be defined as a top-down airfield. :) 

tF-jTRaWQsWiPQYjEilemg.png

Edited by Sebastian Rekdal

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Sebastian Wheeler
5 hours ago, Sebastian Rekdal said:

I disagree. Heathrow, in my opinion, should only responsible for traffic flying to LL and WU aerodromes, and should not provide ATS for any other aerodromes, especially if they're located outside LL RMA.

To me, TCNW - TCN - TC - LC - LSC - L would be the most appropriate top-down coverage if it was to be defined as a top-down airfield. :) 

tF-jTRaWQsWiPQYjEilemg.png

I stand corrected!

 

 

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Andy Ford

Currently, no sector "officially" owns it, in that we don't formally designate an owner on our website or sector file.

However, if it starts to attract regular traffic, this is certainly something to ask @Chris Pawley and the operations guys.

I'd personally say TCNW would be the primary owner - as I would imagine any traffic joining CAS (except those using the Helicopter Lanes) are likely to route around the London CTR.

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Simon Kelsey

Might I suggest that (dare I say it) that any decision should probably not be just about Booker and instead consider a general, consistent approach to dealing with top-down for airfields in Class G? That would make things a lot easier from a piloting point of view (for example, if it were decided that LON_C handles Booker top-down, if we take off and fly to Oxford (also an airfield with a full ATC service located in class G), would that also be covered or is it over to Unicom?)

My suggestion would be that if top-down is to be extended to airfields in Class G the general policy should probably be either that all airfields with an ATC service are covered - but A/G/AFISO etc are not (off to Unicom you go) or alternatively all airfields with a notified ATZ are covered (though this would include some AFISO and A/G units with the added complications of phraseology and responsibility). I imagine this should keep the workload/complexity manageable whilst providing consistency and what I suspect would actually be a very well-appreciated service.

Edited by Simon Kelsey

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Sebastian Wheeler
43 minutes ago, Simon Kelsey said:

Might I suggest that (dare I say it) that any decision should probably not be just about Booker and instead consider a general, consistent approach to dealing with top-down for airfields in Class G? That would make things a lot easier from a piloting point of view (for example, if it were decided that LON_C handles Booker top-down, if we take off and fly to Oxford (also an airfield with a full ATC service located in class G), would that also be covered or is it over to Unicom?)

My suggestion would be that if top-down is to be extended to airfields in Class G the general policy should probably be either that all airfields with an ATC service are covered - but A/G/AFISO etc are not (off to Unicom you go) or alternatively all airfields with a notified ATZ are covered (though this would include some AFISO and A/G units with the added complications of phraseology and responsibility). I imagine this should keep the workload/complexity manageable whilst providing consistency and what I suspect would actually be a very well-appreciated service.

+1 for this! I would personally say that the phraseology would not need to be altered too much, as it could be treated like any other busy field with top-down (Clearance, report holding, (winds/t/o at discretion) then onto a basic/traffic service once clear of the field? 

 

Again, Just a suggestion.

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Michael Pike

Wycombe is slightly different (as we've discussed before) from the top-down cover point of view because it doesn't have an instrument runway (but does have ATC). I think in practice, this makes it seem less significant, but there's no logical justification for that. I don't think there's any real top down policy - Area controllers tend to decide individually under the circumstances at the time whether to work the traffic or not (depending partly on workload). This is not helpful for pilots, especially of VFR flights. I am frequently asked in other forums whether VFR pilots departing from a Class G airfield should contact an area controller or not (because he "might be too busy"). Sometimes they may well prefer not to call if the frequency sounds busy because they fear an impractical long wait. I find the norm among pilots is to call sometimes for an IFR departure but rarely for VFR. Clearly a controller at any given time must be either providing an aerodrome service or not (VFR or IFR makes no difference).

A consistent and clearly stated policy would be nice but it would have to be flexible for both pilot and controller - tricky! In the meantime we will probably muddle along as we do now - pilots call if they want a service and controllers send "contact me" if they want or need to provide a service. Pilots should never feel that they shouldn't contact an area controller for top down service, including A/G or AFIS. Controllers could answer "no aerodrome service available, frequency change approved" if workload precludes it (sounds a bit abrupt but sometimes you have to be concise when there may not be time for a more detailed response).

These are my own personal views and experience. If there is an unwritten consistent policy that I'm not aware of no doubt someone will enlighten me.

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Lewis Hardcastle
36 minutes ago, Michael Pike said:

Wycombe is slightly different (as we've discussed before) from the top-down cover point of view because it doesn't have an instrument runway (but does have ATC). I think in practice, this makes it seem less significant, but there's no logical justification for that. I don't think there's any real top down policy - Area controllers tend to decide individually under the circumstances at the time whether to work the traffic or not (depending partly on workload). This is not helpful for pilots, especially of VFR flights. I am frequently asked in other forums whether VFR pilots departing from a Class G airfield should contact an area controller or not (because he "might be too busy"). Sometimes they may well prefer not to call if the frequency sounds busy because they fear an impractical long wait. I find the norm among pilots is to call sometimes for an IFR departure but rarely for VFR. Clearly a controller at any given time must be either providing an aerodrome service or not (VFR or IFR makes no difference).

A consistent and clearly stated policy would be nice but it would have to be flexible for both pilot and controller - tricky! In the meantime we will probably muddle along as we do now - pilots call if they want a service and controllers send "contact me" if they want or need to provide a service. Pilots should never feel that they shouldn't contact an area controller for top down service, including A/G or AFIS. Controllers could answer "no aerodrome service available, frequency change approved" if workload precludes it (sounds a bit abrupt but sometimes you have to be concise when there may not be time for a more detailed response).

These are my own personal views and experience. If there is an unwritten consistent policy that I'm not aware of no doubt someone will enlighten me.

I agree Mike. We need something clearly defined to avoid pilots departing themselves. Then we need to correctly advertise that the fields are controlled, thus allowing controllers to realise they are expected to control those airports.

Simon's definition seems logical, with that we can define our fields like we already do. It only takes a few instructions to get these pilots off the ground from the various locations within the context. I enjoy controlling all the relevant fields within my sector, but only when I can predict movements. This is greatly important when flight exercises is released to facilate the flights and further improve our controlling of VATSIM unusual fields. We can't clearly teach how to consistently control these fields when others don't.

I'd like to see a clear definition here, especially before you release flight exercises. It's a great initiative, but will only work with controller cooperation.

@Daniel Crookes and @Chris Pawley's consensus is required. 

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Simon Kelsey

I think Lewis makes a very good point.

From my point of view as someone running a training organisation -- the key really is consistency as anything else becomes rather confusing for students and instructors alike. There are positives and negatives to both approaches -- top down means our students get to spend more time speaking on an actual live ATC frequency, which is good, but equally a busy LON_SC sector can be a rather daunting place to try and get a word in edgeways. Conversely no top down makes for a more relaxed experience but does mean that the guys don't get the same level of opportunity to practice their R/T in a "live" environment as opposed to just with the instructor playing the part!

In either case, what I'm keen to avoid is the situation where we don't call and the student gets a "why didn't you call" PM, or we do and having plucked up the courage to speak the student gets a "PFO" ;). Both are confusing and somewhat demoralising, which obviously we want to avoid!

Having thought about a bit more I'm increasingly attracted to the idea that all notified ATZs are covered top-down as this is essentially in line with the ANO (so we can teach that any time you enter an ATZ you need to speak to someone) and any pilot with a chart can easily see where they need to call and where they don't. It also limits the coverage to a sensible number whilst providing a bit of extra coverage for some of the slightly larger GA airfields which can only be a good thing for promoting VFR traffic.

A further extension: perhaps if we were to revive London Info, as a way of making the position more attractive to controllers and more useful to pilots -- what about London Info covering Class G ATZs top down (i.e. providing TWR and/or APP service where applicable)? Bit more work and interest for the controller who has to be a C1 anyway, more service to pilots and takes the strain off the main London sectors who may have their work cut out with IFR traffic. Thoughts?

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Daniel Crookes

I have always been under the impression that if you are at an airfield with A/G or FISO then you would contact LON_X for local airfield information as they essentially cover all of the positioned in their area that is not staffed. I see your point regarding the proximity of Wycombe to LL, but there are many aerodromes which are in the same position, so if we create a specific procedure for this one then we would probably have to look at doing it for many others. Personally, I think that aircraft at such aerodromes should contact LON_X and then if there are any controllers online that may be affected by the traffic then LON can co-ordinate that resulting in the a/c either being told to switch over to that frequency or a co-ordinated clearance. 

On 02/02/2018 at 04:29, Simon Kelsey said:

Having thought about a bit more I'm increasingly attracted to the idea that all notified ATZs are covered top-down as this is essentially in line with the ANO (so we can teach that any time you enter an ATZ you need to speak to someone) and any pilot with a chart can easily see where they need to call and where they don't. It also limits the coverage to a sensible number whilst providing a bit of extra coverage for some of the slightly larger GA airfields which can only be a good thing for promoting VFR traffic.

 

Think this is a good idea @Simon Kelsey 

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Lewis Hardcastle

I don't agree with the A/G or FISO service mainly due to the time it would take to find that sort of information unless it was widely published from somewhere I don't know about. In theory, it would be great, but not practical. Simon's suggestion seems to be the most logical and practical. I think the main the requirement is to choose an option, then advertise it on the site. If I expect a certain amount of exercise flights or even fields I'm expected to control then I can plan which sector to control and hopefully not overload myself like some of our recent arrivals seem to be doing... :D

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Henry Cleaver
On 01/02/2018 at 23:10, Michael Pike said:

Wycombe is slightly different (as we've discussed before) from the top-down cover point of view because it doesn't have an instrument runway (but does have ATC). I think in practice, this makes it seem less significant, but there's no logical justification for that. I don't think there's any real top down policy - Area controllers tend to decide individually under the circumstances at the time whether to work the traffic or not (depending partly on workload). This is not helpful for pilots, especially of VFR flights. I am frequently asked in other forums whether VFR pilots departing from a Class G airfield should contact an area controller or not (because he "might be too busy"). Sometimes they may well prefer not to call if the frequency sounds busy because they fear an impractical long wait. I find the norm among pilots is to call sometimes for an IFR departure but rarely for VFR. Clearly a controller at any given time must be either providing an aerodrome service or not (VFR or IFR makes no difference).

A consistent and clearly stated policy would be nice but it would have to be flexible for both pilot and controller - tricky! In the meantime we will probably muddle along as we do now - pilots call if they want a service and controllers send "contact me" if they want or need to provide a service. Pilots should never feel that they shouldn't contact an area controller for top down service, including A/G or AFIS. Controllers could answer "no aerodrome service available, frequency change approved" if workload precludes it (sounds a bit abrupt but sometimes you have to be concise when there may not be time for a more detailed response).

These are my own personal views and experience. If there is an unwritten consistent policy that I'm not aware of no doubt someone will enlighten me.

 

Completely agree with Mike's approach on this. Lets avoid over complicating things.

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Lewis Hardcastle

@Chris Pawley any plan for this now 1803 includes the Booker SMR?

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Adam Arkley

I believe there's a segment written in either the CoC or CoR that essentially says a controller can provided a reduced service if they're too busy to accommodate something on a top down basis. Exactly how this reduction in service manifests itself is to be determined by the individual controller, and whilst, yes, this is inconsistent, it's also quite fair on the controller. Personally, I'll always make some sort of effort to provide some sort of service, but on a busy area sector I hardly want to be providing taxi and circuit clearance instructions at smaller GA fields where I can help it.

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Johan Grauers

@Chris Pawley

With Booker in the sector file, the name is so long that on my screen resolution it pushes the runway selection outside of the size of the window in euroscope. So if you go in and select the active runways you now have to keep scrolling left and right in a way you didn't before. 

 

Could the name be shortened in the sector file for a future release to avoid this issue? It is now "EGTB Wycombe Air Park/Booker EGTB Wycombe Air Park/Booker". If it was shortened to remove the duplication it would probably sort it on my screen resolution (mabye others will still have the same issue depending on resolution). 

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Chris Pawley
47 minutes ago, Johan Grauers said:

@Chris Pawley

With Booker in the sector file, the name is so long that on my screen resolution it pushes the runway selection outside of the size of the window in euroscope. So if you go in and select the active runways you now have to keep scrolling left and right in a way you didn't before. 

 

Could the name be shortened in the sector file for a future release to avoid this issue? It is now "EGTB Wycombe Air Park/Booker EGTB Wycombe Air Park/Booker". If it was shortened to remove the duplication it would probably sort it on my screen resolution (mabye others will still have the same issue depending on resolution). 

Hi Johan,

 

Yes, that's quite un-useful. We'll fix it in 1804.

 

Chris.

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Callum McLoughlin

Back when I was doing my training on London, I was told that North covered Norwich top down. Does that set the precedent?

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Simon Kelsey

Norwich is in class D though, isn't it? Thus it would be expected to be covered top down.

17 hours ago, Adam Arkley said:

I believe there's a segment written in either the CoC or CoR that essentially says a controller can provided a reduced service if they're too busy to accommodate something on a top down basis. Exactly how this reduction in service manifests itself is to be determined by the individual controller, and whilst, yes, this is inconsistent, it's also quite fair on the controller. Personally, I'll always make some sort of effort to provide some sort of service, but on a busy area sector I hardly want to be providing taxi and circuit clearance instructions at smaller GA fields where I can help it.

Absolutely appreciate (and approve of) the need for controllers to regulate workload, but as mentioned what would be really helpful would be if we could be realistic about what is and isn't possible and what the expectation should be. 

If in practice workload means that 95% of the time the response to a call is going to be "unable due to controller workload, depart at your discretion", then there is no point in maintaining any pretence;  it just wastes everybody's (not least the controller's) time and actually if there is any traffic then collision avoidance will be much more effectively coordinated on Unicom.

However, if, making a realistic assessment of typical workload, it is considered that there is normally enough capacity to provide a reasonable service and "unable due to controller workload" is more likely to be the exception than the rule, then by all means add Booker (or any other airfield(s)) to the 'official' top down list and from our point of view we'll back that up by making it SOP to call.

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