International Ops 2018

Flight Service Bureau | OPSGROUP

Tag: ATC (page 1 of 2)

Last minute ATC grab in Congress

On Friday Apr 27, the US House of Representatives approved a long-delayed bill to authorize funding for the FAA, after GA advocates had mobilized earlier in the week to fight-off a last-minute attempt to privatize US ATC.

Late on Tuesday Apr 24, Republican Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced a “managers amendment” to the proposed five-year FAA funding bill.

His amendment called for two things:
1. Remove the US ATC system from the FAA and instead make it part of the Transportation Department.
2. Allow it to be run by a 13-member advisory board made up mainly by airlines.

“Both of these provisions were drafted in the dark of night, without any opportunity for public debate,” said NBAA.

After last minute lobbying by GA advocates, the two contentious items in the bill were removed.

While Shuster agreed to remove the measures, he reiterated that he “strongly believe[s] Congress must pass real air traffic control reform” and that he sees that happening “somewhere down the line.”

“We are pleased to see this legislation pass the House,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “While the bill is not perfect, a long-term reauthorization is critical to advancing our shared priorities. Equally important, this bipartisan bill will modernize, not privatize air traffic control. We are grateful that members of Congress heard their constituents’ concerns about ATC privatization, and reflected those concerns in bringing this legislation to final passage.”

Here’s what happens when Europe’s slot system crashes

On 3rd April 2018, a failure with the central European slot computer plunged the entire ATC system into crisis mode, with multiple knock on effects. Here’s what happened:

1. The system that allocates ATC slots to flights, and therefore manages the flow of traffic across Europe, failed at 1026 UTC. It’s called the ETFMS (Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System), but aka “The Slot Computer”

2. There is a Contingency Plan for this situation. Airports are supposed to use this, which gives a quick table of departure intervals allowed according to the destination. You can view the plan here and see what it looks like for all the main airports: http://www.eurocontrol.int/publications/network-manager-atfcm-procedural-contingency-plan

3. Some airlines reported that Istanbul, amongst others, were initially holding all departures, as local authorities were not well versed in the Contingency Plan and were unclear as to how to handle the situation. Eurocontrol then started calling round the 70 main airports to make sure they knew what they were supposed to do!

4. All flight plans filed before 1026Z were lost. Operators were instructed to re-file all their FPL’s, as well as those for the rest of the day, as Eurocontrol said they would only switch back on the slot computer once they reached a critical mass of filed flight plans in the system.

5. With the Contingency Plan in place, there was around a 10% total capacity reduction across the whole of Europe. Actual delay numbers – usually available on the NOP – were impossible to verify, because of all the missing FPL’s in the system.

6. Normally, Eurocontrol will re-address your FPL to ATC Centres outside the IFPZ. During the slot computer outage, operators had to do this manually, ie. find the FIR’s they would cross, get their AFTN addresses (like HECCZQZX), and send them their FPL.

7. The actual system failure was fixed at around 1400Z, but only went back online at around 1800Z, after it had been thoroughly tested and Eurocontrol were happy there were enough FPL’s back in the system.

In over 20 years of operation, Eurocontrol said “the ETFMS has only had one other outage which occurred in 2001. The system currently manages up to 36,000 flights a day.”

More NAT half-tracks are coming

Update Jan 23: The current phase of the trial for RLatSM Tracks will come to an end on March 29, when PBCS standards will be introduced for the NAT tracks. More info on that here.

Since Dec 2015, there have been three daily NAT tracks spaced by one-half degree between FL350-390. These are officially called ‘RLatSM Tracks’ (Reduced lateral separation minima), but we all just prefer to call them ‘Half-Tracks’.

Separating flights by one-half degree of latitude rather than the standard one degree means that aircraft can be separated laterally by 25nm, which helps improve the efficiency of North Atlantic operations.

In Jan 2018 the Half-Tracks will be expanded from the three that now run each day, first by one additional track and then (maybe) to all NAT Tracks between FL350-390 inclusive. Jan 4 is the earliest day that this might happen, but because they will be decided tactically, it will most likely be the first busy day after Jan 4.

If you want to operate on the RLatSM tracks, you’re going to need CPDLC, ADS-C, and RNP4; along with the other standard pre-requisites for operating in the NAT HLA between FL350-390: an HLA approval, TCAS 7.1, RVSM approval, two LRNS, and a working HF radio. To figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have, check out our quick and dirty guide here.

One thing to be cautious of when using the half-degree tracks – most aircraft FMC’s truncate lat/long waypoints to a maximum of 7 characters, so it will often show up as the same waypoint whether you’re operating along whole or half degree waypoints. So when operating on the half-tracks, just remember to double-check the full 13-character representations of the lat/long waypoints when you enter them into the FMC.

For more details about the new RLatSM procedures, have a read of the UK AIC 087/2017 here.


					
		

Iridium Fault Fixed

Last week we reported on an equipment issue with Iridium satcom that prompted a ban by a number of Oceanic ATC agencies. Some aircraft were receiving massively delayed clearances sent by ATC via CPDLC – and one took the instruction and climbed 1000 feet, even though the message was meant for the flight the aircraft operated previously.

Here were the areas which had previously published Notams restricting the use of Iridium: Brazil Atlantico (SBAO), Auckland (NZZO), Chile (SCIZ), Japan (RJJJ), Anchorage (PAZA), Oakland (KZAK), New York (KZNY and KZWY).

However, all FIR’s have now removed their notams which banned the use of Iridium for CPDLC and ADS-C. This has happened after tests were performed last week using Iridium SATCOM which confirmed that Iridium no longer queues CPDLC uplinks for more than five minutes.

CPDLC Departure Clearance for US Airspace – 22Oct

Earlier this month we reported about the transition of the United States ATC system to a National Single Data Authority (NSDA). http://flightservicebureau.org/cpdlc-for-us-airspace-the-implementation-process/

The initial phase of this process is scheduled to start this weekend on 22Oct at 0330Z with a single CPDLC logon ID for domestic US airspace (KUSA) and ATC issuing departure clearances using CPDLC.

You can read more details about Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication–Departure Clearance (CPDLC-DCL), general procedures for logging on/notifying, loading the flight plan, receiving the CPDLC-DCL, responding to the CPDLC-DCL message, and disconnecting/logging off  here:

NAS Data Communications Guide

Oceanic ATC’s tell us their position on Iridium Satcom

Last week we reported on an equipment issue with Iridium satcom that prompted a ban by a number of Oceanic ATC agencies. Some aircraft were receiving massively delayed clearances sent by ATC via CPDLC – and one took the instruction and climbed 1000 feet, even though the message was meant for the flight the aircraft operated previously.

Today, we checked-in again with all the oceanic ATC centres, to see what their current policy is on the issue.

EGGX/Shanwick told FSB that they are aware of the issue, reviewed it, but have decided not to ban the use of Iridium for either CPDLC or ADS-C just yet. LPPO/Santa Maria have the same position. So, in this airspace, you can use Iridium, for now.

CZQX/Gander said they did a safety analysis of it, and decided not to ban it. They have all kinds of conformance alerts in place to prevent any problems from happening – so if aircraft deviate they get notified immediately.

BIRD/Reykjavik aren’t that concerned about the issue – they use HF most of the time anyway.

Chile (SCIZ)
Japan (RJJJ)
Anchorage (PAZA)
Oakland (KZAK)
New York (KZNY and KZWY)
All these centres have published Notams instructing crews not to use Iridium for CPDLC or ADS-C. Until the fault is fixed, in those regions you’ll have to either use HF for ATC comms, or use another SAT provider.

Auckland (NZZO) and Brazil (Atlantico SBAO) have applied the ban to CPDLC alone. Use ADS-C if you like.

 

From Iridium themselves, they told FSB: “We’ve updated their queue management system. Every minute, there is a queue check. If there is any message that is older than 4 minutes, it marks as timed out, and will not be delivered. This update was done at ground level, so it does not require any software updates by the user. We’re still waiting on feedback from FAA workgroup on the fix and if it’s sufficient to allow use of Iridium for CPDLC and ADS-C.”

That’s it for now! We’ll keep you posted, or, even better – tell us below in the comment section if you hear news.

 

French ATC strike updates

Several ATC unions have called for a national strike, affecting French airports and airspace from Monday evening at 1700UTC (Oct 9) through Wednesday at 0400UTC (Oct 11).

All FIRs are experiencing high delays.

Impact expected to the FIR’s per current  (10OCT) information are as follows:

 

LFRR/Brest Experiencing high delays

LFFF/Paris All sectors experiencing delays with highest delays in the west. Situation is starting to show signs of improvement.

LFEE/Reims All sectors experiencing delays with highest delays in the East and North

LFBB/Bordeaux Some high delays and with no ease forseen

LFMM/Marseille High delays all around. Regulations will be in place until a least 2359UTC

The following routes are available:
Tango 9 Global and Tango 213 Global, UM30 and UZ180 are fully available.
T9 is still dealing with alot of delays.

Airports:

LFPG/Paris DeGaulle and LFPO/Paris Orly are experiencing delays and there is a 30% capacity reduction in both airports plus at the following airports:

LFOB/Beauvais, LFLL/Lyon, LFML/Marseille, LFMN/Nice, LFBO/Toulouse and LFRS/Nantes
LFSB/Basel – unconfirmed as of yet but may be used as an alternate
LFPB /Paris-Le Bourget will not be affected.

 

Expect high impact. Ops over or to France are best avoided today.

We will continue to post any further information here as soon as received.

CPDLC for US Airspace: The Implementation Process.

Update 03Oct: The FAA has released AC_90-117, which is their updated overview of Data Link Communications.

  • The United States ATC system transition to a National Single Data Authority (NSDA) is here.
  • The changeover will take place on 22Oct at 0330Z
  • A single CPDLC logon ID (KUSA) will be provided for domestic US airspace.
  • The initial phase is set up to issue departure clearances only
  • En-route CPDLC communications within US airspace will be implemented at a later time.
  • More details about the transition process are found here NSDA – Data Comm Program
  • We’ll post further information as it becomes available

Australia ADS-B requirements: 2017 onwards

Last year Australia switched off most of its navaids, meaning that RNP became a requirement.

This year, they’re asking all aircraft flying in Australian airspace to be ADS-B equipped after February 2nd, 2017. ADS-B means that controllers can use your uplinked GPS position, instead of mammoth SSR Radar Units all over the country.

There are two exemptions:

  • Small Australian-registered GA aircraft
  • Foreign-registered aircraft with the restriction that you must fly below FL290 in continental airspace, and stick “RMK/NIL ADSB AUTH” into Field 18 of the Flight Plan.

You don’t need to apply for special authorisation, just show up.

References:

 

 

Robbed by the CAA – and other horror stories

Three of the most recent headlines are:

Tempting to joke that this sound like Miami, or Nice – but these are reviews of FZAA/Kinshasa, in the DRC – rated at 2.5, one of the lowest Airports on Aireport.

One report reads: “Don’t go here unless you like to be robbed by the CAA. I was told I was in big trouble for not having an MEL on a private airplane. 500 USD would [apparently] solve everything

Continuing: “ATC is terrible, they wanted us to hold right over the airport in the middle of the T’storm we wanted to wait for to pass. I ended up telling him we would hold 15 miles out on the 090 radial. He wasn’t very happy about being over-ruled, but it worked”

And:  “People mill around the airplane looking for fuel drips to collect in their cans. Some guy told me he was a fueling assistant and wanted cash for his kind assistance. The handler is pretty much worthless, he just wants to collect the cash = $2700 USD for a fuel stop in a Falcon 900.”

There are some other horror stories in the database. SVMI/Caracas, Venezuela (“Handler demanded $9000 in Cash“);  VECC/Calcutta (“Immigration was a nightmare“); HEAX/Alexandria (“Handler tried the shakedown“)

 

There are also plenty of good reports – EGSS/London Stansted is “As easy as it gets in Europe“, EINN/Shannon, Ireland is “Absolutely outstanding“, and NFFN/Nadi, Fiji is given “Quick Turn, Inexpensive Fuel, and Perfect

NZAA/Auckland, New Zealand stands out as getting consistently good reviews: “Very knowledgeable and helpful staff”, “Air Centre One is superb”, “Flawless from Gordy” … the crew at Air Centre One is clearly keeping their customers very happy. Nice work guys.

corporate-jet-services

For all the ones in between – read for yourself: Aireport.co/reviews.

aireport-co

 

 

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