[jhb_airlines] Re: General queries

  • From: "Bones" <bones@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 17:31:26 -0000

As much as we want FPI to be as realistic as possible there are times when
this has to be thrown out of the window in favour of common sense. We know
that ATC coverage is flaky and that a controller might suddenly vanish so we
should adjust our thinking and actions around this.
 
Report on final in the real world and if you don't get a clearance to
continue approach or to land you would get rather worried. You wait a second
and try again, then change boxes and then ask the co-pilot to call (in case
your mike has failed). If you don't get a peep from ATC you continue the
approach and look out for light signals from the tower. If everything is
negative and you get to the MAP you execute a go around and standard missed
approach procedure. It's a bit trickier for VFR aircraft as there isn't a
procedure defined for these flights - I'd guess over 50% of pilots would
probably land anyway.
 
In FPI you should follow the same pattern but if you see ATC disappear from
the active listing then things change. Effectively the airport becomes
uncontrolled (unless someone is on tower or ground) and so you should treat
it as such and land. Before you do though it's best to have a quick look at
the ATC presence just to confirm that there are no positions manned.
Technically you should have time to do this as a landing clearance (or
continue approach clearance) should be issued at least 8nm from touchdown.
 
En route descent should be the responsibility of the Centre controller. In
real life Approach rarely have control over traffic much above 7,000ft (it
can be FL110 as at Birmingham or as low as 1500ft as at Liverpool). If you
don't have anyone active as Centre then, in FPI, the usual habit is to call
Approach early in the hope they will provide ATC early i.e. well outside
their normal service coverage. Most controllers will do this but some may be
more fastidious and only accept you as you enter their airspace.
 
Once you are in touch with Approach then it becomes their responsibility to
keep you clear from other aircraft and to put you on final for the nominated
runway in use. Some, like me, will put you on radar headings almost
immediately to get you to final approach in the shortest possible distance -
totally ignoring any STAR in the process. This is what happens in real life
- STAR's being there to fall back on when traffic gets so busy that you
don't have time to individually vector every aircraft. That's why you will
almost always fly a STAR into Heathrow, why you will almost always go into
the hold at BNN, OCK or whatever and only get vectors coming off the hold.
At quieter airfields the reverse happens and you may never fly the published
STAR except when it really gets hectic with traffic.
 
In FPI, as in real life, you should always fly the STAR if ATC don't tell
you otherwise. If the STAR goes right to the runway you fly this and if it
ends at the holding pattern fix or VOR then you fly to that point. What ATC
SHOULD do is tell you the STAR to follow as confirmation if they don't
intend vectoring you - they should always give you a hint as to what is
expected of you. If the STAR ends at a hold then ATC should either tell you
to enter the hold or clear you for approach. If the latter you then pick up
the IAP for the approach in question.
 
The quality of ATC will vary on FPI from experienced guys like Steve Tape to
raw beginners with absolutely no idea about what is required of them. The
latter will split into guys who will overcontrol aircraft just to sound good
(we don't see too many of these luckily) and those who will wait for the
pilot to initiate action and just say Roger to whatever the pilot says. One
overactive and one passive. The trick for the pilot is to sense what sort of
controller he is talking to and adjust accordingly.  This is awkward, and a
bit of a pity, but it's what happens when FPI dropped any responsibility for
ensuring controller's basic standards.
 
Squawking is simple - it must be on only when airborne. In real life we
activate it just after rotation (if not too busy) but in FPI I think it
comes on automatically. You should change back to Standby as soon as
possible after touchdown.
 
bones

-----Original Message-----
From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of
Fivewildthings@xxxxxxx
Sent: 28 December 2005 09:26
To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [jhb_airlines] General queries


John,

Having dipped my toe into the ocean that is the world of online flying, I've
found myself in a couple of situations where I've thought "what do I do
now?"  Can you help me out?  I know that we have discussed these points
before, but I can't remember the answer and can't find them on my saved
e-mails.

Firstly, I was at the end of a flight into Stansted.  I had been passed onto
the Approach controller who had vectored me to the localizer.  I confirmed
as requested that I was established but heard no more ie no clearance to
land. I later found out that he had disappeared for whatever reason.  There
were no other aircraft on TCAS.  Should I have executed a missed approach or
just carried on with my landing?

Secondly, and I suppose in the same vein, when approaching an airfield, we
know roughly when we have to start our descent and because of the ATIS,
usually which approach procedure to follow.  If we hear nothing from the
approach controller should we just begin our descent or try to contact him
to request descent.  Also, once contact is made, should we just follow the
STAR we have mapped out or wait for vectors which don't always appear to be
forthcoming?

Thirdly, at what point do you squawk Charlie?  Is it when you are taxying to
the active, or when you are at the holding point waiting clearance to take
off.

Thanks

Colin 

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