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Etops And Routes  
User currently offlinesimonriat From UK - England, joined Jul 2010, 134 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3142 times:

Hi all

I was asked a question the other day by a person who really isn't into aviation and had just returned from the states, with regards to flying over the Atlantic, which got me thinking. So here go the questions.

1. Who decides the route to take over the north Atlantic? I assume there are a few factors.
1A. Is it the airline or the aircraft that are given specific etops rules? For example can 2 different aircraft for the same airline have different rules?
2. Are there 4 tracks? 2 East and 2 West?
3. I seem to remember coming back from the Dominican Republic being on an A330 and it taking an almost direct course back to Manchester UK, can it be done or is my memory fading in its old age?
4. Routes to South America from Europe again thinking (sadly) of AF A330 which seemed on a North East Course, again can it be done on a twin? but also again it could be my memory.

Thanks in advance for any response.

Sorry if the questions seem silly, still learning.

Regards
Simon

5 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16908 posts, RR: 67
Reply 1, posted (3 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3123 times:

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
1. Who decides the route to take over the north Atlantic? I assume there are a few factors.

There are "North Atlantic Tracks" (NATs) which are determined primarily by looking at the jetstream. The authorities in charge of NAT are Shanwick Center and Gander Center in consultation with other adjacent agencies.

IIRC the airlines then "book slots" on NAT. These are very precise, down to the minute. They can also fly outside the NAT network.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
1A. Is it the airline or the aircraft that are given specific etops rules? For example can 2 different aircraft for the same airline have different rules?

Yes. Every aircraft needs specific ETOPS certification.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
3. I seem to remember coming back from the Dominican Republic being on an A330 and it taking an almost direct course back to Manchester UK, can it be done or is my memory fading in its old age?

That's a bit too far south for it to be worth using NATs.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
4. Routes to South America from Europe again thinking (sadly) of AF A330 which seemed on a North East Course, again can it be done on a twin? but also again it could be my memory.

Don't know the details but the Atlantic is not really that big a pond from this perspective. Plenty of diversionary airports including Lajes in the Azores, Keflavik in Iceland, Gander in Newfoundland. There are not huge ETOPS intervals like in the South Pacific.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineThrottleHold From South Africa, joined Jul 2006, 648 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (3 years 8 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 3113 times:

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
1. Who decides the route to take over the north Atlantic? I assume there are a few factors.
Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
2. Are there 4 tracks? 2 East and 2 West?

Shanwick and Gander issue the tracks. They are published twice daily. Daytime tracks route westwards, nighttime tracks route eastwards. This is in line with the vast majority of flight routings from north America to Europe.
There are anywhere between 5 and 10 tracks in each direction.
The choice of track that the aircraft flies on is decided by te arine flight planning department, taking into consideration route, weather and other factors. ATC can re-route an aircraft on anothe track if circumstances dictate.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
1A. Is it the airline or the aircraft that are given specific etops rules? For example can 2 different aircraft for the same airline have different rules?

Usually they are the same, but can be altered due to the ETOPS status of the aircraft. An MEL item my remove ETOPS qualification, or downgrade it.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
3. I seem to remember coming back from the Dominican Republic being on an A330 and it taking an almost direct course back to Manchester UK, can it be done or is my memory fading in its old age?

Entirely possible. Usually, the most southerly tracks are designed for the use of aircraft flying from Europe to FLorida and the Carribbean or vice-versa. Bermuda and Lajes allow their use. In this area, there is also the WATRS, West ATlantic Route System.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
4. Routes to South America from Europe again thinking (sadly) of AF A330 which seemed on a North East Course, again can it be done on a twin? but also again it could be my memory.

Yes, it is usually done. The distance between the South American coast and west Africa/Canaries is not that far.


User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 3, posted (3 years 8 months 2 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 2883 times:

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
1A. Is it the airline or the aircraft that are given specific etops rules? For example can 2 different aircraft for the same airline have different rules?

Both the airline and the aircraft have to have ETOPS certification, and it can vary from airline to airline and aircraft to aircraft. So yes, 2 different aircraft for the same airline can have different rules. And the same aircraft with two different airlines can also have different rules.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 1):
IIRC the airlines then "book slots" on NAT. These are very precise, down to the minute.

You do book it, but you can refile pretty much ad naseum and ATC will accommodate you as they can. The crucial thing is that you hit the entry point to the NAT within a very tight time window that you and ATC agree on, so they know when to expect you at the reporting points and on the other side. You can change your planned entry time many many many times prior to actually entering the NAT, but once you enter you'd better stay on course and speed or you're going to annoy/confuse a lot of folks.

Tom.


User currently offlinedispatchguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 1248 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2755 times:

Plus

Your departure ATC clearance from your departure airport does NOT include your oceanic NAT crossing. As you get close to the oceanic crossing, you'll ask ATC (a different person than your current controller) for your oceanic crossing clearance.

They'll issue your NAT track, Flight Level, and constant mach number. There are NO planned step climbs over the NATs; step climbs are handled tactically with your current oceanic controller. The clearance will go "Goober Air 123, cleared along NAT X-ray, FL350, Mach 0.80."



Nobody screws you better than an airline job!
User currently offlineborax From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2685 times:

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
1. Who decides the route to take over the north Atlantic? I assume there are a few factors.
1A. Is it the airline or the aircraft that are given specific etops rules? For example can 2 different aircraft for the same airline have different rules?

To expand on the above - airlines typically submit "PRM's" (preferred route messages) to ATC. Flight plans will be run between city pairs and co=ordinates sent to ATC for them to consider where the density of the traffic will be. Most of the time, dead in the jet stream. They can also use it to keep tracks out of the way if, say, several flight were routing to conflict with a potential track.

As above, yes, two different aircraft can operate under different rules. Even two of the same type can. You can have two 757's that work under ETOPS 120 and one under 138. It's all paper work, stats and down to equipment on the aeroplane.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
2. Are there 4 tracks? 2 East and 2 West?

At any one time, there are only E/B and W/B's. W/B run from 1130Z - 1900Z (to be at 30W by those times to have to route on them). E/B run from 0100Z - 0800Z. The number of tracks depends on the amount of traffic expected and the spread from a PRM. I've seen as few as 3 tracks in one direction and 12 in the other.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
3. I seem to remember coming back from the Dominican Republic being on an A330 and it taking an almost direct course back to Manchester UK, can it be done or is my memory fading in its old age?

Which airline? It can be. With etops 180min you can fly direct between the two. Only thing that gets in the way are NAT tracks and weather.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
4. Routes to South America from Europe again thinking (sadly) of AF A330 which seemed on a North East Course, again can it be done on a twin? but also again it could be my memory.

Between South America and Europe are airways. They are set out N/E and S/W.

[Edited 2010-08-11 14:39:47]

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