washingtonian
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ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:13 pm

Could somebody run me through the normal ATC procedures for a typical trans-Atlantic flight? Say flying from Washington Dulles to London Heathrow. How long is the aircraft out of ATC coverage/on HF?

Also, how often does ACARS send the location of a plane? Is this to ATC or the airline's operation center?
 
lowrider
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:46 pm

If you are crossing in the tracks going east bound, it is business as usual up until Gander Center hands you off to Gander radio. Prior to this you should have received your oceanic clearance either via ACARS or via a clearance delivery on a separate VHF freq. The guys with CPDLC will do their log on magic and coast out, us stone age types can typically make our 50W position report on VHF, then you make subsequent position reports every 10 degrees to Gander Radio until you reach 30W. Those blessed with CPDLC will again make contact with Shanwick at 30W, confirm their log on, then resume their crosswords and sudoku. 30W and 20W are with Shanwick, and you usually re-establish VHF comm with Shannon at 10W or 15W. If your crossing is further north, other ATC agencies may come into play, and you will be on VHF over Iceland and possibly over parts of Greenland. Further south you will be talking to New York and Santa Maria radios.
West bound is very similar.
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tdscanuck
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:52 am

Quoting washingtonian (Thread starter):
Could somebody run me through the normal ATC procedures for a typical trans-Atlantic flight? Say flying from Washington Dulles to London Heathrow. How long is the aircraft out of ATC coverage/on HF?

Lowrider nailed the description. CPDLC is a god send...especially if your SELCAL goes bad. Listening to HF for 3 hours straight will make you barmy.

Quoting washingtonian (Thread starter):
Also, how often does ACARS send the location of a plane? Is this to ATC or the airline's operation center?

The frequency it reports is generally selectable. You can have it sent to ATC (if you're on CPDLC), or airport ops (but then you have to tell ATC some other way), or both. You can have the datalink running over SATCOM if so equipped, or HF radio.

Quoting Lowrider (Reply 1):
Those blessed with CPDLC will again make contact with Shanwick at 30W, confirm their log on, then resume their crosswords and sudoku.

I protest at this grossly unfair characterization...for my last Atlantic crossing I wasn't doing crosswords or sudoku! I'm pretty sure I was reading the paper...

Tom.
 
lowrider
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:41 pm

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 2):
I protest at this grossly unfair characterization

You know you don't have to read the whole paper before you do the puzzles, right? If there is a strong tailwind I might need to skip straight to the back so I have enough time to finish.
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ANITIX87
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:54 pm

Quoting Lowrider (Reply 3):
You know you don't have to read the whole paper before you do the puzzles, right? If there is a strong tailwind I might need to skip straight to the back so I have enough time to finish.

That just means you're bad at Sudoku...haha

A few questions of my own:

1) I know the NATs are updated every day depending on weather. Will a given flight always follow the same NAT day after day? I presume this would make planning easier if, for example, CO68 (EWR-ARN) always follows NATU, CO80 (EWR-GVA) always follows NATW, and CO104 (EWR-ATH) always follows NATX, no?

2) Does airline dispatch select the NAT used, or does some "higher authority" dictate this? AFAIK, the airline chooses the STAR and SID (which ATC can over-ride if need-be), but what about the NAT?

3) How is the NAT entered into the FMS? Does the system upload the latest NAT coordinates and the pilot need just type in "NAT X"? Or does the pilot have to receive the coordinates (either before the flight, or en-route) and enter them all manually? Along similar lines, are the coordinates entered as waypoints, or is it latitude and longitude?

Thanks!

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lowrider
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:03 pm

Quoting ANITIX87 (Reply 4):
. Will a given flight always follow the same NAT day after day?

No, track assignments will vary depending on speed requested, and altitude filed for in the tracks. ATC does the best they can to accommodate the filed requests.

Quoting ANITIX87 (Reply 4):
Does airline dispatch select the NAT used, or does some "higher authority" dictate this?

Like any other flight plane, they file for the most optimum track, but you don't always get it, especially if you are running a random route against the tracks.

Quoting ANITIX87 (Reply 4):
How is the NAT entered into the FMS?

Since the tracks vary every day, we enter the lat/longs manually, as published in the track message. Once we get our oceanic clearance, we will confirm that we have the right coordinates entered.

Quoting ANITIX87 (Reply 4):
That just means you're bad at Sudoku...haha

I know, I blame all the monitoring of the HF.
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RobK
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:05 am

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 2):
Lowrider nailed the description. CPDLC is a god send...especially if your SELCAL goes bad. Listening to HF for 3 hours straight will make you barmy.

Small correction here. If your chime box (selcal) non-worky then regardless of whether you have CPDLC or not, you have to maintain a listening watch.

Quote:
3) How is the NAT entered into the FMS? Does the system upload the latest NAT coordinates and the pilot need just type in "NAT X"? Or does the pilot have to receive the coordinates (either before the flight, or en-route) and enter them all manually? Along similar lines, are the coordinates entered as waypoints, or is it latitude and longitude?

Not a full answer to your question, but the NAT tracks for a given day have a TMI number. When you "read back" your oceanic clearance, you state the NAT track and then state that days current TMI number so that ATC knows you're both singing from the same hymn sheet. TMI numbers start at TMI001 for 1 Jan to TMI365/6 for 31 Dec.

Just make sure your RT is up to scratch if you're ever working NYC ARINC in the WATRS area (basically the oceanic airspace around Bermuda) as ARINCs male east coast radio operators as the arsiest "ATC" you'll ever encounter. Make even the tiniest mistake in your position report and wow, you'd better have that flak jacket ready!
 
tdscanuck
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:08 pm

Quoting RobK (Reply 6):
Small correction here. If your chime box (selcal) non-worky then regardless of whether you have CPDLC or not, you have to maintain a listening watch.

Good point, I forgot that...no wonder we did so many !@#%!@$ SELCAL checks on the way back home.

Tom.
 
apodino
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:57 pm

An AA pilot once told me you still have to do the HF check in's and Sel Cal checks with each facility. I assume this is twice. Once when at the Oceanic gateway with the first facility, the second time is at 30W when you are entering the other facilities airspace. Otherwise, you can give all positions on datalink.

One follow up question I have? Does ATC tell you guys when to do the Strategic Lateral Offset Procedure (SLOP) or is this something you guys do on your own, and if so, how do you know when to do it and whether to go 1 or 2 NM off?
 
wilco737
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:05 pm

Quoting apodino (Reply 8):
An AA pilot once told me you still have to do the HF check in's and Sel Cal checks with each facility. I assume this is twice. Once when at the Oceanic gateway with the first facility, the second time is at 30W when you are entering the other facilities airspace. Otherwise, you can give all positions on datalink.

Exactly. But when you have a weird routing like I had the other day: Started in New York FIR, then Santa Maria FIR, then Gander FIR, then Shanwick FIR... So many many SELCAL checks on HF, but the rest was CPDLC...

Quoting apodino (Reply 8):
One follow up question I have? Does ATC tell you guys when to do the Strategic Lateral Offset Procedure (SLOP) or is this something you guys do on your own, and if so, how do you know when to do it and whether to go 1 or 2 NM off?

No, they don't tell you. You do it on your own. You see who else is on your track and how much he is offset and then you eaither stay on your track or go offset 1 or 2 NM. No need to tell the controller as well as CPDLC sends that with the position report as well.

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RobK
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:29 pm

Quoting wilco737 (Reply 9):
Exactly. But when you have a weird routing like I had the other day: Started in New York FIR, then Santa Maria FIR, then Gander FIR, then Shanwick FIR... So many many SELCAL checks on HF, but the rest was CPDLC...


I'll send you a double! Bing bong bing bong!   You must've been crossing 4430N between 40 and 30w then for that to happen. It's fairly rare you hit all 4 main OCAs in 1 flight actually. Little question for you, if you're flying 45N40W 45N30W 45N20W 45N15W, who do you call at 30W?  
 
wilco737
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:32 pm

Quoting RobK (Reply 10):
I'll send you a double! Bing bong bing bong!

Ah, you are the dude always giving us the double 
Quoting RobK (Reply 10):
It's fairly rare you hit all 4 main OCAs in 1 flight actually.

Yeah, was a first for me as well. but cannot remember the exact routing. Was track X on day 87, so go check 
Quoting RobK (Reply 10):
Little question for you, if you're flying 45N40W 45N30W 45N20W 45N15W, who do you call at 30W?

No one, I will be on my break  

wilco737
  
 
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RobK
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:34 am

Quoting wilco737 (Reply 11):
Yeah, was a first for me as well. but cannot remember the exact routing. Was track X on day 87, so go check

44N50W 44N40W 45N30W routing would do it.

New York at 50W
Maria at 40W
Gander when entering their OCA at 4430N
Shanwick at 30W

Remain on CPDLC good day!   
 
wilco737
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:39 am

Quoting RobK (Reply 12):
44N50W 44N40W 45N30W routing would do it.

New York at 50W
Maria at 40W
Gander when entering their OCA at 4430N
Shanwick at 30W

Sounds good. Tomorrow going to middle east, so no NAT 
Quoting RobK (Reply 12):
Remain on CPDLC good day!

I will, I will for sure   

wilco737
  
 
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RobK
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:48 pm

Quoting wilco737 (Reply 13):
Sounds good. Tomorrow going to middle east, so no NAT

Be thankful you stop at the Middle East and don't have to face the nightmare that is Mumbai Radio on INO-1 5658/8879 ! The 'pain' of having to do 4 SEL checks on the NAT is a piece of cake in comparison to what Mumbai will put you through. Typically you have to repeat your callsigns 20 times before they understand you, then tell you that you're unreadable and send you to another freq where you repeat the process, only to be told you are unreadable again and sent to another freq... repeat a few more times and after 20 mins of calling you find yourself back on the frequency you started on.   

Some of the stories we hear from the crews flying that sector are both hilarious and unbelievable at same time!   
 
CosmicCruiser
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:14 pm

Quoting RobK (Reply 14):
Some of the stories we hear from the crews flying that sector are both hilarious and unbelievable at same time!

I'm on the last leg of a 12 day trip that went thru there twice. I know exactly what you're saying. We do have CPDLC so that helps to a point.

As far as NAT flights let's not forget the CPDLC is only a part of FANS. Granted CPDLC is important for requests and initial position reports etc but it's ADS that gives the regular "contracted" position reports to each agency.
 
wilco737
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:30 pm

Quoting RobK (Reply 14):
Be thankful you stop at the Middle East and don't have to face the nightmare that is Mumbai Radio on INO-1 5658/8879 ! The 'pain' of having to do 4 SEL checks on the NAT is a piece of cake in comparison to what Mumbai will put you through. Typically you have to repeat your callsigns 20 times before they understand you, then tell you that you're unreadable and send you to another freq where you repeat the process, only to be told you are unreadable again and sent to another freq... repeat a few more times and after 20 mins of calling you find yourself back on the frequency you started on.  

Oh yeah. Pretty bad indeed. Africa is cool as well. You call them, no reply for a long long time, then they reply and all they want to know: Type of airplane and registration. Next time they'll ask for my credit card number where to send the bill to 

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lowrider
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:27 pm

Quoting wilco737 (Reply 11):
No one, I will be on my break

Spoken like a true captain

Quoting RobK (Reply 14):
Mumbai Radio

I have felt that pain. I think they charge by the transmission, and the whole communication scheme is designed to maximize the bill.
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RobK
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RE: ATC On A Typical Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:04 pm

Quoting Lowrider (Reply 17):
I have felt that pain. I think they charge by the transmission, and the whole communication scheme is designed to maximize the bill.

Haha yeah! Those guys can make a standard 20 second long position report into a 10 minute ordeal! And if your callsign isn't "Air India", "Jet Airways" or "Express India" then you'll be sent on the 8879 > 5658 > 6661 > 4675 > 10018 > 8879 merry-go-round.    Standard procedure, I'm sure it's in the Indian ATC manuals....

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