PHX787
Topic Author
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Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Mon Jul 09, 2012 8:31 am

hey guys,

Landed on the endangered DL1941 from CVG about 4 hours ago, and while in flight (one of the nicest flights i've taken, i may add: they moved me to a very nice exit row and it had the PTVs on it so I watched baseball all night) I saw a pair of F-16s race by the starboard side of the plane going to the east as we were going west. We were passing to the south east of COS (Colorado Springs,) and I know in proximity to COS there is the USAF academy.

When I landed I asked the pilots if they saw those two fighters and they peculiarly said that they didn't and seemed a bit surprised.

What I noticed is A)The planes were either at our flight level or maybe 1000 feet below us, but weren't too far away from us B) We made a turn to the south right before they passed us.

Do you think that the ATC turned our flight away from the fighters? Did those pilots communicate with the ATC somehow or with the flight crew of our flight?

It seemed very peculiar that they were flying at such a rate of speed so close to us, yet weren't involved with us.

Any input on how this works between the two would be appreciated.

(also if this is in the wrong forum please change it)

-Z
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:24 am

ATC probably advised the crew of the approaching jets just as they would of any close by traffic. The fact that the crew didn't see them isn't particularly uncommon as I certainly don't see every jet ATC tells me about. The fact that they were military has nothing to do with it short of the fact they were probably talking to ATC on UHF. I would doubt that ATC turned your plane and the small size of the jets may have made them appear to be going faster than they were.
 
PapaChuck
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:26 pm

I promise you that the F-16s were operating IFR and in communication with ATC. While they may have appeared to be close, I am willing to bet that they were at least 1000' below you. Unless military aircraft are flying in a MOA or some other designated military playground, they play the same game with ATC as everyone else. If a piece of military use airspace is active, ATC will steer you clear of it. Military aircraft do not freely roam the skies in Class A airspace.

I have yet to work an F-16 that is RVSM certified, but then again I typically work older F-16s belonging to ANG units. That's not to say that the birds you encountered were negative RVSM. If they were so equipped, they could have easily passed you only 1000' below.

I also have yet to see an F-16 use anything other than UHF radios. Military transports typically use VHF, but my rule of thumb is: if it has the ability to blow stuff up (i.e. fighters/bombers), use UHF.

Bottom line, I wouldn't be alarmed. While it may seem unusual to see a couple of fighters streak past you, it's really no different than seeing any other civil or commercial aircraft pass you in flight.

PC
In-trail spacing is a team effort.
 
fr8mech
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:44 pm

Years ago when working toward my PPL, I was flying in the training area (at 4000' or so) when the tower called me and advised me of fast moving traffic 1/4 mile north of my position, 1000' below and moving east to west.

A couple of F-16 buzzed through the area about 5 seconds later. Had I not been pointing ENE at the time, I wouldn't have even seen them, though I did hear them.
When seconds count...the police are minutes away.
 
Woodreau
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:01 pm

I'd say it is coincidence.

Most of the time most military aircraft don't have the ability to talk on civilian ATC frequencies in the VHF band. When talking to civilian ATC, they are usually using UHF frequencies. Military aircraft flying in the flight levels are under ATC control except when operating under MARSA - Military Accepts Resposibility for Separation of Aircraft, but that is when the military aircraft are operating in their own areas or in a refueling area and civilian aircraft are kept away from the area by ATC.


If a fighter is tasked to intercept and get inside minimum separation, their transponder Mode C altitude encoding is turned off so as not to induce a TCAS RA event onboard the target airliner.

When you have two aircraft proceeding in opposite directions (your aircraft flying west, the fighters/other aircraft flying east) the apparent speed of the aircraft is higher - you're travelling anywhere from 450-550kts to the west, the other aircraft is flying anywhere from 500-600kts to the east. So from that alone, you're looking at a 950-1150kt relative speed differential. When looking at another aircraft flying the same direction the relative speed difference is a lot less usually less than 150kts.
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
IAHFLYR
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:05 pm

Quoting woodreau (Reply 4):
Most of the time most military aircraft don't have the ability to talk on civilian ATC frequencies in the VHF band. When talking to civilian ATC, they are usually using UHF frequencies.



Actually, I'm finding they are using VHF frequencies more and more which is a huge help for both pilots and controllers. The controller has fewer transmission that stepped on by the other radio and it helps the pilots be more aware of their surroundings.
Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
 
sprout5199
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:30 pm

Quoting PapaChuck (Reply 2):
I have yet to work an F-16 that is RVSM certified, but then again I typically work older F-16s belonging to ANG units. That's not to say that the birds you encountered were negative RVSM. If they were so equipped, they could have easily passed you only 1000' below.

I take it that transports are RVSM? I was flying from Chicago to PBI and over Georgia(I think) we crossed paths with what I thought was a C-17, I asked the pilot when deplaning, and he said "actually it was a C-5, and was 1000' below". made my whole flight.

Quoting PapaChuck (Reply 2):
I also have yet to see an F-16 use anything other than UHF radios. Military transports typically use VHF, but my rule of thumb is: if it has the ability to blow stuff up (i.e. fighters/bombers), use UHF.
Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 5):
Actually, I'm finding they are using VHF frequencies more and more which is a huge help for both pilots and controllers.

I listen to PBI's tower freq at work and hear military aircraft on the VHF all the time, be it Seahawks going to and fro from AUTEC, or just guys stopping off to spend a day in south Florida. Most of the time the tower will request a fly-by when a fast mover comes in. Thats the time I walk outside for a smoke to watch the show. Nothing like seeing a F-15 smoke by at 300 kts at 500 feet. Hard to believe how much military traffic comes to PBI. I have seen V-22's, F-16,F-15, F-18, C-5, C-17, C-130, All kinds of helo's, and every so often a civi AN-124.

Dan in Jupiter
 
PapaChuck
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:44 pm

Quoting sprout5199 (Reply 6):
I take it that transports are RVSM?

Generally speaking, yes. At least in my experience, the C-5s, C-17s, KC-10s, and the myriad of military 707 derivatives are, more often than not, RVSM certified. They also typically have UHF radios on board, but for the most part use VHF when talking to ATC.

I've seen F/A-18s both RVSM capable and using VHF radios, but this still uncommon among combat types. NASA's T-38s are commonly using VHF these days as well. Many of the older types (the B-52s come to mind) are not RVSM certified and are UHF only.

PC
In-trail spacing is a team effort.
 
bond007
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:32 pm

Quoting sprout5199 (Reply 6):
I listen to PBI's tower freq at work and hear military aircraft on the VHF all the time

Doing some work up here at BTV and the F-16s all use UHF. Bear in mind that the controller is usually transmitting simultaneously on both the VHF and UHF frequencies so you'll hear ATC talking to them on VHF regardless (just not hear the response on VHF).

All the Helos use VHF up here at least, and the transports.

..actually today even some surprise F-18s in 'aggressor' colors (red stars etc.)

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
 
IAHFLYR
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:16 pm

Quoting PapaChuck (Reply 7):
NASA's T-38s are commonly using VHF these days as well.

Yep, the NASA 38's have been pretty much VHF users for 10+ years now, I forget what the WB-57 uses but probably UHF.

More and more of the Air Force training aircraft like the TEX2 I've heard on VHF as well doing their approaches particuarly.
Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
 
sprout5199
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:05 pm

Quoting bond007 (Reply 8):
Doing some work up here at BTV and the F-16s all use UHF. Bear in mind that the controller is usually transmitting simultaneously on both the VHF and UHF frequencies so you'll hear ATC talking to them on VHF regardless (just not hear the response on VHF).

Do they simucast the VHF traffic on UHF? Or do they just turn on the UHF when someone calls on UHF? My sectional shows the UHF for Palm Beach approach but not a tower freq. just wondering

Dan in Jupiter
 
bond007
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:22 pm

Quoting sprout5199 (Reply 10):
Do they simucast the VHF traffic on UHF? Or do they just turn on the UHF when someone calls on UHF? My sectional shows the UHF for Palm Beach approach but not a tower freq. just wondering

IAHFLYR is better qualified to answer that, but at BTV they do transmit on both simultaneously all the time, for both approach and tower.

The Airport Diagram for PBI does show 257.8 for a Tower Freq.

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
 
sprout5199
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:02 pm

Quoting bond007 (Reply 11):
The Airport Diagram for PBI does show 257.8 for a Tower Freq.

Thanks, I just pulled out my sectional cuz it was on top in my flight bag. Might just add that freq into my scanner at work. I guess there is no correlation between the VHF and UHF as there is with IAD and MAD (121.5 and 243.0-- hmm double the IAD freq and get MAD, somebody was thinking).

Dan in Jupiter
 
IAHFLYR
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:47 am

Quoting sprout5199 (Reply 10):
Do they simucast the VHF traffic on UHF?


When you have a VHF and UHF paired together as most ATC facilities in the U.S. have, I leave the UHF in the speaker not my headset, and the transmitter un-keyed. When I hear an aircraft call on UHF then I select the transmitter and receiver and put it in my headset.

Quoting bond007 (Reply 11):
IAHFLYR is better qualified to answer that


Thanks Jimbo, but you are way too kind!  
Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
 
speedbird128
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:50 pm

Quoting woodreau (Reply 4):
I'd say it is coincidence.

Most of the time most military aircraft don't have the ability to talk on civilian ATC frequencies in the VHF band. When talking to civilian ATC, they are usually using UHF frequencies

My tank buster, typhoon, and tornado traffic are all VHF... I'm pretty sure that the local F16's are too...
A306, A313, A319, A320, A321, A332, A343, A345, A346 A388, AC90, B06, B722, B732, B733, B735, B738, B744, B762, B772, B7
 
jgarrido
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:41 pm

In my experience B52's have VHF radio's, but they hate to use them. If they come over on VHF they ask to switch as soon as possible and if you have switch to a VHF to check a frequency or something they always request to switch back to UHF. Also B2's are the only tactical aircraft I've seen which are RVSM qualified.

Quoting woodreau (Reply 4):
Military aircraft flying in the flight levels are under ATC control except when operating under MARSA - Military Accepts Resposibility for Separation of Aircraft,

Not too nit pick too much but just because two or more aircraft are MARSA doesn't mean they are not under ATC control. For example there are often local procedures in which MARSA has been pre-coordinated and is being utilized however ATC is still providing separation from non-military/non-participating aircraft.
 
bond007
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RE: Commercial Pilot Communication To Military Planes

Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:33 am

Quoting jgarrido (Reply 15):
Quoting woodreau (Reply 4):Military aircraft flying in the flight levels are under ATC control except when operating under MARSA - Military Accepts Resposibility for Separation of Aircraft,
Not too nit pick too much but just because two or more aircraft are MARSA doesn't mean they are not under ATC control. For example there are often local procedures in which MARSA has been pre-coordinated and is being utilized however ATC is still providing separation from non-military/non-participating aircraft.

Correct. AFAIK, MARSA is only used under pre-defined agreements, and is used only to relieve ATC of the task of separating IFR military aircraft from each other... not relieve them of separating the military aircraft from other IFR aircraft. Examples are air-to-air refuelling and formation flying where it makes sense that the aircraft involved are responsible for the separation.


Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!

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