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London Heathrow - A plea to pilots


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Hi,

 

I would like to make a plea to pilots intending, or in some cases attempting, to fly into OR out of London Heathrow.

 

Please, please, please, please, please make sure you are at least partially familiar with as many of the following as possible:

 

*Flying and navigating your aircraft.

*Local airspace and NAVAIDS.

*Arrival and departure procedures.

*Necessity to stick to initial altitudes on departure until advised.

*The requirement to contact controllers when in their area.

*The need and requirement for full readbacks.

*The need to squawk mode C when airborne.

*The fact that the transistion altitude in the London area is 6000ft

 

During a three-hour stint on Heathrow Director last night ALL of the following incidents occured:

 

*Pilots entering EGLL airspace at FL080 squawking mode standby.

*Pilots asking for the ILS frequency AFTER I have given them the turn to establish.

*Pilots pausing on the ILS when transferred to TWR (luckily with the traffic behind far enough away to not be a problem).

*Pilots with no clue of the departure SID routings and no indication that vectors might be required.

*Pilots busting levels on departure.

*Pilots unable to control speeds while being vectored to the approach.

*Pilots leaving the holding fix heading DIRECT to the field after being given a specific, totally different, heading to fly.

*Pilots with an unbelieveably slow rate-of-turn.

*Pilots unable to navigate to a VOR

*Pilots from other surrounding fields who do NOT fly their departure but instead decide to cut through Heathrow airspace cutting a swathe through the approach track.

*Pilots not adhereing to speed limits on departure when required.

*Pilots calling on private message to ask for directions to airfields hundreds of miles away.

*Pilots, after calling from the gate and being told that I was closing and to resume own NAV (with an additional message sent to them pointing out that I had 3 aircraft on the ILS on 27L that I was getting down before closing), proceed to line up and roll on the reciprocal runway causing one go-around and a late runway change.

*Pilots filing VFR and/or 'Direct GPS' flights out of EGLL.

 

This is not a general rant against pilots; more of a gentle request that you might get more out of it if you investigate what is expected as far as standard procedures are concerned; especially when intending to fly in busy or complex airspace. (This does not apply exclusively to EGLL and could be applied to any major field anywhere in the world)

 

Heathrow seems to attract more than it's fair share of pilots who do not seem to have done any background study on what may be needed or expected. I appreciate that Heathrow is an attractive magnet for all members wishing to fly around a busy airfield, however I would point out that it can be a nightmare to control if everyone is not singing from the same hymn-sheet.

 

I know of more than a couple of members who, due to some or all of the above, are VERY reluctant to control at Heathrow without a high number of adjacent positions being occupied by other controllers.

 

If you put more in, you will find you get a lot more out.

 

Regards

Gareth

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I think the famous saying comes to mind... "If you don't like it...."

 

Rob i'm pretty sure you would be complaining if you had experienced high levels of traffic with lots of noobs before...

 

I completely agree with Gareth, it is very annoying, especially when there's so much stuff for pilots to read AND FREE charts

Scott Keller

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Rob,

 

what a great attitude you have.

 

unless of course the saying you refer to is:

 

"If you don't like it; try to make it better!"

 

I'll only say that I hope you encounter all of the above pilot behaviour and more when you are controlling and then I will be interested to hear your comments after the fact.

 

Regards,

Gareth

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Sadly, as always, the pilots who NEED to read the above are the very same pilots who do not read the fora, the docomeents, the advice or anything so I'm afraid it's probably wasted wear and tear on the key caps. You may have noticed that G-BILL has never departed or arrived at EGLL and that's mainly because I don't want to get mixed up with those mentioned above. I am more than happy enjoying the relatively numptie free Vatsim elsewhere. From my perspective the smaller airports (sorry SS, GW, PH, BB, PF etc but you are smaller) are where my noisy dirty smokey and smelly VC10 will live for now.

 

I should mention that I have no end of admiration for the ATCO's who are prepared to try and put up with the stuff above but from a very personal point of view I don't need it so stay away from EGLL. I really am sorry if that robs Heathrow ATC of another pilot who goes to ridiculous lengths to try and get it right but that's how I feel about it. Maybe I'm not alone in feeling that way since there are quite a few of us "good guys" who never venture near the place.

 

Keep the pecker up Gareth, having flown under your control I know how good and patient you are. Please don't let it hack you off to the extent that you feel it's not worth it.

 

Bill

G-BILL

Bill Casey

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The sad part is that I can't imagine any of those incidents being attributed to your good self; you know you are a most welcome callsign appearing from the ether

 

Nahh Bill, life's too short to throw away. I may get peeved occ[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ionally but hopefully I'll get a chance to 'see' some of the very pilots I have moaned about put me to shame by their immaculate flying in the future.

 

All I, as a controller in such circomestances, can offer (since there are no enforceable requirements for pilots to formally train) is patience, and where possible guidance, if the situation falls outside what I deem acceptable due to 'local factors'

 

Regards,

Gareth

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Very well put Gareth! I think those of us who have done Heathrow Director have experienced similar experiences one time or another but unfortuately the majority of pilots don't read this forum! We need another form of communication to pilots but I am not sure how! Maybe someone can suggest a good method?.

 

BTW I am one of those controllers who no longer wants to do Heathrow Director without TMA unless GND or TWR is online. I have been caught 3 times and I vowed never to do it again! The last time I did it I got pulled over the coals as an incompentent contoller. To prove my ability I accepted a session 'Over the shoulder' and p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed!

 

Regards

 

Don

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Gareth I sympathise with you, just tonight when controlling at EGLL I encountered much the same as you did. I was finding it impossible to sequence traffic as the majority of pilots just did not do what was instructed. I had a few exellent pilots and some newbies who followed all the rules and got the job done - they had obviously done some reading. It annoys me that people just log on the network without a clue of what to do, there is no excuse as all the training material and charts are available to everybody for free at the click of a button.

Ben Hewitt

VATUK Controller

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Well I used to love Heathrow as you well know, but I don't control at all now, which is a shame considering the amount of effort I and the excellent people who mentored me put in. It's only partly due to the poor quality of pilots - a good session was excellent but regrettably they were less than one in ten caused by the frustration you've just had Gareth.

 

And having flown in tonight listening to your patience "of jove", yet again lots of pilots without the basics and yet more reinforcement of why I'm glad to have kicked the habit.

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Mark

 

Sadly I agree with you - I have lost the p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ion to control beacsue of the points Gareth makes - Unfortunately these same people also spoil it for the Good pilots we do have, I for one love flying at the moment but choose my airfiled carefully to avoid conflicts not caused by controllers

Sean Reedman

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Gareth,

 

I, like some others, have not visited Heathrow, for a variety of reasons. Previous experience with elsewhere in the UK and abroad suggests to me that I THINK I could cope successfully with arr/dep LL - but I've never put it to the test, mainly because I don't want to foul up, and exasperate even more a controller who is already gritting his/her teeth! I would love to try an approach where many aircraft have a very similar ATA, necessitating the intro of stacks. ATC would also have their work cut out, with the difference that there would be a good chance that instructions were being followed as accurately as possible by the pilots.(!). I think it would prove to be a good experience for both.

Could, within Vatsim regulations a night be set aside for this, and, say a minimum requirement of, I don't know- 50 pilot hours online for arr/dep at Heathrow that night, as well as the regular intercontinentals ? Is it possiible to print a sorted list to provide info for this?

 

On re-reading the above scenario it could be seen as a very selfish one - I guess it is, but it is a lack of confidence in my own abilities that is prompting me to suggest it.

 

Best Regards,

Bill Scott

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Putt yourselves in their shoes for a moment...

 

You've just signed up to VATSIM and you live by Heathrow, you'd live to fly "virtually" from Heathrow so you give it a try! You manage to get everything connected and think... now, what do I do? From your background knowledge from the FS2004 ATC you start doing what that says, BELIEVING that it's right.. yet it isn't. The Controller gets annoyed with you because you're just doing something which you honestly thought was right, and you are unawares that you are wrong. You carry on trying to remember what FS2004 had taught you, and the controller's obviously getting more and more annoyed, and so are you because you don't have a clue. So you take off and try and get out the way, just so you can say to yourself, I flew out of Heathrow on VATSIM.

 

As a newbie i'm sure it's difficult to find out exactly where all the training for pilots is, the VATSIM site covers ATC for America (much like FS2004), and the VATSIM-UK site is difficult to use, and the pilot training is ages out of date. Because you are doing everything wrong whenever you try to ask a controller what you're doing wrong, they ignore you giving you the reason "I'm too busy".

 

Perhaps better Pilot training which is EASY to access and doesn't use the aviation lexis.

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I am one of the many who has avoided Heathrow Director unless other positions are online. In truth, I don't especially want to control anywhere else but am past enjoying receiving a dozen or more requests to "taxi to the active" seconds after opening the position. I would like to give these pilots a decent service but the fact is, they will be on the ground for some time while I sort them out on procedures, more especially if they are on text. At the same time, I'm trying to do the vectoring of inbounds which is the main purpose of the position. Furthermore, the pilots who do know the procs are often delayed as well, so everyone gets frustrated and fed up. I have been on the wrong end of some aggro from time to time and, while it may be understandable, it's certainly not enjoyable. The net result is that the UK's major airport no longer boasts regular ATC.

 

I would like to suggest that, if at all possible, suitably qualified controllers try to offer a service at Heathrow in pairs so that, at the least, TWR and APP are manned together. This would obviously free up Director to have fun, sorry, attend to the stacks and inbound vectoring, while TWR toils with, correction, attends to clearances, deps and arrivals as usual. The pair of controllers could alternate postions (provided they are suitably qualified) either the same night or other nights. Although Heathrow is not a training airport, it should be possible to give new/inexperienced pilots a bit more time than is possible when sitting on Director alone, and, hopefully, everyone's enjoyment will improve.

 

On a personal note, such a system would additionally be a useful re-training opportunity, as I am somewhat rusty. I'm therefore quite happy to make myself available for the TWR position exclusively for a while.

 

If anyone thinks this idea has merit, give me a shout, and let's see if we can make a date or two.

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Hi All

 

What an incredible read this thread has been. Ok some I'm a newbie, but I hope a resonsible and ever learning one. Ok I have fouled up on a couple of flights but i like to think that I have enough sense to stay away from somewhere like Heathrow. In fact I know I have enough sense to do that.

 

That said it is an awful temptation to get in there. I'm a patient guy, I'm a faciliatator and training officer in the real world, I understand about learning curves and how adults learn best (Honey and Mumford) but some individuals just cant help themselves can they.

 

What happens when these particular individuals lose their heads and go flying around Heathrow is clearly evidenced by the commments of Gareth and others.

 

In the five weeks that I have been a practicing numpty (hahaha) I am constantly amazed at the dedication of the ATC's who give their time to VATSIM.

 

I only hope that those of you who feel like saying "bugger to it" don't.

 

Please continue but do what ever it takes to recharge your batteries and keep the skies safe for all of the rest of us.

 

An analogy has just occured to me which is horrifying in the extreme, some years back here in the UK CB radio became the rage, unfortunately a younger element took over the airwaves and for the most part all one heard was young people swearing into the ether and just making life hell for the rest of us. Lets hope that VATSIM doesnt go that way in the sense that we end up with people just flying all over making a mess for evryone else.

 

We do seem to be a more mature type of hobbyist so perhaps this may not be the case and with encouragement and kind words the flying numpties of today will become excellent pilots of tomorrow.

Wycliffe Barrett: C3 Controller

atc5o.png

"if god meant for us to fly, he would have given us tickets" Mel Brooks

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Hi All

An analogy has just occured to me which is horrifying in the extreme, some years back here in the UK CB radio became the rage, unfortunately a younger element took over the airwaves and for the most part all one heard was young people swearing into the ether and just making life hell for the rest of us. Lets hope that VATSIM doesnt go that way in the sense that we end up with people just flying all over making a mess for evryone else.

 

It does happen... not very often, but it does happen. In fact quite a while ago it was happening A LOT, but nothing I know of recently. It seems to of calmed down

Scott Keller

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I think this is one of those 2 way problems , If we man Heathrow with just more than a director then we can try to teach these pilots like we do at the smaller fields and then we are making our life that much easier. We are never going to stop new pilots flying out or into Heathrow but if we stick together and open more positions at Heathrow then we can make life easier for all.

Martin Leat

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