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Should Ground and Tower positions Track aircraft for Handoff


Stephen O'Reilly 825718
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can you tell me if this communication does or does not exist in real life and in how many cases is there no communication of any kind from TWR to DEP at the handoff time. Also from APP to TWR please. In short, how is DEP informed the target has been "shipped" (from TWR), and how is TWR informed the aircraft has been "shipped" (from APP)

 

It doesn't happen.

 

As Ruth pointed out, there are times when an authorisation may need to be granted in advance of launching a plane, but actually calling up approach and saying "I've just told him to call you" is not done, and not needed. Approach will find out when the plane calls him.

 

I don't really understand why you think that this needs to be done over a landline, and perhaps you could explain what part you're not getting so we can help give you a better explanation of why the system is the way it is. I can't imagine a situation where ATC would even WANT a call from another controller simply to say "I just told AAL123 to call you". He's going to find out when the plane calls - and if the controller calls, he's probably going to be doing it at the same time as the plane, which would be a pain anyway.

 

Hi Jeff

I apologise if I have misled you with my wording. When I used the word "communication" I meant it in the broadest sense and I explain. A communication can consist of many varied types over many varied media. From the pressing of a button that brings on a light in another location, through p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ing a piece of paper, sending an electronic message, to a fully interactive voice conversation, over the telephone, intercom, or face to face.

I understand that an aircraft under a particular SOP can have pre-defined rules for pre-approved automatic launch or co-ordinated requested/approved launch. What I am trying to gather information on is this... Does the flight strip "always", "sometimes", "rarely" or "never" get sent/handed/delivered to the DEP controller by the TWR controller when frequency change is approved. And if not the flight strip, what communication is used and under what circomestances. I have the same question for the other end of the transfer when the pilot is instructed to contact the TWR controller by the APP controller.

 

Best Regards

Stephen

VATeir member.

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I apologise if I have misled you with my wording. When I used the word "communication" I meant it in the broadest sense and I explain. A communication can consist of many varied types over many varied media. From the pressing of a button that brings on a light in another location, through p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ing a piece of paper, sending an electronic message, to a fully interactive voice conversation, over the telephone, intercom, or face to face.

I understand that an aircraft under a particular SOP can have pre-defined rules for pre-approved automatic launch or co-ordinated requested/approved launch. What I am trying to gather information on is this... Does the flight strip "always", "sometimes", "rarely" or "never" get sent/handed/delivered to the DEP controller by the TWR controller when frequency change is approved. And if not the flight strip, what communication is used and under what circomestances. I have the same question for the other end of the transfer when the pilot is instructed to contact the TWR controller by the APP controller.

 

Best Regards

Stephen

 

Stephen,

 

As was previously posted, no such communication exists. Most major airports have a rolling release LOA (Letter of Agreement) which allows TWR to depart aircraft without calling the TRACON for each and every individual release (which is quite tedious) except when the TRACON requests all departures to be held. So how does a departure controller know when an aircraft has been, as you say, "shipped" from tower to departure? Well he doesn't, at least not until the aircraft checks in on his frequency. Yes the strip prints out and they're supposed to be organized in sequence, but there is no communication (under normal circomestances) where the local controller calls the TRACON about each and every departure. Same thing is true the other way around with approach handing off aircraft to TWR.

 

The only cases I've heard Towers track aircraft is when the tower is certified for radar (not just limited radar) and is used to identify and track VFR targets transiting the airspace.

 

Jason

"HN"

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Stephen if you spent as much time concentrating on your inbound traffic as you did to this handoff issue, there wouldn't be a problem. I really don't see the issue here, you instruct the aircraft to contact Dublin Radar/Director/Shannon Control after departure, they will identify the aircraft and take track of them thereafter. When aircraft are told to contact tower, the radar position online will drop track of that aircraft, they then call you and you give them further approach/landing instructions. There is no need for the communication you're suggesting, and your above statement that by not using such communication you wouldn't be using VRC to it's full efficency is rediculous, the handoff feature is there for use by radar positions and only by tower where it is used in real life, which it isn't by ANY Irish airport.

 

A trainer who dismisses his students questions (however obvious they may appear to him) needs to re-examine his training style and perhaps he is the one who actually needs this so-called spoon feeding!

 

Who dismissed your question? You asked 2 senior members of the Training Department of VATeir, one of which was in Dublin tower and oversaw the operations of Dublin tower, and both clearly outlined the procedure for releasing aircraft for departure, as was done during your mentoring, so I don't understand your confusion. The procedure used in real life was very clearly explained to you more than once, yet you continue to post about not knowing this procedure on this forum, and by doing so, not giving a good impression of VATeir training.

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What I am trying to gather information on is this... Does the flight strip "always", "sometimes", "rarely" or "never" get sent/handed/delivered to the DEP controller by the TWR controller when frequency change is approved. And if not the flight strip, what communication is used and under what circomestances.

 

 

Step back and look at it from a "big picture" point of view.

 

What information does the departure controller actually need?

 

In the case of an IFR departure, he needs to know several pieces of information - the route that the flight is on, the type aircraft, the equipment on board, and the altitude he wants to climb to. This has already been provided to him through the flight plan, and there is always a LOA which makes sure that the TWR will clear the aircraft in a particular way so that DEP knows what the a/c will be doing.

 

When the aircraft departs, the departure controller needs to know this, but he knows it in two ways - firstly, there is a new radar blip on his screen. Secondly, the aircraft will -normally- "tag up" with the appropriate callsign, so it's kind of a "no-brainer" about what the callsign of that blip is. Because of IFR radar separation rules, the departure controller -might- need to be told the callsign of the aircraft by tower right before he is cleared for takeoff (this rule varies by country), and this is why you are reading about some countries and some facilities where a private message is used from tower to dep advising the radar controller about the callsign of the next departure. This is almost always ONLY because of a particular rule regarding radar identification which requires that the departure controller know the callsign in advance, which then allows him to NOT have to ask each departure to "squawk ident".

 

In the case of VFR departures, in theory, tower doesn't have to tell DEP -anything- about them, and if the tower doesn't have access to DEP's flight data processing system, very often he won't. In the case of my own facility, we had access to their radar system, and we had a keyboard which would allow us to "build a tag" for the vfr flight, so that once they were airborne, they would automatically tag up with some simple information that was nice for the departure controller to know (type aircraft and destination). We would make sure the right callsign had appeared on the tag, and we would then tell them to contact departure. But we wouldn't actually "communicate" with Departure other than by typing some information into DEP's system about the callsign/destination.

 

As for the reverse - information that APP tells TWR - it again depends on the facility, and the needs of the TWR controller. At very basic facilities, VFR arrivals are very often not communicated at all to tower. An approach controller can work a VFR arrival who says, for example, that he wants to fly to KABC airport, and the approach controller will just ask the plane to "report KABC in sight". Once the pilot sees the field, he tells him "contact KABC tower". APP never actually tells the tower that the flight is coming, because TWR is perfectly capable of working out what he needs to know from the pilot's initial call.

 

In the case of IFR arrivals, TWR might need to know a bit more (mostly the fact that the flight IS IFR, which places a few extra requirements on him in terms of separation.) In these cases, APP will "notify" TWR that he has an inbound IFR arrival. At small towers, APP simply calls him on the phone and says "KABC TOWER, IFR INBOUND AAL123 ESTIMATING XXXXX FIX AT 2342Z" Tower would then have a responsibility of then letting APP know when the flight has safely landed, so APP is then free to clear another aircraft for the approach. At most busy airports, this is done differently because tower has a radar screen to tell him this information. At my own facility, we had a "letter of agreement" which said that APP didn't have to tell us we had inbounds, because we were perfectly capable of looking out on the localiser and SEEING that there was an inbound IFR flight (the "scratch pad" on the tag used a unique code that TOLD us he was on an IFR approach), and of course, we didn't need to know the callsign or type a/c because that was also on the tag. (We called this system a "silent handoff" because no one actually hit any buttons, and no one actually called anyone - but the information was p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed, and in fact in our particular case, IFR separation responsibility for the flight was actually p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed from APP to TWR - remember that in most cases though TWR has NO IFR SEPARATION RESPONSIBILITY and this remains with the APP controller, even if the flight is talking to TWR. (which is why I have a big pet peeve against the tag getting dropped from off APP screens while the a/c is still on approach - in the USA IMHO it's wildly illegal to do that, and a very bad habit that's popped up in VATSIM circles)

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Stephen if you spent as much time concentrating on your inbound traffic as you did to this handoff issue, there wouldn't be a problem. I really don't see the issue here, you instruct the aircraft to contact Dublin Radar/Director/Shannon Control after departure, they will identify the aircraft and take track of them thereafter. When aircraft are told to contact tower, the radar position online will drop track of that aircraft, they then call you and you give them further approach/landing instructions. There is no need for the communication you're suggesting, and your above statement that by not using such communication you wouldn't be using VRC to it's full efficency is rediculous, the handoff feature is there for use by radar positions and only by tower where it is used in real life, which it isn't by ANY Irish airport.

 

A trainer who dismisses his students questions (however obvious they may appear to him) needs to re-examine his training style and perhaps he is the one who actually needs this so-called spoon feeding!

 

Who dismissed your question? You asked 2 senior members of the Training Department of VATeir, one of which was in Dublin tower and oversaw the operations of Dublin tower, and both clearly outlined the procedure for releasing aircraft for departure, as was done during your mentoring, so I don't understand your confusion. The procedure used in real life was very clearly explained to you more than once, yet you continue to post about not knowing this procedure on this forum, and by doing so, not giving a good impression of VATeir training.

 

Hi Seamus

I apologise to anyone in the VATeir Training department for any trace of dissapointment I may have inadvertently shown with this thread. I have the highest regard for the VATeir Training Department. Other than in this post I have not mentioned VATeir anywhere in this thread.

The Purpose of this thread was and still is to gather opinions from other VRC users on Vatsim about their preferences, information from real life controllers on the varied procedures in use and to provide a forum in which this topic could be discussed.

The subject of spoon feeding was raised by Alex in his post, and I felt his post was dismissive of this thread and my intentions.

Regarding the discussion with the senior members, I raised my intentions at that time to do some research and there were no objections.

 

At this point in time I am still watching this thread for new posts, and I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone that has already done so.

 

Best Regards

Stephen.

VATeir member.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The control tower does not initiate handoffs or receive them from the "radar room". This is a real world funtion I used and have implamented it into our policy here at ZME. If I had an aircraft who would be talking to the "guys downstairs" I would send the flight strip down the "tube" and tell him to contact departure. For example; At Dayton, the aircraft would call flight data/clearance delivery for VFR clearance out of the Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C Airspace. Clearance would make up a hand written flightstrip and after issuing the clearance hand the flightstrip to the ground controller. Aftr taxiing the aircraft, the ground controller would hand the local (tower) controller the flight strip. Local would in turn send it down the tube to the appropriate controller after the aircraft took off and he was finished with him. I hope this helps...............

 

Alan Hensley

ZME Training Administrator

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  • 1 month later...
I think that's an exaggeration and oversimplification.

 

How about if I rephrase it and say that, "at the vast majority of towers, the ultimate legal responsibility for ensuring that appropriate IFR-IFR separation exists between two airborne aircraft belongs to the CTR or APP controller who owns the airspace above the field, and is normally not delegated to the tower controller."

 

This follows the principle that IFR separation is normally delegated to the ARTCC, which is in turn devolved through Letters of Agreement to any relevant Approach Controls. While at some major airports, letters of agreement (and the appropriate training) is put into place for tower controllers so that they are able to recognise and effectively resolve IFR conflicts between successive arrivals and/or arrivals/departures, at most airports (US at least), this isn't done, and the individual tower controller must obtain a release. If separation is lost, it's the approach or Center controller's butt in the sling and not the local controller (unless approach p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es some sort of instruction like "release the departure AFTER the arrival lands" which the local controller fails to do.)

 

Remember that there is a different level of training required for controllers to be able to give vectors, understand Minimum Vectoring Altitudes, understand the rules of radar separation, and indeed, even know how to use/read a radar.

 

Most FAA controllers who start out at a tower facility are normally NOT given radar training, and indeed many smaller towers don't even have a radar display. Then there are many towers which -have- a small radar display, but they are NOT certified to use it for things like vectoring. (For example, when I was a tower controller at KBUR, we -were- radar trained, and the "local control" position was actually delegated IFR separation responsibility and actually given IFR airspace, but this was VERY unusual (had to do with our being inside an ARSA, and in an area with very high terrain). Van Nuys Tower, which was actually far busier than we were, was just next to us, and while they HAD a D-BRITE in their cab, they were not a "certified limited radar tower" like we were, and therefore they were forbidden from using it to give radar traffic advisories, and would often get chided if they were heard on the radio saying "traffic 12'O clock, 3 miles" or "radar contact". Whereas they have a moral responsibility to make sure that two IFR aircraft don't hit, if they're simply looking out the window, as most tower controllers do, it's going to be hard for them to determine whether there is 3 miles/1000' separation between successive arrivals, and therefore, if that separation is lost, it's going to be the approach controller who gets it in the neck.

 

In situations where successive IFR arrivals are going into a tower facility, the approach controller will normally have a "shout line" on his voice console which allows him to issue commands to the LCL controller in the tower so he can immediately tell him to have one a/c executive missed approach if separation is lost, and in some cases, the approach controller will simply jump onto the Tower's frequency and tell the arrival to execute the missed. This is because, as much as we want to trust the Tower/LCL controller, because the way the FAA's rules work, they aren't legally the one responsible for the separation, and the Approach controller is responsible all the way down to the ground.

 

In the few circomestances when this -is- delegated to tower, there will be a very complex Letter of Agreement spelling out at exactly what point Tower becomes responsible for the separation of successive arrivals on the localiser (usually it's the Outer Marker), and spells out in FAA legalese all the things that Tower must do to ensure that this is never lost, and how he is to resolve a conflict if the separation is about to go. In other words, this is not lightly given away to Tower, and only when there's a significant operational advantage to having Tower do it. (In the case of KBUR, we had simulatanous converging instrument approaches to two different intersecting runways, and the airport simply couldn't operate unless both runways were used for simultaneous IFR arrival operations). The LOA stated that when simultaneous arrivals were occurring, tower was required to visually acquire BOTH aircraft PRIOR to them getting within 3 miles of each other, and if the visiblity was going to preclude that, tower HAD to inform approach who then broke one off and started running single runway approaches.

 

Remember that VATSIM is not a 100% accurate simulation of real life, and that our controllers are FAR too dependent on radar scopes to do their job. In real towers, tools like VRC are often not available, and doing things like using the handoff procedure, and asking aircraft on the ground to squawk mode C are, IMHO, not very realistic, and to be honest, I wish it wasn't as prevalent as it is.

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You seem to be talking only about airborne aircraft. DOn't forget about separation between arrivals and departures using same/parallel/crossing runways - this is the job of TWR. If TWR issues a go around due to blocked runway, this is effectively imposing separation between IFR traffic. The same goes if there is a go around following closely a departure.

 

Anyway, I wouldn't dare telling my OJT instructor I'm not responsible for any separation between IFR traffic.

 

But of course it's true most tower controllers don't have radar licences (but some do), usually they have radar view from app unit to ease their work, but that's not their primary tool.

Realistic ultra-intolerant.

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I think hairs are being split defining IFR traffic. Of course, a TWR controller will keep aircraft from touching one another. However, realisticly, the majority of traffic the TWR controller handles are in VMC conditions and/or surface traffic at the airport. Certainly, many of these aircraft on the surface are/will be flying under IFR flight plans- but there is no difference between an IFR and VFR filed aircraft on the ground and little difference between them for the majority ofTWR airborne operations.

Roger Curtiss

VATGOV12

VP-Virtual Airlines & Special Ops

r.curtiss(at)vatsim.net

 

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There is a lot of difference. VMC doesnt make an IFR flight VFR. I'm not sure why it's difficult for you to accept IFR traffic can be separated not only by radar position... And many times there is no VMC and TWR still works.

 

Take an incident from KBOS some time ago, when tower controllers cleared 2 a/c for take-off from intersecting runway at the same time (one of them was Aer Lingus A330). Wouldn't you say they failed to provide separation between them.

Realistic ultra-intolerant.

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I understand that the difference is subtle, but there are -different- kinds of separation that must be applied, and different roles for different controllers. The difference I am talking about here is one between runway separation, and IFR-IFR separation.

 

The Tower controller's primary job is ensuring runway separation. This is to ensure that two aircraft are never on the same runway at the same time, or that two aircraft never meet in a runway intersection at the same time. As part of this job, he is also responsible for making sure that the aircraft coming into the runway come down in some sort of logical sequence, so he might tell some aircraft to "extend downwind", or to "circle northwest of the field" until he has a hole in the landing sequence into which he can put the arrival.

 

When the tower controller is doing his sequencing and running his traffic pattern/circuit, the job of [Mod - Happy Thoughts]isting the planes in the pattern from each other belongs primarily to the planes themselves, as they are operating in a visual environment, and they have a "see and be seen" responsibility. The tower controller DOES have a moral responsibility to help them out by giving traffic advisories to each other, but that is done on a "time-permitting" basis, and if two aircraft on downwind ever hit each other, the pilots will be considered to have been more at fault than the controller (unless the controller had absolutely nothing else to do and didn't bother telling each plane about each other).

 

Now, when you have two IFR aircraft operating in the same area however, there is an EXTRA layer of separation that must be provided. Because IFR aircraft operate in clouds, the "see and be seen" method of separation doesn't apply, so extra rules must be in place to ensure that they are not in the same place at the same time. What I am arguing Krzystof is that the responsibility for ensuring that THESE PARTICULAR rules are followed are NOT the responsibility of the tower controller. YES, the tower controller is still responsible for making sure that two IFR aircraft aren't on the runway at the same time, but the responsibility for ensuring that two IFR aircraft aren't within 3 miles/1000' -isn't- his responsibility, and is instead the responsibility of the approach/center controller. As I said in an earlier post, the APP/CTR controller -might- delegate some of this responsibility to the Tower controller in the form of a particular clearance: "The departure is released 2 minutes AFTER the first departure rolls", or "The departure is released when you can provide visual separation between him and the arrival", but the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that an appropriate, legal form of IFR-IFR separation exists rests with the APP/CTR controller.

 

If there was an IFR aircraft approaching a field from the north, and the tower controller asked the approach controller for permission to launch another IFR aircraft who will depart northbound, and the APP/CTR controller didn't put some kind of restriction on the tower controller, I can tell you without any doubt in my mind that the person who will be at the NTSB hearing will NOT be the tower controller, but WILL be the APP/CTR controller. He is higher up in rank, has more training, has more years of service, and is the authority responsible for IFR-IFR separation.

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If there was an IFR aircraft approaching a field from the north, and the tower controller asked the approach controller for permission to launch another IFR aircraft who will depart northbound, and the APP/CTR controller didn't put some kind of restriction on the tower controller, I can tell you without any doubt in my mind that the person who will be at the NTSB hearing will NOT be the tower controller, but WILL be the APP/CTR controller. He is higher up in rank, has more training, has more years of service, and is the authority responsible for IFR-IFR separation.

 

Not necessarily, there are APP controllers with 3 years of experience and TWR controllers with 20yrs of experience. And were I live there is no such hierarchy you're talking about.

 

Anyway, what I'm saying, is that there are different moments were IFR to IFR separation is provided. You're only talking about the time they're in the air - yep, it will be primarily APP responsibility. But to issue a go around if the previous traffic is not vacated, or not to issue line up and hold if approaching traffic to the same runway is at 1nm final is TWR responsibility.

 

Let's say TWR got departure release from APP and sent departing a/c to runway when approaching one was on 1nm final, cld it for take-off, resulting in near miss. I wouldnt expect anyone would pay much attention to TWR controller explaining he had release from APP.

Realistic ultra-intolerant.

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Not necessarily, there are APP controllers with 3 years of experience and TWR controllers with 20yrs of experience. And were I live there is no such hierarchy you're talking about.

 

Tell me which country you live in and we can discuss it further. In the United States, where I was a controller, there -is- a hierarchy of controllers. Approach controllers get paid more than Tower controllers, and usually start out at Tower and then get promoted to App.

 

Anyway, what I'm saying, is that there are different moments were IFR to IFR separation is provided. You're only talking about the time they're in the air - yep, it will be primarily APP responsibility. But to issue a go around if the previous traffic is not vacated, or not to issue line up and hold if approaching traffic to the same runway is at 1nm final is TWR responsibility.

 

That's because I am talking about the requirements to separate two airborne IFR aircraft from each other. It is a "layer" of separation that must be applied in addition to the other kinds of separation that must also be applied like the rules about not having two aircraft on the runway at the same time. Yes indeed, the tower needs to make sure that one IFR aircraft doesn't pull onto the runway in front of another landing IFR aircraft, but he isn't applying IFR separation between these two aircraft. IFR separation is a set of specific procedures that must be applied between all a/c operating under IFR rules, and what you're talking about simply isn't one of those rules.

 

To help you understand what I mean, have a look at the US' Air Traffic Control Order, which you can find here: http://www.faa.gov/atpubs/ATC/ATC.pdf

 

When I'm talking about IFR-IFR separation, I'm talking about all the rules in Chapter 4. Most all of these rules are ultimately the responsibility of the CTR or APP controller to enforce and see that they're applied. When Tower does get involved (like for example when reading the clearance, it's only because tower has been TOLD what to do and how to do it through a letter of agreement with CTR or APP which specifies what Tower will actually do/say. It's CTR/APP's job to do this, and they direct the tower in what to do.

 

The rules that Tower is responsible for enforcing are generally found in Chapter 3, which are the rules that you are citing. Yes, you have to do them, but they're not rules about "IFR separation".

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