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Looking for resource - differences between US and EU ATC


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Hello,

I help run a virtual airline that has a decent amount of operations in Europe. Most of our users are US based, as am I, and I have very limited experience flying in Europe. The few times I have done so with ATC online I've stubbed my toe, so to speak, on some of the differences between the way we do things here and the way you all do things over there. And, I hate to say it, doing so has resulted in some inordinate rudeness a couple times that I think most people would want to avoid.

So what I'm searching for is to see if anyone can recommend any pre-made resources that cover the differences between US and EU ATC -- phraseology, process + procedure, airspaces and what you call them (what I'd call a center I believe I've heard called "radar" or "control" in Europe), things of that nature. If anyone can point me in the direction of documents, videos, etc., that would cover these subjects I would greatly appreciate it as I intend to compile some kind of a resource for our members so that they can feel empowered to fly online in either area with confidence. Thanks!

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3 hours ago, Michael Gold said:

Hello,

I help run a virtual airline that has a decent amount of operations in Europe. Most of our users are US based, as am I, and I have very limited experience flying in Europe. The few times I have done so with ATC online I've stubbed my toe, so to speak, on some of the differences between the way we do things here and the way you all do things over there. And, I hate to say it, doing so has resulted in some inordinate rudeness a couple times that I think most people would want to avoid.

So what I'm searching for is to see if anyone can recommend any pre-made resources that cover the differences between US and EU ATC -- phraseology, process + procedure, airspaces and what you call them (what I'd call a center I believe I've heard called "radar" or "control" in Europe), things of that nature. If anyone can point me in the direction of documents, videos, etc., that would cover these subjects I would greatly appreciate it as I intend to compile some kind of a resource for our members so that they can feel empowered to fly online in either area with confidence. Thanks!

 

I'm more than sure that Andreas and many others will chime in here, but the funny thing here is that you really won't find much different between the US and EU. Keep in mind that the principles are the same as they are governed by ICAO, but how those principles get implemented are ferried down to country or region of choice. For example: ICAO for the world, then down to FAA for the US, CAA for Canada, Eurocontrol for the EU, AIS for the UK (I believe that one is still right), etc. etc. 

You're right in that the names of the facilities will vary, but as long as you are tuned to the right frequency and listen in before PTT, you're good. And it doesn't hurt at all to say that this is your first time there, as they will take care of you. However...

What I will say is that in some places is that you may find something that you are used to in the US does not exist in another country. I'll reference the UK here for example: IIRC, if given an ILS approach, you will not be necessarily cleared for that approach until they tell you explicitly: they'll split up that approach clearance, in that they will tell you to join the localizer for it, but you have to explicitly wait for their call to descend on the glideslope, whereas here in the US, when you are cleared for that approach, you can descend on the glideslope after getting established on the localizer. so be wary of that.

Additionally, you will not be given landing clearance until the aircraft preceding you has completely cleared the runway. In short, there is no anticipated separation or expectation that the runway will be clear before you cross the arrival threshold. They will guarantee it before giving you landing clearance. So you will need to listen in for that, especially as you may also be dealing with accents. But that's the fun part. 😉

Also, be up on your math, unless you're used to hitting B in the sim. as we use millibars in the US for our altimeter setting, Europe uses QNH, which is measured in hPA. A quick math equation to convert is QNH * 2.954 = Altimeter. Keep that in mind if your avionics doesn't show both.

Finally, be weary of your Transition Altitude and Transition level. In the US, we are lucky that both our transition altitude and transition level are the same, at 18000ft/FL180. Depending on where you are in Europe, that may change, and may change depending on QNH. And if your sim is set to only worry about US readouts, you'll need to change your altimeter settings manually instead of waiting for the transition altitude where you can hit the B key and automatically update it for you.

Again, I know others more knowledgeable will chime in, but this is just something for you for starters.

BL.

 

Brad Littlejohn

ZLA Senior Controller

27

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2 hours ago, Brad Littlejohn said:

A quick math equation to convert is QNH * 2.954 = Altimeter

I'm so glad I know my 2.954 times table! :) But to be precise, "QNH" means the same as "altimeter." Only the units are different, so the conversion should be hPa*2.954 = inHg. One thing US pilots will find common in the UK is QFE whcih is "pressure settingn at the runway threshold," useful for VFR flying, but simply not used in the USA.

Actually, I have to say that the deviations of FAA from ICAO phraseology and practice are far from minor. Putting loosey-goosey phraseology aside (...), there are significant (probaby cultural) differences between official FAA and ICAO phraseologies and practices. Add to that the fact that commercial US flight operators continue to use the officially deprecated FAA flight plan format several years after the FAA pronounced it dead, and the world outside the US is left wondering about their standards, and tails wagging dogs.

Alistair Thomson

===

Definition: a gentleman is a flying instructor in a Piper Cherokee who can change tanks without getting his face slapped.

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Thanks both for the responses. I have heard multiple people tell me that both areas are extremely similar, yet I feel like I've heard a million examples of small variations that could cause big headaches, like I believe in some cases you switch to departure after takeoff but don't call them, you just switch silently, and other times you don't? And I think the same for some departure controls, but not others? I dunno, subjectively it feels like the differences are a lot bigger than what they're usually described to be for me.

As a related side quest, is there any equivalent to this handy tool for US airport D-ATIS for Europe? https://datis.clowd.io/

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