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What Should You Do If ATC Asks You To Call?

by Greg Reigel 3. August 2017 08:51
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If you ever find yourself in this position, it is important to understand that you do not have to make that call. You are under no legal obligation (regulation or otherwise) to place the call. The request is not an ATC instruction under FAR §91.123. So, if you don't want to call you don't have to. But just because you don't have to call, that doesn't mean you shouldn't call. You need to analyze your situation and understand the pros/cons of making the call before you decide to simply ignore ATC's request.

Why does ATC want you to call?

For starters, ATC wants to obtain your personal information so they know who was flying the aircraft. Although ATC may have the aircraft's registration number, it may not know who was flying the aircraft. This is especially true if the flight was a VFR flight without a flight plan. Also, if the aircraft is a rental or club aircraft available to multiple pilots, ATC won't necessarily know which of those pilots is actually flying the aircraft. So, ATC wants to identify the pilot and obtain his or her information. And if you make the call, you will be providing the FAA with the connection between the aircraft operation and you, the pilot.

ATC may also want to discuss what happened. Depending upon the circumstances, it is possible that providing ATC with an explanation of what happened will resolve the situation. If the situation resulted from a simple mistake or flawed procedure, ATC may provide some informal counseling to ensure that you don't end up in the same situation in the future, and that will be the end of it. Under the FAA's new compliance philosophy, this would be considered a "compliance action." However, if the situation was more complicated or severe (e.g. an intentional deviation that resulted in loss of separation) that isn't the type of situation that would be handled as a compliance action. In that case, you may not want to make the call.

What happens to the information you provide during the call?

If you decide to make the call, you need to understand a couple of key points. First, the call will be recorded. So, the FAA will have a record of what you say during the call. Second, the FAA will use the information you provide to determine how it is going to handle the situation. That could be good for you or it could be bad, depending upon what happened and what you say. If it is bad, the FAA will not hesitate to use the information you provided against you in an enforcement action.

Should you make the call?

If you are asked to contact ATC after a flight you need to answer a number of questions to determine whether it makes sense to make the call:

  • What happened?
  • Why did it happen? Did it result from a simple mistake, flawed procedure etc.?
  • Is ATC able to connect you, the pilot, with the flight operation?
  • Is it the type of situation that the FAA should handle as a "compliance action"?

When you are considering these questions, it may make sense to discuss the matter with an aviation attorney. He or she should be able to help you analyze the situation to determine whether calling ATC will help or hurt you and, if it makes sense, what you should and shouldn't say if you do decide to make the call. You should also make sure to file your ASRS Form with NASA so you can potentially benefit from the FAA's Aviation Safety Reporting Program.

The good news is that the FAA's new compliance philosophy is resulting in fewer enforcement actions in cases of simple pilot deviations where the pilot does decide to make the call. The bad news is that you now have more to consider before you decide whether you should or should not make the call. If you find yourself in this situation, make sure you think things through and get the advice you need BEFORE you make the call.

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Greg Reigel

No Good Options in FAA ATC Demands

by GlobalAir.com 13. June 2013 17:32
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AirVenture's importance to GA overriding factor

Released June 13, 2013

Dick Knapinski, EAA #494456
Senior Communications Advisor
EAA—The Spirit of Aviation

Facing a spectrum of unpalatable options, EAA today finalized a one-time agreement with the FAA to cover nearly $450,000 in expenses related to air traffic control services at the 2013 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in, which begins on July 29.

"Let me be clear: We have consistently regarded the FAA's move as holding AirVenture and GA hostage this year," said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. "There was considerable, detailed thought given over the past month to every option and possible scenario. Ultimately, AirVenture's importance to the entire general aviation economy and community, as well as to EAA's year-round programs, was the overriding factor in our response. AirVenture will go on, and our attendees deserve nothing less than the best air safety and services we can provide.

"As far as we're concerned, this isn't over. We entered this agreement only because there was no other realistic choice to preserve aviation's largest annual gathering. We also look forward to FAA's leadership coming to Oshkosh this year to personally explain their policy to the nation's aviators."

Along with the completed agreement, EAA included a letter stating that it signed the contract under protest. Failure to sign with the FAA would have meant cancelling AirVenture, which would have been catastrophic for EAA's year-round programs. The agreement allows for a partial payment of the $447,000 total bill prior to the event, with the remaining sum to be paid after the FAA has completed its AirVenture duties at Oshkosh.

The FAA's demand for payment in relation to air traffic services, first unexpectedly revealed by the agency in mid-May, left EAA, exhibitors and others in a position where millions of dollars had already been committed to AirVenture 2013. In addition, refusal of FAA services or not meeting the agency's standards would have caused the FAA to void the necessary waivers that are essential for Oshkosh air operations during the event.

The one-time agreement will allow AirVenture to have a full complement of 87 FAA air traffic controllers and supervisors at the event for essential air safety services. Federal budget sequestration, however, will diminish the FAA's presence at Oshkosh this year in areas such as forums and exhibits.

Pelton added that EAA members and other aviation enthusiasts need to be involved to counter FAA's stated policy of expanding these financial demands on the nation's aviation events in future years. EAA maintains that this equates to the imposition of GA user fees without Congressional approval, and 28 U.S. Senators have already signed a bipartisan letter calling the FAA move unacceptable and demanding immediate reversal.

"Our quarrel is not with the hard-working FAA employees who do their jobs at Oshkosh," he said. "We understand that AirVenture and other GA events are pawns in the larger sequestration political standoff, so it's important that we stand together and let those in Congress and the White House know the importance of aviation. We will do that in Oshkosh and we look forward to having those who love the freedom of flight stand with us."

Globalair.com ask what is your take on the FAA and EAA!

ATC Tower talk: Changing the way to say stay put - FAA switches at the end of this month from 'position and hold' to 'line up and wait'

by GlobalAir.com 10. September 2010 16:02
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At the end of this month, some of the chatter you hear from the tower in your headset will change slightly. That is when new FAA “phraseology” will take effect, changing the command of “position and hold” to “line up and wait.”

At face value, the change presents itself as a non-dramatic one. The ICAO already uses the same language, and Canadian airspace regulators made the switch a couple of years ago.

When an aircraft taxis to a runway, and traffic is taking off or landing, a controller will tell the pilot “line up and wait” rather than “position and hold.” In other words, you want to stay safe? Stop short of the line and do not move. Let the other planes take off or land first.

The change came about following a recommendation by the NTSB in 2000 to switch to the international protocol and alleviate confusion. A subsequent FAA safety-risk analysis showed that the words “position” and “hold” show up in many tower commands a pilot can receive on the ground.

(Links to an animated video and info on an online training course after the jump.) More...

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The Often ‘Under-Appreciated’ Aviators Watching Out For Us All, and The Story of Their Beginning

by Jeremy Cox 4. August 2010 09:30
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Unless you are either an Aviation Historian or a career-insider, the name Archie League will probably mean nothing to you. Archie’s career and the career of 30,000 other air traffic controllers in the United States began at Lambert Field, just northwest of St. Louis in 1929. He is credited with being the world’s first air traffic controller.

Picture this: 170 acres of relatively flat grassland kept short. A field that once grew thousands upon thousands of rows of maize, now cleared and flattened after it was rented and then owned by Major Albert Bond Lambert as the new home for the Missouri Aeronautical Society and for the Missouri Air National Guard.

Both the then Majors Charles Lindbergh and Frank Wassall had been flying the U.S. Mail from this patch of countryside to/from Chicago for their pay-master Robertson Aircraft, thus establishing the world's oldest and longest continually running airline route. Before then, the Naval Reserve Unit of St. Louis had also been established here; the National Air Races had been held here; and about one mile away to the East, a now long disappeared fairgrounds and horse racetrack (Kinloch Park) once played host to the first flight ever taken by a U.S. President (Theodore Roosevelt.)

Less than two years after Charles Lindbergh makes history by flying solo non-stop from Long Island, New York to Paris, flight operations activity at the Lambert Field was intensifying, especially now that the City of St. Louis was the new owner. With concerns that a collision was a real possibly, the City decided to add some form of rudimentary air-traffic control at this newly acquired municipal field. This control came in the form of a local 21-year-old St. Louisian, aircraft mechanic and private-pilot-cum-barnstormer, Mr. Archie William League.

 

So starting in the wintery weather of early 1929, Archie could be observed as a new fixture out on the field at the head of the landing zones, wearing a padded flying suit. The tools of his trade consisted of a wheelbarrow, an umbrella, two flags (one Red for “Hold”, and one checkered for “Go”), a lunch-pail, a water-pail, a note pad, pencil and a stool to sit on. According some of the archives that feature Archie’s story, he lost his three legged stool to a landing accident, i.e. a Stinson paying more attention to Archie, but not to his glide-path, managed to land directly on top of the stool, thus crushing it into oblivion, and what amounted to as thousands of toothpicks.

 

As traffic and the approach and landing speeds of aircraft in the early 1930’s increased, Archie soon pitched the flags and went instead, to the use of a signal-light system (very similar to what is still in use today, if an approaching aircraft has lost radio contact with the tower, due to equipment failure.

 

He later got a-then modern tower to direct traffic from in 1933, which was located a-top the new, colonial-style terminal building. This new tower included a 30,000 candlepower landing light, and two-way-radio system. Now that Archie was working inside, instead of having to sit unprotected from the elements mid-field, he started taking classes at Washington University to earn an Aeronautical Engineering Degree.

 

 

 

After graduating, he was no longer content with being tied to one airport location in this country and therefore Archie chose to join the Bureau of Air Commerce (later to become known as the Federal Aviation Administration) to assist them in building the air-commerce network. Soon after he left St. Louis and was developing new air traffic sites around the country for the Bureau; World-War-II struck, so Archie went off and flew for his country for a spell. As soon as VJ-Day was announced, Archie returned back to his duties at the Bureau.

 

In 1965 Archie became the Director of all Air Traffic Control for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and retired as the Assistant Administrator of the FAA in 1973. In an interview that he gave to the Washington Post in 1973, Archie told that being the World’s first Air Traffic Controller “...wasn't so complex,”...“We had a red flag to tell planes we didn't want them to do what they were doing. And then we had a chequered flag to tell them it was OK.”

 

Archie passed away in 1986, but He is still remembered by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which annually awards the Archie League Medal of Safety to “air traffic controllers who displayed extraordinary skill to ensure safety in critical situations.”

 

I just had to share Archie’s story with you all, as it is too good, not to know. Until next month then. Ciou.

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Jeremy Cox

Aviation News Rundown: Beware of future airline pilots? and Learn to Fly Day (maybe one can fix the other)

by GlobalAir.com 20. May 2010 11:10
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A panel of experts at an aviation safety forum this week issued a scary scenario for the sky in future commercial aviation. They told the NTSB that future pilots at airlines could be, in general, less experienced and ethical amidst an industry in which the workers will be in high demand as airlines begin hiring again.

The Associated Press reports in its coverage of the forum that the hardest hit will be regional airlines, which employ pilots with less experience at lower salaries. Fewer college students and military pilots are looking for work at airlines, as 42,000 pilots will need to be hired over the next 10 years. Flights will still need to be made, and some fear that this could compromise qualifications.

In other news, the FAA says widespread NexGen upgrades will come a little more quickly than initially anticipated. Quoted in the Dallas Morning News, Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt told the American Association of Airport Executives that the bulk of improvements will have occurred by 2016 rather than the forecasted 2018, as airlines rush to be competitive with advanced gear as the transition snowballs.

The first-ever International Learn to Fly Day (website) appears to have been a smashing success, as 40,000 people attended 450 events nationwide, according to the EAA. Check out coverage of events in Gainesville, Fla., Austin, Minn., and Fitchburg, Mass., where a flying car drew a crowd. 

Perhaps programs like this will help ensure the next generation of pilots are, in fact, experienced and ethical.  

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