All posts tagged 'air traffic control'

5 Tips for Overcoming Radio Anxiety During Flight Training

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that radio anxiety is one of the most-feared parts of flying for student pilots. But it doesn’t have to be. As flight instructors, we often forget what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by radio chatter in a busy airspace. We’ve been doing it for so long that it rolls right off our tongues with ease. But for a new pilot, this type of communication - lightning-speed transmissions between controllers and pilots, peppered with jargon and acronyms everywhere – is a like learning foreign language.

Communicating with air traffic control is a very common fear for student pilots. Controllers talk fast, and sometimes instructors put a lot of emphasis on doing it "right." And there’s already so much going on while you’re flying that handling the radios seems like an impossible addition.

Obviously, the number one priority while flying is safety, and good pilot-controller communication is essential to the safety of flight, which is why it’s emphasized early on in flight training. You do need to learn how to do it right, but it doesn’t have to be a source of anxiety.

There are ways to overcome radio anxiety easily and after a few flights, you’ll be worrying about other important things, like were to go for your next $100 hamburger. Here are a few inside tips for getting rid of radio anxiety:

  1. Relax: You are going to mess up the radios at first, so just get comfortable with messing up. When you realize that messing up one or two words while talking to the control tower won’t mean the end of the world, you’ll be able to relax a little. Everyone messes up. As long as you get your message across somehow you’ll be just fine.
  2. Don’t get hung up on being perfect: Your instructor will likely tell you to remember certain things, like the "Three W’s" when you’re reporting your position in the pattern. In this case, you’re supposed to say who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing, which sounds easy until you’re multi-tasking while turning from base to final in the pattern. Remember that it doesn’t really matter if you forget one portion of the required radio call- you can always call again. Or, if you're in a towered environment, ATC will ask you for any missing information they might need and everyone will move one.
  3. Don’t worry about embarrassment: ATC deals with new and unfamiliar pilots a lot, and they’ll understand. As far as other pilots, they’re all too busy worried about what they’re going to say to even notice a bad radio call. Early on in your training, your instructor might suggest that you avoid ultra-busy airports until you’ve mastered the radios.
  4. Practice on the ground: Practicing your tower communications on the ground will do wonders for your flight. Grab a buddy and have him or her pretend to be ATC while you "fly" the pattern on the ground.
  5. Listen: Listening from the ground at or near the airport is the best way to learn ATC lingo, phrasing and terminology, including operations specific to your area or airport. Just grab a transceiver (your instructor or FBO might have one you can borrow) and head down to the airport. Sit at the FBO or on the ramp, grab a bite to eat and listen to the radio.

    You’ll hear a few things from the ground that will help with your own radio communications. First, you’ll get a good idea of local procedures and what goes on in general at the airport. Second, you’ll get an idea of the timing of radio calls, which is also important. Specifically, you’ll learn when air traffic controllers do hand-offs, when to contact them when you’re inbound to the airport and what to say upon departure. Finally, you’ll hear other pilots mess up radio calls, which will make you feel better about your own mistakes.

In the end, the best way to learn is by experience. You have to get your feet wet at some point, so don't be afraid to just jump in and do it. Your first few radio calls will probably be a bit rough, but it only takes a few flights to get the hang of it!

No Good Options in FAA ATC Demands

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

NTSB: Pilot Action, Icing Led To NJ Plane Crash

Article By: David Porter

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A pilot's inability or reluctance to fly quickly enough out of icing conditions led to a fiery plane crash on a New Jersey highway median that killed all five people aboard, a federal report published Thursday concluded.

The December 2011 crash claimed the lives of pilot Jeffrey Buckalew, an investment banker; his wife and two children, and Rakesh Chawla, a colleague at New York's Greenhill & Co. Buckalew was the registered owner of the single-engine Socata TBM 700 and had more than 1,400 hours of flight time, according to the report.

The plane had just departed Teterboro Airport en route to Georgia when it began spiraling out of control at about 17,000 feet and crashed on a wooded median on Interstate 287 near Morristown. No one on the ground was injured. Wreckage was scattered over a half-mile area, forcing the closure of the busy roadway for several hours.

The National Transportation Safety Board report concluded that while Buckalew had asked air traffic controllers to fly higher and out of the icing conditions, he may have been reluctant to exercise his own authority to do so, or may have been unaware of the severity of the conditions.

The NTSB attributed the cause of the accident to "the airplane's encounter with unforecasted severe icing conditions that were characterized by high ice accretion rates and the pilot's failure to use his command authority to depart the icing conditions in an expeditious manner, which resulted in a loss of airplane control."

According to the report, an air traffic controller advised Buckalew of moderate icing from 15,000 to 17,000 feet, at which point Buckalew responded, "we'll let you know what happens when we get in there and if we could go straight through, it's no problem for us." The controller then directed him to climb to 17,000 feet.

When the plane reached 16,800 feet Buckalew reported light icing and said "a higher altitude would be great." Seventeen seconds later, he said the plane was experiencing "a little rattle" and asked to be cleared to go to a higher altitude "as soon as possible please."

The controller coordinated with a controller in an adjacent sector and, 25 seconds later, directed Buckalew to climb higher. Within about a minute the plane had reached 17,800 feet and then began an uncontrolled descent.

Ice can form on airplanes when temperatures are near freezing and there is visible moisture, such as clouds or rain. The ice adds weight to an aircraft, and rough accumulations known as rime interrupt the flow of air over wings.

Numerous pilots had reported icing conditions in the area around the time of the accident, including at least three flight crews that characterized the icing as severe, according to the report. One pilot told NTSB investigators his wing anti-icing system "couldn't keep up" with ice accumulation of as much as 4 inches that had developed over a span of five minutes.

Pilots are required to fly under the direction of air traffic controllers but federal regulations allow for some deviation in emergency situations. The NTSB report quotes a part of the Federal Aviation Regulations that reads, "in an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency."

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