Moving On

After 18 months at my present location, I'll be moving on at some stage soon.

Just a couple of weeks ago I applied for a position at another tower and was lucky enough to get a job. My transfer date is yet to be confirmed but I'd expect the move to happen in the first half of 2008. Where am I going? Well, I never disclose where I work (although if you pay enough attention to the detail of my posts on this blog it is quite easy to work out!), so Ill be keeping that one to myself. All I will say though is that just a couple of years ago it was the busiest aerodrome in the southern hemisphere. That title has since been given to another location but word on the street is traffic levels are on the rise again.

I see this as good news. It will keep me interested and maybe I can provide my readers with some great reading!

So what has been happening over the last few weeks? Not a lot to be honest. Traffic levels have slid back again giving me more time to notice things some pilots do that annoy me. Notice I said "some". So you can't take offense, it might not be you.

It's just the little things. Here's one example. In our local instructions we have a LOA (Letter Of Agreement) with the local academy that clearly states that when traffic information is passed to the pilot and the pilot has that traffic in sight, he/she shall respond with

"Traffic Sighted".

Quite simple right? Haha, you'd think so. Day in and day out I get all sorts of different responses. Traffic copied, copied traffic, roger traffic, just today "traffic noted" to name a few. The other option is often no response at all. Anyway, rarely do I get the correct response.

So you may be thinking, what difference does it make? Well so far for me, no difference at all. But what would happen if the two aircraft in question were to collide?

We use Class D airspace procedures here. VFR to VFR don't require separation, just traffic information when necessary and we are to provide an "Air Traffic Control service".

What is an Air Traffic Control service? There are a few points but the important one in this case is that an Air Traffic Controller must

"Prevent collisions between aircraft..."

Ok, so Class D we don't have to provide a separation standard between two VFR aircraft, we can just pass traffic to them about each other BUT we must also prevent those two aircraft from colliding. Hmmm?

One simple technique to use in these procedures is passing separation responsibility on to the pilot. The phraseology would be:

"ABC report sighting the (aircraft) (position)"

"Traffic sighted ABC"

"ABC maintain own separation with the (aircraft)"

Now we get back to my original story about the "Traffic sighted". Our LOA covers this scenario. If an aircraft reports the traffic sighted then separation responsibility is automatically passed to the pilot. Basically it avoids having to make the above lengthy transmissions over and over again.

This is just one of the many things that annoy me. Why can't some people just do things properly? They should know their requirements but they either don't know them, or just don't care. It gets to the point where policing it on a case by case basis is impossible. It's like pulling teeth trying to coach them into saying the correct phrase. In the end I just give up and write them off as morons.