U.S. Department

of Transportation

 

Federal Aviation

Administration

 

Air Traffic
Bulletin

 

      
A Communication from the  Director of Air Traffic                        

 

 

        Issue # 2001 - 4

        Spring 2001                                                                                             

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In this Issue:

 

Vectors to Final Approach Course Prior to Published Segment of an Instrument Approach Procedure (IAP)

 

Aircraft Movement Information Service (AMIS)

 

The Importance of Pilot Weather Reports (PIREP)

 

INCIDENT'LY:

 

Handling Emergency Aircraft

 

 

Vectors to Final Approach Course Prior to Published Segment of an Instrument Approach Procedure (IAP)

 

/*RET/ There are many times when it is desirable to position an aircraft onto the final approach course prior to a published, charted segment of an IAP.  Sometimes IAP's have no initial segment and require vectors; sometimes a route will intersect an extended final approach course making a long intercept desirable.

 

When a vector or assignment to a final approach course beyond the published segment is accomplished, FAAO 7110.65 Air Traffic Control, requires that controllers assign an altitude to maintain until the aircraft is established on a segment of a published route or IAP.  This ensures that both the pilot and controller know precisely what altitude is to be flown and precisely where descent to appropriate minimum or step down altitudes can begin.

 

Most aircraft are vectored onto a localizer or final approach course between an intermediate fix and the approach gate.  These aircraft are normally told to maintain an altitude until established on a segment of the approach.  This procedure is appropriate, however, only when that aircraft, when established, will be on a published segment of the approach procedure. 

 

If a pilot will intercept the localizer, final approach course, or arc prior to a published segment of an approach, altitude assignment must be stated a different way.  FAAO 7110.65 Air Traffic Control, paragraph 5-9-4c2, Arrival Instructions, Example 3, provides one example of proper phraseology for altitude assignment when an aircraft is established on an IAP course prior to a published segment:

 

Aircraft 3 is being vectored to intercept the final approach course beyond the approach segments, 5 miles from Alpha at 5,000 feet.  The minimum vectoring altitude for this area is 4,000 feet.  "Five miles from Alpha.  Turn right heading three three zero.  Cross Alpha at or above four thousand.  Cleared I-L-S runway three six approach."

 

When an aircraft is assigned a route that will establish the aircraft on a published segment of an approach, the controller must issue an altitude to maintain until the aircraft is established on a published segment of the approach.  (ATP-120)


Aircraft Movement Information Service (AMIS)

 

/*E/ North American Air Defense (NORAD) is tasked with monitoring the movement of presidential and vice-presidential aircraft.  These highly sensitive missions require the timely transfer of information to fulfill safety and national security requirements. The requirement to pass this information is set forth in FAAO 7610.4J Special Military Operations, paragraph 5-7-8, Presidential Aircraft.

 

In order to keep our air traffic facilities and air defense activities aware of presidential movement, it is imperative the controller responsible for AMIS transmit the mandatory movement messages for all aircraft transporting the President and Vice President. (ATP-200)

 

 

The Importance of Pilot Weather Reports (PIREP)

 

/*RTEF/  The FAA and the National Weather Service have placed great emphasis on PIREP's.  Requirements for soliciting PIREP's for terminal and en route controllers are contained in FAAO 7110.65 Air Traffic Control, Chapter 2, Section 6, Weather Information.  FSS controllers should refer to      FAAO 7110.10 Flight Services, Chapter 9, Section 2, Pilot Weather Report (UA/UUA).  All controllers should be proactive in their requests for PIREP's, consistent with priority of duties.

 

PIREP's reporting cloud layers, turbulence, icing, convection activity, and low-level wind shear are of paramount importance.  Most of these phenomena can only be observed by the pilot.  Controllers use this information to reroute traffic and in pilot weather briefings for increased safety.  Forecasters use PIREP's as a prime ingredient in the AIRMET Bulletin, SIGMET's, and center weather advisories.

 

FAAO 7110.10, Flight Services, has standardized PIREP format with other reports and forecasts.  Since PIREP's are available to forecasters, controllers, dispatchers, and pilots alike, correct format is essential.  One specific area of concern is location.  FAAO 7110.10, Flight Services, paragraphs             9-2-15 b. 1.  and  9-2-15 b. 2.  specify PIREP location (/OV).  Various automated programs alert forecasters and automatically plot data.  Information is used for forecast verification and archived for research.  Incorrectly formatted PIREP's are often lost.  This also has the potential to seriously affect aviation safety.

 

To be of most value, reports must accurately contain location, time, altitude, type aircraft, sky cover, and temperature, as well as turbulence and icing.  Controllers should make every effort to obtain complete information. FAAO 7110.10 Flight Services, paragraph 9-2-15, follows:

 

9-2-15. PIREP FORMAT

 

Using text element indicators as described below, prepare PIREP's for system entry in the following format:

 

 a.        UUA or UA. Message type - Urgent or Routine PIREP.

 

 b.        /OV.

 

  1.            Location in reference to a VHF NAVAID or an airport, using the three or four letter identifier. If appropriate, encode the identifier, then three digits to define a radial and three digits to define the distance in nautical miles.

 

EXAMPLE-

/OV KJFK

/OV KJFK107080

/OV KFMG233016/RM RNO 10SW

 

  2.       Route segment. Two or more fixes, as in subparas 9-2-15b1 and b2 examples, to describe a route.

 

EXAMPLE-

/OV KSTL-KMKC

/OV KSTL090030-KMKC045015

 

 c.        /TM. Time that the reported phenomenon occurred or was encountered. Report time in four digits UTC.

 

EXAMPLE-

/TM 1315

 

 d.        /FL. Altitude/flight level. Enter the altitude in hundreds of feet (MSL) where the phenomenon was first encountered. If not known, enter UNKN. If the aircraft was climbing or descending, enter the appropriate contraction (DURGC or DURGD) in the remarks/RM TEI. If the condition was encountered within a layer, enter the altitude range within the appropriate TEI describing the condition.

 

EXAMPLE-

/FL093

/FL310

/FLUNKN /RM DURGC

 

 e.        /TP. Type aircraft. Enter aircraft type. If not known, enter UNKN. Icing and turbulence reports shall always include the type aircraft.

 

EXAMPLE-

/TP AEST

/TP B74A

/TP P28R

/TP UNKN

 

 f.         /SK. Sky condition. Report height of cloud bases, tops, and cloud coverage as follows:

 

  1.       Enter the height of the base of a layer of clouds in hundreds of feet (MSL).  Enter the top of a layer in hundreds of feet (MSL) preceded by the word "-TOP." If reported as clear above the highest cloud layer, enter "`SKC'' following the reported level.

 

EXAMPLE-

/SK OVC100-TOP110/ SKC

/SK OVC015-TOP035/OVC230

/SK OVC-TOP085

 

  2.       Use authorized contractions for cloud cover.

 

EXAMPLE-

BKN

FEW

OVC

SCT

SKC

 

  3.       Cloud cover amount ranges will be entered with a hyphen and no spaces separating the amounts; i.e., BKN-OVC.

 

EXAMPLE-

/SK SCT-BKN050-TOP100

/SK BKN-OVCUNKN-TOP060/BKN120-TOP150/ SKC

 

  4.            Unknown heights are indicated by the contraction UNKN.

 

EXAMPLE-

/SK OVC065-TOPUNKN

 

  5.       If a pilot indicates he/she is in the clouds, enter IMC.

 

EXAMPLE-

/SK OVC065-TOPUNKN/RM IMC

 

  6.       When more than one layer is reported, separate layers by a solidus (/).

 

 g.        /WX. Flight visibility and flight weather. Report weather conditions encountered by the pilot as follows:

 

  1.       Flight visibility, if reported, will be the first entry in the /WX field. Enter as FV followed by a two-digit visibility value rounded down, if necessary,  to the nearest whole statute mile and append "SM" (FV03SM). If visibility is reported as unrestricted, enter FV99SM.

 

  2.       Enter flight weather types using one or more of the standard surface weather reporting symbols contained in  TBL 9-2-1.

 

Weather type and symbols

Type

METAR Code

Drifting/Blowing Snow

DRSN/BLSN

Drifting Dust

DRDU

Drifting Sand

DRSA

Drizzle/Freezing Drizzle

DZ/FZDZ

Dust/Blowing Dust

DU/BLDU

Duststorm

DS

Fog (vis < 5/8SM)

FG

Freezing Fog

FZFG

Freezing Rain

FZRA

Funnel Cloud

FC

Hail (aprox 1/4" dia or more)

GR

Hail Shower

SHGR

Haze

HZ

Ice Crystals

IC

Ice Pellets/Showers

PL/SHPL

Mist (vis > 5/8SM)

BR

Patchy Fog

BCFG

Patchy Fog on part of Arpt

PRFG

Rain/Showers

RA/SHRA

Sand/Blowing Sand

SA/BLSA

Sandstorms

SS

Shallow Fog

MIFG

Sml Hail/Snow Pellet Showers

SHGS

Sml Hail/Snow Pellets

GS

Smoke

FU

Snow Grains

SG

Snow/Showers

SN/SHSN

Spray

PY

Squalls

SQ

Thunderstorm

TS

Tornado/Waterspout

+FC

Unknown Precipitation

UP

Volcanic Ash

VA

Well developed Dust/Sand Whirls

PO

TBL 9-2-1

 

 

  3.            Intensity of precipitation (- for light, no qualifier for moderate, and + for heavy) shall be indicated with precipitation types, except ice crystals and hail, including those associated with a thunderstorm and those of a showery nature.

 

  4.            Intensity of obscurations shall be ascribed as moderate or + heavy for dust and sandstorms only.  No intensity for blowing dust, blowing sand, or blowing snow.

 

EXAMPLE-

/WX FV01SM +DS000-TOP083/SKC/RM DURGC

 

  5.       When more than one form of precipitation is combined in the report, the dominant type shall be reported first.

 

EXAMPLE-

/WX FV00SM +TSRAGR

/WX FV02SM BRHZ000-TOP083

 

  6.       When FC is entered in /WX, FUNNEL CLOUD is spelled out on /RM.  When +FC is entered in /WX, TORNADO  or WATERSPOUT is spelled out in the /RM TEI.

 

EXAMPLE-

/WX FC  /RM FUNNEL CLOUD

/WX +FC /RM TORNADO or WATERSPOUT

 

  7.       When the size of hail is stated, enter in 1/4" increments in remarks /RM TEI.

 

  8.       The proximity qualifier VC  (Vicinity) is only used with TS, FG, FC, +FC,  SH, PO, BLDU, BLSA, and BLSN.

 

EXAMPLE-

/WX FV02SM BLDU000-TOP083 VC W

 

 9.        When more than one type of weather is reported enter in the following order: 1) TORNADO, WATERSPOUT, OR FUNNEL CLOUD;                2) Thunderstorm with or without associated precipitation; 3) Weather phenomena in order of decreasing predominance.  No more than three groups in a single PIREP.

 

 10.            Weather layers shall be entered with the base and/or top of the layer when reported.  Use the same format as in the /SK TEI.

 

EXAMPLE-

/WX FU002-TOP030

 

 h.        /TA. Air Temperature. Report outside air temperature using two digits in degrees Celsius. Prefix negative temperatures with an M; e.g., /TA 08 or /TA M08.

 

 i.         /WV. Wind direction and speed. Encode using three digits to indicate wind direction (magnetic) and two or three digits to indicate reported wind

speed. When the reported speed is less than 10 Kts, use a leading zero.  The wind group will always have "KT" appended.

 

EXAMPLE-

/WV 28080KT

/WV 28008KT

/WV 280105KT

 

 j.         /TB. Turbulence. Report intensity, type, and altitude as follows:

 

  1.            Intensity. Enter duration if reported by the pilot (intermittent, occasional continuous) and intensity using contractions LGT, MOD, SEV, or EXTRM. Separate a range or variation of intensity with a hyphen; e.g., MOD-SEV. If turbulence was forecasted, but not encountered, enter NEG.

 

  2.       Type. Enter CAT or CHOP if reported by the pilot.

 

  3.            Altitude. Report altitude only if it differs from value reported in /FL. When a layer of turbulence is reported, separate height values with a hyphen. If lower or upper limits are not defined, use BLO or ABV.

 

EXAMPLE-

/TB LGT 040

/TB MOD-SEV BLO 080

/TB MOD-SEV CAT 350

/TB NEG 120-180

/TB MOD CHOP 220/NEG 230-280

/TB MOD CAT ABV 290

 

 k.        IC. Icing. Report intensity, type, and altitude of icing as follows:

 

  1.            Intensity. Enter intensity first using contractions TRACE, LGT, MOD, or SEV. Separate reports of a range or variation of intensity with a hyphen. If icing was forecast but not encountered, enter NEG.

 

  2.       Type. Enter the reported icing type as RIME, CLR, or MX.

 

  3.            Altitude. Enter the reported icing/altitude only if different from the value reported in the /FL TEI. Use a hyphen to separate reported layers of icing. Use ABV or BLO when a layer is not defined.

 

EXAMPLE-

/IC LGT-MOD MX 085

/IC LGT RIME

/IC MOD RIME BLO 095

/IC SEV CLR 035-062

 

  4.       When icing is reported always report temperature in the /TA TEI.

 

 l.         /RM. Remarks. Use this TEI to report a phenomenon which is considered important but does not fit in any of the other TEI's. This includes, but is not limited to, low level wind shear (LLWS) reports,  thunderstorm lines, coverage and movement, size of hail (1/4'' increments), lightning,  clouds observed but not encountered, geographical or local description of where the phenomenon occurred, and contrails. Report hazardous weather first. Describe LLWS to the extent possible.

 

  1.       Wind Shear.  +/- 10 kts  or more fluctuations in wind speed, within 2, 000 ft of the surface, require an Urgent (UUA) pilot report.  When Low Level Wind Shear is entered in a pilot report enter LLWS as the first remark in the /RM TEI.  LLWS may be reported as -, +, or +/- depending on how it affects the aircraft.  If the location is different from the /OV or /FL fields, include the location in the remarks. 

 

EXAMPLE-

/RM LLWS +/-15 KT SFC-008 DURGC RY22 JFK

 

  2.            FUNNEL CLOUD, TORNADO, and WATERSPOUT are entered with the direction of movement if reported.

 

EXAMPLE-

/RM TORNADO E MOV E

 

  3.            Thunderstorm. Enter coverage (ISOL, FEW, SCT, NMRS) and description (LN, BKN LN,SLD LN) if reported.  Follow with "TS," the location and movement, and the type of lightning if reported.

 

EXAMPLE-

/RM NMRS TS S MOV E GR1/2

 

  4.            Lightning. Enter frequency (OCNL, FRQ), followed by type (LTGIC, LTGCC, LTGCG, LTGCA, or combinations), if reported.

 

EXAMPLE-

/RM OCNL LTGICCG

 

  5.       Electric Discharge. Enter DISCHARGE followed by the altitude.

 

EXAMPLE-

/RM DISCHARGE 120

 

  6.       Clouds.  Use remarks when clouds can be seen but were not encountered and reported in /SK. 

 

EXAMPLE-

/RM CB E MOV N

/RM OVC BLO

 

  7.       Plain Language.  If specific phraseology is not adequate, use plain language to describe the phenomena or local geographic locations.  Include remarks that do not fit in other TEI's like DURGC, DURGD, RCA, TOP, TOC, or CONTRAILS.

 

EXAMPLE-

/RM BUMPY VERY ROUGH RIDE

/RM CONTRAILS

/UA/OV BIS270030/TM 1445/FL060/TP CVLT/TB

LGT /RM Donner Summit Pass

 

  8.            Volcanic Eruption. Volcanic Ash alone is an Urgent PIREP.  A report of volcanic activity shall include as much information as possible.  Include name of the mountain, ash cloud and movement, height of the top and bottom of the ash,  etc. If received from other than a pilot, enter Aircraft "UNKN,'' Flight Level "UNKN,'' and /RM UNOFFICIAL.

 

EXAMPLE-

UUA/OV ANC240075/TM 2110/FL370/TP DC10/WX VA/RM VOLCANIC ERUPTION 2008Z MT

AUGUSTINE ASH 40S MOV SSE

(ATP-300)

 

 

INCIDENT'LY

 

Handling Emergency Aircraft

 

A pilot commented that when he had experienced an engine failure in a twin piston-engine aircraft during takeoff, the controller immediately demanded to know how much fuel he had on board, the number of passengers, and his intentions.  Having his hands full, he could not respond, yet the controller persisted in asking for the information.  Although well intentioned, the controller was actually compounding the pilot's workload and adding to his anxiety. 

 

There are no hard and fast rules to follow during an emergency.  Guidelines are provided in the FAAO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, but what it boils down to is that both pilot and controller do the best they can with the set of circumstances they are facing.  Each


player has specific requirements that must be met.  The pilot initially must regain or maintain control of the aircraft and utilize an emergency checklist.  The controller must obtain certain information from the pilot so that appropriate and effective services can be provided.  Sometimes, those requirements can be at odds with the needs of both parties at the time.  The following thoughts are presented to help controllers fulfill their responsibilities and, at the same time, provide the best assistance to the pilot.

 

All of the questions the controller asked were pertinent and necessary.  Not only is the controller required to get the information, the information is required for practical reasons to aid in rescue efforts.  The problem the controller faces is the timing of the request for information.

 

An engine failure during takeoff is a very serious event.  The pilot's actions following the failure in the next few minutes will determine whether or not the event will be survived.  Many light twins have marginal climb capability with one engine inoperative.  There are several aircraft that will quickly turn over onto their backs if the pilot fails to correctly identify the failed engine and promptly configure the propeller so that drag is reduced significantly.  Jet aircraft are less affected by this phenomenon; however, all pilots will be very, very busy managing the aircraft and its accompanying checklist during the first minutes of the event. 

 

Let's look at what information you, the controller, really need, and why you need it.

 

1.       Number of persons on board.  Why?  Because rescue personnel need to know how many people to look for, and what facilities should be alerted or dispatched to a possible accident site.  Will one med-evac chopper or ambulance be sufficient, or are several hospitals and their med-evac equipment needed, or needed to be prepared, for a large number of casualties?  Rescue personnel need to know that all persons are accounted for so that they do not put themselves into danger unnecessarily by looking for other persons who are already out of the aircraft and safe.

 

2.       Fuel on board.  Why?  This information alerts rescue personnel as to what kind and number of firefighting machines and personnel may be needed should the aircraft catch fire.  When asking how much fuel is on board, it is important that the amount is expressed in pounds or gallons, not time. 

 

3.       HAZMAT.  Why?  If the aircraft is carrying hazardous materials, the rescue personnel may be at risk if they are not wearing appropriate protective gear.

 

4.       What is the pilot/crew's intentions?  Why?  Bottom line, it is the sole responsibility of the aircrew to decide what to do.  Air traffic needs to know what the aircrew's desires are so that appropriate services and help can be provided.  This does not preclude you from offering information that may be helpful.  For example, wind direction and velocity, and/or the use of any or a specific runway(s).

 

Okay, that's what you need.  Now, the delicate part…how and when.

When the pilot reports that an engine has failed, temporarily hold off on the questions to give the crew time to stabilize the aircraft.  At some point, ask the pilot to "Say intentions when able."  During the first 2 or 3 minutes, it should be apparent whether the aircraft will be able to maintain flight or at least a steady rate of descent.  Use your best judgment to decide when to ask for the number of persons and amount of fuel on board.  If the crew/pilot is too busy to respond, avoid hounding them for it at that moment.  If the aircraft is going down or is going to attempt a landing on the airport, it is more important to find out how many people are onboard than how much fuel there is.  A fire is certainly a possibility if the landing is off airport or uncontrolled.  If the engine failure occurred during departure, then it is very probable that the aircraft is fully laden with fuel.  Thus, the number of persons to be rescued might be more important to know at that moment than how many gallons or pounds of fuel are available to burn.   If the aircraft is a Part 121 or Part 135 operator or charter outfit, you can get much of the information you need from the company's dispatch officer. 

 

If an engine fails during cruise flight, in most cases, you will not be aware of the event until the aircrew tells you.  By that time, the aircraft will most likely be stabilized.  The situation should still be considered an emergency, but it will be much easier to obtain all of the information you need.  In some cases, an engine out may almost seem to be a "non-event" but do not ever become complacent, even though the pilot may sound very casual.  Find out what the pilot wants to do and then handle the situation as an emergency.  Some aircraft require a lot of rudder pressure to keep the aircraft straight, and a fatigued pilot leg could be part of an eventual loss of control.  As Yogi Berra said, "it ain't over 'til it's over!"  (AAT-200)

 


                                    Questions/comments about content should be addressed to ATP-100