atc routing

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by mbsigman, Aug 1, 2004.

  1. mbsigman

    mbsigman

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    Question asked:

    Do the airlines fly generally fixed routes from city to city?

    Well, sorta kinda. We usually will fly a similar route between city pairings. For example, ORD-DFW you can pretty much bet on the Ohare1, RBS, STL, RZC, FSM, BYP1 DFW.

    However, we also use a deal where the computer picks the least time routing. A great example of this is from the Northeast (say, LGA, BDL, BOS, etc) to DFW. Sometimes we go down J6 from the northeast to LIT and pick up the BYP arrival into DFW. Other times, especially if the wind is howling out of the Southwest, we will fly over Cleveland and then southbound over STL again. Even though this is a longer distance air miles-wise, it is actually shorter time-wise for fuel conservation.

    Additionally, sometimes ATC in their infinite wisdom will assign us routing that is completely beyond the scope of my comprehension to 'balance arrival routing'.

    Clear as mud, huh?

    BTW, the only dumb question is the one that does not get asked. I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts that there are things about your profession (whatever that may be) that I have no clue about. Please don't feel intimidated into not asking questions on this forum!

    Mike I'm So Confused Sigman
     
  2. Glenairguy

    Glenairguy

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    ATC in their infinite wisdom likes to keep you in the air as long as possible? They are there just to delay you? Have you ever thought that you weren't the only one up there? Believe me, every air traffic controller wants to get you down and off his frequency as soon as possible.

    Most of the busy facilities use a four corner feed, at 5 to 7 miles in trail. If all of the traffic is coming from one direction, they need to move some over to one of the other fixes. You can only feed so many aircraft over one fix at one altitude at one time, exactly one. Now do the math, is it more economical to feed 4 fixes, 3, 2, or 1?

    You win the bet that you have no clue about ATC.
     

  3. mbsigman

    mbsigman

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    Mr Glenairguy,

    You wrote the following:

    "ATC in their infinite wisdom likes to keep you in the air as long as possible? They are there just to delay you? Have you ever thought that you weren't the only one up there? Believe me, every air traffic controller wants to get you down and off his frequency as soon as possible."

    In all my years of flying I have known many controllers and as part of my union duties I have spent days plugged in observing various ATC route testing. I can completely agree that other than not having a deal, each controller simply wants to get you out of their sector.

    Are controllers there simply to delay us? Not at all, but your insinuation is extremely one sided. Just last week we were 200 miles east of ABQ eastbound, and the controller turned us 180 degrees and made us fly west to within 75 miles of ABQ. Then we were turned south for 100 miles, then flew east towards the JEN cornerpost. All at .72 mach. This 1+20 flight turned into 2++ and we had a boat load of missed connections. WX in DFW? 3000 sct/10. We tried to find out why we were being hosed and never got a straight answer.

    I wish I could tell you that this was out of the ordinary.

    "Most of the busy facilities use a four corner feed, at 5 to 7 miles in trail. If all of the traffic is coming from one direction, they need to move some over to one of the other fixes. You can only feed so many aircraft over one fix at one altitude at one time, exactly one. Now do the math, is it more economical to feed 4 fixes, 3, 2, or 1?"

    Yes, and when we get reassigned a different routing we now have to scramble to determine if we HAVE ENOUGH GAS TO FLY THE NEW ROUTE. Airlines are not tanking fuel anymore due to the cost, and everywhere we fly is min fuel. ATC pops a surprise on us and now we get to start sucking seat cushions in to see if we have enough gas to fly the surprise. I love it when you're on the runway and Local 1 says "expect new routing from center, cleared for takeoff." Is that the time to start looking at the chart trying to figure out if you have enough gas to fly the trip??

    "You win the bet that you have no clue about ATC."

    That statement is nothing short of insulting. The gentleman asked a question about routing. I discussed filed routing vs ATC assigned routing, and I used what I felt was a bit of humor that was not aimed at any one facility or controller. Fact is that I fly a basic 3 on, 3 off trip in the high sectors and not less than once a day I get rerouted. Why? Why reassign MY flight and not another?? I don't know because I'm not working the scope, but the fact is that we are frequently rerouted. We usually do not challenge the controller's orders, even if this means that our prevously on sked flight is now no longer on sked. We check the gas and rock on. And that's what I said. But you have no reason to insult me as I was not intending to insult you.

    People ask questions on these boards to try to learn something. When responses such as yours pop up, you think you're doing people a service by responding this way?

    Just my .02.

    Mike
     
  4. Glenairguy

    Glenairguy

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    Mike
    Your sarcastic comment "ATC in ther infinate wisdom" set me off. We don't do anything without a reason. If you get a reroute, somebody somewhere decided that it was pertinent. Central flow control in D.C. sends reroutes to facilities that we don't and can't explain sometimes. It may be weather related, it may be flow related, it may be sector saturation somewhere enroute. I get tired of hearing "ATC delay" when there is a thunderstorm over the field and the pilot refuses to take off, or if inbound refuses to accept a vector toward the airport.

    If you get a "expect reroute from center cleared for takeoff"it is probably because a reroute just come off the computer and we don't have time to issue it unless you get back at the end of the line. You always have the option of getting back in line and figuring out your fuel. You also have the option of saying "unable" on reroutes for fuel. We have a knack for pulling plan c,d,e,or f out of our asses everyday. We don't always agree with some reroutes that we have to issue, but we don't have a choice. We don't always have the picture 2 or 3 hundred miles down the route, sometimes we are struggling just to maintain our own.

    If you treat a controller like they know what they are doing, they will probably treat you the same way. You may see it as "one FAA" but it isn't even close. Personally, I use as few restrictions as possible; one airplane, stay above the ground, two airplanes, both above the ground don't hit each other. I figure you folks are the professionals, you should be able to fly your own airplane. But if I give a restriction, it is necessary.

    I can't answer for all controllers, just as you can't answer for all pilots. There is incompetency everywhere. If I offended you, sorry, go back and look at your post. I don't get voice inflexion, or meaning, other than what I read. If your joking, I can't tell that from your post, it sounds much more sarcastic.

    If you fly into MEM, come talk to us at the tower. We are always happy to entertain the flying public. If we can answer any questions we will give it our best shot. Don't ask management though, they are as clueless as they come, not one of them has ever worked traffic at the level they manage. Evenings and mid shifts are the best opportunity to come by, still busy traffic, but less management.

    Glen
     
  5. mbsigman

    mbsigman

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    Glen (and others monitoring this thread),

    Thanks for your answer. Now we're communicating!

    "Central flow control in D.C. sends reroutes to facilities that we don't and can't explain sometimes. It may be weather related, it may be flow related, it may be sector saturation somewhere enroute."

    Numerous times we've both seen situations where some management yahoo in CFSquared decides a sector is saturated and orders exactly what you're talking about, when in truth the guy/gal working the boards is covered but is working the problem. Just leave the dude/dudette on the boards to do his or her own thing and they will be fine. Unfortunately, as you all too well know first-hand, get FAA mgt in on the mix and the people working the problem get more excrement to deal with.

    "You always have the option of getting back in line and figuring out your fuel."

    No, we don't. When we're working our way up from number 17 for departure and finally get on the runway, we've used up our taxi gas. If we pull off, we have to get the gas from somewhere else. Alternate fuel, holding fuel, taxi-in fuel - got to come from somewhere. Go back to the gate?? Are you kidding?? Not an option. Plan on not less than a 60 minute delay. Do that and our trip gets busted up and WE LOSE MONEY. They take money out of our pockets if we have a trip busted up. After the pay concessions that we got hammered with last year, we sure as hell can't afford it. So we blast off and try to figure it out as we go.

    Yes, there have been times when 'unable' has been my favorite word. But more often than not we as pilots are acutely aware that the airline industry is literally trying to shove twenty pounds of doodoo down your two pound bag. The true bottom line is that ATC can stand on their heads and whistle Dixie and unless there are more runways laid out you can only take off and land one airplane every sixty seconds. So we, like you, try to make it work best as we can. Is it frustrating? You bet your sweet bippy (are you old enough to remember Laugh-In?) it is.

    "If you treat a controller like they know what they are doing, they will probably treat you the same way. "

    You can count on that, Glen. Like I said, I've sat at the boards monitoring ATC/Arrival tests, and I've plugged in with Local, and I came away drained. Something I really wish would continue, and you never see anymore, are FAM flights. I know all about the B!@#SH!! that the FAA makes you go through to get a FAM trip, but I always found it extremely helpful when one of y'all would strap in and see what happens when we get a last minute runway change on taxi-out. (The expression a**holes and elbows comes to mind, and they tell us not to go head down on taxi-out due to all the runway incursions. Yeah, right!!!)

    "If I offended you, sorry, go back and look at your post. I don't get voice inflexion, or meaning, other than what I read. If your joking, I can't tell that from your post, it sounds much more sarcastic."

    And I offer you (and other readers) an apology if my words were taken as sarcastic as that was not my intent.

    Mike
     
  6. J. Parker

    J. Parker

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    I was an Air Traffic Controller for 23 years before retiring in '98. This thread was entertaining.;f It seems everything has been worked out between pilot and controller. Good job folks!
     
  7. skyboss_4evr

    skyboss_4evr

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    Well put Glen (from a fellow controller at DSM)
     
  8. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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    That's cool. I spent a little time in Swaziland and one of my buddies there worked ATC at the 'Swaziland International Airport'. We spent many a hot afternoon up in the tower watching him work. Learned a lot!




    PS- you haven't lived until you've been to an airshow at the Matsapha Airport...:)
     
  9. flygirl

    flygirl

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    All of our routes are "canned", chosen for the best routing based on closures at the time. Example: we are haveing to use a more southern route when going into Edmontom airspace as some of it closed, a PANC/KORD flight. Nevertheless the regular routing is from a huge data base that will pick the best available route for the time frame of flight. And we can always choose our own routing if the route they want is not to our liking. My responce may not have anything to do with the post, but then I was not quite clear as to what the problem was in the first place.
     
  10. mbsigman

    mbsigman

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    Mike

    If you fly into MEM, come talk to us at the tower. We are always happy to entertain the flying public. If we can answer any questions we will give it our best shot. Don't ask management though, they are as clueless as they come, not one of them has ever worked traffic at the level they manage. Evenings and mid shifts are the best opportunity to come by, still busy traffic, but less management.

    Glen

    Hey Glen,

    This would be a great opportunity to discuss post 9/11 ATC facility security procedures vis a vis pilot visitation.

    Understandably, and in my never to be humble opinion for the better, it's my understanding that security has been considerably tightened at ATC facilities. Are pilots still encouraged to visit these facilities, and if so, how should we go about doing it?

    Controllers are ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS welcome in our cockpits, and in fact, it's been quite a while since we had the pleasure of having a controller in our jumpseat. It's my understanding that the muckitymucks in ATC mgt have really made it difficult for y'all to obtain FAM trips and that's sad in my book.

    I can tell you that regardless of draconian FAA FAM policies, if a controller shows up at an American Airlines gate looking for a ride, he or she will absolutely go for an airplane ride. It's a terrific learning experience for everyone involved and I wish more of the controllers would join us.

    Mike
     
  11. Glenairguy

    Glenairguy

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    Mike

    The powers that be have terminated the FAM program. If we showed up and got a ride and our management found out, we would be unemployed. There is a movement by the Union to try to bring it back, I can only hope we are successful.

    As far as visiting our tower, when the national security code goes to orange the scrutiny goes up and no unnecessary people are supposed to be in the building. Any other time just call and explain to the supervisor, or controller-in-charge, what you want to do. The whole attitude and demeanor of the place gets much more relaxed when the office people go home. If you want to visit MEM and you get any sh*t let me know and I'll bring you in as my guest and nobody will say anything. If you want to visit your own tower there at DFW and get any static, I know a few people that work there and we can probably get you in with no problem.

    Glen
     
  12. mbsigman

    mbsigman

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    Cool about the visitation deal. Sucks about the loss of the FAM program.

    Mike