ATC protocol for unclosed flight plan

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by benyflyguy, Apr 22, 2021.

  1. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route

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    From a ATC standpoint what is the protocol for an aircraft that didn’t close IFR flight plan into an uncontrolled field?
     
  2. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You mean failing to cancel IFR? They’ll call the FBO or get another aircraft to confirm they’re on the ground. If that doesn’t turn up anything, 30 minutes after loss of comms / radar, ATC will issue an alert notice for a suspected overdue aircraft.
     
  3. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-Flight

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    Nothing like being 40mins into your post-flight drive home, when the phone rings and your stomach drops out from under you at the realization that you never closed your flight plan.
    I did it with VFR once, but it's worse with IFR because that airspace is still gonna be shut down until you cancel. It'll sure **** off a lot of pilots trying to get into that field after you. Then there's the cost of them initiating search and rescue if they can't get in touch with you. Always include your cell # in the flight plan.
     
  4. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    10−3−1. OVERDUE AIRCRAFT/OTHER SITUATIONS
    a. Consider an aircraft to be overdue and initiate the procedures stated in this section to issue an ALNOT when neither communications nor radar contact can be established and 30 minutes have passed since:
    NOTE−
    The procedures in this section also apply to an aircraft referred to as “missing” or “unreported.”
    1. Its ETA over a specified or compulsory reporting point or at a clearance limit in your area.
    2. Its clearance void time.
    3. A VFR or IFR aircraft arriving at an airport not served by an air traffic control tower or flight service station fails to cancel a flight plan after receiving instructions on how to cancel.
    NOTE−
    If you have reason to believe that an aircraft is overdue prior to 30 minutes, take the appropriate action immediately.

    10−4−1. TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS
    IFR traffic which could be affected by an overdue or unreported aircraft must be restricted or suspended unless radar separation is used. The facility responsible must restrict or suspend IFR traffic for a period of 30 minutes following the applicable time listed in subparas a through e:
    a. The time at which approach clearance was delivered to the pilot.
    b. The EFC time delivered to the pilot.
    c. The arrival time over the NAVAID serving the
    destination airport.
    d. The current estimate, either the control facility’s or the pilot’s, whichever is later, at:
    1. The appropriate en route NAVAID or fix, and
    2. The NAVAID serving the destination airport. e. The release time and, if issued, the clearance
    void time.

    10−4−3. TRAFFIC RESUMPTION
    After the 30−minute traffic suspension period has expired, resume normal air traffic control if the operators or pilots of other aircraft concur. This concurrence must be maintained for a period of 30 minutes after the suspension period has expired.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2021
  5. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Or the restaurant on the airport where there is no FBO. Did that once. Waitress said, he’s here.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2021
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  6. Jim K

    Jim K Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Max Trescott had an interesting story regarding this a few months ago....I believe it's in this podcast: https://aviationnewstalk.com/tag/closing-ifr-flight-plan/

    Basically a Cirrus pilot forgot to close his flight plan, and max got called as he's a prominent CSIP and knows a lot of the owners in the area. If I remember correctly atc called the sheriff who found the plane on the ramp. They eventually tracked down the pilot and issued a deviation.

    My understanding is that they close the airspace for 30m after your expected arrival. If they don't hear from you they will issue clearances into the airport "at your own risk", and contact the fbo, airport manager, and local police/fire. If the airplane isn't found CAP gets tasked with a search.

    @Radar Contact have you or Mrs. radar contact dealt with a pilot who forgot to cancel (or worse)?
     
  7. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You get a phone call. It happened to me for a plane I rent, somehow I had ended up being listed as the owner. A female supervisor from Portland approach called me and asked if I had forgotten to cancel. I told her I haven't been flying. She said she needed to figure this out quickly or she was going to have call the police for a search. I gave here the number of the rental place. Then I remembered the owner, and sent him a text. Turns out it was bad radio coverage where he was, he thought they had acknowledged his cancellation. The supervisor was taking this very seriously when I spoke with her.
     
  8. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I can tell you that as the "airport manager" I have gotten the call. I've also been overflying airports and had center ask me to give a call on the Unicom for them and see if the guy was on the ground.
     
  9. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You really only get in trouble if you forget to cancel your IFR at a towered field. ;)
     
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  10. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route

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    Welp, I’ll fess up. I did this a couple of weeks ago. IFR field. Non-towered. Not busy. I typically cancel in the air. But when night I cancel on the ground in case I have to do a go around for deer on the runway ( has happened before). Landed, got distracted talking to hangar buddy about something that happened at the airport I just left. 3 hours later maybe I get a call, from my fiend and fellow club member asking if closed flight plan. I call the tower I was talking with and apologize. Told that they sent state police to airport plane is in hangar so they couldn’t find it. They take my name and number.
    so the ATC never called me. My number was on the flight plan. They called airport manager who didn’t recognize our flight plane name until he got a third call about and called my friend. So they didn’t sent out chopper but apparently they were getting ready to.
    So two weeks later I get the expected call from the FSDO. Was very nice. Told him what happened and it was on me. He emailed me some stuff to read and review prior to next talk. We talked a week later and fortunately this fell under some compliance program without any violation issued. Made some changes to my checklist and backup note in my tach log. As he stated this is usually a mistake you only make once.
     
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