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Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by samiamPA, Nov 10, 2020.
I rarely used to get FF. Now I always get FF. Flying in the Los Angeles basin, there is so much traffic that it really is the safest way to fly around in this part of the country. And it helps so much to get the call outs for traffic. Even though I can't see half of them. But at least I am on alert looking.
Count me in for the FF. I operate under Class B all the time and do a lot of 500nm+ cross countries. It's always amazing how I can be over the middle of nowhere USA and intersect another aircraft within 500ft! Yes, I always have them printing on ADSB, but having another pair of eyes watching you never hurts. Never have to worry about getting an altimeter setting, no digging for frequencies, just keep taking the handoffs and they will get you where you need to be. Weather information and avoidance of rain cells is a plus and then there is the bonus, on occasion, of getting the VIP trip through the bravo over the top of downtown at night on your arrival. The last point alone is worth it alone. Of course, I also use it to keep proficient on my radio skills for my IFR rating when it's not worth the bother of filing IFR on a nice VFR day.
1) Do not become dependent on it to the point of forgetting “see & avoid”.
2) FF is not always available. It’s on an ATC workload basis.
Yup, calling traffic for you is one of their lower priorities. And occasionally one gets by them.
Yeah, discourage people from doing the safe thing because they sometimes miss a traffic call (which they do IFR as well) and might rarely give you an unable that may well be remedied by switching frequencies.
I'll be one of the dissenters, I never use FF... but I fly an open cockpit plane with no transponder, I rarely fly over 2000' AGL, and I go into tower fields less than once a year. Not that I won't, I learned to fly at a busy towered field, they're just not the kind of places I enjoy going into in an open cockpit biplane.
WTF are you talking about?
Never understood the controversy on POA with FF. If you want to use it, use it. If you want to fly without chatter on the radio, don’t use it. Those that don’t use it aren’t exercising high risk behavior. Not using FF isn’t a significant increase in risk to matter, especially if using ADS-B in. And no, it’s not easier on the controller if you call for FF.
This surprises me. I think a lot of ATC promo about FF says it helps controllers.
I feel self-conscious flying in busy airspace without FF, especially when I'm listening to approach and hear them call out my aircraft. Double if the issue a vector to avoid me.
I often fly 10 minutes to a point where I can't use FF, where I need to be on the CTAF; so for those flights I don't get FF, but I monitor.
Controllers will encourage pilots to call for FF because 1) it adds to their traffic count. Though VFRs aren’t weighted as heavily as IFRs. And 2) they’re trying to be good ambassadors of ATC to the pilot community. They’ll say, “well I want you to call me because it’s safer if I know what you’re doing.”
When I did ATC, I had a pilot friend asked if he should call for FF. Worried that it’s an annoyance. I told him I couldn’t care less if he called. I got paid the same either way and I’m still gonna throw a flight of four F-18s by you regardless. You can either not call and be surprised of their presence, or you can call and have an awareness of the “sharks” that are in the area. I’m still gonna vector traffic around them. Whether or not they call or not, didn’t change that.
It’s only common sense that the controller’s workload will increase. By calling, that’s just one more aircraft creating frequency congestion that could block calls from other aircraft. That’s one more aircraft to write a strip on. It’s another aircraft to type into the system (scope) for local FF. If they’re XC, one more to type into the NAS computer creating an additional handoff. It’s one more aircraft that requires traffic advisories. That’s two traffic advisories vs one. One more aircraft that requires safety alerts. One more aircraft that depending on the airspace may require sequencing and separation. One more aircraft that may require radar vectors (pilot request). One more aircraft that you have to issue weather advisories to. If an emergency, another aircraft to provide priority handling to. Etc, etc, etc.
I did not see his post as discouraging. Just pointing out limitations of the service and common errors when we get complacent.
I use FF only when flying a longer XC in which I'll be traversing and/or arriving in congested/controlled airspace. Makes arrival smoother when already in the system. However, if I'm just up burning gas for the hell of it, I never use FF.
But not so much so as to be an undue burden, otherwise they could just refuse service, right? And the only way to find out if it will be an undue burden would be to request services, no? Plus the controller can at any time say "radarservicesterminatedsquawkVFR" as has happened to me before...
Exactly. It’s rare that I’ve seen controllers deny it for workload. I honestly don’t ever recall denying FF to an aircraft. Plenty of times I’ve said “aircraft calling for flight following standby, I’ll get back to you in a minute.”
My point is, I’ve heard the stories of controllers telling pilots that they want pilots to call them because it’s easier if they know what they’re doing. I just laugh at that. No it’s not easier but it is generally safer. If it were easier, then FF would never get denied. It gets denied on occasion because it does increase workload to such that it’s unmanageable. Should a pilot be concerned about that? Heck no. The controller knows when they’ve reach “brained fried” status and they’ll let you know on initial call up.
I'm talking about the tone of the message.
I don't agree with that at all. See and avoid is a concept that applies to IFR flying, where ATC is required to provide traffic separation. That separation doesn't mean you don't still look out the window, if you can, and apply visual separation, if able. Regardless, just because ATC will sometimes miss a call on FF isn't a reason to avoid it.
I don’t see where he discouraged using FF.
Your statement about see and avoid makes no sense. Can you explain? The only terminology for traffic and seeing said traffic I am aware of is “maintain visual separation.”
See and avoid is literally seeing traffic and not hitting said traffic and applies to all flying all the time. Why do you think it only applies during IFR operations? If you are flying without assistance to identify traffic it’s all you have at your disposal.
Tools such as TCAS, ADSB and FF all help avoid hitting other air craft but looking outside and not hitting anything should always be in use. That’s all he is trying to say.
The only tone problem is in your head. You say here exactly what I said, so by your standard, your tone sucks too. SMH. I never said avoid FF, in fact I say quite the opposite.
Yeah, all in my head. Ok dude.
Lol, yeah, ok.
LOL. "Fun Flying". FF is a tool, nothing else. FF is no guarantee against a Near Mid-Air much less an actual one. It's just another layer of safety. Nothing more.
FWIW, I've had controllers turn me into mountains....at night. They corrected themselves when I objected. Keep your eyes peeled and your neck on a swivel.
First, See and avoid is a requirement. Flight Following isn't.
Spoiler: AC 90-48D
4.1 See-and-Avoid Concept. 4.1.1 Regulatory Basis. The flight rules prescribed in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91 set forth the concept of “See and Avoid.” Part 91, § 91.113 prescribes that when weather conditions permit, regardless of whether the operation is conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR) or visual flight rules (VFR), each person operating an aircraft shall maintain vigilance so as to see and avoid other aircraft.
4.1.2 Vigilant Lookout. Pilots should also keep in mind their responsibility for continuously maintaining a vigilant lookout regardless of the type of aircraft being flown. Remember that most midair collision accidents and reported NMAC incidents occurred during good VFR weather conditions and during the hours of daylight.
Second, Never, ever bet your life on the judgment of some person outside the cockpit. Ever.
Last, 91.3 - Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.
"The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft." Not ATC, not the FBO, not the mechanic, not the hot chick sitting right seat, but the PIC. Meaning you if you're the Pilot in Command.
It's a great and useful tool to back up your Mark I Eyeball.
I used to fly out of MCAS Tustin in the early 80s. Somedays, and almost every sunset, when flying from the mountains to the airport, I was effectively IMC. Yes, I used El Toro or whatever I could to back up me on avoiding a mid-air or violating airspace.
It can. It can also turn into that joke heard from Ohare Approach "PUT YOUR COMPASS ON E AND GET THE HELL OUT OF MY AIRSPACE!"
I used to never want to use Flight Following when I first started doing my solo work during my PPL. I dunno why, but I thought that ATC was looking for reasons to violate me. After a while I started using it a lot, then basically for all VFR work. I even took a date for a sightseeing flight and called up and got flight following for it. I told them I was just doing a sightseeing flight and I gave an area that I'd be flying around. ATC was actually appreciative and even gave me bravo clearance since they weren't busy and asked me to just inform them when I was leaving the general area I was in.
In primary my cfi barely mentioned FF. But learning out of a Bravo talking to controllers was no big deal and I utilize FF almost every flight outside of the local area. It’s not just for preventing mid-air collisions. Yes, you are offered weather alerts (someone posed that question in the thread) but more importantly you have someone to declare an emergency to on the spot. They know your location already and can provide helpful services if needed and if I go down they will have a solid starting point for S&R. That is the main reason my XC flights utilize FF.
It’s a free service that adds a safety factor. Use it or not. Your decision.
I learned to fly 30 years ago at a military flying club on a towered airfield embedded in class C, so I got plenty of practice talking to ATC.
Years later, after several long breaks in flying, I found for some reason I had developed a lot of anxiety about talking to ATC. On one of my first trips last year after I bought my Decathlon, I flew for several hours trying to work up the nerve to call and ask for FF.
After a couple of long trips, including an XC from Florida to Oklahoma City done half at night, I got over my reluctance to call and chuckled at myself for having built it up to such an issue.
It was not timidity or lack of training. I have 24 years of professional experience talking on the radio in the Army. I have controlled complex field operations with multiple ground and air stations by radio. I have talked on the radio while getting shot at.
More than anything, it's probably a lack of familiarity with what is on the other side of the conversation, coupled with an ingrained desire to do things right and not disrupt the system. Becoming more familiar with the different types of ATC on FF and what their roles were was a big help in getting comfortable again.
I am based under Tampa Class B. I never call FF for local or short flights. For long flights, I usually get away from the metro area and call Jax Center. Seems like we get mixed messages on whether ATC would prefer local flights under Class B on FF or not. Some pilots say it helps ATC, but then we have real live controllers on this thread saying not so much. If my presence adds to congestion, I'd rather just see and avoid on short hops.
I didn't see anything in either of their posts as discouraging anyone from doing it. Just pointing out it has some limitations and to not over rely on it. Which is sage advice.
Just curious, I thought El Toro Approach and Long Beach Approach had combined into Coast Approach by then. Do you remember if they were still calling themselves El Toro Approach?
One of my favorite things to do with Private Pilot students on their dual cross country flights has been contacting every possible facility and getting their taxpayer money's worth.
Flightwatch is gone now, and DF steers are a thing of the past, so there are not as many radio people to talk to any more... Am I forgetting anyone else?
If it actually helped ATC, then you’d never have aircraft being denied service. That’s not the case because during heavy traffic, aircraft are denied FF all the time all over the US.
The only aspect of FF that actually helps ATC, is the pilot’s intentions are known and the altitude is verified. But, that doesn’t make up for all the additional tasks that I listed that go with FF to make it easier on the controller. Even if the controller is talking to a VFR and knows their type, altitude and intentions, it’s marginally beneficial. You still have to issue a traffic call for your IFRs / VFRs and if necessary, vector other aircraft around them. For a 1200 code, you only have to issue one traffic call vs two.
Don’t think your “presence” is a pain for ATC though. If you don’t have any in cockpit electronic traffic aids and don’t mind listening to a congested freq, by all means, call them. If they’re too busy, they’ll tell you or just flat out ignore your call. Other than a few times working approach, I always welcomed the VFRs and increased traffic to break up the monotony.
FSS. Have em give Pireps and position reports. Anything you used to do on Flight Watch. All the functions of it are still there. Only thing that changed is it doesn't have it's own frequency any more and ya call them Radio
Oh, of course I had them call FSS for all their flight plan opening and closing, as well as weather requests. I always made sure they got a chance to transmit on a simplex frequency and monitor on a VOR, too...
122.2 is still the "party line" freq, so I guess it still works the same...
That's a good point. For local flights under Class B with ADS-B In, my SA on traffic is just as good as what I would get from FF. So perhaps there is little added value to justify the extra system workload. I might miss my call sign on a busy freq but I am not going to miss the big yellow traffic alert bloom on my iPad.
Years ago, when I was a student pilot, I bumbled my way through a call up to approach control and was berated by the controller. At first, I was self conscious, and it made me want to avoid talking to any controller at all costs, if possible. I eventually did my checkride at a Class D, and didn't have any problems, but I never forgot that first exchange while training. Then, after becoming a newly licensed pilot, I avoided FF like the plague, all because of that one exchange. When I started instrument training, my communication skills became proficient and I learned to love the exchange with ATC. I often wondered how many pilots have had experiences with a controller like I did, and it made them shy away from FF because of it. Every now and then I would hear that same controller chew someone out who wasn't good on the radio, and it started to make me a little upset. I often wondered if he was purposely being a jerk so his job would be a little easier and he wasn't very good at it, either that, or he was a grumpy old man that just needed to retire. The man had absolutely 0 patience, and I wonder if aviation safety ever suffered because of it.
I once was flying through Oklahoma, VFR on a very, very hazy evening. It was really hard to see traffic and the sun wasn't helping either. I called up OKC approach and requested flight following, and was told that he was unable because of workload. Because of the conditions I decided to immediately call flight service and air file an IFR flight plan for the remainder of my flight. It only took about 2 minutes, and upon callup, that same controller seemed extremely irritated that I had done that. There was nothing he could do, but he certainly wasn't happy about it. Of the hundreds of controllers I have talked with over the years, those were the only two that I can remember that were what I would call real A-holes. They really stuck out. The vast majority, and I certainly mean VAST majority, have been great. I think it is kind of sad that safety of aviation may be affected by the attitude of so few. If people reject FF because of single exchanges like that, I don't think there are any winners.
Yep, there are some jerks out there. Some lazy controllers as well. One of the reasons why my brother retired out of ATC at only 50 was he was tired coworkers who didn’t dedicate themselves to the job. He worked with some good ones but as a whole, he wasn’t pleased with the crop coming out of OK City (academy) these days.
I chuckled at this, because I would have said the same thing. I was a military controller for 8 years, both approach and tower, and preferred to have a VFR Aircraft on my freq. It was safer for all involved, even if it did increase my workload. Even in the middle of a big push, everyone was more aware of what was happening in the airspace.
That's unfortunate that that controller berated you. On a busy freq, long rambling intro's were annoying, and as a controller drove me a bit crazy, but I'd never dare to lecture a pilot on air. I asked one to call me once when he got on the ground, and then asked him to try to keep it a bit more succinct in the future. Ironically, I've never been know for my strict phraseology. I used to get beat up about it a bit as a controller, and now that I'm in primary training, my instructor pokes at me for extra words "with you", "to the" etc. Unless you're in a very busy airspace with limited dead time, Say what you need to say as succinctly as you can, but don't stress about perfection.
As for the Flight Following, I think I end up wanting to get it more than my instructor. He's pretty comfortable flying without, but I generally just tell him that I'm getting it "for practice" when we are away from our home airport and the nearby practice area.
Did 8 years as well. GCA, approach, tower and a little bit of tactical stuff (MATCALS) in between.