Flight of N

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by BigBadLou, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    Howdy, controllers!

    Quick question for y'all.
    If we (us pah-lawt boys) are flying as a group of airplanes (kind of like a loose formation flight), aka "flight of N", how do we properly handle our transponders?
    Does only the lead aircraft (who is probably the one talking to ATC) squawk? (he'll be assigned a discrete code, of course) Do the others turn off transponders? Do they squawk 1200? Altitude?

    My logical guess would be for only the lead aircraft to have a transponder on altitude reporting to limit proximity warnings on the controller's scope.

    What say you, smart people?
    Thanks
    Lou
     
  2. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Final Approach

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    Normally lead is set to the assigned code and others are set to standby.







    Yeah, I'm not a controller.
     
  3. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, in the Air Force, fighters, only lead, would squawk unless we broke up the flight for individual approaches. Been out of ATC a long time but I would guess it'd still be this way.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  4. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Depends on the operation. For standard (less than 1 mile laterally / 100 ft vertically) flights, ATC will assign one squawk for lead. Everyone else is standby in case they split up its ready to squawk normal. For non standard flights ATC will assign squawks for everyone, or most likely, a descrete for lead and a non discrete for trail.

    If you're out tooling around VFR with friends and not talking to ATC, just squawk normal 1200. One you contact ATC, then let them assign a discrete and non discrete for the flight if you're non standard.

    Really the whole squawk for trail in a non standard is to provide sep around the perimeter for the flight. If you're not IFR or in airspace that provides sep for VFR, it's not that big of a deal.

    Oh yeah, don't do any of this "and flight" on each transmission either. Check in as a "flight of (number / type)" but after that, just give your call sign.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016
  5. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yes, I take my cues from ATC but most of the time they want the wingmen to not squawk at all. Oddly enough on the ground with ASDE, they want you all squawking even in a close "ground" formation.
     
  6. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Doesn't 14 CFR 91.215(c) require a transponder to be turned on and squawking altitude in every aircraft, where a transponder is required?
     
  7. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Unless directed by ATC. Like I said, everyone squawk until you contact ATC. Then let them do the code assigning if required.

    For a standard flight, the formation is controlled as a single aircraft so lead's squawk covers all wingmen. Once you split the flight up, then you must assign individual squawks.

    If you were to have all aircraft in a flight squawking, the overlap would hide leads tag. It would also be a "ring around" mess with the older SSR systems.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  8. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    5−5−8. ADDITIONAL SEPARATION FOR
    FORMATION FLIGHTS
    Because of the distance allowed between formation
    aircraft and lead aircraft, additional separation is
    necessary to ensure the periphery of the formation is
    adequately separated from other aircraft, adjacent
    airspace, or obstructions. Provide supplemental
    separation for formation flights as follows:
    a. Separate a standard formation flight by adding
    1 mile to the appropriate radar separation minima.
    REFERENCE−
    FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 2−1−13 , Formation Flights.
    FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 5−5−1 , Application.
    FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 7−7−3 , Separation.
    P/CG Term− Formation Flight.
    b. Separate two standard formation flights from
    each other by adding 2 miles to the appropriate
    separation minima.
    c. Separate a nonstandard formation flight by
    applying the appropriate separation minima to the
    perimeter of the airspace encompassing the
    nonstandard formation or from the outermost aircraft
    of the nonstandard formation whichever applies.
    d. If necessary for separation between a
    nonstandard formation and other aircraft, assign an
    appropriate beacon code to each aircraft in the
    formation or to the first and last aircraft in-trail.
    NOTE−
    The additional separation provided in Paragraph 5−5−8,
    Additional Separation for Formation Flights, is not
    normally added to wake turbulence separation when a
    formation is following a heavier aircraft since none of the
    formation aircraft are likely to be closer to the heavier
    aircraft than the lead aircraft (to which the prescribed
    wake turbulence separation has been applied).

    That be the rules. If you are a flight, the lead squawks unless ATC assigns beacon codes to the others. That works well with real aircraft formations. Groups of airplanes "playing" flight who don't really know how to fly in formation are usually a pain. I'm sticking pins in a Tom Cruise doll while writing this.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  9. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    Be careful with this. The only thing more dangerous that a tight formation is a loose formation. Either you're in formation or you're not. In a loose formation, it's easy to loose the aircraft you're following, drift into a blind spot, etc., particularly when there are several planes in loose formation. Either stay close (with proper training and briefing) or give yourself some room between aircraft.
     
  10. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not true of fighters! The radar in those things are amazing. We had a procedure to recover F-15s years ago where the F-15s would sequence their planes a mile apart on final. It was cool to see 'em lined up a mile apart out to 10-15 miles. We only had to had 3000' between them on landing so you could have 2 or three on the runway at the same time.
     
  11. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    Are there any RVs with this radar technology? Seems like it would be nice for those overhead breaks.
     
  12. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ha! Maybe, if one could even afford it.
     
  13. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Cleared for Takeoff

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    Hey, I resemble that remark! :D:D Only standard pattern entries for me.

    Once, I had an overhead break when the spring snapped on my canopy latch.
     
  14. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 En-Route

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    Late to the party (as always) but here, lead gets the squawk and if a flight of four, the trailer squawks 4000. If everyone in the flight had a squawk the controller would be getting collision alerts until he/she told the trailers to squawk standby.
     
  15. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    That's exactly why I was asking, wasn't sure how the system works behind the scope and when the bells and whistles go off for collision alert.

    On a very related note: what if there's a flight of N with everybody squawking 1200 and altitude but they are not talking to ATC (and have no discreet codes)? Does the system still ring bells and sound collision alarms? Can they be silenced?
    I ask because we have flown as a group of airplanes to breakfasts/lunches before (without FF) and I wonder if we were being total a**hats to controllers by squawking VFR in each plane. If so, we apologize.
     
  16. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    We only assigned 4000 for MTRs. Non standard got the non discrete off lead's NAS code. So if lead got assigned 5361, trail would get 5300 until joined.
     
  17. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    It's been 14 years since I worked and there is all kinds of Gucci new Radar stuff out there, but I don't think what I'm going to say has changed much. You should all be squawkin in this scenario. Conflict alert isn't going to go off because you are all unidentified targets. Wouldn't do the controller any good to see the Radar freak out because a couple 1200's are getting close. Who's he gonna say "traffic alert" to? I've seen loose clusters of 1200's before. I got cute once and called them as traffic to someone else as a "flock of."
     
  18. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yeah I don't recall ARTS doing a CA on 1200 vs 1200 codes. Maybe STARS does but I doubt it. The CA would be going off all the time in that case. Would be annoying.

    CA with a flight squawking discretes would be annoying as well but worse would be the clutter. Seen ring around bad during high density areas also. I think STARS has gotten rid of that phenomenon though.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  19. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    Thank you, gentlemen.
     
  20. StinkBug

    StinkBug Cleared for Takeoff

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    I fly formation a lot, and have always been taught that the proper phraseology is "N12345 flight of X" on initial call up, then simply "345flight" for the responses. Keyword flight at the end as a reminder that we're a formation. Every controller I've talked to has always addressed us in this same manner, lead callsign followed by "flight"
     
  21. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    You've already told ATC that you're a "flight of..." There's no need to keep saying "flight" at the end of your call sign. Just like there's no need to keep informing ATC your type to remind them. They know.

    ATC controls the formation as a single aircraft. Therefore, when they issue an instruction to lead, it applies to the entire flight. "Blue Angel one, fly heading 110, descend and maintain 3,000." I assure you, he's not going to reply "Blue Angel one flight" for that instruction. It's known they're a flight because they checked in as a flight. When you want to split them up. "Blue Angel six, detach the flight, fly heading..."

    In 20 yrs combined ATC / military flying I've never used "flight" at the end of their / my call sign. You're not gonna find any official ATC reference to use it either. Somehow, over the years, it's gotten more and more popular to use it. It doesn't keep me up at night or anything. It's just unnecessary verbiage.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
  22. StinkBug

    StinkBug Cleared for Takeoff

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    All I can say, is that EVERY time I get an instruction from ATC when I'm leading a formation, they contact me as "19N Flight" Since that's what they call me, that's what I respond with.
     
  23. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Ok, that's fine. Just as long as you know if ATC doesn't use "flight" with your call sign, the instruction still applies to you and your wingmen. You've probably talked to civ towers that don't deal with military traffic also. Things are more standardized in the military. From the CNATRA SOP:

    The flight will receive clearance to switch frequencies from ATC. The Lead SNFO will respond normally, reading back the new frequency to ATC. Both aircraft in the flight will then switch to the new frequency. After a brief pause to allow the Wingman to make the switch, the Lead SNFO will check-in normally with ATC as “KATT 6XX, flight of two,” while simultaneously looking back at the Wing SNFO. When the Wing SNFO sees the Lead SNFO look back, the Wing SNFO will pass a thumbs-up signifying that Wing heard the Lead SNFO’s transmission and both aircraft are on the same frequency. Upon initial checking-in with a new controlling agency, Lead will always use the flight’s official callsign followed by “flight of two.” This phrase enhances the new controller’s SA. Subsequent calls made by Lead to the same controller do not need to include the phrase “flight of two” unless Lead suspects that the controller has forgotten that the flight is a formation.

    The following example involves a standard frequency change:

    Pensacola Approach: “KATT 621, switch Tower, button 4.”

    Lead SNFO: “KATT 621, switch Tower, button 4.”
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
  24. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Line Up and Wait

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    Yea it's called adsb in :)

    Bob
     
  25. StinkBug

    StinkBug Cleared for Takeoff

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    I literally got my first Formation training flying out of MCAS Yuma, and do all of my other flying in southern CA, specifically San Diego, surrounded by military air fields. We don't do the full "flight of 2" line as in your quoted example though, simply the word flight.