Recourse if ATC is out of line?

Discussion in 'Change to my Frequency...' started by \__[Ô]__/, Sep 11, 2016.

  1. \__[Ô]__/

    \__[Ô]__/ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I was out flying recently and ATC instructed me to advise them at a certain point. I said I would and carried on flying as planned. When I get to the point, I remember advising ATC as instructed and I heard them make a call notifying other traffic of me based on my position report, so I knew they heard me. A little while later another, very irritated sounding controller (supervisor?) jumps on the frequency and starts berating me for not reporting as instructed. I was quite confused and didn't know what to say.

    When I got home I pulled up the liveATC archive for the time of the flight. Sure enough I heard my position report, ATC's heads up to other traffic based on my report, then me getting yelled at by another controller followed by me stammering out a very confused reply. Based on the recording, I'm 100% sure I made the call as requested and that they heard it.

    We all make mistakes, so it's not a big deal. I talked to another pilot about it after I landed and he mentioned that he got yelled at the other day by the same facility over a minor issue. It made me think, what is my recourse if ATC ends up being way out of line with something?
     
  2. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not sure you can blame ATC for this one,they never acknowledged your call.
     
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  3. bobmrg

    bobmrg Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Call the tower immediately, ask to talk to a quality control person, and tell them to review the tapes. Hurry, because the tapes get overwritten. If you can't find the number try www.acukwik.com. Give them tail number, time, frequency, location...anything you can remember that will help them identify the operating position.

    Bob Gardner
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
  4. deonb

    deonb Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    "Tower, I have a phone number for you to call when I land..."
     
  5. \__[Ô]__/

    \__[Ô]__/ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Again, not so worried about the specific instance mentioned. It wasn't a big deal but it did get me thinking about it in more general terms.

    You are correct that they did not specifically reply to me that they heard my call. They did make an immediate call to other traffic based on my call, so there is no doubt they heard me. I took that call as acknowledgement. I supposed I could have repeated the call until they replied to me that they heard it. But I thought it would be a waste of frequency to repeat the call as they had obviously asked me to report that position so that they could notify the other traffic.
     
  6. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And make sure to file ASRS.
     
  7. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I had a difficult time with a nearby tower and talked to the tower boss. He listened to the tape and agreed with me.
    He invited me to come visit and I did.
    They changed their procedure at that airport based on my complaint.
     
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  8. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Lol. "Sorry I was on the land line."
     
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  9. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Sorry, but in my view that was YOUR mistake based on what you are saying. If there was not a direct acknowledgment of your call by ATC, your position report as requested can not be confirmed. You are making an assumption that based on radio traffic they heard you...but willing to bet that is a mis-guided assumption leading to the interaction with ATC. Every call has a very clear call and acknowledgment...and that goes BOTH ways...or it is like it never happened. Just cuz the tapes heard it does not mean the controller heard it. There is a lot going on behind the scenes that we never hear.

    The call should have been repeated until acknowledged especially with a direct request from ATC for that position report.

    Any out of line controller you can call the TRACON, Tower or Center (if you can find the #) and ask to speak with a shift supervisor directly to clarify any ambiguity or issues. If there is a communication breakdown that leads to anyone getting irritated, that is a perfect reason to call so hopefully the circumstances leading to the incident are resolved to prevent a future incident. They typically welcome those calls as it is education for either or both sides.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016
  10. EppyGA

    EppyGA Final Approach

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    The notification couldn't have been based on radar? Just asking.
     
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  11. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This. Believe me as a retired ATCer, we catch hell if we were wrong. Always had a saying the tapes cover your ass or hang your ass. Talking w/ the facility may make them aware they have a problem, either with a particular controller or even a procedure. As Bob said, do it in a timely manner, and don't feel like you're making it into a big deal. Note the time which makes it easier to find your deal. Also the tapes used to be kept for 30 days, but it's different now (digital:dunno:) and maybe 15 days as Bob said.
     
  12. \__[Ô]__/

    \__[Ô]__/ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm not an ATC expert by any means but I have visited a few facilities so I've seen a bit of the behind the scenes. I am aware that ATC sometimes misses calls due to communications that pilots never hear. That's not what happened. There is zero doubt they heard my call.

    Nope. It wasn't really a position report so radar wouldn't help. That was just the closest analogy I could come up with. I figured people would understand that without needing to go into a huge backstory of what we were doing, why, how, where and so on... I was apparently wrong. People fixated on that part and ignored the actual question. There is no way anyone listening to the tapes would be confused about whether they heard me. I probably should have just asked the question without the explanation of what made me think about it.
     
  13. \__[Ô]__/

    \__[Ô]__/ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the info. I have no desire to randomly get anyone on the other end of the radio in trouble over trivial stuff. Lord knows I've made my share of screw ups that ATC has let slide. That said, I'm not interested in taking the blame for someone else's screw up and I'm not overly fond of having ATC erroneously make me look incompetent to my employer - who doesn't understand the finer points of aviation but can definitely recognise an annoyed voice over the radio.
     
  14. luvflyin

    luvflyin Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I would agree with pretty much all said above. I would make the calls suggested above. You might want to add FSDO to the list. It's not really their territory but if there is problem with the "culture" at that facility then the more squeaks made the more grease is likely to be applied. Repeated over the air berations of pilots usually indicates there is a problem. That being said I agree very much with what @Shawn said above about you saying "They did make an immediate call to other traffic based on my call, so there is no doubt they heard me. I took that call as acknowledgement." Not that you should start badgering them with the report over and over again every few seconds but you should consider it unheard until acknowledged. This could make a big difference some day in another situation.
     
  15. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Just because they gave traffic on you to another aircraft, doesn't mean they heard your report. Most likely they had you on radar the whole time. Usually, the request for a VFR position report is just a reminder for ATC so they 1) don't forget about you and 2) they can adjust their traffic based on the report.

    It's definitely not worth ATC getting worked up over. Don't know how many times I couldn't get in a base call because the freq was so congested.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
  16. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Make a note of the time and frequency. Call the facility the next business day and talk to a supervisor/QA person. Everybody makes mistakes but I won't take unprofessional behavior that's contrary to safety.
     
  17. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You can ask for the phone number.
     
  18. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    Sounds like the controller was a trainee, or may have been relieved by a new controller in his position and a piece of information wasn't briefed. Nobody's perfect, and every once and a while you get gruffed for something you didn't do. They are getting taked to from many different directions and occasionally they miss something.

    Personally, I'd probably not get too bent out of shape unless it seemed to be a systematic problem with that facility. I don't think I'd file an ASRS unless I believed the issue was a safety issue--in this situation the miscommunication did not result in a safety issue.

    The FSDO is not the appropriate place to report systematic or cultural issues with an ATC facility. I'd suggest contacting FAA Air Traffic Safety Oversight if I believed there was an issue that was not being resolved at the facility issue.
     
  19. airdale

    airdale Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    I think "No big deal" is the right takeaway. And every story has two sides. You reported. Your report was not acknowledged. You're using deductive reasoning to conclude that it was heard by the controller; your deduction may be faulty. As someone has already pointed out, the traffic call may have been based on radar rather than your call.

    I'd reinforce the suggestion that you call the tower. I would get the QC person or the tower manager and say something like "I had a situation where I feel like I was criticized unfairly and I'd like to hear what you think of it." You will almost certainly learn two things:

    1) ATC has the same goal all of us have: Safe and pleasant skies. You call will probably be welcome and the ATC person will be interested in investigating and explaining to you what the situation looked like from the tower side of the conversation.

    2) You'll get the whole picture of the situation including a better understanding of ATC operations. And, if the criticism was unwarranted the controller will become aware of it.​

    Re FSDO. Waste of time. If you look at the FAA org chart you will see that the FSDO and ATC report through completely separate management chains that converge only in Washington and then only at the very top. Complaining to the FSDO about ATC is like going to Taco Bell to complain about Pizza Hut. (Both are owned by Yum Brands, but so what?)

    Re attitude, not picking on the OP but the attitude around POA seems to be that ATC is an adversary. YMMV but I have called towers and Centers with questions multiple times and have b benefitted by "plugging in" with TRACON and ARTCC controllers for many hours. Not once in all of that did I meet someone whoe was not pleasant, helpful and collegial. Make the phone call. I think you'll be pleased with the results and you'll be more likely to pick up the phone next time you have a question. I am still a student around POA, with 1000+ hours and over 130 airports in my logbook. I pick up the phone to ATC once or twice a year and always learn something and enjoy the conversation. One of my calls even resulted in a change to an MOA between a Center and a Tower. And I was thanked for it.
     
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  20. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    What were you to advise them of? Were you IFR or VFR? What class of airspace?

    What was your very confused reply?

    Contact the facility, ask for quality control
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  21. danhagan

    danhagan Cleared for Takeoff

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    Was this Class D airspace?
     
  22. Ryanb

    Ryanb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I wont reiterate what's already been said, but next time ATC asks you to check in over a certain area, be sure you hear them say "N123, roger" or something like. You said it and it's also able to be heard on LiveATC, but it doesn't necessarily mean they heard it unless they acknowledge it. If they didn't give you a number to call, than it's likely everything is fine. A lesson learned for next time!
     
  23. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Pattern Altitude

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    Don't ask for quality control, ask for the watch supervisor or controller in charge. Quality control is some guy in another office that will most definitely have to call you back because he has to talk to the watch supervisor or controller in charge. That said, I agree with the others who say that you should have given your position report until you got an acknowledgement.

    There are short fuse controllers in just about every facility and they need their wings clipped. We have one at Tucson tower and knowing a lot of the controllers there who've told me so, she may not be there much longer. If you know you were wronged, by all means call and speak to the watch supervisor or controller in charge. Anything after 15 days will negate any chance of them reviewing the recording.
     
  24. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Having a irritated controller, who may or may not of heard your call is considered "way out of line"????
    There by the grace of god go I, have you ever not heard a ATC transmission?

    If it were me I would have just said to myself, this guy might have had one too many cups of coffee, or if I was in a bad mood, I'd have said I did make that position report, check your tapes, and moved on with life, doubt I'd even waste the mental RAM on it to the point of remembering it after landing.



    But if you consider this "way out of line" there is a report you can file, see attached

    [​IMG]


    Harden up cupcake, this is aviation, not the sensitive new age men's club.
     
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  25. \__[Ô]__/

    \__[Ô]__/ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Report filed as advised, see attached.
    13181115.jpg
     
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  26. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow En-Route

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    If at all possible file a NASA report and let it go. I would not advise making trouble for ATC, just like you wouldn't want them making trouble for you.

    File.... and let it die.
     
  27. Harold Rutila

    Harold Rutila Pre-takeoff checklist

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    "Sorry, I made the report but another aircraft had your attention." "N1234, roger. In the future, please get an acknowledgement from us." "Roger, N1234." End of story.
     
  28. TheGolfPilot

    TheGolfPilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The only time I have ever had a controller yell at me was when the approach controller gave me "radar services terminated, squawk vfr, frequency change approved, after I had already entered the class D. Tower controller didn't breathe for 2 minutes while erupting on me followed by a phone number to call. Apparently that tower doesn't talk to that approach controller, at all. As a transient pilot, with a squawk code and a "cleared Loc app maintain vfr" instruction, you wouldn't think twice to continue into the class d airspace. At Reidhillview once I stayed with the approach controller until short final. Inconsistencies in the system that I got yelled at for. Nothing ever came out of it, but I filed a NASA report before even leaving the airport that day. Maybe it got fixed (KAEG)
     
  29. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    Shawn, let's assume there was a conversation that went like this:

    N12345: BigCity Approach, N12345 is over Lake Gofish.
    BigCity Approach controller #1: N67890, traffic your 3:00, 3 miles at 2000 ft over Lake Gofish, a Cessna 172.

    ...time passes

    BigCity Approach controller #2: N12345, you didn't report over Lake Gofish. WTH are you doing?

    Which I'm hearing is what the exchange was. Personally, I would have taken the relay of my information as acknowledgement too. No, it wasn't an explicit confirmation, but I have no doubt that they heard me. And I think the fact that there was a controller hand off or relief played into this as well.

    For me, the concern is a controller doing anything that results in the pilot "stammering out a very confused reply". There is never a need to ignite a helmet fire.

    Mistakes made on both sides, one trying to be nice by not requiring repeat of obviously known information and one trying to be ugly. I know which side I come down on.
     
  30. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    That's a bust on Albuquerque approach. Not your fault they didn't coordinate your arrival with tower. Not your fault they didn't terminate prior to AEG's boundary either.
     
  31. danhagan

    danhagan Cleared for Takeoff

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    HA! I KNEW it was going to be that field!

    Years ago they changed their tower and ground frequencies and got in a tizzy that initial contact was their ground frequency. I pointed out to them that I had a brand new sectional AND there is no notam or atis indicating otherwise ... they calmed down and said all the locals were aware ... well gee, I'm not a local there.

    Also had a problem with a trainee there that gave a bad instruction and insisted he hadn't chastising on the radio for several minutes ... after landing I was headed to the tower and the supervisor came down indicating he was aware and was correcting the trainee.
     
  32. cfiiguy

    cfiiguy Filing Flight Plan

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    years ago i was doing a dual xcountry with a student to a class c airport. a very busy class c. one of the main reasons i liked to go to this field was it's excellent controllers. ( very student friendly and helpful) At the right distance out i gave the student the go ahead to call approach with "yankee1234 at, with atis, STUDENT PILOT. the controller came back with attitude and talking so fast i could barely understand him. had the student try again,(he did a great job) and this controller starts on him like stink on &^%$. at this point i took control of the conversation. requested full stop with parking at the tower and that i would need the airboss standing by! i swear the guy found Jesus before he answered me LOL!

    changed to a touch and go and just returned to home. when we got into the office there was a number to call. i called and it was the supervisor who assured me his people do not work that way! the new to this airfield controller now completely understood what was expected of him. he asked to speak with the student and apologized to him, and invited him to the tower for a VIP tour anytime he was in the area. very outstanding thing for that super to do. he taught my student way more that day than i did.

    we are human, we all fall short from time to time, doesn't mean we should judge all by the actions of one or a few.
     
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  33. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    Unless it's in an LOA there's no reason for approach to coordinate a VFR arrival with tower. Approach should cut the arrival loose far enough outside the boundary for the aircraft to make contact with the tower but if that isn't done nothing prevents the aircraft from leaving approach frequency to contact the tower.
     
  34. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I actually called KAEG tower and they (he) said approach does coordinate arrivals via landline.
     
  35. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    Must be a shortage of BRITE scopes out west.
     
  36. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I see now the question was about VFRs. I only asked about IFR arrivals.

    I suppose they could use the BRITE but the guy I talked to simply said they were required to coordinate IAPs and that they had a landline with approach.
     
  37. roncachamp

    roncachamp Final Approach

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    Coordination of IAPs is required by 7110.65. If they have BRITE but choose to use the phone for that purpose, well, that's just silly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
  38. Dave S.

    Dave S. Pre-Flight

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    Not so fast, kemo sabe! Every mistake is a big deal and every one of us should strive to be super human and not make them. Mistakes are what get people killed! Don't make mistakes and definitely do not downplay mistakes.

    However....yes we all make them. And when we do we expect a little professionalism. Call the ATC manager, or the Regional Director (his boss) if you get no satisfaction ...wait for it....here it comes......wait........wait......

    AND YOU WERE TRULY WRONG or the unprofessionalism was truly outrageous.

    tex
     
  39. citizen5000

    citizen5000 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You simply say "I reported as instructed." If the controller retorts in the air say "please provide a phone number and I will contact you on the ground to discuss if necessary."
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017
  40. starglider

    starglider Filing Flight Plan

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    Meh; this seems like a silly misunderstanding. I'd just let it go; nobody's perfect. Guy probably had a bad day, and I wouldn't ever assume a controller heard me if I didn't get an acknowledgment. Sometimes people can be jerks on the radio (pilots too---google "captain happy" for an especially outlandish example). If there was no safety issue, why try to make the controller's life difficult? The only time I'd complain is if I were getting _consistent_ attitude from a controller or a facility or if something happened that seemed unsafe.

    All that said, if there's actual confusion, ask for a number and give them a call. If you're not a jerk to them, 99/100 times ATC wants to make things run smoother. Leaving LAS one afternoon, I had the most screwed up clearance imaginable. CD gave me a SID, the ground controller changed it during taxi, approach gave me a completely revised full-route clearance once in the air, and then when I finally got switched to center, the guy apologized for the delay in getting back to me with, "uh something is completely messed up with your clearance here, standby." He said he fixed it in the computer. I asked him what was going on, and he didn't have any idea; it looked like a filing error. Frequency was quiet, so I asked him if he could give me a number for LAS so I could sort it out. Landed, called LAS, and just said that something went wrong with my clearance and was curious if I'd filed something bad or what. No safety issue, but would be great to avoid the mess next time, and it created a lot of workload right after departure. Supervisor asked for my tail number and in five minutes had figured it out. The initial fix I had filed to was used exclusively for jets, and ground had ended up giving me a jet-only SID because I wanted to go to that fix, which created all the problems. Sup told me to file a specific SID as little guy, and every time after that, I never had a problem.
     
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