Remote airport, and you departed without activating your clearance

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by AggieMike88, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    IMO, it's a stupid question controllers are obliged to ask. It wastes critical time and doesn't serve safety. Everybody involved knows ATC can't control aircraft below controlled airspace, so obviously the pilot is on his or her own. The pilot probably got suckered into departing by ATC in the first place, "We can get you out quicker if you can depart VFR and claim your clearance in the air, ol' Buddy. You should be able to get us at pattern altitude." So, then you depart and it's "Stand by, we're a-workin on it right now. Might be a minute or two." Now, you're following the ODP in marginal VFR, but needing to level on account of the ceiling and steaming away from the airport at a pretty good clip. With your planned climb gradient out the window and no sectional chart in hand you begin to wonder if there's any towers out here in the boonies in all that haze. They should drop the legal inquisition and just issue the clearance pronto.

    dtuuri
     
  2. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Well it's a question that not everyone involved does understand. Like Luv said, I've encounted those that don't understand what is being asked.

    "No, I can't maintain VMC until reaching 1,500."

    "That's not what I'm asking. Can you maintain your own terrain and obstruction clearance until reaching 1,500."

    "Huh???"

    I would never tell a pilot that they could get their clearance quicker by departing VFR either. If they asked, I would mention that it's an option but definitely wouldn't initiate it. It's not like they'd have to wait long anyway.
     
  3. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    I think you're making my point for me. The first time anybody gets this question they're darn confused, not because they're easily confused, but because the question is so ambiguous. Afterwards, they might file away the "magic words" to be uttered in case it ever happens to them again, but that doesn't justify asking the question in the first place. Even if the pilot didn't know the magic words, "Yes, I can!", the pilot deserves an expeditious climb to a safe altitude, not a game of Twenty Questions.

    dtuuri
     
  4. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Yeah. There's probably no doubt that there have been instances where a pilot got lead down the primrose path by a controller who said just depart and give us a call for your clearance when the weather was iffy and there was a possibility that traffic could prevent giving the clearance right away. Thats a controller who needs his thinking realigned and hopefully it was. As far as the "legal inquisition" thing goes, that starts when something goes wrong and the controller gets hung from the yardarm by some F. Lee Bailey wanna be for not following procedure and issuing an illegal clearance. Maybe the whole concept of getting a clearance like this needs to be re-evaluated.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
  5. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    "Illegal clearance"? It seems to me it's the same clearance it would have been on the ground, ie, "When entering controlled airspace, cleared Timbuktu via direct French Lick, Bad Axe then as filed."

    dtuuri
     
  6. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Yeah. But there is a difference. When you get your clearance on the ground you are departing from a very specific point, the runway. The terrain and obstructions are all plotted out in reference to a precise point on the DP's. When your already in the air its not that precise anymore. The "can you maintain your own terrain clearance" thing is predicated on the airplane is out there "somewhere," not on a TERP'd out flight checked procedure. In your example above you mentioned "Now, you're following the ODP in marginal VFR..." If this has already been communicated with the controller that you are established on the DP, could be either an ODP or SID, then yeah, ya got a point.
     
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  7. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Also, illegal in that the big terrain/obstruction question wasn't asked when the controller was aware that the pilot couldn't maintain VMC until MVA/MIA. If that pilot were to have an accident in the climb, it would go on the controller. Doubtful they'd have an accident but that still doesn't take the requirement to ask, off the controller's back.

    Clearance on the ground is different because as noted above. Can't use "when entering controlled airspace, fly heading..." while airborne because the clearance cannot have a heading issued below MVA/MIA. Controlled airspace will almost definitely be below MIA/MVA.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
  8. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Yeah. The "when entering controlled airspace" is not what this is about anyway. There is lots of controlled airspace that goes to the surface. Those B, C, D and E surface area things. The "surface" is a very big obstruction and it has trees and towers and things sticking up.
     
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  9. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Or it could have been a garden variety diverse departure, but if you have to stop climbing before entering the overcast to answer needless questions the 200'/nm protection goes out the window.

    dtuuri
     
  10. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Sorry, not seeing it. The pilot in your example is below controlled airspace and, apparently, below a ceiling. It doesn't matter if s/he is on the ground or off of it, the situation is the same, "When entering controlled airspace..., etc., etc." By definition, controlled airspace is above the ground and "the ground" (or things attached to it) seems to be what the big question is so all-fired worried about.

    dtuuri
     
  11. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    You may not being seeing it but that's the way the clearance is required to be issued. You can't assign specific course guidance below the MIA. If you put them on a vector below the MIA, well, then they are no longer able to keep their own terrain / obstruction clearance. The FAA wants the liability for hitting something below the MIA to rest on the shoulders of the pilot. In order to make sure the pilot is aware of his obligation in IMC below the MIA, you ask the question. If they can't, then "Mooney 345, maintain VFR and say intentions."
     
  12. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    You can assign a heading "Upon entering controlled airspace..." as per usual. Nobody needs to "make sure the pilot knows" other than those who write the knowledge tests and practical test examiners. Btw, I'm aware that controllers are obliged to repeat this litany and said it's too bad they're obliged to do so since it detracts from, not enhances, safety.

    dtuuri
     
  13. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    That's only on the ground. You can't assign that in an inflight IFR pickup. No course guidance can be assigned below the MIA. That's the whole point of asking the question. You don't ask "Cessna 123, can you maintain your own terrain and obstruction clearance until reaching controlled airspace?"

    If a controller takes it upon themselves to assign a heading below the MIA, they have taken the pilot's ability to navigate (terrain avoidance) on their own, out of their hands. The FAA doesn't want that to happen.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
  14. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    Read my lips, "The 'ground' is below MIA." You never ask a pilot on the ground "Can you maintain your own terrain and obstruction clearance until reaching controlled airspace?" You aren't "assigning headings" below controlled airspace to a pilot in the air any more than the one on the ground--they're both below controlled airspace and know their responsibilities. No need to badger them with confusing disclaimers. But I know you're duty-bound to badger and confuse departing pilots, I just wish it weren't so.

    dtuuri
     
  15. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I'm not duty bound to confuse anyone. The rules weren't written by me.

    Once again, the "when entering controlled airspace fly heading..." is only issued for an airport departure.
    It is not used for airborne aircraft.

    Airborne aircraft are asked if they can maintain their own "terrain and obstruction clearance until reaching (MIA / MVA)." You cannot assign any course guidance below that altitude. Therefore, your "when entering controlled airspace, fly heading" would be a violation of that.

    Two separate situations and two completely separate ways ATC handles them.
     
  16. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Not sure why an IFR rated pilot would find the question, "Can you maintain your own separation until xxx?" confusing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
  17. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I don't find it confusing either. Nor do I consider it time consuming. For an experienced pilot, it takes all of 5 seconds to ask the question and get an answer. Immediately following the answer of acceptance, the controller issues the clearance and the pilot can now climb.

    What Luv and myself have encounted when we did ATC, were a few pilots who were confused about the question. Overall, I'd say most understand it.
     
  18. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I just hope that pilots who answer the question "yes" actually know where the obstacles are and have a good plan for avoiding them! I like to give controllers a concise description of my plan, so that they know that I'm not likely to go "splat" on their watch.

    Back in the 1990s, the FAA stopped allowing controllers to issue IFR clearances to airborne pilots who couldn't maintain VFR up to the MIA. AOPA complained, and that's when the "can you maintain your own terrain and obstruction clearance" language was born.
     
  19. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    That's because you know the magic words to unlock the clearance. If you've never heard the brain teaser before, you're wondering what the heck does it matter and what if you don't say the right thing. For example, "Of course I can't maintain my own terrain clearance down here, that's why I need the effing clearance, to get above all this stuff and climb to MEA. Now shut up and give it to me already!"

    See, no reason to ask the question, just skip it and give up the clearance.

    Most have heard it by now, the ones who haven't don't know the magic words yet.

    dtuuri
     
  20. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Isn't the magic word "affirmative"?
     
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  21. Tflhndn

    Tflhndn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The frustrating thing for me as a recently minted IFR pilot - at no time during my training did anyone ever mention that phrase and I still haven't found it in any of the FAA written material...

    So I still don't know what I have to have available to me to be able to say, yes, I can maintain my own obstacle and terrain clearance.

    Do I need taws? Synthetic vision? Topo maps?

    Or just say yes, and let the controller off the hook?
     
  22. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    It's mentioned in the controllers' manual, which is FAA Order 7110.65W. (See section 4-2-8d.) It's also referred to in AIM 4-4-9, although not in so many words.

    As for what you need in order to be able to say yes, that's up to you as pilot in command. My recommendation is that if you don't have enough information on where the obstacles are, or if you aren't SURE whether you have a bulletproof plan for avoiding them, then it would be better not to try it. You certainly shouldn't try to do it in a narrow canyon, for example. The only times I've done it have been in wide enough valleys to allow for considerable navigation error.

    You for sure DON'T want your plan to be based on hope.

    Another example of an IFR procedure that I suspect doesn't get covered in training much, if at all, is the contact approach. That's another case where you really need to know where the obstacles are, and give considerable thought to whether there is a safe way to avoid them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  23. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    It's most common to use your eyes. If you can see the terrain you can avoid it.
     
  24. luvflyin

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    What's said AIM 4-4-9 would do well to be moved to Chapter 5, Section 2, Departure Procedures or repeated there and include the phraseology ATC will use. The clear of clouds and 1 mile visibility requirement for Contact Aproaches takes a little of the edge off but they are not to be taken lightly for sure.
     
  25. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    But you can't see the terrain if you're IMC. That's why the question is asked. If you're VMC, the question is not required and the controller can immediately (traffic dependent) issue the clearance. It's assumed while VMC the pilot is responsible for separation below the MIA.

    A lot of controllers ask the question regardless of weather to cover their butts or just out of habit.
     
  26. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Any time I have heard the question, I was VMC, and I've heard it a lot.
     
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  27. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    No doubt. Plenty of controllers use extraneous phraseology.
     
  28. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Pilot better be VMC when the question is asked. The question being asked is to a VFR airplane, in the air, requesting IFR clearance.
     
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  29. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Exactly. Conditions in the climb was what I was referring to though. It was asked above on how to remain clear of terrain and obstacles. If you're IMC in the climb, you can't see them so do what Palm described. If you're VMC in the climb then it's obvious what to do and the query from the controller is not required.
     
  30. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My one experience with this was for an ELT search. We thought it was at or near KSJC from the reports, so we launched VFR at 2000 under a 2500 overcast direct SJC. We heard nothing, so we requested an IFR climb to on top at 6000, while flying south, away from the SJC extended centerline. The controller said I was beneath his MVA and asked if I could climb to a higher altitude for my clearance. When I said no, he recommended a heading to a lower MVA and gave me my clearance direct SJC climb and maintain 6000 report on top, several minutes later. We broke through at 5000 and canceled IFR. Still didn't hear the damn ELT, and chased ghosts on the DF. Then got another pop up for the approach.

    I never got asked if I could maintain terrain clearance. It's actually pretty easy there. Aim at the Bay.
     
  31. luvflyin

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    Gotcha
     
  32. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    But the controller can't tell what the conditions are, which is why the question makes sense to me. In any case, you are relieving the controller of the responsibility.
     
  33. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Depends on the weather reporting in the area. If the controller looks at their local weather and sees a ceiling that's around their MVA, you can bet they'll ask the question. If they look up and see CAVU and the pilot reports no inability to climb VMC, then they can issue the clearance without asking the question. Just depends on how "aware" they are of the conditions and how confident they are of the pilot not entering IMC during the climb.
     
  34. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I'm not a controller but I would probably ask as a CYA move since they most often ask the question in areas of higher terrain where the cloud conditions can be different than they were over the airport. I don't think that it takes up too much time.
     
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  35. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    When a pilot needs a pop-up, it's not always going to happen during departure, but I could see putting it in both chapters.

    Some years ago, there was a controller on the AOPA Forum who seemed to think that a contact approach was an automatic death sentence. My view is that like many tools available to the IFR pilot, it can be used foolishly, but that doesn't mean that it has to be. It depends on the circumstances.

    One thing that was clear to me on the day that I got my instrument rating was that, to a far greater degree than when I was VFR only, I was now licensed to get into all kinds of trouble, and that I had better be more careful than ever in my decision-making.
     
  36. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Amen!
     
  37. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    The question comes from the legal department, you can bet on that, so it doesn't contemplate a practical answer to your question just a waiver of liability for the FAA. Apparently, like Palmpilot said, the FAA really wanted the entire climb to MEA (MIA/MVA, whatever) by pop-up aircraft to be done under VFR. When AOPA (and I suppose NBAA) made the same protest I'm making here, that such nonsense is not required operationally, they came up with this unnecessary waiver.

    But the question drips with the implication that the pilot be able to remain VFR all the way up to MEA, like they originally meant. If the pilot says "Yes I can!" or "Affirmative!", then they're off the hook (not that they were ever really on the hook in the first place). Should the pilot run into something, obviously the pilot lied, right?

    But, there are other ways, than visually, to comply with terrain clearance and answers your question. You can depart (VFR) following an ODP or make a diverse departure from an airport that doesn't require an ODP. As long as you keep climbing at the specified gradient, you're golden. If you have to stop climbing before entering a ceiling, your plan is laid to waste. Then you need to make a decision to return, VFR, to the starting point or continue if the odds favor success by a comfortable margin. If you decide to continue, based on visibility under the ceiling, and utter the magic word or words when queried, you open yourself up to a theoretical possibility of running into either a chandelier hanging from the ceiling (heh,heh) or, say, a TV tower beyond your visual range before climbing into the clag that tops out above your climb gradient. What you decide depends on how well you know the area and did departure planning. Obviously, any delay in getting a clearance as you climb toward the ceiling could throw you off the designed obstacle-free pathway to MEA, which is the reason I'm against playing twenty questions with controllers when we both know the pilot is responsible for terrain clearance unless the controller says "radar contact" and begins giving navigational guidance. If this thread contemplates boonies far enough from civilization, radar may not even be available to ATC. I bet they still ask the question.

    dtuuri
     
  38. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Usually perhaps, but I've also been asked the question in Detroit airspace where it's pretty flat for 100 nm and no higher terrain anywhere in that part of the state. In fact I've *never* been asked that question out here. They typically refuse outright to issue a clearance below the MIA to airborne aircraft, which is pretty high here, so if the bases are below 5400 or so I'm getting my clearance on the ground. Fortunately that's easy where I'm based, since I can reach Boston Center on the ground, but there are plenty of airports in the region where talking directly to ATC on the ground is impossible.

    If they *did* ask me the question, I think I'd be pretty skittish about answering "yes" unless the bases were above the highest terrain in the region. The question is asked before the route is given. Without knowing the route, how can I know whether I can assure my own clearance from terrain I can't see? Can you negotiate the route with the controller? In principle, of course you can always negotiate, but I mean practically speaking? Can you say, well no I can't maintain own terrain clearance along that route from here, can I finish flying the ODP first? Could you give me this route instead? A route that takes me direct MPV VOR first would be easy as long as conditions were good enough to depart VFR in the first place, but a route that goes straight NW from KMPV encounters the Green Mts fairly soon. If that's the direction I'm headed, I'm not telling the controller I can maintain my own terrain clearance if I can't see those mountains.
     
  39. luvflyin

    luvflyin En-Route PoA Supporter

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    You say ......can I finish flying the ODP first.....

    If you departed VFR planning on calling airborne to get your clearance and you elected to fly the ODP while doing that, then it should be pretty easy to answer the question "can you maintain your own terrain clearance" in the affirmative unless you don't trust the ODP. This is of course predicated on that you didnt have to level off or otherwise interrupt the ODP.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
  40. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    I've heard that Boston won't even give you an IFR clearance on the ground at certain airports even though the airport has a diverse departure and underlies an airway.

    I think you put your finger on another good reason, maybe even a better one, the "question" is ridiculous. It makes no sense even if "cleared as filed" and makes less sense if you can't even know how you'll be cleared.

    dtuuri