Why does Oshkosh not use tail numbers

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by dcat127, Aug 2, 2022.

  1. dcat127

    dcat127 Filing Flight Plan

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    I had the opportunity to go to airventure this year. Driving not flying.... flying into busy airspace like that is still out of my comfort zone...but I enjoy watching videos of people that do fly in.

    Why does ATC use plane descriptions, instead of tail numbers? There are a number of incidents on video, where pilots don't follow directions or hesitate to follow directions, because they are being called the incorrect aircraft type. All pilots are used to hearing their tail number, it seems like it would remove some confusion using tail numbers. In the day of adsb, I would think ATC would have that information in front of them...
     
  2. DaleB

    DaleB Final Approach

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    Go ahead... try to read 2" or 3" tall tail numbers from the ground.
     
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  3. ja_user

    ja_user Pattern Altitude

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    No one at the airport reads your tail number when flying either, it’s just an identifier when talking to someone else.
     
  4. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pattern Altitude

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    They use them if you cut the line. They see you on ADSB.
     
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  5. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    They also use "white Cessna" instead of "November One Niner Niner X-ray Foxtrot" because it saves time on the radio when you have a line of aircraft 30 miles long trying to get into the airport.
     
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  6. Racerx

    Racerx Pattern Altitude

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    Last time I was leaving there I heard two three whiskey...nice new paint....GO!
     
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  7. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We get nagged by tower because too many airplanes have tail numbers that only differ by the leading digit.
     
  8. tyndall

    tyndall Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not everyone in the conga line has, or will ever have, ADSB. If you're relying on that information, you're missing a lot of traffic.
     
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  9. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    In any other situation, Tower doesn’t know my tail number until either I tell them or the ATC agency handing me off does. We’re supposed to be radio silent going into OSH, so they don’t get the numbers through “ordinary means”.

    On departure they’re close enough to read them and will sometimes call them out

    Departing after the afternoon show with planes rolling on both sides, alternating every 15 or so seconds, is just a hoot. Like one of the Star Wars attack scenes or something.

    It’s different - which is part of what makes OSH so cool.
     
  10. Salty

    Salty Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I noticed this year at sun n fun they were using adsb and called out tail numbers about as often as “low wing over the lake”.
     
  11. TrueCourse

    TrueCourse Line Up and Wait

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    I can’t imagine being a controller and wanting to use the N Numbers when airplanes are flying around like a swarm of bees and everyone wants the same thing. Cuts down on unnecessary dialogue, confusion, and recalls by the pilot. Now, why they try to describe an airplane and get it wrong, why they continually say keep it turning, keep it turning, keep it turning, I can’t see that being helpful.
     
  12. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Plus, a lot of the communication is about who you’re following. That’s generally easier with model and color.
     
  13. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I fly a Comanche. I was called “Cirrus” and “Cherokee”. It would really help if they brushed up on their types before going out….. a Comanche is not THAT exotic.
     
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  14. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I don't think there is any way they could talk to that many airplanes in such a short period of time and keep them straight.
     
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  15. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Also if they even tried to do that, a lot of numbers from the spotters looking through binoculars to the controller would be lost in translation. One number incorrect would result in "Oh, he's not talking to me" and it would just snowball from there.
     
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  16. DaleB

    DaleB Final Approach

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    Right, and when you’re not making radio calls (as per the Airventure procedure) they’d have to either read it through binoculars or use ADSB. Neither one would work well in that environment.

    I could be wrong, but I suspect some thought went into the process over the years.
     
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  17. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    There was more than once I wondered “are they talking to me…” because they used the wrong type.
     
  18. FPK1

    FPK1 Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Here are your swarm of bees... Sunday the 24th 1740 local.[​IMG]
     
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  19. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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    This year I was called a Cirrus and a bonanza in my Comanche. Bonanza I can kind of almost see but Cirrus with retracts?
     
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  20. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You have the V-tail Comanche? Ok...got it. o_O
     
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  21. DaleB

    DaleB Final Approach

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    Some of it is situational awareness. I could see the guy in front of me, and I knew when we were close to the point where they'd be calling for me. I hear them call the guy in front, see his wings rock, I'm anticipating they're going to tell me something. I don't care if they call me "yellow RV" or "yellow low-wing" or "yellow and black" whatever; I know it's coming and I know they may not get it 100% right.

    Of course if you're in an RV things get easier, because they're so pretty everyone knows what they are. :) Admittedly Comanches should be similarly identifiable.
     
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  22. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Final Approach

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    I do feel like the controllers are *particularly* or *intentionally* bad at airplane identification. While there are certainly some obscure ones out there, being able to differentiate the Cessna fleet, Piper Fleet, Beech Fleet, Mooney fleet RV fleet and Cirrus's should be fairly standard. Particularly if you're looking through binoculars, from only 1000 feet away, when you know exactly where the plane will be. But idk, I know many controllers are not pilots and may not care really.
     
  23. TrueCourse

    TrueCourse Line Up and Wait

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    And we were able to watch how that impacted you, especially in the downwind and base. Distracting wasn’t it?
     
  24. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    If I ever fly in, I may put some speed tape lettering on the bottom of the wings. Not that it would be anything amusing or anything. :eek: :D
     
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  25. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    Just put EDFRED on the bottom of the wings, then there would be no confusion. Concern maybe, but no confusion. :D
     
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  26. Pinecone

    Pinecone Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Mooney's are easy.

    1) The tail is on backwards.

    2) All Mooneys look like all other Mooneys.
     
  27. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies Final Approach

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    3) "Al Mooney was a big man" plays on repeat over unicom
    4) They all tow a banner that says "#1 bang 4 the buck"
     
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  28. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    I'm willing to bet most pilots can't differentiate between aircraft as well. Even I have to look at one a few times at a distance to tell what it is and even then, I may not be exact. But I have controllers who can't tell the difference between a C-5 and a C-17 when they’re sitting on the ramp.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2022
  29. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    I tend to doubt it; most people would just break out the playbook from the previous year. I am fairly sure we got to the current situation through trial and error; and use descriptions instead of call signs likely dates back thirty years or more before there was even Mode-S transponders which might have provided some aircraft ID.

    If you wanted to design a solution from the ground up; I doubt you would come up with the current solution.

    Tim
     
  30. DaleB

    DaleB Final Approach

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    Fortunately that's not my job. Personally, I think the current system works about as well as anything could given the environment. I'd be interested to know what you think would work better, given the constraints:
    • Very high concentration of traffic, mostly flown by amateurs
    • Assume all have radios... maybe. Or probably did when they departed their last stop.
    • Nearly every aircraft type known to man.
    • Some don't have transponders, let alone Mode S
    • Some don't have ADS-B OUT
    • Some don't have GPS
    • Registration numbers range from 2" to 12" and vary in location
    • Most pilots comply with the notice, but altitude and speed can vary quite a bit
    I struggle to think of another way to have a system that would universally work.
     
  31. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    I'll argue the counterpoint. The Oshkosh system, while perhaps not perfect, works! As near as I can remember, the only mid air collision in recent history of Airventure was between two Mustangs landing as a flight after a performance.

    Just imagine the logistics. Take a sleepy airport with two intersecting runways, and shove more aircraft in and out than O'Hare, and maybe even Atlanta combined, can do. Then add the complications of multiple classes of aircraft from ultralights to heavy jets, flown by pilots from low time private pilots to fighter pilots and all levels in between. It's mind boggling.

    I would probably even go so far as to compare the number of incidents per operations isn't much higher than the daily average anywhere else, there are just that many more operations.
     
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  32. Pinecone

    Pinecone Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Technically the runways do not intersect. You can have operations on the at the same time, without using LAHSO.

    But I agree with your overall post.

    Don't muck with what is working. And trying to revise it, how do you test it???? Without causing chaos if your new version does not work better
     
  33. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Of course, being called Blue Tomahawk on base for 36L is a bit confusing when I'm flying my Navion. This is why I tend to use the warbird approach when out during the show.
     
  34. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    Never been to Osh. But the most common complaint I see a lot over the years are two items.
    1. Plane identification is often wrong.
    2. Speed differentials.

    For the first one, very likely too hard to switch to call signs. Also makes it very hard for the pilots in trail behind to identify the plane they should follow. Instead of saying Cirrus, Comanche.... just state low wing, high wing, twin, canard.... Or make it the standard, all high wing are called Cessna, all low wing would be Piper....

    For the second item, I have no good ideas.

    Tim
     
  35. CJones

    CJones Final Approach

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    Yeah. I wish there was a better way - maybe having sub-90kt a/c come in from a different route than RIPON->FISK?

    We were doing GREAT from Green Lake to Ripon, but at Ripon, we caught up to a ?Taylorcraft? that was doing all he could to hit 75kts, much less 90kts (and seemed to be struggling to even maintain 75 consistently). We were a flight of two RVs and I pulled power back as soon as I saw him on the horizon and realized what he was to try to buy time, but by the time we got to FISK, I was all over his tail pipe. I had half flaps out and was doing all I could to keep from overrunning him as we jumped from 80kts to 70kts consistently from Ripon to Fisk. Luckily, the FISK controller saw that we were actually trying and (I assume) realized we couldn't make the loop again in the time allowed, so he actually vectored us north for a mile, then east for a two miles (crossing over the top of FISK), then back north again to join the 27 route to try to buy some spacing for us. That helped, but even then, the guy seemed to do a wide downwind turn, which meant MY downwind was even wider to try to stay out of his tail again. Turning downwind was about the time my son said "I think I'm going to be sick". All I could say was "I can't do anything for you at this point, bud." and reached behind my seat to find the paper towels and garbage back I had prepared for this occasion. Luckily he survived the ordeal and pepped back up when we taxied past the warbirds.

    That was by far the most stressful arrival I've ever had coming into OSH.
     
  36. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    I thought the aircraft that can't hit 90 are supposed to arrive prior to 8am?
     
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  37. CJones

    CJones Final Approach

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    It's a "suggestion", kind of like the "If you can't maintain 90 safely, go to 2300'" which we know how that has been working..

     
  38. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Yeah, I read that. Seems like a small window. Maybe a few blocks through the day to get the slow ones in without clogging things up would help.
     
  39. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    Or a separate arrival path(s), and timed blocks.

    Tim
     
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  40. Randomskylane

    Randomskylane Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This reminds me, is wautoma IFR pretty much 24/7 year round?

    Weather was great tues-Friday during Oshkosh but that airport was red every time I checked