ATS 3.38 TERRAIN AND OBSTACLE CLEARANCE RESPONSIBILITIES

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ATS 3.38 TERRAIN AND OBSTACLE CLEARANCE RESPONSIBILITIES

During the work on SID and STAR phraseology changes and cancellation of level restrictions, fundamental issues arose regarding ICAO standards and procedures for terrain and obstacle clearance. A preliminary working paper was presented at the IFATCA Conference in Bali. This second paper took a broader look at terrain and obstacle clearance responsibilities in ICAO procedures.

ICAO provisions presently have problems:

  • Currently most responsibility lies with pilots.
  • SID/STAR phraseology still unresolved.
  • Implied responsibility.
  • What about duty of care under surveillance – what happens when an aircraft 
leaves surveillance airspace.
  • Charting has shortcomings.
  • Questionable language regarding visual approaches.

“The objectives of the air traffic control service as prescribed in Annex 11 do not include prevention of collision with terrain. The procedures prescribed in this document do not relieve pilots of their responsibility to ensure that any clearances issued by air traffic control units are safe in this respect. When an IFR flight is vectored or is given a direct routing which takes the aircraft off an ATS route, the procedures in Chapter 8, 8.6.5.2 apply”

The note under 8.6.5.2 appears in several places in ICAO documents. It does not specify how a pilot should undertake this task.

Terrain clearance while vectoring is obviously an ATC responsibility. What can be unclear is who is responsible in direct routing (off ATS route) situations.


IFATCA Policy is:

Responsibility for terrain and obstruction clearance must be clearly defined and always must lie either with the air crew or ATC. There must never be a situation where doubt exists about who is responsible for this task.


See: Resolution B1 – WP 85 – Gran Canaria 2014

IFATCA Policy is:

ICAO documentation should provide clear and unambiguous language with regard to responsibility for terrain avoidance, including amendment to the Objectives of air traffic services to include the prevention of collisions between aircraft and terrain.


See: Resolution B2 – WP 85 – Gran Canaria 2014

IFATCA Policy is:

ATCOs should be provided with ATS surveillance tools and/or procedures to efficiently separate aircraft from terrain and obstacles.


See: Resolution B9 – WP 92 – Sofia 2015

 

Last Update: October 2, 2020  

November 4, 2019   146   Jean-Francois Lepage    ATS    

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