Review Policy on RTF Communication Failure

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Review Policy on RTF Communication Failure

45TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 27-31 March 2006

WP No. 99

Review Policy on RTF Communication Failure

Presented by TOC

Introduction

1.1.  This paper is prepared as part of the regular review of IFATCA policy. The current policy is dated from 1980 with reviews in 1993, 1994 and 1996.

1.2.  The arguments contained in these papers are valid today and there is no need to go over the same discussion. What this paper will do is look at the policy and advise as to whether subsequent to its adoption, ICAO SARPS have been changed to meet IFATCA policy.

Discussion

2.1.  The following paragraphs are taken from the policy (in blue frames) and reasons to be considered as to whether the policy should be deleted or not.

2.2.

The basic procedures for adoption in the event of radio communication failure Contained in Annexes 2, 10 and PANS-RAC be collated and issued in a single ICAO Document in a form suitable for access by pilots and controllers.

 

Evidence indicates that the information is still only contained in the above mentioned documents and in addition regional Doc 7030/50, and for this reason this policy statement seems to remain valid. However, during discussion it became clear that the issue isn’t necessarily the production of a single document, but more the need for a unified global procedure. For this reason this statement is recommended for deletion, and a new proposal is put forward.

2.3.

The Supplementary procedures contained in States’ AIP be simplified, standardised and (where practicable) illustrated.

 

Since the policy was written there has been no change to the way the procedures are detailed, and again for this reason this statement seems to remain valid. TOC felt that procedure designers will, in general terms, adopt simplified procedure where possible. There will, nevertheless, be a need for complex procedures where individual circumstances dictate. This statement is also recommended for deletion.

2.4.

States be encouraged to make the maximum use of both primary radar and SSR, not only to assist pilots with RTF Failure, but also to minimise the penalties which may otherwise be imposed on other traffic.

 

This policy is now in line with ICAO, and therefore recommended for deletion.

2.5.

That pilots and controllers utilise the guidelines as depicted in the tables shown on the next three pages.

 

These guidelines now appear over complex when in reality we require is a unified global procedure. Therefore after discussion the committee decided that this policy should be recommended for deletion.

2.6.  There is a form of RTF failure now very much on the increase, certainly in Europe and that is Prolonged Loss of Communication (PLOC). Eurocontrol are monitoring this safety issue where VHF incidents that lead to PLOC are logged and analysed in Eurocontrol. Technical incidents leading to PLOC are reviewed in order to find a resolution; non-technical observations are shared with Safety experts for resolution by them. This type of event has increased the numbers of interceptions on civil aircraft. This issue is covered under agenda item B.5.7.

IATA every 10-14 days publishes a list of flights that have been involved in a comms loss incident are sent to the IATA office. All airlines are contacted, not just those who are members of IATA.

The responses continue to indicate a mixture between technical problems, pilot distraction or error and late handover by ATC to the next unit. In some cases there appears to be blind spots in the coverage of some frequencies.

Reasons given by the pilots include:

  • known defect in radio equipment where the unit “goes to sleep”. This phenomena is known to occur when an aircraft radio is not activated by the crew normally during long sector lengths and the radio goes into sleep mode where it does not activate with incoming calls. The only way to reactivate is a call from the pilot;
  • ad hoc radio technical problems;
  • missing initial radio call because of other noise including cabin interphone conversation (this more frequent since closed cockpit door procedure introduced);
  • accidental movement of radio selection knob;
  • selection of incorrect frequency;
  • mis-hearing next frequency;
  • silent or poor radio frequency signal – reports of several aircraft having difficulty contacting ATC in same area; and
  • out of range, suspicion that controller forgot to hand over.

All responses are fed back to NATO and other interested and appropriate offices. They are also sent to the communications technical unit in Eurocontrol for their work looking at technical radio issues. In addition they are shared with certain investigating officers in UK NATS and Maastricht as well as the German Air Police Centre.

Conclusions

3.1.  TOC believes that existing policies are no longer valid.

3.2.  The fact that information relating to RTF failure is contained in different documents in different forms, highlights the need for a simplified approach in producing a unified global procedure.

3.3.  In recent years RTF failure has become more prevalent in the form of PLOC. This phenomena may mask real RTF failures but presents new safety issues concerning security.

Recommendations

It is recommended that;

4.1.  IFATCA Policy on page 3 2 4 5 of the IFATCA Manual:

The Basic procedures for adoption in the event of radio communication failure contained in Annexes 2, 10 and PANS-RAC be collated and issued in a single ICAO Document in a form suitable for access by pilots and controllers.

The Supplementary procedures contained in States’ AIP be simplified, standardized and (where practicable) illustrated.

States be encouraged to make the maximum use of both primary radar and SSR, not only to assist pilots with RTF Failure, but also to minimise the penalties which may otherwise be imposed on other traffic.

is deleted.

4.2.  IFATCA Policy on page 3 2 4 5 of the IFATCA Manual:

That pilots and controllers utilise the guidelines as depicted in the tables shown on the next three pages.

including the tables shown on pages 3 2 4 6, 3 2 4 7, and 3 2 4 8, is deleted.

4.3.  IFATCA Policy is:

“There is one unified global procedure for RTF failure.”

and is included on page 3 2 4 5 of the IFATCA Manual.

Last Update: April 9, 2020  

April 9, 2020   50   Jean-Francois Lepage    2006    

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