|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : sfo|
airport : pao
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 2500|
msl bound upper : 2500
|Controlling Facilities||tracon : bay|
tower : oak
|Operator||general aviation : instructional|
|Make Model Name||Small Aircraft, High Wing, 1 Eng, Retractable Gear|
|Flight Phase||cruise other|
descent : approach
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : private|
pilot : instrument
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 20|
flight time total : 640
flight time type : 204
|Function||controller : approach|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||other anomaly other|
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : unable|
|Primary Problem||ATC Human Performance|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
|ATC Facility||procedure or policy : unspecified|
VFR flight sightseeing from monterey, up the coast to haf, golden gate, richmond, oakland, with destination pao. There was a low stratus layer over the pacific, 100% coverage, ending 1/2-1 NM inland, with visibility above 50 NM. VFR flight below the TCA north of haf would have been difficult due to minimum distance above cloud requirements and low altitudes with no landing sites visible. I called sf approach on 124.4, idented by call sign, type and 'ib' equipped. ATC gave me another frequency and I repeated this information and request for TCA transition for the above route. During the delay, I made one 360 degree turn to stay clear of the TCA and was given a squawk and permission to transition through the TCA at 2500'. Some mins later, a new voice requested that I squawk altitude (male--the first voice was female). I pointed out that I was 'ib' equipped and had so idented on initial call up. ATC seemed unhappy with this, and reminded me that I could experience delays for TCA transition west/O mode C. I am familiar with far 91.24 and 91.90. I was prepared for delay or exclusion because of my lack of an encoder. This should not be a problem for ATC--they can exclude me if needed, and I had properly idented my equipment. It is a problem if ATC is not listening comprehending the information provided. Same flight, now over richmond, called approach for arsa transition to pao. The frequency was busy, so I made my initial call short: call and location, request arsa transition to pao. The reply was 'aircraft over richmond, stand by, remain clear of the arsa.' ok, no problem. This is now expected procedure. A few mins later I heard 'aircraft calling over richmond, go ahead.' since there was other traffic, I stated call sign and location only, to make sure I was the desired aircraft. ATC responded with my call sign and 'state request.' I did so, unkeyed, and ATC began issuing instructions to other traffic west/O acknowledging me. Hmmm...had communication been established? I had no way of telling if my last transmission had been received. In light of recent FAA enforcement policy (violate 'em for any infraction), I decided it would be prudent to confirm that ATC did copy my request. I had to wait for an open space on the frequency and asked for confirmation. ATC replied in an annoyed tone that no further contact was necessary for me to proceed. In both cases, communications with ATC seemed unclear, frequency congestion was increased with an attendant loss of safety. Controllers seem to assume that pilots don't know what they should be doing, nor what regulations they are operating under. In the second case, the lack of 'roger,' or indication to proceed promoted confusion. The 'stay clear' instruction had not been countermanded and communications had not been positively established. At the very least, arsa call up/transition communication procedures do not match aim descriptions, and have considerable local variation. The resultant communications/understanding problems can only have a negative impact on safety. Thirdly, monterey approach seems confused as to its status. On numerous occasions, I have heard monterey respond to inbound aircraft with 'stay clear of the TRSA (emphasis added)...' followed by instructions to proceed via some standard approach route. Also, ATIS advises pilots to contact ground for TRSA clearance prior to departure. What goes on here?? Clearance is not required in a TRSA. ATC is not supposed (or authority/authorized) to exclude aircraft from transiting TRSA airspace. Far 91.75 requires compliance with ATC instructions though. Does this justify arbitrary conversion of airspace to positive control? If I hear approach doing this while I monitor approach frequency while outside of their radar coverage area, I will occasionally not call approach at all. They provide a disincentive to use flight following in a TRSA by delaying traffic with vectors (this under light to very light traffic conditions). Obviously, this procedure negatively impacts safety. There is a more subtle problem. ATC seems to be handling TCA's, TRSA's, and arsa's all as positive control airspace, giving clrncs and vectors to all aircraft as if they were under IFR. This promotes confusion among pilots, who assume that these local procedures are standard. Many pilots are unaware that they are still responsible for their own navigation and air traffic area coordination/communications while in contact with approach control. I can site cases if you are interested. The FAA should either operate each type of airspace as defined in the far's and aim, or make the local variations known as such. Otherwise, they are setting pilots up for a potentially dangerous situation. Callback conversation with reporter revealed the following: reporter has experienced a great deal of difficulty getting the kind of service he thinks ATC facs should provide him when he is flying VFR into and near the various types of terminal airspace, ie, TCA's, arsa's and TRSA's. He feels that these types of airspace designations cause an erosion of safety rather than promoting safety as advertised by the FAA. He feels and analyst agrees that ATC facs could do a much better job than they are doing in giving service to the VFR GA pilot that flies to and from these areas infrequently. Reporter's on the air relationships with ATC seem to cause him consternation and he decries the attitudes shown by most controllers. It seems fair to say that reporter does not usually get a great deal of cooperation from ATC facs.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: PLT COMPLAINT ABOUT ATC HANDLING AND LACK OF STANDARDIZATION IN AND AROUND ARSA'S, TRSA'S AND TCA'S.
Narrative: VFR FLT SIGHTSEEING FROM MONTEREY, UP THE COAST TO HAF, GOLDEN GATE, RICHMOND, OAKLAND, WITH DEST PAO. THERE WAS A LOW STRATUS LAYER OVER THE PACIFIC, 100% COVERAGE, ENDING 1/2-1 NM INLAND, WITH VIS ABOVE 50 NM. VFR FLT BELOW THE TCA N OF HAF WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT DUE TO MINIMUM DISTANCE ABOVE CLOUD REQUIREMENTS AND LOW ALTS WITH NO LNDG SITES VISIBLE. I CALLED SF APCH ON 124.4, IDENTED BY CALL SIGN, TYPE AND 'IB' EQUIPPED. ATC GAVE ME ANOTHER FREQ AND I REPEATED THIS INFO AND REQUEST FOR TCA TRANSITION FOR THE ABOVE ROUTE. DURING THE DELAY, I MADE ONE 360 DEG TURN TO STAY CLR OF THE TCA AND WAS GIVEN A SQUAWK AND PERMISSION TO TRANSITION THROUGH THE TCA AT 2500'. SOME MINS LATER, A NEW VOICE REQUESTED THAT I SQUAWK ALT (MALE--THE FIRST VOICE WAS FEMALE). I POINTED OUT THAT I WAS 'IB' EQUIPPED AND HAD SO IDENTED ON INITIAL CALL UP. ATC SEEMED UNHAPPY WITH THIS, AND REMINDED ME THAT I COULD EXPERIENCE DELAYS FOR TCA TRANSITION W/O MODE C. I AM FAMILIAR WITH FAR 91.24 AND 91.90. I WAS PREPARED FOR DELAY OR EXCLUSION BECAUSE OF MY LACK OF AN ENCODER. THIS SHOULD NOT BE A PROB FOR ATC--THEY CAN EXCLUDE ME IF NEEDED, AND I HAD PROPERLY IDENTED MY EQUIP. IT IS A PROB IF ATC IS NOT LISTENING COMPREHENDING THE INFO PROVIDED. SAME FLT, NOW OVER RICHMOND, CALLED APCH FOR ARSA TRANSITION TO PAO. THE FREQ WAS BUSY, SO I MADE MY INITIAL CALL SHORT: CALL AND LOCATION, REQUEST ARSA TRANSITION TO PAO. THE REPLY WAS 'ACFT OVER RICHMOND, STAND BY, REMAIN CLR OF THE ARSA.' OK, NO PROB. THIS IS NOW EXPECTED PROC. A FEW MINS LATER I HEARD 'ACFT CALLING OVER RICHMOND, GO AHEAD.' SINCE THERE WAS OTHER TFC, I STATED CALL SIGN AND LOCATION ONLY, TO MAKE SURE I WAS THE DESIRED ACFT. ATC RESPONDED WITH MY CALL SIGN AND 'STATE REQUEST.' I DID SO, UNKEYED, AND ATC BEGAN ISSUING INSTRUCTIONS TO OTHER TFC W/O ACKNOWLEDGING ME. HMMM...HAD COM BEEN ESTABLISHED? I HAD NO WAY OF TELLING IF MY LAST XMISSION HAD BEEN RECEIVED. IN LIGHT OF RECENT FAA ENFORCEMENT POLICY (VIOLATE 'EM FOR ANY INFRACTION), I DECIDED IT WOULD BE PRUDENT TO CONFIRM THAT ATC DID COPY MY REQUEST. I HAD TO WAIT FOR AN OPEN SPACE ON THE FREQ AND ASKED FOR CONFIRMATION. ATC REPLIED IN AN ANNOYED TONE THAT NO FURTHER CONTACT WAS NECESSARY FOR ME TO PROCEED. IN BOTH CASES, COMS WITH ATC SEEMED UNCLEAR, FREQ CONGESTION WAS INCREASED WITH AN ATTENDANT LOSS OF SAFETY. CTLRS SEEM TO ASSUME THAT PLTS DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING, NOR WHAT REGS THEY ARE OPERATING UNDER. IN THE SECOND CASE, THE LACK OF 'ROGER,' OR INDICATION TO PROCEED PROMOTED CONFUSION. THE 'STAY CLR' INSTRUCTION HAD NOT BEEN COUNTERMANDED AND COMS HAD NOT BEEN POSITIVELY ESTABLISHED. AT THE VERY LEAST, ARSA CALL UP/TRANSITION COM PROCS DO NOT MATCH AIM DESCRIPTIONS, AND HAVE CONSIDERABLE LCL VARIATION. THE RESULTANT COMS/UNDERSTANDING PROBS CAN ONLY HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON SAFETY. THIRDLY, MONTEREY APCH SEEMS CONFUSED AS TO ITS STATUS. ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS, I HAVE HEARD MONTEREY RESPOND TO INBND ACFT WITH 'STAY CLR OF THE TRSA (EMPHASIS ADDED)...' FOLLOWED BY INSTRUCTIONS TO PROCEED VIA SOME STANDARD APCH ROUTE. ALSO, ATIS ADVISES PLTS TO CONTACT GND FOR TRSA CLRNC PRIOR TO DEP. WHAT GOES ON HERE?? CLRNC IS NOT REQUIRED IN A TRSA. ATC IS NOT SUPPOSED (OR AUTH) TO EXCLUDE ACFT FROM TRANSITING TRSA AIRSPACE. FAR 91.75 REQUIRES COMPLIANCE WITH ATC INSTRUCTIONS THOUGH. DOES THIS JUSTIFY ARBITRARY CONVERSION OF AIRSPACE TO POSITIVE CTL? IF I HEAR APCH DOING THIS WHILE I MONITOR APCH FREQ WHILE OUTSIDE OF THEIR RADAR COVERAGE AREA, I WILL OCCASIONALLY NOT CALL APCH AT ALL. THEY PROVIDE A DISINCENTIVE TO USE FLT FOLLOWING IN A TRSA BY DELAYING TFC WITH VECTORS (THIS UNDER LIGHT TO VERY LIGHT TFC CONDITIONS). OBVIOUSLY, THIS PROC NEGATIVELY IMPACTS SAFETY. THERE IS A MORE SUBTLE PROB. ATC SEEMS TO BE HANDLING TCA'S, TRSA'S, AND ARSA'S ALL AS POSITIVE CTL AIRSPACE, GIVING CLRNCS AND VECTORS TO ALL ACFT AS IF THEY WERE UNDER IFR. THIS PROMOTES CONFUSION AMONG PLTS, WHO ASSUME THAT THESE LCL PROCS ARE STANDARD. MANY PLTS ARE UNAWARE THAT THEY ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN NAV AND ATA COORD/COMS WHILE IN CONTACT WITH APCH CTL. I CAN SITE CASES IF YOU ARE INTERESTED. THE FAA SHOULD EITHER OPERATE EACH TYPE OF AIRSPACE AS DEFINED IN THE FAR'S AND AIM, OR MAKE THE LCL VARIATIONS KNOWN AS SUCH. OTHERWISE, THEY ARE SETTING PLTS UP FOR A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION. CALLBACK CONVERSATION WITH RPTR REVEALED THE FOLLOWING: RPTR HAS EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF DIFFICULTY GETTING THE KIND OF SVC HE THINKS ATC FACS SHOULD PROVIDE HIM WHEN HE IS FLYING VFR INTO AND NEAR THE VARIOUS TYPES OF TERMINAL AIRSPACE, IE, TCA'S, ARSA'S AND TRSA'S. HE FEELS THAT THESE TYPES OF AIRSPACE DESIGNATIONS CAUSE AN EROSION OF SAFETY RATHER THAN PROMOTING SAFETY AS ADVERTISED BY THE FAA. HE FEELS AND ANALYST AGREES THAT ATC FACS COULD DO A MUCH BETTER JOB THAN THEY ARE DOING IN GIVING SVC TO THE VFR GA PLT THAT FLIES TO AND FROM THESE AREAS INFREQUENTLY. RPTR'S ON THE AIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH ATC SEEM TO CAUSE HIM CONSTERNATION AND HE DECRIES THE ATTITUDES SHOWN BY MOST CTLRS. IT SEEMS FAIR TO SAY THAT RPTR DOES NOT USUALLY GET A GREAT DEAL OF COOPERATION FROM ATC FACS.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of August 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.