Sign in to follow this  
paulyg123

Communications over the Atlantic Ocean - Question

Recommended Posts

I just came back from Italy on a 767.  I was wondering over the Atlantic do the pilots have contact with ATC by voice by radios?  Or is communication with ATC through another manner?

 

Due to strong head winds, the flight took a more southerly route - and only at FL280.  One more question:  I pulled up the weather chart and it showed strong westerly winds over the north Atlantic - that's why we went south - but I could not find wind data at different altitudes.

 

I see the wind aloft data on flights over land, but where can I view current winds (at different altitudes) over the Atlantic Ocean?  Is this info free or do I need to subscribe to it?

 

I'd love to see a recent wind weather report.  The entire flight yesterday from Italy to JFK was with cloud cover.  I never saw the ground in 8.5 hours - that was odd - but radar maps of clouds indeed sowed the whole north Atlantic with cloud cover.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

Radar and radio coverage over the oceans is sparse, which affects both communication and routing over large bodies of water.

 

More modern aircraft rely on satellite communication to interact with ATC and their own airline via text messaging through a system called CPDLC, more specifically FANS-1/A. If this is not available, communication is handled through HF radio with one of several oceanic control stations, i.e. Shanwick and Gander.

 

Because winds over the atlantic generally follow a similar pattern (see Jetstream), a system of North Atlantic Tracks (NATS) has been established and is constantly adapted to make best use of the current winds. Aircraft usually fly along these tracks, choosing the most suitable towards their destination.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 


I just came back from Italy on a 767.  I was wondering over the Atlantic do the pilots have contact with ATC by voice by radios?  Or is communication with ATC through another manner?

 

As Alexander mentioned, communication is commonly via CPDLC (FANS-1/A), and if not, then historically, it's been HF (and is still an option).

 

There are other options, though, such as SATCOM voice, and VHF voice (in certain areas where tracks fall closer to Greenland and Iceland - the NATS 007 Document charts out nominal coverage areas),

 

 

 


Due to strong head winds, the flight took a more southerly route - and only at FL280.  One more question:  I pulled up the weather chart and it showed strong westerly winds over the north Atlantic - that's why we went south - but I could not find wind data at different altitudes.

 

While this could've actually been for wind, the Minimum Nav Performance Standards (MNPS) altitude strata curiously begin right at FL285. Other reasons for the FL280 flight could have been an inability to maintain MNPS, or a want to use their own route (due to wind or otherwise), instead of the required tracks.

 

 

 


I see the wind aloft data on flights over land, but where can I view current winds (at different altitudes) over the Atlantic Ocean?  Is this info free or do I need to subscribe to it?

 

http://www.aviationweather.gov/flightfolder/products?type=windh

 

There are more comprehensive products out there (WSI, etc), but those you generally have to pay for.

 

 

 


I'd love to see a recent wind weather report.  The entire flight yesterday from Italy to JFK was with cloud cover.  I never saw the ground in 8.5 hours - that was odd - but radar maps of clouds indeed sowed the whole north Atlantic with cloud cover.

 

This isn't the one for your flight, but here's an example of a SIGWX chart. I'm sure you could find a satellite summary for the area:

 

2132.gif

 

 

 

 

The Aviation Weather Center keeps all of these products in their Flight Folder:

http://www.aviationweather.gov/flightfolder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Typically if you see an aircraft enroute at or below FL280, when you would expect them to be higher, it is because it has experienced a technical problem which has rendered it non-compliant to fly in RVSM airspace. (Which lies between FL290 and FL410).

 

By regulations, to fly in RVSM airspace, an aircraft must have two functional Digital Air Data Computers, and a functional autopilot with its altitude hold and altitude alert systems fully operational. (And at least one functional ATC transponder).

 

If a DADC fails before flight, the aircraft cannot be dispatched at all, but most aircraft with an approved MEL (Minimum Equipment List) CAN be dispatched with an autopilot that is partially or totally inop, with the provision that the flight must be conducted below FL290.

 

This would also hold true if one of the required systems failed after takeoff. A failed DADC would usually require the aircraft to land at the nearest suitable airport, but an autopilot failure in flight is not considered critical, and they would typically continue on - with the proviso that the flight would have to vacate RVSM airspace.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this