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Reporting established to ATC

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Hi,

 

During some flights I've been told to report established on the ILS, and I do just that. But sometimes when ATC doesn't tell me to report established, is suppose I should'nt report established (quite simple i suppose) ? The reason why I'm asking this is because some controllers have asked me if I'm established on the ILS and they sound like they think I should've reported it to them even though they've never given me an explicit instruction to do so.

So, overall, should you report established (on the ILS) to the APP controller, even though he's not told you to do so?

 

Thanks.

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If you watch any of those 'air disaster' TV shows, or anything of that nature, you'll find that communication between either the flight deck crew members, or between them and ATC, or more critically, a lack of communication between them, is a recurring theme in being the catalyst for an accident.

 

For example, PSA flight 182 - the 727 which collided with the Cessna 172 on approach to San Diego when the 727 crew assumed it was clear of them and the Cessna didn't report a heading change when doing IFR practice, or Varig flight 254 into Belem, the 737 which flew the wrong way, ran out of fuel and ended up belly landing in the amazon jungle on a flight which should have been a short hop. These are just two examples of where a bit more communication could have prevented the accidents from occurring, in the case of the Varig, several passengers were aware they were going the wrong way, any one of them could have said something to the cabin crew, who could have queried that with the flight deck.

 

Where ATC is concerned, brevity in comms is important, but clarity even moreso, and so personally, I would always report being established. After all, saying: 'FS123, seven miles, fully established 24 left' is hardly gonna clog up the airwaves, it takes about three seconds to say it. Just a simple report like that gives ATC your approximate height (since they know the glideslope), roughly your speed, your type (since, landing weights notwithstanding, approach average speeds are generally fairly common knowledge to ATC for a particular aircraft type), your distance from the threshold, and how much separation you need for safety and wake turbulence etc. All useful stuff to know for a controller - no controller worth his or her salt is going to complain about being kept in the loop.

 

The more information anyone has when it comes to directing several tons of metal and many souls whizzing around the sky in proximity to others of the same ilk, can only be a good thing. Having pesonally known three people who all died when their two GA aircraft collided in the airfield vicinity, I'm only too aware of what happens when people don't do that, so I always do my best to make it known what I'm up to, to anyone who might find that info pertinent. That goes for in a sim as in real life, because if you do it in a sim, it reinforces the real world habit, as is the point of simulator training much of the time. Even if there is no option to say that in your ATC program in a simulator, you can actually still just say it and pretend it was a radio call, as that is good practice.

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I believe the correct answer, at least in the US, is to report established only when ATC asks you too. I can think of several reasons for this, especially at busy airports.

 

You can look this up in the AIM and IVAO manuals, I'll take a look sometime tomorrow.

 

Best wishes.

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Strictly speaking, Dave is correct, if you ain't been asked to report, you don't have to, but.. the rules differ a little bit for different countries, and you can get clarification of that by reading that country's relevant documentation, which of course would be a sensible thing to do if you are going to fly to that country. For example, you could look at 'CAP 413' for the UK:

 

http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/modalapplication.aspx?catid=1&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode=detail&id=6973

 

However, to save you the trouble of plowing through all that. Here is the bit that matters:

 

'When it is judged that this will aid situational awareness, controllers may request
aircraft to report established on the localiser.'

 

The important bit here is: 'may' and 'when it is judged that this will aid situational awareness'

 

Now of course that phrase is open to some interpretation, and is referring to the controller as far as that bit of the document is concerned, but personally, since the pilot can judge stuff too, and is the one up there, I would say that letting ATC know what you are doing can undeniably 'aid situational awareness', so I would always say I was coming in on that localiser whether they asked me to or not, regardless of not actually being required to do so, and I know many pilots do that as a matter of common sense.

 

Or to give you an example of when what is 'required' might not be what is sensible: you aren't 'required' to have your landing lights on above certain altitudes, but if you judged that turning them on made you stand out more in a situation such as an air prox, it would be smart to put them on anyway. After all, you aren't required to stop your car at a green light either, but it would be sensible to do so if there was some asshat coming through a red light the other way who was likely to hit your car lol.

 

Controllers do have fancy radar scopes which tell them a lot, but they can malfunction, transponders can break, controllers can be stressed out etc. Those systems are pretty reliable, and controllers are very professional, but you can't know for sure that they're looking at their screen, that it is working just fine, that they aren't distracted, that your transponder is perfectly fine or whatever, and so if you say what you are doing and where you are, then that removes any doubt and therefore it does aid situational awareness.

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