Monday, October 04, 2010

Level at Fife Tousand

On my flight test, when I levelled off at my assigned altitude after the missed approach I didn't report level right away, but I asked for a vector. I realized a second later that I hadn't made the level call, but I expected that they would have looked at my blip and seen my altitude, so there wasn't any point in making the call, so I didn't. The examiner didn't call me on it, so I looked back at the AIM to see if I was strictly required to make that call.

Although the CARs do not specifically direct pilots to report altitude information to ATC, pilots, if not operating in radar airspace (i.e. radar-identified by ATC), should report reaching the altitude to which the flight has been initially cleared. When climbing or descending en route, pilots should report when leaving a previously-assigned altitude and when reaching the assigned altitude.

Nope, it wasn't mandatory. I was radar identified before I made that call, so I didn't have to report level. I was originally trained to call ATC upon reaching a cleared altitude even in a radar environment, but maybe that's because I trained near a big city and in that environment we never went far enough to leave radar coverage, but they they wanted me not to forget my level calls when not radar identified. Or I just forgot the rule from being away from big cities too much.

That quoted paragraph might be ambiguous, though. Does the "if not operating in radar airspace" apply to just the first sentence or to the entire paragraph? The section continues:

On initial contact with ATC, or when changing from one ATC frequency to another, when operating in radar or non-radar airspace, pilots of IFR and CVFR flights should state the assigned cruising altitude and, when applicable, the altitude through which the aircraft is climbing or descending. In order for ATC to use Mode C altitude information for separation purposes, the aircraft Mode C altitude readout must be verified. The Mode C altitude is considered valid if the readout value does not differ from the aircraft reported altitude by more than 200 ft. The readout is considered invalid if the difference is 300 ft or more. Therefore, it is expected that pilot altitude reports, especially during climbs and descents, will be made to the nearest 100-ft increment.

I guess I shouldn't nitpick it that badly, seeing as it's just a "should" not even a rule.


david said...

My instructor taught me always to call level for the first altitude assigned after departure, but even that seems to annoy the hell out of ATC in a busy radar environment.

The only time I call level now is when I'm non-radar, when I'm specifically instructed to, or when I want to annoy ATC a bit to remind them that they'd promised to clear me higher out of the turbulence soon.

Sarah said...

Same in the US. ATC wants an altitude on any check-in to verify the mode C. After that, while radar identified no altitude leaving/reaching declarations are expected. Though.. I like the idea of using it as a hint.

Anonymous said...

Due to nuances in the American ATC system, I've got into the habit of always reporting when I am leaving an altitude. Reaching? never thought of that one before. I have to admit being rusty on my non-radar procedures though. It is rare that I am IFR here outside of radar coverage (spoiled, I know).

Sarah said...

I've got into the habit of always reporting when I am leaving an altitude.

OK. Other than "pilot's discretion", I'm having trouble imagining times you'd do this. Or do you mean on check in on a new freq? ( "November 1234 leaving 8 thousand climbing 1-2 thousand")

Please elaborate. I love nuances.

Ed said...

Sarah, would that be for passing a step-down fix in a procedure, for example?

Sarah said...

Ed: a step-down fix in a procedure

... no, as I understand it, in the US; your mileage may vary.

In radar contact, no position/altitudes unless requested. Out of contact, required position reports and FAF inbound.

-- AIM, paraphrased