Thursday, 12 April 2012

pilot to pilot comms

I have been thinking about the efficiency...or inefficiency...of communications in the air. I don't think I am alone in avoiding talking to air traffic control, etc.....deliberately flying the long way round to avoid having to do the tricky exchange with controllers. (It is a confidence barrier I need to get through, I know)

If I want to let a car out on the road, I flash my lights. He knows I have seen him and will slow down to let him out. Imagine the insanity if I had to call Road Traffic Control, tell them where I am, what car I am driving, what its registration is and where I am going; and Road Traffic Control then calling the other car to let him know that I am on the same road and to watch out for me.

We aren't supposed to talk to each other, even when we can see each other and Controllers can't. It'd be great, it seems to me, if there could be a universal channel with a limited range, so that if you talked on it, only someone within relatively close proximity to you could receive you. It would be similar to using the prefix "Traffic" when making a call when a ground radio isn't manned, allowing others to know your intentions.

I don't know anyone in microlighting who changes frequency from airfield to airfield as they move from one area to the next, each time alerting controllers to the change. It would strike non-pilots as absurd that at any one time there could be numerous aeroplanes in the same cubic mile, all on different frequencies....often unable to raise anyone on the ground, and each completely unable to communicate with others in the sky, except by flying in circles and flapping their wings.

Yes, arguably, it could lead to confusion if pilots were to use their own discretion in communicating, but I'd rather have too much info than no way of alerting other aeroplanes to my presence and intentions... particularly in the open sky outside controlled airspace.

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