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[Addressed] Complaint

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 5:40 pm
by FlyElias
[This post has been very well addressed by the folks at PilotEdge. I am grateful for their fantastic quality control and support.]

Hi Folks,

In my real world instruction, I'm currently flying a lot between KSAC and KDWQ in and around Sacramento. My teacher has me (as he does) request flight following when I call up ground for taxi clearance. The ground controller sets me up with a frequency and squawk either on the ramp or during taxi without fail.

In Pilot Edge the controllers don't seem to care to do this. The controller today said that "flight following is not usually given for flights less than 14NM... not sure what I can do for you." KSAC and KDWA are 26 nautical miles apart - which is greater than 14.

Furthermore, I heard a green pilot get scolded today for requesting flight following on the ground. Yes, you can pick it up in the air, but it is still common to do so on the ground. As I said, this is what I do in the RW. This is what my teacher has me do. This is the practice for which I need PE.

I need to do this exact flight tomorrow in the RW. I was REALLY hoping to get some practice tonight, but it was rather lame. Between unwilling attitudes from controllers and the unexplainable difficulty they have hearing me despite my 600Mbps internet connection, I no longer see value in Pilot Edge.

I wish everybody the best, it really seems to have such potential, but not for a student VFR pilot. I will give it one more week, but after that I'm out.


Re: Complaint

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 6:37 pm
by Peter Grey
Hello Elias,

We found the recording of this flight.

Your request for flight following wasn't denied as you were given a squawk and departure frequency. The controller simply advised that on such a short flight it may not be useful which is true. The flight is 18 NM (the controller was estimating when he said 15) so by the time you depart, get radar identified, you'll be very close to the point where we should terminate flight following so that you can self announce position (10 NM).

Each real world facility is a little different on the shortest distance that they will offer flight following for. We don't have the ability to know this for every airport so we give the controllers some discretion based on workload and preference. As flight following is not a mandatory service for ATC to provide (see AIM 4-1-15) this isn't too unrealistic to the real world.

The controller did make a mistake in not hearing your first request to taxi. I'll address this with the controller. While you may have a good internet connection there are some issues with voice quality that you can hear in the recording. You can listen here starting at 7:45.

As for the pilot who got in trouble for requesting Flight following on the ground. He was calling approach while on the ground at a towered airport requesting flight following. The controller simply provided him the correct location to request flight following from.

Re: Complaint

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:24 pm
by FlyElias

I thank you very much for your response.

Indeed, the flight is 18NM. I was misremembering my flight from F72 to KDWA, which is 26NM direct.

I do understand how each facility might be different, and how PE will reflect that with controllers operating in a manner they are used to. I just wish that I could operate in PE the way I am according to my instruction. My teacher is adamant about using flight following on this flight. We actually also use it when we're going to our practice area, which I believe is 12NM SE from KSAC. We fly in circles when we do this, but we get alerted to traffic. At one point we couldn't fly at the altitude necessary to practice stalls, but we would rather wait for traffic to be clear.

An aside: On my third solo I was just past abeam the numbers on downwind when I hear tower say "NXYXY..... turn left. TURN LEFT! HARD LEFT!" Within a split second I know somebody is in trouble before I hear them say, "54661, turn right!" "661, turning right." As I do, I look to my left to see the belly of a large twin as it turns VERY steeply and descends to just above the trees. They had "become disoriented for a minute" and were a few seconds from a mid-air collision.

Needless to say, I understand doing everything you can to be aware of traffic at all times, even on a short trip to the practice area.

Okay, long winded here, but I also know I could be denied or ignored when requesting flight following, but I still wish that I could ensure somehow that I can practice the coms that I will be flying in the RW the next day. I understand that this might not be practical.

Finally, I really don't know what to do about my audio. Tech Support wasn't able to help. It is a mystery. While I know it is not PE's fault, it will prevent me from utilizing PE.

Thank you very much for your fantastic support,

Re: Complaint

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 1:23 am
by Kevin_atc
I’m a huge advocate for flight following- you should try to use it 100% of the time for the reasons you can be a busy and crazy VFR world out there. I don’t want you to get a false sense of anything’s VERY VERY unlikely that flight following will be denied on PilotEdge and even in this instance that created the dissatisfaction, it wasn’t. The controller was just informing you of the short duration of the flight as he was unaware of your skill level (for all he knew, it was your first time trying to use flight following so he was more just giving you a quick tip that it’s going to be a very quick hello/goodbye with the TRACON...but again, nothing wrong with that).

You’re not doing anything wrong and I don’t want you to think you are and alter your practices.

One brief aside: a sneaky little workaround if you ever were to be denied flight following due to distance (pilotedge or real world) Just tell them you’re going further. Tell them you’re headed to Sonoma. Then once you get near KDWA, just cancel flight following ;).

I hope that despite the initial confusion of the situation, after having seen Peter’s response as to what was really happening that you can see the training value of using PilotEdge and give PilotEdge another fair opportunity for long term use in your flight training.

Were you ever able to get that hardwire connection for the Ethernet to try that solution?

Re: [Addressed] Complaint

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 6:56 am
by Keith Smith
If you only plan on flying in your local area, then you don't need the ZLA subscription. You could swap to WUS-only and save $15/mth.

The rest has been addressed, but your original post shoots first then asks questions later. It goes without saying that if we went through all of the effort to build and maintain this system, it would be somewhat of a tragedy if it wasn't valuable for student pilots. There is considerable evidence over the past 9 years of operation that it has provided plenty of value for pilots in a simlar position.

Ignoring the fact for a moment that you actually did receive FF on the flight in question (which was the goal), I would stronly encourage you to not be so wedded to procedures for a specific flight from A to B. The reality is that you will be conducting myriad flights as a private pilot. Even though we were 'right' on this one, it's entirely plausible that you might request flight following on a flight from another field one day and they are unable to assign you a squawk code on the ground (such as from KSBD in Socal which doesn't have a flight data position from which a squawk code can be entered into the system). Think of it as experiencing what MIGHT happen on a flight....not necessarily exactly what WILL happen.

If you try to use it for the latter, particularly for VFR which often involves the tower using local geographic references that aren't published in SOPs (therefore we don't know about them), you'll be surprised when you arrive at the field and are told to report the cement plant (at KSQL where I learned to fly). The value in the system is that you get comfortable talking to ATC in GENERAL, understand airport regulations, practice pattern entries/departures and become exposed to a wide variety of situations. Packing it in because you thought you didn't get flight following for a specific flight (again, notwithstanding for a moment that you actually did receieve the instructions as requested), I think, misses the actual value of the system. In short, there is so much more to be gained than practicing a single flight from SAC.

Re: [Addressed] Complaint

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 7:59 pm
by FlyElias
Hi Folks,

I think I am going to reduce my subscription with the assertion that I will expand it again for ZLA when I go back to working on the CAT ratings.

I did this flight again today and could definitely use some "on the ground" practice. It was VERY busy up there (IRL today) with a lot of RADAR communication that kept me on my toes - or wing tips... or something. Strangely enough, the most difficult part was being on CTAF at KDWA. I was getting chatter from more than 100 miles away and it was hard to tell what was for my destination airport or not. PE can no doubt help make me more comfortable in my real world training.

Kevin, I have a CAT8 ethernet cable coming in the mail. I'll keep you posted.

I've amended my original post should anybody get the wrong idea about PE.

FlyElias (Bobby)

Re: [Addressed] Complaint

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:46 am
by Keith Smith
Can you provide some specifics regarding the CTAF being busy? What frequency were you on and what were you hearing? There are no repeaters for the CTAF, it's purely line of sight. It would be odd to be hearing traffic from more than 100 miles away. Can you clarify where you were, and what airport names you were hearing in the other broadcasts? Something is amiss there.

Re: [Addressed] Complaint

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 2:03 pm
by Kevin_atc
Keith Smith wrote:Can you provide some specifics regarding the CTAF being busy? What frequency were you on and what were you hearing? There are no repeaters for the CTAF, it's purely line of sight. It would be odd to be hearing traffic from more than 100 miles away. Can you clarify where you were, and what airport names you were hearing in the other broadcasts? Something is amiss there.

I got the impression he was talking IRL as his first post mentioned he was preparing to do this flight for real. But maybe I’m the one who misunderstood.

Re: [Addressed] Complaint

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 12:14 am
by FlyElias
Keith Smith wrote:Can you provide some specifics regarding the CTAF being busy?

Uh, oh! I just saw this. Yes... IRL. Heck, I would LOVE if I could replicate that in PE. But yeah, when on 123.0 at KDWA (IRL), on a clear day I can hear shared frequencies over 100NM away.

I'll update my post to be more clear.

Honestly, I may just delete the whole thread as everything has been resolved and might unintentionally reflect poorly on PE.


Re: [Addressed] Complaint

PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 8:43 am
by Keith Smith
If you can provide a specific example of where you were (position and altitude) and who you heard that over 100nm away, it would be helpful. I'd like to see if the same thing occurs on PE. We use a line of sight modeling system that takes into account terrain interference. When you first made the post, I thought you were implying that you were receiving the calls on the ground while on PE, which shouldn't be happening. If both parties are airborne,though, then I could see it happening at reasonably long distances, but I haven't done tests to see if 100nm+ is a common case.

When I fly IRL at N07, I routinely hear traffic from Brookhaven (KHWV) which is 66nm away once I'm airborne and have line of sight with Brookhaven. I don't think I've heard anything further away than that, though.

You can certainly try testing with some friends to see if you can replicate the scenario you have in mind. I know ATIS can be received on PE at great distances in airliners as a result of being in the flight levels.

Don't worry about deleting the thread, it's a good discussion.