Two Newbie Questions

Two Newbie Questions

Postby dmackusick » Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:50 pm

First Question: Flying a Cessna 172 VFR southeast from Santa Barbara to Camarillo with flight following. When I'm about two or three miles northwest of the Oxnard Delta airspace at 1,500 feet, the Point Mugu Controller terminated radar services and told me to contact the Camarillo tower. Since I only had a minute or two before entering the Oxnard Delta airspace, I contacted the Oxnard tower and requested and received permission to transition the Oxnard airspace to Camarillo, then contacted the Camarillo tower. The Oxnard controller seemed annoyed with me (same person was handling Oxnard tower, Pt. Mugu Approach, Santa Barbara Approach, and Camarillo tower). Did I handle this incorrectly? If the Point Mugu controller had told me to transition the Oxnard airspace or had waited another minute or two for me to enter the Oxnard airspace before terminating radar services, I would have contacted the Camarillo tower and continued on my way through the Oxnard airspace to Camarillo. However, since radar services were terminated prior to entering the Oxnard airspace, I was not comfortable entering the airspace without requesting the transition. What would be the correct procedure here?

Second Question: This may be the real reason the controller was annoyed with me. He asked me if I could hear other aircraft on the radio because I had stepped on other aircraft three times. The answer is yes of course I can hear lots of other aircraft, but I can't hear all of the aircraft that the controller is handling. If the aircraft are too far away I can't hear them. Also, I'm flying southeast along the coast below 3,000 feet and there are mountains to the northeast that may be blocking some transmissions. I don't want to step on others, but I can't avoid stepping on an aircraft I can't hear. If some aircraft I can't hear is communicating with ATC, I can hear the controller (but not the other aircraft) and will wait until their conversation is completed, but if the aircraft is not currently communicating with ATC, I have no way of knowing when they are talking and cannot avoid stepping on them. Is there some setting in the PilotEdge plugin I can use to allow me to hear aircraft that are farther away so I can avoid this issue? If not, any other suggestions? I'm using X-Plane 11.50 and the stock Cessna 172.
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Re: Two Newbie Questions

Postby Kevin_atc » Thu Dec 17, 2020 5:23 pm

1. It sounds like you did the right thing.
Also, take a look at this video in regards to transitioning D airspace while on flight following: https://youtu.be/wJ96aJASRWg
EDIT: I didn’t see that you were specifically instructed to call CMA tower. However, still watch the above video. It probably wouldn’t have hurt for you to verify.

2. The system is working properly, check out the radio info here: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=8153
Last edited by Kevin_atc on Thu Dec 17, 2020 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Two Newbie Questions

Postby Keith Smith » Thu Dec 17, 2020 5:32 pm

Regarding the second question, you're incorrect in your assumption that you can only hear aircraft that are within range. We have a repeater system which is described here: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=8153

If you're talking to clearance, ground, tower or approach, you'll hear any other aircraft that are on a clearance, ground, tower or approach frequency if the controller is also working those aircraft. The only planes you won't hear are on center frequencies. Similarly, if you're on a center freq, you'll hear any other aircraft which are also on a center frequency if they're being worked by the same controller.

In terms of reception, it'll be the worse of the following two cases: 1) your reception strength with the controller versus 2) the reception strength of the other aircraft with the controller (based on relevant transmitter locations for the frequency you're using, vs what they're using, etc).

It shouldn't be a regular occurence that you're stepping on other aircraft (sometimes in unavoidable if there are no 'open' transactions and two people happen to initiate a call at exactly the same time). It might be worth reviewing the audio for the flight (https://pilotedge.net/audio) to find out the context of what was taking place. The only things that are likely to be on the recording that weren't in your ear at the time will be the calls from aircraft on center frequencies.

Regarding the first question: the fact that it was the same person handling all those frequencies is a red herring and doesn't factor into who you should or shouldn't call. They're all separate roles. Treat it as though it's a different person on each freq beacuse it absolutely would be in real life and there's no reason at all to do anything different here, despite it being the same voice.

The issue is that the controller issued a specific instruction, "contact CMA tower," but you instead contacted someone else. Given the proximity of OXR and CMA, and assuming your path of flight at the time was clearly going to take you through OXR airspace, the fact that you were told to contact CMA meant you could reasonable assume that the controller had coordinated your transition of OXR airspace for you, hence, "contact CMA tower" rather than "freq change approved," or "contact OXR tower for the transition," etc. It's a subtle nuance, but the signs were there that the transition had been coordinated, as well as the fact that you didn't comply with specific ATC instruction.

I hope this helps clear it up.

Edit: dammit, Kevin :)
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Re: Two Newbie Questions

Postby Shawn Goldsworthy » Thu Dec 17, 2020 5:46 pm

It was me that worked you last night. I'm Canadian, I don't get annoyed with anybody ;)

After you stepped over another pilot on the comms for the third time, I asked you if you could hear other pilots. I was trying to figure out if there was a glitch on our end as to why you couldn't hear them. We got it sorted out.

Again, like Keith said, you were under radar services, and I asked you to contact CMA tower, not OXR. Feel free to question it if you're unsure, if that's the right thing to do or not. Since I said contact CMA tower, you can rest assured that I coordinated the transition through OXR with myself.

Clear as mud?


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Re: Two Newbie Questions

Postby dmackusick » Thu Dec 17, 2020 7:44 pm

Well, this has been a very interesting learning experience. I reviewed the audio and if anyone cares to listen its the 12/16 1600 ZLA Radar. I'm Skyhawk 27VB. I contact Santa Barbara clearance delivery at 12:10. The first step happens at 15:34 when I'm making contact with the SB departure controller and I am about half a second behind the other aircraft. I didn't hear him, but I am stepping on him. It's my fault. I should pause briefly after changing frequency, listen, then talk. I will try to do better. The second step happens when I contact Pt. Mugu Approach at 19:01. I am half a second ahead of the other aircraft. He stepped on me. Nothing I could do about that one. The third step happens at 21:40 and I am definitely stepping all over some poor guy. I did not hear him at all and I don't know how that happened. I feel a little better because it doesn't seem like it will be an ongoing issue. I just need to be a little more careful.

I also reviewed when I talked to Shawn in the Oxnard tower and I apologize. Shawn does not sound at all annoyed so I don't know where I got that impression.

As far as the CMA/OXR thing goes, I totally understand that I was under radar services and told to contact CMA, but radar services were terminated outside the OXR airspace and I'm left wondering if you coordinated the transition. Maybe the better practice would have been to just ask you to confirm that you had coordinated the transition? The video that Kevin posted about transitioning class D or C airspace while under flight following might make anyone nervous about assuming anything about what a controller has or has not done.

In any event, great learning experience and thanks to all of you for responding and helping me understand.

Edit: I should add that I have maybe 50 hours or less on the network and exactly zero hours IRL. You guys are professionals. If what you are describing is how things work in real life, that's what I need to know and work toward. It will take awhile to build some experience that can provide a frame of reference for making good decisions. It seems much of this is art rather than science. Thanks again for all your patience and for sharing your knowledge and experience.
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