Airports denying IFR services during an event.

Lonnie Solomon

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Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« on: April 10, 2020, 07:05:16 PM »
I was hoping I could find some help here.  I am fairly new to the network and so far, my time has been enjoyable.  I have flown into a few events and had a great time doing it.  I have flown single engine high wings all the way up to the A330, and every time has been a joy.

This evening I was flying in the Short 330 into Philadelphia to practice my IFR skills and to help with bringing traffic to the event.  I had a filed IFR flight plan, and was hoping to work on some IFR practice approaches.  When I called up the approach controller and requested a couple IFR practice approaches I was told “You can get the visual to runway 26, but we can’t help you with the practice approaches.”  When I asked why the only answer I was given was they just say we can’t.

I complied with the controller, and proceeded on with my flight, and went to the Code of Conduct to see if there was a rule that said I could not fly practice approaches into an event.  The only thing I could find in the Code of Conduct that said anything about denying services is that a controller can deny you “Emergency Procedures”

I then requested to speak with a SUP using the .wallop command, and I didn’t get a straight answer.

“[23:28:16] Name: Rick Rump
[23:28:16] DC_T_CTR: Hello, my name is Rick Rump, and I'm one of the VATSIM Supervisors. Do you have a moment to chat?
[23:30:09] POKEY17: Mr. Rump good evening. I have a quick question for you. Can the ATM of an ARTCC deny you IFR practice approaches into an event airport? I'm not asking for pattern traffic, I just want to do some practice approaches, and when I made my request I was told " We can get you visual into run way 26 but can't help you with practice approaches." Since when can an airspace deny IFR traffic?
[23:32:06] DC_T_CTR: Lonnie, Are you trying to fly into PHL?
[23:32:17] POKEY17: Correct sir.
[23:33:00] DC_T_CTR: I would recommend against it, there are quite a few other airports you can do that at that are fully staffed like KMD or KABE.
[23:33:32] DC_T_CTR: KMDT*
[23:33:36] POKEY17: Is there a reason why I shouldn't I don’t see anything in the rules that says I can’t fly IFR into an event?
[23:33:39] DC_T_CTR: or KDCA, KIAD or KBWI.
[23:33:54] DC_T_CTR: Its a very busy event.
[23:35:42] DC_T_CTR: If you want to practice approaches, for the enjoyment of everyone I would recommend flying into a nearby airport that is staffed. If you REALLY want to do a practice approach into PHL you would need to work with them for them to be able to fit you in.
[23:36:04] POKEY17: All of the events are busy events; I am not seeing a point. Isn’t the point of an event to bring all traffic not just commercial jet traffic? I've never been denied IFR service into an airport since I started flying on VATSIM, I am just confused as to why all of a sudden this is an issue, when it hasn't been an issue at any other airspace including yours.
[23:38:55] POKEY17: I'm just going to disconnect if they don't want the traffic ill fly elsewhere. 

So I pretty much got a non-answer.   It was less of a “Yes, they can deny you service”, or a “no they can’t” and what I got was more of a “Well it’s going to be super busy.”  I thought that was the point of an event? To bring in as much traffic as possible so we can all enjoy the network? I was not asking to jump into the traffic pattern and sit there all night.  I was just looking to fly some approaches.  Like any other IFR traffic arriving into the airport.   

My question is. Am I missing something in the code of conduct?  What makes the long stream of jet traffic arriving into the airfield and more important than say a pilot in a single engine Cessna, or in my case a Twin Engine Turbo prop?

Am I being the bad guy here by expecting services during an event?

I would appreciate your input on this.

Matthew Kramer

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2020, 07:39:50 PM »
Lonnie, the CoC is pretty vague about specific requests because it's meant to cover the entire globe, and the entire globe has different local procedures, rules, and regulations.

In the US, where we're simulating, VFR Practice Approaches are an optional service that can be denied by ATC on a workload permitting basis, just like Flight Following. Multiple IFR approaches in a row can not be "denied" per se, but just like in the real world you will be delayed until the system can figure out a slot for you. During a large event like Friday Night Ops, it's a faux pas to try and do something workload intensive such as multiple approaches into the main arrival airport. We are all volunteers working an event that mimics the real arrival rates of these airports normally staffed by dozes of controllers who spent literal years training to work single positions.

The question for you should be, "what is more important?" Did you need the approaches or to fly into PHL. If you needed the approaches, flying into a satellite airport that was fully staffed and less busy would satisfy you. If you wanted to fly into PHL, then a single approach is the option you have.

A real example of this happened to me a few months back IRL. It was IMC and calm, a good opportunity to replenish my  IFR currency by shooting approaches. I ended up sitting on the ground holding short for a half hour before getting a take off clearance, and was held multiple times to be sequenced into the airport behind larger, faster jets.
Matthew Kramer
ZLA DATM

Austin Wilkins

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2020, 09:42:59 PM »
You're dealing with an event with nearly 400 movements in four hours. Unrealistically busy traffic numbers. Doing practice approaches IFR in that kind of traffic is plainly just not smart and frankly is kind of ridiculous. If the real world PHL was that busy, would you expect them to be able to sequence you in when they're compressing down to 2 nm within 10 nm of the airport? I guarantee you it would not happen.
Austin Wilkins
Air Traffic Manager, Denver ARTCC
VATSIM Senior Supervisor
Former - VATUSA13, ZSE_EC, TA/HCF_DATM

Alexander Iannuzzi

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2020, 10:05:59 PM »
From experience, when you have 200+ arrivals to an airport, trying to fit someone in for "practice approaches" can be extremely difficult and I don't see the reason as to why you would want to argue about it.  They kindly asked you to do practice approaches somewhere else and I would suggest you do that. 

Hope you are enjoying VATSIM. 
Alexander Iannuzzi

Christopher Bruner

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2020, 12:11:44 AM »
Why do pilots on this network insist on controllers bending over backwards for them?

Gia Pham

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2020, 12:23:25 AM »


Reference page 464 for 7110.65Y Change 1.

I was on the CTR for the PAATS# arrival. I can't have somebody doing a practice approach at PXT or any of the major fields on my freq while I'm holding 10/15 guys for the FNO. It's already bad enough for freq saturation when I try to hold 10/15 aircraft. This is only top of re-route/escape routes and coordinations necessary while keeping. This is definitely not acceptable and not doable. It only will "help" the controller down the tube the lot quicker than anticipated. If you're a student pilot and trying to do practice approach, pick a non-busy day and field to do it.

Alex Ying

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2020, 12:25:54 AM »
I was one of the two final approach controllers at PHL for the event tonight, so I can say firsthand that we landed probably 20+ GA aircraft (props and jets, even a Cessna 172 at one point). We were not denying anyone the opportunity to land at PHL as far as I know.

As everyone else has pointed out, trying to do multiple practice approaches (regardless of whether it's IFR or VFR) into an airport that has an arrival demand of 200+ runs counter to the safe and efficient management of the airspace as is explicitly laid out in the 7110.65. If you want to fly in, we'll accommodate you, but it's not fair to the community as a whole for one aircraft to use up multiple landing slots when we could serve many more planes by using them all for full-stop landings.

August Eriksson

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2020, 11:46:38 AM »
Hi Lonnie,
I was the first approach controller you spoke to at Philadelphia and I'd like to just go through my side of the story and my thought process when handling the situation and hopefully clear up any questions!
I received you and you were our first GA flight into Philly of the event so I checked with the final controller to make sure everyone was okay with a Visual approach to Runway 26. He said yes and I told you that you could expect that approach.
You then said something along the lines of "Just letting you know, after the Visual, we'd like to request a touch and go and then IFR practice approaches at Philly."
You were leaving my airspace and about to enter Final's, so I replied something along the lines of, "I can't guarantee a touch and go nor practice approaches to the quantity of arriving and departing traffic, but if you land at Philly you can ask a controller there and they could try coordinate trying to get you in for a practice approach or you could ask for clearance to either a satellite or a different airport."
You then asked "So am I being denied practice approaches during an event?"
I replied, "For right now, I can't guarantee that you'd be allowed practice approaches because of the level of traffic, but there might be another time where we can fit you in."
By that time Final had picked up your track and I verbally handed you off to him.
That's the story from my point of view, but I could be remembering some parts wrong and correct me if that's the case, but I think I got the gist of it.
I'll just run through each part and explain why it was difficult or impossible to happen from a controller's point of view.
In terms of the practice approaches, the final controllers were overloaded as is, and it was already hard finding spots back into the flow for jets that had gone around. We had many aircraft divert and others had to hold at Lancaster VOR or DRIFT until there was a hole in the flow where a feeder approach could take them. For these reasons, it was unlikely that we could have found space for you anywhere but maybe runway 26. We easily could have taken you at any of the satellite fields like KPNE, KTTN, or KILG, or something in another tracon like KMDT or KABE, but the only problem would've been if you had landed, you probably would've had to wait a good amount of time to depart again.
There was no problem with asking for practice approaches, and we're always thankful for the traffic, but on very rare occasions like events we can't guarantee practice approach services just because of the volume of traffic.
I think the main problem in this encounter was that everything was very rushed, because you were already very close to the airport so there wasn't much time to discuss your options, and because of the nature of the event, the final controller would not have had time to talk thru everything. I think your best option if you'd like to try something like this in the future would be to take off like you did from a nearby airport and then ask center or a approach controller what the options are because we can see where the traffic is and what is possible at that time.
Let me know if you have any questions, and thanks so much for flying!
August Eriksson

Robert Shearman Jr

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2020, 03:43:12 PM »
Lonnie --

Three other threads on this forum might provide some insights for you:

https://forums.vatusa.net/index.php?topic=9115.0
Summary: during the recent FNO at PHL, pilots coming from ZTL toward PHL wound up in holds within ZDC, where pilots coming from ZID toward PHL were asked to hold within ZID (some for an hour or more), and many aircraft wound up ground-stopped at their origin airport

https://forums.vatusa.net/index.php?topic=9278.0
Average FNO volume of late has been triple the average, and event design should de-emphasize flying into a single destination until this resolves

https://forums.vatusa.net/index.php?topic=9279.0
VATUSA is mandating that through April, May, and June, all FNO events MUST staff majors in at least two different ARTCCs

Here's a screenshot of VAT-Spy showing 274 arrivals into Philly, while someone on my stream complained he'd been waiting to depart from RDU for 45 minutes
https://youtu.be/XspjudXjT3o?t=3250
(skip ahead to 58:00 for additional comments)

So, some pilots wound up in hour-long holds, and others wound up stuck on the ground for 45+ minutes because Philly can only take so many arrivals within a given span of time.  Are any of the pilots who were holding for an hour, or not even given takeoff clearance in the first place, here complaining that they were "denied services"?  If 300 people want to fly into an airspace that can hold 150, and the controllers do their jobs the way they're supposed to, are you saying that the remaining 150 pilots can come on this forum complaining that they were "denied services"?

So, now, ask yourself -- are you really truly suggesting that your need for practice approaches at Philly at that exact moment superseded the needs of any of the pilots who were stuck in holds or groundstops?  On VATSIM we strive never to prioritize any one pilot over another.  Aren't YOU the one who caused denial of service for OTHERS?  Or, do we need to apply just a bit of common sense to the situation and say that in unprecedented high traffic volumes, the controllers were just doing what they could to be fair to everyone?
« Last Edit: April 12, 2020, 11:02:51 PM by Robert Shearman Jr »
Cheers,
-R.

Timothy Barker

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2020, 03:59:43 PM »
Lonnie,

As someone pointed out that arrival slots are at a premium during an event into the airport. I will speak to Philly as it comes to the FAA. The optimal arrival rate that the FAA does is 60 per hour. So with 277 arrivals with the optimal arrival rate being met for 5 hours straight would allow for 300 arrivals. You ask for your practice approaches. That on average would lets say be 6 or 7 in an hour. If that is for the whole event than that is 35 arrival slots in optimal conditions. Now lets say the controllers did their best to hit 50 an hour. That means it will take 6 hours to accept all of the arrivals and that is not including your practice approaches.

A better example for you to be of help was they had an OTS checkride up at CYWG. You could have got your practice approaches and helped the controller up there by doing them.

Karl Mathias Moberg

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2020, 04:34:04 PM »
Lonni,

I see that the point has been answered multiple times here, but if you would like to understand how hard this is to do, with 300+ arrivals over 4 hours, when the real world airport can only handle 56 arrivals an hour, I hope you understand why the controller said that practice approaches might not be available, take a look at this video. This is from one of the final controllers, and as you can see, there is very, very little space to squeeze in any more airplanes in here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/19vigetDuTU23O7qd39KHywVdcndhi5_K/view

Now, I'd also like to point out that for this event, ZNY staffed a number of other alternative diversion fields, many all the way, all within a 15-20 minute flight of PHL. ABE, MDT, EWR, JFK and MORE had ATC, and every single one of them would probably be able to accommodate your request if you had asked for it.


Karl Mathias Moberg (KM) - C3/I1
New York ARTCC
ZNY Air Traffic Manager

Robert Shearman Jr

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2020, 05:31:58 PM »
As I pointed out on my livestream, at the point Philly was cresting 240 planned arrivals, Allentown (KABE) had precisely THREE.

It seems to me that the original poster could easily have picked some other time to do practice approaches at Philly, or picked somewhere else this past Friday night to do practice approaches.  To come in here all indignant that he was slighted in some way because 273 other people also wanted to be in that same space at that same time just smacks of a bit of myopic self-importance in my opinion.
Cheers,
-R.

Toby Rice

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2020, 12:59:47 PM »
Lonnie,

Services are workload permitting. Remember, the "clearances" that controllers issue is essentially them permitting you to conduct your requested operation.

Let's say you filed an IFR flight plan, and your route was not acceptable due to airspace conflicts, and the controller had to issue you a reroute. You asked the controller for permission to fly this route. He said no, because of [insert reason], but he will allow you to fly [this route] instead. You don't have permission to do anything until he issues the clearance. The controller's job is to ensure the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic, which sometimes means that not everyone can receive the clearance (or permission to enter the controlled airspace) that they desire. This is especially true with VFR services, such as VFR practice approaches and flight following. Sometimes, controllers don't have time to deal with giving you flight following if they are too busy.

IFR practice approaches are slightly different, in that technically you are treated like any other IFR aircraft and receive the same services as they do. However, if they give you an approach clearance, they are automatically clearing you to go missed at the missed approach point. Once you go missed, follow their instructions and make your request. They should be able to vector you back around and try again. However, it is imperative that you understand the potential delays associated with going missed during an event and the inability of ATC to give you any priority service to get to the airport.

Emergencies are one thing, but they can be denied in VATSIM. The reason for this is because pilots in the real world declare emergenices because it is actually an emergency and was unintentional. On VATSIM, "trolls" might delcare an emergency because they want to try to get priority service to the airport. This is not always feasible during an event, especially if the guy is being a troll. Oftentimes, emergencies are diverted to other nearby airports. You must remember that emergencies should rarely be used as excuses on VATSIM to mess up the flow. In the real world, aircraft are diverted, put into holds, and the airport is closed for this one emergency. We aren't going to do that on VATSIM. You can just disconnect. If we are not very busy, we might accommodate it. At my work, we have to accept emergencies because they are "real" (or used for training). Here, we don't.

In your case of being refused the ILS into Philly, I don't control that airspace, so I do not know about their procedures. If I were controlling you in my airspace, I would have given you your request, pending it did not conflict with other operations. If you requested some weird NDB/DME-A approach with a circle... sorry, you're out of luck... LOL :D
I can give you an ILS, but it might take some sequencing. The best thing you can do is be patient in that instance. I'll get you in, but we gotta work together here. I'm here to serve you, but you're not any more special than the 50 other guys I'm trying to flow into the busy event smoothly.

I hope this helps you! HMU if you have any questions.
Toby Rice
Jacksonville ARTCC
ACE Team | Former HCF ATM | Former ATC Instructor

Mark Hubbert

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2020, 02:21:02 AM »
Lonnie,
While the network is about having fun.  It is about having fun simulating as realistic as possible a scenario as possible.  ATC on the network are not allowed to deny you any service at all, however you are required to follow their instructions.

Quote
B8 - A pilot must comply with all agreed (read-back) air traffic control clearances and all issued instructions, or notify air traffic control without delay if unable to do so. Additionally, compliance with the following ATC instructions is mandatory, unless operational safety (e.g. TCAS conflict resolution) is compromised:

This is from the Code of Conduct.  So technically if a controller informs you that he cannot accommodate practice approaches due to traffic volume then the pilot is expected to comply.  This is not about airline traffic over GA traffic but just like in the real world a Cessna 172 who has an approach speed of approx 70 knots is going to create a safety issue if he is cycled in between airliners who will probably hit the outer marker at twice that speed if not more. 

In conclusion, I hope that this situation is not discouraging to you and I am hopeful that you understand why the controller did what he did.  I hope you will enjoy the first class service that the VATUSA controllers provide in the future.
Mark Hubbert
Division Director VATUSA Retired

Mike Willey

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Re: Airports denying IFR services during an event.
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2020, 06:09:48 AM »
I get refused entry into the MSP Class B airspace everyday IRW... >:(
Mike Willey - WY
vZBW Training Administrator (Retired)
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