S46 16C Final Approach Vectors

Dhruv Kalra

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S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« on: August 13, 2018, 07:13:08 am »
Posting this in the hopes that someone gets something meaningful out of it (in all honestly I thought I had posted this here at some point already but I can’t seem to find it now). Many of you have seen this and use it as a training aid, but I felt it best to perhaps make some of the newer radar controllers and instructors aware of its existence.

The following video is a recording of one of a Seattle (S46) TRACON controller's final shifts prior to retirement. He's working the runway 16C final at SEA (their primary flow is south). I've personally been able to adapt many of the techniques that the controller uses in this video into my own toolbox for working Approach, especially final sequencing during busy events, and thought I'd share some of the insights. Link to the video follows along with a few bullet points of note to take away from it.

KSEA 16C Final Video

  • Position Relief Briefing: Presumably, the TRACON has some sort of checklist they run down, but even with that, note how concise the briefing is. The departing controller covers quickly the overall picture, noting that visual approaches aren't working very well. "170's losing about a mile" refers to the fact that he's assigning 170 knots to the FAF, and once aircraft are inside of it the final is compressing by about a mile per aircraft. He then quickly runs down the traffic, starting with the ones closest to the airport (the strips are presumably arranged in this logical order as well). Note that throughout all this, he's still issuing control instructions. After the briefing's complete, the relieving controller just starts firing away on frequency. No "all aircraft stand by, shift change in progress" or anything. Just a new voice.
  • Approach Clearances: many approach controllers on the network feel like they have to lock themselves into always issuing a full PTAC and always having to reference the final approach fix on the approach. In reality, at a busy major airport where 15-20 mile finals are the norm, you'll often find that step-down fixes on the applicable approaches are referenced far more than the FAF. Also, take note of the fact that the controller turns guys onto the localizer and then clears for the ILS in a separate transmission (e.g. "QXE9, turn left heading 190, join the 16C localizer" followed two or three transmissions later by "QXE9, 4 miles from MGNUM, cross MGNUM at 4,000 or above, cleared ILS rwy 16C approach, 170 knots till SODOE"). This is a fantastic technique when applied to the network for a number of reasons. It gives you time to ensure that aircraft actually intercept the localizer prior to clearing them for the approach, allows you to fire off a couple other critical instructions in the mean time, and then come back to give an abbreviated approach clearance that is often much easier for your average VATSIM IFR pilot to understand anyway. Also, by aiming aircraft for step-down fixes, you can ensure altitude separation between subsequent arrivals; just one more saving grace in case you lose lateral separation at any point!
  • Timing the Turn to Base: If you notice, the base turn for most aircraft in this sequence, taking speed differences between jets/props into account, is consistently timed so that the aircraft turning from downwind to base is effectively pointed directly at the traffic to follow. The controller is accounting for the fact that speed reduction on base coupled with the movement of the plane ahead on final will give him the required spacing he needs. Also note the early wake turbulence advisories given when aircraft will be following a heavy/B757 on final. It's not just a good idea, it's technically required by the .65, so something to get into the habit of providing. By and large, this technique translates to the network well, with the caveat that you can probably allow a 2-3 second lead time for network latency and pilot reaction time.
  • Bailout Tools: Watch this for long enough (and there's plenty to watch), you start to really appreciate some of the aces in the hole that can mean the difference between effective traffic flow and disaster on final. For example, a quick vector across the localizer for spacing is often a far more welcome alternative than a breakout for sequencing if you miss spacing right off the bat. Furthermore, never be afraid to solicit visual separation - notice that the controller in the video is calling traffic whenever possible to aircraft. A visual approach effectively negates all separation rules and can really come in handy when you need to run planes tight together. Just make sure legal separation exists before you call traffic and establish visual sep!

I've watched this several times and find myself coming away with something new to try every time. I strongly suggest taking the time to watch this to anyone who is training for their S3 or just looking to further their proficiency in working Approach. You can really rock a busy night on final with some of the techniques that you pick up from this.
Dhruv Kalra
ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor

Meg Bruck

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2018, 08:29:07 am »
This is an amazing video! I learned so much from watching it. Thanks for reminding me about it - I will suggest it to all my S3 students.
Meg Bruck
ATM, ZTL

William Dolezal

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2018, 11:42:50 am »
I've actually seen this video myself, and it has helped me learn some techniques that I never would have known before! Thanks for the great reminder.

Anchorage Facility Engineer | Mentor (C1)
fe@vzanartcc.net

Steven Perry

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2018, 10:04:42 pm »
Yes, but I don't hear any drunks,  any 13 year olds, or any drunk 13 year olds.  So this may not be applicable to VATSIM.

My students struggle with succinctness.  There's no wasted words from this controller.  No "you are 5 miles from" or "you are cleared for the ILS" or "give the wonderful guy at tower a call on frequency yada yada yada have a wonderful day George and say high to our mutual friend John and MOCHA HAGOTDI SEEEEEEEEEEEEEYA".

So I teach them to say miles from the FAF every time.  If I can get them to repeat the same thing every time, just substituting a few numbers, I think they stand a chance.

My two cents anyway.

Kyle Ekas

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2018, 10:35:09 pm »
I too have watched this video a few times before. I think your second bullet makes a great point, and I always try to utilize that when vectoring to final. I think doing it that way really allows VATSIM pilots to more easily "digest" the approach clearance if it is "broken up" like that.

K

James Hiscoe

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2018, 04:41:02 am »
This video's influence on my own virtual education in terminal radar has ensured that I will be applying one day to visit Seattle Center if only to be able to say "170 to SODOE" on freq.

With respect to the Bailout Tools DX mentioned this really is a masterclass in using the whole toolbox. My two favourites are using the Husky Stadium visual approach when a pilot can't pick up the traffic but sees the stadium and in another case changing a heavy that's following a Brasilia to the left side runway because it became clear they wouldn't have adequate spacing to the threshold. This way as long as the Heavy doesn't overrun the lighter aircraft with visual sep in place he's maintained his sequence. This video really made me love doing plane to plane. Also I think the way he speaks really influenced my own speaking on freq. Its so strong and crisp and clear and the speed is so measured. Its so important to be that way when you're rattling off even the partial PTAC with speeds and visual sep in there. I know that over time I've noticed I've had less and less issue with pilot comprehension even when giving relatively verbose clearances.

Also note that even he makes errors. There's a point where he transposes the callsign for two similar numbered Empire flights. Even the masters aren't perfect.
James Hiscoe
Minneapolis ARTCC | Instructor | Cynic

Dhruv Kalra

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2018, 08:27:55 am »
My students struggle with succinctness.  There's no wasted words from this controller.  No "you are 5 miles from" or "you are cleared for the ILS" or "give the wonderful guy at tower a call on frequency yada yada yada have a wonderful day George and say high to our mutual friend John and MOCHA HAGOTDI SEEEEEEEEEEEEEYA

See: https://forums.vatusa.net/index.php?topic=7954.0

Phraseology is an integral part of what we do. It needs to be done properly. Part of the pilot education struggle is directly caused by the fact that they hear the same instructions 40 different ways from 40 different controllers. Consistency is the key.
Dhruv Kalra
ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor

Reuben Prevost

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2018, 12:58:54 pm »
Thanks for the post Dhruv! Looking forward to watching this.

Ryan Parry

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2018, 02:17:44 pm »
Great write up Dhruv! This video is really helpful

Ryan Parry - 965346
ZOA Air Traffic Manager

Andrew Morkunas

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2018, 10:01:13 am »
Quote
many approach controllers on the network feel like they have to lock themselves into always issuing a full PTAC...

Thank you for bringing this up as when I was trained for approach I was only taught to use the full PTAC because online pilots never fly through the localizer, practice the mantra of Aviate, Navigate and Communicate and always maintain visual separation on final.

I have changed my final approach technique where I am now giving the instruction "Join the localizer" and then in a separate transmission issuing the approach clearance.  I find the pilots able to process information better when instructions come in smaller chunks.

The other issue I have noticed recently when giving a long instruction is that pilots will break in when you make a pause in your speech and have not given the full instruction.  A growing pet peeve of mine, 'wait until I release my PTT before you start talking.'

 
Andrew Morkunas
Enroute Controller
VATSIM Supervisor


Brin Brody

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2018, 05:09:07 pm »
The other issue I have noticed recently when giving a long instruction is that pilots will break in when you make a pause in your speech and have not given the full instruction.  A growing pet peeve of mine, 'wait until I release my PTT before you start talking.'

 >:(

Great resource, Dhruv.  Definitely recommending this to students.  Thanks!
Brin Brody
Deputy Air Traffic Manager
Jacksonville ARTCC
datm@zjxartcc.org


Ryan Geckler

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2018, 05:56:49 pm »
The other issue I have noticed recently when giving a long instruction is that pilots will break in when you make a pause in your speech and have not given the full instruction.  A growing pet peeve of mine, 'wait until I release my PTT before you start talking.'

Or, you know, just don't pause in your transmission. Know what you are going to say, then key up the mic.
Ryan Geckler - GK
Former VATUSA3 | Division Training Director
Minneapolis ARTCC | RW Miami ARTCC

Daniel Everman

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2018, 06:48:30 pm »
Great resource, Dhruv.  Definitely recommending this to students.  Thanks!

Make sure to place emphasis on the fact that he isn't clearing aircraft direct to the FAF for the ILS 16C  :P
Daniel Everman
ZMP Facility Engineer/Instructor

Steven Perry

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2018, 06:52:49 pm »
Or, you know, just don't pause in your transmission. Know what you are going to say, then key up the mic.

Bingo.  And that comes with repetition in my opinion.  If we get the controllers saying the same exact thing over and over, the phraseology becomes rote and the numbers, the variables, the arguments to the statement are where the brain power can be spent.

Ira Robinson

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Re: S46 16C Final Approach Vectors
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2018, 11:05:28 pm »
Great post Dhruv!  I don't understand how any controller won't be able to find something to take from this that will make them a better controller.  Using a real world controller as an example is also a great choice.  But I have to tell you, and I don't disagree with you often, but you have my attention here.   One of the first things I found missing from these examples came during the position relief briefing.  Your example presumes that you and I are equals in our ability to absorb the information needed before I take over the position.  But that isn't accurate.  I could never absorb that information as quickly as you could.  That's just your experience which is much more than mine, so already, one minute into my shift I'm two minutes behind.  Different learning curves have to considered during any of this.

Also, your experience has taught you some of these tools that a new controller hasn't been taught yet.  Which begs the question should we be teaching shortcuts to our new controllers.  Isn't it more important that they learn how to do it for what I will for now call "the right way".  Aren't more and more people lately screaming that we need to do more by the .65?  I'm not saying that in the long run you aren't advocating that, I know you are, but isn't that at risk here?

Is there something our training staffs can take away from this? Yes.  Meg is right when she says that using this as a training tool will be a positive for her controllers.  What went unsaid is my question, for all of her controllers, or only those who can absorb the information and learn the proper time and place to use it?

Now is this something that we should be showing our controllers? At some point  probably.  But at what point? Where does teaching shortcuts get in the way of teaching .65.  How about GRP?  More importantly, and no offense intended my friend, but when does what ZMP teach or require of its controllers get to be the norm for ZBW, or anywhere else. Please understand, I'm not trying to compare your suggestions to what any ARTCC should be teaching, although I know it must sound that way.  But every ARTCC has real world controllers now too, a great resource for VATUSA controllers that we never had previously.  But like anything else, I would bet that even their experiences vary.

Did I happen to mention that issuing instructions to someone like AJ in his 757 and me on VATSIM are going to get you two different levels of response.  One real good (I hope!), one real not so good.  It just is the way it is, and it is the same thing that everyone likes to complain about and blame everything for everything on. There are pilots out there who don't know their left from their right and until Mr. Sherman and his staff deal with that, it won't matter how many pilots they certify, because they will always be out there.

I think it better that we teach the controllers to lighten up a little, learn the right way, then learn some of your tools and suggestions, and learn how to deal with ungodly levels of traffic that we see during the FNO to the best of their ability and just get over it.  I know I very rarely ear controllers complain that the even they held Saturday night was ruined because there were so many bad pilots. No, those events go off just fine, because there aren't that many pilots that overflow the arrival rates.

I would advocate that we are better off, long term, if we remind our Instructors to teach their students that this is supposed to be fun.
Ira Robinson
VATUSA4