RIAT ATC

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Wissam24
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by Wissam24 »

Nice update, thanks!
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by iainpeden »

If we get Phantoms can you arrange for the French to refuse them airspace on departure day - it was great to get them in the circuit and see the break and land (having not been there when Spooky arrived.)
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Re: RIAT ATC

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Re: RIAT ATC

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Re: RIAT ATC

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by rdchawk »

I'm assuming that's a historical picture, as you'll be giving away a few clues there.
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by boff180 »

rdchawk wrote:
Fri 17 May 2024, 8:55 pm
I'm assuming that's a historical picture, as you'll be giving away a few clues there.
It's historic unless 45sqn are once again flying King Airs lol

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by RIAT ATC »

Those are some of the departure strips (blue holders = pointing to the sky) from a previous departures day.

It would be a little odd if we'd printed out strips for the show already! Before our swanky strip printer that debuted last year, we had to print out the next day's strips just after we closed in the evening. Now they print out automatically about 40mins before ETA or ETD.
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RIAT ATC
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by RIAT ATC »

As has been mentioned in today's aircraft update, we are looking forward to 'The Longest Day' next week, in fact two of them; one for arrivals and one for departures.

We've been working hard with our colleagues at Brize, 78sqn and Swanwick in an attempt to make the IFR departure process considerably smoother, and to mitigate any flight planning issues, which we've seen in recent years, in advance. Many face to face and Teams meetings, but progress has been made so hopefully the workload for us on the Monday will reduce.

The ATC team had our training day last month, and the airside ops department is having theirs later this month. There's a definite atmosphere at DBH now, we're all really looking forward to the show.
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by CWS »

Great to hear! Doing departures this year for the first time, looking forward to seeing and hearing the controlled chaos
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by BU7 »

Very interesting, what issues have you had with departure days previously? Presumably getting IFR clearances all the way to certain destinations with flight plans not being accepted by certain countries/FIRs? (French airspace etc for the Greek phantom last year)?

How much co-ordination do you have to do with Brize, presumably all arrivals and departures and anything holding in between displays? With a RAT covering the airspace used for flying displays? Any more insight is greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Ben

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by RichPittman »

Is it possible to have a current list of freqs used please

Ground , Tower and approach would be great .

I guess aircraft feed off Brize ?
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Re: RIAT ATC

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BU7 wrote:
Thu 13 Jun 2024, 4:24 pm
Very interesting, what issues have you had with departure days previously? Presumably getting IFR clearances all the way to certain destinations with flight plans not being accepted by certain countries/FIRs? (French airspace etc for the Greek phantom last year)?

How much co-ordination do you have to do with Brize, presumably all arrivals and departures and anything holding in between displays? With a RAT covering the airspace used for flying displays? Any more insight is greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Ben
Departures:
There are 2 types of departures:
Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and those following Visual Flight Rules (VFR). This is at the choice of the crew (though there are some aircraft types that will not be equipped to fly IFR).
IFR will usually be any ‘heavy’, multi-crew/multi engine (Think your KC-135, C-130, P-8, Voyager etc, and some fast jets)

VFR will be everything else, but we subdivide the VFRs into helicopters and light ‘general aviation’ (low and slow) type aircraft; Chipmunks, Tutors etc, and other VFRs which are fast jets, turbine military stuff, maybe some larger multi-engine stuff too)

IFR/VFR will be on the flight plan.

Helicopter/Light VFR departures are given the following departure routes, as appropriate to their intended route/destination:
• Via Northleach (10nm NNW of Fairford) not above altitude 1500ft
• Via Highworth (5nm SSE of Fairford) not above altitude 1000ft

The higher performance VFR aircraft are given the following:
• COBEL departure – climb straight ahead to alt 3000ft, at 1500ft fly track of 330 degrees
• MANOR departure – climb straight ahead to alt 3000ft, at 1500ft fly track 150 degrees

The low performance VFR will all have one SSR (squawk) code allocated, say 1234, and the high performance VFR will all have another SSR code, say 4321. This is so Brize can determine which route and to what altitude each aircraft is departing on. None of these aircraft will usually talk to Brize after departure. All of these are what we call ‘free flow’ departures, we can launch these all day long without reference to Brize, the SSR codes being key to this, and it’s all pretty straightforward.

The main complications arise with the IFR departures.

There are two IFR departure procedures from each runway, 27’s are below:
• Fairford West – climb straight ahead to FL50
• Fairford North – climb straight ahead to FL50, at alt 2300ft, turn right heading 320 degrees

Not only do we have to request a release from Brize for each of these, Brize themselves have to request an airways joining clearance from Swanwick for each of these. And we are often faced with aircraft that depart with the expectation that they will join the airway over Swindon, but call Brize and change their minds and want to remain outside controlled airspace until over the Channel, or vice versa, or other nation’s ATC agencies refusing formation flights, or diplomatic clearances not being valid, or because of ground congestion the number of ‘clearances on request’ that Brize have informed Swanwick about is increasing (possibly leading to departure restrictions in the anticipation of a mass of IFR departures (don’t forget that compared to even a regional airport, Fairford is not very ‘connected’ in terms of ATC data, flight update messages will be being sent to Swanwick from ‘normal’ airports every time an IFR flight calls for clearance, pushback, taxi, gets near the runway, lines up, takes off etc, so they are rarely surprised by traffic in normal operations)). If we're not on the ball, things can rapidly get complicated....aircraft in different aprons might want to depart together, but have filed different flight plans and only one is calling for start, or no.1 at the hold hasn't been released by Swanwick but no.2 and no.3 have, or No.1 might be slow (Twin Otter) and no.2 might be fast (F-16s) so we need to leave more time between them. Lots of complicating factors.

As we’ve described further up the thread, we have a position in the tower called ‘Brize Liaison’ whose sole job is to coordinate on the phone line with the team at Brize, that is taking info on arrivals and working with the tower controller to agree a plan (hold the VFR arrivals in the circuit while a heavy is on the ILS, or keep some fast jets in the overhead while we land a Tutor and a Chipmunk, or expedite the two heavies in before we have to start a validation display (max radius and height of the display is passed to Brize so they know how close they can get with traffic to/from Kemble and other local airfields etc).

The only time when there isn’t constant comms between us and Brize is during the actual display. We only tell them if the plan is running late or if there’s been a change, other than that it should run itself in terms of what Brize need to know from us and vice versa.
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by Gt5500 »

I take my hat off to you guys, that gave me a headache just reading it, I have no idea how you do it for real. But I will say I am forever grateful for what you do to allow us to all enjoy an amazing few days at Fairford. If I see you in the Red Lion this year I'll try and thank you personally.

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by BU7 »

Many thanks for the prompt response, it’s very interesting. I probably should have mentioned I’m a Tower ATCO at RAF Wittering so got a reasonable idea on some aspects of air traffic.

Presumably you’d get prenotes from Brize or Swanick Mil with info on the range of inbounds and you’d have to plan accordingly. Have you got certain options when it comes to joiners? Join through initials for the break? Overhead joins, downwind joins, join at set heights and remain in the overhead, have you got hold options? ILS joiners, holding at VRPs and then joining?

With departures how does it compare to a busy day at one of the bigger airports in the UK, a Stansted, Gatwick etc? Does the infrastructure cause a delay with things, paper strips, procedures and co-ordination etc? Does a lot of the IFR stuff got caught with slot times? It must keep you on your toes and you must have to problem solve and prioritise accordingly fairly regularly!

Do you get GA getting close to the RAT during the displays, or would Brize end up working this traffic and keeping things clear?

It certainly sounds like an exciting but busy and challenging environment to work in for the week.

Thanks very much for the thorough insight.

Ben

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by RIAT ATC »

Aha BU7, sorry, was teaching you to suck eggs!

We get a pre-note from Brize on inbounds, yes. Basically the crews decide whether they are going to do an overhead recovery to initials, an ILS/TACAN or a circuit join. The circuit joiners come via Northleach or Highworth so just join either on base or mid-downwind, and we integrate them into the other traffic. The initials/TACAN/ILS traffic is sequenced by Brize following coordination with us, they tend to just vector for sequencing rather than use holds.

It's very difficult for me to compare RIAT ATC with my day job (Adam here, I work at Heathrow). They are completely different, akin to an A380 pilot doing glider aerobatics....same theory but chalk and cheese. It exercises different muscles. I've been at LHR for 25yrs so there's very little I've not seen (I was supervising for the BA38 crash), so I have a lot of experience to draw on. I've been at RIAT a few years now, but if you add up all the days (6 a year!) it's actually not very many. Definitely keeps me on my toes and that's a big reason why I love it! Makes me a far better ATCO at LHR too.

The infrastructure is very limiting, yes. And for departures, the parking plan is a limitation in itself (A, B and C all need to go before D can get out), as is the lack of height of the tower (at least for me!) IFR deps do get CTOTs (ATC slot times) yes, based on the ETA at the controlled airspace joining point.

To be honest we don't know about GA stuff getting close to, or transitting through, the RA(T). We don't have any radar in the tower, and Brize only tell us if there's an infringement (which there hasn't been for a few years) that would affect a display.
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by RIAT ATC »

RichPittman wrote:
Thu 13 Jun 2024, 4:38 pm
Is it possible to have a current list of freqs used please

Ground , Tower and approach would be great .

I guess aircraft feed off Brize ?
Same as last year I think, with a new Delivery freq for Monday only 130.675.

The reason for the change is that the old one (124.555 I think) was very close to Tower 124.8 and there was often breakthrough for us (Tower controller would hear aircraft trasnsmitting on Delivery and vice versa). The USAF engineers have tweaked the transmitters and receivers too so hopefully that issue will have gone.
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by RIAT ATC »

One other thing that we should mention is that some points of the airfield have been renamed. Bravo-Alpha loop is no more, long live the Echo-Bravo loop!

We are moving some of the desginations to the same as they are on the airfield for the other 359 days of the year.
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by BU7 »

RIAT ATC wrote:
Thu 13 Jun 2024, 10:05 pm
Aha BU7, sorry, was teaching you to suck eggs!

We get a pre-note from Brize on inbounds, yes. Basically the crews decide whether they are going to do an overhead recovery to initials, an ILS/TACAN or a circuit join. The circuit joiners come via Northleach or Highworth so just join either on base or mid-downwind, and we integrate them into the other traffic. The initials/TACAN/ILS traffic is sequenced by Brize following coordination with us, they tend to just vector for sequencing rather than use holds.

It's very difficult for me to compare RIAT ATC with my day job (Adam here, I work at Heathrow). They are completely different, akin to an A380 pilot doing glider aerobatics....same theory but chalk and cheese. It exercises different muscles. I've been at LHR for 25yrs so there's very little I've not seen (I was supervising for the BA38 crash), so I have a lot of experience to draw on. I've been at RIAT a few years now, but if you add up all the days (6 a year!) it's actually not very many. Definitely keeps me on my toes and that's a big reason why I love it! Makes me a far better ATCO at LHR too.

The infrastructure is very limiting, yes. And for departures, the parking plan is a limitation in itself (A, B and C all need to go before D can get out), as is the lack of height of the tower (at least for me!) IFR deps do get CTOTs (ATC slot times) yes, based on the ETA at the controlled airspace joining point.

To be honest we don't know about GA stuff getting close to, or transitting through, the RA(T). We don't have any radar in the tower, and Brize only tell us if there's an infringement (which there hasn't been for a few years) that would affect a display.
Hi Adam,

No not at all, I didn’t mention I was an ATCO so you were just being thorough with your explanation which I’m sure is very interesting to others.

Thanks for the info on inbounds, vectoring for sequencing certainly makes things a little easier for you guys, presumably if you haven’t got a lot of aircraft joining then there’s more of a possibility low approaches are approved?

I can imagine Heathrow is very different, it must be exciting and make a nice change to work multiple military types for the week though. How many staff do you have within the ATC team at RIAT? All that experience must help you all become better ATCOs!

I guess having traffic back tracking from 09 end and trying to get out of D makes things take a bit longer, do you have split positions with Ground & Air and even Delivery for clearances etc? Is Ground the most challenging on arrival and departure days?

No electronic strips etc to help speed things along, and the tower is certainly a lot shorter than LHR. I thought IFR stuff may get caught by CTOTs, it must make ground that much more challenging trying to get aircraft to the hold for slots whilst trying to keep all the other traffic moving.

I guess with Brize covering radar you wouldn’t have much of an idea as you say, do you have an ATM or any other equipment in the tower to help with situational awareness? ADSB/Flight Radar on a screen etc?

Thanks

Ben

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by verreli »

BU7 wrote:
Thu 13 Jun 2024, 10:51 pm
... which I’m sure is very interesting to others.
Me for one. Always fascinated to read the posts in this thread.

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by Tommy »

Hear hear.

Always grateful to you for taking the time to post in here, Adam. 👍🏻

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by RIAT ATC »

Just to be clear there are a few of us who post on this account, not just one person.
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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by Tommy »

*ah, apologies. Thanks “all”!

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by BU7 »

Thanks to all of the team that post on here, thank you for taking the time out to give us an insight. You do a fantastic job at the show, and often go the extra mile to accommodate us enthusiasts with additional fly-bys which I know isn’t always easy whilst you are trying to keep the traffic flowing. Looking forward to another fantastic show. Good luck for the longest day.

Ben

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Re: RIAT ATC

Post by Jakevulcan »

Really interesting stuff, confuses me just reading it🤣 Awesome work you guys do!!
Always wondered how you manage to get all the aircraft in, with certain aircraft overshooting. Like in 2022 the German tornado three passes were an absolute highlight, must be hard to squeeze it all in.

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