Aviation In Canada

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Mandatory Frequency Calls for IFR Arrivals

Have you been given a "reminder" by ATC while approaching an uncontrolled aerodrome to make mandatory frequency calls? Have you been annoyed by this? So is ATC, generally speaking. In the Moncton FIR a couple of years ago, a few pilots failed to make these call, and blamed it on ATC when questioned about it. As a result, we received direction to "instruct pilots to make mandatory frequency calls as required." I think most pilots either like the reminder or ignore us and make them, since the complaints seem to have stopped. Several pilots complained to us, and rightly so in my opinion, when this direction came out and we started doing it, since, as one pilot reminded me, "That's why they call them mandatory frequencies." I couldn't agree more.

The fact that a pilot is operating on an IFR clearance and talking to ATC doesn't remove his responsibility for making mandatory frequency calls while approaching an uncontrolled airport. With a tower in place, there is no such requirement. ATC nomrally coordinates as required behind the scenes to ensure safety. With a mandatory frequency, there is no control agency, and thus the requirements have been instituted in the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) regarding the mandatory calls. The one that some pilots miss is the one that would have you make a report with position and intentions, "5 minutes prior to commencing an approach." If you have a second radio with which to make them, this is the preferred method so you can still monitor the ACC or TCU while in flight. If you only have one radio, remember to advise ATC prior to leaving his frequency that you must do so to make these calls. This way, ATC knows you'll be out of radio contact briefly and can plan accordingly. Many of us these days try to clear aircraft for approaches early and get them over to the MF so they don't have to issue these reminders -- the aircraft are already on the MF.