Aviation In Canada

Saturday, February 12, 2005

STAR Arrivals

While many airports have STARs in their preferential routings, some don't. One, for example, is Halifax. The only published STARs are FMS STARs, so there are many aircraft who can't make use of them the way they're intended. For instance, an IFR aircraft arriving in CYHZ from St.John's NF (CYYT), may legitimately file a flight plan CYYT J575 CYHZ, or even CYYT > CYHZ. If he wants to make use of the FMS STAR, the LISCOMB6, all he needs to do is flight plan that arrival. Even if he doesn't flight plan it, simply asking for the LISCOMB6 arrival will get him a clearance for it, in all likelihood. But that's the catch -- ATC has to know you want to do it, and you need a clearance for it. We had an aircraft inbound to Halifax a while back who filed direct from point of departure to CYHZ, and then took a turn at the bedpost fix without telling ATC because he wanted to fly the STAR. Of course, ATC wasn't expecting the aircraft to turn, and we lost one of the chairs in the building since it was damaged during the surgery required to remove it from the controller's butt. I think the pilot took exception to seeing some other aircraft heading at him on TCAS, too.

The pilot doing the unexpected turn ended up taking a high speed run at other departures climbing out in his direction and caused quite a row. I honestly don't know if separation was lost, but it certainly created a lot of tension that night. If the pilot had filed the RNAV STAR, or asked for a clearance that included it, ATC would have been expecting the turn at the bedpost fix. They could have avoided the situation by either vectoring other aircraft away from that point, or by cancelling the STAR in the first place due to other traffic. In either case, we wouldn't be replacing furniture in the OPS room and hearts would beat normally again.