Anchorage/Oakland Oceanic Briefing

 

The folks at Rockwell/Collins AirInc hosted the Oceanic Working Group this past week in Livermore,CA. Oakland This was a 5hr in-person presentation from a 230-slide PowerPoint file. Oceanic, Anchorage Oceanic, FAA HQ, Oakland ATC, several 121 carriers and reps from the NBAA’s International Operators Conference were in attendance. I was one of the IOC representatives. Below here are some of my notes from the meeting.

Anchorage Center (Artic/Oceanic)

Volcanic ash alerting and warning continue to be a major traffic-disrupting event. Air traffic management contingency routing thru the Russian airspace has been discussed BUT, no developed contingency plans between Japan, Russia and USA have been agreed to.

Cross-polar traffic has increased 21% year-to-date.

Anchorage Oceanic shows a 6.5 % increase year-to-date.

NOPAC routing has increased 5% year-to-date.

April 2016 data shows that almost 100% of flights in the Anchorage Oceanic FIR are RNP(RNAV)-10, 89% are RNP-4 and 95% utilize FANS Datalink. Serious consideration is being given to requiring FANS and RNP-4 on R-220.

CPDLC requests for altitude changes average response time from Anchorage ATC is less than 2 minutes. Majority are approved (120 out of 140 in 2015)

Expect large scale military exercise (Red Flag) in Anchorage FIR 5-19 AUG and 7-21 OCT. Anchorage expects to make good use of Traffic Management Initiatives to reduce flow and ensure separations.

Blue Angles perform at “Artic Thunder” airshow at Elmendorf AFB July 30-31

Oakland Center (Oceanic)

A software approval letter from the “State” is delaying the automated conflict probe for altitude change requests. Basically, this is a simultaneous ADS-C report to check for separation of two particular aircraft when an altitude request is made. Otherwise a manual checklist of 100+ items is required for the controller to approve. The number of CPDLC altitude change requests are double that of HF-radio requests.

ADS-B In-Trail spacing procedures are useful for Airbus and 787 aircraft only. This requires FAA procedures approval (OpsSpec) and aircrew training. B-777 and B-737 are most frequently used jets in the Oakland ATC systems.

The PACOTS are loosing usage in favor of User Preferred Routings,UPR. 18 of the 22 PACOTS have been replaced by UPR’s. New start times and a narrower widows for the PACOTS are being proposed so that eastbound departures from Asia can use the 0600Z forecasts. Trials of Hi-Altitude UPR’s (>FL380) are happening now. No problem bouncing across tracks on a UPR (even with the NOTAMS constraints found in Oakland) unless ATOP computer shows a conflict. ATC prefers named waypoints for this but LAT/LONG will work fine. Oakland likes to have a FIR boundary crossing at a named fix plus a next waypoint filed and then reported by the pilots when crossing into Oakland Oceanic.

Central East Pacific, CEP routes to/from mainland and Hawaiian Islands show only 40% FANS capable aircraft. Overall the Oakland OCA has a 65% FANS usage rate. Highest rate of FANS usage is form Australia and New Zealand, 95%. Significant problems were found in the software on B-777 and B-787 Datalink reporting. Boeing is working on a fix for sometime in 2016. Recommendation for all FANS operators to disable VHF Datalink and revert to SATCOM only when near shorelines for better CPDLA and ADS-C connections.

CEP routes are being considered for expansion from 9 to 14 routes. APACK and ZIGIE intersections are particularly crowded. Consideration is being given to requiring RNP-4 on these routes and a 30NM route structure added.

Huge commercial space and Missile Defense Agency exercise this fall. Looks to shutdown most of the northern CEP routes for 4-6hrs in September 2016.

Dynamic Airborne Rerouting Program, DARP is a mostly 121 carrier utilized program with Qantas and Air New Zealand being the major players.

Un-notified speed changes and speed control is a major problem for ATC in Oakland. You are expected to operate within the assigned speed. This means the Flight plan Block#15 filed speed or the IMN assigned are the speeds to hold for your ATC clearance. Once again, 30/30 separation is very unforgiving of any deviation in speed and distance. Proposed speed changes in the route section of the flight plan form (Block#15) are NOT notification to ATC of a speed change. Pilots must advise ATC via voice or CPDLC of speed changes. A well-known Asian carrier and the US military were identified as problematic in this area.

Anything greater than 2mins change in ETA must be reported immediately. This error has been greatly reduced in 2016.

The weather deviation process in a FANS 30/30 environment is hampered by a loss of separation almost immediately. ADS-C reporting and ATC 30/30 separation drives aircraft pairs very close together. The average deviation off route centerline in 20nm. Once the WX deviation begins, distance based separation is no help to ATC. At this point ATC reverts to time based separation and this is also usually no help either. The last resort is for ATC means that somebody is going to get descended for vertical separation. ATC will keep FL’s in the mid-30’s open for this type of descent operation and this means that climbs while in CEP or NOPAC are rare.

  1. Bottomline...
    1. 1. Anchorage and Oakland handle a diverse set of air traffic
    2. 2. Pacific flying almost requires FANS and RNP-4, for now
    3. 3. 30/30 Separation leaves little room for ATC clearance non-compliance. Advise ATC early on in the weather deviation process
    4. 4. Hold the speed you are filed (or if assigned), unless you need something different. Then advise ATC immediately