Is there anyone there?
I read Pat Malone’s article about listening squawks this month and I was a little confused. It implied he expected Bristol to give him traffic information on a listening squawk. This is somewhat beyond what the service is intended for; it’s more suited to resolving controlled airspace infringements before they happen. I would also definitely have put in an airprox report in this case, there may have been more to the incident than
Pat also mentions Yeovilton which, I believe, could have given him the Traffic Service I think he really wanted. Situational awareness is everything for me when airborne. And of course someone to help when it all goes quiet. There is someone watching your back if you ask. George Williams, Trowbridge In a word, no. Just keep a good lookout and, as you say, don’t stick fanatically to an exact altitude. The listening squawk in my mind, is so that an ATC unit can call you if they think you might be about to transgress an airspace limit and make a good day bad.
Basic and Traffic (God knows why they ever changed the names, but I digress) are also of limited use because of the self-defeating caveat of ‘due to controller work load’ so basically (pun accidental) on a busy day, when they might be helpful, they won’t be.
Tune the frequencies, set the squawk by all means, but be under no illusions; you are on your own as regards avoidance. Keep your eyes outside!
As an aside, if you work a military frequency they seem to be able to achieve a much higher level of interest and offer more assistance, perhaps they have a lower work load? Happy flying.
Pat Malone responds:
I wasn’t looking for a traffic service, merely a warning of conflict – it’s not as though Bristol was busy that day. I’ll be interested to hear what the Inquiry thinks when there’s a collision in an area covered by a listening squawk. What duty of care will the ATC service be deemed to have? If you’re on their frequency, nobody else can warn you. Yet their sole purpose is to keep you out, not to keep you safe.