Is there any­one there?

Pilot - - AIRMAIL -

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 as­sumed.

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.

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