Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

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More-rudder!
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Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by More-rudder! »

It's good to do a self-check at how we are doing, and I just wanted to throw it out there for discussions.

CYNJ is a 3-mile zone where IFR traffic is rare. Controllers and pilots appear super-stressed and operations often seem on the verge of chaos owing to the high demand of Class C separation requirements. Transient clearances through the zone commonly grind the runway operations to a halt. Is CYNJ unsafe as a Class C control zone? Should it be dialed back to a Class D where responsibility for VFR separation is partially shifted from controllers to pilots? What is NavCanada's rationale for keeping CYNJ operations on par with YVR operations? It would be great to hear from controllers, pilots, and NavCanada policy makers.
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boeingboy
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by boeingboy »

Maybe it's due to the number of "import" student pilots who can't speak English - let alone understand how to carry on a proper conversation. Langley - unfortunately is on the edge of the Glen valley practice area and has not only their own students, but Boundary bay, and Abbotsford as well. Just the other day I was taxing from the east side to the west side and the controller literally had to yell at all the others as she had 6 people call in without her being able to issue a single instruction.

Sigh....I long for the decent days of 20 years ago......
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by AirFrame »

Langley has had problems over the last few years, with overly officious controllers and foreign students being sent free before their language skills could support it. They also submitted an order of magnitude more CADORs each month than any of the other lower mainland GA airports. I prepared some graphs showing the number of CADORs reported over the last 10 years, comparing Langley to Pitt, Boundary, and Abbotsford, and shared them with TC. The CADORS from Langley stopped cold for about 3 months. They've started up again, but at a slower rate.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by linecrew »

AirFrame wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:03 am Langley has had problems over the last few years, with overly officious controllers...
What does that mean? They are bound by very strict procedures and phrase-ology guidelines. If they stray from these they get penalized for it, even if it's minor.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by DHC-1 Jockey »

linecrew wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:39 am
AirFrame wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:03 am Langley has had problems over the last few years, with overly officious controllers...
What does that mean? They are bound by very strict procedures and phrase-ology guidelines. If they stray from these they get penalized for it, even if it's minor.
As a former ATC trainee, there are definitely tower controllers out there who like to be very hands on. I’ve worked with guys with one aircraft in the circuit call each crosswind, downwind, base and final turn.

Then there are others who with a circuit full of 8 planes will only issue landing clearances if everyone is playing follow-the-leader nicely and only issue an instruction if someone needs it.

And both controllers think their way is the best.
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lhalliday
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by lhalliday »

Tiny airport. Lots of flight training. All the ingredients for it being a zoo. Boundary Bay and Pitt Meadows aren't much better.

...laura
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by Panama Jack »

An interesting post. I haven't been to Langley in decades. Given what you say, I am actually a bit surprised that Langley (and some other predominantly VFR airports) are Class C, based on what the different ICAO Airspace classifications imply according to Annex 11:
2.6.1 ATS airspaces shall be classified and designated in accordance with the following:

Class A. IFR flights only are permitted, all flights are provided with air traffic control service and are separated from each other.

Class B. IFR and VFR flights are permitted, all flights are provided with air traffic control service and are separated from each other.

Class C. IFR and VFR flights are permitted, all flights are provided with air traffic control service and IFR flights are separated from other IFR flights and from VFR flights. VFR flights are separated from IFR flights and receive traffic information in respect of other VFR flights.

Class D. IFR and VFR flights are permitted and all flights are provided with air traffic control service, IFR flights are separated from other IFR flights and receive traffic information in respect of VFR flights, VFR flights receive traffic information in respect of all other flights.


Class E. IFR and VFR flights are permitted, IFR flights are provided with air traffic control service and are separated from other IFR flights. All flights receive traffic information as far as is practical. Class E shall not be used for control zones.
From reading the AIP Canada GEN 1.7 Differences from ICAO Standards, Recommended Practices and Procedures, there seem to be no differences published about the separation services in these Canadian Airspace Classes.

If you say that ATC is providing separation services (in the air) between VFR traffic, then it sounds like Langley's airspace is being managed like Class B airspace. Note that even in Class C airspace, ATC is not responsible for providing separation services between VFR aircraft- only between VFR and IFR and between IFR aircraft. In fact, most US airports with control towers (and some of them are quite busy, and no I am not talking about places like Los Angeles- LAX which is in Class B airspace, or Burbank, Ontario International (KONT) or John Wayne Orange County- which is Class C airspace), are class D airspace (ie Long Beach, Torrance, Chino, Riverside, Fullerton, Van Nuys, Santa Monica and others). The role of the tower to sequence traffic for the runway. In other words, they provide separation services for the runway, but not the airspace above (except between IFR aircraft). They will call out traffic but the onus remains for VFR pilots to see and avoid each other.

That's my understanding of it, but I would love to hear a controller's view of this topic.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by 7ECA »

It's a variety of factors that seem to turn Langley into a zoo. The airport is "small", and hemmed in by encroaching development; with "complex" (well, too complex for most students, it would seem) noise abatement procedures - too much of the good neighbour philosophy, perhaps.

The zone is only up to 1900', so overflights are extremely common - specially to/from Boundary Bay. The question always was, it is worthwhile calling tower and letting them know what you're doing - some controllers seemed to appreciate it, and others would snap back about being outside of "their" airspace and to kindly PFO. I also recall a controller who used to tell transiting aircraft who called up at 2500' that they needed to be talking to Terminal...

The foreign student "issue" is a common theme at many training airports across the country; and yet places like Langley seem to have run headlong into the issue without any sort of solution to mitigate the problem. Ultimately, it comes to to the individual FTUs who need to ensure that their students are only going solo (or on dual flights, as the case may very well be - I'm looking at certain FTUs with in-house trained instructors) if they have actually met the standard for English competency.

As for downgrading ATC services, I hardly see how that would help - certainly a redesign of the airspace in the Lower Mainland is in order and being looked at by NavCanada; but in all likelihood it's going to end up making things more convoluted, not less. Another example to look at would be Red Deer, where they will eventually end up with a Class C zone, as it's an absolute zoo there.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by lhalliday »

Class C in Canada is more like ICAO Class B: clearance for entry, separation and conflict resolution for VFR and IFR traffic. I've never flown in Canadian Class B, and have only ever been told to remain clear of U.S. Class B.

Class D is radio contact before entry, full control for IFR traffic, VFR separation/conflict resolution on request/workload permitting. I only know of two Class D airports in B.C., Prince George and Kelowna.

Nav Canada provide service based on aircraft movements, and by Nav Canada criteria Langley easily qualifies for a tower. In the past it was Class D, but with increasing traffic I can see why they'd up it to Class C.

..laura
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by pelmet »

Just an idea for discussion but what about more controllers with a second tower frequency if it is so bad. Maybe one controller for the circuit and pilots closer in and one to handle the initial calls and other stuff.

I personally have not had a problem for the times I have been there but it has been at least a couple of years and it is busy at times.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by lhalliday »

Boundary Bay has inner and outer tower controllers. It's still nuts when it's busy. They often have both runways active: takeoff and circuits on 25, landings (LAHSO) on 31. This requires a single controller to watch both.

...laura
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by 7ECA »

Boundary is different, being that it has "two" zones; and it sort of makes sense being able to break them into an Inner/Outer zone. Abbotsford has an Inner/Outer, but rarely is it ever busy enough to have them both operating...

Langley is a small zone, good luck working an inner/outer there.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by AirFrame »

7ECA wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:46 pmThe zone is only up to 1900', so overflights are extremely common - specially to/from Boundary Bay. The question always was, it is worthwhile calling tower and letting them know what you're doing - some controllers seemed to appreciate it, and others would snap back about being outside of "their" airspace and to kindly PFO.
I hear a lot of people who don't "read the room" as they approach, and will call up at 2300' when the circuit has four planes in it and there are three more waiting on the ground to depart. It's too busy to bother them with "outside" traffic at that point, just shut up and listen as you drift over top. Sure, if nothing is happening on frequency, give them a hoot and say hi. They're nice people. Most of them. :)
I also recall a controller who used to tell transiting aircraft who called up at 2500' that they needed to be talking to Terminal...
That could be because they were showing on radar at 2550 or 2600...
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by fleetcanuck »

Somehow it doesn't sound like the same place it was when Jim M and Werner G were in the cab.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by 7ECA »

AirFrame wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:31 am I hear a lot of people who don't "read the room" as they approach...
That's all well and good, but busy day or not if "you're" being mentioned as overflying/transiting traffic to others then you may as well call up tower and let them know what you're doing. If they don't have the time to "offer" services, that's fine; because most of the time being pegged at 2,500' means you're going to be above most of the students who've been told to never go near terminal... But, if you get snapped at, that's a different story altogether.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by AirFrame »

7ECA wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:02 am That's all well and good, but busy day or not if "you're" being mentioned as overflying/transiting traffic to others then you may as well call up tower and let them know what you're doing. If they don't have the time to "offer" services, that's fine...
Absolutely, if i'm crossing over top on a busy day and am passed as traffic, i'll pipe up and state intentions because that helps the tower and helps the other aircraft. Since i'm not in airspace where the tower is obliged to provide separation, anything I can do to help the other plane see me is welcome.
That's a different thing than crossing over top and not being a conflict with anyone on a quiet day. If that's the case I'd stay quiet unless someone I know is working the tower... Then I might say "hi." As I said, it's all about "reading the room."

Now if you're passed as traffic, and reply to let them know your intentions, and the tower snaps at you? That's what I meant when I said they can be "overly officious." But I haven't heard that particular situation happen in many moons... Usually they appreciate the head's up, and knowing that you're on frequency, even if they're not talking to you.

Of course there's also the problem of people who assume that because they're now talking to the tower, they will be passed other traffic, and get annoyed when the tower doesn't do that. Can't please anyone these days... :)
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by lhalliday »

If ATC are talking about me I'll give them a call and let them know my intentions.

"Traffic five miles back is a Beechcraft, they haven't checked in yet..."

...laura
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by rookiepilot »

From my experience seems terminal is dumping their traffic problems onto towers.

Last time I was there, terminal only said, "no contact, remain clear". No VFR service.

I've heard it's long been that way.

Perhaps it's teminal that needs to be fixed.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by 7ECA »

Vancouver Terminal can be like that.

Victoria Terminal is a whole other story, they're game for all kinds of stuff that Vancouver wouldn't even bother to tell you to PFO about.
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Re: Is the Class C Control Zone at Langley Airport Dysfunctional?

Post by jakeandelwood »

rookiepilot wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:57 pm From my experience seems terminal is dumping their traffic problems onto towers.

Last time I was there, terminal only said, "no contact, remain clear". No VFR service.

I've heard it's long been that way.

Perhaps it's teminal that needs to be fixed.
I've had that as well, no VFR service from terminal. I heard one terminal controller deny 2 VFR planes higher because he said he couldn't understand them.I fly often VFR from Victoria to Kamloops and between White Rock and Hope is a mess below terminal airspace, broken English position reports, and just a lot of traffic that's hard to see cause it blends in with all the ground clutter. It's such a relief when terminal "let's you come up". Next time I go from YYJ to YKA I think I'll go via Squamish, Whistler, Pemeberton, Lilloet, even though it's longer
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