Aviation Topic of the Week
By Michael Oxner, February 22, 2004

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This week's topic:
IFR Flight Example, Part 4: Take-Off & Climb Out

After two weeks of tying up the runway in Stephenville, our pilots are getting ready for take-off. First, a quick review of the situation, and then we'll continue on.

Review of Situation
The Take-Off
The Climb Out
    Calling Level

Review of Situation

The weather at CYJT is VFR, and a C172, C-GLOB, is taking advantage of this for some circuit training. LOB has completed a touch and go, and behind him, our fearless pilots sit in position, waiting to go. The checklists are complete. Both pilots know the departure plan, and everything is secure for take-off. They've told ARPT RDO and the pilot of LOB that they would wait for him to start his left turn in the circuit before they start their take-off roll, and they see him start to flinch. The time is now 1610z, and both pilots get ready.

The IFR Clearance read as follows:
CZQX: "Alpha Romeo Tango is cleared to the Halifax Airport via victor three one nine Sydney, flight planned route. Maintain eight thousand, expect one four thousand thirty miles southwest of Stephenville. Depart runway zero nine, turn right heading two six zero to intercept victor three one nine and proceed on course. Squawk two five four two. Clearance is canceled if not airborne by one six two zero."

The Take-Off

The moment we've been waiting for.

FART: "Airport Radio, Alpha Romeo Tango is rolling on runway 09."
CYJT ARPT RDO: "Alpha Romeo Tango, roger. Winds one three zero at five."
FART: "Alpha Romeo Tango."
No acknowledgment of this fact or of the radio transmission is required by GLOB, who is still in the circuit.

With the captain doing the flying on this leg, the copilot records the time of departure to be used later to calculate estimates for fixes enroute and destination. Both pilots place one hand on the throttles and slowly advance them. The captain watches out the window, while the first officer eyes the instruments. He calls out speeds and as Vr is called out, the captain eases back the control column to rotate the aircraft. Airspeed builds and the next thing you know, FART is in the air.

The Climb Out

Once established with a positive rate of climb, the copilot confirms this and the gear is raised. According to the AIP RAC 4.5.7, dealing with radio calls in a mandatory frequency area, a radio call is required upon leaving the circuit. Since a left hand circuit pattern is established and a right turn out has been issued (and accepted) in the IFR clearance, the pilots have to wait until they climb well above the traffic circuit before making a right turn.

FART: "Airport Radio, Alpha Romeo Tango is clear of the circuit, making a right turn out."
CYJT ARPT RDO: "Alpha Romeo Tango, roger."

Quadrantals And, as mentioned in the previous parts of this example, the climb is being made in accordance with the Specified Visibility departure procedure which allows for a visual climb to 1,800 feet. Upon reaching 1,800 feet, a right turn is initiated to the assigned heading of 260°. From 1,800 feet up to what would qualify as the minimum IFR altitude, a climb gradient of 200 feet per NM is maintained to ensure adequate obstacle clearance. Our pilots, departing toward the J NDB or runway 09, did some planning before departure. They looked at the quadrantal altitudes found on the approach plate for the ILS RWY 27, and found an altitude to use for the minimum IFR altitude. In this case, since they are turning right (southbound), they learned that 3,200 feet is a reasonable altitude within 25 NM. Knowing the climb performance of their aircraft, they would have no difficulty reaching this altitude using the 200 ft/NM mentioned earlier. A clip of that chart showing the altitudes is placed at right, and yes, it is outdated. The current J NDB at CYJT is now the ZJT NDB, called the "Harmon" NDB. As always, use current real-world charts for real-world flight.

Overview Once established on the heading, a few miles will tick by until the on course radial for V319 is intercepted. Amongst the many instruments to monitor as a climb out is established and maintained is the VOR gauge. NAV1 is tuned to the Stephenville VOR (YJT) and VOR1 is set to show the 227 radial, the one that makes up V319 from our previous outdated charts. When the pilots are clear of the MF area, as described in the Canada Flight Supplement, a final call is made on the MF, then the radio is switched back to 132.3 for Gander Center.

FART: "Airport Radio, Alpha Romeo Tango clear of the MF, switching enroute. So long."
CYJT ARPT RDO: "Alpha Romeo Tango, Airport Radio, roger. Good day."

The radio is changed to 132.3 and...
FART: "Gander Center, Alpha Romeo Tango back with you out of four thousand three hundred for eight thousand, heading two six zero. We were airborne at one six one zero."
CZQX: "Alpha Romeo Tango, Gander, squawk ident."

The pilot presses the IDENT button on the transponder and a few seconds later...
CZQX: "Alpha Romeo Tango radar identified out of four thousand five hundred. Traffic at your eleven o'clock and seven miles is a northeastbound Seneca at niner thousand."
It may be considered redundant for ATC to restate the Mode C readout on this transmission. If ATC had noticed the Mode C readout associated with the target believed to be the KingAir when the altitude report was made, he could consider it valid when he confirmed the number in the report at the time and saw the appropriate target change when the IDENT signal came through. If that were done, ATC could simply say, "...radar identified..." without stating the altitude. The pilot would consider this acknowledgment that the Mode C was valid, since ATC will mention an invalid Mode C to a pilot. Without verification of Mode C readouts, ATC cannot use them.
FART: "Altitude checks, we'll look for the traffic. We're IMC right now."
IMC stands for Instrument Meteorological Conditions. This means, essentially, "in cloud with low visibility".
CZQX: "Roger. You can expect higher after you pass him."

Additionally, since the pilots have heard the term, "radar identified," they know they are no longer required to make position reports. As noted in the flight planning portion of our example, there were several fixes designated as compulsory reporting points. If they weren't radar identified, they would be required to make IFR position reports (discussed in an earlier topic way back) upon arrival at each of these fixes. Isn't radar so much better?

A couple of minutes pass and the copilot recognizes needle movement on VOR1. The aircraft is getting close to the 227 radial, and it's almost time to make the turn on course. He calls the captain's attention to this. As the needle moves closer to the center, the turn to intercept the radial comes. The radio crackles to life again.

CZQX: "Alpha Romeo Tango, you're by the traffic now, climb to one four thousand."
FART: "Thank you, sir, out of seven thousand two hundred, climbing to one four thousand, and we're picking up the airway now. Alpha Romeo Tango."
CZQX: "Alpha Romeo Tango, roger."

A pilot is required to make a report upon reaching an assigned altitude. Accordingly, when a break in radio action allows...

FART: "Gander, Alpha Romeo Tango level one four thousand."
CZQX: "Alpha Romeo Tango, roger."

The "level call" is often seen as a nuisance by both pilots and ATC. Many pilots don't want to make the call, and ATC often has radar, meaning he can see the Mode C readout indicating such. In Canada, it is still required, at least for the time being. In my view, as a real world controller, the call is less important in a radar environment than in a non-radar environment. Without radar, pilot position and altitude reports are the only means a controller has of updating his mental picture and the "board" he keeps on the aircraft he is working. With a radar, everything is better. Separation is greatly reduced and the picture is maintained right in front of the controller on the screen. This is why position reports are no longer required once a pilot hears the phrase "radar identified". Until the term "radar service terminated" is heard, enroute position reports for the flight may be omitted by pilots. Many feel the "level call" should be omitted as well. For now, reaching an assigned altitude and leaving a previously assigned altitude still require reports to ATC, with or without radar. To my knowledge, there is no move afoot to change this in Canada.

Ok. Now the pilots are on course. The aircraft accelerates to cruise speed and the throttles are relaxed a bit. Fuel levels are checked and fuel burn is verified. As the speed settles out, the DME is checked to confirm ground speed and this is checked against the distances to be flown and the estimated time between fixes as calculated on the flight plan. With all the updated speed and position info, the ETA for various fixes, including destination, are recalculated. So far, things are going as planned.

Now our pilots are finally in the air. More to come next week. Until then, please send any comments, feedback or questions to my e-mail address, moxner@nbnet.nb.ca. As always, thanks for taking the time to visit the site.