Author Topic: Protocol for contacting next controller when passed along  (Read 3981 times)

Offline jvnanu

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Protocol for contacting next controller when passed along
« on: March 21, 2014, 01:31:30 PM »
Hey all. Sorry if this is the 482,582,559th thread about the Malaysia flight. I had a specific question about the protocol when being passed along from one controller to another.

I know that close to an airport when going between things like Tower, Approach, Departure, Ground, etc. the communication is very quickly. As in, a pilot will be asked to switch frequencies, they'll confirm, switch frequencies, and immediately contact the next controller usually within a few seconds. Is this common during cruise as well? My thought process being that since the last known transmission from the flight was to the Malaysia Area controller and everything seemed normal, the fact that there was no subsequent transmission to the next controller (Vietnam??) means that whatever happened must have happened within that relatively short period of time. Of course I'm making the assumption that pilots will always contact the next controller immediately after being passed along. If this is wrong, my whole thought process doesn't work. But if my assumption is correct wouldn't you think that it takes away from the argument that some fire or other on board emergency was the explanation for the incident? I mean, the pilots would have had to go from all normal (when saying goodnight to Malaysian controllers) to OH CRAP! within seconds for them to not contact the new controller in Vietnam. The timing there seems off.

Offline RonR

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Re: Protocol for contacting next controller when passed along
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2014, 05:55:14 PM »
I can only speak for what I know occurs here in the USA.  When a flight is told to switch to another frequency ("N123PQ contact Boston Center on 126.22"), the pilot should read back the frequency given and then switch over to the new frequency.  There should be really no delay in doing this since the next controller is already expecting the flight to check in on his frequency.  And this is true regardless if the flight is at cruising altitude, descending or climbing, or on the ground taxiing.  I would think that this also would be true anywhere else in the world.  If there's a delay in the flight checking in on the next frequency, the controllers will more than likely start to try and figure out what's going on (calling the flight on their frequency and/or asking the previous controller to check if the flight is still on the previous frequency).  It does happen occasionally that even with a read back of the frequency a pilot will still accidentally dial in the wrong frequency in his radio.  In that case the pilot will eventually go back to the previous frequency when he realizes there's no answer.

As far as the Malaysian flight goes, there's an extensive discussion going on in the Aviation Accidents/Incidents Forum:
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