Author Topic: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"  (Read 24428 times)

Offline keith

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"how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« on: May 13, 2010, 04:28:47 PM »
I was IFR at 4000 yesterday, the controller said, "fly hdg 280, maintain 3000."  I read back, "hdg 280, down to 3," or something along those lines.

Shortly after,

ATC: "say altitude." 

"3200 descending to 3"

ATC: "how did that happen, sir?  Climb and maintain 4000"

"you assigned me 3k and I read it back..going back to 4000."

ATC: "Well, I didn't get it...climb and maintain 4000."

I know the 7110.65 tells controllers to say "climb and maintain" or "descend and maintain" when issuing a higher or lower altitude not associated with crossing a specific point, however, _MANY_ controllers abbreviate it and leave off the 'climb' or 'descent' portion from time to time.  Rather than question the instruction, I simply read it back and did it. If I questioned it every time the shortcut was used, it would make for some pretty laborious interactions.

As it turns out, there was a departure in the area climbing up to 3000. The controller quickly stopped his climb at 2000 to ensure separation until I got up to 4.  The controller asked me to say altitude once I was at 4k, followed by a terse, "thank you," clearly thinking that I was still a moron.

Later on, he apologized for the confusion and acknowledged that he may have inadvertently assigned the instruction, and that he would go and check the tapes to find out.

This is a pretty subtle topic, however, the problems that it can cause are not so subtle. Under just the right circumstances, this could've caused a deal (if it didn't already), or worse, a mid-air.

So, to the question...what should I have done differently, if anything?  The controller issued an instruction and did not correct my read back.  Yes, the instruction wasn't per the .65, but as a pilot, I'm not expected to know the exact phrasing that ATC will necessarily use (coupled with the fact that the phrase he used is used on a daily basis by many controllers.)

The only thing that leaps to mind is a specifically worded readback such as "leaving 4000 for 3000," with a clear annunciation of the numbers to get his attention.


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Offline Jason

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2010, 04:34:41 PM »
Keith,

I normally read back the instruction using the phraseology you last mentioned, "leaving 4,000 for 3,000" or abbreviated, "leaving 4 for 3" especially if it is a change of less than 2,000 feet.  Often times if the controller made a mistake, they will be able to more easily hear what you're reading back (and what you're going to do) and revise your clearance as necessary.

Offline sykocus

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2010, 07:36:24 PM »
Personally I pretty much only use "maintain" it to reiterate an altitude previously assigned. Perhaps the one exception is when stopping an aircraft in a climb lower then the prior clearance or an aircraft in a descent higher the previously cleared e.g. "amend altitude, maintain 1-3 thousand".

I don't think you did anything wrong. You took what sounded like to you a descent clearance and read it back. Saying "leaving 4 for 3" or even "descending to 3" might have made caused the controller to catch it, but maybe not.
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Offline Unbeliever

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2010, 08:20:58 PM »
Even if the controller goofed on his phraseology, you did as well, like Jason said.

AIM 5-3-3(a)(1)(a).

"N12345 Heading 280, Leaving 4,000, descending 3,000"  That might have tickled his spider senses on the miscommunication.


Don't take your cue from the jet jocks.  "4 for 3" or "2.5 for 3"  isn't proper phraseology.  The word "thousand" is the context that the number is for altitude.

--Carlos V.

Offline tyketto

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2010, 01:57:13 AM »
Even if the controller goofed on his phraseology, you did as well, like Jason said.

AIM 5-3-3(a)(1)(a).

"N12345 Heading 280, Leaving 4,000, descending 3,000"  That might have tickled his spider senses on the miscommunication.


Don't take your cue from the jet jocks.  "4 for 3" or "2.5 for 3"  isn't proper phraseology.  The word "thousand" is the context that the number is for altitude.

--Carlos V.


There is no 'proper phraseology that pilots are required to use. The AIM, while treated similar to a requirement like the .65, is only a guideline. Pilots can readback anything they want, as long as they readback the criteria that ATC has instructed them to do. In fact, the only thing they are absolutely REQUIRED to read back are runway assignments and hold short instructions.

BL.

Offline keith

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2010, 03:12:57 PM »
While it's not 'required'....it sure isn't a bad idea.  It's a balancing act, though, to be sure. Using the long-winded readback every time, particularly on a super-busy frequency is going to reduce the number of airplanes that the controller can work at a given time on a given frequency (due to the increased frequency congestion).  

However, in this case, clearly announcing my descent may well have gotten the controller's attention. I think that's what I will do when:
a) the frequency is not super-busy _OR_
b) the controller's instruction is not perfectly clear and by the book

Bear in mind, I did read back the descent instruction as "down to 3," but he didn't catch it...I'm guessing he'd already mentally moved on to the next target.  That's why I'm questioning the effectiveness of my shortened readback under the circumstances. Under normal circumstances (where it's really pretty clear that they want you to descend), I think the shortened readback is fine, if it lets the controller work more airplanes. It's not a matter of sounding cool, or like a jet-jock...it's just minimizing the number of syllables.

Thanks for the input.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2010, 03:16:03 PM by keith »
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Offline nobbie

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2010, 08:57:29 PM »
 Im new to liveATC. started to listen to kennedy conrol only yesterday. my god im dumb-founded by the way you pilots are able to master not only flying a plane but all that communication that goes with it. Im extremely impressed with yaz guys the way all of you's sort so many problem's out "way up there"! 20 yrs ago I had a radio which I could run outside when a plane would be flying over and hear the pilots communicating.SAVAGE STUFF! :-o

Offline n07cfi

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2010, 09:47:40 AM »
If I'm assigned a different altitude than where I am at now .. I'd say "descending 3000" or "climbing 4000" to let the controller know I'm leaving my current altitude.  

If I'm at 3000 and the controller says "maintain 3000", then I respond "maintain 3000."

If I'm at 3000 and the controller says "maintain 4000", then I respond "climbing out of 3000 for 4000."


Offline Casper87

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2010, 03:54:43 PM »
Do controllers in the US now use MAINTAIN to instruct an aircraft to change level or are they supposed to use CLIMB or DESCEND ?

Offline onesierrawhiskey

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2010, 04:42:24 PM »
Do controllers in the US now use MAINTAIN to instruct an aircraft to change level or are they supposed to use CLIMB or DESCEND ?

7110.65:
Quote
4-5-7. ALTITUDE INFORMATION
Issue altitude instructions as follows:
REFERENCE FAAOJO 7110.65, Para 4-2-1, Clearance Items.

PHRASEOLOGY
CLIMB/DESCEND AND MAINTAIN (altitude).

EXAMPLE-
“United Four Seventeen, descend and maintain six thousand.”


Although I cut out some variations on the issuing of altitude assignments, like crossing restrictions, etc, the basic way to assign an altitude other than aircraft's present requires "Climb/Descend and maintain XXXX."

Offline Casper87

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2010, 05:23:26 PM »
Sounds like Keith was a victim of Human Factors.

Offline ZBWDO

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2010, 08:16:34 AM »
Anyone ever think "Human Factors" would be a good name for a band?  Not, of course, to take anything away from The Human League in the 80s....  :-D

Offline MCM

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2010, 01:16:48 AM »
I certainly understand why you would take the action that you did, and its an unfortunate human factors issue that seems to be throughout the USA (and to a lesser extent the rest of the world).

Did you get given a clearance with the words CLIMB or DESCEND in it? If you did not, then its not a clearance, and you should not act on it.

This scenario is one where you really need to confirm the clearance - ie "Confirm maintain 4000" or "Confirm descend 3000"

There are two possibilities in his error - either he accdiently read the wrong altitude, or the "descend" was clipped. Why guess which one it was?

Its completely understandable why you took  the action that you did, but unfortunately it is the wrong action. Never assume - always make sure you have the firm clearance.


Offline bn523

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2010, 11:31:05 AM »
Just like preflighting the acft be thorough and by the book in your commo.  If you are the PIC of an aircraft and you want to stay out of the news you must be 100% positive and clear in your commo with ATC.  Sloppyness in communication by either party leads to mistakes.  Phraseology be damned.  Ask ATC, in plain english, 'Pigknuckle
Approach, did you just tell N12345 to decend to 3000'?  I'm at 4000 now.' 

Just so you know, if Pigknuckle said Fly heading 280 maintain 3000 and you did so I think you're in the right.  Sort of sounds like point the nose at 280 and decend at pilot's disgression to 3000.     

I can't stand to hear, 'Ah rawger, Eagle flight's out of 3 for 52.' crap.  Okay Eagle Flight, you leaving 3000' for 5200' or 52000? 'cause if you're a gaggle of C's then I'd guess 52000.  If you're a single E I'd guess 5200'.  I'm a former controller and a PP btw. 

BN523 rodger dodger yanker banker over and outer

Offline StuSEL11

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2010, 07:50:36 AM »
Maintain is used to amend a previously issued climb or descent instruction when the new altitude is less than you were previously assigned in the climb instruction, or less than you were previously assigned in the descent instruction.

It appears faa.gov is down as I write this, but that clause is somewhere near 4-5-7.
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Offline keith

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Re: "how did this happen, sir? Climb and maintain 4000"
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2010, 01:34:37 PM »
Stu and b253,

I don't think it's quite that simple...from the original post:
Quote
I know the 7110.65 tells controllers to say "climb and maintain" or "descend and maintain" when issuing a higher or lower altitude not associated with crossing a specific point, however, _MANY_ controllers abbreviate it and leave off the 'climb' or 'descent' portion from time to time.  Rather than question the instruction, I simply read it back and did it. If I questioned it every time the shortcut was used, it would make for some pretty laborious interactions.

Quote
The controller issued an instruction and did not correct my read back.  Yes, the instruction wasn't per the .65, but as a pilot, I'm not expected to know the exact phrasing that ATC will necessarily use (coupled with the fact that the phrase he used is used on a daily basis by many controllers.)

Right now, I'm sticking with the plan of using a very clear readback in cases where they use a shortcut assignment like that. I don't think that questioning the shortcut assignment every time is going to scale very well, as I get them on a regular basis in this airspace.

Thanks for the input, though, this has been an interesting thread.
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