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What are the rules or limits on cross-border ATC coordination?

In this thread I mentioned a recent “incident”:

We had some trouble with the last Munich controller. At FL170 and only just managing to stay there, due to the warm air of -8C and due to avoiding the buildups which meant being mostly in the downdraughts between them, he firmly demanded that we descend to FL160, because “Vienna won’t accept you at FL170”. He pressed harder and harder, while I explained we cannot go lower due to icing conditions below, cannot go higher due to aircraft performance (I explained the bit about ISA plus 11 or whatever; no idea if he understood), cannot go much left or right due to the buildups. He then demanded we turn “north” i.e. to hell with you; go back to where you came from. I refused, saying there is more bad wx behind; he said we came from there so it must be ok! Anyway I just kept saying “unable to comply due to..” and after a while he got the message. Had he tried the “conflicting traffic” stunt I would have told him that all his conflicting traffic can climb at +2000fpm all the way to FL300+ so he needs to do the job he is paid for.

After the handover to Vienna, there was no problem at all! So, an atrocious and completely pointless “performance” by a rogue ATCO. I don’t have the sound track recorded; I rarely record cockpit sound when I have passenger(s). I do have the videos however; not edited them yet.

The Q is: how rigid are these letters of agreement?

This isn’t an issue specific to FL160/170 or to a particular aircraft and its performance. Any type could get maxed out relative to wx. You could be in a turbocharged plane at FL250 and only just above a load of buildups and have ATC trying to force you down into them.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

What level did you file in the flight plan ?

EBZW EBST

N0152F100 SFD DCT ROTNO DCT KONAN L607 ARCKY/N0151F090 L607 SUXIM DCT ABDAP DCT GISNO DCT ABUKA DCT ROLSO DCT DKB/N0152F100 T104 LEVBU DCT BESNI L603 EBEDA/N0148F130 L603 LATLO L8 OBEDI/N0150F120 DCT INGID DCT ROPUS/N0152F110 DCT ARMIX/N0150F080 Y560 RJK

So probably F130 in that part but I am not sure.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

First of all, LoAs are to be applied at all times. However, almost every LoA contains a paragraph that says atco’s can agree & coordinate something else on an individual basis.

Second; you might remember all of the press releases by Eurocontrol about how this summer the average delays for commercial flights will be terrible ? Well, one of the consequences is that every ansp is (again) required to stick to the filed routing (meh) and (more importantly) filed level.
It has come so far that eg flights from EDDF to London TMA need to file at FL220 (not FL200, not FL240) or their flight plan will be rejected. If you want to go beyond London, let’s say Canada you can expect to cruise at FL240 ‘till past the North Sea. In a nutshell; everything comes down. Jets fly at turboprop levels and turboprops fly at piston levels.

Capacity is everything this summer and level adherence is a big part of it.

EBZW EBST

airways wrote:

It has come so far that eg flights from EDDF to London TMA need to file at FL220 (not FL200, not FL240) or their flight plan will be rejected. If you want to go beyond London, let’s say Canada you can expect to cruise at FL240 ‘till past the North Sea. In a nutshell; everything comes down. Jets fly at turboprop levels and turboprops fly at piston levels.

So does this remain primarily a German problem or is it also affecting Maastricht and London airspace?

EGTK Oxford

I have flown EGKK-EBBR in an A320 or some such at FL190 all the way, but the extra fuel burn on a jet EDDF-London at FL220 must be horrendous…

In the situation I reported, any jet flying at FL170 would have been doing avoids all over the place, as I was and as half the radio traffic were also. I actually massively doubt there was any jet traffic in that airspace…

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

You could check Flightradar24 or equivalent.

But the point is; atco’s will be very cautious with allocating levels, especially when a new sector gets involved.

@JasonC it is a “problem” for everybody working below the MUAC & Rhein sectors. Brussels, Langen, Reims, A’dam,… Upper airspace is being relieved by lower sectors. Pretty interesting traffic situations from time to time…

EBZW EBST

airways wrote:

Capacity is everything this summer and level adherence is a big part of it.

Mmmmm, but when you’re maxed out at the aircraft ceiling with convective weather left, right and below then if I’m sat in the plane I tend to take the view that my safety comes before someone else’s operational expediency. Then and there, I simply could not care less about capacity issues and delays to commercial traffic.

EGLM & EGTN

@airways assertions above are incorrect.

Today, for example the flight EDDF to Montreal is filed initially at FL320 and when passing into Dutch airspace was at FL347.

You seem to be confusing city pair level caps with a blanket restriction that stops a climb until a certain point.

Looking at London today there are some flights filed at FL220 earlier this morning but some of the current plans are at FL340.

glider12000 wrote:

@airways assertions above are incorrect.

Today, for example the flight EDDF to Montreal is filed initially at FL320 and when passing into Dutch airspace was at FL347.

You seem to be confusing city pair level caps with a blanket restriction that stops a climb until a certain point.

Looking at London today there are some flights filed at FL220 earlier this morning but some of the current plans are at FL340.

I very much doubt he is confused. But these things are always dynamic.

EGTK Oxford
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