Go Back  Airline Pilot Central Forums > Airline Pilot Forums > Major
Chronic Radio Frequency Problems Giving Controllers Cause For Concern >

Chronic Radio Frequency Problems Giving Controllers Cause For Concern

Major Legacy, National, and LCC

Chronic Radio Frequency Problems Giving Controllers Cause For Concern

Old 12-01-2006, 12:04 PM
Line Holder
Thread Starter
Joined APC: Apr 2006
Posts: 94
Default Chronic Radio Frequency Problems Giving Controllers Cause For Concern


ATLANTA – Air traffic controllers at the country’s busiest facility, the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZTL) are experiencing a worsening technical problem with the radio frequencies used to communicate with pilots in their airspace, creating a maddening challenge that is steadily becoming a safety issue.

In fact, it’s a five-year-old problem, but controllers say the troubles have gotten much worse in the last four months and it is cause for deep concern. Important arrival frequencies into the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have been severely degraded. Controllers are reporting frequency failures on the southwest side of the Atlanta metropolitan area at the worst possible times – during thunderstorms, when many aircraft are in holding patterns and deviating around the convective weather. The other problem frequencies are on the northeast side of Atlanta, and controllers have been complaining about this one for over five years because they can’t communicate to any aircraft in the holding pattern without going to a backup frequency.

The northeast side of Atlanta is one of the busiest areas in the world for air traffic, incorporating aircraft coming to and from all of the major East Coast and Northeast airports. This is where the holding pattern is set up and there is a 10-mile diameter slice of airspace where radio communications are not possible. Controllers report this problem daily to FAA management.

According to the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) database and calls to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s Safety Hotline, there have been numerous complaints about the frequency problems and controllers are warning that it if left unchecked and not repaired, the results of these chronic outages could be disastrous. But Atlanta Center NATCA facility representative William “Dub” Pearman says the local Federal Aviation Administration managers at his facility are slow in implementing.

“The FAA has known of these latest problems since August but they have still been occurring as recently as two weeks ago, for a multiple-hour period,” Pearman said. “The business-oriented FAA has established a reputation, in the last couple of years, for waiting for its equipment to fail before getting around to finding a fix. This issue is of paramount concern to controllers, who are tasked with keeping the skies safe above Atlanta and over a very large expanse of busy airspace.”

Added Pearman: “These frequencies should not take days, months and definitely not years to fix. It should be only a matter of hours. If the plane you fly on has broken radios, the FAA doesn’t let it fly, so why is the FAA finding it acceptable to not have these frequencies fixed in its own facility that oversees millions of aircraft each year?”

The problem on the southwest side of Atlanta started this spring, when the FAA installed a new telecommunications infrastructure, known as the FTI program, along with the new NEXCOMM radios. It turned one of the most reliable frequency sites in the country into a chronic problem of failures. These failures are occurring at the worst possible time, when adverse weather is present. Even though the FAA’s attempts of trouble shooting these problems have failed, they are continuing to install these new programs nationwide.

Both controllers and the local professionals who install and maintain FAA equipment agree the solution to the problem on the northeast side of Atlanta is to simply move the frequency to another site, but a lack of funding could prevent the move until 2009. Controllers say this situation is causing them more than their fair share of headaches to endure in an already high stakes, high stress work environment.

Last edited by miker1369; 12-01-2006 at 12:10 PM.
miker1369 is offline  
Old 12-01-2006, 03:42 PM
Gets Weekends Off
saab2000's Avatar
Joined APC: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,749

What's the problem? Fixing it might actually cost somebody some money!! We surely wouldn't want to have the taxpayers actually pay for something.....

I hope it doesn't take an accident before people realise our ATC system is not as up to date as it could be.
saab2000 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread