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15 CHAPTER THREE COMMUNICATION One key to safe airport operation during the winter season or Both CTAF and unicom frequencies have users make self- in low visibility conditions at an airport with or without an announcements of their position or intentions using standard operating control tower is the use of proper and correct com- terminology and phraseology. To "self-announce" refers to a munication. Proper and correct communication enhances SA procedure whereby pilots or vehicle operators broadcast their and provides the means for carrying out an airport's snow position or intended flight activity or ground operation on the plan in a timely and effective manner. designated CTAF. Because of its importance, the FAA has established com- A common method of crew coordination and communica- munication protocols and regulations for both aircraft and tion at small to large airports is the use of a crew team concept. vehicles operating on and in the vicinity of an airport. The The concept involves a group of snow removal equipment that communication protocols, phraseology, and words are spelled function together under the command of a lead supervisory out in various FAA publications, namely regulations, orders, vehicle or operator. In this instance, ATCT communication advisory circulars, and other guidance material. is with only the command vehicle and the equipment operators are, in essence, under escort. This communication protocol reduces the burden of the ATCT controller to monitor all RADIO COMMUNICATION PROTOCOLS vehicles and places the responsibility onto the airport snow supervisor. Individual LOAs and an airport's ACM will gov- Radio communication protocols are spelled out in Advisory ern this type of communication protocol. Communication Circular 150/5210-20, Ground Vehicle Operations on Airports procedures and protocol are essential in these circumstances (3) or in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM): Official for ensuring all vehicles remain with the lead vehicle and Guide to Basic Flight Information and ATC Procedures (29). follow its lead. Under 14 CFR Part 139.303, individuals oper- ating on the movement areas of the airport should receive At airports with an operating control tower, permission training in the different communication rules and operating must be requested and a clearance given prior to driving on a impact that applies. The different requirements can be found movement area. Any vehicle driving on the movement areas in the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (29). (runways and taxiways) of an airport must be in contact with the ATCT or be capable of monitoring and transmitting on the A distinction exists in aircraft operations if pilots are oper- common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) if ATCT is not in ating under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules. When operation or does not exist. Movement areas at airports having the weather conditions create cloud ceilings below 1,000 feet an ATCT are defined in a memorandum of understanding above the ground level (AGL) or the horizontal visibility drops (MOU) or LOA and described in the airport's ACM. Vehicle below 3 mi, instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) exist. operators must always monitor the appropriate radio frequency When the cloud ceiling is more than 1,000 ft AGL and the when in the movement areas. A vehicle that is equipped with visibility is greater than 3 mi, visual meteorological condi- a radio may escort vehicles without radios, which is common tions (VMC) exist. VMC allows for either instrument or visual during snow removal operations at many airports. flight operating rules to be used by pilots. At airports without an operating control tower, airport The radio communication protocols to be used when con- ground vehicles equipped with radios should monitor the ducting airport operations are listed here and are abstracted CTAF. The CTAF is assigned for the purpose of carrying from the FAA's AIM, advisory circulars, and technical orders, out airport advisory practices while operating to or from an and provide standard guidance for airport vehicle operators airport without an operating control tower. The CTAF may and pilots. be a unicom, multicom, flight service station (FSS), or ATCT frequency and is identified in appropriate aeronautical publi- Approaches to an Airport with cations. Unicom and multicom are nongovernmental air/ an Operating Control Tower ground radio communication stations that can provide airport information at public use airports where there is no ATCT A pilot intending to make an approach should contact the tower or FSS. for approval. This request should be made prior to starting the
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16 final approach or is handed off to the ATCT from Air Route Always state your position on the airport when calling the Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). The final approach gener- tower for vehicle movement instructions. Normal radio pro- ally begins 10 nautical mi from the runway. The ATCT is to cedure is to use the following protocol: then communicate with snow removal equipment on either tower (local) control or ground control, as spelled out in local · Identify who you are calling. procedures, as to any action to be taken. · Identify who you are. · Wait for a response from ground control. · Respond to ground control's acknowledgment with who Approaches to an Airport Without you are, where you are, and what your intentions are. an Operating Control Tower · Wait for a response. · Acknowledge the instructions, repeating back any hold A pilot intending to make an approach to an airport will be short instructions. advised by ARTCC to change to the airport advisory frequency · Proceed in compliance with the instructions. when direct communications with ATC are no longer required. Normally, such change would be made prior to leaving the Advisory Circular 120-57A, Surface Movement Guidance and final approach fix inbound (non-precision approach) or the Control System, commonly known as SMGCS (pronounced outer marker or fix used in lieu of the outer marker inbound "smiggs"), requires a low visibility taxi and operating plan (precision approach), which is approximately 10 nautical mi approved by the FAA for any airport that has takeoff or landing from the runway. The pilot is to then use self-announcement operations in visibility conditions less than 1,200 ft runway procedures on unicom, multicom, or CTAF, as appropriate. visual range (RVR) (1). These plans, which affect aircrew and Further announcements may be made by pilots as to their posi- vehicle operators, may incorporate additional lighting, mark- tion on approach, or if performing a circle-to-land maneuver, ings, signage, and procedures to control airport surface traffic. their position in the traffic pattern. On landing, they are to Low visibility is addressed at two levels: operations less than report leaving the runway. It is incumbent on vehicle drivers 1,200 ft RVR but higher than 600 ft RVR, and operations to monitor the assigned frequency for their airport and 600 ft or less RVR. respond with safety-related information only, such as their position or their intentions. Operating on an Airport Without A practice implemented and recommended at some air- an Operating Control Tower ports is to publish a remark in the airport's FAA Form 5010 A vehicle operator intending to operate on the runways and Master Record identifying that snow removal operations are taxiways should so advise others by issuing a NOTAM, or in progress during the winter months; that vehicle operators use self-announce procedures and communicate position and will be monitoring CTAF; and that landing and departing air- intentions on unicom, multicom, or CTAF, as appropriate. craft should announce their intentions on CTAF when ATCT Terminal Radar Control (TRACON) centers and ARTCC do is closed. The information placed on the 5010 is then repli- not necessarily have on-airport traffic and runway-in-use infor- cated in the Airport Facility Directory, which all pilots are to mation available to them. The key to communicating at an reference prior to operating on, from, or into an airport. airport without an operating control tower is the selection of the correct common frequency. It is incumbent on airport Operating on an Airport with vehicle operators to monitor the assigned airport frequency an Operating Control Tower and communicate or self-announce position and intentions whether aircraft are present or not. Airports with an operating ATCT will have spelled out in a LOA or MOU those areas that will be under ATCT operational Self-announcements should follow the following format: control during the hours ATCT is in operation as well as those (1) state the airport name, (2) identify your vehicle and posi- where they cannot provide ATC service due to visibility limits tion, (3) identify your intentions, and (4) restate the airport or other reasons. Airfield signage, pavement markings, local name. At an uncontrolled airport, some aircraft may not bulletins, airport diagrams, and operator training programs have radios or those that do may not have adequate time to provide information on the operational areas. Vehicle opera- announce their activity after being released by the ATC Center. tors and pilots have a responsibility to contact the ATCT Operations at airports without operating control towers require prior to entering an airport movement area. the highest degree of vigilance on the part of vehicle opera- tors to see and avoid aircraft while operating on the airport, An ATCT authorization must be obtained prior to access- especially the runways. Drivers should stay alert at all times, ing a movement area during the hours an ATCT is in opera- anticipate the unexpected, use the published CTAF fre- tion. Airport vehicles must comply with ATCT instructions quency, and follow standard or recommended airport oper- while on the movement areas and further seek authorization ating practices. The use of the appropriate CTAF, combined for operations outside of what the ATCT had originally with visual alertness and application of good operating prac- allowed. tices, will enhance the safety of airport operations. Radio