Moncton Centre sectors, simulcasts, and cross coupling

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novascotian

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Just arrived home to get the news.... turned on 133.95 and there it is! Amazing, and I mean the change itself, but also how all this came about through our postings here on RR. Thanks ATCTech!
 

ATCTech

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Back in the old days we used to say (tounge in cheek of course) "We're from the Government and we're here to help."

In this case is was just a couple of appropriately directed conversations with our Moncton counterparts - much faster, obviously.

Cheers!

Bob

ps - Regarding the YHZ TCU frequencies, I won't speculate on how they reconfigure when they release a frequency for maintenance or an outage, but you guys do know that the TCU specialty/sector is actually at Moncton ACC and not in Halifax, right? Depending on how the remote links are configured from a landline/TELCO carrier perspective, what is released or failed may dictate what has to be used as an alternate.
 
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novascotian

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Yep, I did know YHZ TCU was with Moncton ACC, and I think of it as just another specialty there.

Re the connection from New Brunswick, are you saying that there is a separate link for each of the three frequencies and that the 128.55 one might not always be available? To myself as an outsider I would have thought that all the listed frequencies would be available all the time to meet whatever needs come up. I am thinking that this another case of needing to ask someone right there in Moncton ACC/Hfx TCU just what the situation is....

By the way I just got up, now nearly 0630 and as usual 133.95 is active with the ground side and I am not hearing any aircraft at all on that frequency, so when I say, as usual, I mean it is back to normal, with no cross-coupling, so maybe that was a temporary little gift to us here in the Halifax area.
 

ATCTech

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So they didn't leave the coupling on very long, ah well, as I said way back in the thread it's not mandatory. Some controllers use it, others not so much. At least we know it is working, albiet selectively shall we say. Proir to talking to ZQM coupling on 133.950 had not be enabled for ATC due to another technical change that was waiting to be completed. That's been done.

All frequencies are supposed to be operationally available all the time, yes. Our networks are designed with a level of redundancy, be that different carriers/route between two sites carrying one frequency on one route and the other(s) on the opposite, or carrying main transmitters and receivers on one route and the same frequency's backup radios on the other. It's a site-dependent choice. Any by the way when I use the term backup do not take that as meaning different in any respect, you could just as easily call them "A" and "B", as they are technically identical installations. In the early 1980s they were different in some locations. Here in Toronto when I started we had solid state radios on the main and a mix of older solid state and a whole lot of tube type radios on the backups. At one point I was working on I think it was 7 different makes and models of radios all to provide the same end result. Google "RUQ receiver" to see just how old I'm talking about... (clue: year 195x)

Bob
 

ATCTech

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Here are a couple of images of the ATC comm panel in action. The first shows what it looks like when the controller transmits on 4 frequencies simultaneously. The 4 larger "lightning" symbols show the frequency is selected for transmit enable (lower-right of each indicator). The green indications behind the lightnig symbols show each transmitter is active, and the receivers are picking up the 4 signals and sending the audio back to the switch, indicated by the box with the frequency label in it being green. (It is not heard by the controller, purely a visual indicator). The 4 smaller "lightning" symbols in the lower center box of each indicator indicate each frequency is enabled for cross-coupling which we will see in the next shot. The headset indicator shows the controller whether that frequency's receive audio is being routed to the position speaker or his/her headset, they're all independently selectable.

Transmit.jpg



This shot shows retransmit (coupling) in action. The aircraft is being received on the first frequency, 134.425 MHz as indicated by the top portion of the indicator being green but it's transmit indicator NOT being lit green. Notice the other 3 indicators show those frequencies transmitting, but no receive signal coming back. (It is, but it's being blocked by the switch from going out on any other frequency) That's the visual indication of the receiver audio of the first frequency being rebroadcast on the other 3 frequencies.

Coupling.jpg

No matter how many frequencies are selected for coupling (2 minimum) it will automatically work in both directions, meaning no matter what frequency an aircraft calls on it will always go out on all other coupled frequencies. You do not however have to couple all frequency on the panel just because the transmit function is enabled.

I hope this enhances your understanding at least a little bit of what we're doing here....

Bob
 
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hfxChris

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That explains it very well, thanks for sharing. Nice to be able to see it in action, so to speak!

The coupling by the way seems to have been turned back off on 133.95, I'm just hearing the controller now :)
 

novascotian

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Thanks for posting the photos and explaining....really very interesting and I wish I had known about this years ago!

133.95 seems to be now sometimes cross coupled, sometimes not... and I guess all part of the dynamic nature of things in ATC.

Seeing as how some very knowledgeable people are on here right now, I am going to start a new thread and hope to get some insights like I have been getting here in the past week or so...
 

novascotian

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Here are the Moncton high level frequencies as I understand them to be, and looking for corrrections!

Moncton ACC High Level Frequencies
This is not an official document and may contain errors.
Some frequencies are not in continuous use. Various combinations of frequencies within each of the two areas may be simulcast or cross-coupled depending on traffic volume and patterns. 133.95 Halifax is normally simulcast with 125.25 but often with others as well. There remains some uncertainty as to whether the Quebec and Labrador frequencies are in the West or East areas. The boundary between West and East appears to be 63 degrees W Longitude, but this may not be an exact dividing line.

West Area
132.95 Logan (Churchill Falls)
133.35 Sept Iles
126.325 Sept Iles
132.7 Moncton
127.125 Moncton
135.2 Yarmouth
132.975 Yarmouth
128.375 Yarmouth

East Area
132.525 Natashquan
118.875 Natashquan
120.325 Stephenville
133.55 Stephenville
132.8 Grindstone
132.75 Sydney
133.3 Sydney
133.7 Sydney
125.25 Sydney
133.95 Halifax
 

ATCTech

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This is from the CFS (Canada Flight Supplement) that is published every 56 days. The "H" beside a frequency means it's a high level frequency. In the actual document these are shown in bold font.

This is the official description for the change to the font:

"Bold indicates High Altitude frequency (starting at FL180 and above, unless otherwise indicated). Light type indicates Low Altitude frequency."

We don't publish what sector uses what frequency, there's no need for pilots to ever know that. The geographical location of the radio site is what is published.

Bob


MONCTON CENTRE

Moncton 132.2H 127.125H 132.7H 294.5

Remote:
Caledonia Mtn 132.5
Charlo 134.25
Charlottetown 135.65
Churchill Falls 132.95H (FL 290 & above)
Fredericton 124.3 135.5 270.8
Grindstone 132.8H (FL 290 & above) 134.35
Halifax 133.95H (FL 290 & above) 135.3
Miramichi 123.7
Natashquan 118.875H (FL 290 & above) 132.525H
Saint John 124.3 135.5 270.8
Sept-Îles 126.325H 133.35H 368.5H (FL 290 & above)
Stephenville 120.325H 133.55H 135.775H (FL 290 & above)
Sydney 118.6 125.25H 132.75H 133.3H 133.7H (FL 290 & above) 266.3
Trenton 135.3 135.65
Yarmouth 123.9 128.375H 132.975H 135.2H 368.5
 
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novascotian

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Thanks for the excerpt from CFS... I have one sitting here but it is many years old... like more than a decade! It is expensive in the first place for an individual to buy, but Nav Canada on top of it charges an arm and a leg for shipping. I don't think there is any chart dealer around the Halifax area so direct is the only viable way for me... so again thanks.. I am assuming your CFS is much newer or even current.

Looks like I have left out one of the Stephenville frequencies.. and of course my list was only high level.

Re the listings for Fredericton and Saint John, as far as I know these are all at the same place, and the two listings are not different transmitters on the same frequencies. My info comes from the Industry Canada database.

I would be interested to hear more about the difference between those listed as FL290 and above, and the others.. is the dividing altitude different in different areas? I was under the impression that FL290 was the division level around Halifax... the low level guys always clear aircraft to FL230 which I didn't think they would if it wasn't still in the low level airspace..
 
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ATCTech

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You're right, ZQM considers FL290 and above as high level for their purposes throughout the FIR but the CFS is a pilot resource and this information is about what frequency should be expected to be available in various areas of the FIR, not sectors, not for specific purposes, and not with hard boundaries. From the CFS perspective, which is National, FL180 is the standard altitude from feet to flight level based on a standard altimeter setting of 29.92 inches. ZQM most likely have sectors that handle up to 230 then others that are 230 to 290, then another layer that does 290 and above, that's the way we operate too.

The duplication for Fredericton and St. John should be taken literally as assuming the frequencies exist at both places. I haven't check the TAFL but I'd go with the CFS as being the most accurate.

And yes, this is from the current CFS, which is all we are allowed to use operationally of course.
 
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popnokick

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I think this is a question relevant to this thread, and hope I'm not pulling it off-topic, but here goes:
What about the UHF ARTCC freqs? Specifically, I'm asking if ATC sometimes / always transmits in simulcast mode on UHF (paired with the same audio as a VHF freq)? I hear it often down here south of the border, and it usually indicates they are working military aircraft on civil freqs.
 

ATCTech

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Easy answer, the vast majority of them have been decommissioned in Canada over the last 36 months, deemed as no longer required for itinerant military flights. Of course in Canada we have nowhere near the military air requirements of the U.S.

To address your question historically speaking, in our previous voice switch we had the VHF/UHF pairings virtually hard wired together for a couple of technical reasons, plus there was really no need to ever split them off other than for maintenance anyway. The current switch doesn't have the same limitations but it's now a moot point since they're no longer in service. In the old switch ATC here always transmitted on the V/U pairings because they had no way not to.

Bob
 
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ATCTech

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Sorry, answer posted twice in error so this one deleted....
 
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AirScan

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Attached below is a high altitude sector/coverage chart I put together covering Moncton and the Gander southern sectors. It's a work in progress and not complete. Noted frequency usage in each respective area is based on actual monitoring and is not complete for some areas. Any additional information, updates or corrections appreciated.

Moncton Notes:

Moncton High East and West area's are never combined. Each area flexes between 1 and up to around 5 or 6 sectors depending on traffic volume. Sector boundaries are variable and based around NAT Track locations.

I have never heard 132.95 (Churchill Falls) used by aircraft. Possibly for coverage in far northern part of sector ?

Note coverage area of 133.95 (eastbound only - thanks Bob). Since hfxChris put up his 133.95 feed I've heard a few flights on this route on 133.95. (thanks Chris).

Gander Notes:

124.175 is listed as a Gander frequency (both in the CFS and Industry Canada). I've never heard it used by any aircraft and while in Gander I've never heard any controllers transmitting on it.

The CFS lists the southern Gander high frequencies as transmitting from the St. John's area. The controller on these high altitude frequencies can not be heard on the ground in the St. Johns area. The Industry Canada database shows the RCAG located at the Trepassey Radar site, which is around 50 miles south of St Johns (this appears to be the correct location). (The low controller on 133.15 can be heard 5/5 on the ground in St. Johns).

edit - I saved the file as a .jpeg but it doesn't seem to work when I post it on the forum here ? Can anyone read it ?
 
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AirScan

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Here's the same chart attached as a .pdf file. Maybe that will work ?
 
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novascotian

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Thanks for the new map AirScan.... the pdf is better for sure. Does need to be zoomed in on to see what it is all about... will have a better look over the next couple of days and check it out.

Re the locations of the ground sites... there for sure are some discrepancies between TAFL/Industry Canada and CFS.

According to Industry Canada the St. John's Newfoundland transceivers are indeed actually at Trepassey. I just finished looking at the facility on Google Maps.

Similarly, there are a couple of frequencies listed as being at St.Pierre (French territory) but really are at Allan's Island, just to the east in Newfoundland. In this case I think CFS lists them as St Pierre (Allan's Island)...

Another one, and I can't remember the frequency, is listed as Churchill Falls but is at Logan, thought that is not far away.

And I myself believe that the frequencies listed in CFS for Saint John and Fredericton are all one, and at Clarendon. I don't really have any absolute evidence to support the IC/TAFL info over the CFS, but this is something one also sees with the CBC in broadcasting.. they have advertised stations twice, once for each city, but really just one station, or also two separate stations but both transmitting from the same location. I really cannot see any reason to have two separate locations so close together, in this case Saint John and Fredericton. The Clarendon site is on what passes as a mountain more or less midway between the two cities. It also supposedly has FSS frequencies 126.7 and 123.475.
 
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novascotian

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After having had a look at AirScan's map, here are some questions about the tracks.. I guess I am speaking more about the eastbound ones, but maybe similar for westbound...

Are there definite tracks, ones that sort of match certain distances offshore for example and start down at the Boston/Moncton boundary and continue right up to east of Newfoundland? For example if an aircraft comes into Moncton's airspace at BRADD, will it continue along more or less the middle of the sector right up to NICSO unless there is some reason to deviate? and in the same vein, does the next one out down there, KANNI, go with PORTI off Newfoundland.. again I mean for the most part...?? and so on.


Also in looking at the New Brunswick area, I am thinking that there is a boundary between 132.7 and 127.125. The aircraft going west from Halifax towards Central Canada always go to 127.125, "never" 132.7, as they cut across southwestern New Brunswick and then of course go to 128.05 Boston.. which brings up a similar question about Boston... Aircraft coming down from the northeast, the transAtlantic flights seem to almost always go to 134.95 coming into ZBW space but the aircraft heading west across Maine always seem to go to 128.05.. as if there were two frequencies for the same area but for diffferent traffic... I know they are not completely mutually exclusive as I did hear a Lufthhansa flight on 128.05 just today but maybe for them it is just the far northern part of Maine, whereas a flight from Halifax will go to 128.05 even if crossing into ZBW space down near the Calais and Houlton area...
 

AirScan

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Are there definite tracks, ones that sort of match certain distances offshore for example and start down at the Boston/Moncton boundary and continue right up to east of Newfoundland?
Yes, they are called North American Routes (NARs)

http://www.wwradarlist.com/NAR SYSTEM.pdf

The actual routes are published in the back of the Canada Flight Supplement. Most of them are just direct from the INF (Inland Navigation Fix) to the Coastal Fix (Oceanic Enntry Point).

All the INF's are depicted on the chart, ie: WHALE to ANCER, as well as the Oceanic Entry Points, SUPRY, PORTI, NICSO, etc.

The filed NAR route is shown in the flightplan that you can see on Flightaware.

American Airlines (AA) #100

BETTE3 ACK BRADD N143A NICSO NATU ...

In this case the NAR is N143A, which if you look in the CFS is BRADD direct NICSO.

From BRADD there are NAR routes to all Oceanic Entry Points from ALLRY south to VODOR. As to what one is used on a particular day depends on the orientation of the NAT tracks.

I am thinking that there is a boundary between 132.7 and 127.125.
The boundary between 132.70 and 127.12 is depicted on the chart. Aircraft that will just pass through a corner or small area of a sector are often handed off directly to the next sector. For example westbound flights heading to the USA over TOPPS will go from 132.70 directly to 134.95 even though they would be passing through 128.05 airspace initially (briefly). If that's what you are getting at ?

Also keep in mind that the same controller is often working both 132.70 and 127.12 areas. This is also the case with Boston on 128.05 and 134.95 as both sectors are frequently combined during light traffic.
 
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