Moncton Centre sectors, simulcasts, and cross coupling

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EMD91123

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It was a Air Transat flight. Im narrowing it down to 1700 to 1900 time frame . The controller that is broadcasting did the handoff . Tracked the flight from YAY to over the Anticosti Island
 

AirScan

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It was a Air Transat flight. Im narrowing it down to 1700 to 1900 time frame . The controller that is broadcasting did the handoff . Tracked the flight from YAY to over the Anticosti Island
Okay I see TSC385, heard it on the archives. The aircraft must have been on one of the Stephenville frequencies or on 118.875 maybe ? I see what you mean now, I thought you meant the aircraft was on 125.25.
 

hfxChris

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Current list of frequencies on the feed:


Eastern NS: 125.25 132.75 133.30 133.70 133.95
Western NS: 128.375 132.975 135.20
Moncton: 127.125 132.70
Grindstone 132.80
 

AirScan

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hfxChris,

You guys aren't finding this feed now is a little too 'busy' are you? This is honestly more frequencies than I was intending to include from the start.
Sounds good to me. Even at the peak times it's easy to follow what is going on and not that many transmissions are getting blocked. I think the current setup works fine, but I wouldn't add any more.

The widespread use of CPDLC has really quieted things down compared to the "old" days.

Really appreciate you setting it up, thanks again !

Now we just need a separate feed for the low altitude sectors ;-)
 

novascotian

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Lately I have been a little confused about the far offshore boundary between Moncton and NY Oceanic... but this morning something shed a little light on it.. A Condor flight way out near NOVOK was on with Moncton and the controller said.. "you are technically in New York's airspace but it has been given to Moncton indefinitely" Wonder if this means that Moncton has improved radio and radar coverage compared to before, or has someone just realized that it had coverage so made the change. My assumption is that it is always better to be within actual controlled space with radar and VHF than to be position reporting to NY or Gander Oceanic.
 

AirScan

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A Condor flight way out near NOVOK was on with Moncton and the controller said.. "you are technically in New York's airspace but it has been given to Moncton indefinitely" Wonder if this means that Moncton has improved radio and radar coverage compared to before
The difference between the FIR boundary and CTA boundary has been like that for as long as I can remember, at least over 20 years, so I don't think it is anything new with Moncton's radio or radar.

A couple of days ago there was a Delta flight on Boston Center (133.45) routing eastbound via VITOL that was confused about the boundary as well, the controller explained it as New York has control from the FIR boundary and south from FL280 and below while Moncton has control from the CTA boundary and north at FL290 and above.

The problem is on both the Canadian and Jeppesen charts they show a CTA/FIR boundary but then show another CTA boundary further south but don't mention the FL280/FL290 overlap. It's the CTA boundary further south where Moncton has control from FL290 and above, you can see it partially depicted on the Canadian HI6 chart I posted a link to earlier.

On that chart I put together I only included the CTA boundaries at FL290 and above.

Do you remember the approximate time you heard that Condor flight ? I'd like to pull up the archives and listen to it.
 
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novascotian

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Yes I do see that difference in boundary, and have seen it for a long time.. I thought that I had heard reference before on-air, in the last couple of months, to something being different now from that already existing overlap.

I heard CFG79, enroute from FLL to FRA, talking to Moncton at around 0530 Atlantic time on Wednesday.
 

AirScan

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I heard CFG79, enroute from FLL to FRA, talking to Moncton at around 0530 Atlantic time on Wednesday.
Ok thanks. I listened to the conversation, the flight appears to be in the vicinity of NOVOK when the controller first has initial contact, note how he first calls on 133.95 and the controller switches him to 125.25, then he is given a slight re-route.

The comment from the controller is in reference to the oceanic clearance and the confusion caused by the different FIR and CTA boundaries. The flight is in the New York FIR but the "oceanic clearance" is issued by Moncton.

I don't know why they just don't move the FIR boundary, or at lease explain it on the charts ? I can certainly understand how someone who doesn't fly that route very often could get confused about when and who is supposed to issue the "oceanic" clearance.
 
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novascotian

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Something ought to be done to rationalize it for sure. I heard similar conversations later yesterday, one where the pilot was saying something like them not being allowed to do a clearance or something via data link due to being in New York's airspace and they were trying to do it via Gander, something along that line, yet they were actually at that point under radar/vhf control.... not the correct way to say it. Can't recall who or when that was.

By the sounds of things then, this overlap has been going on as you say for years, and there is this daily confusion. I am thinking that I have never heard it before due to the cross coupling being brand new here. I must say that ATCTech has changed the world here for those of us who listen to 133.95 Halifax.

I also am not familiar with going back and hearing things over again.. pretty cool, if that is a word that still can be used these days.... I am from the era that wants to say pretty neat... LOL
 

JonathanK

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Cross - coupling Czyz Timmins sectir

Hello listeners. My hometown Timmins Ontario, the airspace here is 128,3 always cross coupled with Moosonee on 133,72. During the evenings and weekends, our airspace cross-couples with North Bay 127,25 and Sudbury 135,5 from 8pm Mon to fri until 7am Mon to Fri.

I have always wondered how IFR controllers manually adjust their radio consoles to split and combine sectors.
 

ATCTech

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I'm not sure if you're asking a question about frequency cross-coupling or saying that you now understand a bit more of how it works. If you're not clear on the concept and/or haven't read this entire thread, go back to page 2 and you'll see photos I posted 14 months ago of exactly what coupling is and what the panel at each ATC sector, tower position and FSS console looks like in Canada from a communications point of view.

This is only the voice communications portion of course. There's a whole other world of other technological magic that happens to combine/split sectors when it comes to controller jurisdiction of radar targets and flight plan data.

Cheers!

Bob
 
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JonathanK

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Perfect understanding of Cross-coupling

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.

View attachment 51762



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.

View attachment 51763

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

Thanks so much for those pictures. I visited the Timmins FSS multiple times, and never thought of asking how they occasionally cross-couple their MF 122,3 with their maintenance 122,6. They are not always busy enough to do that. They sometimes cross-couple during the winter months to avoid toggling between both frequencies.

While listening to the Timmins/Moosonee sector, when combined with North Bay Sudbury, sometimes they only keep YB and SB cross coupled together, and TS MO cross coupled, but not cross couple the TS MO receive with YB SB. Or, a few minutes before they split, the cross coupling is disabled altogether until a split occurs, then the same controller re enables cross coupling.

I do listen to the YAM sector every morning at 5:00am ET and notice at 5:50am, the controller changes and all the cross coupling is partial from the Midland Wiarton sector, but still enabled on the northern side of Sault airspace.

I suppose it only takes a minute to configure the communications console.
 

ATCTech

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You've done your homework, that's excellent!

The en route north & North Bay specialties at Toronto have 5 physical sectors in total. North Bay and Timmins form the North Bay specialty, while there are 2 Sault sectors (high and low) and a Wiarton sector comprising the North specialty. The reason is simple. Originally North Bay TCU (terminal control unit) was actually in North Bay. It relocated to Toronto ACC decades ago but there has never been an integration of the training for both groups, they operate with discrete staff to this day despite being literally across from each other in the operation room.

So, you'll never hear the North specialty controllers on the YB Low, TS, SB or MO frequencies, they all belong to YB TCU. Similarly, you won't hear the TS/YB controllers on the AM, XZ, VV, EE or EL frequencies - they belong to the en route north specialty. Having said that, we have "borrowed" frequencies from one sector to use in another during outages or maintenance periods where coverage allows but that's typically only for a few hours and maybe once a year per frequency. If you've been listening for a number of years you might remember 133.975 at TS belonging to Toronto ACC. It was transferred to Montreal ACC when they took over the high level airspace over northern Ontario. There's also a high level frequency at MO that goes to Montreal ACC.

It's too deep to fully explain here, but it is a very flexible system from a software point of view however geographical coverage dictates what gets used where, especially where on-ground coverage is required when a tower or FSS is closed. There are a couple of cases where an FSS provides advisory service remotely to another airport, for example SB FSS handles London XU airport when the tower there closes at night. They also so Sault tower overnight from SB FSS.

Cheers!

Bob
 

JonathanK

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Sector splitting/cross-coupling

I know the Sault traffic is handled by Toronto from 22h30 to 6h30.

Yes I do remember when Toronto Timmins-High level sector owned 133,97. That was moved to Montreal Centre with Moose-High 118,97 and many other Quebec sectors. It's nice to hear from 1h00 to 9h00 AM all of the sectors to Labrador and their oceanic clearances. It's confusing knowing which aircraft is on which frequency with Montreal Centre. It's nice to hear bilingual conversations.

I also remember the good ole days when Timmins used to do the RAAS for both Kapuskasing CYYU and Earlton CYXR, until they both transferred to London FIC, and Timmins took on Muskoka.

One of two occasions that I remember. One is with the TS/YB sectors at 19h45 when the sectors just combined, a flight was calling the controller multiple times. The controller said "Sorry for the delay, we're just amalgamating our positions here, but you can call North Bay radio on 118,3, good night."

Another instance was 4 years ago while in Toronto. I was listening to Simco/East Radar from 5h00 am to 7h00 am. It was about 6h20 am. The controller said: "Georgian XXXX, switch to my other frequency...127.000 The pilot acknowledged it on 124,92 while both freqs were cross coupled. Three seconds later, the pilot calls on 127.000, but that cross coupling was shut off. There was no other traffic on 124,92/134,25 for about 10 minutes.

How long does it take to reconfigure the radio panel and switch all the flight plans from one radar station to another?
 

ATCTech

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The amalgamation or splitting of radar display assignment and flight plan information is done by the controller. The voice switch (communications) resectorization is virtually instant as well, however that's still done by the duty data systems coordinator who at any particular moment may be involved in other activity on the operations floor. It's basically a function of the technical capability and age of the voice communications system being somewhat older than the CAATS (radar processing and flight plan management) system. Controllers can manually add voice circuits to individual panels however there's a higher level of authority required in allowing deletion of communications channels. In towers and FSS sites where there's little change needed to the communications panels from one shift to the next the system has been updated to allow the operators to combine and split the voice circuit assignments, but not delete. The en route centers may have that ability in the future but the number of possible combinations depending on what order sectors close and open in, the time of day and staff levels make it quite a complex list of what are called "missions" in the software.

The apparent delay you heard was possibly caused a result of the controllers needing to physically move to a different sector, or they combined without coordination of the data systems coordinator then realized they didn't have the proper mission activated on the comm panels. Also, we routinely move sectors into different physical positions to accommodate software loads and hardware changes during quiet hours. 99.999% of the time the pilot and certainly the casual listener would never know it happened.
 
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JonathanK

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Hey Bob. Hope all is well with the CZYZ ACC. For cross coupling, does the controller simply press the lower middle (audio preference) button to select where the audio is being routed? When I visited Timmins FSS, the operator showed me the panel, and how to direct the source audio, to the headset or loud-speaker. Does that same button have to be pressed a second time for the frequency to enable the cross-coupling?

Thanks!
 

ATCTech

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Hi Jonathan, great to hear from you again.

If you're asking if how cross-coupling is enabled/disabled for a frequency when you say "how the audio is routed" the answer is no, it's actually not shown on the screen shots I posted a few pages back. It's done by tapping the CIRCUIT CONFIG button first, then the top 2 rows of touch points change to different functions allowing coupling selection, headset/speaker selection for receive audio, and main/stby TX and RX selection for each frequency assigned to the panel. The frequency indicators as shown in the screen captures are just indicators, not live touch points on the CCP.

The TX TOGGLE is live however to allow frequencies to be "receive only", when not part of a coupling situation of course. Very handy if a controller only needs to make a single transmission, on 121.5 for example, without drilling through menus to enable the transmitter.

Receive audio routing can be adjusted on a circuit by circuit basis from the same CIRCUIT CONFIG screen, or wholesale for the entire panel from the second row of touch points, one selection for radios, the other for hotlines. Telephone circuits are always headset only.

Does that make sense? There is a bit more to it that's not worth getting into here but that's the main part of the process.

Bob
 
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JonathanK

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Thanks for that answer Bob. The Timmins FSS showed me the whole works with the comm. panel, but it’s a lot to remember.

Last year some time, Bearskin 384 was handed off from YSB to Timmins on 128,3. After the controller issued the hand-off, the Timmins controller answered and then both frequencies were suddenly cross-coupled. I am sure the controllers do a quick briefing before their sectors split or combine, correct? “Bearskin 384, Toronto now on 128,3.” Then on 128,3 “Toronto, Bearskin 384 at 15 000 on on 128.3” At that point, the Timmins controller already cross-coupled the sectors.

At Timmins, the operator working Moosonee was also monitoring Muskoka, and then asked the pilot to stand by for a position trade off. His relief operator took 10 seconds to open up Muskoka alone.
 
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