Why is ATC so screwed up?

Discussion in '' started by TheMayor, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. TheMayor

    TheMayor Six Time F1 World Champ
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    Feb 11, 2008
    Vegas baby
    so I'm on a United 757 in SFO heading to Hong Kong. Everyone is loaded on time. We see the safety video. We are still at the gate.

    Then the pilot comes on and says there are 39 planes ahead of us and ATC won't release us for another 90 minutes until some of these planes leave.

    W T F????

    There's nothing going on with the weather here or anywhere. The airport isn't overly crowded or backed up. It's just another Tuesday.

    Can't someone schedule planes to actually leave on time? Is that so hard?

    So then the pilot says well maybe it's only 30 minutes. Then United sends me a text it's 50 minutes. Which is it? Some people have connections and need to know.

    Is it that difficult to figure out who is leaving when in the next hour? Maybe they need Watson!
  2. jcurry

    jcurry F1 Veteran
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    Jan 16, 2012
    Lk Stevens, WA
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    If there are 39 planes in the queue then yes the airport is backed up.

    Individual airlines are responsible for getting planes turned around on time. Often inclement weather in one part of the country can create domino effect across the entire system.

    None of this is ATC related.
  3. joker57676

    joker57676 Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Apr 12, 2005
    Sin City
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    Deplorie McDeplorableface
    And, it could be a problem on the other end as well.
  4. JLF

    JLF Formula Junior

    Sep 8, 2009
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    #4 JLF, Dec 4, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
    Can’t someone just schedule planes to leave on time? Is it so hard?
    Yes, apparently sometimes it’s hard. There are so many variables and things out of the airlines control or foresight. I can say that as someone who flies all the time that we are on time or early a lot more than we are late.

    It’s frustrating though, I hate delays especially as a passenger.

    I can tell you strictly from a pilot standpoint. If we are at the gate and we get a clearance and they give us an expected departure clearance time (edct) that those are fairly accurate. Say it’s 0800 and we are scheduled to leave at 0830. Clearance may say edct of 0850. If it’s not too long of a delay we will push and taxi and wait it out.
    Once we push off the gate and taxi out, a lot of times we don’t know what it’s like till we get out there. If we get out there and there are 15-20+ planes in line the only info we have is the ground or tower controller giving us a number in line and an estimated time of departure based on departure rate. Sometimes they will have an abundance of planes going in the same direction and they need 20-40 mile separation between each departure, throw some weather in there, even far down the road, and it gets jacked up.
    We have a person working in the command center who is an ATC liaison. Sometimes we can contact our dispatcher and they can call that person who can pull some strings to get us out earlier.

    Basically what Im Saying pilots the only thing we know is what ATC tells us. The company may have spoken to someone else and gotten a different answer.
  5. BMW.SauberF1Team

    BMW.SauberF1Team F1 World Champ

    Dec 4, 2004
    I flew through Phoenix recently for a connection and noticed it was feast or famine in terms of planes at the gate. I'd think they would like to smooth out the number of planes coming and going, but they really all showed up at the same time and then all were was weird.
  6. BubblesQuah

    BubblesQuah F1 World Champ
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    Nov 1, 2003
    Hopefully they realized that 757 wasn't going to make SFO-HKG and you changed aircraft while you were waiting to be released. :)
    arizonaitalian and msquared like this.
  7. RWP137

    RWP137 Formula 3
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    Apr 29, 2013
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    2 minutes of separation between aircraft (good weather) x 39 plus OAK and SJC departures/arrival spacing. Sounds about right to me. I recommend avoiding SFO at all costs. It’s really a poor airport design for the traffic density they try to accommodate. They should move the airport way out east or build more parallel runways out in the bay.
  8. Innovativethinker

    Innovativethinker F1 Rookie
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    Aug 8, 2009
    Bear Creek, Ca.
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    Mark Jones
    I try to stay far away from SFO. If it’s not the weather it’s something else.
  9. kylec

    kylec F1 Rookie
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    Jun 9, 2005
    Good time to depart VFR and open your IFR flight plan en route? LoL
    jason1st likes this.
  10. jcurry

    jcurry F1 Veteran
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    Jan 16, 2012
    Lk Stevens, WA
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    More like 2nd stage climb for an airliner, busting through FL180.
  11. donv

    donv F1 World Champ
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    Jan 5, 2002
    Portland, Oregon
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    I want to say that, in my experience as a pilot, ATC does a fantastic job. Especially in busy areas like LA or particularly the NY area, where it is unbelievably challenging for them.

    If you don't like delays, well, that's a reality at certain airports. SFO is notorious, and yet it's rarely a problem at Oakland.
  12. kenneyd

    kenneyd Formula Junior
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    Sep 30, 2014
    NE FL
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    I'm ATC (enroute), feel free to send any questions my way.
    Controllers rarely if ever, cause a delay, we just deal with them. To over simplify it, most delays are a result of airline scheduling, weather, or perhaps special events/military activity.
    jcurry likes this.

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