Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?

Michel Robichaud

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Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« on: December 07, 2019, 09:53:40 AM »
Fellow controllers,

Yesterday, I was manning CYUL_APP and started a handoff to BOS_CTR. Since they were hosting the FNO, I assumed they would be quite busy, so I did my HO's sooner than later.

My question is the following: when you get no reply to your handoff request (neither Accept or Refuse) do you allow the aircraft to enter the next controller's airspace, or do you vector him to keep him within your airspace?

I didn't have to do it yesterday since Boston accepted my handoff at the last minute, but I was wondering what you guys do in such a situation.

Talking to my colleague, we both agreed that, since the next controller didn't refuse the handoff, we would let the plane enter the airspace at the maximum altitude given by the Terminal, and keep him on our frequency until Boston accepts.

What do you guys think?

Michel.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 01:23:07 PM by Michel Robichaud »
Michel Robichaud

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Josh Agins

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2019, 11:01:45 AM »
This is a good question, first you did the right thing by initiating the hand-offs early since it was a FNO and everything gets overloaded real quickly.

So now to the question, what if the adjacent center doesn't accept the hand-off in time by the time the aircraft gets to the border. What I've been teaching at CZEG is that if you initiate a hand-off and the adjacent center/facility doesn't accept the hand-off in a timely manner, I'd advise the controller to cancel the hand-off and try again. If they don't accept it(I usually try 3 times) I'd assume they were too busy and would box-vector the aircraft around and advise the pilot of the delay. In other words I'd treat this scenario as a hand-off refusal and treat the hand-off accepted as permission to enter the next controller's airspace.

If you let the aircraft go into the next controller's airspace you'd only be adding to their already high workload and causing more of an issue for them. In the real world if a controller was that busy they'd have someone sitting next to them helping them monitor the traffic situation and help relay information to the other facilities.

I hope this help also curious on other controller's point of view on this topic.
Josh Agins
CZEG Chief Instructor

Kolby Dunning

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2019, 11:34:09 PM »
Another thing that you can do is put them into a hold so you have less work until they accept the handoff.

Philip Dowling

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2019, 08:24:01 PM »
I might also suggest a pvt message to the controller. 

As Josh has rightly said, they may be busy.  But at least a POLITE private message will sit in the corner of their screen and when they are less busy they will have a reminder they need to deal with it.

In the meantime, advise the a/c of the delay and enroute hold.
Phil Dowling  (813710)
VATCAN Division Director

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vatcan.ca

Michel Robichaud

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2019, 06:12:41 AM »
Thank you guys, lots of excellent input.

So, the proper way to handle this is: try the handoff 3 times, if there is no reply advise and box-vector the aircraft (or give a Holding clearance) and send a polite Private Mesage to the receiving controller.

Makes lots of sense.

Michel
Michel Robichaud

CZUL FIR Events Coordinator
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Mark Walsh

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2019, 06:51:42 AM »
Here is a photo by one of our members captured between Moncton and Boston. This shows the contrail of a jet approaching Boston Center airspace and Boston refused the handoff so they had to follow the Maine/NB border until Boston accepted. They then were able to turn back on course.

Michel Robichaud

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2019, 05:18:35 PM »
Thanks for sharing Mark!
Michel Robichaud

CZUL FIR Events Coordinator
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Yanick Coulombe

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2020, 12:11:15 PM »
I know I'm late, but wanted to add that I normally will "point-out" the aircraft to the other controller, that's another way of getting his attention.
Yanick Coulombe (965064)
Chief - FIR de Montréal
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Owen Kane

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2020, 08:50:27 AM »
I agree with Josh and others on issuing a hold or vector box. Let's keep in mind the pilot! We should also advise or remind pilot of the chance for delays resulting outside of our control either at the time of handoff from another FIR or while the pilot is receiving his clearance to fly to the FNO Destination.

Perhaps this might be better served by establishing in co-ordination with the FNO entity fixes at which aircraft can be directed to hold. At least this would provide both the pilot and the FNO entity a reference point. "ZEG001 Hold at XYZ monitor BOS_CTR 123.5 - Good Day"

Mark Walsh

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2020, 10:05:10 AM »
At least this would provide both the pilot and the FNO entity a reference point. "ZEG001 Hold at XYZ monitor BOS_CTR 123.5 - Good Day"

A real-life pilot had provided this phraseology to us:

ACA123 CLEARED TO THE BAFDY INTERSECTION HOLD AS DEPICTED, MAINTAIN 12,000. HALIFAX ALTIMETER XXXX, EXPECT FURTHER CLEARANCE (INSERT TIME IN ZULU OR GIVE TIME IN MINUTES).

or (If above FL180)

ACA123 CLEARED TO THE BAFDY INTERSECTION HOLD AS DEPICTED, MAINTAIN FL350, EXPECT FURTHER CLEARANCE (INSERT TIME IN ZULU OR GIVE TIME IN MINUTES).

Of course, if it is not a standard hold, will have to modify your phraseology to suit your needs.

Owen Kane

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2020, 09:23:25 AM »
Mark, Good point on the phraseology.

Mark Walsh

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2020, 09:28:52 AM »
Mark, Good point on the phraseology.

Just hope he's right, haven't read the Manops on it  ;D

Owen Kane

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Re: Handoffs: What if the receiving controller doesn't respond?
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2020, 09:40:48 AM »
Mark, Good point on the phraseology.

Just hope he's right, haven't read the Manops on it  ;D

Close enough.