Published on December 1st, 2014 | by FII Reader0
Shannon Flight Information Service and Alerting Service
“Shannon Information this is EI-JAK airborne from private site in Kilkenny requesting flight information service…”
Every year hundreds of calls like the above are received by the Shannon Flight Information Service (FIS). But what does it mean? And what service is provided?
In December 2014 an Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) will be issued dealing with the FIS and Alerting Service in Ireland. It is hoped that this article will complement that AIC and give a bit more information on the provision of FIS by Shannon.
The airspace in the Shannon FIR is comprised of Class G and Class C airspace. In Class C airspace an air traffic control service is provided to Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and Visual Flight Rules (VFR) aircraft. However, in Class G airspace, Shannon only provides an FIS and alerting service.
When flying in Shannon Class G you may hear control instructions being issued to other traffic. This is because, a lot of the time, Shannon FIS is being provided by controllers who are also providing a control service to traffic in Class C airspace. We call this control sector Shannon Low Level. It is important to remember that while Low Level Control and the FIS are using radar for service provision, FIS in Class G is neither a control service nor a radar advisory service. While we do give out squawks to traffic, this is only to help us provide the service. Sometimes we can see you and sometimes we can’t. At all times it is your responsibility to remain clear of controlled airspace unless you have a clearance to enter from the appropriate Air Traffic Control Centre unit and also to comply with the Rules of the Air.
Shannon Low Level’s area of responsibility consists of the Flight Information Region (FIR) airspace from surface to flight level 245 excluding:
- the Dublin Airspace and the airspace under the Dublin CTA,
- the Regional Control Zones when active
- the city of Derry stubs when active and
- Shannon and Cork Approach/Towers Areas of Responsibility.
So how do I get a FIS from Shannon in Class G airspace?
Essentially FIS is available to anyone, whether you have filed a flight plan or not. If you are flying without a flight plan, you can still contact the FIS:
- To avail of FIS
- So we can tell others about you
Often traffic calls as “information only” (i.e. no flight plan) and then we never hear from them again. This means that the FIS has no idea how long you will be out or if you are moving around.
Please note, without an activated flight plan, an alerting service is only provided if you ask for it or if we become aware from another source that you need it.
If I can get FIS without filing a plan why bother filing a plan?
There are times when it is mandatory to file a flight plan and these are covered in the legislation. As well as those requirements, a flight plan, once activated, also gives you access to an alerting service.
What do you mean activated?
In order for the FIS to consider a flight planned flight as an active flight we must be told it is actually happening. This can be done:
- by phone in advance of getting airborne,
- on the ground on frequency just before airborne or
- just after airborne on frequency.
Once a flight plan has been activated, Shannon FIS is committed to maintain a watch for that flight until the flight plan is closed. This means that if you are overdue the Shannon ATC Station Manager [who is also the Area Rescue Co-ordination Centre (ARCC) for Ireland] commences a search for you.
This normally starts with tracking down phone numbers, ringing the owner of the aircraft and ultimately can lead to a request to launch rescue helicopters and/or life boats. So when flying on an activated flight plan it is vital that you keep us up to date on your progress or changes to your plan so that we can provide the best service and save the resources of the rescue services for people who really need them.
One area of concern for Shannon is flights entering controlled airspace without a clearance. This is a Key Risk Area for Shannon and all units of the IAA. Let’s take an example of regional airport zones and stubs.
Ireland West Zone and Stubs
Regional Control zones open and close as per notification through AIP or NOTAM. This means that the hours can change and also change at short notice. Once a regional zone is open the associated “stubs” also become controlled airspace. These stubs are controlled by Shannon.
On occasions we have observed aircraft penetrate these areas of controlled airspace without clearance which can have serious consequences. We ask that you adhere to the following:
- If you do not know if a Regional Zone is open or closed keep clear of the area until you can find out.
- If you are not sure where you are, ask FIS for help
- Do not assume that “FIS will tell us if they see us going somewhere we are not supposed to”. It is your responsibility.
How do I file a flight plan?
Part of the Shannon ATC facility is the AIS office. It is through this office that flight plans can be filed either directly by phone or by using the IAA website (www.iaa.ie/flightplan). In order to try and best meet the requirements of the GA community, AIS has recently reduced the notice required to file a plan from one hour to 30 minutes. This month the AIS are also starting a pilot survey to gather information to improve the service for next year. If you would like to participate, please contact the AIS at email@example.com. Please note that flight plans can also be filed in the air, but this is not the preference of the FIS.
The AIS also update the PIB (Preflight Information Bulletin). This is available through the IAA website (www.iaa.ie/NOTAMs) and will give you all the current NOTAMS that you require.
Shannon FIS is committed to providing a safe and efficient service to the GA community. Should you require any further information please contact the Shannon Duty Station Manager through our switchboard on 061 770700 or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shannon Air Traffic Control.