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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:36 am 
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I've made several flights now (MSFS 2020) and each time I keep getting incomplete clearances without routing. For example, tonight I had filed KDEN SABTH2 VRONI DCT PNH J17 ABI DCT DILLO LAIKS2 KAUS. The clearance I received was as follows:

United 370 is cleared to KAUS fly runway heading climb and maintain 9 thousand expect flight level 370 10 minutes after departure squawk 2146 contact departure on 136.6

Notice that there is no routing. Runway heading and then what? Either it should have been something like, "fly runway heading, expect radar vectors to TIKLR direct VRONI then as filed" or something like "fly SABTH2 departure direct VRONI then as filed". With the clearance given by PF3, there would have been no way to fly it in a lost comms situation because it didn't tell me where to go. Plus, I couldn't set up anything the FMGC since I wasn't actually cleared for the SID, nor was it clear where I could expect to resume own navigation.

In the United States, clearances are generally issued in the following order: Clearance limit, Altitude, Route, departure Frequency, Transponder code. Many pilots expect to copy clearances using the acronym CRAFT. It would be great to get PF3 to adhere to that custom for flights in the U.S. (which would entail issuing the departure frequency before the squawk code).

Overall, this was not a good performance from PF3. After receiving radar vectors on the departure, I was finally cleared direct to TIKLR and resume own navigation--except that I had either already passed it or I was so close that in the time that it took me to find it and get it loaded into the FMGC, I was already by it. Not a huge deal except that technically there was no understanding as to what my next waypoint would be. I had left the SID programmed in the FMGC, so I just went to one of the later waypoints because I had no routing. In any case, the late clearance to TIKLR set the tone for the rest of the flight.

Coming into Austin (and this has been typical as well), I was never advised on the approach that I could expect, nor was I given a STAR. ATC kept descending me and reducing my speed, but it waited until I had flown over the top of the airport to finally advise me that I was getting the ILS 35R. According to ATIS, I should have been getting ILS 17L which is what I set up for since that was the only information I had. In any case, airliners should be advised on the arrival well ahead of time so they can set up the approach in the FMGC and brief the approach. If ATC assigns a STAR, the arrival advisory should occur well before the aircraft reaches the start of the STAR. Incidentally, my flight plan included a STAR but that was ignored by ATC and I was told I was off course for flying it. I know that there is an option for modifying SIDS/STARS, but I was assuming that was only necessary if you wanted to tweak the altitudes. Maybe I'm missing something in the documentation that caused my STAR to get ignored, but I did file for LAIKS2. Anyway, not being advised of the arrival with sufficient time to set it up and brief it is my number one gripe with default ATC in MSFS 2020. I thought that PF3 was behaving better when I demoed, but maybe I was distracted by the VFO's ability to handle the autopilot--which is AWESOME!

Finally, I was cleared for the approach and given a localizer intercept after I had already flown through the localizer, so the heading I was given would not have worked. Because I was situationally aware (as well as had the airport in sight), it was easy to recover, but the bottom line is that it seems ATC is lagging way behind in issuing instructions in a timely fashion. Perhaps some of this was MSFS and SimConnect lagging, but certainly there shouldn't be any reason to be kept in the dark about the arrival.

Besides having ATC advise things like "United 370, expect LAIKS2 arrival and ILS RWY 35L approach" when well out from the airport, it would be great to have a hotkey option to ask what to expect. It would also be great for ATC to recognize when the assigned heading won't result in a localizer intercept and take corrective action instead of blindly handing off. That stuff happens in real life, so an apology from ATC followed by re-vectoring for the approach would actually be even more immersive. Not sure if it is possible, but it would be great :).


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:44 am 
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Thank you for your very informative and detailed post, however, I need to see the debug monitor log for this flight before I can really offer any comments at all.

Please see the post 'PF3 Support and Reporting Problems' near the top of this forum.

Sent from my mobile using Tapatalk


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Email: dmarch@oncourse-software.co.uk

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2021 7:50 pm 
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Thanks Dave,

Attached is the debug_monitor.log from the flight in question. Let me know if you need more info or would like me to try with more verbose log settings.


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debug_monitor.zip [1.53 MiB]
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:06 pm 
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Quote:
I've made several flights now (MSFS 2020) and each time I keep getting incomplete clearances without routing. For example, tonight I had filed KDEN SABTH2 VRONI DCT PNH J17 ABI DCT DILLO LAIKS2 KAUS. The clearance I received was as follows:

United 370 is cleared to KAUS fly runway heading climb and maintain 9 thousand expect flight level 370 10 minutes after departure squawk 2146 contact departure on 136.6
I can easily add '...as filed...' immediately after the destination readout. I seem to remember that word was dropped when we introduced the departure name (or phonetic readout of it).

United 370 cleared to KAUS as filed, fly runway heading...

I'll add it to the next hotfix

Quote:
I couldn't set up anything the FMGC since I wasn't actually cleared for the SID, nor was it clear where I could expect to resume own navigation.
You didn't have SID or STAR turned on
Code:
1/12/2021 4:12:58 PM: 800 - SID Feature is OFF
1/12/2021 4:12:58 PM: 800 - STAR Feature is OFF

Quote:
In the United States, clearances are generally issued in the following order: Clearance limit, Altitude, Route, departure Frequency, Transponder code. Many pilots expect to copy clearances using the acronym CRAFT. It would be great to get PF3 to adhere to that custom for flights in the U.S. (which would entail issuing the departure frequency before the squawk code).
Not a problem, I'll change that for the next hotfix

Quote:
Overall, this was not a good performance from PF3. After receiving radar vectors on the departure, I was finally cleared direct to TIKLR and resume own navigation--except that I had either already passed it or I was so close that in the time that it took me to find it and get it loaded into the FMGC,
Your first three waypoints for this flight were actually all too close together... you would have been given a friendly warning (Notam) about this but chose to ignore it :(

Quote:
Coming into Austin (and this has been typical as well), I was never advised on the approach that I could expect, nor was I given a STAR.
On reaching the last waypoint you did receive the following:-

United 370 maintain Heading 175 expect vectors for the ILS runway 35 Right Approach

However, your last waypoint was only 5 miles from your destination which is way too close! Again you would have received a warning about this when loading the flight plan, which unfortunately you chose to ignore. I would recommend your last waypoint should be no closer than 20-25 miles from your destination.

You weren't given a STAR as you hadn't set one up

Quote:
Incidentally, my flight plan included a STAR but that was ignored by ATC
Just including a STAR in your flight plan is not enough unfortunately and you have to tell PF3 you want to fly a STAR. There's a very good explanation about the use of SIDs and STARs in PF3 included in the User Guide... please see section 20.5

Quote:
Finally, I was cleared for the approach and given a localizer intercept after I had already flown through the localizer, so the heading I was given would not have worked. Because I was situationally aware (as well as had the airport in sight), it was easy to recover, but the bottom line is that it seems ATC is lagging way behind in issuing instructions in a timely fashion. Perhaps some of this was MSFS and SimConnect lagging, but certainly there shouldn't be any reason to be kept in the dark about the arrival.
No, this was all due to your last waypoint only being 5 miles from the airport

Hope that helps to understand why things didn't quite go to plan

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Dave March

Email: dmarch@oncourse-software.co.uk

Without a log it didn't happen!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:19 pm 
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Posts: 562
As Dave said many of the problems were due to waypoints too close to your departure and destination airports. I would use the Deactivate Waypoint feature to deactivate waypoints before SHOJO, because SHOJO is the first waypoint on your SID that is common to all departure runways. If you leave the SIDs box (on the SID/STAR page) unchecked, you will get vectors to SHOJO. If you check the SIDs box you will not get vectors and can fly the SID as entered in your FMC.

Similarly for the destination I would deactivate waypoints after BOYZZ. If the STARs box (on the SID/STAR page) is unchecked you will get vectors from BOYZZ to the active runway. If the STARs box is checked (or you request clearance at pilot's discretion) you will not get vectors after BOYZZ and can fly the rest by hand and/or your FMC. As Dave said I think section 20.5 in the User Guide will be helpful. It's best to have your first waypoint no closer than about 15 miles from your departure airport and your last waypoint no closer than about 20-25 miles from your destination. Use the Deactivate Waypoint feature (also explained in the User Guide) to deactivate waypoints that are too close.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:53 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:15 pm
Posts: 8
Thanks for the help Dave & Dan. Clearly, I didn't completely grok the implications of the waypoints being too close, now the behavior makes way more sense. I figured I must have missed something with respect to SIDs/STARs, so I'll review that as well.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:01 am 
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Quote:

I can easily add '...as filed...' immediately after the destination readout. I seem to remember that word was dropped when we introduced the departure name (or phonetic readout of it).

United 370 cleared to KAUS as filed, fly runway heading...

I'll add it to the next hotfix
That wouldn't be quite right. "Cleared to KAUS" is the clearance limit. The routing is how to get from the runway to the clearance limit. So "Cleared to KAUS as filed" means that I'm completely responsible for flying my filed flight plan from runway to KAUS. If I didn't file a SID or a published ODP, I'd be responsible for my own terrain clearance (which I don't believe I could accept as a regularly scheduled carrier operating under part 121). At a major airport, I can't imagine that a straight up "cleared as filed" clearance would ever be issued. As I mentioned, I'd expect either a SID or radar vectors to a specific waypoint. Those clearances would be something like: "fly SABTH2 departure direct VRONI then as filed" or "fly runway heading, expect radar vectors to TIKLR direct VRONI then as filed". In either case, the "then as filed" comes after any additional routing. "Cleared to KAUS as filed, fly runway heading" wouldn't make much sense as a clearance. OTOH, "Cleared to KAUS, fly runway heading until at or above 7,000 then as filed" or "Cleared to KAUS, fly runway heading to <waypoint>, then as filed" would both be sensible and could be flown with lost comms.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:46 pm 
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If you're not flying a SID you will always get vectors from Departure, to put you on course to your first waypoint and then be given 'resume own navigation'. So your suggestion of fly runway heading, expect radar vectors to ABC would be best but we don't have 'expect radar vectors' in the can unfortunately.

"Cleared to ABC, fly runway heading to <waypoint>, then as filed" doesn't make much sense to me because your first waypoint could be 180 degrees behind you, so if you lost COMs when you you make the turn towards your first waypoint?

As it stands, 'Cleared to ABC, fly runway heading, climb and maintain nnn, expect nnn 10 minutes after departure' tells you exactly what to do and if you lose COMs because you have your initial altitude clearance and you also know you can maintain that heading and climb to nnn after 10 minutes. If you don't lose COMs you would be handed off to Departure and would then receive vectors.

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Dave March

Email: dmarch@oncourse-software.co.uk

Without a log it didn't happen!

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:09 pm 
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Quote:
If you're not flying a SID you will always get vectors from Departure, to put you on course to your first waypoint and then be given 'resume own navigation'. So your suggestion of fly runway heading, expect radar vectors to ABC would be best but we don't have 'expect radar vectors' in the can unfortunately.

"Cleared to ABC, fly runway heading to <waypoint>, then as filed" doesn't make much sense to me because your first waypoint could be 180 degrees behind you, so if you lost COMs when you you make the turn towards your first waypoint?

As it stands, 'Cleared to ABC, fly runway heading, climb and maintain nnn, expect nnn 10 minutes after departure' tells you exactly what to do and if you lose COMs because you have your initial altitude clearance and you also know you can maintain that heading and climb to nnn after 10 minutes. If you don't lose COMs you would be handed off to Departure and would then receive vectors.
Yes, "Cleared to ABC, fly runway heading to <waypoint>, then as filed" would only work if runway heading would actually take you to your first waypoint. Probably a more realistic clearance would be "Cleared to ABC fly runway heading to intercept V44, then as filed." The problem with "fly runway heading" alone is that even if I understand that to mean "fly runway heading until I get radar vectors", I still don't know what waypoint I'm being vectored to. So if I lose COMs, I don't actually know where ATC expects me to go. The nearest waypoint might not be where they were intending to vector me to. Anyway, that at least clears up what "fly runway heading" means in the context of PF3. Thanks for the help!


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