Not long ago on a flight from Iztapa to La Aurora there was another plane flying the exact same route and altitude. Not being sure if the plane was faster (it took off from Iztapa a couple of minutes later), I reported positions several times. At one point I reported being 20 NM DME from La Aurora. To my surprise the other plane reported 18 miles indicated GPS distance from La Aurora. I was worried, thinking that the other plane must have overtaken me much quicker than I anticipated. I asked because I suspected we were awful close, when the other pilot said he was over Caobanal. Caobanal is more in the 30 NM distance, definitely not 18 NM. We were not even close. Similar thing happened 10 NM to La Aurora… I am pretty confident, that my reading was correct (3 GPS and DME wouldn’t lie, would it?). So I have to wonder, what was going on in the other plane? Faulty equipment? No reading glasses on board? Does the pilot use some estimate of where he will be when his distance report is completed? I have also heard about pilots intentionally reporting being closer to La Aurora to be queued first. First come first serve…
Any of the above seem dangerous and irresponsible to me. Guatemala traffic is concentrated to pretty narrow routes in some areas and every pilot should be able to report his location accurately.
The question remains in my … “What is the matter with position reports of some fellow pilots?”
Alex, you are making an excellent point. Sometimes we forget how busy the corridors between the coast and La Aurora actually are. We have to make sure that when we report our positions we know and communicate where we are and not, may be, where we wished we were…
On the other hand, I also believe that many times these wrong position reports are motivated more by mistake, than by the wish to try to become the first in line… first in line for what?
In this context, just a short story about how complicated the airspace around MGGT has become lately. About two weekends ago I was returning from Iztapa, ATC told me to join final for 02, everything was going well, I was cleared to land, until two miles from touch down I was told to abort and turn right due to faster traffic… a A320…
I joined left downwind for 02 and was told to turn final (I was hearing that the 340 was already on the approach), I turned final and again 2 miles before touchdown… abort and join left downwind due to traffic.
I thought: la tercera es la vencida… but once again I was told to abort join right downwind due to traffic… However, this time around everything went well and I landed.
Conclusion: we have to be careful. Aborted landings can lead to mistakes… (forget to lower the gear, tight turns that can lead to stalls and spins) always listen to the frequency and build a mental map of what is going on and what may happen and be prepared for it.
Thanks Oscar for sharing your story! Great tip to always know what is going on around you. This situational awareness is the reason of my comment on another topic that at an international airport I would expect all traffic to be in English. This increases the number of pilots with situational awareness out there. Missed by one pilot, it might be caught by another one.
You are probably (and hopefully) right. Most likely wrong position reports are mostly made by mistake. It doesn’t make it any less concerning that way, but doesn’t fall into the irresponsible category.
Good point about the English… In an ideal world we should all communicate in English… However, sometimes you wonder about the clarity and quality of the communications….