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New ATIS every 5 minutes.

Discussion in 'Pilot-Controller Questions' started by threeighteen, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. threeighteen

    threeighteen Well-Known Member

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    Since beginning my airline career I've noticed something very annoying that doesn't seem to make any sense. I'd say Denver (KDEN) is the biggest offender when it comes to this, but almost the class B airports do it.

    If you ever try to depart Denver you'll notice that the Departure ATIS changes roughly five to six times per hour.

    We'll often pushback with information "L" and by the time we get to the runway, "P" is current, even when the weather is 10 and clear.

    What makes the problem worse is that it's not a normal human voice recording of the ATIS, but instead it's a crappy 1982 computer voice that takes about 90 seconds to spit out the whole thing that a human could do in 10-15 seconds.

    This means instead of doing important pre-takeoff checklists, briefings, etc while Taxiing, we have to monitor the ATIS frequency almost continuously. And of course, ground always has important instructions for us right when the ATIS recording starts, so we have to listen to the whole 90 second cycle twice just to get the weather, which rarely ever changes (they just change the ATIS letter identifier...)

    This also means we can't monitor our company frequency while taxiing which creates other issues.

    What is the story with this? For what possible reason could it be necessary need to change the ATIS Identifier so often on a 10 and clear day? Class D airports do it once per hour (unless the weather/runway changes) and it works just fine, why reinvent the wheel?
     
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  2. vheissu

    vheissu Well-Known Member

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    A lot of times, especially out of DEN, they just add a pirep or something. Other than that, I'm not sure and have always wondered myself. Hopefully someone has a better explanation.
     
  3. poser765

    poser765 Well-Known Member

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    I always just sort of figured that the Tower guys in DEN get paid by the atis.
     
  4. msmspilot

    msmspilot Well-Known Member

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    In CLT they just change the ATIS letter without changing the time stamp or the info, then in the condescending controller voice let you know you have the wrong one.
     
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  5. SemperFi_ATC

    SemperFi_ATC Well-Known Member

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    Having recently retired from DEN tower, let me offer a bit of insight.
    1. ATIS changes occur hourly with no need for any weather changes.
    2. There is a official weather observer in the "city tower" that provides the official weather for the airport. If she sends out a new weather sequence, the FAA tower is required issue a new ATIS.
    3. A new ATIS is issued whenever Wind Shear advisories or MicroBurst alerts are triggered by the automated sensors. This happens frequently.
    4. A new ATIS is issued whenever the runway configuration changes. Again this is a frequent cause. DEN is very unique in its ability to change configurations in response to the rapidly changing weather (mainly winds) that take place in the lovely location that was selected for the airport. It is relatively easy to to change what was an arrival runway in one direction into a departure runway going the opposite way quite rapidly, and it is done often as the arrival/departure banks ebb and flow.
    5. A new ATIS is issued whenever the city opens/closes movement areas for repair/maintenance. Again, in the summer, this happens a bunch as there are numerous runway/taxiway closures during the good weather periods of the year.
    6. A fairly new reason for numerous ATIS changes is LASER activity, and drone reports. Again, must be broadcast for a specified period of time after the event, and then removed.
    7. Starting and stopping TFR's during baseball and football seasons add a few letter changes to the mix
    I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but that is part of what happens at DEN. We would joke in the tower about the pay by the number of changes to the ATIS, but I can assure you, the folks working the Clearance Delivery position doesn't like making a new ATIS any more than we like listening to them in the flight deck (or getting them on ACARS.)
    Hope this helps.
    DEN Tower 2012-2016 Retired
     
  6. JustinS

    JustinS Well-Known Member

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    The ACARS Printer is my best friend for sneaky places like DEN.
     
  7. A150K

    A150K Well-Known Member

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    I swear some controllers would ask me in a snarky tone to confirm I had the current ATIS if I had just declared a dire emergency because a wing fell off.
     
  8. Roger Roger

    Roger Roger Navajo Whisperer

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    PistonTwin 123 outside Sisters LDA Zulu with bravo
    Report barlo, confirm you have ATIS bravo.
    *facepalm*
     
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  9. A150K

    A150K Well-Known Member

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    Yup....ABQ is one of the worst offenders with this:

    Me: Approach medevac 12345 14.2 descending 13,000 with charlie.
    Them: Medevac 12345 Albuquerque approach roger, expect visual runway 3, Charlie is current advise when you have that.
    Me: We do have charlie and planning on 3 for 12345.
    Them: Roger, runway 3 is in use, the wind is calm and the altimeter is 30.21
    Me: :cry:
     
  10. Cptnchia

    Cptnchia Well-Known Member

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    Every place does this. I believe the controllers aren't really listening after they hear the flight number. They just go to auto rote spiel.
     
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  11. MikeD

    MikeD Administrator Staff Member

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    Well in fairness, while Charlie may be the current ATIS, it may not be the exact current winds and altimeter. :)

    ABQ. Got to fly one of the last NDB 35 approaches before they decommissioned it, and one of the last ASR 17 approaches before they shut the runway down.
     
  12. A150K

    A150K Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I'll give them that ;)

    A few years back when I was instructing, I used to bring students to ABQ from SAF to shoot the RNAV 35, which at the time was one of the only LPV's in the state.
     
  13. MikeD

    MikeD Administrator Staff Member

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    Was 17-35 a noise issue in why it was closed? I can't remember.

    Way back in the cargo days, middle of the night, used to regularly land 3 or 30 to the cargo area, and launch off 12.
     
  14. A150K

    A150K Well-Known Member

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    I can't remember for sure. I was living in Oklahoma when they shut it down, so I was kinda out of the loop. I flew cargo out of ABQ for the UPS feeder for a bit....Used to launch off of 3 most mornings and usually come back in on 3 in the evening unless they were on a west flow in which case we preferred either 30 or 21 depending on which way we were coming in from.
     
  15. ShyFlyer

    ShyFlyer CAP Member

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    Yeah. One of those classic scenarios: people move close to an airport that's been there since pterodactyls were using it for touch-n-gos then complain about noise. That and the fact that it intersected both 08/26 and 03/21 didn't help much. It was just NOTAM'd closed for quite a long time , then briefly reopened for traffic, before it was physically (yellow Xs) closed.

    Trivia: the approach end of 17 was used as the basis of that flying aircraft-carrier type thing from The Avengers. On Google Maps, you can still see the remnants of the logo just south of the X.
     

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