Safety SSR Only Operations

Are you fully aware of the implications of operating at an airfield where there are only SSR operations, or when the primary radar is unavailable?

Normally a basic service would be provided in the event of SSR only operations, however a traffic service may be required for essential JHC IF training or an actual IMC emergency requiring an instrument recovery. Due to the increased risk, any essential IF training should be handed over to adjacent units for a ‘higher-level’ service. But what happens if this handover cannot take place? What does this mean to you whilst flying the aircraft?

Here is an extract from the Manual of Military Air Traffic Management (Chapter 35), detailing what the unit needs to be aware of if conducting SSR only operations:

8. When providing an ATS using SSR-Alone, units should ensure that:
a. NOTAM action is taken informing that the unit is limited to an SSR-Alone ATS and liaison with the parent ATCC and adjacent units is undertaken.
b. The pilot should be made fully aware of the limitations of service as per CAP 413.
c. Traffic is transferred (where possible) to units with overlapping PSR coverage.
d. Reduced Radar Separation (as detailed in Chapter 11: Paragraph 29) is not applied between Terminal Radar units.

If the primary radar is unavailable, turns could be provided by the controller that would unwittingly manoeuvre the aircraft into confliction with non-transponding traffic. Therefore the only way to spot gliders, balloons or other non-transponding aircraft is to get your head out of the cockpit and conduct a thorough lookout!

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