Don't they ever think outside the cockpit..?


So, I was on the last day of a wonderful week in Sint Maarten (TNCM). I’d been enjoying the steady traffic in and out of the airport, imaging as many of the aircraft as I could, as well as I could. My Icom scanner had been a constant companion and I developed a real appreciation for the work of the single controller who manages movements from the Juliana Tower.

Now, it’s a fact of life, that every day, between about 12 noon and 4 pm, the airliners that started their day in the States, Canada and Europe arrive at the field. This steady stream of incoming aircraft is added to a constant flow of island-hopping light passenger services. It’s a complicated business managing the arrivals and departures, particularly with flow control often applied to departures by San Juan Centre. Another factor that applies is the limited space available to shuffle aircraft on the ground, especially on the ramps and taxiways.

But, yesterday, I was really surprised, and disappointed, to hear several light jet pilots constantly badgering the Tower controller about delays and their precious sequences for departure. It’s not as if they couldn’t hear the radio traffic managing the heavy flow into the airport. They just seemed to think that they had some special right to be first in line, or favoured for departure clearance.

It seems to me that they need to be a little more appreciative of the outstanding service that controllers give us all. Those who were guilty of this ungracious and unwarranted hectoring also need to think more carefully about their personal departure planning. If you don’t want a long delay, plan to depart outside the ‘rush hour’. If your passengers are making this difficult, grow a pair and put the facts to them. There are other planes and pilots out there, and they have the same priority you do.