We are always happy to accept practice training fixes, and we are manned 24 hrs. Our core hours of 0900-1800 would be the preferred period for training fixes, because it is the period when we are most likely to have our trainees available. The correct procedure before calling on 121.5 is to check that an emergency is not in progress before calling your own practice. We accept that you cannot monitor UHF 243.0, so do not be put off if the controller tells you that your practice cannot be accommodated due to an on going emergency. The aircraft maybe on 243.0 and you simply don’t know.
I would definitely agree that not enough students make use of the practice facility. When we have a student/qualified pilot visit to D&D, I always ask which pilots have used the facility and the answer is often not very many.
In the event that a student becomes lost in the Halfpenny Green area, the correct procedure is as follows:
– If the pilot is not already receiving a service from an ATC agency, then the pilot should freecall D&D (RT callsign London Centre) on 121.5 stating the nature of the problem.
– If the pilot is already speaking to an agency (be it Birmingham/Shawbury/FIS etc), first inform that agency, and if necessary they will inform D&D and transfer the aircraft to us.
In terms triangulation coverage, we have excellent coverage across most of the country, and more VHF outstations are being added across the country as we speak. They are due to come on line in February. In the event that DF coverage is not sufficient to provide a trace, we will normally ask the pilot to re-transmit for accuracy. In fact the longer the transmission from the pilot, the better the chance of us receiving a decent trace, so students shouldn’t worry about speaking quickly etc. In the event that no DF traces are seen, we will ask the pilot to squawk and then provide position information from radar.
If you have any further question please drop me a line.