Liquid Charlie wrote:
Out of curiosity, did that happen overseas somewhere with a low transition level? I could see how that could happen in a high workload environment with a low transition level. In Canada with the transition level at FL180 I think the odds of missing the multiple checks and double checks would be highly unlikely.
Likely not since the procedure in Europe is to set your altimeter as soon as you are cleared below or above transition - not at actual transition level or altitude.
Although it is a common procedure, the proper way is to change it at the transition level (with exceptions in some countries apparently)
Changing Altimeter Setting Reference
7.1. ICAO PANS-OPS1 requires that the altimeter pressure setting should be changed to the new reference when crossing the transition altitude/level.
7.2. Some national authorities stipulate that, when an aircraft has been cleared to climb from an altitude to a flight level, vertical position will be reported in terms of flight level unless intermediate altitude reports have been specifically requested by ATC. Similarly when a pilot is descending from a flight level to an altitude the pilot will change to the aerodrome QNH unless further flight level vacating reports have been requested by ATC, in which case the QNH will be set following the final flight level vacating report.
7.3. Elsewhere, operators have adopted a similar policy in an attempt to minimise the potential for failing to set the correct pressure setting. This policy takes account of the:
(a) high pilot workload, usually occurring at or around the transition altitude/level;
(b) high rates of climb and descent, which are a feature of modern air transport.
7.4. In countries where the above procedure is in force, controllers must realise that the datum will have been changed, and be prepared to act accordingly.
7.5. Pilots following this procedure must be aware of the consequences in countries where this procedure is not standard if the controller requires the aircraft to level before the cleared flight level/altitude is reached. (e.g. aircraft cleared to descend from FL 100 to altitude 3,000 feet. Transition level FL 40. Pilot will set QNH and commence descent. If controller subsequently requires the aircraft to level at FL 60 the standard pressure setting must be reset.)