Episode #186

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PropFan
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Episode #186

Postby PropFan » Thu May 20, 2010 10:52 am

Jack: you raised a good point that I hadn't considered when I first heard the recording of the JFK "emergency." The fact that the pilot could have diverted to another airport is a strong argument that there was no true emergency. Also, as I recall, the pilot told ATC that if he wasn't cleared for the other runway he would "have" to declare an emergency. It was only after ATC specifically asked him the third time "Are you declaring an emergency?" that the pilot responded in the affirmative. So, it can be argued that ATC responded appropriately given the manner in which the pilot communicated his concern. All very interesting.

kswim94
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Re: Episode #186

Postby kswim94 » Fri May 21, 2010 5:50 pm

The events at JFK could and should have been handled better by both parties. The pilot, was informed that the crosswinds exceeded his company's minimums. He knew that the only reason they weren't landing on 31R was because the parallel runway was being resurfaced. Diverting to another airport is a big money item for the airlines, since they'll be paying for transportation costs for each passenger (I wonder if there are additional landing/ramp fees that the receiving alternate would receive, too). The pilot knew that, with priority handling, he could safely land the airplane on 31R. And, since the controller didn't really respond to his initial request, the only way to get 31R was to declare an emergency. He was right to do what he needed to get that priority handling.

I don't think that justifies the pilot's decision to become a jerk. Other that a holding pattern (http://flightaware.com/live/flight/A...615Z/KLAX/KJFK), I have yet to see any urgency to his condition. If he was approaching his fuel reserves, he should have included that in his communication. Other than that, I see no reason he couldn't have continued on his current heading until approach control could figure out vectors to work him into 31R.

The controller could have helped things out by better acknowledging the emergency and given indication that he was formulating a plan. Instead, he replied "I'll pass it along, fly runway heading for now," then, later, "just fly runway heading." I suspect this would have been a non-event had he replied something to the tune of "understand you're declaring an emergency, fly current heading, expect vectors for 31R."

Both parties share some of the blame, here. If I were them, I would cringe every time I heard this recording played back.

PropFan
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Re: Episode #186

Postby PropFan » Fri May 21, 2010 9:46 pm

Good post, kswim. I just hope the cost of diverting never trumps the safety of souls on board.

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champguy
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Re: Episode #186

Postby champguy » Fri May 21, 2010 10:40 pm

Another great discussion, thanks.
Jack, I am guessing that you have never been asked to land on an inappropriate runway by a young and inexperianced controller. Been there, done that, lived to tell about it.
The controller should have known that the pilot could not accept the assigned runway and have diverted the flight elsewhere well in advance, and taken the consequences. The pilot's save of the situation, and hopefully his job will depend on whether the pilots union or the controllers union has more juce with the NTSB. Such a mess, all around. The thought of reorganizing the traffic around Manhattan to fit the actual weather is, well, reason number XXX why I lve in Oregon and fly a Champ.
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Greg Bockelman
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Re: Episode #186

Postby Greg Bockelman » Sat May 22, 2010 4:12 pm

kswim94 wrote:The events at JFK could and should have been handled better by both parties.


Well, having listened to the recording several times, I can't see how the controller could have done much better.

He knew that the only reason they weren't landing on 31R was because the parallel runway was being resurfaced.


Well, I am not so sure there is enough information on the recording to come to that conclusion. I think the more likely reason was because they were coming in from a direction that facilitated a landing on 22R.

Diverting to another airport is a big money item for the airlines, since they'll be paying for transportation costs for each passenger.


Yeah, but there was no indication on the recording that the crew was considering that option, only that they needed the other runway.

The pilot knew that, with priority handling, he could safely land the airplane on 31R. And, since the controller didn't really respond to his initial request, the only way to get 31R was to declare an emergency. He was right to do what he needed to get that priority handling.


He was right to do what he needed to do, but I disagree that the situation rose to the level of declaring an emergency.

I don't think that justifies the pilot's decision to become a jerk. Other that a holding pattern (http://flightaware.com/live/flight/A...615Z/KLAX/KJFK), I have yet to see any urgency to his condition. If he was approaching his fuel reserves, he should have included that in his communication. Other than that, I see no reason he couldn't have continued on his current heading until approach control could figure out vectors to work him into 31R.


EXACTLY. As I said, this situation, given what we heard on the recording, did NOT rise to the level of declaring an emergency.

The controller could have helped things out by better acknowledging the emergency and given indication that he was formulating a plan.


Welll, maybe, but I think he was a bit taken aback that they actually declared an emergency in that situation. I think he was doing the best he could, given the situation and the information he had.

Instead, he replied "I'll pass it along, fly runway heading for now," then, later, "just fly runway heading." I suspect this would have been a non-event had he replied something to the tune of "understand you're declaring an emergency, fly current heading, expect vectors for 31R."


Yeah, maybe so, but again, given the information he had, I will give him a pass. The crew never gave him any indication exactly WHAT the emergency was, other than the fact that they could not accept 22L. Unless they were in a DIRE threat of running out of fuel, which they never conveyed to the tower, there was absolutely no reason they could not have complied with the controller's instructions.

Both parties share some of the blame, here. If I were them, I would cringe every time I heard this recording played back.


Well I would give 95% of the blame to the crew and only 5% AT MOST to the controller. Otherwise I disagree. I think the controller did a good job given the situation he found himself in.

As a point of reference, I fly "Big Iron" into and out of Chicago O'Hare on a regular basis and have done the NE corridor stuff in the past. I have seen good controlling and bad controlling and this was an example of the former, in my opinion.

Greg Bockelman
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Re: Episode #186

Postby Greg Bockelman » Sat May 22, 2010 4:14 pm

PropFan wrote:Good post, kswim. I just hope the cost of diverting never trumps the safety of souls on board.


I think if the safety of the passengers was compromised in this case, it was as a result of the crew's actions and not the controller's.

Greg Bockelman
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Re: Episode #186

Postby Greg Bockelman » Sat May 22, 2010 4:22 pm

champguy wrote: by a young and inexperianced controller.


I don't see where that was ever discussed. Of course, if there was indications of that in the episode, I will admit I haven't listened to it, but I HAVE listened to the recording of this incident.

The controller should have known that the pilot could not accept the assigned runway and have diverted the flight elsewhere well in advance, and taken the consequences.


Ok, several points here.

1. How should the controller have known? Is he required to know the crosswind limits of every airplane he controls? I think not.
2. Well in advance? Typically a controller would get the handoff from approach at about the outer marker. That isn't really "Well in Advance".
3. Consequences? What consequences?

The pilot's save of the situation, and hopefully his job


Why do you think the pilot's job is at stake here? Other than the fact that I believe they botched the "effective communications" thing, and general sloppy handling of the situation, I don't see where they are in danger of losing their jobs.

will depend on whether the pilots union or the controllers union has more juice with the NTSB.


Wow. Not sure how to respond to that. I don't think it is a matter of who has more juice.

Such a mess, all around.


The only "mess" as I see it is the one created by the crew with their sloppy communications.

kswim94
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Re: Episode #186

Postby kswim94 » Mon May 24, 2010 11:20 pm

Overall, good points, Greg. And I suspect your expertise trumps my opinion. But, in reply:

Welll, maybe, but I think he was a bit taken aback that they actually declared an emergency in that situation. I think he was doing the best he could, given the situation and the information he had.
The controller appears to have known the winds were significant, hence the multiple wind checks. I agree that he cannot be expected to know the limitations of every aircraft/airline, but he should not have been that surprised with the "request" from the pilot. "I'll pass it along" is, perhaps, the least useful thing he could have said. And this was before the emergency was declared. Even "standby" would be better because at least THAT implies that further instructions will be forthcoming. My interpretation of "I'll pass it along" means he's neither going to approve nor deny the request (such indecisiveness should be limited to beurocrats :lol: ).

I think the more likely reason was because they were coming in from a direction that facilitated a landing on 22R.
22 and 31 look to be equally inconvenient for a flight from LA with a hold somewhere over PA or NJ.

Well I would give 95% of the blame to the crew and only 5% AT MOST to the controller.
Again, compelling points, but I can't go any further than 80% crew and 20% controller :)

koehn
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Episode #186

Postby koehn » Tue May 25, 2010 12:50 am

I’m a newly minted PPL with a whopping forty-five hours in my logbook. Please be gentle.

In the episode, Jack posed (and Dave seconded) the question of what to do if one is flying at night and loses the lights in the plane without a working flashlight (or seven). So I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’m stumped in terms of a clever solution.

So what should one do? That was never mentioned during the show.

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champguy
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Re: Episode #186

Postby champguy » Tue May 25, 2010 12:37 pm

koehn
My comments were based on my experience flying a champ into class "D" fields where young newly minted controllers are sent to grow a bit till they can handle the big time stress of a class "B". Yes, I know, a very different situation. As to whether a controller should know the cross wind limitations of the incomming traffic, he should by the end of his shift if the plan of the day is to direct everyone to a cross wind landing.
What to do when the lights go out?
Your postscript says it all. "Keep thy airspeed up...." Practice, practice, practice, Learn by feel, with your eyes closed (and a safety pilot in the plane) what the stall buffet feels like, and how the plane feels and handles in slow flight. Cover the instruments, including the airspeed. Any instrument can fail, and it is still your butt strapped into the plane with a need to get safely down.
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