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Author Topic: DCA Unmanned tower  (Read 15026 times)
mk223
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« on: March 23, 2011, 07:33:29 PM »

I just edited this together from the tower feed, at the end you can hear the controller come back from whatever he was doing (although by end of the clip, the audio has a lot of feedback but you can make out the controller when he returns).

« Last Edit: March 24, 2011, 11:38:18 AM by mk223 » Logged

alltheway
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2011, 07:53:42 PM »

 huh That's going to be a huge minus ( - ) for the controller....
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StuSEL
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2011, 09:26:37 PM »

It's obviously not just the controller, but also the supervisor and the rest of the staff that should have been in at that time. How weird...
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CFI ASEL
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StuSEL
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2011, 09:32:14 PM »

Disregard. The Washington Post says it was a supervisor shift, where nobody else was there. I didn't even know that could happen.
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CFI ASEL
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greenfieldwi
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2011, 10:22:34 PM »

I'll bet it doesn't happen again after this!  wink
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buff4bcs1985
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 02:31:09 AM »

oops
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flyflyfly
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2011, 03:42:21 AM »

Disregard. The Washington Post says it was a supervisor shift, where nobody else was there.

Whatever they did, someone will get a huge minus for this...
Did anyone record the ATC before the controller came back online?

Potomac: Just so you’re aware, the tower is apparently not manned. We’ve made a few phone calls. No one’s answered. … So you can expect to go in as an uncontrolled airport.
American 1900: Is there a reason it’s not manned?
Potomac: I’m going to take a guess and say that the controller got locked out. I’ve heard of this happening before.
http://blog.seattlepi.com/aerospace/2011/03/23/the-tower-is-apparently-not-manned-washington-post/

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_us_airport_tower.html
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uplink
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2011, 07:36:33 AM »

Was that the tower channel of the archive on the recording?  Seem like the signal is barely breaking his squelch on that feed.







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mk223
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2011, 08:39:35 AM »

I pulled this from the Tower/Approach feed for DCA.
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Dngnkeeper
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2011, 10:35:36 AM »

A report from CNN with a liveATC.net credit for the audio.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/23/washington.planes.controllers/index.html?hpt=T2

"Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Wednesday ordered the FAA to schedule two controllers on the overnight shift."
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Dan CZQM
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« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2011, 01:37:59 PM »

http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/03/24/dc.air.traffic.suspension/index.html?hpt=T2

WOW!  Quite neat to hear.  Usually you hear Cessnas do the uncontrolled airport landing, but to hear commercial traffic it's just weird. 

I think those airline pilots didn't figure they would ever have to use that phraseology again.

Nice capture.

Dan
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Dan
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svoynick
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« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2011, 02:02:37 PM »

Starting at about 2:42, it sounds like one of the landed aircraft is checking back in with the now-present controller, trying to make sure the controller knows the pilots were trying to do the right thing, given the circumstances.   Am I hearing this right?

AIrcraft:  "Yeah I just wanna make sure that uh, we're not gonna have a problem.  Approach told us that you were unmanned, so that's why we made our, uh... our calls for turning base and landing. And uh, apparently you were, and so are we gonna have a problem with this?"

Tower:  <unintelligible>  Say again, sir?

Aircraft:  <unintelligible>  give you a call...

Tower:   <reading numbers..>

 
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mk223
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« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2011, 02:38:48 PM »

That sounds about right, I will see if I can clear that up a little but later on tonight.
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alltheway
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« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2011, 05:54:40 PM »

Quote from the Avherald site "On Mar 24th the NTSB reported, the controller in question had 20 years of experience, 17 thereof at Washington National Airport, admitted in an interview that he had fallen asleep. This had been his fourth consecutive overnight shift, the NTSB is looking into human fatigue issues."

So it's true what Bloomberg wrote....

Second quote:

"By JB Pilot on Thursday, Mar 24th 2011 21:34Z


Sir I have been an airline pilot for 20 years, flying for 3 different 121 air carriers, the most current being JetBlue Airways. There is no FAR requirement for air traffic control services as a condition for airport operations for 121 air carriers. I have flown into dozens of airports on the Eastern seaboard, without ATC. PHF, SBY, BTV, HPN, PWM, ILM, just to name a few, are all airports I have operated to without an operating control tower. Air Carrier OPS Specs clearly authorize these operations, and set forth the procedures that must be followed for operating at an airport without an operating control tower.
Sorry, but just because the tower closes, does not mean all air carrier operations cease. It is done every day, safe and sound and legal"

So it seems not to be an issue at all ?

http://www.avherald.com/h?article=439ce8f9&opt=0
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VictorK
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« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2011, 09:56:02 PM »

Quote
This had been his fourth consecutive overnight shift, the NTSB is looking into human fatigue issues."

To me, that makes it sound even worse.

When I first heard the story, I assumed that it was a case of something like a quick turn. A 6 am shift, followed by the mid that night. IIRC, at Lexington, the controller was said to have possibly been fatigued because he'd had only a few hours sleep between shifts. If this guy was on his forth mid of the week, he had three days where he had all day to get some sleep.

Quote
So it seems not to be an issue at all ?

I think the Washington Post article (linked in the opening post of this thread), did a good job outlining one possible issue:

Quote
The greatest risk posed by silence from the tower was on the ground rather than in the air. Planes routinely land in smaller airports without guidance from a tower.

In a circumstance like the one that occurred at National, pilots get on the control tower radio frequency and relay their position, speed and distance to other pilots as they approach and land.

“So, other airplanes would know, ‘Okay, he’s clear of the runway, so I’m good to go,’ ” said the source familiar with tower operations.

On the ground, however, the slow nighttime hours are when maintenance crews crisscross the runway — sometimes towing planes — as they prepare for the next morning.

“There are people in the control tower for a reason,” the source said. “There’s a whole lot of activity going on during the night.”

Those maintenance workers contact the tower on a special frequency to get clearance before crossing a runway. Inbound pilots contact the tower on a different frequency.

At airports where the tower shuts down for the night, ground crews and incoming pilots are required to use the same radio frequency to coordinate their actions.
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