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Author Topic: Montgomery Field CA Gear Up 3/2/2014  (Read 10063 times)
KiloYankee
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« on: March 04, 2014, 03:21:35 AM »

Seems he may have forgotten to drop the gear.  I don't have any info other than what I posted.
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Rwsavory
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2014, 09:21:49 PM »

Good call by tower.  Too bad it was too late.
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2014, 10:49:52 PM »

Good to know she was watching the gear, but frankly I think her call could have been more urgent and explanatory, like "Mooney on short final, GO AROUND! YOUR GEAR IS UP!", obviously the time to touchdown determining the urgency. Sounds like she was a bit late for it anyway, and he probably didn't notice her call because 1) he was concentrating on powering down and entering his flare, 2) he mistook the gear warning horn with the stall warning, and 3) most pilots are not accustomed to getting instructions from the tower in-between "cleared to land" and "turn left on Bravo, ground point niner".

I recall once in my early hours of flying complex aircraft getting a similarly calm call from the tower when I was on a quarter mile final, "Arrow 208, have you forgotten something?" As I quickly dropped the gear I responded, "Yeah, my checklist".
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Sonic04GT
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2014, 08:20:25 PM »

Good to know she was watching the gear, but frankly I think her call could have been more urgent and explanatory, like "Mooney on short final, GO AROUND! YOUR GEAR IS UP!", obviously the time to touchdown determining the urgency. Sounds like she was a bit late for it anyway, and he probably didn't notice her call because 1) he was concentrating on powering down and entering his flare, 2) he mistook the gear warning horn with the stall warning, and 3) most pilots are not accustomed to getting instructions from the tower in-between "cleared to land" and "turn left on Bravo, ground point niner".

I recall once in my early hours of flying complex aircraft getting a similarly calm call from the tower when I was on a quarter mile final, "Arrow 208, have you forgotten something?" As I quickly dropped the gear I responded, "Yeah, my checklist".

I wouldn't think a go-around call needs to be more detailed or urgent than simply "Go-around" no questions asked.  I think she handled it well, maybe late but who knows.
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ridejumpfly
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2014, 07:16:56 PM »

Good to know she was watching the gear, but frankly I think her call could have been more urgent and explanatory, like "Mooney on short final, GO AROUND! YOUR GEAR IS UP!", obviously the time to touchdown determining the urgency. Sounds like she was a bit late for it anyway, and he probably didn't notice her call because 1) he was concentrating on powering down and entering his flare, 2) he mistook the gear warning horn with the stall warning, and 3) most pilots are not accustomed to getting instructions from the tower in-between "cleared to land" and "turn left on Bravo, ground point niner".

I recall once in my early hours of flying complex aircraft getting a similarly calm call from the tower when I was on a quarter mile final, "Arrow 208, have you forgotten something?" As I quickly dropped the gear I responded, "Yeah, my checklist".

I wouldn't think a go-around call needs to be more detailed or urgent than simply "Go-around" no questions asked.  I think she handled it well, maybe late but who knows.

"Go around" with the call sign is enough.   The pilot should not question it.  ATC has a reason and it is safety related.  Just like TCAS you don't question it even if you have an aircraft in sight and it is in the right position.  It maybe another aircraft you don't see.  Just do why your told and live another day or in this case, not pay lots of money for a "stupid mistake". 

This is an example of why you have to be situationally aware when flying.  The pilot when on short final should always be ready to go around.  This includes ATC instructed go arounds.

Keep your eyes and ears open and you will have a much better chance of flying another day.



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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2014, 08:43:09 PM »

I am not faulting her other than perhaps making the call in low key, routine manner, which she clearly did. The point I was trying to make is that a pilot over the threshold is less likely to notice such a call with all the threads running through his processor at that moment, and with no obvious reasons in sight (like a prior arrival too slow to exit the runway or something else about to intrude it) such a call would be entirely unexpected. In three thousand hours I cannot recall an instance where I received any communication at all over the approach lights that was not at least anticipated to some degree by the visual situation, and even those I could probably count on one hand. Come to think of it maybe I did get more, but didn't notice because the controller didn't do anything to break my concentration.
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svoynick
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2014, 04:33:00 AM »

I don't know, I understand your points about the pilot's processing workload - and how do you best break through that to get a priority interrupt (to continue the microprocessor metaphors!) - but you have to consider the controller's processing status as well.  

While she may not have been in a particularly high-workload situation, you have to grant that this was an emergent situation for her, and at the time she was keying her mic, she was still ramping up in the very early stages of analyzing, processing, and reacting to the situation herself.  

I do hear urgency in her voice, and I think she got it right for several reasons:
(1) As she was probably still analyzing, and processing this emergent situation even as she was starting to react (speak), she had to keep control of herself and her own voice; if she stumbled, screeched, or yelled (possibly overmodulating the transmitter and rendering her transmission harder to interpret), then her one chance to get the information communicated in a timely way would have been lost;

(2) I believe the first words out of her mouth were the right ones in this time critical situation:  "Go around, Go around..."  In an emergency situation, she got out the command first, clearly, and then repeated it quickly for urgency.  Both the repeat and the cadence of her speech sound urgent to me, if the pilot didn't break off an interrupt thread based on that, I don't know that raising her voice (I assume from your all caps and the exclamation point) would have helped much more;  

(3) As far as putting the aircraft ID first, the only aircraft on final and subject to a "go around" command was the subject aircraft.  As ride suggests, on final, one should always be ready and sensitive to a possible go-around trigger, whether from your own processing, or brought in by tower.  Once she got the initial "Go around" out there and repeated, and as she continued processing, she did indeed put his ID on there, and then repeated the "go around" again.  But by issuing the command first, she got the important information out there as quickly as possible.  Starting off with "Mooney on short final" or organizing her thoughts sufficiently to get his tail number out first (you can hear her stumble just a little on that even when she does give it a few seconds later) would have delayed at least a couple extra seconds before she got to the point of the emergency.

I think there's an argument to be made that she nailed it just right...

OK now, on-topic but perhaps off-task, a couple questions:
(1) Do controllers regularly check the undercarriage of landing aircraft?  If so, is there any procedural mandate or guidance on this?  I've always assumed that there is no promise whatsoever of any kind of visual check, and that any such advice given is completely optional and done only as workload permits.  Can anybody confirm or clarify this?

(2) Hypothetical:  I'm in the run up area or perhaps holding short.  I see the Mooney coming over the numbers, descending through 50 feet, and his gear is up.  If I'm not hearing anyone else on the tower frequency, my inclination is to key up and say something like what our controller said here:  "Go around, go around, Mooney go around, your gear is up..."    (And I might well lose control and yell or screech it out, not being as collected as a controller...  smiley )

Holy crap, me, with my PPL, sitting in my dinky little 172, I just issued my first clearance.  Am I right?  Wrong?  Is this a twisted extension of 14 CFR 91.3 (b), where I can deviate from any rule to meet an emergency, and explain myself later?  Except in this case, it's not my emergency; I'm not PIC of the emergency aircraft...   I still think I'd key up and try to let him know.  
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 04:40:01 AM by svoynick » Logged
swa4678
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2014, 04:26:03 PM »

(3) As far as putting the aircraft ID first
Out of curiosity.. did I miss something? Was somebody suggestion this should have (or even "needs to") be done?

You pretty much nailed all the right points, but just to further support them... note that if a controller gets a Low Altitude alert flashing on the scope (or otherwise judges that the Mode C altitude indicates "unsafe proximity to terrain and/or obstructions"), the controller immediately issues an alert. That alert begins with the words "LOW ALTITUDE ALERT" followed by the callsign (ref 7110.65 § 2-1-6(a)).

In other words, during an emergent safety issue... first say something that will scare pilots into immediately double-checking their situation awareness, and then explain yourself afterwards. At least, that's my take on it.

Do controllers regularly check the undercarriage of landing aircraft?
I know you elaborated and specified a visual check... but you started to remind me of 7110.65 § 2-1-24 - "WHEELS DOWN CHECK" for USA/USAF/USN. Maybe this controller worked at a military field before and was used to thinking about gear checks? Tongue

I'm in the run up area or perhaps holding short.  I see the Mooney coming over the numbers, descending through 50 feet, and his gear is up.  If I'm not hearing anyone else on the tower frequency, my inclination is to key up and say something like what our controller said here:  "Go around, go around, Mooney go around, your gear is up..."
I'm not sure I'd want to be written up as providing unauthorized ATC services... but yeah, me personally, I'd probably try to throw out a quick "Mooney landing runway 23, gear appears up!"

Is it an unauthorized transmission? Maybe; I'd gladly answer to any inquiry afterwards, though - I'm guessing it's unlikely they would see any need for a punitive response when they confirm I was acting in good faith after determining a potential safety issue existed.

However... for all we know, his gear could have malfunctioned and he's already being handled as an emergency aircraft. Even if your gear is stuck up and you've declared, tower can't do much more than clear you to land on a runway, wait for you to come to a screeching halt, and dispatch the emergency response vehicles. Adding clutter to the frequency in that situation would probably be unwelcome (even if you were trying to be helpful).

I remember some exchange in a similar scenario... can't remember if it was here on LiveATC or if it was a YouTube clip. Basically, a pilot did all he could to get his gear to go down, but they decided they'd have none of that. At that point, he knew it was going to be a gear-up landing. He questioned tower if there was any problem landing in the grass/dirt strip between two parallel runways (soft field gear-up landing vs. asphalt gear-up landing). I forget how the tower worded it exactly... but the tower essentially said there was no procedure for clearing an aircraft to land in such a manner; instead, he re-issued a normal runway landing clearance and just said that's all he could operationally do.

EDIT: It was this one: Cessna Cardinal gear up landing, Van Nuys, CA (KVNY)
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 04:39:06 PM by swa4678 » Logged
InterpreDemon
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« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2014, 05:05:12 PM »

Svoynick, regarding your point #3, how would the belly-scraping pilot know he is the only aircraft on final? For all he knew, if he only caught "go around", he might have thought it was somebody behind him as is so often the case with small, slow aircraft. Certainly if he KNEW he was making a gear-up landing he would EXPECT any go-around instruction to apply to anybody behind him. The horse is dead, but I think there is a least a chance that "Your gear is up, go around" would have been a better call than "go around" without explanation on a perfectly ordinary summer's day in Petersburg with no severed arm or dismembered trunk of a man in his late fifties behind a bush on the side of the runway.

As to calling out from the runup area on the tower frequency to a guy over the threshold with his wheels in the well, you're damn right I would, and I would hope that he would do the same for me instead of pondering his own fate and/or interpretation of the rules. In fact, I could argue that as PIC one might have a responsibility to help prevent damage to life and property whenever or wherever it is within ones capability, so I would make the radio call without hesitation. If subsequently charged with some violation I would claim in my defense that as PIC I could deviate from the rules as to the operation of the aircraft in my best judgment to protect life and property, and such operation includes the operation of the radio transmitter. What a cold hearted bunch of rule-book fanatics we have around here.
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svoynick
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2014, 04:08:18 PM »

(3) As far as putting the aircraft ID first
Out of curiosity.. did I miss something? Was somebody suggestion this should have (or even "needs to") be done?
InterpreDemon's suggestion for phraseology had the "Mooney on short final" first. It wasn't the crux of his point, I don't think, but I was just pondering whether that would have been better.

You pretty much nailed all the right points, but just to further support them... note that if a controller gets a Low Altitude alert flashing on the scope (or otherwise judges that the Mode C altitude indicates "unsafe proximity to terrain and/or obstructions"), the controller immediately issues an alert. That alert begins with the words "LOW ALTITUDE ALERT" followed by the callsign (ref 7110.65 § 2-1-6(a)).

In other words, during an emergent safety issue... first say something that will scare pilots into immediately double-checking their situation awareness, and then explain yourself afterwards. At least, that's my take on it.
Ah, interesting example, and thanks for that.  Adding to that, in my view, is the idea that in the controller's processing loop, with the situation developing very suddenly, bringing the aircraft ID up first (even if it's just "Mooney on short final") is an additional processing task - it may seem minor, but you can hear in her call that even after she gets out the "go around" twice, she still stumbles just a bit on his callsign.  

Finally, even if you get the call out first, the pilot still doesn't know it's an emergency so you've just delayed shifting the pilot's head into emergency mode for that much longer.

I'm not sure I'd want to be written up as providing unauthorized ATC services... but yeah, me personally, I'd probably try to throw out a quick "Mooney landing runway 23, gear appears up!"

Is it an unauthorized transmission? Maybe; I'd gladly answer to any inquiry afterwards, though - I'm guessing it's unlikely they would see any need for a punitive response when they confirm I was acting in good faith after determining a potential safety issue existed.

However... for all we know, his gear could have malfunctioned and he's already being handled as an emergency aircraft. Even if your gear is stuck up and you've declared, tower can't do much more than clear you to land on a runway, wait for you to come to a screeching halt, and dispatch the emergency response vehicles. Adding clutter to the frequency in that situation would probably be unwelcome (even if you were trying to be helpful).
Ah, interesting point.  Because you would have been sitting on ground while in the runup area, and possibly only on tower for a short time, so you might lack the context to know just what's going on.  I had thought "what if my transmission covers the tower telling him to go around..." but I hadn't also considered that I might be adding an unwelcome distraction to an already stressful peak-workload moment for the pilot.  Thanks for the thoughts.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 04:10:03 PM by svoynick » Logged
InterpreDemon
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2014, 05:10:25 PM »

All this assumes that a pilot who skipped his GUMPS check minutes earlier in the pattern and did not run it again on short final would be paying attention to the radio at all. Nonetheless, in defense of inattentive pilots everywhere, I still have to ask the real pilots around here with more than a few hundred hours how many times they can recall any call from the tower when they were within a couple hundred yards of touchdown... that is, prior to touchdown and not after? Perhaps a wind check offered in variable conditions here or there, but almost never an instruction. The only one that specifically comes to mind for me after all these years was at my home field where the controller (who knew me) asked me if I was going to "try to keep it under three bounces this time", that I was only cleared for two, or some such thing, immediately following which there were several other snarky "unauthorized transmissions" and instructions from about the field. Communications in that phase rarely happens and is never expected.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 05:18:00 PM by InterpreDemon » Logged

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svoynick
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2014, 05:42:11 PM »

Svoynick, regarding your point #3, how would the belly-scraping pilot know he is the only aircraft on final? For all he knew, if he only caught "go around", he might have thought it was somebody behind him as is so often the case with small, slow aircraft. Certainly if he KNEW he was making a gear-up landing he would EXPECT any go-around instruction to apply to anybody behind him. The horse is dead, but I think there is a least a chance that "Your gear is up, go around" would have been a better call than "go around" without explanation on a perfectly ordinary summer's day in Petersburg with no severed arm or dismembered trunk of a man in his late fifties behind a bush on the side of the runway.
I don't disagree at all with the suggestion that the "gear up" information could have usefully followed the go around call, although I do have to wonder:  once you've heard "go around" 3 times and your aircraft positively ID'd by number (which was the content of this controller's call) would you really be sitting there thinking "Oh, it's a nice day and I'm not sure I see the need" until she says "gear is up" and then you would finally say "oh, well, OK then, I suppose that's a good enough reason..."  Just as swa4678 pointed out that "low altitude alert" is an all-purpose opening attention getter, it seems like "go around" should be the same for aircraft on final.  

As to calling out from the runup area on the tower frequency to a guy over the threshold with his wheels in the well, you're damn right I would, and I would hope that he would do the same for me instead of pondering his own fate and/or interpretation of the rules. In fact, I could argue that as PIC one might have a responsibility to help prevent damage to life and property whenever or wherever it is within ones capability, so I would make the radio call without hesitation. If subsequently charged with some violation I would claim in my defense that as PIC I could deviate from the rules as to the operation of the aircraft in my best judgment to protect life and property, and such operation includes the operation of the radio transmitter. What a cold hearted bunch of rule-book fanatics we have around here.
And it had seemed such a pleasant and civil thread up to that point...

First, are you actually suggesting - in a forum dedicated to the proper operation of aircraft in often-crowded airspace, and the radio communications that facilitate that operation - that discussing interpretations and details of the rules and how to properly follow them is a thing to be denigrated?

Second, I didn't say "I wouldn't make the call," (I specifically said I was likely to press the PTT, as did swa4678), but rather I was asking "Is there a reason I should think about this differently?"  And in fact, swa4678 made some very good points about knowing the context of the situation at hand, and whether you might actually be adding distraction at a critical moment for the landing pilot who might already be aware and preparing an intentional belly-in.  I appreciated that perspective, and I feel like that would become a part of my SA in that situation if it ever happens.

Third, you have way more flying experience than I do, so perhaps you've experienced everything, and have a total handle on all possible flying situations and can completely trust your instincts as to the obvious course of action to take in any emergent situation.  Not being a "real pilot with more than a few hundred hours", I still seek to review my skills, and I find that asking and discussing "what if" questions is a useful part of that.  This way I can consider situations while sitting on the ground, using words and sentences, before I get out and put them to practice in the air, using metal and aviation fuel.  

I really appreciated your earlier comment making an analogy with "processor threads" running in the pilot's head, and I think it is interesting to consider how that metaphor applies to the controller as well.  Good discussion there.  I just think your assertion that we're heartless rule-followers isn't borne out by the comments (both swa4678 and I said we'd probably make the call) and is a bit overwrought, in the context of a "what if" discussion about an emergency situation.  I'm always willing to ask the question: should I be considering this from another angle? - and to hear and consider the answers.  Maybe that will go away once I'm a "real pilot" with a few thousand hours.


« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 05:45:59 PM by svoynick » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2014, 08:12:40 PM »

No hostility is intended toward any, and all experience levels are welcome. The only three points I have been trying to make is 1) as a somewhat experienced pilot I myself might very well not notice such a calm "go around" instruction while in my flare and perhaps wondering why the aircraft is not slowing as it should, 2) a communication initiated from the tower that close to touchdown is rarely made and, 3) even if I heard the tower make such a call while I was observing the arrival I would also make the call if it was obvious to me the pilot did not hear it. After all, if everybody was expecting a gear-up landing and I was on ground frequency at the time doing my run-up, I suppose the first thing the tower would be telling me when I tuned in to say I was ready for takeoff was that the runway was shortly going to be closed.
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svoynick
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2014, 09:13:49 PM »

No hostility is intended toward any, and all experience levels are welcome. The only three points I have been trying to make is 1) as a somewhat experienced pilot I myself might very well not notice such a calm "go around" instruction while in my flare and perhaps wondering why the aircraft is not slowing as it should, 2) a communication initiated from the tower that close to touchdown is rarely made and, 3) even if I heard the tower make such a call while I was observing the arrival I would also make the call if it was obvious to me the pilot did not hear it. After all, if everybody was expecting a gear-up landing and I was on ground frequency at the time doing my run-up, I suppose the first thing the tower would be telling me when I tuned in to say I was ready for takeoff was that the runway was shortly going to be closed.
I hear you - thanks for the response.

This is absolutely not a dig, but I'm interested that you attribute the possibility of you not responding to a too-calm call for a go-around to your experience level - that's a very honest statement.  As a relatively inexperienced pilot, I believe that certain trigger phrases would always make it through and elevate my communications thread to a high-priority:  "low altitude alert",  "immediate", and "go around" are all phrases that I think would punch through, no matter what.

Having said that, in contexts other than flying, I've been a radio operator and a headset communicator for much of my life, and for a long time before I was ever a pilot - in my first hour of dual, I already had way more radio comm experience than most 50-hour PPL students.  So maybe I just have a particularly well-established comm-thread.

But I understand your points.   And just to be clear - there's no way I would just sit and watch a plane belly-in because I didn't think it was acceptable to key up - SA and context-permitting, I'd take some kind of action, if I thought it could help.  wink
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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2014, 01:55:52 AM »

With enough accumulated time, every pilot has secrets they may or may not choose to take to the grave, and my observation is that the more secrets they keep the sooner they are likely to take them to the grave. We know nothing of the experience of this pilot... he could be new to complex aircraft, though generally a wise one would not be starting with Mooney if that were the case, he may only occasionally fly complex, or he could be so experienced that he has become both sloppy and lucky, the latter a necessity if one is to long survive the former. When I say that I can envision myself in his position under any of those circumstances it is because I believe it to be in the interest of safety to state so honestly... there was a time when I flew multiple types with much more experience in some than others, I have missed calls from ATC due to distraction or heavy cockpit load, there have been occasions when I have been sloppy and lucky, and finally, there is not a single flight that I do not believe could have been planned or executed with greater precision or more safety to some degree. About the only thing I can take absolute pride in beyond the fact that I am here to write about it after all these years, is that I never once burned a single drop of my last hour of fuel.

Oh, and regarding having a good "comm" thread it is important to remember, as you're tweaking your processor affinity settings, that the order of priority is aviate, navigate and lastly communicate... which is why I can understand the distracted state of a guy who, once having skipped his GUMP check, is trying to enter the flare phase in a performance aircraft and for some reason it won't slow down and doesn't feel right.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2014, 01:01:29 PM by InterpreDemon » Logged

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