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Author Topic: Triple diversion, single pilot IFR  (Read 7495 times)
keith
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« on: April 27, 2012, 12:44:43 PM »

This was how I capped off a 3hr flight last night, returning to northern NJ. The plan was to land at Lincoln Park (N07) where the forecast was 1000 few, 2000 overcast. My alternate was Caldwell (KCDW)

This was the weather during the initial arrival, KCDW 270153Z 00000KT 1 1/4SM BR OVC004 12/12 A2961

So, Lincoln Park was history, I didn't even bother trying, diverted to Caldwell.

While I was on final for the LOC RWY 22 approach, tower informed me of the updated weather, which was now:
KCDW 270200Z 00000KT 1SM BR OVC002 12/12 A2962

I went missed, and attempted to divert to Morristown, CDW went on to become:
KCDW 270212Z 00000KT 3/4SM BR OVC002 12/12 A2962
KCDW 270253Z 00000KT 1/2SM FG VV002 12/12 A2961

Morristown had 1 mile and 200 overcast, which is no picnic, but worth a shot. I was assigned an RNAV approach. Knowing I couldn't shoot it to LPV minimums (non-WAAS GPS), I requested the ILS 23.  It was out of service. Awesome. So, off it was, then, to Teterboro, which was calling:

KTEB 270151Z 00000KT 3SM BR OVC006 13/11 A2960

...and then later became
KTEB 270251Z 23005KT 3SM BR OVC004 13/11 A2959

The edited audio is attached, covering:
- the diversion to CDW, shooting the LOC RWY 22 there, going missed, attempting diversion to MMU, then to TEB. Most of the other aircraft interactions are removed, but I left some of them in place to give an idea of how busy it was.  The full audio is available (for a while, at least) here:
http://archive-server.liveatc.net/kewr/KEWR-Final-Apr-27-2012-0130Z.mp3 (about 25 mins into it)
http://archive-server.liveatc.net/kewr/KEWR-Final-Apr-27-2012-0200Z.mp3 (all of it)
http://archive-server.liveatc.net/kewr/KEWR-Final-Apr-27-2012-0230Z.mp3 (first few mins)

I was struggling to get the ATIS each time because the radio was so busy. I had pre-loaded charts for the N07 and CDW (my alternate) but setting up for TEB was a lot of work.

The cloud were so thick at 2000ft that not only did I have my strobes off (that's not uncommon), but my position lights and landing light were bright enough to cause a distraction (have never had that happen before).

I was working at capacity for and extended period of time after a 2hr 30min 600 mile trip and was very happy to get on the ground.

I felt bad pushing back on the controller a few times when I wasn't able to get weather and wasn't yet prepared to fly the approach, but I felt there was little choice, and I refused to shoot that ILS at TEB until I was fully prepared to do it.

Here's the flightaware log: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N360JH/history/20120426/2248Z/K24/N07





« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 01:58:37 PM by keith » Logged

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keith
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2012, 04:10:56 PM »

One thing that strikes me as I listen to the video, and I remember it at the time, it's not overly helpful when controllers say the visibility is crumby, or not great, or low (reference what happened at Morristown and Caldwell). Pilots need specific numbers to make decisions. I need to know if the weather is above or below the published minimums, that's what I care about.

For example, the reported weather at CDW was 400 overcast....that's great, that means I can shoot the LOC RWY 22. The comment that "tower is saying the visibility is pretty bad and the tower thinks you might not be able to get in" doesn't mean anything particularly when the controller then repeats the official weather afterwards, which was above minimums. I thought the subjective reference was to THAT weather. That's why I ignored it.

It's only once I was on the approach that they updated the official weather to 200 overcast with 3/4sm vis...at which point I knew I was hosed.  When I selected MMU as the next diversion, it was done with the knowledge that it was at minimums for the ILS, which I thought was worth trying. Again, a comment that "Morristown is low, too."

I realize they're probably trying to be helpful, but it's not terribly helpful until they read out the specific numbers for a given field.
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sykocus
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2012, 08:42:24 AM »

I haven't listened to the recordings but when the controller says something liktheir doesn't look good for the ILS" its probably because he seeing or knows something that isn't reflected in the official observation or the obs is being updated. Some things to remember: The visibility is the "prevailing visibility". It may be worse in other sections of the sky. And ASOS's are notorious for under or over-reporting the ceilings when the sky conditions directly above the sensor differ greatly from those over the rest of the aerodrome.

You are right they are trying to be helpful but you would do well to not automatically disregard the information just because it's not the official numbers. Also IFR WX usually means increased workload for both controllers and pilots. Controllers are trying to stay up to date with the the rapidly updating observations, often for mulitple airports, NEXRAD updates, diversion request for multiple aircraft etc.
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ogogog
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2012, 09:51:32 AM »

WOW your right what a crappy controller. how dare he give you extra info that might help you make a good decision. and when he tryed to give you the ATIS freq for TEB well how dare he, iam sure you were capable of finding it your self. and when he would not shut up long enough for you to get the ATIS well how dare those other aircraft get in your way. also he should have used his telepathy to know that you needed more time to set up to the approach, i mean listen to the tape he wasnt doing any thing but sitting around eating dougnuts watiting to serve just you.Oh and when he keept asking you about your fuel well who dose he think he is really! some of the piss poorest ATC service ive herd in a long time you should have called the tracon and complained about it.

OG/ATCS
C90/ZAU
retired

P.S. after 30 years in ATC i think that guy did a great job dealing with all the crap going on, but what do i know?
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 09:58:31 AM by ogogog » Logged
keith
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2012, 10:25:27 AM »

ogogog, W.....T.....F.

I have the utmost respect for the N90 controllers. I did call the TRACON the next day, in fact, specifically to pass my thanks on to the controller and also let him know some of the unique challenges that we face in SPIFR in busy airspace.

You're completely missing my points. I am WELL AWARE that he was handling a boatload of aircraft...I'm not deaf. When I told him that he'd been talking non-stop, my point was not that he should be quiet, my point was that I was not able to get the ATIS while monitoring his frequency. I've been in that situation many times, but normally I get a head start and am working on the ATIS from 40 miles out. In this case, I had very little time to get the ATIS because of the unplanned trip to TEB.

When did I imply that he didn't provide adequate service for me?  I was the one who was rocking the boat by taking up lots of radio time, not being in a position to get the ATIS, taking a long time to load the approach and brief it, etc etc. None of those were his fault, and nowhere did I imply that they were.

Your post is insulting and uncalled for.

sykocus, you're right, in cases where they know something that isn't yet reported, that IS great information, but it would helpful if it was communicated as such, ie, "it's calling 400 overcast, but they're saying it's below that now," would be a lot more helpful. As it was, I thought they were just making a subjective reference to the currently reported weather.

I thought the controller did an incredible job, I regret not mentioning that here....but rest assured, I communicated that clearly in my feedback to the TRACON. He was working the Teterboro arrivals AND merging the Newark arrival streams and he was absolutely rocking it.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 11:04:10 AM by keith » Logged

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ogogog
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« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2012, 10:44:59 AM »

i see the controller is only helpful if he gives you the info the way YOU want it. your the one that said the controller wasnt overly heplful in the way you got the info. and load a ILS into what ? you cant fly an ILS with out the magic pink line.oh and i liked the way you waited till he turned you base to tell him you were not ready for the approach, sure that made his day.sorry your second post sounded like you were whining.
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keith
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2012, 10:48:19 AM »

You have NO IDEA how my panel is laid out, or what it's like to hand fly a 3hr leg and then arrive to that kind of circumstance. This has nothing to do with a pink line, but go ahead and keep making assumptions...it's pretty clear we're not going to get on the same page.

I give up.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 10:50:27 AM by keith » Logged

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ogogog
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2012, 10:59:07 AM »

single pilot single engine IFR = Autopilot. would never own an aircraft flying hard IFR single pilot without George.
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2012, 12:29:28 PM »

Is this a private fight, or can anybody join in?

I think both of you are going over the top a bit... but Keith started it with his second post. You should have just left it alone with the original story which, in my opinion, displayed a Herculean effort on the part of both you and the controller. It was a interesting and educational autopsy as it stood.

When a controller goes beyond the call of duty to advise you of deteriorating conditions at alternates all within his airspace you would be wise to take such advice whether it is "official" or not. For example, where could the next pilot after you pondering alternates obtain "official" information that would have told him that you just missed the approach at Caldwell? The answer is "nowhere" except perhaps from the approach controller who picked you up on his screen again after he thought he was finally rid of you. When a controller generously tells you some place is going down the tubes it is more often than not with benefit of additional or timely information you cannot obtain, with the intention of doing both himself and you a favor... saving you time and cockpit load digging up the "official" data and reducing the time he needs to spend vectoring you around until you make up your mind.

Heavens, I've had my irritations with a few controllers over the years, but this situation would not have been one of them, not by a long shot. There are others, especially in airspace like that, who would have simply vectored you to "get lost" and told you not to come back until you know your intentions and have the ATIS.
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Feed Purveyor:
KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
keith
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2012, 02:53:32 PM »

Clearly My writing needs work, because people appear to think I am being critical of the controller.

I will take another crack at the second post tonight. With kids outside right now.
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2012, 03:59:36 PM »

It's no biggie, Keith, hardly worth a re-write, just a re-thought. What initially caught my eye is when you said:

"For example, the reported weather at CDW was 400 overcast....that's great, that means I can shoot the LOC RWY 22. The comment that 'tower is saying the visibility is pretty bad and the tower thinks you might not be able to get in' doesn't mean anything particularly when the controller then repeats the official weather afterwards, which was above minimums."

It turns out that the subjective opinion of "tower" definitely "meant something" and turned out to be correct in that you subsequently had to execute a missed approach. Now, I am not going to try to get too far into the head of a pilot flying a slippery, limited stability (even if you have the big elevator) personal rocket with a single comm and a stick between your knees for an autopilot, but as I listened to your saga there was no question in my mind that if I were arriving from out-of-town and this was unfamiliar territory I would have immediately taken in the gist of what I was hearing from the controller and the entire situation (hour of day, weather trend) and asked "Where are people getting in?", which would have been where you eventually ended up a half hour and lowered ceilings later.

But in fairness to you, you know the territory and are familiar with all the fields involved and would prefer to go to home base, so I can't say that I would not have done the same... assuming I had not read the weather differently that morning and departed a few hours earlier. As I said before, I think that your performance given the circumstances, especially your equipment, was above average and you were well served by the controller, and there are quite a few deceased doctors and mangled Bonanzas that would agree with me if they could.
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KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
keith
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2012, 08:04:59 AM »

The "where are people getting in?" line of thinking is perfect for the 121/135 environment. It's not as applicable at N07/CDW, though. There just aren't many people trying to get in at night.

Let's say the weather actually remained at 400-1 at Caldwell (that's above minimums). They may STILL have made the comment that visibility wasn't great and that I might not make it in. That was the problem, I couldn't tell if they were commenting on the currently reported weather, or if the weather had CHANGED. In this case, it was the latter (down to 200 and 3/4sm).

Did they make a mistake? Absolutely not. Did it aid in my decision making? Not really. It WAS a point of concern, but nothing I could that I could use to take specific action.

That I ended up at Teterboro was somewhat of a coincidence. Had the ILS been operational at Morristown, that's where I was going to go next, since it was at minimums, and fuel permitting, was worth a shot. Before anyone says, "the controller knew about the ILS being out of service, that's why he was suggesting TEB," that's not the case. The controller assumed I wouldn't want to go there because it was 200-1 (an understandable assumption for a Part 91 piston single). When I said I wanted to try it, he assigned the RNAV (GPS) Z approach. If I had a WAAS, I would've given it a shot, but I knew without looking that the LNAV MDA was going to be too high, so I didn't even try.

There were no mistakes made by ATC. It's simply that the information they were graciously gathering/volunteering was not as useful as they might have hoped.  More to the point, in case it seemed odd as to WHY I was proceeding to try at CDW, MMU, despite their comments about the weather, that was the reason for electing to keep going.

As to the comment about being glad that I wasn't told to effectively get lost...well, I would've been ok with being put on a heading and left to my own devices to go and pick up various ATIS's, but that would've required a lot more time off frequency (reference the fact that I couldn't monitor a busy frequency and get the ATIS in any timely fashion), which I assume would not have been an ideal outcome for the controller. The way it played out was probably the best way for it to go for all concerned.

To be clear, I'm very grateful to the controller for the way he handled it. I know I was taking up additional radio time compared to the other pilots. It was a high workload situation for everyone, and he was already busy to begin with.

My second post was not a complaint, it was an observation well after the fact as well as being a justification for continuing with the plan.

Edit: if I could change anything about how it played out, I would've let the controller know asap that I needed more time to brief for TEB. As it was, I left it later than I should've, having just dealt with the whole ATIS issue.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 10:51:47 AM by keith » Logged

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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2012, 12:46:17 PM »

You did a good job, Keith. One thing that probably clouds my viewpoint is that in my pre-gps, pre-glass cockpit days where we actually had to dig into the chart case if our alternate went down, the idea that I would want to set up for two additional attempts after that instead of just one would have been anathema in such cockpit conditions. (For those unaware, I believe Keith was commanding a Lancair 360) Another is that my home base, KHPN, was almost never below my minimums and the alternates, even if better would have been too inconvenient, so I rarely chose to fly home into questionable minimums forecast unless I was going to have more than double reserve, choosing instead to extend dinner with my associate or go visit somebody else on the way home the next day. No way was "she" going to come up to Danbury or Bridgeport at midnight to pick me up.

But hey... every flight is a learning experience that could have been executed differently, and when you can show me the perfect flight I'll introduce you to my imaginary golf partner who shot eighteen.
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KJFK ARINC
KHPN ATIS
(KJFK) NY DEP Liberty East
HF CAR-A  3455/5550/6577/8846/11396
HF ARINC LDOC  6640/8933
HF NY VOLMET  6604

Complaints should be addressed to: City Hall
StuSEL
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2012, 02:51:04 PM »

I see the controller is only helpful if he gives you the info the way YOU want it.
It's not necessarily the way Keith wants it, but the way anybody communicating about weather needs it. If a controller asked me for a bases report and I said "They're a couple thousand off the ground," or "The OAT is pretty cold," that doesn't mean much.  smiley It's the same with Flight Service. When talking about reported conditions, having actual numbers is significant.

single pilot single engine IFR = Autopilot. would never own an aircraft flying hard IFR single pilot without George.
What are you implying?

Keith, thanks for sharing your story. I always appreciate you posting the audio and video from your flights.
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2012, 07:36:41 PM »

Great controller and great pilot. From listening to the audio, both the controller and pilot communicated very effectively. Way to stay calm, cool, and collected after diverting three times. Nice job by the controller by asking twice about the fuel situation when we didn't need to. Both parties did everything to ensure a safe outcome. As being a student instrument pilot, I thought everyone did a superb job!
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