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Author Topic: FAA suspends controller who missed landing of two planes at D.C.  (Read 10675 times)
jmx53
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« on: March 23, 2011, 06:56:58 PM »

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-23/sleeping-controller-possibility-probed-after-u-s-landings-1-.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/tower-at-reagan-national-goes-silent-as-planes-attempt-to-land/2011/03/23/AB9aslKB_story.html
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mk223
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2011, 07:37:36 PM »

I just put together a quick edit of the feed over in the atc clips section,

http://www.liveatc.net/forums/atcaviation-audio-clips/dca-unmanned-tower/
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joeyb747
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2011, 10:01:36 PM »

http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-politics/20110323/news.sleepingairtraffic/
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kyle172
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2011, 12:25:53 PM »

http://abcnews.go.com/m/story?id=13210625&sid=80
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If you don't see it first then I probably will..
joeyb747
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2011, 07:55:25 PM »

http://www.avherald.com/h?article=439ce8f9&opt=0
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captkel
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 10:27:56 PM »

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement....."Fortunately, at no point was either plane out of radar contact and our back-up system kicked in to ensure the safe landing of both airplanes."

Being in Radar Contact is nice however I'm curious about that "back-up system that kicked in", what's that all about?
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dave
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2011, 10:37:01 PM »

The most well-rounded commentary:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/audio-silence-in-the-tower-at-dca/2011/03/23/ABCR6tKB_video.html

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dave
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2011, 10:38:30 PM »

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement....."Fortunately, at no point was either plane out of radar contact and our back-up system kicked in to ensure the safe landing of both airplanes."

Being in Radar Contact is nice however I'm curious about that "back-up system that kicked in", what's that all about?

The only backup system that kicked in was that Potomac TRACON has radar coverage and can see pretty much down to the ground near DCA.  Though I don't think they have access to ground radar from there.

The pilots were the main ingredient to the safe landing - the Potomac Approach controller certainly helped, as did TCAS.  smiley
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tyketto
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2011, 11:18:44 AM »


Outside of the various outlets, this made the local news here in Sacramento. Whether they just tapped into nationwide coverage of the story, I don't know..

But the best part of the coverage I've seen so far, is that not only did they play part of the ATC comms between Potomac and the pilots, but they actually properly cited the source of where they got the clip (which was here, of course).

So whoever made the clip, congrats!

BL.
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TC
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« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2011, 01:47:21 PM »

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement....."Fortunately, at no point was either plane out of radar contact and our back-up system kicked in to ensure the safe landing of both airplanes."

Being in Radar Contact is nice however I'm curious about that "back-up system that kicked in", what's that all about?

Typical political babble and nonsense is what it's all about.  NOTHING ensured the safe landings.  NOTHING.  There was NO GUARANTEE there weren't vehicles on the runways as there often is on the mids.  Even if they announced their intent to land, the pilots don't know what frequency an unsuspecting electrician working on the lights might be on.  Thank God nobody got killed.  There's plenty of shame to go around on this one.
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tyketto
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2011, 03:08:21 PM »

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement....."Fortunately, at no point was either plane out of radar contact and our back-up system kicked in to ensure the safe landing of both airplanes."

Being in Radar Contact is nice however I'm curious about that "back-up system that kicked in", what's that all about?

Typical political babble and nonsense is what it's all about.  NOTHING ensured the safe landings.  NOTHING.  There was NO GUARANTEE there weren't vehicles on the runways as there often is on the mids.  Even if they announced their intent to land, the pilots don't know what frequency an unsuspecting electrician working on the lights might be on.  Thank God nobody got killed.  There's plenty of shame to go around on this one.

Yes, they would.

Just as if any runway inspection were going on by airport operations, since the runways in use were ACTIVE, they would also have to have tuned to the Tower frequency to even do anything on the runways. If they hadn't heard anything from the tower in that time, no doubt the pilots would have used the CTAF for announcing their intentions as well as announcing them on the tower frequency. More times than not, the Tower frequency is also the CTAF when a given airport is closed. In this case, since DCA is continuously attended, their intentions were announced on both.

Have a listen to any feed (KLAS for sure) when a runway inspection is being done. You'll notice that all airport ops vehicles tune and broadcast on tower's frequency.

BL.
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TC
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2011, 08:32:23 AM »

That's simply not correct.  I do this for a living and I can tell you if that happened here the planes would not necessarily be on the same frequency as the vehicles.  It is not a CTAF scenario as there is no CTAF in a 24 hr facility.  There can be multiple tower frequencies, as there are in BOS.  The pilots would not be broadcasting on all frequencies.  I don't need to listen to a feed to hear a runway inspection being done.  I do it for real.  I just got off a mid as a matter of fact.  i worked all positions combined, 7 frequencies all combined.  If I'd passed out,  a pilot coming in announcing on 128.8 would not know if a mechanic was towing a plane across the runway on another freq, or an electrician was on the runway on even another freq.

Sorry, but you're wrong.  It was unsafe and wildly presumptuous what the pilots did.
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eastern tristar
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2011, 01:44:11 PM »

The real issue here is why was there only one controller in the tower.  This staffing deficiency was an accident waiting to happen.  This is a busy airport in a major metropolitan area, how can the FAA justify staffing only one controller at night?  What if a real emergency aircraft came in? What if numerous aircraft had to divert there?  What is he supposed to do, call in another controller and wait for him to arrive to help out?  I feel bad for this controller, I am sure after doing this job for 20 years, he took his work very seriously and wasn't a slacker, like the media is making him out to be.  I hope that if it comes out that he had some sort of medical condition the media will be as enthusiastic to report that story, but we know they will not.  Sadly, if the story doesn't scare people, it doesn't get reported.
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MikeNYC
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« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2011, 04:14:15 PM »

TC, at your facility is ground traffic permitted to enter any runway or movement area without explicit clearance?
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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2011, 06:08:40 PM »

That's simply not correct.  I do this for a living and I can tell you if that happened here the planes would not necessarily be on the same frequency as the vehicles.  It is not a CTAF scenario as there is no CTAF in a 24 hr facility.  There can be multiple tower frequencies, as there are in BOS.  The pilots would not be broadcasting on all frequencies.  I don't need to listen to a feed to hear a runway inspection being done.  I do it for real.  I just got off a mid as a matter of fact.  i worked all positions combined, 7 frequencies all combined.  If I'd passed out,  a pilot coming in announcing on 128.8 would not know if a mechanic was towing a plane across the runway on another freq, or an electrician was on the runway on even another freq.

Sorry, but you're wrong.  It was unsafe and wildly presumptuous what the pilots did.

what TC said, thats the diffrence between internet controllers and real controllers.even when the tower is closed on the mid and there is a published ctaf dose not mean a vehicle might be on the rwy and not on the ctaf .in 1990 i had a Lear miss the approach at KGRR  due to a snow plow on the rwy after i was told by Kent county the plows were off the rwy, the plow was not on the ctaf.




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TC
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« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2011, 06:51:31 PM »

TC, at your facility is ground traffic permitted to enter any runway or movement area without explicit clearance?

No.  And I don't see that I've said anything to give that impression.

It's real simple.  There are many frequencies in the tower, and on the mid they're generally all combined to one position.  If one person's working, even if they choose the have ground on speaker at GC, and tower at tower, cd at cd, etc, it's still one person working all frequencies.  Tows call very regularly on GC.  Pushbacks (for departure) call very regularly on gate or cd.  Taxi out on that freq, too.  Vehicles are often on tower freq, but I have 3 of those, and may be using any one with any of them.  The point is I have them all up for a reason, and that is I'm requirred to, because you never know when someone will call on one.  Maybe they SHOULD call me on 128.8, but they call on 132.22 instead.  That could be an arrival, a vehicle, a tow, it could be the bogeyman.  I answer them on that freq because, again, I have them all up.

It takes little imagination to imagine that I could tell a tow/runup  to go from point a to b by crossing rwy 33l.  I could then authorize a vehicle to proceed on 33l on a different freq.  Then I pass out or fall asleep.  While those two ops are taking place on 2 different freqs (THEY don't even know about each other!) Here comes AAL who blithely decides since he hears nobody on 128.8, he'll just announce he's landing!  Hey cool!  He saw it on the news and that went well.  So AAL on 128.8 lands on top of the vehicle who was on 132.22 and then plows into the runup crossing the rwy on 121.9.

GET IT???

This is why if you read the avherald article cited above Babbit says all radar controllers are being reminded to (if this happens again) offer the planes the option to divert.  That's what should have happened.  If by this point you can't see it, can't see why, I can't help you.  This is NOT a ctaf scenario.  Not by a long shot.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 07:19:59 PM by TC » Logged
StuSEL
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« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2011, 07:39:12 PM »

Offering pilots something they already have the ability to do: genius. rolleyes
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« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2011, 08:15:56 PM »

TC, at your facility is ground traffic permitted to enter any runway or movement area without explicit clearance?


TC already gave a good answer but also many of the people working ground services do not grasp the full picture. They aren't pilots or controllers and in a most cases even arm chair pilots/controllers. They're construction workers, electricians, contractors, etc. that just happen to work at an airport. If they call to enter a taxiway or runway and don't get a response after a couple tries I'm sure many would just go on about their business. There have been plenty of runway incursions while controllers were awake. It could happen when one was asleep.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 08:45:10 PM by sykocus » Logged

Yesterday I couldn't spell air traffic controller. Today I R one.
tyketto
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« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2011, 04:17:06 AM »

TC, at your facility is ground traffic permitted to enter any runway or movement area without explicit clearance?

No.  And I don't see that I've said anything to give that impression.

It's real simple.  There are many frequencies in the tower, and on the mid they're generally all combined to one position.  If one person's working, even if they choose the have ground on speaker at GC, and tower at tower, cd at cd, etc, it's still one person working all frequencies.  Tows call very regularly on GC.  Pushbacks (for departure) call very regularly on gate or cd.  Taxi out on that freq, too.  Vehicles are often on tower freq, but I have 3 of those, and may be using any one with any of them.  The point is I have them all up for a reason, and that is I'm requirred to, because you never know when someone will call on one.  Maybe they SHOULD call me on 128.8, but they call on 132.22 instead.  That could be an arrival, a vehicle, a tow, it could be the bogeyman.  I answer them on that freq because, again, I have them all up.

It takes little imagination to imagine that I could tell a tow/runup  to go from point a to b by crossing rwy 33l.  I could then authorize a vehicle to proceed on 33l on a different freq.  Then I pass out or fall asleep.  While those two ops are taking place on 2 different freqs (THEY don't even know about each other!) Here comes AAL who blithely decides since he hears nobody on 128.8, he'll just announce he's landing!  Hey cool!  He saw it on the news and that went well.  So AAL on 128.8 lands on top of the vehicle who was on 132.22 and then plows into the runup crossing the rwy on 121.9.

GET IT???

This is why if you read the avherald article cited above Babbit says all radar controllers are being reminded to (if this happens again) offer the planes the option to divert.  That's what should have happened.  If by this point you can't see it, can't see why, I can't help you.  This is NOT a ctaf scenario.  Not by a long shot.

No need to get so bloody offensive.  rolleyes

But you also seemed to miss my point, which others asked you for clarity on. My point is that most airports.. and yes, I said MOST airport (meaning, not ALL) use the Tower frequency as the CTAF. Others do not. KDCA, according to AeroNav, has a UNICOM of 122.95. My point is that these pilots could have broadcast their intentions on both Tower's frequency and UNICOM and got their intentions heard by other pilots in the area.

As far as ground operations go, you should re-read my post again. Specifically:

Quote
Have a listen to any feed (KLAS for sure) when a runway inspection is being done. You'll notice that all airport ops vehicles tune and broadcast on tower's frequency.

All airport ops vehicles when performing a runway inspection are tuning to, listening to, and broadcasting on Tower's frequency. I did not say WHICH frequency (and yes, I know about multiple frequencies for Tower (that's why I'm so familiar with them at LAS), but that they are on Tower's frequency. Another thing to consider is combining the multiple positions onto a single frequency, as they tend to do at night, and broadcast what that frequency is on the ATIS. Whether airport ops listens to the ATIS prior to doing anything on the ground is a good question, but they definitely have the means to get the right frequency and be tuned to the right frequency before performing their inspections.

How you read so deeply into what I was saying to say that everything I said is dead wrong, I really do not know.

As far as the avherald article, I agree. Potomac should have offered the diversion. Why they didn't is a good question. But how you read so deeply into my post to pick out what you think I was saying is beyond me.

BL.
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TC
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« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2011, 07:26:28 AM »

I give up.  I simply give up.
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dave
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« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2011, 07:30:16 AM »

OK, I think this discussion has run its course. 

The rules on the Forums include being civil to each other, regardless of misunderstandings or differences of opinion.  Life's too short to carry on like this - so I'm locking the thread.  Something I hate to do - but I am forced to, unfortunately.
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