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Author Topic: Emergency transmissions of AirIndia 111 at KJFK  (Read 9616 times)
Susan27
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« on: July 30, 2008, 05:46:50 PM »

Hi,

at 27th of July I listended to an emergency landing of flight AirIndia 111 at KJFK:

http://archive-server.liveatc.net/kjfk/KJFK-NY-App-CAMRN-Jul-27-2008-2200Z.mp3

At 0:15 min. of the feed the pilot says that there is only 9 min. fuel left and that they need to land at once at JFK.

At 05:10 min. of the feed the pilot asks for the remaining distance (track to RWY)...

Now my question and what I dont understand: At 05:24 min. the pilots says something like:

"We have to declare a plan(?)...We are PASS PASS PASS, AirIndia 111..."

What does that mean exactly "declare a plan", "PASS PASS PASS", is that something defined in ATC-language, if so, what...?

After passing to Approach (Final) the pilot repeats this "Pass" command when talking to the Final appr.-controller at first contact...

Thanks for your explanation! smiley
« Last Edit: July 30, 2008, 05:50:09 PM by Susan27 » Logged

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Susan
cessna157
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« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2008, 05:49:04 PM »

Not plan.  He's declaring Pan Pan.   Its just 1 step shy of mayday
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Susan27
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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2008, 05:54:04 PM »

I still dont understand that. Could you please translate what "Declaring a PAN" means exactly...?

Is this command a pre-described phrase in mayday-procedures...?
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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2008, 05:56:34 PM »

Then later on he calls himself Pan AirIndia 111.  This is not an American procedure.  I have heard this used in Europe many times.  If an aircraft declares mayday they tack it onto the callsign as well.  

There is a famous clip of Thompson 263H in Manchester, UK ingesting a bird on takeoff and the engine surges and is shut down.  
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2008, 06:02:54 PM »

I still dont understand that. Could you please translate what "Declaring a PAN" means exactly...?

Is this command a pre-described phrase in mayday-procedures...?

This is the US description of PAN-PAN.

http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraffic/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim/Chap6/aim0603.html

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cessna157
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« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2008, 06:06:57 PM »

I still dont understand that. Could you please translate what "Declaring a PAN" means exactly...?

Is this command a pre-described phrase in mayday-procedures...?

From the A.I.M.:
6-3-1 Distress and Urgency Communications

c. The initial communication, and if considered necessary, any subsequent transmissions by an aircraft in distress should begine with the signal MAYDAY, preferably three times.  The signal PAN-PAN should be used in the same manner for an urgency condition.

6-3-2 Obtaining Emergency Assistance

a. 3. Transmit a distress or ergency message consisting of as many as necessary of the following elements, preferably in the order listed:
(a) If distress, MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY; if urgency PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN
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« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2008, 06:36:34 PM »

Susan, we had a clip here at LiveATC of a KLM Boeing 747 declaring PAN-PAN from August 2005, but I just discovered that the clip was lost during the forum software conversion.   I reposted the clip to the Archive Clip forum, which you can get from this thread here:

http://www.liveatc.net/forums/index.php/topic,4815.0.html



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anand
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2008, 07:36:27 AM »

not to change the subject of the thread. but take a look at the flightaware tracks for this
flight

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AIC111/history/20080727/1258Z/EGLL/KJFK

this was on the day when the tri-state area and NE was hit by fast moving TS.

IT is obvious that the enroute control had routed them like that to avoid bad weather, but shouldn't the crew had been cognizant on the endurance of their flight and diverted to BOS  or else (+given that the vessel was only a B773) rather than landing with less than few minutes of fuel left!

I would say the responsibility lies entirely on the crew (obviously), ATC can't determine Fuel On-Board!

your thoughts ?
« Last Edit: July 31, 2008, 07:51:38 AM by anand » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2008, 10:11:59 AM »

I would say the responsibility lies entirely on the crew (obviously), ATC can't determine Fuel On-Board!

That's certainly true, but pilots can only anticipate and estimate so much.  Sometimes delays are much longer than was planned when fuel was originally loaded.

As you may know, carrying extra fuel has a cost in both real money as well as in the reduction of passengers and baggage since fuel adds weight to the aircraft.  This is why pilots don't just simply order the tanks filled to the caps before every flight.

From what I have read (not being a professional airline pilot) fuel loaded on board a commercial aircraft is the sum of fuel needed to destination plus fuel needed to alternate destination plus fuel reserve (typically 45 minutes to 1 hour) plus any average or expected delays. 

Expected delays that turn into extended delays are what cause pilots to adjust the plan, which I think is what you are commenting on.  I am confident that the crew of any commercial aircraft is well aware of their remaining fuel endurance long before fuel dips into reserves, much less before the tanks run dry.

While an airplane in this situation is not in immediate danger of running out of fuel, you can bet that a pilot will use whatever authority is in his/her power to ensure a positive outcome, from declaring MINIMUM FUEL to declaring PAN PAN or EMERGENCY, if need be.
 
It actually is very routine for pilots and ATC to get into discussions about fuel concerns when weather or extreme traffic delays exist, at least here in the Northeast US.
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Susan27
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2008, 04:19:25 PM »

First, thanks for the mp3-link and your answers...

Back to AirIndia 111:

That's certainly true, but pilots can only anticipate and estimate so much.  Sometimes delays are much longer than was planned when fuel was originally loaded.

Well, I personaly asked this myself, too:

Why the hell the pilot of 111 asked for priority at NY-Approach so late into the flight...?! Isnt there a permanent display of remaining fuel time at the Flight Management Computer etc...? It really seems to me that the pilot didnt instruct NY-Center about possible fuel-low-probs, otherwise the approach-controller wouldnt have reacted as he did (suprised)...Another proof for this is that NY-Final-controller knew about incoming emergency minutes before 111 was handed to him...so he could vectore flights in front of 111 to arrange a "corridor"...

Quote
It actually is very routine for pilots and ATC to get into discussions about fuel concerns when weather or extreme traffic delays exist, at least here in the Northeast US.

Well, if this is "routine" in NE-US I wonder about the risks of human beings pilots get into when flying around/below minimum-fluel-levels (short of PAN PAN)...I also wonder that FAA "tolerates" such a general behaviour...

Finally: I also ask myself why 111 didnt land at a closer airport to refuel instead of trying to land at JFK with the last drop of fuel?! The fuel left (roughly) at touch-down at JFK was below 3 min - what had the pilot of 111 had in mind if he had to go-around etc...?!

From your point of view: Do you think this will have any consequences for the crew besides of "paper-work"...?

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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2008, 04:47:40 PM »

Well, if this is "routine" in NE-US I wonder about the risks of human beings pilots get into when flying around/below minimum-fluel-levels (short of PAN PAN)...I also wonder that FAA "tolerates" such a general behaviour...

Typically (not in the case of this Air India flight) there is no risk to the passengers specifically because the pilots are addressing it long before it is a crisis.  Pilots treat getting close to their one hour reserve as a crisis, when in fact there is no danger to the aircraft at that point.  It is this early intervention that I am referring to by "routine" conversations between ATC and pilots.

No time to address your other questions as I have to leave for my flight now.  I'll check back later with some other thoughts.
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cessna157
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2008, 05:09:27 PM »

Well, if this is "routine" in NE-US I wonder about the risks of human beings pilots get into when flying around/below minimum-fluel-levels (short of PAN PAN)...I also wonder that FAA "tolerates" such a general behaviour...

Finally: I also ask myself why 111 didnt land at a closer airport to refuel instead of trying to land at JFK with the last drop of fuel?! The fuel left (roughly) at touch-down at JFK was below 3 min - what had the pilot of 111 had in mind if he had to go-around etc...?!


I wouldn't necessarily consider this to be "routine."  The routine part are fuel concerns into the New York area.  As soon as our route is changed, the FMS will spit out a new ETE, ETA, and fuel remaining at touchdown.  If we get put into holding the first thing we do is call our dispatcher and tell him where we are and how much fuel we have.  They will then tell us how much fuel we need from our holding position to get to the airport, plus fuel for the approach, plus fuel to fly to the alternate (assuming there is one), plus reserve (45 mins) fuel.  If we're still holding when we hit this bingo fuel, then we go to some airport just below us and refuel.

There are then several levels of low fuel management.  First comes just letting the controllers know of our fuel situation.  This is nowhere near an emergency situation, more of a convenience.  After that, once we're committed to the airport, we'd be declaring minimum fuel.  This tells the controller that we cannot accept any delay vectors and should be given partial priority (I'm omitting many other details).  Finally comes declaring emergency fuel.  This basically means we must land at the nearest suitable airport and have less than 30 mins of fuel remaining.
That is a very dumbed down version, if you want more specifics, let me know.


An odd thing that I noticed in this clip is the pilot says they have 3.8 tonnes remaining with "9 minutes fuel remaining until we need to land."  I honestly do not know what that means specifically.  3.8 tonnes is 3800kg which is 8360 lbs.  To burn 8360 lbs in 9 minutes equates to 55,733 lbs/hour of fuel burn.  I do not know what kind of fuel burns a B777 gets down low, but I know it is nowhere near this amount. 

If he had 39 mins of fuel remaining (30 min emergency fuel +9 mins) at 3.8 tonnes, that equates to 12,861 lbs/hour fuel burn, which still seems a bit high, but plausible.

If he had 54 mins of fuel remaining (45 min reserve fuel +9 mins) at 3.8 tonnes, that equates to 9,289 lbs/hour fuel burn, which seems a bit more likely.
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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2008, 08:53:35 PM »

So, If I understand the above reply..

When the AIC111 pilot notifies ATC that they have 9 min of fuel, he is indicating it w/o the fuel reserve ?

in that case, I was wrong in assuming that the AIC111 was to its last few drops of fuel when landed.

Is this the normal procedure ? when ATC request on fuel-on-board, you reply with a number w/o the reserve ?
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cessna157
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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2008, 09:03:52 PM »

I'm assuming that his answer was not including reserve fuel for 2 reasons:
1) He says "9 minutes until we must land"   While not necessarily specific, this seems like an odd way to answer the question.
2) A B777 will not burn 3.8 tonnes of fuel while slow-speed cruising at low altitude in 9 mins

To answer the 2nd question, no this is not the standard way to answer the controllers question.  You could hear the controllers voice change tone a little, I think because he was under the assumption of 9 mins till flameout.  But no, you always answer in time until flameout.  It would obviously be an educated guess and nothing exact by any means, as you don't know exactly when the engine will lose its fuel supply (ie: location of the fuel pickups in the tanks relative to the fuel level, remaining quantity in collector tanks, etc)
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« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2008, 12:57:14 AM »

something to think about here. in Canada from a controller's point of view:
If an aircraft informs you of a "fuel shortage":
A. ask the aircraft whether it is declaring a emergency; and
B. give priority only if the aircraft does declare an emergency.
(note; a pilot may use nonstandard phraseology to indicate a concern about a fuel shortage, anything a pilot says that suggests a possiblefuel shortage is a valid reason to ask if the pilot is declaring an emergency.)

If an aircraft declares minimum fuel, take the following actions;
A. be alert for any occurrence or situation that may delay the aircraft:
B. inform the aircraft of any anticipated delay as soon as you become aware of the delay;
C. inform the next sector/unit of the status of the aircraft; and
D. record the information in the unit log.
(note; this is not an emergency situation but indicates an emergency could develop should any undue delay occur.)

those are the rules but rules and reality are 2 different things, you declare fuel shortage or minimum fuel, I'm getting asking you a bunch of questions, giving you the weather long before you get to dest. (if it's ifr and there is a chance of a missed) and depending on your responses your going to be number one at dest. if you do it to me a couple times I'm giving you no extras til you declare a emergency. if your calling low fuel all the time, well that's your fault for not taking enough on board. if the weather is crap and you've missed a couple times, well that a different story compared to the guy who's calling it so he doesn't have to be number 8 at the airport.
if you call panpan or mayday, I'm splitting that freq off so you never get "stepped on" (at times I'm broadcasting on 7 freq at once to cover all my airspace) and I'm entertaining zero requests from other pilots. I'll make a blind transmission that theres a emergency and all aircraft are to standby and listen for clearances or instructions. basically if if your not declaring an emergency i don't want you talking, my priority is to get the panpan or mayday on the ground and everything else is second.
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