Friday, November 28, 2008

Runway Close-calls

I found some pretty neat videos on YouTube that I hadn't seen before.

Rule #1 of ATC: Thou shalt not have two airplanes occupy the same space at the same time.

Here's a Mooney pilot who is apparently very disoriented and isn't communicating with ATC. He's completely oblivious to the danger he's causing.

Now we go down to lovely St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles for some Boeing 747 action.

That rule doesn't apply to cars, though:


John said...

The Mooney pilot's radio technique was poor, but he also seemed increasingly intimidated by the controller. My critique of the controller's performance is that he needed to speak more slowly and clearly. He also could have paraphrased his questions, rather that just restate them the same way with increasing impatience. The tower controller staying calm would have likely improved the Mooney pilot's performance.

I've flown into and out of Julianna Airport in St. Maarten and it suffers from something common to many Caribbean island airports: The lack of a taxiway parallel to the runway requires pilots to back track (ICAO lingo for back taxi) on the runway, do a 180 at the threshold and then depart. The tower controllers often insist on providing pilot's their IFR clearance only when they are back tracking on the runway, a really dumb and dangerous convention if you ask me.

I've never landed on a highway, so no comment on that situation!

Sarah said...

The Mooney, 77F, made me sad. He was apparently frozen on the runway, unwilling to cross or enter the next intersection, "the main runway". This wasn't so much radio technique, but 77F not knowing what was expected of him. And yes, getting increasingly befuddled.

May I never hear "I have a number for you to call" ...

Jim DeLaHunt said...

I believe the video of the aircraft landing on the road was reported by AvWeb as a North American T-6G Texan which encountered engine trouble on the way to EAA Airventure in July 2007.

I didn't pay close attention to the story, but I don't recall hearing anything which indicated that either pilot or ATC made bad choices. Given that the landing was forced, it's fortunate that no person and no vehicle was hurt.

Jim DeLaHunt said...

What I found interesting about the St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, video is the reaction of the onlookers. They were shocked and alarmed at what they thought was a dangerous situation, while it looked routine to me — runway isn't clear, so approaching aircraft goes around in plenty of time.

Sure, it's not efficient to force a large transport to do that, and it would have been better for ATC to sequence traffic so that it wasn't necessary. Or for the airport authority to build a taxiway so that the departing aircraft could get to the end of the runway without blocking it. But it wasn't dangerous.

I was also interested that it looks like the shock was provoked when the approaching 747 increased thrust to go around. By contrast, that was the moment when I relaxed! That made it apparent that the approaching aircraft was aware of the conflict and was avoiding it. Maybe ATC was also watching the whole thing and gave the go-around command, I don't know.

But the only time I was nervous was when the conflict was apparent but the participants' awareness of the conflict wasn't.

It would have been interesting to have had the ATC frequency on the soundtrack. I can imagine ATC seeing the whole situation unfold, and telling the approaching pilot to proceed but be ready for a go-around. I've been a pilot of a small plane in exactly that situation.

Thank you for the interesting videos.

Anonymous said...

The guy who was following the Mooney also didn't help. He easily could have recognized the problem the Mooney was having and just made the go around without a fuss instead of complaining.

When you hear the Mooney, he sounds disoriented and unable to recognize what is going on. Everybody needs to use caution when there is someone like that in the air.

I also agree that the controller could have used a much better manner.

Anonymous said...

It was clear the Mooney pilot was in way over his head from the beginning. People like that need to spend a lot of time at a quiet field a long way off from traffic, until they understand what the expectations are for level of competence before trying to flying into a busy area. I feel for him, but it obviously was more traffic than he could handle.

I also wonder who passed him on his checkride.

The best training for a guy like that is to go spend about 80 hours sitting at the end of the runway, with an aviation radio, listening to the calls by other pilots and ATC.

That would at least give him an idea of what kinds of things might be going on. He simply is a day VFR low time pilot who got himself into a lot more complex problem than he could handle.

Ditto on the ATC reaction. At the first sign the guy was THAT incompetent, the gears should have shifted to "probable student pilot" mode. The Mooney guy missing the readback on the traffic should have signaled major problem.

The good news is- we're all here learning from the nice tape, rather than reading about it in an NTSB report. So from that angle- good job!

Paul said...

Yes, no one wants to hear those words in the first video. I agree with the others, a gentler approach from the controller would probably have paid off.

I've seen many videos and pictures of Julianna airport so that one didn't surprise me, was expecting something "really interesting" rather than just a go-around.

Anonymous said...

The Mooney pilot was over his head, period. But that doesn't mean he will always be. Experience is golden, you know... Hopefully he gets a little more practice elsewhere before venturing on the next unfamiliar XC.

Who knows what TWR said to him over the phone?

I've had to call LGA TWR before over a "deal" of their making on short final (I'm a captain for an airline that routinely flies LGA), and the first words out of his mouth, "Do we have a problem?" My answer: "HELL no! The FO is gagged, and I don't have to file a damned thing! Have an excellent day."

"Thank you, sir."

Cerebral gas and human error happen to all of us. No harm, no foul. I know I've 'pooched' before, and ATC was just fantastic in handling it. Hats off to all controllers anyway. They do one hell of a job.

alex said...

Not sure how the controller could have said GET OFF THE RUNWAY more clearly... :D

The controller shouldn't have had to tell 77F to get off the rwy. If there's another a/c on final, land and get off at the earliest taxiway. If there's an issue that requires you to keep rolling down the rwy, then communicate it (the reason why you can't make the earliest taxiway) to the controller. Being stressed / confused / unprepared is not an excuse for lack of situational awareness. If you've haven't been to a towered airport in a while, grab an instructor and log some dual time - practice makes perfect :) I did feel a little sorry for him, though - having other pilots make snide comments on the frequency, besides being rude and unprofessional, doesn't do a lot for your confidence.

FiyahDave said...

Anyone who flies out of FRG like I do knows 77F did everything wrong and nothing right. The controller could have said "oh it's fine...just take your time, call me when you're ready" as many of you are are suggesting. That's one option. Option 2 is The airport is too busy with too many people around to not be on your A-game. Trust me, next time he won't stop on the active runway. lol