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Come on then, who was it?!

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:30 am
by KeithT
http://www.independent.ie/national-news ... 63128.html

AN air traffic controller was suspended and two pilots told they showed "an unfortunate lapse of airmanship" after an incident at Knock Airport which saw a plane fly over another aircraft and land in front of it.

The incident, which was contrary to Air Traffic Control (ATC) procedures and "not a safe manoeuvre", involved a stationary Aer Lingus Airbus, about to take off for London Gatwick, and an incoming Cessna 172, on May 28.

Yesterday the Air Traffic Investigation Unit filed a full report on the incident, which did not result in any injuries or any damage to either of the aircraft.

On the day of the incident, the Cessna was flying from Galway Carmore Airport to Knock to have some maintenance work carried out.

As he made his approach, the Cessna's pilot was aware from listening to radio transmissions from Knock Tower that an Aer Lingus aircraft was starting up and preparing to taxi for departure.

He offered to orbit the field to allow the aircraft depart but the duty controller declined the offer and instructed the aircraft to route direct to the field and land at one end of runway 27.

He was told "land long, traffic backtracking", to which the pilot replied "affirmative".

The Aer Lingus pilot made no comment and ATC continued to issue the airways clearance for London Gatwick. While the clearance was being given and read back, the Cessna landed over the top of the stationary Airbus.

The Cessna pilot thought that while the circumstances of the landing were unusual, he complied with the instructions of the controller, who he felt was being helpful.

The Aer Lingus pilot made no comment to ATC at the time of the incident. He subsequently wrote a report on return to Dublin.

Safety

Immediately after the incident, the duty air traffic controller was suspended. He subsequently accepted that "his clearance and terminology was less than professional and, on reflection, "certainly unwise". He has since returned to duty.

However, in his final analysis, the crash investigator Frank Russell also noted that "aviation safety is not one dimensional, nor is ATC responsible for safety alone".

He said that pilots bear an equal share of responsibility and a healthy and professional interaction ensues between pilots and ATC.

"On this occasion, that neither pilot saw fit to question the ATC clearance, or express any , was an unfortunate lapse of airmanship". The investigator noted that the incident was a breach of standard air traffic procedures.

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:11 pm
by OnTheNumbers
Interesting how the pilots make the headline on that one.

What I also find interesting is that the senior pilot never said anything at the time but filed a report once he got back to Dublin.

I feel sorry for the pilot of the Cessna; he gave ATC an option to change the outcome by offering to orbit which was rejected. Maybe I'm missing some of the facts but I would consider that his suggestion of an orbit was an implicit questioning of the clearance.

I'm not 100% sure if in the RT presence of an ATCO and Aer Lingus Capt & FO, professionals who I would assume know more than me, that I would not have done the same thing.

I know now what I will say.

David

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:42 pm
by hibby
I also would have accepted the instruction, without a doubt. I would have been in exactly the same position as the Cessna pilot who
thought that while the circumstances of the landing were unusual, he complied with the instructions of the controller, who he felt was being helpful.
As an inexperienced pilot flying into an unfamiliar airport, if I receive an instruction, even an "unusual" one from the controller, I will have a strong presumption that the instruction is correct and in line with local procedures.

In this case, we are told there was a stationary Aer Lingus airbus at the runway threshold waiting to depart.

Thinking about how this could be dangerous, I can see two risks:
- that the airbus would commence its take-off roll before the Cessna had landed and exited the runway, resulting in a collision;
- that the Cessna would "land short" and collide with the stationary airbus.

I can see how the Cessna pilot could evaluate the likelihood of these outcomes and make a reasonable judgement that it was safe to continue his approach and land as instructed.

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:44 pm
by jonkil
OnTheNumbers wrote: I feel sorry for the pilot of the Cessna; he gave ATC an option to change the outcome by offering to orbit which was rejected. Maybe I'm missing some of the facts but I would consider that his suggestion of an orbit was an implicit questioning of the clearance.

I'm not 100% sure if in the RT presence of an ATCO and Aer Lingus Capt & FO, professionals who I would assume know more than me, that I would not have done the same thing.

I know now what I will say.

David
Completely agree David,
The cessna pilot did obviously see a flaw with the instruction he was given to the point of offering to orbit, which was declined. I also agree with you that you "probably" would have obeyed the instruction, I would "probably" have done it too. If the instruction would have come from A/G station or from a "XXXX radio" then I think you would decline the offer to continue and do what you believe to be correct. The fact that the instruction came from ATCO in controlled airspace is the issue I see here, if the cessna pilot would have done what the report stated he should have done, then I guarantee the airport would have reprimanded him too........ The road we PPL's tread is littered with broken glass, the trick is to avoid most of it, but as this shows it is almost inevitable that we run over a bit of it.... the good thing is that the cut this time was not too big....... will be interesting to see what other pilots think.

Jon

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:03 pm
by michael747
Personally, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable landing over an A320, or any aircraft as a matter of fact...
What if he did have an engine failure on short finals…..
The Aer Lingus pilot certainly wouldn’t have known about it until it had hit the Airbus….
Nor would he have been able to get rolling in time

It was not an inexperienced pilot in the Cessna, he had 360hrs of which 170 were on type, And the crew in the A320 were certainly not inexperienced… The ATCO makes me scratch my head… Maybe he was inexperienced....
It’s beyond belief that any of the pilots actually did agree to the situation, Especially an A320 Captain…

If it was about 10 years ago then there would probably not have been a thing wrong with it,
But it’s a fact that things have changed for a very good reason (Everybody’s safety).

I wonder what the passengers would have thought about the situation if they ever knew???? And they still don’t know to this day I’d say…
I don’t think they'd even be happy in that situation and most of them were probably not aviation minded at all and still saw the consequences or what ifs…

Here's the official AAIU incident report:
http://www.aaiu.ie/AAIUviewitem.asp?id= ... G&loc=1652

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:28 pm
by OnTheNumbers
To be fair Jonkill, I don't know the the C172 pilot would necessarily have been repremanded by the ATCo if he didn't land when cleared but I take your point.

Michael, I'm not sure I'd call 360 hours particulaly experienced and definitely not in the company he was in but that's a personal opinion I suppose.
I know you said you wouldn't have felt comfortable about landing over the A320 but if you were in that position; if your offer of an orbit was declined, you were cleared to land and were requested to land long, do you think you might have done the same?

Michael, I'm not sure it's beyond belief that any of the pilots did what they did - it's a fairly straightforward human factors issue. I think what probably happened was that the pilots thought because ATC was issuing permission that ATC "had control" whereas the reality is that the C172 had the final command decision. I think we "mere" PPLs forget that sometimes.

I guess an important point for PPLs to take from this is that; even in controlled airspace, a clearance to land is just that: a clearance, not an instruction. Be it a C172 or a VP-1 we're the one in command.

David

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:14 pm
by jonkil
All agreed David, and yes indeed we are the ones with the final say... this may go to reinforce this in my mind for one, it's just when the clearance was received from an ATCO.......
Also 360 hours isn't really that much in hours terms, I am near the 800 hour mark and I will be learning for the rest of my flying life :!: ... it's just with hours comes experience, and situations like this can be avoided.
The whole thing was just an un-fortunate chain of events that finally led up to this, the irony is that it is commonplace at airfields throughout the country..... have you ever been to the microlight rally at Popham in Hampshire in May... now that gives new meaning to land long and over the aircraft in front !!.... granted that you don't get clearances but 30 on finals is great craic !

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:17 pm
by michael747
OnTheNumbers wrote:I know you said you wouldn't have felt comfortable about landing over the A320 but if you were in that position; if your offer of an orbit was declined, you were cleared to land and were requested to land long, do you think you might have done the same?
Maybe the terminology was incorrect then, It says he offered! Which means it was in his head that it was wrong to be doing so. So maybe he should have REQUESTED an orbit until the AC was departed off the active runway.

PS: I don't think i would have done the same OTN

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:21 pm
by StrikeCommand
Perhaps he should have used his callsign or a/c registration - NFW - No F***ing Way!

Note that incident report says wind was 200/13kts on RWY 27 - this was a good old crosswind - possibly close to the limit for a 172 would it not?

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:04 pm
by Whisky Tango
As I see it there were two wrongs - that of the controller and that of the pilot, the greater of which was the pilot's - he was ultimately responsible for the safe execution of the flight, from start up in Galway to shutdown in Knock. A controller can give you any instruction he/she likes, but a pilot must REFUSE to comply if they put him or anybody else in danger. All the pilot had to do was reject the landing clearance on safety grounds and I'm sure the controller would not have argued the point.

Still though, what was the controller thinking??!! :roll:

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:50 pm
by OSCAR BRAVO
Its strange how the controller advised the aer lingus pilot of what was happening and he made no reply,yet,he made a report on return to Dublin.could he not have asked the tower to send NFW on a overshoot/go around.the controller,while wrong was just been helpful(in his mind) and taking advantage of a long runway.NFW landed towards the 09 end of RWY 27,thats well down the runway and he would of been well over DVF. of course it could of ended up different.

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:53 pm
by ifty
StrikeCommand wrote:Note that incident report says wind was 200/13kts on RWY 27 - this was a good old crosswind - possibly close to the limit for a 172 would it not?
Dunno but I have been in one with an instructor with 25kts or so at 90 degrees or so....

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:50 am
by MCRO
Taking into account the huge amount of airspace available for a safe approach,Need the landing Cessna have passed any closer to the waiting Airbus than he would had the Airbus been waiting at the Holding Point?

Maurice

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:08 am
by tu154
Couple of thoughts.
1. If a controller instructed you to fly into terrain/cloud/the sea/another aircraft, would you?
2. UNABLE TO COMPLY, GOING AROUND!

The PIC is responsible for the safe conduct of the flight, if a controller gives an instruction that might contravene that, it's the PICs job to decline the clearance and request one that works better.

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:14 pm
by Whisky Tango
MCRO wrote:Taking into account the huge amount of airspace available for a safe approach,Need the landing Cessna have passed any closer to the waiting Airbus than he would had the Airbus been waiting at the Holding Point?

Maurice
But in that case the Airbus wouldn't have been on his flighpath.....except of course he decided to take a dive to the right or left at the last minute. Flying over is a different story...windshear, engine failure, etc. could easily cause increased sink rate down onto the bus.

Also, why would anybody in their right mind land towards the far end of the runway?? I know it was long but no use having most of it behind him!