Anybody care to comment on the potential consequences of a controller placing the fire engines on standby for an aircraft on finals during a strong crosswind. The experienced PIC did not indicate that he was in any way concerned and this decision was made by the controller without the PIC being informed during the landing (greaser) or afterwards and the PIC was totally unaware of it until a few days later when one of the fireman involved mentioned it to a club member. Reason for the question is that it was reported to the CAA by a disgruntled FI who has his own beefs against the PIC.
So what is the real issue? Reading between the lines there are some clear politics at work. Its all about being safe - if there was no accident then there is nothing (at face value) for the CAA to be involved with. If the air traffic controller thought that there was some risk to the pilot, perhaps from how he appeared to be flying, or from the crosswind exceeding the published limits for a particular aircraft type (and the air traffic controller knowing the limits for that type, perhaps through personal experience) then the air traffic controller was in my opinion right to work on the side of caution and having the fire services on standby was a positive move. They were not needed and will no doubt treat the whole incident as some "practice" which ensures they remain effective and ready for a real incident.
The pilots ego may be bruised, so what?.... at the end of the day the rescue services were not needed. if they had been then they would have been on scene in seconds rather than minutes. Perhaps even the difference between life or death.
It's a perfectly normal and standard practise - called a weather standby. Very often the crew know nothing about it because the fire vehicles stay in the station abut are crewed up and ready to go. At some airports the vehicles will move out of the station to specific standby points - it's all about increased risk (however you might want to qualify it) and mitigation measures to improve response times if something does go wrong. No reflection on the pilot's ability or the robustness of the aeroplane!
On the other hand at my local 'major' airport there is at least one type where ATC and the fire team keep a close eye on all landings and routinely attend if conditions are difficult. They have had to retrieve this type from the grass a few times and nothing will convince them it is not going to happen this time.
From what the OP says though it looks to be a lot more about egos than anything else. Or it there more pertinent detail?
It's been done to me twice that I know of. Once coming in for a difficult approach in a strong and gusty crosswind, I noticed a fire engine had been deployed as I turned finals. I wasn't told, it just happened. A second time I had a funny vibration in my engine just after take-off, and called an immediate tight circuit and landing just in case; again, a fire engine became visible - that time about when I turned base.
After both good landings (phew!) I made a point of thanking the tower as I taxied to park. This was different years, different airports.
Anybody who has an issue with this being done, has an attitude problem that they need to deal with. The tower controller in both my cases was absolutely spot on - as they were in the case being talked about here.
I think I've managed to frighten ATC into sending out the fire trucks three times!
One was after making two approaches to different runways and failing to land off each in gusty crosswinds, no problem on the third attempt. One was after reporting an engine hiccough downwind. Don't remember what the third one was about.
FWIW, I remember an F50 circling its home base at EBAW with some doubts about the nose gear properly extended and locked. I heard the pilot manifest "Antwerp Tower, we are NOT declaring an emergency" but even so not only the airport's fire engines were lining the runway but also some nearby municipal teams turned up. Tower wasn't taking chances, and who could blame them?
What the ATC do with thier AFS has got nothing to do with the PIC.
I have also in the past been a bit narked at the blues and twos circus. But have come round to the fact its thier toy set and 9 times out of 10 its used as training and also to cover there own arses. So not a problem would like to know though so I can brief the pax or don't stop thinking someone else is having problems.
As for the report to the CAA, just forget about it. There is major miss-understanding about what a MOR actually is and for that matter what happens to it after you send it in.
Its not there as a report to the head master, it is a statistical collection device. Most MOR's at catorgory E or something like that which means they go on file and forgotten about. ATC have other forms if you bust the ANO thankfully something I know nothing about.
Using "I am going to MOR you" is farcical as a threat. My responce would be "crack on" in the UK.
What the ATC do with thier AFS has got nothing to do with the PIC.
In one direction only.
If ATC decide to deploy the AFS on a whim, for a training exercise, or just a mildly uneasy feeling, that is absolutely their right and privilege.
If the pilot declares an emergency, asks for a fire engine to be on standby for any reason that seems reasonable to them - then it should be there UNLESS the watch commander decides that safety is better served by doing things in a better way that they understand with their professional experience and training.
If I ask, as PiC airborne and inbound, for a fire engine, it had damned well better be there.
"Antwerp Tower, we are NOT declaring an emergency"
Is there some sort of stigma of shame attached to declaring an emergency? or even allowing someone to declare one on your behalf? I have not yet declared one in my miserable 200 hrs, does that make me a better pilot?
Reason for the question is that it was reported to the CAA by a disgruntled FI who has his own beefs against the PIC.
What exactly was reported to CAA? The Tower controller nearly pressed the crash button? The pilot was flying in a crosswind? The FI doesn't like the PIC? Seems to me that someone needs to grow up.
I think the word Fire would garantee you a fire engine G well in the Uk at least.
Does seem strange though that some airports you can come in with say a hydralic failure and all hell lets loose. Yet others there seems to be little if any fuss.
The strangest one I have had was the seal blew out on the door at FL200 with 300 miles to run . We desended down to FL100 and had enough fuel to get to destination, passing on the way at least 5 international sized diverts.
When we landed the whole lot was out including the AFS incident burger van. Would have thought that flying for over an hour after decending due pressurisation failure would sort of tell them that the full monty wasn't required for landing. Can only presume that the AFS had done something to piss off ATC and it was a good excuse to make there dinner cold and stop them watching eastenders.
Can understand the FI being narked if the PIC was flying the aircraft with an x-wind out of club limits but only if he'd departed knowing it was likely to be out of limits on return. Even so a quiet word in his ear should have been enough.
As for fire trucks etc, only ever had it once in my life but given the way I fly I'd be very happy to have them around for every landing!
Agree MJ, most GA aircraft 'demonstrated limits' are worthless but a couple of clubs I've flown with over the years have club imposed x-wind limits.
Even so these are usualy enforced with a bit of common sense, fair enough if you only have 50hrs on a mint PPL then 15kts is probably a sensible limit but for someone with hundreds of hours on type on something like a C172 double that limit is do-able without too much stress....
Last edited by Unusual Attitude; 4th Jun 2012 at 10:46.