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Old 18th May 2019, 23:12
  #283 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Denver
Posts: 961
Originally Posted by aterpster View Post
What really bothers me is the FAA ATC policy to place aircraft separation ahead of assuring separation from terrain. The controller should have climb EVA to prevent it from going below an area where MVAs became higher than EVA's assign altitude.

I find that absolutely appalling.
I'm totally in sympathy with your position in this (and subsequent) posts. After all, miss another aircraft by 100 feet - and everyone survives (absent panic). Miss a part of a mountain by 100 feet - and the odds are good you still hit another part of the mountain.

It is, however, the stated primary function of ATC to prevent aircraft-aircraft collisions. All innovations and "tombstone engineering" of the ATC system over many decades have been based on that proposition. Pilots are responsible for not hitting the ground, and ATC is responsible for pilots not hitting other aircraft.

And there is a certain logic to that: collide with another plane, and two planeloads of people die. Collide with a mountain, and we only lose one aircraft. Given that ATC is not exactly underworked and sitting around with free time on their hands, something has to give, and so the policy is "other aircraft first!"

Fortunately, pilots (some at least) are getting better tools to hold up their end (EGPWS, 3D cockpit maps, etc.). It may be more a question of better arranging when and how a PIC can depart from an ATC clearance that has them heading for terrain, and training on how important it is to do that, and not let "ATC Authority Gradient" put one at risk. "Unable maintain 6000, terrain - climbing to 8000 right now! Get 'em out of my way!"
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