View Full Version : UnitedX CRJ go-around at uncontrolled airport

5th Mar 2008, 05:33

Some extra details from the print edition:

"......Express flight ....came within 300 or 400 feet of a smaller plane on the runway before climbing away"

"Air traffic controllers in Denver cleared the smaller plane to take off because they thought the United Express plane had landed. United Express pilot radioed controllers that the plane was “on deck,” meaning it would be the next to land, but the controllers thought he meant “on the deck,” or on the ground.

The United Express crew was communicating with controllers in Denver, about 100 miles southeast, because Yampa Valley does not have a control tower."

5th Mar 2008, 11:53
Maybe they should start using standard phraseology in America.

5th Mar 2008, 19:42
From your linked article: Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Dave Ruppel says traffic controllers in Denver had cleared the small plane for takeoff after the United Express pilots apparently reported they were already on the ground before they had actually landed.Without more specific information I'm going to assume that the journalist incorrectly characterized the airport manager's remarks to mean the CRJ crew advised ATC they were on the ground at HDN when in reality they likely canceled their IFR clearance while still airborne, which would allow ATC to issue the takeoff clearance to the King Air. A perfectly normal and run off the mill situation at uncontrolled airports throughout the US.

Also, I don't see any reference to "on the deck" in the linked article, has the wording been changed since your original post?

5th Mar 2008, 20:10
Maybe they should start using standard phraseology in America.Maybe uncontrolled should mean uncontrolled.

5th Mar 2008, 20:49
Lasiorhinus is right, and alot of my Canadian colleagues need to start doing it too.

DC2 slf
5th Mar 2008, 21:25
MU3100A couldn't find "on the deck".
The original post asserted it was in the print edition of the newspaper.

6th Mar 2008, 04:21
Agreed... a case of confused slang/metaphors

"On deck" from American baseball, meaning "next up, next in line, next to land" as opposed to nautical "on the deck".

"On the ground, clear of active, cancel IFR" is not as sexy and snappy - but does wonders in avoiding those sudden pull-ups or embarassing crunching sounds....

6th Mar 2008, 06:47
I agree!
Baseball talk should stay on AM radio, and STANDARD phraseology should be used when flying - even if ti doesn't sound that cool...

Next time they might just get the third "strike"!


6th Mar 2008, 06:57
FAR-AIM states clearly that an applicant for a licence should be able to read, speak and understand the ENGLISH language. Makes you wonder how most Americans managed to get a licence in the first place... Incoming!

The Sandman
6th Mar 2008, 09:34
Yeah, sure makes you wonder just how those thick cowboy yanks manage to safely operate 87,000 flights a day in an aviation market that makes the UK's 6000 per day (including all overflights to/from the obviously blighted North American continent) fairly pale in comparison. It's clearly pure luck that all those high density operations in the northeast corridor in some of the severest winter weather conditions imaginable don't result in utter carnage and calamity. They obviously need a sanctimonious pompous holier-than-thou git like the previous poster to straighten things out over there.
Get your CV going Olliew, they NEED you - or as Borat might say - NOT!

6th Mar 2008, 09:37
So who wrote the FAR-AIM? If it "clearly states", someone in the US must speak proper English.

But how all those Americans can meet the requirement baffles me. Of course I assume you refer to all the Mexicans, French speaking Canadiens, Portugese speaking Brazilians etc. Or are you talking about people from the US? It appears your message may not have conveyed the intended message. If I were to assume that you are talking about people from the US when you talk about Americans, I would interpret your post differently. Please be clear in your communications so that we avoid misunderstandings.

But your message is not clear to me as a non-native English speaker.

Want to pick nits some more???

6th Mar 2008, 12:08
Slow down Sandman you'll give yourself a nose bleed. The Devils Advocat attitude was there to encourage a debate, not a tirade. Having gathered 800 hours plus of instruction given and a few hours in other types of commercial flying in varied parts of the world I would concede that in general the system works remarkably well.

6th Mar 2008, 18:51
This whole thing seems like a non-issue. Especially as it is being reported by the local paper. Many times these small cities are trying to lobby for a control tower, and sensationalizing something like this is a good way to try and get FAA funding for a control tower. From what I read it sounds as simple as:

1) Landing aircraft canceled IFR on approach.
2) Departing aircraft received IFR release.
3) Departing aircraft took runway
4) Landing aircraft performed Go Around.

It isn't like this sort of thing never happens t controlled fields either.

Sounds like the only issue is the lack of comm. or late comm. on the CTAF.

6th Mar 2008, 19:37
coz96 seems to have it correct.

I wish slang had never been invented. if you are not " with it " (slang), you aren't cool, and if there is anything a pilot wants to be , it is cool.

and people yell at me for saying "wilco", "fife", "fo-wer" and the like. you should be uncool for using slang on the radio.

Some of the problem in the article is a journalist who has to edit remarks for non pilots. To have the journalist explain the difference between a takeoff clearance and an IFR release/clearance would take more room than a newspaper has to spare for an article.

6th Mar 2008, 20:43
Speaking of picking nits...

...which would allow ATC to issue the takeoff clearance to the King Air...
...Air traffic controllers in Denver cleared the smaller plane to take off because they thought the United Express plane had landed...

When I first heard mention of this story, that's one of the things that irked me. The Center is not issuing takeoff clearances to anyone. Given that the article(s) couldn't manage to get that right, I don't know why one would expect them to differentiate between being short final, landing and cancelling IFR. :ugh:

What's more, perhaps I don't get away from controlled airports enough, but in some 35 years of flying and doing ATC, I've never heard the phrase "on deck" used to indicate that an aircraft was next to land. "On the deck" (which I'd clarify to ensure that the a/c was on the ground) or "on the ground" or "canceling IFR" I've heard a lot. Further, keep in mind that, as the controller, if an IFR aircraft reports that he's next in line to land at an uncontrolled airport, that is of no use to me. In fact, I'd be wondering why he was telling me that instead of communicating on the CTAF because I've still got to protect him as IFR until he cancels or lands. Given that there is obvious potential for him running afoul of local VFRs operating on and around the airport, he needs to be communicating with them, not me, unless he wants to cancel.

I do wonder whether he cancelled IFR with the Center and then broadcast "on deck" on the CTAF, which the departure heard as "on the deck..." The Denver Center tapes will clear up what happened on the Centers freq anyway...

6th Mar 2008, 23:18
Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. Airport in sight, cancel IFR. In this case, CTAF or VFR pertain. TCAS over ATC? Er, Fly the Plane.

7th Mar 2008, 00:13
I'm totally confused. I'm a soloed student and I fly my little 2-seater in and out of a large uncontrolled airport. Everything from 747's, C-130's, bizjets and helicopters fly in and out all the time. It's uncontrolled. I *never* talk to ATC. I presume the other planes never talk to ATC. We self-announce on CTAF, fly the pattern and scan for traffic. No problem.

What is the thing with ATC about? Did I miss something in my training?

7th Mar 2008, 00:33
Grumpy... It's an IFR thing - for precisely the reason this incident demonstrated.

ATC that is directing IFR operations at a remote uncontrolled airport**** generally only allows ONE ---IFR--- operation to be happening at a time in the airspace immediately around that airport (no effect on VFR planes).

The King Air (another IFR flight) was supposed to wait in the runup area until getting a "release" from Denver ATC - and ATC was not supposed to give that release until the United Express jet confirmed that it was on the ground or cancelling its own IFR.

Unclear language led the controllers to believe the jet had landed and give the King Air its release - while the jet was still on final approach (and perhaps in clouds or low visibility, not visible to the King Air).

Result - two planes trying to use the same strip of concrete at the same moment.

Your experience at your uncontrolled airport would have been rather different if you gone out there on a day with a 500'-ceiling and 1-mile visibility. There would have been no planes flying except on IFR flight plans under very strict rules and instructions.

**** Denver Center is in Longmont - about 90 NM east of the Steamboat airport, and on the other side of a 14,000' mountain range

7th Mar 2008, 02:27
Thanks pattern. That does indeed explain it.

8th Mar 2008, 05:46
There has been a significant slide in radio discipline and standard phraseology in the US in the last few years. I lay the blame for this on the hiring practices of the regional airlines. Too many 500 hr wonders.

8th Mar 2008, 17:54
Sounds like a bunch of Yahoo's trying to be another Howard Stern.
There are some real clows flying RJ's is the U.S.of A.

Gipsy Queen
8th Mar 2008, 18:54
"Maybe they should start using standard phraseology in America". Iwish I knew how to do those quote-box thingies . .

I recently went as PAX SFO/PHL on the first aircraft I have met which allowed the flightdeck to connect the usual passenger audio to ground communications. Having not flown commercially in the US, I found this fascinating.

I was very impressed by the efficient manner in which a huge volume of traffic was handled by Oakland and others. However, I was a good deal less impressed by the general standard of RT procedures employed.

"Up from seventeen to thirty eight and a half, Yankee123". This was more intelligible than some of the transmissions.

VHF is anything but HiFi and clarity of reception seldom is wonderful which is why one tends to listen for expected phrases and instructions couched in standard terms rather than assimilate every individual word. This arrangement works well enough provided the standard terms and procedures are exclusively employed. Going beyond these, particularly when regional accents and other unfamiliar conditions are factored in, is inviting misunderstanding.

It is rather inconsistent to castigate foreigners for failure to observe international standards whilst permitting this level of laxity in airspace which is full of non-domestic traffic.:=

This sort of thing might be considered "cool". In my day it was "hip". Not likely to make a lot of difference either way to a Chinaman methinks. And it applies equally to Lee Bob in his CRJ going into Tuscaloosa as it does to some urbane character climbing out of LAX in his Triple Seven.;)

Old Fella
9th Mar 2008, 04:00
All seems pretty simple to me. Many aircraft accidents over the years have been found to have been caused by the use of non-standard radio calls leading to confusion, not only between different aircraft crews, but often ATC-Crew comms.

Being "cool" is fine, however when it comes to issuing instructions - clearances etc, and acknowledgment of same, there is no substitute for standard phraseology. It simply removes any ambiguity, FULLSTOP!

9th Mar 2008, 13:49
Also apparent was that one of the planes wasn't using or monitoring the Unicom frequency.

Mikhail Sharpowicz
10th Mar 2008, 11:34
Well at least the small aircraft was cleared to enter the runway, unlike a certain AA 777? I remember at manchester in about 2000. Poor BA pilot about half a mile out at the time looked a bit upset when this lumbering beast handbrake-turned onto the runway with the engines spooling up to full power.:eek: I've never seen tyres folded almost onto the rims before or since!!!

10th Mar 2008, 17:06
Well at least the small aircraft was cleared to enter the runway

Again, no it wasn't. :ugh: Denver Center provided an IFR release to the aircraft. It did not clear it for takeoff or "to enter the runway." It can't, it wouldn't, it didn't. It is an uncontrolled airport, and having gotten an IFR release, the pilot would be expected to tune back to the airport advisory frequency and talk to local traffic before taking the runway.

I'd expect to hear the Denver ARTCC tapes this week...


11th Mar 2008, 00:21
As av8boy pointed out, just because you have an IFR ATC clearance from an uncontrolled (no-tower) airport does not provide any safety at the airport from anyone except other IFR traffic. There could be many VFR aircraft runing around the surface or in the pattern that ATC has no knowledge about. A good example is South Lake Tahoe. Oakland center has a remote freq at the unoccupied tower. Business jets call get thier clearance and normally get a hold for release. They are told to call when taxing for a release. They call and get their release and then question why the Cessna 182 is in the way for the runway. We tell them not our problem, they are the only IFR aircraft but it is up to them to stay away from the VFR's. This becomes a real mess when the IFR traffic does not go back to the Unicom prior to takeoff and departs rwy 36 while an aircraft is landing rwy 18 which is normal ops. It seems some pilots presume ATC is providing seperation service just like when a tower is open. Nothing could be further from the truth.

11th Mar 2008, 07:09
I once heard a United 747 contact approach frequency at a major Australian airport:

"Melbourne Approach United XXX, outa 8 and a half for 6 and I gotta tell ya we're a little beefed up at the moment."

A somewhat puzzled response ensued from the Approach controller.

I was equally puzzled and queried friend of mine from the US and he said that United had probably breached the 250kt below 10000 speed restriction. Oh, of course, and here I was thinking he was requesting a holding pattern because the F/O hadn't finished his crew meal...

Yeah, standard phraseology could be improved on by US pilots...

Check Airman
11th Mar 2008, 13:13
IF the data here is correct so far, I hope the PNF got a stern talking to. R/T over here is downright disgraceful sometimes. ATC is fines, but many pilots leave MUCH to be desired:

ATC: ABC123, contact approach on 132.25
ABC123: "thirty two and a quarter, ABC123"


I won't kill a guy for omitting the leading "1", but jeez...take some pride in your R/T.

Check Airman
11th Mar 2008, 20:09
I was downwind and told by tower to continue to the first 'black top' before turning base......I'm a brit, looked puzzled at my instructor,but even my yank instructor hadn't a clue what he meant......seems thats CB talk for a road..............:rolleyes:

Mind if I ask where in the US this happened?

13th Mar 2008, 23:17
Black top is not standard English. It is a local colloquialism that has no place in aviation. You answered your own question "most people in the US..."

Not everyone flying in the US is from the US. And not all aviators are "most people".

The point about standard phraseology is that ALL pilots understand it without question.

14th Mar 2008, 01:44
I shouldn't be so shocked at the rotten radio phraseology.
But for you good guys and gals out there, if you want to be good at your chosen profession, BUY A COPY OF THE AIM (aeronautical information manual) and you will find clear examples of radio phrases and a pilot-controller glossary of words used in aviation.

example: WILCO

and the example at south lake tahoe is a good one (KTVL). I've flown for two airlines in the 80's that served KTVL. Back then, there was an active control tower. IT IS proof positive that aviation is getting darn sloppy for someone flying a jet to not understand how an IFR release at an uncontrolled airport works.

I'm still trying to figure out that beef business going into australia by that united pilot. and as to the black top bit, I've heard worse, but not much.

14th Mar 2008, 02:05
rather than have any of you guys spend money, look up the following on google.

the first web site listed will allow you to download the pilot controller glossary for free.


google the above and you will have something to read. words in bold face are used on the radio.

there is much more to being a good pilot than just being able to get the plane into the air and down on the ground again.

14th Mar 2008, 09:48
At least some attempt at Standard English would be nice. I can live with "Position and hold" but using "blacktop" and "on the deck" in our line of work..no thanks.

BTW, not aviation but as an example of the common language myth how about: "I stopped to bum a fag and then drove off in my lorry (which goes like a bomb) but made sure I didn't drive on the pavement".......perfectly clear to some here I'm sure but to other 'English" speakers, perhaps not :E

14th Mar 2008, 10:36

Do you think everyone know's what.... Apple and Pears means or Cream Crackered or Dog and Bone ??

Perhaps we should recommend the London controllers to start using their local slang, When you've finished learning that don't forget the other local slang from Brum, Gordie-land, Scotland, the Welsh language, ETC ETC. and that's just the U.K. - next would be Europe and that wouldn't even be in English.

Did I know what Black top was before I read it on here ? Like hell I did. For all I knew he could have been talking about the colour of someone's tee-shirt.:\

14th Mar 2008, 14:26
Some guy approaches a field and sees another plane on the runway so he goes around. So what? Happens all the time. Was he low on fuel? He didn't say so. No big deal!!!!:mad:

Someone please terminate this thread.

14th Mar 2008, 14:27
This thread has opened up my eyes about how badly things are going out there in flying land.

I hope that the next time one of our forum members is given such instructions, just say: unfamiliar, say distance from airport for turning point.

I grew up flying at KPAO. Words like "SLAC" "midspan" and red roofs were all reporting points on the VFR terminal area chart*. As an instructor I taught my students that this was fine for our little home airport. But in the real world, one must quickly be able to say your position, VFR, in terms of the compass and distance. EG: Seven miles south of the airport.

Not by way of an excuse, but ever since the controllers went on strike (over 25 years ago) and were fired (employment terminated) the FAA has never really caught up.

I would like to know about "sucking eggs", and while I thougth bumbing a fag was begging for a cigarette and a lorry was a truck, I don't know what going off the pavement means.

There is a great old song that includes the lyrics, "while you've a lucifier to light your fag", in this, the word lucifier means a common match (ignition source)

*by the way: SLAC means stanford linear accelerator, RED ROOFS was the university itself (distinctive spanish style roofs) and Midspan was the middle of a significant nearby transbay bridge (dumbarton)