View Full Version : Controllers scared to help aircraft in distress????

clear to land
19th Dec 2002, 02:53
Extract from the December 2002 Business and Commercial Aviation (McGraw-Hill Publication) Interview with John Carr: President of the National Controllers Association(USA).

2.Q: The Bush administration has signalled it would like to privatise ATC as has been done in Canada and elsewhere. What's your reaction?

A: Privatisation is doomed to fail. Worldwide, privatised systems are in crisis. In Canada fees are up, sectors are closed and the controllers are threatening labor action. The British goverments decision to sell off this safety related function has created a huge case of buyers remorse. And a memo leaked from Australia recommended that ATC severely limit service to aircraft in distress because of liability concerns.. Ours is the safest most efficient system in the world, the gold standard. Why change this dynamic? For the almighty dollar? END QUOTE.

My questions: has anyone here heard of this memo? Obviously not for public consumption. As pilots is there anyone we can address concerns about this too?: and realistically expect answers that are satisfactory. I will assume that line controllers are unhappy about this, and it is a management generated decision.

Also, this would indicate to me that Australians are apparantly living in a more litigious society than the US. Now thats frightening!

19th Dec 2002, 03:29
Many policies/rules are an arse covering exercise. It's yet another way managers get to do nothing, and justify it by saying " but the liability....."

The really sad thing is in some cases it is justified. Piper had to have special laws in place in order for it to continue building aircraft- to prevent the families of downed pilots using shotgun litigation against anyone their lawyers thought might be able to pay. It is us, the public, who allow things to incrementally deteriorate to this point.

19th Dec 2002, 04:25
Yeah I remember something about his 2 years ago... There was a write up in a publication (magazine etc) that detailed an aircraft crash where the pilot was not provided with vectors out of a VFR into cloud scenario. The pilot was killed and the controllers citied an apparent inability to provide information in certain situations. From memory there was the consideration that radar vectors in that circumstance would have exacerbated the problem the VFR pilot already faced. I think the aircraft was in the hills NW of Williamtown, and the controllers were military... This 'leak' might be a misinterpretation of some military directive.

The story's all a bit scetchy I'm afraid, and I haven't heard anything similar since...


The Crimson Fruitbat
19th Dec 2002, 05:07
Are you thinking of the accident near Amberley QLD (26 Jun 00)? Its ATSB Occurrence No is: 199904842

ATSB Findings (http://www.atsb.gov.au/aviation/occurs/occurs_detail.cfm?ID=71)

19th Dec 2002, 08:00
Ahhh Crimson One,

I knew I could count on you to refresh the good chap's memory on that regretable incident. I wonder what that particular controller is doing these days? I guess they probably promoted him if past form is anything to go by. He's probably in charge of RAAF CRM! ;)

Cook me some eggs Bitch!
19th Dec 2002, 09:38
Yep, utterly 100% the controllers fault 'Intrepid'.

Never the pilots fault, oh no.

Turbine shreds inflight; controllers fault!
Wing falls off; controllers fault!
Pluto is sucked into a giant Black Hole; controllers fault!

Now reading that ATSB report (which maybe you should do), yes maybe the controller could have done a better job .But why did the pilot continue on even after saying the weather was crap over Goondiwindi to an associate in Lightning Ridge on a mobile phone a full hour before the accident?

A terrible accident with the sad loss of life, but dont go and solely blame the controllers.

The Crimson Fruitbat
20th Dec 2002, 02:26
I mean't (nor have a) direction in my post...PERIOD!!!!

I just saw someone grasping for a ref and provided one (probably the wrong one anyway). There is no guilt/blame insinuated nor implied. Systems create accidents - people get caught in the middle.

Whatever anyone thinks , consider:
1. The poor RAF chap who faced a court martial in the UK for the F15 going in ;

2. The poor chap with the recent accident over the border between Suisse/ Deutschland; and,

3. The poor chap/lass caught controlling the accident I referred to (could have had gumby "supervisors" or "management" screaming/ordering opinions or conflicting alternatives etc, let us all leave it alone).

4. ....there but for the grace of god go I

20th Dec 2002, 02:56
Love the username....LOL!

20th Dec 2002, 03:55
Thanks Crimson Fruitbat - that looks familiar... glad it wasn't my over-active imagination! :D

Cook me some eggs bitch, I don't think intrepid was nailing the controller as the sole cause, but the pilot certainly got more than he deserved, and isn't around anymore... If anything the whole issue highlights the potential negative consequences of 'liability' and lawyers playing an ever-increasing role in our society.


20th Dec 2002, 05:52
Maybe we should get some of these smarta*** legal eagles into a cockpit when the **** hits the fan and see how they react without hindsight:mad:

The Crimson Fruitbat
20th Dec 2002, 15:02
If anyone wants an example of how a simple situation can go south in the space of 2.5 minutes on a nice and clear VFR day (and lawyers in a feeding frenzy since all participants - aircrew and ATC - took some heat and the toll was 2 aircraft, 22 houses, numerous cars and 153 dead):

08.59:30 APP: PSA one eighty-two, traffic twelve o'clock, one mile northbound
08.59:35 RDO-1: We're looking
08.59:30 APP: PSA one eighty-two, additional traffic's, ah, twelve o'clock, three miles just north of the field northwestbound, a Cessna one seventy-two climbing VFR out of one thousand four hundred.
08:59:50 RDO-2: Okay, we've got that other twelve.
08.59:57 APP: Cessna seven seven one one golf, San Diego departure radar contact, maintain VFR conditions at or below three thousand five hundred, fly heading zero seven zero, vector final approach course,
09.00:16 APP: PSA one eighty-two, traffic's at twelve o'clock, three miles out of one thousand seven hundred.
09.00:21 CAM-2: Got'em.
09.00:22 RDO-1: Traffic in sight.
09.00:23 APP: Okay, sir, maintain visual separation, contact Lindbergh tower one three three point three, have a nice day now.
09.00:28 RDO-1 CAM-2: Flaps five
09.00:43 CAM-1: Is that the one we're looking at.
09.00:43 CAM-2: Yeah, but I don't see him now.
09.00:44 RDO-1: Okay, we had it there a minute ago.
09.00:47 TWR: One eighty-two, roger.
09.00:50 RDO-1: I think he's pass(sed) off to our right.
09.00:51 TWR: Yeah.
09.00:52 CAM-1: He was right over here a minute ago.
09.00:53 TWR: How far are you going to take your downwind one eighty-two, company traffic is waiting for departure.
09.00:57 RDO-1: Ah probably about three to four miles.
09.00:59 TWR: Okay.
09.01:07 TWR: PSA one eighty-two, cleared to land.
09.01:08 RDO-1: One eighty-two's cleared to land.
09.01:11 CAM-2: Are we clear of that Cessna?
09.01:13 CAM-3: Suppose to be.
09.01:14 CAM-1: I guess.
09.01:20 CAM-4: I hope.
09.01:21 CAM-1: Oh yeah, before we turned downwind, I saw him about one o'clock, probably behind us now.
09.01:45 CAM-1: Whoop!
09.01:46 CAM-2: Aghhh!
09.01:47 CAM: Sound of impact
09.01:49 CAM-1: Easy baby, easy baby.
09.01:51 CAM: [sound of electrical system reactivation tone on cvr, system off less than one second]
09.01:51 CAM-1: What have we got here?
09.01:52 CAM-2: It's bad.
09.01:53 CAM-2: We're hit man, we are hit.
09.01:56 RDO-1: Tower, we're going down, this is PSA.
09.01:57 TWR: Okay, we'll call the equipment for you.
09.01:58 CAM [sound of stall warning]
09.02:04.5 CAM [end of recording]

Report: B727/C172 25th September 1978 (http://www.airdisaster.com/special/special-psa182.shtml)

21st Dec 2002, 10:22
This is the system being haled as "world's best practice" by the purveyors of NAS (an even worse system, disguised as this system).

23rd Dec 2002, 20:01
Just the other day heard a"pan call"- my first in over 30 yrs flying- RAAF Callsign Envoy-with little Johnny aboard. The Mel. controller handled the whole thing in a calm cool manner Well done!

28th Dec 2002, 00:19
Cook me some eggs (great nic by the way),

You are absolutely correct. As both an active controller and active private pilot I have the luxury of being able to assess incidents from both sides of the microphone. I grant you the pilot in that incident did seem to have a severe case of 'pushonitis' however I have spoken to friends who were in the approach room that day who cringe every time they recall the 'impatient and demanding' tone in the voice of the controller concerned.

In my previous post I guess I was just trying to highlight the inadequecies of an ATC system which rewards those who are less than proficient at the console. I apologise as it was a bit of an 'in joke' and you would have to experience life as an ATC operative in that particular environment to understand exactly what I meant. If you do happen to be an ATC operative in that particular environment at the moment then my sympathies are with you.

Keep up the good work.

28th Dec 2002, 09:50
I had to shut one down a couple years back, with a load of punters on board.
We had nothing but execellent help from ATC, they made our life easier and mostly without us requesting it.

For controllers not to face taking a ''situation'' for fear of recrimination, then they are in the wrong profession.

If we were to worry about this, then you would not get out of bed, talk to the DFO or CP, you would not even think about talking to dispatch or the CSM........basically it just would not happen for the fear of putting your foot wrong.

29th Dec 2002, 04:09
You are missing the point, Twotb.

Controllers are not "afraid" of grasping the nettle, it is about following the procedures laid down by the boss. Bit like a pilot "choosing" to follow the company's SOPs. And there can be valid reasons. It is normally a lighty in the deadly-type scenario. He's lost in cloud or whatever; you think you are doing the right thing and offer vectors, or even trying to figure out landmarks. Have you considered the lowest safe (which isn't displayed on your radar), are there cells about (which aren't displayed on your radar) etc. etc. It's these things that the suits worry about (with perfect 20-20 hindsight). They would prefer you to just tell him where he is (using words such as 'probable', 'unverified' etc.) and leave it at that.

When those 'procedures' laid down by the boss change every 2 weeks, when refresher training (oops, did I mention the war?)isn't conducted in order to save money, when the unions' legal advice differs significantly from the bosses'................etc............etc...........
Get the picture?

30th Dec 2002, 19:46
I've never been able to figure this - cells not displayed on radar? Why not, for God's sake? And no lowest safe's either? Is this true?

31st Dec 2002, 00:19
Putting in a better wx radar display (dopplar) and slaving it to the traffic display should have happened a long time ago... Not being a controller I don't know the practicalities (or impracticalities) of having the seperate BoM thing on a different screen. But, surely it would be good to have a linked display to use if there are a few storms around, or someone finds themself in a cloud or up a valley at 200 feet.


2nd Jan 2003, 01:28

How would your suggestion help?