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Mooney accident pilot refused a clearance at 6,500'

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Mooney accident pilot refused a clearance at 6,500'

Old 24th Jan 2021, 07:23
  #221 (permalink)  
 
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We're trained to say "no" to many things if it will or may increase workload to a potentially risky level, doesn't matter if you're VFR or IFR. Direct tracking, tracking inbound across outbound routes, block clearance, airwork in the middle of arrival routes, etc & so forth. Not because we're lazy but because we have to be on top of the traffic & can't risk things getting too busy.

Last edited by le Pingouin; 24th Jan 2021 at 07:41.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 07:39
  #222 (permalink)  
 
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LB- No one has thrown the pilot under the bus, he quite deliberately walked out in front of it with his eyes only for the other side of the road. Even the simple act of crossing the road requires certain prerequisites to ensure a safe crossing. Ignore them or disregard them at your own peril.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 08:41
  #223 (permalink)  
 
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I was speaking in more general terms about ATSB reports, LL. You know that.

But even in this case, I can understand why the communications with ATC may have confused the pilot into believing it was OK to fly at 1,000' or below on the track he ended up on. Whilst the pilot should have known the bus was coming, so should have ATC. Only in the Orwellian world of Australian aviation 'safety' can it make sense that there wasn't an added sentence in the ATC comms: "By the way, if you fly at 1,000' AMSL or below over there you're probably going to hit a mountain and die."

Centre seems to me to be able spend time telling IFR aircraft about blips and SSR returns miles separated but converging in G (which is why it isn't real G in Australia), and a lot of time telling blips and SSR returns in G that they are getting close ("two aircraft in vicinity of X. safety alert"). And it's great that that happens. But somehow it's OK for ATC to wash it hands on 'below 1,000' 'guidance' - or whatever that comms was meant to mean - because terrain clearance always remains the VFR pilot's responsibility?

"We're trained to say "no" to many things if it will or may increase workload to a potentially risky level ...". And there it is. We know who judges the potential. And, of course, there is no judgment of whether saying "no" merely moves the "potentially risky level" to an "actually higher risk level", because that's "someone else's" responsibility. And, on the basis of my experience, the outcome would have been different if the callsign had been an ATC mate's aircraft.

This is why in some places and times some grumpy arsehole will presumptively say 'no' to any 'pop up' request for clearance, no matter how busy or idle he is, because .... well, because he can and those pesky pilots should be taught that the AIP means what it says (the relevant provisions having, of course, been written by Airservices), but in other places it's obvious the person is trying his or her best to fit you in. That 'attitude' is felt and means something in some cockpits.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 08:51
  #224 (permalink)  
 
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[T]he trainee assessed that workload and priorities would not permit a clearance at the requested level.

That's OK then.

Trainee: I'm just a trainee, this is getting complicated for me and I've been trained to say "no" in these circumstances.

Supervisor: Well done!
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 09:04
  #225 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by le Pingouin View Post
We're trained to say "no" to many things if it will or may increase workload to a potentially risky level, doesn't matter if you're VFR or IFR. Direct tracking, tracking inbound across outbound routes, block clearance, airwork in the middle of arrival routes, etc & so forth. Not because we're lazy but because we have to be on top of the traffic & can't risk things getting too busy.
Of course every time someone gets a “no” it costs someone money, or in this case the ATSB has stated the “no” was a factor in the death of two people. I wonder if management at ASA collect data on the number of “nos” generated by their employees or just collect bonuses for cutting numbers of employees.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 09:13
  #226 (permalink)  
 
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The one I really feel for in this mess is the wife & mother of the pilot & his trusting passenger i.e. her son (+ any other close family members & friends).

I'm reminded of the statement from one of the pioneers of the early days of aviation: Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect”. Obviously, nothing seems to have changed in respect of this accident...
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 09:38
  #227 (permalink)  
 
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I was speaking in more general terms about ATSB reports, LL. You know that.
Sorry LB I missed the nuance in your post as it did refer to this thread

ATSB - like some in this thread - have no concern about throwing pilots under the bus.
I take your point about whether a clearance would have been available had the trainee or the OTJI had known the pilot behind the call sign. Its an unfortunate aspect of human nature that mates are treated differently to others. Its not just ATC however. How many policeman have been let off a speeding fine with a nod and a wink. Someone I know is more likely to get the jump seat than a random from the Group.

The ability to just say no is also available to the pilot. Words like "negative" "unable" and "require" are all in the vocab and can be used by pilots of all levels. It took me three times on one occasion before the Departures Controller understood I was not going to take the tracking instruction that would take me and my 180 passengers and crew through a cell. When I was a freshly minted NVFR PPL coming into Canberra in a 210 with pouring rain and wisps of cloud in the hills ATC wanted me to take a vector towards Black Mountain Tower. "Unable" was the reply. They then wanted me to do an orbit. "Unable" was the reply. They then gave me a CTL on 12.

That flight taught me a lot about who is in control. Checking my log book I had a grand total of 170 hours. The current system is neither safe or perfect as any time I fly into Ballina reminds me. As it stands though Ballina suits GA as there is no Tower, Coffs suits RPT as there is a Tower. Which is safer? It depends on your perspective. In both circumstances the pilot has to operate in the environment that they are not comfortable with and mitigate as far as possible any risks to their operation.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 09:42
  #228 (permalink)  
 
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Lead Balloon, we're not sitting in your aircraft so have absolutely now way of knowing what the view is like through your windscreen. You're flying an aircraft so the assumption is you're competent to do so & will advise if you're unable to comply with an instruction or need assistance. The pilot was in VMC when he initially requested clearance & would have remained so if he'd continued deviating right as he initially started doing. It would have added very little to his workload, no more than a deviation around a region of cloud would have.

The basis of your experience of a single flight with an ATC? Maybe, just maybe he applied a great deal of local knowledge to achieve the flight? Something a local operator would have as much knowledge of.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 09:46
  #229 (permalink)  
 
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I confidently predict that we'd agree on the substance of most stuff, LL. It's the implementation that is the hard bit in the real world.

The key point you make is spot on:
The ability to just say no is also available to the pilot. Words like "negative" "unable" and "require" are all in the vocab and can be used by pilots of all levels.
Pounds to peanuts that no private pilot licence trainee ever gets to practise that often these days, even as a mock exercise in the cockpit.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 09:53
  #230 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Lead Balloon View Post
[T]he trainee assessed that workload and priorities would not permit a clearance at the requested level.

That's OK then.

Trainee: I'm just a trainee, this is getting complicated for me and I've been trained to say "no" in these circumstances.

Supervisor: Well done!
Yes it is okay. Or are you arguing a trainee pilot initiating a go around because they aren't comfortable should be criticised as well?
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 10:00
  #231 (permalink)  
 
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Pilots like to read a report and find something they would not have done so they can rationalize "That wouldn't happen to me." But it's not a controversial idea that accidents have a chain of causes that together led to the accident i.e the swiss cheese model.

The pilot's actions were analyzed in detail in the report. The Class C controller denying clearance was another link.

But I think there was confusion between the Class D controller and the pilot that was significant, and that wasn't examined well in the report.
  • If the Class D controller had been alert to the pilot reading back something that wasn't intended to be a clearance it might have avoided the accident. That should be as big a red flag as an incorrect read back.
  • If the Class D controller had been more specific about the clearance that was available, e.g. Woolgoolga - Bundagen Head at or below 1000 instead of just "at or below 1000 feet" the pilot might not have descended on track.
They weren't the only causes. But they seem significant enough to rate some examination.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 10:02
  #232 (permalink)  
 
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Why would any clearance or instruction in any airspace warrant a VFR aircraft descending into IMC?
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 10:04
  #233 (permalink)  
 
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Yes it is okay. Or are you arguing a trainee pilot initiating a go around because they aren't comfortable should be criticised as well?
There were zero other aircraft in the airspace and the transit would have been less then 3 minutes. At what point does it become unreasonable to claim it is getting complicated?
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 10:13
  #234 (permalink)  
 
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It's always clear as to which posters are in the ATC system and who ain't.

Le P:

A student pilot deciding to go around, as a consequence of his or her own training and decision making in the specific circumstances of that decision, are making a decision for which the student and his or her instructor are responsible.

An ATCer saying 'no' to a request for clearance is, apparently, responsible for nothing.

Junior:

We get your point. The pilot was obviously a complete idiot who just didn't know what he was doing.

Andrewr's question says it all.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 10:15
  #235 (permalink)  
 
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I don't disagree that on the surface it looks unreasonable but we have no idea what else was occurring. In the end it's up to the controller to make their own judgement & there will always be situations where "clearance not available" is an appropriate response. i.e. pilots have to plan for it. "Though shalt always issue a clearance" simply isn't possible.

As I keep saying it's no different to encountering weather or any other obstacle en route - you simply avoid it. Seriously, how is this any different?

Last edited by le Pingouin; 24th Jan 2021 at 10:33.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 10:20
  #236 (permalink)  
 
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Lead Balloon, the controller had no control over the actions the pilot took. How can they be held responsible for his lack of airmanship? Or are you arguing that if I say "climb to 9,000ft" & the pilot stalls his aircraft & crashes then I as a controller am responsible?
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 10:34
  #237 (permalink)  
 
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we have no idea what else was occurring
The report does go into some detail about what else was occurring.

Or are you arguing that if I say "climb to 9,000ft" & the pilot stalls his aircraft & crashes then I as a controller am responsible?
Are you saying it would not be a considered a problem if a controller issued an instruction to a VFR aircraft to descend below the level of terrain? Is that a common practice?

I am not saying the controller did that - I am saying there appears to be confusion and the pilot might have thought he was instructed to descend to 1000'.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 10:45
  #238 (permalink)  
 
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The controller who said "clearance not available" was the "C" controller - it's a totally separate issue to what the "D" controller did.
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Old 24th Jan 2021, 10:49
  #239 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by le Pingouin View Post
Lead Balloon, the controller had no control over the actions the pilot took. How can they be held responsible for his lack of airmanship? Or are you arguing that if I say "climb to 9,000ft" & the pilot stalls his aircraft & crashes then I as a controller am responsible?
Gosh.

Just for transparency's sake, please declare that you have no involvement in this incident, either from a training or decision-making perspective, Le P.

You seem to me to be confusing - or perhaps (and sadly deliberately) obfuscating - a decision or instruction to do something, on the one hand, and the decision as to the way in which that thing is done on the other. And you may be confusing - or perhaps (and sadly deliberately) obfuscating - that which can be achieved safely (climbing to 9,000') and that which can never be achieved safely (tracking below 1,000' where the rocks are above that).

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Old 24th Jan 2021, 11:01
  #240 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by le Pingouin View Post
The controller who said "clearance not available" was the "C" controller - it's a totally separate issue to what the "D" controller did.
That is true. "Clearance not available" was a minor issue, but it seems to have touched a nerve as it frustrates a lot of people.

I think the confusion with the Class D controller was the worse problem. The efforts in the report to deflect attention away from the controllers and the lack of a transcript make me wonder whether there was a much more serious problem with the controllers than we are aware of.
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