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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 7th Nov 2019, 22:48
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Mooney accident pilot refused a clearance at 6,500'

Here is the preliminary report for the Coffs Harbour Mooney accident. https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/2019/aair/ao-2019-052/

The report verifies Bindook’s old statement where he called Class C airspace “road block airspace”. To prevent it being “road block airspace” with unnecessary accidents occurring, the Minister John Anderson issued a directive with the following words on 1 August 2004 – yes, 15 years ago. Note this refers to Class C over D.

“AA must … provide an operating ATC control tower at the airport and an approach radar control service at the earliest time one can be supplied and installed.”

This would mean that ATCs could operate Class C airspace and successfully keep VFR and IFR aircraft apart, but not with ridiculous procedural standards. For some reason, Airservices decided not to comply with this Minister’s directive, and CASA once again remained mute, saying nothing.

What is not discussed in the report is what the cloud tops were. Is there a chance that the aircraft was above cloud at 6,500’ and in good visual flight conditions?

Also, do I read it correctly? Is it clear that the aircraft was not reported missing until it did not arrive at Taree? That is, the local ATC controllers at Coffs, or in the Centre, did not notice that it had disappeared? I would imagine the aircraft was at least fitted with a Mode C transponder, and that surely would mean it would be visible from the local secondary surveillance radar unit.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 01:17
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Dick, please point us to the ICAO document that requires C to be radar-controlled.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 02:19
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The unidentified aircraft faded from radar coverage, something that happens very frequently - there is nothing to trigger the ATC to pay it any attention. Would you notice a person missing from a random crowd of identical people?
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 02:51
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Dick, please point us to the ICAO document that requires C to be radar-controlled.
Back in Anderson's day, radar would have cost a fortune to install and maintain, having said that, Coffs is in the 'J' curve. Surely a benefit would have been gained from having coverage to allow a radar service into these towers?

Walking into some or all of the Class D Metro and Regional towers is like taking a step back in time. I reckon someone sleeping rough would turn their nose up at these places? Lack of investment, little piggys tarted up with lipstick, mutton dressed up as lamb. So long as everything looks good from the outside.

There really is no excuse for lack of ADSB coverage to the ground at these places and the appropriate tower equipment to utilise.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 03:01
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Originally Posted by le Pingouin View Post
The unidentified aircraft faded from radar coverage, something that happens very frequently - there is nothing to trigger the ATC to pay it any attention. Would you notice a person missing from a random crowd of identical people?
So no LSALT warnings for unidentified traffic?
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 03:04
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Squawk, why??

The nanny state is alive and well in this country but do you really want that level of eyes looking over your shoulder?

What if the aircraft was descending for low level ops? Into a private hillside strip?
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 03:41
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Le Pingouin, you say that aircraft frequently fade from radar. How often does an aircraft fade from radar that requested a clearance at 6,500 feet – probably above the weather and certainly above the mountain range – and is then forced down into bad weather, without anyone being interested?

Capn Bloggs, no there is no ICAO requirement for C to be radar controlled. No doubt it is understood that if it is not radar controlled, pilots of VFR aircraft will be told to “keep out” – what happened this time. As I said, it is a giant “road block” in the sky that has now resulted in people losing their lives.

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Old 8th Nov 2019, 03:48
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Let’s keep this simple.

Why was the pilot denied a clearance at 6500’ ?
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 04:17
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Oh dear! Here we go again! It is the fault of ATC, lack of radar, lack of services not included in Class G, road block airspace etc etc. The Smith mantra is becoming boring, never mind offensive. Why not wait for the full report rather than jump to conclusions that blame everyone other than perhaps poor pilot decision making - the cause of most VFR accidents, especially VFR into IMC. Look at the weather forecast included in the preliminary report. Why go direct when coastal would have been better. At least no high terrain over the beach.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 04:25
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Originally Posted by Dick
Why was the pilot denied a clearance at 6500’ ?
Let me guess. There was a conflicting aircraft?

Originally Posted by Dick
no there is no ICAO requirement for C to be radar controlled.
So Minister Anderson's directive was based on what? That VFR aircraft are more inconvenienced by Procedural C than Radar C? Is that it? Who gave him that idea, to convince him to either trash C airspace or force a multi-million-dollar upgrade at places that didn't need it? How many times have VFR flights been denied a clearance into procedural C airspace? Are you going to push for dual carriageway roads everywhere to stop head-on car crashes?
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 04:46
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Originally Posted by Dick Smith View Post
.....you say that aircraft frequently fade from radar. How often does an aircraft fade from radar that requested a clearance at 6,500 feet – probably above the weather and certainly above the mountain range – and is then forced down into bad weather, without anyone being interested?
Dick, I do not mean to sound rude by this reply. Whilst you certainly have a LOT of experience and knowledge, your understanding of how ATC works is unfortunately completely wrong.

When an aircraft squawks 1200, ie. "squawks VFR", it is displayed as a VFR track on the controllers screen. These are certainly looked at, and safety alerts issued where required, for example in conflict with other traffic or approaching restricted airspace. But the aircraft is telling you via it's squawk code that it is VFR. They are saying they are visual and navigating themselves. It is not the controllers job to follow every VFR aircraft, and it would not be possible for this to happen - the workload would probably double Airservices staff requirements.

This is why things like flight following are listed in the regulations as dependant on controller workload. The same concept applies if you look at the other end of the industry. Take for example a major disruption at Sydney airport, causing huge holding. ATC may initiate a ground stop around the country, not because of delay to aircraft, but because ATC are so overwhelmed with the level of traffic that workload dictates it.

I fear your understanding of controller performance and workload is stuck in the last century. You are looking for someone to blame. Think instead of the human factors.

Perhaps you should reach out to Airservices and spend some time in one of the appropriate centres. The only problem is, I am not sure how a controller would feel about that. Many of them find your comments online personally offensive, insulting, and upsetting.

I should finish the post by saying that EVERYONE, including you, me, pilots, ATC, regualtors, etc - we all want this kind of incident to not happen. But the way you are going about it is misinformed.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 05:20
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I saw a large radome being dismantled at Coffs about 6 months ago. Was mounted on top of a big enough building to be a control centre too.

Did Coffs use to have a radar facility based there?
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 05:27
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Bloggs, I'm not persuing an agenda here, other than archaic airspace and equipment for anything operating below A100.

How many times have VFR flights been denied a clearance into procedural C airspace?
A significant number of times, more the problem is actually getting a VFR clearance through radar controlled C airspace (not CTR). So much so that training organisations are forced to plan and fly in very limited Class C (in our case Essendon) because they know the likelihood of getting the Radar C clearance is remote. If it wasn't for the top notch service we get from Essendon Tower we'd be farked!

Are you going to push for dual carriageway roads everywhere to stop head-on car crashes?
Uhmm, why should we expect any less?? I suppose we should be happy with 1 mbs broadband internet?
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 06:06
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Vagg. All very well however how about coming up with a suggestion on why the pilot was refused clearance at 6500’.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 06:49
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What, you think the ATCO’s just refuse a clearance for fun? Just for a giggle?
They would have had a good reason to deny a clearance that day for a myriad of reasons and rules they work under and you know that.

This does NOT obsolve the PIC from using good judgement , airmanship and just plain good old common sense to keep his Aircraft, himself and his passengers legal and SAFE at all times. If he subsequently flew into a hill because he didn’t have a plan B that’s on him I’m afraid to say.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 07:48
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Let me guess. There was a conflicting aircraft?
That’s BS and you know it. It’s not like they are operating special VFR out of Moorabbin where they only allow one aircraft at a time... the airspace is huge in comparison!

I requested a clearance over YMML recently (with a plan in the system). I said I would take any track, any altitude to FL125, vectoring or with a delay.... what did I get? “Clearance not available squawk 1200 have a nice day.” So instead I battled severe turbulence over a built up area between 1,500-2,500 agl under a step.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 08:44
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Airservices has recently transferred responsibility for airspace over Class D towered aerodromes from Tower procedural approach to en-route area controllers from 8500 feet to 6500 and will shortly be reducing that to 4500. The story will be that surveillance will be able to be used however anyone familiar with the large areas of airspace displayed on en-route controllers screens will be able to work out that they will likely have to deny clearances to VFR aircraft in order to separate IFR aircraft. Amazingly the Class D towers already have surveillance displays (radar, multilateration, ADS-B) but are not allowed to use them for other than "situational awareness" because Airservices refuses to upgrade the communication links to separation standards. Third-world ATS in a country that claims world's best practice.

By the way, as far as I am aware only the FAA has a rule that states Class C airspace can only be established were there is surveillance coverage.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 09:01
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Smith. Why speculate? A pointless exercise that you seem to use as a basis for your airspace mythology.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 09:12
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Class C over D has been known since the Bindook days as “ road block airspace”.

I wonder why?

Its upside down reversed airspace and now could have been one of the holes in the Swiss cheese that resulted in two fatalities.

I do not blame ATC for refusing the clearance at 6500’

Its clear that C requires a terminal radar system to operate correctly.

That’s the reason for the Ministers directive.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 09:16
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ACMS. The Moony pilot planned at 6500’

Why would he expect to be totally denied a clearance at that or a similar level?

Its not as if it was JFK.
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