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-   -   Mooney accident pilot refused a clearance at 6,500' (https://www.pprune.org/pacific-general-aviation-questions/627036-mooney-accident-pilot-refused-clearance-6-500-a.html)

Dick Smith 7th Nov 2019 22:48

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.

Capn Bloggs 8th Nov 2019 01:17

Dick, please point us to the ICAO document that requires C to be radar-controlled.

le Pingouin 8th Nov 2019 02:19

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?

The name is Porter 8th Nov 2019 02:51


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.

Squawk7700 8th Nov 2019 03:01


Originally Posted by le Pingouin (Post 10613608)
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?

The name is Porter 8th Nov 2019 03:04

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?

Dick Smith 8th Nov 2019 03:41

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.


Dick Smith 8th Nov 2019 03:48

Let’s keep this simple.

Why was the pilot denied a clearance at 6500’ ?

Vag277 8th Nov 2019 04:17

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.

Capn Bloggs 8th Nov 2019 04:25


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?

BlackPanther 8th Nov 2019 04:46


Originally Posted by Dick Smith (Post 10613640)
.....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.

Styx75 8th Nov 2019 05:20

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?

The name is Porter 8th Nov 2019 05:27

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?

Dick Smith 8th Nov 2019 06:06

Vagg. All very well however how about coming up with a suggestion on why the pilot was refused clearance at 6500’.

ACMS 8th Nov 2019 06:49

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.

Squawk7700 8th Nov 2019 07:48


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.

Mr Approach 8th Nov 2019 08:44

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.

Vag277 8th Nov 2019 09:01

Smith. Why speculate? A pointless exercise that you seem to use as a basis for your airspace mythology.

Dick Smith 8th Nov 2019 09:12

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.

Dick Smith 8th Nov 2019 09:16

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.

Capn Bloggs 8th Nov 2019 09:31


Originally Posted by Squawk
That’s BS and you know it.

That's a bit harsh. Actually, I don't know. Do you? Given Coffs has a tower, I imagine that it's a reasonably busy airport. Perhaps there was arriving or departing traffic from the north or the south?


Originally Posted by Dick
Its clear that C requires a terminal radar system to operate correctly.

No Dick, it's clear that C has to have radar so it'll produce the results you want. As for upside down, this just highlights the absurdity of 7 alphabets of airspace. A>D, B>D, C>D, E>D, what's the point?

Vag277 8th Nov 2019 09:31

As said before, speculation without facts is pointless. Was it a plan, was a flight plan submitted to give ATC prior notice, what was the IFR traffic at the time, what separation standards were in use? Why plan over high country with the weather forecast when coastal might have been better? No one here knows so stop blaming the absence of your views on airspace and ATC procedures until the facts are known.

Aussie Bob 8th Nov 2019 09:39

Unbelievable, we have an outdated and over regulated bunch of airspace in this country where it is virtually impossible to get a VFR clearance at any sensible level. Dick is here pointing that out and you blokes are mostly so apethetic that you shoot the messenger and support the system.

That said, it is still my opinion that when you pilot an aircraft, more than most pursuits, you are responsible for yourself.

Vag277 8th Nov 2019 09:47

Clearly the clearance for a formation of 6 light VFR aircraft coastal through the YBSU zone yesterday did not happen. Wait - I was in the formation!

JamieMaree 8th Nov 2019 09:50


Originally Posted by Aussie Bob (Post 10613780)
Unbelievable, we have an outdated and over regulated bunch of airspace in this country where it is virtually impossible to get a VFR clearance at any sensible level. Dick is here pointing that out and you blokes are mostly so apethetic that you shoot the messenger and support the system.

That said, it is still my opinion that when you pilot an aircraft, more than most pursuits, you are responsible for yourself.


Bob,
That is my my problem with Dicks approach to all of this.
At the end of the day it is the pilots responsibility. He has to keep the aircraft safe. Whatever shite is thrown at him/ her. He has to deal with. Clearances and al, that crap are about what you’d like todo not what you have to deal with. I’ve always had the view that Dick’s approach to the rules is that he should be allowed to fly his aircraft anywhere at anytime anyway he wants. The rules should be adjusted to allow this.

junior.VH-LFA 8th Nov 2019 09:55

You can advocate for airspace change without having to leverage on the death of fellow aviators in order to justify your argument, particularly when it's a long bow at best to correlate the relevance of that issue. There's two separate thread right now doing exactly that.

Dick Smith 8th Nov 2019 10:13

Come on. I and others have campaigned relentlessly against C over D for 15 years.

AsA have operated by stating “ clearance not available “
Are you suggesting that by refusing the pilot clearance at 6500’ and forcing him into bad weather at a lower level there is no accountability?



junior.VH-LFA 8th Nov 2019 10:32


Originally Posted by Dick Smith (Post 10613808)
Come on. I and others have campaigned relentlessly against C over D for 15 years.

AsA have operated by stating “ clearance not available “
Are you suggesting that by refusing the pilot clearance at 6500’ and forcing him into bad weather at a lower level there is no accountability?



No; I'm suggesting that if the weather prevents doing that you declare a pan and make the controllers work for you. That's how it works when you're in danger.

There is always scope to talk about airspace change. This is a perfect forum for that. Make a thread about it and stop hijacking accident threads to push your agenda.

lucille 8th Nov 2019 11:43

The PIC was responsible for keeping himself and all his passengers alive no matter what curve balls ATC threw at him.

An option of last resort would have been for him to climb to 6500 and proceed as planned. Let ATC sort the mess out. Better to be alive and answering to panel of armchair experts the next day than not. This is an option that should not be abused but should always be in the back of any PICs mind. We are not there to make ATC’s life “easier”, rather it’s their rather highly paid job to sort our mess out.

le Pingouin 8th Nov 2019 12:23


Originally Posted by Dick Smith (Post 10613640)
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?

Correct. Why would we be? They're VFR so responsible for terrain and weather avoidance. If there's a problem speak up. We aren't mind readers and aren't looking out the aircraft windscreen. I see numerous VFR paints flying around when the weather seems totally foul, yet the ground isn't littered with crashed aircraft.

jmmoric 8th Nov 2019 14:57


Originally Posted by le Pingouin (Post 10613886)
Correct. Why would we be? They're VFR so responsible for terrain and weather avoidance. If there's a problem speak up. We aren't mind readers and aren't looking out the aircraft windscreen. I see numerous VFR paints flying around when the weather seems totally foul, yet the ground isn't littered with crashed aircraft.

Maybe not, but there are definately more aircraft spread around outside airports after bad weather.... the amount of traffic taken into comparison... :confused:

Some pilots just does not know when to turn around...

jmmoric 8th Nov 2019 15:08


Originally Posted by Dick Smith (Post 10613808)
Come on. I and others have campaigned relentlessly against C over D for 15 years.

AsA have operated by stating “ clearance not available “
Are you suggesting that by refusing the pilot clearance at 6500’ and forcing him into bad weather at a lower level there is no accountability?

You're forgetting that ATC is not there to make anything harder for the pilots, we're here to make the skies safer first, then more efficient.... saying no to a pilot, does not mean it cannot be changed, if the pilot would be so kind as to inform about the necessity for the request.

But I have no clue how it works "down under", but high traffic load, especially in C airspace can be a good reason to say "no", and especially if there's no radar service provided. Ask again and stress the importance, you may have to wait a bit, then you'd get your clearance. That C airspace is made to make the life of airliners safer, you know those boxes that runs at 250+ knots and sweeps though clouds doing a lot of other things besides looking out windows, and carries 200+ people onboard.... Though I have no clue about the mentioned airspace, and airport for that matter.

Sunfish 8th Nov 2019 19:30

But wasn’t ADSB supposed to make separation practicable without radar? I’m more confused.

Jabberwocky82 8th Nov 2019 19:58


Originally Posted by Dick Smith (Post 10613683)
Vagg. All very well however how about coming up with a suggestion on why the pilot was refused clearance at 6500’.

An educated guess would be that the airspace was being used at the time. The bush fires we were working on that day in the Doreigo area provided horrible visibility and the weather did not help at all. it was hard enough to nav low level in a helicopter...
We had the LAT coming in a lot and it probably didn’t help with all the other AC that would have been in C class airspace; Airmed, bird dogs, LAT, Linescan AC.
its a tragic result but something that I really don’t think is anything of a ATC cause.
the pilot in command can always turn back.

Squawk7700 8th Nov 2019 20:20


An educated guess would be that the airspace was being used at the time.
You can fit many aircraft in a piece of airspace at the same time. You can funnel them through, they can change speeds to better allow transit, delay, provide vectoring, hold or otherwise, different altitudes, VFR and IFR... like I said, it’s not like it’s special VFR where only one can be there at any one time. If it’s too much workload for one controller, then there is a problem with the system, split it up and find another controller. It’s not rocket science!

Yes it is up to the pilot to turn back, but forcing them to take alternate routes down lower, possibly in turbulence, closer to cloud, over tiger country,
or perhaps precipitation is not ideal and carries a greater degree of risk. Why take the backroads when there’s an 8 lane freeway available.... but you can’t, because there’s another car on it.

Don’t just accept the status quo because it’s always been that way. Stir things up to make a change for better for all of us!


Jabberwocky82 8th Nov 2019 20:55

I would not be surprised at all if it was Special VFR conditions...

My other point was you do not need to continue in to Shit conditions. It’s not that hard. Perhaps we need more education in that and these sorts of things might start to become less frequent.

Aussie Bob 8th Nov 2019 21:19

Having once pushed on through a restricted area due to weather and in direct defiance of a “clearance unavailable, remain outside Romeo .... “ directive, I can report that the repercussions I anticipated came to a big fat nothing. Nada, zip, no call, no action, nil communication afterwards. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

BlackPanther 8th Nov 2019 23:52


Originally Posted by Squawk7700 (Post 10614178)
If it’s too much workload for one controller, then there is a problem with the system, split it up and find another controller. It’s not rocket science!

Absolutely true. Unfortunately, the system does not allow to 'split it up' like you suggest. A combination of both TAAATS limitations and staffing numbers don't allow stuff like this to be split. The controller would have been responsible for a large piece of airspace, which included Coffs steps. You can't just pull out the C steps into a different controllers jurisdiction.

We are going in the wrong direction whilst the industry demands more 'efficiency', and the government demands more dividends from Airservices.

Dick Smith 9th Nov 2019 01:21

Now some important facts are coming out.

Thanks Prune!

megan 9th Nov 2019 01:52

As many have said as PIC it's your task to ensure the safety of your aircraft and pax. If ATC direct you to some unsafe condition, eg VFR into IMC, there is the phrase "unable". If you've really ballsed up, a PAN will get the desired help. A PIC can break every regulation and rule in the book to ensure his safe arrival on terra firma. Too many think a controller has an overarching command of an aircraft, s/he is a helper not a controller :) , remember the statement "are you down there because I'm up here, or am I up here because you're down there?". It's a joint effort to keep us from bumping into each other.


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