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Near midair over SFO

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Near midair over SFO

Old 1st Apr 2010, 13:28
  #61 (permalink)  
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Capt. Sly

You make it out like I don't know SFO.

I was born in San Francisco. I learned to fly at one of the small airports in that area. I Have operated at SFO with General Aviation aircraft and as a pilot for four different airlines there (one very big, the other, so called regionals).

I know the hills having flown over them and walked them and bicycled them, let alone driven in an automobile.

I've shopped at the shopping mall benath the departure route (Tanforan...which, by the way was the sight of old MILLS FIELD, San' Francisco's first airport and the place where the first plane to land upon a ship took off from)

This was a non event. AS P51 guy mentioned, 300 feet vertical and 1500 feet horizontal...that is nothing. P51 guy is right...that is more than a side by side approach to landing at SFO. (though true side by's are less likely now)

AS to what a BIG JET can do or not. It is like any plane as long as the pilot knows what to do. But if you are overly dependent upon autothrottles and too use to just going: "do, dah do, I are a big airplane pilot just hanging on for dear life", yeah, you will exceed some limit if you aren't ready to fly the heck out of a plane.

Now, I do think ATC should have advised the 777: traffic , a GEN AV, along departure path, he has you in sight...prior to takeoff clearance.

I remember being instructed for a go around at La Guardia due to a plane on the runway. I went around, complying with published missed instructions...oh, the tower said, there is a gen av seaplane at 1500' so maintain 1000'...this at 800'. Yeah, I actually had to retard the throttles by hand to level off and not exceed flap speeds. heavens to betsy.!!!!!

Later I was awarded the distinguished flying cross and the cross de guere.

Come on, wake up and fly the damn thing.

(the above decorations are of course an exageration to make the point...pilots fly the plane and not the other way 'round.)
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 14:34
  #62 (permalink)  
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hey, how come we haven't heard the GA pilot's side of the radio transmission?
Perhaps PTH could inform us of the freqs the two a/c would be using at the time, but usually VFR and IFR are on separate freqs. It may be the same controller or they may be seated close to each other.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 15:07
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Now, I do think ATC should have advised the 777: traffic , a GEN AV, along departure path, he has you in sight...prior to takeoff clearance.
But what do you do with a clearance like that? Our SOPs are to follow any clearance until it is unsafe to do so ie TCAS, WX or Terrain avoidance. In this case we would have been cleared for a SFO8 departure. We cant just plan to level the aircraft below the other traffic at 1500' - our performance calculations dont allow that. We cant just deviate from the SID - performance calculations dont allow that, and we may just exacerbate the situation with a WOOP WOOP pull up. Therefore we either have to wait on the ground, or wait for the TCAS RA (we shouldn't really act on the TA as the aircraft we see may not be the aircraft the TCAS is protecting us from).

We have different standards in the UK and Europe. Standard seperation is 3NM or approximately 18000 feet. This aircraft was within 1500' or 1/10th of the standard seperation if it had happened in the UK. This sort of VFR seperation issue doesnt happen at the big airfields in the UK. We do have heli's operating in the vicinity of the airfields but they are also seperated, but are much closer. They also dont hang around in the vicinity of the departure end of the runway.

So the problem I have is that aircraft are put in danger needlessly. Is it safer to have a Cessna at 1500' visually remaining clear, or no cessna in the take-off cone of a 777? Equally, is it safer to stagger the arrivals onto 28L/R or have them coming in wingtip to wingtip?

I understand your "Come on, wake up and fly the damn thing." sentiment, but passengers are paying for, and surely deserve their safety be put first. Surely we should all be striving for a safer system? We can all go and be gash, but a modern jetliner is not the place to practice chicken. (just eat it )

In this situation I believe neither aircraft did anything wrong within the clearances they we given; Again it is the system that allows this to happen, so lets change the system so the aircraft dont get so close.

No personal digs meant.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 15:27
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A non-event? Yeh, right...

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Old 1st Apr 2010, 15:45
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US System

Capt Sly, I am sorry but I do not think you have this right. Three weeks ago I flew the KLAX VFR North/South out of Van Nuys. I did it in a Cessna 182. I was totally impressed by the responsibility shown by all GA pilots, and the professionalism of the Heavy crews, mixing it together. P51 hits it spot on with the view that all fly the plane, and understand the routes. The classic UK view of make it ALL class A restricts, not broadens the experience of the GA fleet in the UK. That is a major reason for the huge amount of controlled airspace 'busts' here in UK. With a more free, and open minded approach to aviation/airspave/atc in UK/Europe, perhaps it would be a better experience for all.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 16:50
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SFO Freqs.

Both aircraft were on 121.5. That's standard SFO tower freq.

I have to add that every time I've been given the 101 transit clearance, the controller has pointed out the traffic to me (often still just lined up prior to roll on 28R), and has also informed the heavy waiting for departure. More often than not the airliner has me in sight while still on the ground.

28R is used primarily for heavies heading for the orient or Australia, On a typical day, the runway is not that busy.

On the rare day that the wind is really blowing, all departures are on the 28s, and 101 corridor clearances are not permitted. With the the turbulence in the rotor off of San Bruno mountain in those conditions, I wouldn't want to be there anyway.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 16:53
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There must have been high levels of stress for the Controller to have instructed the 182 to pass BEHIND the 777. Light A/C and heavy A/C wakes are not a good combination!

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Old 1st Apr 2010, 16:56
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Having listened to the audio, it seems the Tower controller was relying on the Cessna pilot to evade, Tower appeared to be avoiding advising the UA of the conflict, ("not a factor") by the tone of his direct to 70E "You will pass behind?"

the animation on utube is way too dramatic. Considering what happened on Saturday, one wonders why GA is kept West of the 101,the 182 was told to turn East, and climb, which he did.

Tone of voice is subjective, but I heard a strained note in this controller's patter, I think he handled the conflict fine, but he started too late. Of course it was too close, I think he'll get some days off.

Old 1st Apr 2010, 16:57
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Think you'll find more action on 120.5
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 17:02
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128.65 had the Captain and Supervisor "discussing" things.
Old 1st Apr 2010, 17:36
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My Bad

Sorry. 120.5, although I'd probably get plenty of action on 121.5
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 18:31
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look, the USA isn't the UK. Perhaps that is why so many europeans come to the USA to learn how to fly.

It would have been fine if the crew elected to not takeoff and to wait, if the information had been presented to them.

And you aren't allowed to deviate from a SID? So, if there was a thunderstorm on the SID and it was clear to the south, you wouldn't ask for a deviation? That's fine. motor on.

Chances are, no one was at the top of their game. The 777 crew was probably already in ''fat, dumb and happy'' mode and not ready to maneuver right after takeoff.

the controller probably had other things on his mind, and if the GA (until we know better what type, that is what I will refer to the little plane as) responded with something to the effect of they would maintain visual seperation, then that was enough for him.

I dare say that if a flap exceedence happened, the captain is making a big deal about trying to place the blame elsewhere.

Now, I don't know about you guys, but my TCAS works fine on the ground when properly selected. I would have glanced at it and if there was a target, I would have briefed the crew to keep an eye out...indeed the augmented crew, in the jumpseats, would have been instructed to look for the traffic. I do recall that united opted for the cheapest TCAS available and it might not be quite as good as mine.

And dear worrier about wake turbulence...if the little plane was above the big plane, that shouldn't have been a problem.

P51 guy...will you try to explain it to these aviators????????????
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 19:13
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Are GA pilots as responsive to ATC as commercial pilots?

At the risk of raising another issue, I am interested in the views of the pilots and ATC on this forum as to whether they believe that compliance with ATC instructions by GA pilots is as quick and assured as it is from commercial pilots. This would cast some greater light on the advisability or not of keeping GA aircraft completely out of the arrival/departure airspace around large commercial airports.

Another way of putting this question is as follows. Suppose you are on a conflicting course with another airplane, and suppose ATC issues a command to this other airplane to keep clear of you. Do you breathe easier if you know that this other airplane is a commercial rather than a GA? Or does it make no difference? Or do you breathe less easy knowing that it is commercial?
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 19:41
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GA vs Airline pilots

it varys...indeed our airline pilot brothers who overflew MSP managed to show how not to handle the radio!

potomac heights...is that in maryland?
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 20:05
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It should be the case that in busy airspace (ie KLAX, KSFO, KJFK, KORD etc) that the airspace is designated class A, and therefore IFR traffic is sepearted from all traffic.
I don't know about other areas, but the class B airspace around KORD is more or less de facto class A. A VFR class B clearance is just not going to happen unless it's late at night.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 20:52
  #76 (permalink)  
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Sorry. 120.5, although I'd probably get plenty of action on 121.5

Heh heh!

Yep, basketball scores probably. Oh, wait wrong thread....

- GY
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 21:03
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GA vs. Airline

When I'm flying my Helio Courier, I'm GA; when I'm flying something with paying passengers aboard, I'm a commercial airline driver.

I try to remember which type of aircraft I'm in so I don't sound too professional in the baby airplane, or too stupid in the airliner.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 22:43
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i try to stay silent and learn, but just a few comments.......

this is only my second post on this forum, so bear with me. i just have a few comments after following this thread, listening to the tapes (do people still use tape????), and trying to empathize with the situation from all sides.
1) i'm familiar with busy airspace, having lived in the nyc area all my life, and having run the busiest heliport (at the time) in the u.s. and possibly the world. having flown in that space (controlled and uncontrolled) countless times under just about every condition, i have to ask - why would anyone want to put themself and their pax at risk by going near any busy airport, unless it were for an emergency, or for some absolutely necessary reason such as commercial photograpy, inspection or the like? much better scenery elsewhere to my mind. so i agree with those who feel that general aviation, especially on vfr, should stay away, as far as is practical and practicable, unless you have a really good reason to be there. and back then, there was always an issue with cowboy floatplanes, or seaplanes just doing their thing.

2) i'm certainly not as technically proficient in flying the "big jets" as many of you are, but i can't imagine that having to do a major correction between 1000 and 1500 agl on takeoff would not make my sphincter tighten quite a bit - that's what makes flying so exciting - but again, if it were just me, well, that's my choice; with two or three or more hundred poor souls in the cabin behind me, i think the responsibility level rises. not to fault the ua pilot and especially the first officer, i think the upset is quite understandable, and i think they handled it very professionally - adrenaline makes you go "unplugged" sometimes, as long as you bring it back down, and do what you do.
at the prescribed attitude on their takeoff and climbout i doubt that anyone in that cabin could have seen the other aircraft with any degree of certainty until it was right there in the windscreen, and so it then comes down to the controller and his advisories. i couldn't enumerate the number of times i alerted a pilot to conflicting traffic he hadn't seen (both from a controller standpoint, and from being on an aircraft on a collision course when the pilot was distracted). the controller in this case probably should have added more info (somehow, they don't seem the same out there on the left coast as they do in this area), but he did what he's supposed to do, and rolled with it.....after all, it still comes up to "see and avoid", fortunately, or unfortunately.
just an aside, if you ask me about the buffalo incident a little more than a year ago, if you listen to the tapes, i feel that the controller in that incident was at least 50% responsible in not alerting the pilots to icing conditions at the altitudes they were flying through).

so.....a close call, some hairy seconds, and all is well again....just another incident to learn from. oh, and by the way, screw the media; nothing that i've ever been involved in has been reported truthfully by most of the media - the actual truth only sells papers maybe thirty years down the line, in the midst of the actual event, only bulls@@t rules. now why the f@@k did that get highlighted? what a world.

i wait to be corrected.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 22:45
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Obiously the Cessna was at the base of the TCA altitude to be in the corridor. Turbojet aircraft are required to stay in the TCA and not fly below the lateral limits. I can see an RA TCAS alert conflicting with TCA altitude requirements but it is required to follow the RA alert. The SFO
8 departure requires a minimum of 300 ft per NM rate of climb. I am familiar with the LAX corridor but not SFO but you have some very good local talent on this thread. Sounds like the GA guy did everything right and had the situation under control. United had an RA or TA that took them by surprise. I'm sorry if they ended up exceeding flap speed dealing with it if that is what their beef is.

Had a similar experience getting my 767 FO check out in the late 80's with a check airman in LAX when he wanted the 30 minute leg to SAN. It was late and he missed his 2,000 level off to the shoreline for the VFR corridor. He tried to fix it with automation and busted by 300 ft and airspeed going way above max flap speed. I made the call outs but if a pilot insists on using automation you are along for the ride.
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Old 1st Apr 2010, 22:54
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disagree completely

I'm gonna have to disagree with your read on this completely. Seeing blips on the TCAS prior to departure from a busy field is normal. It is not really a red-flag event in my minds eye because I would just believe it to be the prior departing traffic. In the 777 TCAS aural alerts are inhibited until 1100' IIRC. I cannot speak for Untied but at my airline there is NO difference procedurally between a 500 RVR T/O and a CAVU one. Once the aircraft breaks the ground it's an inside manuever. This is and was an instrument rules flight and airspace should be protected as such regardless of any prevailing vis. or assumptions.

Sure we all can be John Wayne and slam the autothrottles and the stick around but in a ship with 300 people onboard a Red-Bull Air Race Ride is really not in everyone's best interest or appropriate given that ATC should be assuring a safe departure corridor in the first place.
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