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Near midair over SFO

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Near midair over SFO

Old 3rd Apr 2010, 19:11
  #101 (permalink)  
 
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dear controller

as a pilot, the safest place to be is directly over an airport.

airplanes rarely climb vertically ( like a rocket).

if your engine quits, you are over a good landing spot...declare and emergency and everyone must yield to you.

Now, in some situations, other planes fly directly over the airport ( in an uncontrolled environment) to examine the wind sock, pattern indicators and the like, so one should watch out.

One should be outside the airport traffic area, or whatever it is called now, or with proper clearance from local ATC.
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Old 3rd Apr 2010, 21:35
  #102 (permalink)  
 
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Sir, may I say to you and P51...you are dangerous! Visual separation, consider the speeds involved. PSA, Aeromexico and last year, the californian coast guard and US navy helicopter......

As for training in the good ole....methinks that is down to economics more than anything else.
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Old 3rd Apr 2010, 23:52
  #103 (permalink)  
 
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DB64

P51guy and I are not dangerous. We have both grown up in the system we have in the USA and survived it.

In an ideal world, everyone would be on radar with radar seperation and a visual backup, and a TCAS system on top of everything.

Your examples are a bit weak. PSA/San Diego...both planes were under radar control, and PSA made a poor radio call of: we had him there a minute ago. From that tragedy planes under my command answer: traffic not in sight...vector us away from traffic.

Aeromexico over Los Angeles involved a piper which was flown by a poor man who had a heart attack and stumbled into TCA airspace.

And military helicopters, at night, over the ocean...well that is a unique operation involving brave men doing difficult things.

I've been in aviation for 35 years...P51guy more than that...and you sir?????
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 02:13
  #104 (permalink)  
 
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No sir, PTH and I are not dangerous. We grew up in a system that required looking out the window VFR or IFR. I have had as many close calls under full IFR radar control as cowboying around the skies, as you would put it, with no radar control. We have 40,000 to 50,000 hrs total of navigating our airspace with no accidents, incidents or violations.

I like our system just the way it is. Unless automation turns us into robots some day so we can't manually intervene if things are going wrong we will be just fine over here. If we are turned into robots then ATC will determine how our flight turns out. If I had followed every ATC instruction to the letter I probably would not be able to make the above claim of no incidents or accidents.

We understand our system and know how to make it work. When a controller gives us an unusual altitude we question it because maybe he changed sectors and got it wrong. One day we were cleared out of a major airport to an arrival altitude, not departure. My FO confirmed we were cleared to the higher altitude. I said verify it or I am not going to climb above the normal departure altitude. He did and sure enough the controller normally did arrivals and gave us the wrong altitude. We were opposite direction to an arrival 1,000 ft above us. We might be too informal by your way of thinking but we are safe and know what is going on and are looking out the window.
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 06:26
  #105 (permalink)  
 
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Man, what a bunch of whiners. You can get a TCAS RA without being in conflict. We get it all the time in busy airspace, particularly when traffic is coming in on a base leg to join you in a parrallel approach. If you guys wet you pants every time the TCAS lights up then please stay out of busy airspace. You won't make it to retirement age.

GA pilots flying in congested airspace are not an issue if they know what they are doing. The controller can tell by the initial call up if the guy he is talking to is a tool or has his stuff together. We can tell from the cockpit as well. Some of the international aircarriers you hear talking on the radio and see taxiing out of SFO and JFK and LAX inspire less confidence than most of the GA guys here.

UAL has some really weak pilots. They had a major screw up a few years ago on departure out of SFO in a 747-400. The F/O almost put it into the hill on departure when he couldn't handle an engine failure. If there is an error in this incident I would look to the UAL crew first, then the GA guy and the controller.
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 06:35
  #106 (permalink)  
 
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Man, what a bunch of whiners. You can get a TCAS RA without being in conflict. We get it all the time in busy airspace, particularly when traffic is coming in on a base leg to join you in a parrallel approach. If you guys wet you pants every time the TCAS lights up then please stay out of busy airspace. You won't make it to retirement age.

GA pilots flying in congested airspace are not an issue if they know what they are doing. The controller can tell by the initial call up if the guy he is talking to is a tool or has his stuff together. We can tell from the cockpit as well. Some of the international aircarriers you hear talking on the radio and see taxiing out of SFO and JFK and LAX inspire less confidence than most of the GA guys here.

UAL has some really weak pilots. They had a major screw up a few years ago on departure out of SFO in a 747-400. The F/O almost put it into the hill on departure when he couldn't handle an engine failure. If there is an error in this incident I would look to the UAL crew first, then the GA guy and the controller.
Agree, 100%!!
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 06:59
  #107 (permalink)  
 
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Busy US airspace (e.g. SoCal) works if everyone performs to high standard, but there are always some poor sods out there having troubles and ATC constantly yelling at them!!! I admit to driving around nothing bigger than a BE76, practicing multiple approaches in LA and SD area. The controllers are very efficient but every so often their are confusions/unsafe practices, imho.

Sometimes I don't even know if I am IFR or VFR anymore. You can be assigned a radar vector with no destination (lost com anyone??). You are asked to maintain visual separation to traffic that you see one second, but so easy to loose in the next distraction (incl. airliners). The controllers are so busy, you can't argue with them at that time... As I said, works if you are used to it but not fun for those who underperform.

Last edited by 172_driver; 5th Apr 2010 at 05:18.
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 12:37
  #108 (permalink)  
 
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cactusbusdrvr

I didn't want to be the first one to say what you did, but it did cross my mind...esp after that 747 deal UAL had.
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 14:40
  #109 (permalink)  
 
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YouTube - Near Miss Over San Francisco Skies

Just found this clip. Sounds like the GA pilot handled it properly and had the situation well under control. When they got the RA it probably said " don't climb". The visual presentation is showing almost a head on intercept probably to make it appear more dramatic for their viewers along with the newscaster hyping the event.
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 15:04
  #110 (permalink)  
 
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411A,

Not in defense of UA, but when departing at MGW, rotating to a 18-20 degree deck angle, 200 agl, and maybe V2+10, you are just along for the ride and there isn't a whole lot that can be done in a hurry. About all they are going to do is get a good look at the belly of the traffic.

BS
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 19:15
  #111 (permalink)  
 
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.... and maybe V2+10, you are just along for the ride and there isn't a whole lot that can be done in a hurry. About all they are going to do is get a good look at the belly of the traffic.
Yes, I understand, Bluestar, however, if we look back at the prior UAL incident at KSFO, the First Officer (flying pilot) used little if any rudder due to the engine failure...all aileron/spoilers.
As I recall, one hill was missed by about 100 feet.

CBDrvr is right, many weak sisters at UAL, from what I've heard.
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 22:42
  #112 (permalink)  
 
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We are all wondering what the captain was doing on that departure. Two pilots forgot "dead foot, dead engine at the same time in a 747? Using aileron for an engine failure on takeoff sounds like 1st lesson in multiengine training in a Cessna 310. I thought of this episode too when the last incident happened wondering why an RA "don't climb" would generate this much media, FAA and NTSB attention. Leveling off a heavy 777 at 1,000 ft without exceeding any limitations seems fairly basic since the rate of climb isn't very high. Zoom climbing, I agree could be a problem. Of course you would have to be very fast with your fingers, and accurate, to do this simple task with an autopilot. Disconnect AP, AT and lower the nose while reducing power works quite well. Of course you have to possess basic piloting skills to do this.
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Old 4th Apr 2010, 23:14
  #113 (permalink)  
 
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Does anybody know what the GA pilots report was on this? I feel it will be a lot more useful than the UA report on how this situation was resolved. If the UA flight didn't have TCAS they probably would never had noticed it even happened if they weren't looking out the window.
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Old 5th Apr 2010, 00:01
  #114 (permalink)  
 
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Visual separation removes IFR separation minima? Mixing GA a/c with big commercial jets?

Honestly, I can just see you all in those ten gallon hats and spurs on the flight deck.
You might want to look into DOC 4444 for your answers...
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Old 5th Apr 2010, 23:27
  #115 (permalink)  
 
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Standard Separation

The terminology may vary in different ATC environments but visual separation has been, since the year dot, a part of 'IFR' separation. Its seems that some aircrew do not understand this.

IFR flights in the more controlled airspaces (again much varies country to country) should expect Standard Separation from other traffic - what this is will be expressed as:
the ATC or another pilot visually sighting the aircraft concerned and arranging flight paths so that no danger of collision exists (usually in the vicinity of an aerodrome), or
various radar separations (dependent on range, ground facilities, adjacent sectors/airspaces, etc.), or
position reports, or
distance and time separations that may have aircraft tens of miles apart for separation to exist.

The objective remains the same: to avoid collisions.

The tool (separation) that ATC or pilots use to achieve no collisions will vary with the circumstances.

I've listened to the RT on AvWeb and I suspect that the crew may not have had the capacity to appreciate the traffic situation during their departure. Hindsight suggests that ATC might have been better giving traffic information both ways, and more explicitly to the departing crew. But ATC did give traffic to the light aircraft and that pilot did alter course to avoid any chance of a collision.

A example of Visual Separation in the vicinity of a aerodrome (airfield) that worked as expected: no collision. Much to do about nothing.

Cheers
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Old 6th Apr 2010, 08:46
  #116 (permalink)  
 
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Folks,
There are two general divisions on the "meaning" of this incident.

While generalizations are not always helpful, I believe it is reasonable to say that pilots who have grown up with the US system, or of foreign pilots who have considerable experience of and understand the system ( such as 411A and myself) regard this as the system working, not a failure of the system.

The other group, not understanding the system, and in this case including some Australian pilots who, with a complete lack of understanding of the system, of experience in the system or the whole basis of FAA risk management ----- regard this incident with shock/horror, bordering on the end of civilization as we know it.

So, who is right???

The only answer to this can come from all the published and easily available safety statistics, from NTSB, from the Australian ATSB, and the equivalents in Canada, NZ, and the European Community countries.

The fact of air safety outcomes is clear, in all categories bar one (gliding) the US system produces the world's best air safety outcomes ---- and this includes mid air collision rates.

What so many non-us pilots or commentators cannot get their minds around is the sheer volume of aviation in the US, in all categories, compared to the rest of the world. Likewise, the whole idea of equitable access to airspace by all potential users is completely "foreign" to non-US pilots.

I don't intend to present any studies to justify my statement, because I don't need to, all the information is publicly available and easily accessible. Suffice to say, a very recent study of collision rates in Australia v. US (again excluding gliders) has only confirmed previous studies, Australia fares unfavourably, compared to the US.

Unfortunately, national pride and anti-US prejudice all too often colors what should be a dispassionate examination of air safety outcomes, and the same pride and prejudice seriously inhibits many countries from adopting the lessons learned (often the hard way) in the US.

Tootle pip!!

PS: A colleague of mine, a well known Australian aviation lawyer, has just had a flying holiday in US. He had never previously flown there, other than as an airline passenger. Prior departure, he didn't really believe what I said about how easy it would be. He and several friends flew a C-206 VFR from San Jose clear across the country, via a northern route, back via a southern route.

Months later, he still hasn't come down off a high, don't anybody try telling him the US system doesn't work and is dangerous.

Last edited by LeadSled; 6th Apr 2010 at 14:46.
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Old 6th Apr 2010, 12:09
  #117 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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My 2 cents worth

As someone who frequently flies a spam can around the northeast I think I can comment about this.
US aviation works very well. I have frequently being given Bravo transits in the NYC airspace. One day they were holding commercial departures out of LGA from climbing me as I passed over at 5500 feet. Kids thought that was cool.
Outside the Bravo with flight following I've regularly had 121 traffic pass 500 ft above me. The key is they always will notify the other traffic and add something like "I'm talking with him". If they are not talking with you they will steer traffic away from you several miles out. I've seen it happen. I guess that is why they like to get you on flight following.
In this incident the GA plane was inside the Bravo and you can assume the controllers were talking with him or they would have held traffic on the ground.

I do think the controller should have given the UA a heads up with the clearance. The UA crew probably wishes they hadn't made a fuss but they got surprised and no one likes that.

Reading what I do about GA pilots in Europe and other places I realize what a great deal we have. One thing I think makes a huge difference is we have a readily accessible IFR rating that a lot of GA guys have. As pointed out the controllers can tell who they are talking to and the squeaked voice does not get the transit. Cruel but fair.

Other countries could do well looking at how the US does it and consider if their restrictive attitudes are not part of the problem.

20driver
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Old 6th Apr 2010, 12:49
  #118 (permalink)  
 
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I've listened to the RT on AvWeb and I suspect that the crew may not have had the capacity to appreciate the traffic situation during their departure.
That AVWEB "recording" is misleading. It's had at least 30 seconds edited out of the middle, from commencement of the 777 rolling until it gets to 500ft. Unless there was a traffic call during the time that is missing, the first thing either aircraft know about each other is when the controller mentions the 777 passing 500ft after takeoff (probably higher than that as the call was coming out). Had that call been made 5 seconds later and the lighty continued straight ahead through the centreline the TCAS would have been the only thing that would have saved all of them.

It is obvious that the whole situation was not planned and very nearly ended in major tears. Whether that was because of a mistake or a characteristic of the system remains to be seen. Either way, "much ado about nothing" is a rather odd conclusion to be drawn IMO.

What is also a worry is the UA captain asking for a discrete freq to talk to someone, I assume about the near-miss. At that point of the flight that would be silly. Priorities...
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Old 6th Apr 2010, 13:22
  #119 (permalink)  
 
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Whether that was because of a mistake or a characteristic of the system remains to be seen.
I wouldn't say it a characteristic of the system, because, contrary to what some ppl here try to say, it could as easily happen outside US - it's not illegal to do something like that in "ICAO world". Of course, in the US it happens more often due to volume of traffic, but if I have a VFR traffic that wants to cross, it's exactly what I would apply. So it's not the case how the system is designed, but how you play out the given scenario (by you I mean both ATC and pilots).
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Old 6th Apr 2010, 14:21
  #120 (permalink)  
bearfoil
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Capn Bloggs

In listening to the audio, the second call to the Cessna shows an elevated intonation from the controller, a sign of at least mildly elevated urgency. The Captain of UA 889 called up and requested a discrete frequency to memorialize the event with a supe, and to support the FO flying. If he had "let it go" until later, he would have communicated to his F/O a lack of immediacy, as she was clearly upset, and rightly so. His action was entirely proper.

It could also be said that the Cessna was in a far better position to maneuver, the 777 has the priority. If there is fault to be found, I would assign a bit more responsibility to ATC for not including the UA flight in the "mix". However, I think the reporting is rather hyperbolic, and the News (animation) video is absurd.

imo,bear
 

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