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Near midair over SFO

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Near midair over SFO

Old 6th Apr 2010, 19:19
  #121 (permalink)  
 
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UAL and San Bruno Mountain

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.
I've been waiting for this to come up. As I heard it, a "bunkie" was making his first ever line TO, lost an engine and just carried on as the 744 drifted right and cleared San Bruno Mountain by less than 100 feet. There is a subdivision on the North side of the mountain, and the plane set off quite a few car alarms as it passed overhead.

The incident was kept quiet for several months, then it hit the news. It was a one day story as I remember.

United's management had the s**t scared out of them because of the Captain's non-reaction to the emergency. The aircraft was not climbing and drifting right for quite some time.

Most of United's crews were sent to Denver for intensive retraining and evaluation.

I heard this from a United Captain who was on the investigation board.

The only relation that this incident has to the one being discussed is that it happened in about the same place
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Old 6th Apr 2010, 22:09
  #122 (permalink)  
 
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One of the really important reasons to have complete standardization is just for this scenario.

Something non routine happens...either the reaction of the crew follows training/procedure or disaster might happen

What if the 747 incident had been reversed with the Captain flying and the copilot seeing the plane drit towards the mountain at 100 feet?
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Old 6th Apr 2010, 23:05
  #123 (permalink)  
 
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Cactus,
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.
Who do you work for? Perhaps we can dredge up some dirt on it to question your credibility.

It looks veyr much like this near miss had nothing to do with the UA crew. They were only airborne for a few seconds, on a collision course with a lighty that they knew nothing about effectively until the TCAS went off.

I suggest you stop trying to twist the event into something it is not.
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Old 6th Apr 2010, 23:59
  #124 (permalink)  
 
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capn bloggs...you are right...and I apologize for my post...let us drop the UAL weak sister bit

but.

SFO is the home base of this crew and anyone who has flown out of SFO long enough to be able to bid the 777 to China should know about little planes in the vicinity of the airport.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 00:02
  #125 (permalink)  
 
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Knowing that there are planes around the AD is a bit different from knowing where a particular a/c is right now and where it is headed.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 00:42
  #126 (permalink)  
 
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UAL

Capn Bloggs:

Off the top of my head, I'd guess that "Cactus" is US Airways or America West if he's been there awhile.

_________________

I have to agree that United has it's share of marginal pilots, I flew with several of them in DC-3s before they got hired by United, however, I think you'll find a few "average" or below average pilots flying for any line.

The 744 incident involved a "bunkie" making his first ever real world TO. I don't think he knew what a rudder was for and that those pedals on the floor weren't accelerator and brake.

As an aside, in the early 90s I worked on a video series called "The World Above" which aired on PBS stations. The male host of the show was a UAL bunkie. He said he loved the job, hated flying, but that it paid enough and gave him enough time off so he could pursue his Hollywood ambitions.

To United's credit, the incident scared the hell of them for reasons mentioned earlier, and they took immediate action by initiating a system wide evaluation and re-training program.

Regarding the topic issue on this thread, I fly that route in a small plane often enough to have hard time believing that the tower controller did not warn the 777 crew of the transiting VFR traffic.

I just watched the U-Tube newscast. That reporter from Ch5 has a reputation for exaggeration. It was edited to titillate. She's also trying to nail Toyota right now.

The one thing I noticed was the botched read back by the UA FO. She sounded nervous before rolling. She should have been monitoring the communication between the tower and the Cessna. I have the feeling that she was along for the ride.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 03:29
  #127 (permalink)  
 
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bob campell

sadly, due to my cheapness (proof I am a real airline pilot) my machine won't playback the radio calls.

if you heard a female voice acknowledge the takeoff clearance, I think it was the captain...but perhaps you have more information than I do.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 03:57
  #128 (permalink)  
 
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Max Trescott Aviation Trends Aloft: NTSB investigating Near Miss Between United Jet and small airplane near SFO - ATC Audio

This one should work. Click ATC audio.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 06:18
  #129 (permalink)  
 
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Robert,
The one thing I noticed was the botched read back by the UA FO. She sounded nervous before rolling. She should have been monitoring the communication between the tower and the Cessna. I have the feeling that she was along for the ride.
Botched readback? So she stumbled on the callsign? So she's a cripple?

What communication? All the tower said was, according to Max: "roger keep Highway 101 off to your left side" (which seemed to be an undesirable place to be given that a 777 was about to blast off straight into that piece of sky).

I think continued criticism of the 777 crew is unfair.

As for the Cessna pilot, he was about about to cross the extended centreline of SFO 28L. If he wasn't sitting on the edge of his seat looking at the runway watching for jets heading straight at him he'd have to have rocks in his head. But even with the almost-too late tower warning, he still came mighty close to the 777.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 13:05
  #130 (permalink)  
 
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> 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.

I'm a few days late on this, but I have to say this comment worries me. If the wx is vmc, surely see and avoid still applies? IFR or not, you have an obligation to look where you're going.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 19:39
  #131 (permalink)  
 
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Comm at SFO

I just listened to the audio again. The first reply is the Captain (male voice)
all of the rest were from the FO (female voice)

I've annotated whether it's Captain of FO who is speaking.

Clearly, the SFO controller explained the situation to UA889. The FO just had her head inside.

In the transcript, SFO tower is the tower controller. UA889 is the Boeing 777 departing San Francisco for Beijing and 9870E is the Cessna 182, which was flying north to south along highway 101.
11:09:28
9870E: San Francisco Tower 9870 Echo 1.6 [indicating he’s at 1,600 feet]
11:09:33
SFO Tower: 8270 Echo San Francisco tower, roger keep Highway 101 off to your left side
11:09:33
9870E: 70 Echo
11:10:03
SFO Tower: United 889 28 Left Heavy Position and hold
11:10:06
UA889: Position and hold 28 Left, United 889 (Captain)
11:11:41
SFO Tower: United 889 Heavy Winds 090 at 6, Runway 28 Left Clear for takeoff.
11:11:41
UA889: Clear for takeoff 28 Left United, uh Triple 889 (FO) Thinking she has a cute reply for three 8s, then realizing her error

11:13:44
SFO Tower: 70 Echo, Traffic off the departure end climbing out of 500 heavy triple 7.
11:13:49
9870E: 70 Echo is in sight
11:13:51
SFO Tower: Maintain visual separate, pass behind that aircraft
11:13:55
9870E: 70 Echo, Pass behind him
11:13:57
UA889: Is that Traffic for 889? (FO) hasn't been listening
11:13:59
SFO Tower: Just ahead and to your right, has you in sight, Cessna one-thousand 500, they’re maintaining visual separation
11:14:05
UA889: [Unintelligible] (FO)
11:14:07
SFO Tower: 889 Heavy traffic no factor, Contact Norcal Departure
11:14:10
UA889: OK, That set off a TCAS that was….that (FO) rattled and embarrassed
11:14:18
UA889: We need to talk. (FO) Saving face
11:14:21
SFO Tower: Roger.

I will say that if I had been flying the Cessna, I would have turned left sooner.

Each airport is unique. SFO started out as Mills field with one dirt runway. In the 70s (before TCAs) general aviation used the field. We parked at Butler Aviation.

I was involved in a program promoting close in air transport for faster city center to city center connections. We were flying Britten Norman Islanders and Trilanders, Pilatus Porters and Helio Couriers off the wide ramp area near Butler. When landing, we'd come in low along the coast pass the Flying Tigers hangar and Coast Guard Station and then land on the last few hundred feet of 28 left or right.

We also landed at Candlestick Park, The Cow Palace, Crissy Field, Golden Gate Fields and Cal Expo in Sacramento.

Microwave approach systems were on the horizon permitting steeper, curved approaches. (We're still waiting, though something similar is now available using GPS)

We had a letter of agreement with SFO Tower permitting our non-standard ops. VFR ops were permitted at that time and we would request a "standard
ramp departure" When cleared, we'd just take off from the ramp and head for highway 101.

Sadly, the general public didn't want airplanes anywhere close to them, and the TCA was created. STOLAIR became Westair Commuter, and I ended up flying night cargo out of the Tigers Hangar in DC-3s for an airline called Zoom Zoom (later Tranwest Air Express).

The attitude of cooperation between SFO Tower and General Aviation has remained.

Walt Smith, the SFO Tower chief, taught an aviation ground school at Santa Rosa Junior College in the early 90s in addition to running the Santa Rosa Airport tower which handled GA primarily, and commuters from time to time. We all called him "Uncle Walt".

SFO is in a rather different position than most major airports. It's surrounded by water and mountains and other airports. Look at the SFO VFR Terminal Area Chart. That is one mixed up wedding cake.

The terrain is spectacular. On clear days, many of the airliners departing on the 1L or R request the bay tour so that the pax can see the Golden Gate Bridge. Airliners above 3500'; GA below 3000'

Ten years ago there was a proposal to expand SFO with another runway in San Francisco Bay since the existing runways are too close together to permit parallel approaches and takeoffs. I made a lot of money from competing engineering firms which were submitting proposals. All the time I was over SFO shooting oblique and vertical photos, I knew that the expansion would never happen.

First, the "Save the Bay" organizations were dead against the idea. Second, the economy was a little bit more shaky than many wanted to admit, and third, think of the taxi time involved in getting to or from a 28 Very Right a mile out in the bay.

So, in all these years of airlines and GA working together without incident, we have a graduate from a pilot mill (objection - speculation), based in SF, come apart because her little box lit up.

There used to be a program called "Fly a Controller". When I was flying the Otis Spunkmeyer DC-3, we took several OAK controllers for rides (the idea was to bring back the "glorious" days of air travel. The cockpit door was always open, and we took requests. If a passenger wanted to see their house, we'd do everything we could to oblige.)

On one of the flights, I had two OAK controllers on board, and they wanted to fly the 101 corridor past SFO. They wanted to see how it worked. I got a Class B 101 from Bay (now NORCAL) and we proceeded at 1500 ft. Traffic was slow at SFO and the controllers on board got to have good conversation
with their comrades from across the bay as we flew past SFO down the Peninsula to San Carlos (about 8 miles southwest of SFO where we crossed the bay back to Oakland.

The system works well and has for many years.

Last edited by Robert Campbell; 7th Apr 2010 at 22:31. Reason: Name correction
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 19:45
  #132 (permalink)  
 
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Seems everything worked as it should, just TCAS was unhappy. TWR might have passed the info to the heavy departing, but I don't think it would have been of much use, visual separation was in the hands of Cessna pilot.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 19:59
  #133 (permalink)  
 
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Coming late to this thread... just looks like over-reaction by the UAL FO, who would have known all about the Cessna if she'd been paying attention.

I fly the bayshore transition probably once a month on average. I've had an airliner call an RA concerning me once, I was doing exactly what the controller said and the other traffic was already past my trajectory. The captain sounded annoyed but didn't make a full-scale event out of it.

Usually they will give you another route if there is a heavy taking off on 28L/R, over midfield or out over the bay. A couple of times though I've had a heavy take off in front of me, obviously keep an eye on it and be prepared to get out of the way if needed, but so far it never has been.

Actually I flew that route a couple of hours after the incident (and didn't know about it yet). All I knew was that SFO tower wasn't taking transitions (no surprise now). So Norcal took me over 280 at 3500' instead.

No big deal. Hope it doesn't mess things up long term for the bayshore transition.

n5296s
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 20:21
  #134 (permalink)  
bearfoil
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Robert Campbell

Most excellent essay. It took me back quite a ways. Where did they put Bufano's Statue?

My question: At 1600 feet on the Cessna's route close in to 28L, It is not wise to be West of 101, East of 101 (directly overhead the airport) takes him completely out of conflict with 889. West may have been preferable for other traffic, but you know what I'm saying, here? West of the Highway at 1600 feet puts him in 889's bullseye.

F/O is not a weak pilot. She is as meticulous and skilled as anyone here, believe me. For the Tower to claim "not a factor" with the bells going off would get anyone's attention. She has been flying in the Bay for 25 years that I know of, and is a Captain on the 757. Everyone knew (especially in hind sight) what was happening, but at the time she was ignored. She broke off after "we need to talk" because she was flying, even though she was ready to rip and tear. The Captain initiated a call back to tower, as he should have.

bear
 
Old 7th Apr 2010, 20:53
  #135 (permalink)  
 
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Bearfoil

My apologies to the FO if she's as good as you say. And, I agree that the prudent clearance for the Cessna would have been over the field. I've been cleared that way several times.

One thing puzzles me. Why assign 28L, the shorter runway, to the 777 Heavy with a 6 knot tailwind ... unless 889 wasn't THAT heavy.

I think it would wise for SFO tower to issue "Rules of the Road NOTAM or e-mail advisory to all of the local pilots regarding this transition. I subscribe to the FAA's advisories and e-mail NOTAMS

Every time I use the 101 corridor, I look at the TO end of the 28s and, if I see an aircraft there, I tell the controller that I have the traffic in site even if it's not rolling.

In a situation such as this, everyone should be as well informed as possible.


Do you remember when someone tied a big YoYo to the Bufano statue's finger?
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 20:59
  #136 (permalink)  
 
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robert campbell

thanks for the nice essay and com transcript. I flew for WestAir out of Chico way back when (1982 or so) 402's.

I think the situation was under control with the cessna having the burden of visual seperation. the TCAS RA could have been over ridden if the 777 crew had the traffic in sight and was SURE that was the only traffic.

somewhere back in learning to fly, watching the extended centerline of the runway for traffic...from both planes ...would have been normal.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 21:16
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Hornet

WestAir grew out of STOLAir which flew Islanders and Trilanders. The initial Route was SFO - Santa Rosa and back.

I did the promo photography for them of a Trilander circling the SFO terminals and tower. I've got some great images from those days.

I was also doing the route acceptance flights for the FAA until they found out that I was also flying night cargo out of SFO to BUR and LAX in B-18s for Arabesco Airlines, the only Black owned airline in the US. I was told to pick one or the other. I chose Arabesco, the pay was better. It was single pilot, but they let us bring "Cargo Handlers" along. That made it "bearable".
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 22:47
  #138 (permalink)  
 
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UAL

I don't if there is any connection here. Maybe this was one incident too many, and United decided to throw in the towel

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Wed, April 07, 2010 -- 5:08 PM ET
-----

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The UAL Corporation, the parent of United Airlines, and US
Airways are in talks to merge, in a potential deal that would
create one of the world's largest airlines, people briefed on
the matter said on Wednesday.

The negotiations mark the latest efforts to consolidate the
struggling airline industry. Both companies have been vocal
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United and US Airways are deep in their merger discussions,
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may still collapse. One potential hurdle could be union
opposition.

Read More:
United and US Airways Said to Be in Merger Talks - DealBook Blog - NYTimes.com
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 23:07
  #139 (permalink)  
 
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Hornet,
the TCAS RA could have been over ridden if the 777 crew had the traffic in sight and was SURE that was the only traffic.
Your credibility is now zero.

After having read Robert's and others continued attempts to portray this as a non-event, I can now see why I don't like the US system or attitude. These two aircraft were seconds away from being wrecks on the 101, and all you can do is sledge the UA FO for not paying attention. Ridiculous.
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Old 7th Apr 2010, 23:44
  #140 (permalink)  
 
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Back to Normal

I just talked to a controller at SFO. Everything is back to normal except for busy times which were always restricted: usually 7:30 - 9:00; 11:30 - 1:00 and 4:00 to 6:00. And that is flexible.

Walt Smith, the tower chief, retired two years ago.

And all is well in SFO land.
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