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Landing NORDO at KDCA

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Landing NORDO at KDCA

Old 27th Mar 2011, 00:22
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Sorry Con, but I'm only regurgitating part of your post at the top of the page. How's that insulting?

I'll reiterate about showing off ones experience. This is the internet. I could say anything and you wouldn't be able to prove it either way. Much the same as me not being able to prove you have zero hours? So what is the point?

First off, read the post just above yours for the answer of how to operate at a controlled airport that has become uncontrolled. All it takes is common sense, experience and judgment.
I already know. But what I don't know is if anybody else does and if they did what their reaction would be in the same situation. Neither do you.

If you lack such attributes, so be it and land somewhere else, where the tower can 'talk you down'. I certainly would not like to push a pilot into a situation you/they cannot handle.
No tower has ever "talked me down". That isn't their job.

Again, I, as many other experienced pilots here have stated that there was no danger involved landing at DCA as is under discussion. If you have a problem with that, so be it.
How do you know there was no danger involved? Could you see the unseen danger?

As for the self importance bit, you started off with insults, not me.
Again, what's insulting about using the information about yourself that you so readily proffer. However, you just immediately decided that I did not know what I was talking about.

But believe it or not, you are not the know all, end all of aviation safety.
I have never claimed to be.

stepwilk,

particularly those who condescend to say, "I -could- tell you all about my time as the ace of the base, but I'm too busy to bother."
I take it that's aimed at me. I'm not, never have been and never will be ace of the base. Much to my chagrin. I'm not too busy to bother. As I said to Con, I could tell you anything and you couldn't prove it either way.

Ok. 21,100 hours. All heavy jet time.

Feel better?!
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 00:27
  #62 (permalink)  
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My 25 cents worth: DCA is a primary airport in a full time Class B Surface Area. Thus, the airport is not a full or part-time uncontrolled airport. If it were me I would feel uncomfortable that I was unable to contact the tower. And, I have no doubt approach control would have been unable to shed any light on the matter.

So, and this is strictly the way I operated, I would invoke the principle of "the least cost of being wrong." I wouldn't be able to process what may or may not be wrong at this highly sensitive airport. Also, what assurance do I have that the runway is clear? If this were an authorized uncontrolled airport in my ops specs the company may very well have a responsibility for checking the runway for night operations. Not so at DCA.

That's enough of a confusion factor for me; I would have diverted to IAD.

I am not arguing the legalities because sitting here at the comfort of my desk I don't know what violations, if any, I would cause by landing at DCA under the circumstances. I do know that diverting to IAD would not create either a legal or possible safety issue.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 01:06
  #63 (permalink)  
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aterpster

what would you have done if IAD had a TRW in progress? what would you have done if you couldn't get approach/departure control if you went around?

There are so many what ifs...as I've said before, a maintenance vehicle on the runway would have required a clearance from ATC.

IF ATC wasn't answering the radio, the maintenance vehicle wouldn't go on the runway. They would probably drive to a telephone and call someone in the tower. Or the police. Or use their cellphone.

Other planes wouldn't be on the runway without a clearance awaiting takeoff,as I've mentioned there is a noise curfew and you can't takeoff at this time frame.

and, if someone had just landed without ATC clearance, they would have the CTAF on their radio and the inbound plane could speak and coordinate with them.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 01:11
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IF ATC wasn't answering the radio, the maintenance vehicle wouldn't go on the runway.
Or maybe they would. THey could just assume because ATC weren't answering that nobody would land!
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 01:15
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sevenstrokeroll:

aterpster

what would you have done if IAD had a TRW in progress? what would you have done if you couldn't get approach/departure control if you went around?
But, that is "what ifing" circumstances that did not exist that night.

If IAD had a TRW I would know a lot about it from having scoped it inbound to DCA. I would then consider BWI as well as IAD.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 01:22
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dear lord spandex masher

if I couldn't raise someone on the radio like the tower at DCA, the first thing that would come into my mind is that MY freaking radio had quit, or that someone had turned off the speaker/headphone switch.

I don't think you have a clue...

a mx vehicle driver wouldn't make that assumption...he would investigate...after all he has the luxury of being on the ground.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 01:34
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SSR,

a mx vehicle driver wouldn't make that assumption...he would investigate
How do you know? There appears to be a lot of assuming going on. You assume they'd check, you assume they wouldn't be on the runway. But, you don't know!

I've witnessed a bird scaring vehicle enter a runway without permission before. In LVP's. He got lucky. But let's stop assuming things shall we.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 01:35
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you mess up there in that ADIZ they put a nice light on for you to see better...
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 01:35
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We landed our airliners at night at the old B52 base at the west end of Puerto Rico every night with no controller. We usually cancelled our IFR clearance before switching to advisory frequency to simplify things and not have to cancel after landing. Pretty simple procedure but uncommon for our airline. DCA would make it more difficult because it should be controlled but isn't. I think I would go around and sort it out with approach control like the first arrival did. If approach says treat it like an uncontrolled airport then it is easy. ATC is for traffic separation, they have little control of how you conduct your approach or taxi as long as you are not going to hit another moving vehicle. They should have just closed the tower at 11:00 and made it uncontrolled to make things simple and he could sleep in his own bed. Sleeping sitting up sux.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 01:57
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But there is a difference between landing at a controlled airport without any 'control' and landing at an uncontrolled airport.

For a start there are procedures that are followed at an uncontrolled airport to ensure people know what other people are doing.
You ought to visit the USA sometime. I guess in the UK everything is controlled, even that which is uncontrolled. In the US everything is uncontrolled unless controlled.

1717219
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 13:12
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Question: Are we "up here" because ATC is "down there", or is ATC "down there" because WE are "up here"? Methinks the ATC boys need a real attitude check.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 14:02
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quick question here. apologies if it has already been addressed (i have read all posts and seems not). did either pilot switch back to approach frequency and ask to confirm tower freq or question the lack of response?
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 14:11
  #73 (permalink)  
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Try NTSB initial report post #38?

EDIT: BJ - your'e absolutely right!! Should have gone to Specsavers..................

Last edited by BOAC; 27th Mar 2011 at 14:23.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 14:20
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thank you sir.

actually it is # 36 on my page now, but nonetheless i appreciate the pointer.

having re read that post, i really fail to see what the issue is here. the captains of the respective aircraft followed TRACON inx, they did not just willy nilly land on their own. i am sure if approach had told them to go to IAD they would have. in my view they followed proper procedure and in consultation with approach landed visual. what am i missing here?
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 14:33
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I get the impression that Spandex and Shell are trying to say that they might have been more "wary" about landing in such a situation, and I tend to agree.

Of course landing at an un-controlled airport is no big deal - it's just a case of following the relevant procedures. However, what happened here is that a controlled airport suddenly became degraded to un-controlled.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to suppose that someone (or something) could have been legitimately cleared onto the active runway by the controller before he fell asleep. With a tube load of passengers sitting behind me on a dark night, I would want to be SURE that the runway was clear. Better that than just steaming in because one knows "that they don't need to be talked down." Better to be "really" careful, even if you are a "really" experienced pilot.

Whatever one's view, the debate isn't helped by a pi$$ing contest.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 14:43
  #76 (permalink)  
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clivewatson.

I gave an example or two when a CONTROLLED AIPORT TOWER OPERATOR/Controller cleared an airplane to takeoff or land with a vehicle or other airplane on the runway. One ended in death. And the other, when confronted by the pilot (me) was told that I was still cleared for takeoff.

How can you know if there is something on the runway or not when a CONTROLLER can make a mistake like I have outlined?

For starters, you look out the window of your plane.

I would like to think that a vehicle on the runway at night would have its lights on.

Planes have hit dear, trucks, birds, other planes all with an operating tower.

IF a pilot determines that an airport is reasonably safe to land on and reasonably has determined that Tower is not operating properly, landing using uncontrolled airport ops is reasonable.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 15:03
  #77 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by cw
Whatever one's view, the debate isn't helped by a pi$$ing contest.
- wise words.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 15:28
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Sevenstrokers

I don't disagree with you - making a "reasoned" judgment is a personal thing, and you are entitled to express your opinion, just as Spandex and Shell are.

I am in complete agreement with you.....mistakes do happen at controlled airports, but I'll bet my shirt that FAR MORE mistakes happen at un-controlled ones....and for sure even more runway incursions happen at night.

If some readers prefer to exercise more caution than you when faced with the same set of circumstances, that is their prerogative. Is it really necessary to insult them by suggesting that "they haven't got a clue," simply because their measure of caution differs from yours?

Finally, just as an aside, and despite your tally of years and hours, the following statement of yours demonstrates that you hadn't fully thought through a point that YOU thought worthy of mention...

There are so many what ifs...as I've said before, a maintenance vehicle on the runway would have required a clearance from ATC. IF ATC wasn't answering the radio, the maintenance vehicle wouldn't go on the runway.
....perhaps Spandex and Shell figured that someone/something may have been cleared onto the runway, but never told to get off!

clivewatson (clueless, and not a real pilot)
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 17:31
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....perhaps Spandex and Shell figured that someone/something may have been cleared onto the runway, but never told to get off!
I was not going to post here again, but I just cannot let anything that silly go unanswered.

Sigh.

Right then, the sleeping controller clears an airport vehicle (and it would have to be an airport vehicle to be cleared on an active runway) onto the runway. So this airport vehicle, with its normal lights on, plus its hazard/caution lights, plus the flashing bright yellow light on the top of its cab, goes out on the runway and then turns all of its lights off. I mean the lights would have to be turned off, otherwise the pilots would see the airport vehicle on the runway.

Okay, let's get even sillier. Say it was an unauthorized, non-airport vehicle. It goes out on the runway, bypassing a myriad of security checkpoints and systems that exists at DCA. Then it stops in the middle of the runway. You really think that the tower controller, even a wide awake one, would see it, at night? Not that they look out the windows that much anyway. No, there would a 99% chance they would not see the unauthorized, non-airport vehicle either.

You might as well worry about someone going out on the runway and digging a 50 foot by 50 foot hole in the middle of it.






Oh, was incorrect about my flying time, I have 21,101 hours, all in the Space Shuttle.
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Old 27th Mar 2011, 18:29
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You might as well worry about someone going out on the runway and digging a 50 foot by 50 foot hole in the middle of it
snort!

con, i think you may be beating your head against a wall on this one. Despite SM's own post, which included this:

The approach controller and the TRACON supervisor on duty made several attempts to contact the tower controller via telephone, but were unable to establish contact. The TRACON approach controller advised the crew of American flight 1012 that the tower was apparently unattended, and that the flight would be handled as an arrival to an uncontrolled airport.
Controlled/uncontrolled looks like an alien concept to some, or that some controlled airports go uncontrolled at certain times, and dont even start on pilot controlled lighting !
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