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Landing NORDO at KDCA

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Landing NORDO at KDCA

Old 24th Mar 2011, 01:12
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Landing NORDO at KDCA

NBC Nightly news reported two airliners landed at KDCA after midnight, local time, without landing clearance from the tower. The tower didn't respond to any radio calls.

Hmmm...long coffee break???????????

anyone with more on this, please post.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 02:02
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Evidently, AA1012 and UA 628 landed after they couldn't get an answer from the tower and Potomac TRACON couldn't get an answer by phone. The tower only had one ATCO at that hour and the FAA is investigating in the belief he went to sleep. While landing w/o ATC radio contact wouldn't surprise me at other airports, I'm a bit surprised Potomac let them land at DCA, considering the paranoia that surrounds the Versailles on the Potomac.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 02:37
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It is astonishing to me that the two airliners landed at DCA without radio contact with the tower and were not forced to divert to IAD... the report said that the aircraft landed as if DCA were an uncontrolled airport. NBC reported that one of the aircraft did a missed approach on its first approach when they were unable to raise the tower. Were the airport police contacted by TRACON?

TRACON then said, "It's happened before."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/us/24airport.html
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 03:00
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assuming one had the runway in sight, I would have landed too. cleared for the approach, if you went NORDO, you land VFR at the first airport, right?

;-)

I sure wouldn't have gone to IAD.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 03:07
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I only find it unusual because it was at DCA and then, only because of the paranoia in DC. If the ATCO fell asleep at, say, KPNS, landing and this story wouldn't be in the Pensacola news, let alone the NY Times.

Potomac probably will be criticized for not clearing them over to KIAD. Hell, during the PATCO strike, KLGA wax operated as an uncontrolled airport. The silliness of the NYT article is that pilots cannot land a plane without a controller's guidance or even find a gate.

Agree with that sevenstrokeroll
GF
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 03:11
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but seriously, all major airports should have at least two controllers watching each other in the tower...and NOT doing paperwork!
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 03:23
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The silliness of the NYT article is that pilots cannot land a plane without a controller's guidance or even find a gate.
I was going to turn on the sarcasim button and comment about that, thank goodness you handled it a little more tastefully.
assuming one had the runway in sight, I would have landed too. cleared for the approach, if you went NORDO, you land VFR at the first airport, right?
Correct FAR 91.185

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Old 24th Mar 2011, 03:31
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I thought that was one of the outcomes of the LEX crash.

Years back hauling mail in the middle of the night couldn't get SAN tower to answer. Went back to approach and was cleared to land. Clearing the runway we heard a groggy "Taxi to parking." With their curfews we were the only flight in for hours.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 03:34
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A case of the trots due to some bad Chesapeake Bay "ersters" for dinner? I spare you the details, but there have been rare times I've been - err - forced by nature into a "MAYDAY" extended vacancy from a post (none aviation-related). It does show why critical posts need backup staffing.

From the flight deck perspective, after the first "What the hell...?" moment and a quick mental gear-change, the only real operational risk, I guess, was something getting onto the active in the dark. I'd have been just that extra bit vigilant.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 03:43
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long ago, at an ALPA safety conference (when my airline was alpa...we have moved on thank Goodness). An FAA guy said that someday we would get approach clearance and landing clearance at the same time and that we shouldn't expect anything from tower...maybe the FAA was experimenting

I AM KIDDING about the experimenting...the FEDS mentioned this awhile ago. I objected to the whole idea.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 03:44
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maerkerinbound

were you with CalAircharter?
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 07:52
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Something similar happened at a place I am familiar with. The Captain went to the tower, found the controller asleep and signed himself "on watch" in the ATC log!! A certain amount of aggravation later occurred for the controller.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 09:19
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Don't get me wrong. I do think that pilots are able to safely land and taxi to the gate without the assistance of ATC, but: this shouldn't be allowed to happen and there ought to be procedures in place to prevent a controller from going offline due to fatigue or whatever.

But maybe it's the money which prevented two ATCOs to be present.

Remember the midair collision between a TU154 and a B757 overhead Überlingen / Germany in 2002? Resulting from a cut-down of personnel overhead proposed by a consulting firm, the Swiss controller was allowed to be alone at his station (his colleague was taking a scheduled break), handling a bunch of airplanes (several in upper airspace and one being vectored to an approach...) simultaneously and consequently overlooking the two airplanes on a conflicting course.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 12:43
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It wasn't exactly NORDO - the crews were able to communicate with the approach and each other, so it was no different than a landing in any uncontrolled airport. And what paranoia? The crews obviously had their TSA clearances to fly in the FRZ, so what's the problem?
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 13:30
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Controller asleep in tower?

The FAA would not comment on a media report that the airport controller had fallen asleep
2 planes land at Washington airport without controller help - CNN.com
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 14:29
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The media is making a lot more out of this than needs be. I as well have been cleared to land by approach control. In fact one late night on initial contact with an approach controller, after we called the airport/runway insight, we were told; cleared for the visual, cleared to land, cleared to taxi to the ramp and cleared to the bar.

Worked for us.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 16:54
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Dvv

The paranoia? Where to begin? What used to be open airspace with conventional Class B rules (I remember when it was a TCA) is now a veritable aerial fortress patrolled by helos and police, with arcane and draconian rules that have virtually shutdown several airports around the District. Airliners entering the FRZ have to have marshals on-board, passengers belted in for the final portion of the flight, special clearances for the pilots, GA planes essentially banned from an airport that once provided easy access to the Capitol. I have flown in there in a Cherokee, now it would be impossible. These restrictions, by the way, will do nothing to stop a terrorist or hijacker from attacking, witness the wacko in a Cessna 150 who crashed into the White House during the Clinto years. It is all of a piece of the virtual shutdown of airspace when the President flies.

Paranoid? What would you call it?
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 17:01
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Dvv

The paranoia? Where to begin? What used to be open airspace with conventional Class B rules (I remember when it was a TCA) is now a veritable aerial fortress patrolled by helos and police, with arcane and draconian rules that have virtually shutdown several airports around the District. Airliners entering the FRZ have to have marshals on-board, passengers belted in for the final portion of the flight, special clearances for the pilots, GA planes essentially banned from an airport that once provided easy access to the Capitol. I have flown in there in a Cherokee, now it would be impossible. These restrictions, by the way, will do nothing to stop a terrorist or hijacker from attacking, witness the wacko in a Cessna 150 who crashed into the White House during the Clinto years. It is all of a piece of the virtual shutdown of airspace when the President flies.

Paranoid? What would you call it?
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 17:15
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<<I do think that pilots are able to safely land and taxi to the gate without the assistance of ATC, >>

Well, better you than me! Taxy in alone, without help... but watch for the busted light fitting that'll shred your tyres... or the maintenance vehicles alongside the taxyway... and all and all.

<<the Swiss controller was allowed to be alone at his station >>

Happens all the time, all over the world, especially at airfields or their associated approach controls.
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Old 24th Mar 2011, 17:31
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An ATCO wouldn't be able to see a busted light any more from the tower than the pilot would be able to, and why would there be service vehicles at the side of the taxiway if there's no-one in the tower? And even if there were, the pilots again, more likely to be able to see them from the cockpit than the ATCO in the tower.... surely?
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