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Cathay messy in SFO

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Cathay messy in SFO

Old 15th Sep 2019, 18:20
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Originally Posted by OldLurker
cactusbusdrvr – Thanks, interesting. BTW, looking back I see that it was from a 787 that a stowaway’s body fell only a few blocks away from where I was. He’d apparently hidden in the wheel well, so I guess other types also need to have gear down as early as 10nm out.

things is, places like that want 180kts on base, then instantly 160 on the GS. Unless I’ve second guessed and slowed before GS, I’ll need to Chuck the wheels down and F15-20 to lose the 20 kts. And I can guarantee when I do that they’ll say “ maintain 180 for now “.

As per fatigue , EASA limits are seen as aspirational targets by some. I still can’t believe someone thought they were a good idea

i defy anyone to feel fresh at the end of ANY longhaul flight .
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Old 15th Sep 2019, 18:25
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Originally Posted by Uplinker


Let’s calm down a second. I for one basically agree with you.

Not always, but yes, myself and others are saying that fatigue sometimes plays a part. We were all unhappy when EASA rules came in, but sadly not enough of us nor BALPA nor our CAA were prepared to refuse the new FTL rules. So here we are. I put in fatigue reports as many others do, but companies are continually screwing more and more hours out of fewer and fewer pilots because the passenger will usually only pay for the cheapest fight. In my company, we fly three crew on flight times over 10 hours or so, so at least we each get a couple of hours’ rest outside the cockpit. However, for us that rest is in a seat in the passenger compartment, with a curtain around it. You can still hear - and are kept awake by - passengers around you talking.

We have video briefings about certain airports but sometimes it can be your first time there, and no amount of words on a page or videos can fully prepare you for an American airport..............

This Cathay crew screwed up. They missed a turn. I don’t know why, but very probably it was fatigue or inadequate preparation or briefing. The Cathay pilot on the radio sounds stressed to me. Maybe none of the flight crew had been to SFO before.

Some Long-haul pilots are short on manual handling skills. They shouldn’t be, but many are. If you only get two landings a month and are encouraged by your airline and FDM to fly with the automatics then this can be the result. I have suggested several times on other threads how this might be addressed.

Bear in mind that airliners are mostly flown by average pilots - (and I include myself in that analysis). Fast jet pilots from the forces are much better pilots than most of us because they were the best 0.0001% (or whatever) selected from all applicants.

UK ATC is the best in the world in my humble opinion and 18 years’ commercial flying. Many US airports would benefit by learning from UK trained and experienced ATCers such as those from Heathrow, Gatwick or Swanwick.

Fly safe





2 landings a month.....I should coco.

Most long haul pilots are knackered by the time we get anywhere, I’d simply reduce the margins if i decided it would be a good idea to start doing visual stuff. It would not be good airmanship at a lot the busy places we go .

Also your contention that forces pilots are better....well your opening a can of worms there aren’t you .
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Old 15th Sep 2019, 22:29
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I'm too tired to do a visual. I must have an ILS with the autopilot on. Oh, I forgot, it's the controllers fault, or it's United's fault. Whatever... IMHO, if you can't execute a visual approach at a busy airport, I'm sorry, you're not really an airline pilot.
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Old 15th Sep 2019, 22:59
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Originally Posted by Obama57
... if you can't execute a visual approach at a busy airport, I'm sorry, you're not really an airline pilot.
Just because you can execute a visual approach, doesn't mean you should. Risk management (aka airmanship) would suggest that if operating into an unfamiliar airport when fatigued after a longhaul flight, accepting and flying a visual approach might not be the wisest choice. To quote Frank Borman (Apollo 8 Commander):
A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill.
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Old 15th Sep 2019, 23:01
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Originally Posted by Obama57
I'm too tired to do a visual.............IMHO, if you can't execute a visual approach at a busy airport, I'm sorry, you're not really an airline pilot.
In a perfect world I’d agree. In the world of ultra long haul operations - it’s the reality. Not enough sectors - recency is an issue, as is genuine fatigue.

In my world the shortest sector we do is about a 15hr tour of duty back of the clock. I wish I was as good as when I was flying short domestic / international hops with multiple sectors a day. The reality is different.

Unless you have experienced it, I imagine it would be hard to empathise, but easy to criticise.
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 03:10
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Originally Posted by Bleve
Just because you can execute a visual approach, doesn't mean you should. Risk management (aka airmanship) would suggest that if operating into an unfamiliar airport when fatigued after a longhaul flight, accepting and flying a visual approach might not be the wisest choice. To quote Frank Borman (Apollo 8 Commander):
Absolutely. Still, if cleared for the visual you are are either able or you tell the controller "unable" and get vectors for the ILS. Cathay accepted and screwed up, United got an RA (they might have not followed), the controller sat and watched it happen...
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 05:37
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Originally Posted by hans brinker
the controller sat and watched it happen...
I find it difficult to believe that the controller was sitting at his scope watching just those two airplanes (CX and UA) when he had others on his frequency.

Last edited by Chris2303; 16th Sep 2019 at 06:49.
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 06:22
  #88 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by hans brinker
Absolutely. Still, if cleared for the visual you are are either able or you tell the controller "unable" and get vectors for the ILS. Cathay accepted and screwed up,
Absolutely ! that is what we controllers do expect . Sadly that word seems to have vanished with the new magenta generation..
the controller sat and watched it happen...
You really think that once a ( any) clearance is issued and accepted we just sit there watching those 2 aircraft only to see if they comply ? Time to go and spend half an hour in a busy approach or center.
Which incidentally bring me back of one of the sad consequence of 9/11 : the suppression of Familiarization flights in cockpits by ATC.. You have today a full generation of controllers who have never visited an airliner cockpit or even talked to an airlines crew... Their only airborne experience might have been a single ride in a 172..
That could explain some might tell you to make a S turns to increase distance on a A350...
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 13:06
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Originally Posted by Obama57
I'm too tired to do a visual. I must have an ILS with the autopilot on. Oh, I forgot, it's the controllers fault, or it's United's fault. Whatever... IMHO, if you can't execute a visual approach at a busy airport, I'm sorry, you're not really an airline pilot.

Ohhh , you are my hero.

Its not a case of can’t, it’s a case of “ is it a good idea ?” . That’s airmanship and risk management.

Yanks love their visuals , but it’s always the shorthaul ones doing it who’ve probably only come from Big falls, odawaydahoo.
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 18:17
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Originally Posted by Meester proach
Yanks love their visuals , but it’s always the shorthaul ones doing it who’ve probably only come from Big falls, odawaydahoo.
BigFalls for the fifth landing of the day in the same crappy weather system, what's your point? That's not fatigue?
Follow vectors to final and complete the visual is not asking a lot, heck you can even leave the autopilot on and let it do the approach, your call.
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 18:29
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Originally Posted by cappt
BigFalls for the fifth landing of the day in the same crappy weather system, what's your point? That's not fatigue?
That's proficiency, not fatigue.
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 19:04
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Any A-350 pilots out there that can tell us, how many NM does take to go from minimum clean speed to normal approach speed on the A-350?
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 21:27
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Not sure if the incident aircraft was a 359 or 35K. 359 slows down like a 744, 35K is more slippery, like an A330. Commencement of speed reduction from 250 kts to be CONF 2/180/3000 at 10 nm starts around 20nm for a - 900, 23nm for a - 1000. Loose, ballpark figures.
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 21:48
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Originally Posted by Veruka Salt
Not sure if the incident aircraft was a 359 or 35K.
Not helped by the fact that after nearly 100 posts, we still don't seem to know when the incident happened.
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Old 16th Sep 2019, 22:22
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None of us in the airline know anything about it either. Unusual, as they are generally very good about promptly passing info. regarding operational events.
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Old 17th Sep 2019, 02:34
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Originally Posted by Obama57
I'm too tired to do a visual. I must have an ILS with the autopilot on. Oh, I forgot, it's the controllers fault, or it's United's fault. Whatever... IMHO, if you can't execute a visual approach at a busy airport, I'm sorry, you're not really an airline pilot.
How much long haul flying do you do?

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Old 17th Sep 2019, 02:54
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Here: 40+ years of airline flying, thereof 24 on LH and ULH.
byllit, your answer is bs.
I almost fully agree with Obama57, although i would go further and say that if you can't execute a visual at a busy airport with marginal weather: Stay away from being an airline pilot! That's exactly one of the reasons you are still in the cockpit for!
You will not do that on every second flight, but you need to be able to do it and therefore you need to practice it every now and then.
I see too many young colleagues turn pale when i even only raise the idea of a visual. Brave new world!
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Old 17th Sep 2019, 05:01
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Is a 14 hour sector with 6-8 hours in the bunk still considered long haul?
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Old 17th Sep 2019, 07:45
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Originally Posted by deja vu
Is a 14 hour sector with 6-8 hours in the bunk still considered long haul?
Departing at 2030 local for a 14hr flight, I’d say is long haul,

Even with about 6.hrs “off duty” in the bunk that means that two pilots are trying to have a snooze between 2130-0030 and then again about 0330-0630 body time.
The other two pilots are taking their rest at 0030-0330 and then 0630-0930 body time.

Assuming they can go straight to sleep and don’t get disturbed by noise / turbulence / their bladders etc they would feel about average when they all turned up prior to descent.

I average about 2hrs of broken sleep at each break and feel ok by ToD. Not at 100% but good enough. Let’s not pretend that we’re as rested as if we’d been tucked up in our beds / hotel for 6hrs straight.

Having also spent half of my career doing multi sector domestic ops I can categorically say that long haul ops hurt way more - for me. That is offset by more days at home between trips etc but the overall effect on my body and flying skills is that I find long haul tougher overall than 2 man domestic ops day in day out.

Everyone is different.
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Old 21st Sep 2019, 23:01
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Originally Posted by Meester proach



Ohhh , you are my hero.

Its not a case of can’t, it’s a case of “ is it a good idea ?” . That’s airmanship and risk management.

Yanks love their visuals , but it’s always the shorthaul ones doing it who’ve probably only come from Big falls, odawaydahoo.




Predictable anti-Yank snark doesn't change the fact that this Cathay crew had a loss of SA, was well behind their own aircraft, and didn't comply with clearances/instructions they acknowledged. The failure of airmanship and risk management occurred long before the offer of a visual approach to try and salvage the mess was made or the RAs occurred.

Cathay was issued a visual approach for 28L (4:00 minutes into the recording) after they had already stuffed-up the clearance to intercept and capture the electronic guidance/localizer for 28L, a stuff-up that resulted in a loss of separation with UAL on approach to the parallel 28R, and only after Cathay was asked if they wanted to proceed using one. The reason for controller's visual approach offer was, since Cathay didn't follow their original clearance to join the 28L localizer, because it the only option remaining that would allow Cathay to maneuver back to the left for 28L. The offer and question...not the clearance...for a 28L visual approach came at 3:45, after which Cathay responded they could indeed continue using one. Only then (at 4:00), was the visual approach clearance issued to Cathay accompanied by the controller's re-iteration that they were to proceed to 28L and UAL was on 28R.

To review what led up to it.

Cathay was being vectored to 28L and given a heading of 010 which they acknowledged but didn't execute. When finally prompted by the controller to verify they were turning, Cathay asked for the controller to repeat the heading. The controller then asked them for a "sharp turn" (due to not following the previous vector) to the new heading of 330. At 1:32 Cathay was then given a heading of 310 and clearance to intercept the localizer for 28L, which Cathay acknowledged and read back correctly at 1:35. However, instead of following what they were cleared-for and read back, they proceeded to blow through the 28L localizer and encroached on the approach path for 28R.

Prior to that and before where the localizer intercept was to occur, the UAL traffic was pointed out to Cathay by the controller which Cathay acknowledged they had visually. Cathay was told that that UAL traffic was for 28R and instructed to maintain visual separation from them, which is a standard ATC instruction in VMC conditions when approach paths are in close proximity. At 1:58 the controller first pointed out the UAL traffic on approach stating it was on the approach for 28R. Cathay acknowledged they had them visually at 2:05 and, after a repeat of the subsequent instruction, at 2:23 read back/acknowledged the instruction to maintain visual separation. However, they obviously failed to comply.

At 1:35 Cathay was issued and acknowledged the final vector and clearance to intercept 28L localizer. At 2:25 while on that heading, they acknowledged visual contract with traffic for the parallel runway and the instruction to maintain visual separation. The failure to intercept the localizer/final approach course for 28L and encroachment into 28R's occurred 40 seconds later at about 3:05.

The real question(s) is why didn't the Cathay crew comply with simple ATC vectors to intercept the localizer for 28L and, after acknowledging they had visual contact with traffic on a parallel runway (28R) and would maintain visual separation, blew through their final approach course to wind up underneath that other traffic lined-up for 28R. It's as if they thought they were landing on 28R, tuned the wrong freq, and never looked out the window again.

All the babble of visual approaches (initially when offered in this case a simple side-step while still above 2,000') being undoable, the supposed superiority of UK controllers over US controllers, the "dangerousness" of SFO, what UAL should have done, ULH willy-waving, etc etc completely misses the point. One would think on a professional pilot forum that pilots at least would be able to recognize where the snowball began to roll downhill and address/discuss the possible how and why it did. We're left with only possibilities since with no CVR leading up to the breakdown we can only suppose what was briefed and expected and to what degree by the crew long before this recording begins, but obviously it went to hell.

Last edited by PukinDog; 21st Sep 2019 at 23:31.
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