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Polish "Air Force One" departed from EPZG without permission

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Polish "Air Force One" departed from EPZG without permission

Old 5th Aug 2020, 20:14
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Polish "Air Force One" departed from EPZG without permission

Not many English-language sources available, but several press reports in Polish seem to confirm the incident. A month ago, on July 2nd, the plane of Polish president Duda was left stranded at EPZG (Zielona Gora Babimost) Airport. The politicians were late, the airport closed and ATCO went home. Despite no-one gave the permission to do that, the LOT-owned Embraer 175 departed with president on board and finally arrived in Warsaw later the same night. The incident wasn't reported by LOT until one week later, only after first press coverage emerged. Recently it was reported that the pilot flying wasn't even fully licensed to do so. Pretty amazing, as it concerns the EU country governed by "Law and Justice" party. Or maybe "Rulers Above the Law"?
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Old 5th Aug 2020, 20:38
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Shades of the one that crashed in Russia that may have been caused my a senior officer telling the crew to try a approach
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Old 5th Aug 2020, 21:22
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My big question is "who's permission did they need?"

If ATC has gone home does the airfield not revert to uncontrolled procedures? I don't know EPZG but I did used to operate every day from aerodromes outside their ATC hours as well as completely uncontrolled aerodromes (IFR and VFR).

I would imagine they either departed VFR and picked up their IFR route clearance on the climb, or got the route clearance on the ground by phone or radio contact with an ATS.

Doesn't sound like anything was wrong to me...
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Old 5th Aug 2020, 22:31
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No fire cover. No alerting service at the airfield.
Normally the airport authority would need to approve operations
when “out of hours”...?

And some question over the pilot’s licence....?
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Old 5th Aug 2020, 22:50
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This is exactly why giving the "Polish Force One" to civil operator is a mistake. It is very convenient on most of occasions but then from time to time you have a moment when executive decision by Supreme Commander will solve any problem if you are military.

Last edited by CargoOne; 5th Aug 2020 at 23:03.
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 00:42
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Originally Posted by LookingForAJob View Post
Just curious, but what laws or rules have been broken?
I am curious too.... if the tower was closed, i presume that the airspace was class G and CTAF would have been the go?
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 06:18
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When the boss decides he wants to launch, often they are blind to the implications if anything goes wrong. Serious pressure is exerted on the crew to depart.

The 13 March 2014 fatal accident when a AW139 helicopter crashed on lift off in dense fog at night in Norfolk, UK is a classic case of employer’s pressure.

It was against the better judgement of the crew ( CVR discussion ) prior to engine start, was I suspect ‘pressure’ from the owner who came on board later than planned to return to Northern Ireland.

A very wealthy man, who invariably was use to getting his own way, oblivious to the potential dangers of the conditions.

At the Inquest, the owner’s family put the blame squarely with the crew for going against ‘the rules‘.

Knowing the particular style of the gentleman, it would come as no surprise if he would have sacked the crew on the spot for declining to depart.

The various employment tribunals in Carlisle from ex employees at Corby Castle ( he owned Carlisle Airport at one time ) did indicate a certain
“no nonsense approach” if his wishes weren’t carried out without unquestioning obedience.

Last edited by parkfell; 6th Aug 2020 at 06:48. Reason: CAX
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 07:05
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President?

Maybe I’m a rebel, but if the president of my country told me he needed me to fly him somewhere in the country where he was president, and I was the PIC, I think it would be a simple matter of determining the weather conditions, runway conditions, fuel requirements, performance etc, and deciding to takeoff. Maybe learning to fly in Alaska put something wrong in my head? Loads of airports where the only fire cover was the fire extinguishers in the aircraft. It apparently was not a scheduled passenger flight which requires the mountain loads of regulatory restrictions. And I think it was not a normal non scheduled charter type operation. It was the president of the country. At least in the USA, any government flight has a separate set of rules and they are not restricted by the day to day commercial, business, general aviation regulations, and I would think that regardless of which country it might be, their government flight ops would be very similar.
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 07:35
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My father in law, retired captain from the national carrier, became flight ops manager of secret services flight dept. which had some business jets in its fleet. They were used, typically, to transport politicians, spies, top state manager and similar stuff. This Wing followed civil aviation flight rules.
Once, it happened to him to fly the president of the republic, which normally flew with the military planes and used to land under any circumstances, but this time the president had to revert to the "spies" company as no other military plane was available.
This time, as the visibility was below the civil standards for landing, my f.i.l. diverted to a different airport. As a consequence he was removed from his management position. "All the World is just a village".

Last edited by capricorn23; 6th Aug 2020 at 08:31.
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 07:55
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Originally Posted by parkfell View Post
The 13 March 2014 fatal accident when a AW139 helicopter crashed on lift off in dense fog at night in Norfolk, UK is a classic case of employer’s pressure.

It was against the better judgement of the crew ( CVR discussion ) prior to engine start, was I suspect ‘pressure’ from the owner who came on board later than planned to return to Northern Ireland.

A very wealthy man, who invariably was use to getting his own way, oblivious to the potential dangers of the conditions
Quite so. The AAIB stated at the inquest that had the helicopter been at a licensed aerodrome, it would not have been allowed to take off in such fog.
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 08:45
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Not really relevant to the Polish Government in so many respects - but hey ho!

The Polish have 2 nearly new G550s, two BBJs and a further B737-800 on the way - why oh why they are still using an Embraer 175 is rather puzzling.
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 08:47
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Originally Posted by parkfell View Post
No fire cover. No alerting service at the airfield.
Normally the airport authority would need to approve operations
when “out of hours”...?
No Fire cover : how do you know? .They are permanently based and avail on PPR 24/7. I doubt very much they wee not warned of the aircraft departure.
On the" departed without ATC authorization" , different States have different rules on that , maybe it is the case in Poland not sure , , but in may other parts of the world if ATC is not avail , as indicated before it is A/A and a class G departure. VFR. Perfectly OK.
Done everywhere all the time . I would say it t only made the news here because it is President on board in a very politically divided country ...
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 09:59
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Originally Posted by Joe_K View Post
This airport indicates on it's website (according to Google translate):

"Air traffic control service

Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 07:00 - 10:00; 12:00 - 17:00; 19:00 - 22:00
Wed: 07:00 - 10:00; 12:00 - 14:30
Sun: 14:30 - 17:00; 19:00 - 22:00

Planned take-offs and landings outside the airport's operating hours should be reported to the operator 72 hours before the flight operation.
"
good info, thanks I don't have the charts.

However, "should" is the key word here. It does not imply a compulsory action in the way "must" does. Sorry to sound like a lawyer, but these distinctions often matter in aviation.

Also a "planned" takeoff needs further definition too... there is a lot of grey area here.

of course this all depends on the quality of the translation...
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 10:46
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the" planned movements " are there for commercial flights that need more infrastructure like customs, , baggage, security, stairs, fuel etc...
This was I guess ( did not see the PLN) most likely a Sate flight., Sate flight means flights of military, police, customs, etc...., other rules apply.if it was designated as such.
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 14:21
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With 4 flights per day on average in 2019 in the US they would not even think of building a tower. CTAF works very well. Even in LAS if necessary as proven. In Europe there is a historical habit to have a tower on every meadow, and close the field as soon as that guy is off duty.

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Old 6th Aug 2020, 15:13
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Exactly. There is no issue here.
In the US there are 5092 public airports, but only 518 of them have a control tower. Most of the non-controlled airports have airline service and are open 24 hours with pilot controlled runway lights. And, there are 14530 private airports. (Source: FAA Air Traffic by the numbers - June 2019)
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 16:28
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When in VIP service, our PIC had a bung for such eventualities, but didn't work in France for curfew hour. I think the question that needs answering is how ATC were allowed to go home when a presidential flight was waiting to leave?
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 17:47
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I'd be careful with a lot of these blanket statements in this thread. Don't know about polish law, but in this western european country any airfield outside it's operating hours - be it controlled or uncontrolled - has same legal status as a barley field or the Autobahn with respect to airlaw. Departing or landing is not a misdemeanor but a criminal offence although the facilities may be perfectly suitable to do so.
GA wise many pilots especially from the island don't know and are so courteous to drop a fiver and slip with their registration and landing/departure time in the letter box. Very bad idea. At least don't get caught.
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Old 6th Aug 2020, 18:22
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- The airport working hours were extended by NOTAM. Follow, Duty Officer etc. ATC tower however is NOT part of the airport.
- ATC couldn’t have been extended. ATCO was out of duty time.
- The ATCO finished his shift and informed the crew that as of nów it is a class G airspace. He then stayed in the postion to provide the minimum asistance (eg. reading wind condition).
- LOTs SOP forbids flying in class G airspace and that’s what all the fuss is about.
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Old 7th Aug 2020, 12:27
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So Nelson’s eye technique employed.......
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