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Lufty at SFO

Old 14th Nov 2023, 04:21
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Originally Posted by Maisk Rotum
Handled badly by both. If no vis app at night for them fine. It was communicated as such. ATC were less than accommodating by sending them to the hold. By that time both parties had become entrenched and then the crew threatened them with an an emergency call if ..... and what sounded like " and that will really **** up your...". To which ATC became more entrenched and invited them to call for a divert or shut up. All LH had to do was say "minimum fuel". To which ATC would be obliged to ask them for fuel remaining in minutes. Some sort of expedited sequencing should have then followed. Drama over. A few big egos on the radio here.
exactly
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 05:15
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Not sure what STAR Lufthansa was on, but typically by the time I am assigned a heading to depart a WP on, Iím on the second NCT controller. Iíd be curious if Lufthansa on initial contact with the first NCT controller advised them of their inability to fly the visual. Assuming Visuals, charted visuals and FMS visual were being advertised on the ATIS, Lufthansa had plenty of advance notice. If they hadnít mentioned it till whatís heard on the recording, well that handcuffs the controller as the spacing needed to be established significantly earlier.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 06:36
  #103 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Check Airman
From where I sit, European pilots seem pretty reluctant to do visuals. Why is that?
Funny. I've never heard any US based carrier do a visual anywhere in Europe.

Familiarity is probably your answer.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 06:43
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Originally Posted by Capt Fathom
This has got nothing to do with anyone's ability to fly a visual approach. It's about maintaining your own separation from other aircraft visually at night.
^ This!!
Maintaining visual separation during the day is hard enough, it's not really possible at night. It sometimes seems a controller gets themselves into to a situation they can't be arsed sorting so just want to divulge themselves of any responsibility instead of sorting it.

I've had similar before stateside:
- Are you visual with the airport?
- Negative
- Are you visual with the aircraft ahead?
- Affirm.
- Follow them to the airport!
- ...

It may be the way it's done there, but it's not appropriate, in my opinion, for busy airspace at an international airport.
How do you even know that the aircraft/light you eyeball is the one they intend.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 07:19
  #105 (permalink)  
 
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2. Other planes seem to have been getting in just fine. If the clouds were a factor, they wouldn't be doing visuals. People would be complaining, and they'd switch to the ILS.
After several decades of flying in and out of the US, I can testify that that is not always the case. For whatever reason, quite a lot of pilots seem to want to declare that theyíre visual, even though they canít see the airport, the ground or even more than 100 yards in front of them. Maybe itís peer pressure, or it means they can do their own thing, but I hear it used a lot in definite IMC.

As far as following aircraft at night, you can do it, but assessing distance is more difficult than during the day; yes you can use the TCAS display but in a high-density environment with poor azimuth resolution, itís easy to pick the wrong target, and itís not exactly an SOP either (definitely not for LH!)

Being an occasional visitor to SFO I can see both sides but if an aircraft is unable to do a visual procedure, for whatever reason, then ATC should give them an instrument approach, barring unserviceability, as they are on an IFR flight plan.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 10:08
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Which ATC did, but unfortunately the LH had forgotten to load extra holding fuel for contingencies. They could have committed to SFO, (two runways, good weather), and used their alternate fuel for holding, but if their alternate was Oakland, that would have been very little extra fuel.

And the LH crew's attitude stinks. My guess is the Captain realised they had screwed up the fuel load, but instead of eating humble pie, they tried to bully ATC into holding a lot of other inbound aircraft just to let the LH in. So the LH cost their company a lot of money. Tea and biscuits with the Chief pilot when they get home, no doubt.

SFO ATC 1 : Lufthansa crew 0

Last edited by Uplinker; 14th Nov 2023 at 10:48. Reason: pronoun.......
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 10:24
  #107 (permalink)  
 
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From where I sit, European pilots seem pretty reluctant to do visuals. Why is that?
Fear of the unknown? Not many larger airports in Europe operate visuals and often they’re banned. Unlike the US (I have flown on both sides) ATC cannot waive radar separation when you report traffic in sight. It seems instead they’re squeezing traffic with accurate radars. I think LHR is allowed 2,5 nm separation? Wake separation can be more restrictive but if you’ve got a series of MEDIUMs (no specific wake separation) you can squeeze them pretty tight too. Any ATC guy, please correct me if I am wrong. My knowledge may be outdated as I think time is now a parameter in maintaining separation??

Apart from above, I am afraid to report that the profession has moved away from piloting to system management. That horse has been beaten to death many times! I am glad to work for an airline encouraging visuals and manual flying. That said, a visual approach and maintaining visual separation may be perceived as two completely different things. In the former, the airspace is yours and you can wiggle your way down as you like. In the later, they pass over some traditional ATC stuff to you, the pilot, in a busy airspace. SoCal and NorCal can be exhausting for someone not used to the pace.

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Old 14th Nov 2023, 10:53
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But it's not up to us if our company flight safety department forbids it under certain circumstances. They have done the risk assessment.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 11:28
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Originally Posted by Uplinker
Which ATC did, but unfortunately the LH had forgotten to load extra holding fuel for contingencies. They could have committed to SFO, (two runways, good weather), and used their alternate fuel for holding, but if their alternate was Oakland, that would have been very little extra fuel.

And the LH crew's attitude stinks. My guess is the Captain realised they had screwed up the fuel load, but instead of eating humble pie, they tried to bully ATC into holding a lot of other inbound aircraft just to let the LH in. So the LH cost their company a lot of money. Tea and biscuits with the Chief pilot when they get home, no doubt.

SFO ATC 1 : Lufthansa crew 0
The way I heard it the DLH pilot was expecting some delay and didnít quibble when told 10 mins. From the video timeline, 14 mins later theyíve not had an update and the controller refuses to entertain that ďconversationĒ at all. How is the DLH supposed to know if they have enough holding fuel if the controller canít(/wont) provide a vaguely accurate delay? Admittedly Iíve only watched the YT video so might have missed relevant transmissions.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 12:47
  #110 (permalink)  
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On the subject of holding I listened to the RT again and I think I understand the LH crew’s frustration. Happy to be corrected if I’ve misheard it but what I believe LH says is something to the effect that “you told me ten minutes holding and that expired four minutes ago”. Later the control says they can expect a further 10-15 minutes. Perhaps if the LH mental model was ten minutes being stretched to half an hour then his irritation is understandable. Incidentally I still think both he and the controller used inappropriate language.

The other thing I don’t believe has been discussed is the time of day as it relates to the crew. I believe someone upthread said this occurred around 19:00 local? If that was the case then it would be 04:00 at their home base and so they would have flown through (in) the window of circadian low (WOCL). Even the most cheerful crew could be forgiven for being a little tetchy at that time of the day!

Lastly, I doubt anyone in this discussion knows the details of the fuel plan so I won’t pass judgment of whether they had enough.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 12:50
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It's just chalk and cheese. I have said before the U.S relies on visual approaches and separation but this is rare in Europe, where the radar controller is almost always responsible for separation. Radar CONTROL service in the U.K. The radar controller achieves this in a number of ways - if the runway in use is also being used for departures they will liaise tower to achieve spacing. If not it is usually achieved by speed control - maintain 160 knots between nine and five miles- for example.

I can't work out whether the U S just likes it the way it is, the traffic is too heavy to do things the way they are done in Europe or what. The advent of Live ATC enables me to listen to US controllers - To my U K ear it often sounds like things are not really controlled at all. There are advantages - GA traffic would never be able to access all the airspace here it can in the U S here for example.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 12:51
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The way I heard it the DLH pilot was expecting some delay and didnít quibble when told 10 mins. From the video timeline, 14 mins later theyíve not had an update and the controller refuses to entertain that ďconversationĒ at all. How is the DLH supposed to know if they have enough holding fuel if the controller canít(/wont) provide a vaguely accurate delay?


Yep, could be.

I think though that if the LH crew had been a bit more professional and less confrontational, then they would have probably had a much better outcome.

Saying something like "Roger - just for your sequence planning; we have x minutes of holding fuel before we will need to divert" would probably have got a better response.

Having instead used the F word and cowboy sounding Ha !, and "what is the problem" etc., very quickly put them to the bottom of the ATC priority pile.

It's basic human nature: If you want someone to help you and cooperate with you, don't come heavy handed or swear at them.

If your neighbour said "if you don't move your car it's going to f**k up your day", it would instantly put you into fight mode and much less likely help them, than if they said "hello mate; is there any chance of moving your car a bit?"
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 13:57
  #113 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by FullWings
After several decades of flying in and out of the US, I can testify that that is not always the case. For whatever reason, quite a lot of pilots seem to want to declare that theyíre visual, even though they canít see the airport, the ground or even more than 100 yards in front of them. Maybe itís peer pressure, or it means they can do their own thing, but I hear it used a lot in definite IMC.



Being an occasional visitor to SFO I can see both sides but if an aircraft is unable to do a visual procedure, for whatever reason, then ATC should give them an instrument approach, barring unserviceability, as they are on an IFR flight plan.
Never have I felt pressure, either internal nor external pressure to report the airport in sight. Being asked if the airport is in sight is not the same as being pressured.

Agree, if you canít fly the visual, you canít fly the visual. You also have the responsibility to let ATC know in a timely manner. Timely wouldnít be when youíre just a few minutes from landing and the spacing and separation is already set.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 13:58
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Originally Posted by 22/04
It's just chalk and cheese. I have said before the U.S relies on visual approaches and separation but this is rare in Europe, where the radar controller is almost always responsible for separation. Radar CONTROL service in the U.K. The radar controller achieves this in a number of ways - if the runway in use is also being used for departures they will liaise tower to achieve spacing. If not it is usually achieved by speed control - maintain 160 knots between nine and five miles- for example.
In terms of the bigger picture, irregardless of the way it works normally - and obviously most of the time it does work - the fact that ATC are apparently incapable of providing IFR separation between two filed IFR flights in what I believe is Class B is absolutely wild to me.

Originally Posted by Uplinker
Having instead used the F word and cowboy sounding Ha !, and "what is the problem" etc., very quickly put them to the bottom of the ATC priority pile.

It's basic human nature: If you want someone to help you and cooperate with you, don't come heavy handed or swear at them.
Again, this isnít really how I heard it, nothing he said came across that badly to me. Iím sure the DLH pilot is massively regretting his slight lapse in phraseology, but heís not swearing at the controller, heís not trying to be heavy handed, heís trying to get across that he knows itís awkward but an emergency is only going to make it worse for everyone. The guyís probably watched a few US ATC clips on YouTube and based on what heís heard as their standard is trying to fit in!

From the FR24 track, from when they first fly overhead KSFO to the point theyíre headed towards Oakland, 45 minutes worth of vectors have already elapsed and the controller has straight up refused to give them an updated delay. Iíve no idea what we miss in between (the 10 minute delay given 14 mins before isnít in the video for example) but itís hardly surprising the pilot is wanting answers by that point. You canít just put a plane in the ďtoo difficultĒ pile indefinitely and hope it goes away.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 14:02
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Originally Posted by TopBunk
Forgive me here. I'm 14 years retired from a large European operator and operated regularly into many US airports(incl SFO) as Captain of a B747-400.

In my day, iirc, all European operators declined to be part of the LAHSO procedures, and I believe that was annotated in the FPL remarks.

It would seem that this could be a way of giving advance notification of Lufty's restrictions - no visual approaches at night, or some such?
LAHSO is always at the pilots discretion as ATC has no method to determine aircraft landing distances.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 14:08
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Originally Posted by 172_driver
Fear of the unknown? Not many larger airports in Europe operate visuals and often theyíre banned. Unlike the US (I have flown on both sides) ATC cannot waive radar separation when you report traffic in sight. It seems instead theyíre squeezing traffic with accurate radars. I think LHR is allowed 2,5 nm separation? Wake separation can be more restrictive but if youíve got a series of MEDIUMs (no specific wake separation) you can squeeze them pretty tight too. Any ATC guy, please correct me if I am wrong. My knowledge may be outdated as I think time is now a parameter in maintaining separation??

Apart from above, I am afraid to report that the profession has moved away from piloting to system management. That horse has been beaten to death many times! I am glad to work for an airline encouraging visuals and manual flying. That said, a visual approach and maintaining visual separation may be perceived as two completely different things. In the former, the airspace is yours and you can wiggle your way down as you like. In the later, they pass over some traditional ATC stuff to you, the pilot, in a busy airspace. SoCal and NorCal can be exhausting for someone not used to the pace.
LHR utilizes 2.5 miles with a single runway operation. Any US airports can do the same. The problem is that at SFO the runways are 250í apart. If you limit approaches to IFR you effectively become a single runway operation and cut your arrival rate in half. Either you do visuals or dramatically slot restrict the airport.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 14:26
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Originally Posted by Sailvi767
LHR utilizes 2.5 miles with a single runway operation. Any US airports can do the same. The problem is that at SFO the runways are 250í apart. If you limit approaches to IFR you effectively become a single runway operation and cut your arrival rate in half. Either you do visuals or dramatically slot restrict the airport.
If one aircraft is using the ILS is there something at KSFO saying every aircraft has to? I understand losing a single gap because you canít do a parallel approach for that aircraft - itís a heavy in this case so the gap behind is probably going to be standard separation anyway - but then you just go back to paired visuals again right?
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 15:07
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Originally Posted by 22/04
It's just chalk and cheese. I have said before the U.S relies on visual approaches and separation but this is rare in Europe, where the radar controller is almost always responsible for separation. Radar CONTROL service in the U.K. The radar controller achieves this in a number of ways - if the runway in use is also being used for departures they will liaise tower to achieve spacing. If not it is usually achieved by speed control - maintain 160 knots between nine and five miles- for example.

I can't work out whether the U S just likes it the way it is, the traffic is too heavy to do things the way they are done in Europe or what. The advent of Live ATC enables me to listen to US controllers - To my U K ear it often sounds like things are not really controlled at all. There are advantages - GA traffic would never be able to access all the airspace here it can in the U S here for example.
I think it comes down to a difference in ATC philosophy. US ATC seems to be more about separation, UK is more about control.

We went into LHR a few weeks ago, on a gin clear day with what seemed to be a lull in the usual traffic flow. We were all happy to accept a visual, but were treated to the same speed control and vectors that you’d normally get on a busy day.

In the US, most controllers would be happy to clear you for the visual so as to move on to the next task.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 15:12
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Originally Posted by Request Orbit
In terms of the bigger picture, irregardless of the way it works normally - and obviously most of the time it does work - the fact that ATC are apparently incapable of providing IFR separation between two filed IFR flights in what I believe is Class B is absolutely wild to me.
Youíre still very much on an IFR flight plan. Itís not a matter of capability. If you want to be able to have this many movements at a particular field, youíll have to be operationally flexible.

Inflexibility is permitted, but it leads to delays. DLH found this out. Theyíre not going to sacrifice everyone else just because one plane canít get with the program.

Originally Posted by Request Orbit
If one aircraft is using the ILS is there something at KSFO saying every aircraft has to? I understand losing a single gap because you canít do a parallel approach for that aircraft - itís a heavy in this case so the gap behind is probably going to be standard separation anyway - but then you just go back to paired visuals again right?
Because of the runway spacing, the plane on the ILS to one runway affects the operation on the other runway. Itís all explained in the second (follow-up) video. The controller now has to find a gap on both runways. A heavy on an ILS takes up more space than a heavy on a visual.
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Old 14th Nov 2023, 15:19
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The second YouTube clip has a good explanation of SFO procedures from the ATC perspective. ATC are most definitely able to provide the full ILS approach, but (1) they need advance warning, and (2) you are going to be delayed while they get the required hole in the sequence to fit you in. I wouldn't expect a foreign crew to have full appreciation of the traffic situation, so perhaps ATC could have kept them better updated on expected approach time etc, but unfortunately that's always going to be imperfect in busy airspace. Even so, declining a fairly straightforward approach that everyone else was happily doing, and ending up in a low fuel diversion to an offline airport is poor TEM. Which was the riskier option?

Last edited by Verbal Kint; 14th Nov 2023 at 15:40.
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