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Airports & Thunderstorms  
User currently offlineSolarWind From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 66 posts, RR: 0
Posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3021 times:

It seems this Spring and Summer have been particulary bad for Severe weather..
And several Questions came to mind..Which airports experience the most delays because of Severe weather..particulary Thunderstorms...DFW...STL..MIA..TPA ..IAH..?and who has final say concerning landing in severe weather...ATC..or the AC Crew ?
I know there are times when it would be impossible to land ..a severe cell directy over the airport with 0 Visability..but what about close calls..cells very near the airport ..bad wind sr. etc.
AAs crash at LIT and DLs at DFW come to mind. Both pilots had clearance to land ..with disasterious results..
I remember years ago listening to ATC and a TWA pilot at JFK during a bad storm..There were no aircraft movements..for a long time ..and then a TW pilot who had been waiting for a long time said he wanted to depart..even though ATC STRONGLY advised against it...He did anyway ..came back on a few mins. later asking for all kinds of course changes because of Huge cells all around him..The Controller sounded very Pissed..
I guess if the Airport is not "offically Closed"..Its up to the Pilot ..Correct?




10 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4755 posts, RR: 26
Reply 1, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2977 times:

AAs crash at LIT and DLs at DFW come to mind. Both pilots had clearance to land ..with disasterious results..

It was disastruous simply because in that push to land the aircraft in bad weather, they forgot to deploy the spoilers.



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User currently offlineGD727 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 925 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2974 times:

It is up to the flight crew whether they land or not. If weather is severe and the airport is still open, the flight crew may elect to wait it out. Trying to land in a severe storm has occasionally had fatal results. Back in 1985, DL lost an L-1011 on approach to DFW due to a rare storm called a microburst. I don't remember the exact numbers, but it killed around 90% of the people on board. Usually though, accidents from severe weather usually revolve around circumstances other than just a thunderstorm.

As for airports delayed by thunderstorms the most, I would say ATL in addition to airports in Florida (MIA, TPA, MCO ect) get loads of groundstops, especially in the summer.



Mmmm forbidden donut.
User currently offlineZrb2 From United States of America, joined May 2000, 896 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2963 times:

I think it was Little Rock (not positive?) where the pilots in the MD-80 actually had more sophisticated weather equipment at their disposal than the controllers at LIT, at that time. In that case, ATC gave out a weather advisory and the pilots used very poor judgement in deciding to land. Their were many factors in that crash but ultimately it was a case of "gotta-get-there-itis"

[Edited 2004-07-08 19:08:45]

User currently offlineSpacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3629 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2962 times:

I guess if the Airport is not "offically Closed"..Its up to the Pilot ..Correct?

Always up to the pilot in command. The pilot is in charge of the safety of his aircraft, not ATC.

I can't answer any of your other questions because I don't know, but it's the PIC who decides whether it's safe to fly into weather.

This has been an issue in several crashes where the pilots elected to fly into bad weather... most recent one I can recall was an American MD-80 that ran off the end of the runway at Charlotte after landing in the middle of a severe thunderstorm (edit: sorry, that was the Little Rock crash you mentioned, I was confused for a sec). The NTSB report faulted the pilots for making a poor decision in flying into the thunderstorm.

Thing I don't know is what the responsibility is if ATC specifically vectors a plane into weather a pilot considers dangerous. AFAIK, the pilot can refuse that order, but I'm not sure. I have heard this happen when monitoring ATC several times but in every case the ATC just adjusts his order afterwards; I've never heard a case where a pilot refuses the order but ATC cannot adjust (because of other traffic, or whatever). Obviously, generally the pilots and ATC want to work together rather than against each other, but I'm not sure who would really have final say in this matter. I would think it would be the pilot, who could always just declare a weather emergency if he really had to, which changes the pilot-ATC relationship.

But as far as deciding whether to continue an approach when cleared, that's up to the pilot. A pilot isn't forced to do what he's cleared to do; he can always say he's going around because of weather. ATC's responsibility is to keep planes away from each other and move planes along on their flight plans; it's still the pilots' responsibility to actually keep their own planes safe.

[Edited 2004-07-08 19:10:06]


I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
User currently offlineAVPOH77 From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 114 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2942 times:

Thats an easy one. ATL by far almost a daily occurance. Ground Delays or Ground Stops due to Thunderstorms or low cigs. For you DL people out there just check the G*irosys/date and there you will see ATL just about every day w/ weather issues.


Fly Delta Jets
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2888 times:

>>>I guess if the Airport is not "officially Closed"..Its up to the Pilot ..Correct?

The only folks that "close" an airport are the entities that operate them (Port Authority, etc.) and they usually only do so for large-scale events like blizzards and flooding. If the airport fogs-in, it may be below landing or takeoff minimums (so flights can't operate) but it's never "closed" per se.

The same hold true for thunderstorms. Just as fog's severity can ebb/flow above/below minimums and cause stop/resume operations, thunderstorms usually move-in, impact the airport, and then move-out. An airport could have a thunderstorm directly overhead with visibility down to 1/4 mile (like BWI yesterday) and the airport would never be technically closed--just temporarily unusable or below minimums.


>>>Which airports experience the most delays because of Severe weather..particulary Thunderstorms...DFW...STL..MIA..TPA ..IAH..?

Frontal thunderstorms can happen just about anywhere, but you can also have airmass thunderstorms that pop-up most every where, and especially along the Gulf Coast and Florida. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say TPA or MCO see the most thunderstorms and related delays. That said, the NYC-DC corridor might see fewer storms, but the associated delays can be disproportionately higher to the congestion of the airspace.


>>>but what about close calls..cells very near the airport ..bad wind sr. etc.
AAs crash at LIT and DLs at DFW come to mind. Both pilots had clearance to land ..with disastrous results..

In addition to landing and takeoff minimums, there are also other operational parameters that like crosswind components that must be adhered to. When a storm cell moves-in, it may well drive the surface winds such that produce crosswinds out of limits, which temporarily make the airport unsuitable for operations. Still, as you pointed out with your LIT/AA and DFW/DL examples, accidents still happen. The fact that these kinds of accidents happen so infrequently when compared with the zillions of airline flights over the years suggests that folks take thunderstorms seriously and comply with company policies and procedures as well as use common sense.


>>>TW pilot who had been waiting for a long time said he wanted to depart..even though ATC STRONGLY advised against it...He did anyway

If the weather wasn't on the airport proper and was more of a consideration during climbout after takeoff, what you mentioned could have other possible explanations. In many cases, it comes down to interpretation of the aircraft's weather radar (which is different from what ATC may show). One case where an accident occurred with the general scenario you mentioned was Pan Am 759 at MSY back in 1982. I can't recall if any discussions transpired between crew/ATC as to whether they should depart or not, but several other aircraft declined departing runway 10 while PA759 did, and promptly encountered a microburst.

Sometimes, it comes down to human factors. It seems pretty clear from the LIT/AA cockpit transcript that the captain (may he RIP) wanted to make it into LIT no matter what due to a variety of reasons (long-day, they'd be illegal crewtime-wise if they diverted somewhere, etc.), and that some self-deceptive and reality-evasive thinking was going on. They knew the cell was headed towards the airport, and they knew the storm cell was driving the winds around (why they broke off from approaching 22L and set-up to approach 04R. When the visibility (as measured by RVR) dropped to a value below minimums, the F/O mentioned it, but was essentially overruled by the captain (a check airman) who noted that they were inside the marker so they could continue down to decision height. While technically correct, and something commonly done when the RVR is low due to fog, it ignored the reality of -what- was causing the RVR to be low, i.e. the heavy rain associated with the thunderstorm. It could have just as easily been hail driving the RVR values lower, or bowling balls.








User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 7, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2862 times:

While the pilot in command has the authority and the responsibility, airline pilots answer to their company, and through the company to the FAA on compliance with their operational procedures.

Most airlines have some sort of decision tree available to the PIC regarding severe weather. A pilot who elects to take off or land when the factors in the decision tree are arrayed against him does so at peril to his license and career as much as to his life.

I once got a takeoff clearance that included the wind, which was a 90 degree crosswind at high values and gusting and the additional remark: "be advised that after takeoff if you look to your right you will see aircraft piled up against the side of the hangar, blown out of their tiedowns by the wind. Be advised that [military base five miles away] has abandoned the tower due to high winds. Pilot's discretion, cleared for takeoff."

Well, with that on the tower tape, this one pilot decided it was discrete to return to the gate. Schedule be damned. The controller had done me a favor.




Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineScottysAir From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 2848 times:

As you can see with the thunderstorm over on their air. It is keep away from their thunderstorm over their flight and I remember with those day. When I was flew from ATL-FLL saw with the thunderstorm over RSW.

User currently offlineNW7E7 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 534 posts, RR: 4
Reply 9, posted (10 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2673 times:

Zrb2:
"I think it was Little Rock (not positive?) where the pilots in the MD-80 actually had more sophisticated weather equipment at their disposal than the controllers at LIT, at that time".

True. Since the accident a new state-of-the-art ATC Tower has been built, possibly due to old and outdated equipiment.

Does anybody know what the old ATC Tower is used for?? It cannot be demolished because it is built ontop of the terminal. It would be a perfect place for spotting!!!

NW7E7


User currently offlineVSFullThrottle From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 280 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (10 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 2644 times:

MCO gets closed a lot due to weather, it is nearly an every day occurrence actually, Of course this is in the summer months mainly. There was a really bad thunderstorm last week which closed the airport for 2 hours, caused a lot of diversions to JAX, TPA etc.......

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