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Tower At National DCA Silent  
User currently offlineworking2gether From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 83 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 13715 times:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/...lKB_story.html?wpisrc=nl_natlalert

Wow. Never heard of anything like this happening

86 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinegulfstream650 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2008, 539 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 13646 times:

So apparently just past midnight, first an AA flight then a UA flight.

Interesting and not good.



I don't proclaim to be the best pilot in the world but I'm safe
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6428 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 13602 times:

Just read about it myself...

Fortunately, it was late at night. Alas, the tower is supposed to be manned. However, traffic was so light at the time that the tower controller may have been redundant (assuming no weather that warranted instrument approaches).

Of the top of my head, the reasons you probably need a tower controller, even in the wee hours of the morning:

1) Instrument approach procedures often require a tower controller at a controlled field, and at many airports, the comments on the TERPS approach plate says that certain approaches are N/A (as in not available) without a tower contoller, or may have higher minimums without someone in the tower.

2) historically (although in the US, this is less and less a factor) many tower controlled facilities that are continually staffed have no automatic weather reporting capability, so the tower cannot report things like visibility. Even with automated weather, no one around means no one can update the ATIS when conditions warrant it.

3) no braking action reports in icy conditions.

4) for Part 121 ops (commercial scheduled), the field's ability to dispatch ARFF crews might be compromised without someone in the tower cab.

Just as a side note: in the US, at many GA-only tower controlled airports, the tower is often closed for the night (sometimes as early as 8 PM local time), and the field reverts to Class E (controlled for IFR flights only) or Class G (uncontrolled) airspace when the tower closes.



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlinecatiii From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 3074 posts, RR: 4
Reply 3, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 13538 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 2):
Alas, the tower is supposed to be manned.

This is a big deal in that someone fell down on the job, but airliners land at uncontrolled fields regularly, so it isn't necessarily a safety of flight issue.


User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7250 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 13480 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 2):
Of the top of my head, the reasons you probably need a tower controller, even in the wee hours of the morning:

Also dont forget as the article mentions there is a lot of ground activity at busy passenger airports at night with aircraft spending the night there being towed, check on etc..



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineDesh From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 237 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 13176 times:

Lets not forget that DCA is not just another airport. The articles mentions that this has happened once in the last couple of years as well. Glad the pilots were able to handle the situation by themselves, but given the actions of the FAA and the NTSB this does not seem to be a regular expected incident.


"History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again." - Kurt Vonnegut
User currently offlinemy1le From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 181 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 13016 times:

I thought that the curfew for DCA was midnight anyway... still isn't a good thing, but why were flights coming in?

User currently offlineworking2gether From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 83 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 13011 times:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42237593/ns/travel-business_travel/

Sounds like the Air Traffic Controller fell asleep...


User currently offlinemy1le From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 181 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 12968 times:

Yes, the controller fell asleep, that is what the news here in Washington is reporting. Not that the AA 737 went around...

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/A...2/history/20110323/0205Z/KMIA/KDCA


User currently offline71Zulu From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 3088 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 12778 times:

Quoting my1le (Reply 6):
I thought that the curfew for DCA was midnight anyway... still isn't a good thing, but why were flights coming in?

I think as long as you are talking to approach before curfew you can continue the landing.



The good old days: Delta L-1011s at MSY
User currently offlineworking2gether From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 83 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 12763 times:

http://primary.washingtonpost.com/lo...dca/2011/03/23/ABCR6tKB_video.html

ATC feed


User currently offlineATCGOD From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 663 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 12351 times:

First off, I am a controller at Boise Airport in Idaho. We work 2 person mids in the tower. One person works the approach control and one person works the Tower. It's happened before that a person comes upstairs on the mid, drops off their stuff (FOB that allows entry into the tower included) and sometime during the night walks out to go to the bathroom. They are, of course, let in by the other controller. So it does happen.

I thought one person mid-shifts went away after the Comair accident in 2006. Another interesting point made in the article is that a supervisor works the midnight shift at DCA. Kinda surprising that they'd do that. Supervisors never work the mid-shift here...maybe at larger airports that's a different story, but not from what I've heard.

The reason (as I understand) that our airport is a 24 hour facility is because some major airlines don't allow their jets to land without a functioning control tower. Sometimes, especially during the summer, there is flow going into the airports back east and we occasionally get United or Delta coming in at 0400L.

It can't be that the controller fell asleep...the article says that they were calling them on the phone, shout line, etc. You have to be deaf not to hear any of that. It clearly points to being out of the tower cab. Anyways, just thought I'd post my $.02

K


User currently offlineEWRandMDW From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 416 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 11792 times:

Let's not forget that DCA is literally across the highway from the Pentagon, and in very near proximity to many monuments and US government buildings, including the Capitol and White House. I would expect the tower to be staffed 24/7/365 just because of the airport's location!

User currently offlinefxramper From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 7323 posts, RR: 85
Reply 13, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 11526 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

I bet they've got a few openings for ATC at DCA.   

User currently offlinepiper31 From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 7 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 11422 times:

The reason Boise had two on the midshift is because they also have approach control services. The rule that was out from the FAA was if there is a radar approach and tower operation there will be at least one controller per option for midshift staffing. DCA is only a tower operation and they have been staffing a supervisor since the Cessna flew into the White House several years ago. DoT Secretary LaHood has ordered the staffing to be raised to two on the midshift at DCA immediately and the FAA shall review their overnight staffing throughout the nation. We may see more "one option" facilities mandated to go to two people on the midshift. I was a controller for over 30 years and always thought only one on mid was not sufficient.

It is also true this person at DCA was a supervisor but before we go out and hang him or any controller in this situation we should wait for the facts. Who knows, there could be a medical situation we are not aware of.


User currently offlineC767P From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 888 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 11138 times:

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 2):
Just as a side note: in the US, at many GA-only tower controlled airports, the tower is often closed for the night (sometimes as early as 8 PM local time), and the field reverts to Class E (controlled for IFR flights only) or Class G (uncontrolled) airspace when the tower closes.

There are airports with 121 service where the tower closes and the airline has scheduled service after the tower has closed. Approach control is able to monitor tower frequency and they can cancel once on the ground.


User currently onlinetjwgrr From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 2493 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 11082 times:

Quoting catiii (Reply 3):
This is a big deal in that someone fell down on the job, but airliners land at uncontrolled fields regularly, so it isn't necessarily a safety of flight issue.


Common here in GRR- our tower is closed from 0000-0530 local and commercial landings (and occasionally some takeoffs) happen quite frequently during the time the tower is closed. Chicago Center ATC handles approaches and departures while the tower is closed. Here in GRR, ATC is able to communicate with the A/C on the ground easily since there is an ATC transmitter right at the field. Additionally pilots broadcast their position and intentions on the advisory frequency, in our case the tower frequency. Interesting to listen to.



Direct KNOBS, maintain 2700' until established on the localizer, cleared ILS runway 26 left approach.
User currently offlineSOBHI51 From Saudi Arabia, joined Jun 2003, 3518 posts, RR: 17
Reply 17, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 11082 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Another A Netters called this situation scary even though no safety rules was broken
Egyptair Does Not Know Neighboring Countries (by BommerJan Mar 20 2011 in Civil Aviation)
What would be his reaction to this failure, and a huge breach of safety.



I am against any terrorist acts committed under the name of Islam
User currently offlinedwcontroller From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 156 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 10153 times:

Quoting fxramper (Reply 13):

I bet they've got a few openings for ATC at DCA.

Doubtful...NATCA



Best phrase to hear at the airport - "All standbys have been cleared and may board at this time"
User currently offlineSVO767 From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 36 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 9971 times:

Adding another controller seems to deflect the issue that someone who is the only body in the control tower when there are flights still scheduled to arrive isn't being responsible enough to stay awake or bring their badge with them at all times. It makes sense to add another controller from the standpoint that they can open a door for a locked out person or if someone falls asleep, but that shouldn't be happening in the first place. It ignores the issue.

User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21800 posts, RR: 55
Reply 20, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 9800 times:

Quoting piper31 (Reply 14):
I was a controller for over 30 years and always thought only one on mid was not sufficient.

I'd think that would be completely evident - an airport like DCA should never have less than two people in the tower during the times that flights are scheduled to arrive.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlinechuchoteur From France, joined Sep 2006, 772 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 9626 times:

Interesting.

In most parts of Europe you're not allowed to work alone for Health and Safety purposes, so by default you have 2 persons in the tower (the second one may not be an ATCO though).

At my airfield when the tower closes we can still shoot non-precision approaches, but we are asked by the Regional ATC for a contact phone number and expected time on ground before we leave the frequency. If we don't call back and close the flight plan after landing they try to call us, then activate emergency services.


User currently offlinedxing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 9593 times:

Quoting my1le (Reply 6):
I thought that the curfew for DCA was midnight anyway... still isn't a good thing, but why were flights coming in?
Quoting 71Zulu (Reply 9):
I think as long as you are talking to approach before curfew you can continue the landing.

The curfew is for noise abatement and if you have an aircraft that is approved as being sufficiently quiet you can land all night long.

Quoting Mir (Reply 20):
I'd think that would be completely evident - an airport like DCA should never have less than two people in the tower during the times that flights are scheduled to arrive.

Two people in a tower is not going to stop someone in an airplane from doing something unexpected.


User currently offlinesccutler From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 5582 posts, RR: 28
Reply 23, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 9507 times:

Quoting EWRandMDW (Reply 12):
Let's not forget that DCA is literally across the highway from the Pentagon, and in very near proximity to many monuments and US government buildings, including the Capitol and White House. I would expect the tower to be staffed 24/7/365 just because of the airport's location!

Huh? How is the proximity to buildings, of whatever importance, remotely relevant to the discussion?

The pilots are the ones who fly the airplanes, and I have absolute confidence that they can navigate and aviate with sufficient precision to avoid bumping into buildings.



...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
User currently offlinemy1le From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 181 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (3 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 9537 times:

DCA Unicom: 122.95 ---> We all learn at and around uncontrolled airports. I am not sure about others but if the tower is not responding I am going over to Unicom and announce my position go in and land. I think this is getting blown a little out of proportion.

They cannot yell at you for landing without landing clearence if there is nobody to give that clearence!


25 SANFan : Happened in SEA a couple of years ago... late night/early morning, one or two intl arrivals (I think one was a KE) had to land on their own. The sing
26 qqflyboy : While the situation is unsual, and frankly shouldn't have happened, I agree... an uncontrolled airport is hardly the worst thing that could happen. I
27 Post contains images Oshkosh1 : It'll be a BIGGER deal for the on duty Controller, then it was for the pilots of the A/C. Soooooo....what does it's proximity have to do with manning
28 Continental : I'd have to imagine that there is some air defense systems located at the White house and the Capitol.
29 cschleic : The majority of GA airports don't have towers at all, let alone one that's open during the day but closed at night. Many of these get a lot of bizjet
30 airkas1 : Could be he got locked out, but maybe he had to poop or something.. Resisting nature in the long run is useless. I agree though that a tower should be
31 saab2000 : It's not quite that simple in the case of an airport like DCA. The CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency) might or might not be the same as a UNICO
32 Navigator : In our country airports with ATC Towers and not just advisory services are required to have ATC controllers in order to be operational at all. If you
33 catiii : Yes, they are.
34 Post contains images KELPkid : I'd love to know who actually uses the DCA unicom frequency I regularly flew out of a controlled field (Class D). Although it had a published unicom
35 saab2000 : This is not exactly correct in the US. There are many controlled fields in the US that are Class D or Class C airspace. When the tower closes the air
36 Yflyer : Getting locked out once doesn't make a person an irresponsible screw up. It happens to the best of us -- who here hasn't locked their keys in the car
37 Post contains images KELPkid : Normally in the US, class G is 1200' AGL and below, which drops to 700' around most airports with instrument procedures Also, in places where airline
38 litz : In what is probably the biggest "Gee, ya think" moment in recent modern aviation history ... the controller in question has now been suspended pending
39 saab2000 : Oh boy... Ya got me! You are right. I haven't brushed up on these rules forever. We don't really use them in the airline world as we either fly the a
40 catiii : You must never fly into DC then. Aside from the very strict rules about flying the river on southbound approaches, and the restricted areas around th
41 Mir : The point isn't to stop that airplanes from doing something unexpected, it's to stop the other controller from doing something unexpected. Better to
42 saab2000 : I believe you are correct sir! We fly into KUNV (SCE) or State College, PA. This is uncontrolled at all times but is under New York Center's airspace
43 Post contains images Mir : Nitpicky pet peeve: Class E airspace is controlled airspace, and thus an airport in Class E can't be uncontrolled. It will, however, be non-towered.
44 captainstefan : Our town's/school's (Eastman, GA EZM/KEZM) airport has a tower that's open from 1000 local to 1600, M-F. It's therefore more common for us to use the
45 dkf747 : I am curious about why they did not divert to Dulles instead of landing at DCA uncontrolled?
46 Post contains images saab2000 : That is what I meant to say!! Untowered, not uncontrolled. The only uncontrolled airspace is Class G..... Got me again!
47 Post contains images Oshkosh1 : I'd LOVE to see them get it through the window!! I can hear it now.... "American 2356 cleared to ....oh, $^&t...standby. American 2356 BREAK LEFT
48 skygirl1990 : I was JUST about to say pretty much the same thing! - Basically if GA pilots can deal with it (including extremely busy circuits with up to 7 on fina
49 catiii : Why not land at your destination when you can do it safely, even if the field is uncontrolled? I wasn't saying it was at DCA, I was saying it was at
50 COS777 : There is part 121 air carrier service into Telluride, CO (TEX) and it is Class G, not Class E. The floor of the Class E airspace is 700' AGL in that
51 GoBoeing : Is this whole thing really even newsworthy?
52 jrodATC : "The air traffic controller involved in the radio silence incident at Reagan National Airport fell asleep as planes approached the airport for landing
53 peteg913 : That is true regarding uncontrolled fields, however remember also that there are many commercial airports that become Class G (usually below 700', bu
54 Post contains links HBGDS : Here's the official story, straight from NTSB (public domain release pasted below) NTSB ADVISORY *****************************************************
55 Post contains images KELPkid : You know, if it had happened at someplace like RAP, I doubt the media would have picked up the story When it happens the FAA's backyard, that's a bit
56 GoBoeing : That is exactly right. Everything at DCA gets a little exaggerated because it's...DCA. Four overnight shifts in a row...duh, of course he's gonna be
57 suseJ772 : I really hope he doesn't lose his job. He made a mistake. Give him a suspension. But 20 years experience, 17 at arguably one of the hardest airports
58 jrodATC : I saw a breaking news banner that stated he was suspended... No link yet so I'd imagine this is still a developing story.
59 jlbmedia : As someone who has worked many overnight shifts during my lifetime, I can report that it is very....very hard to stay awake during the night shift, es
60 par13del : CNN online, just read that myself. The airport is at the heart of the political process, the FAA really cannot use this incident to gain funding or p
61 catiii : Also CNN reporting that Secretary LaHood has "ordered" two controllers at the overnight shift (unclear if only at DCA or at all airports where there'
62 dxing : I still don't see the point and as evidenced by both the AA and the UA flight, landings can be accomplished without so much as a word out of the towe
63 GoBoeing : What piss-poor leadership from the top of the FAA on down. Unreal.
64 saab2000 : Almost certainly. With that said, there is nearly nothing to do with ground at those hours, especially at an airport like DCA. There is a curfew, but
65 washingtonian : I didn't realize that DCA is open during these hours. There are surely no scheduled arrivals or departures after the curfew....So what's the point of
66 saab2000 : There are no scheduled flights at those hours. But there are delayed flights, especially with bad weather that seems common on the east coast. We're c
67 IADLHR : I wonder if any politiians, or a family member, was on either of these flights. Probably not as we would have heard about it by now. Any way, I have t
68 Post contains images GoBoeing : Sure you can't think of one recent time?
69 Post contains images saab2000 : Well, not officially anyway... As to the idea that if there were a politician onboard? So what? Yeah, they might scream bloody murder and all, but un
70 Post contains links and images sccutler : Objection, relevance. Objection, assumes facts not in evidence- no reason to expect a 121 flight operated by trained and fully-qualified ATPs to be p
71 Magcheck : Surprised to learn that there's only one controller....in addition to regular DCA stuff, there's a ton of helo traffic (Marines/USAF/Coast Guard/park
72 Post contains links and images lorm : There may still be an Avenger (Stinger) battery right across the river less than a mile away at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB). Wikimapia used t
73 hiflyer : Just read where the controller was a supv/mgt person and not a line controller....solution was to add a line controller to the shift.
74 dkf747 : I do get that, but one of the articles mentioned other aircraft could be crossing the runway or maintenance could be on it. How could they be sure it
75 catiii : That's "cute", but it is entirely relevant. If you flew in and out of there on a regular basis or lived in the area, especially after 9/11, you'd hav
76 captainstefan : Man, what I would have given to have been listening to THAT on Channel 9
77 GoBoeing : Just like any other plane landing at an uncontrolled airport, they couldn't be sure it was safe. You never can. The airport was declared uncontrolled
78 panova98 : Just wondering, regarding the NTSB advisory. Thank you, but wasn't AA1012 "between Dallas-Fort Worth and DCA" in fact, operating inbound from Miami? P
79 sw733 : Hmmm...I know it's no biggy, but interesting to see the FAA get something in their report, even of little importance, incorrect - MIA not DFW. Other
80 Post contains links readytotaxi : This being reported in the UK http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12850844
81 ltbewr : Apparently some news reports have stated that will have to be a 2nd person in the tower at DCA for the foreseeable future to make sure no one is aslee
82 Maverick623 : Great, so now they can both fall asleep. This issue here is not staffing. It's fatigue. Until the FAA can get enough people in to schedule them for r
83 GoBoeing : With the FAA, that is what needs to happen to change anything. Just look what it took to get the flight crew duty times discussion going! Disgusting.
84 LAXLocal : How can you say that? Not uncommon? yes...... 100% certain that there was never any danger to anyone? Ludicrous. LAXLocal
85 sccutler : "Cute" or not, the presence of all manner of "sensitive" elements does nothing at all to make the presence or absence of tower controllers mandatory.
86 COS777 : You would have to think that if anyone was wanting to cross the runway and couldn't get a clearance from the tower/ground control, they would think t
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