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Topic: Pilot's Decision
Username: MasseyBrown
Posted 2013-01-03 08:19:39 and read 3441 times.

I was fairly recently on an AA flight that could not get to the gate in DFW because of a truck that was "improperly parked". The pilot freely admitted over the PA that the wingwalkers said there was plenty of room but that he didn't agree. So we sat for 25 minutes with the engines idling while the rampers located the keys to the truck to move it. It was AA's truck - not a vendor's.

The pilot was in charge, all right, but I wondered if the status of labor negotiations might have had some bearing on his decision.

As a rule, would the pilot have heard more about this from his superiors or the chief pilot?

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: rwy04lga
Posted 2013-01-03 08:28:11 and read 3386 times.

If ANYTHING had gone wrong, the PIC would've been held responsible. Not the wingwalkers, not the dolt who parked it wrong in the first place. He was CHA, as would I, and likely many others.

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: flight152
Posted 2013-01-03 08:31:27 and read 3355 times.

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 2):
If ANYTHING had gone wrong, the PIC would've been held responsible. Not the wingwalkers, not the dolt who parked it wrong in the first place.

Not always true. My FOM says that wingwalkers maintain responsibility for wing clearance when pulling into the gate.

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: DualQual
Posted 2013-01-03 08:33:32 and read 3334 times.

I've had wing walkers try to marshal me in with all kinds of stuff in what is supposed to be a clear zone. If we hit something I'm taking the heat. Airplane doesn't move until I'm satisfied its safe to do so.

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: MasseyBrown
Posted 2013-01-03 08:42:42 and read 3252 times.

Quoting DualQual (Reply 4):
I've had wing walkers try to marshal me in with all kinds of stuff in what is supposed to be a clear zone. If we hit something I'm taking the heat. Airplane doesn't move until I'm satisfied its safe to do so.

I get that part, but in the case I cited would the company be likely to review the pilots actions and maybe have something to say about it?

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: tb727
Posted 2013-01-03 09:06:52 and read 3080 times.

Quoting MasseyBrown (Reply 5):
I get that part, but in the case I cited would the company be likely to review the pilots actions and maybe have something to say about it?

No and they shouldn't have anything to say about it because they most likely weren't there to observe the conditions. A Captain is paid and trusted to make the best decisions to keep himself, his passengers and his aircraft safe. It's the same decision and trust process on letting him decide whether or not to divert to an alternate, takeoff in bad weather or taxi to the stand with equipment lingering around and all the other fun stuff that goes with flying  If they do ask and he has an answer for why he did what he did, it should end there. Unfortunately there are a lot of micromanagers out there in aviation and I see examples of it all the time in the field.

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: longhauler
Posted 2013-01-03 09:07:53 and read 3080 times.

Quoting MasseyBrown (Reply 5):
I get that part, but in the case I cited would the company be likely to review the pilots actions and maybe have something to say about it?

And the Captain would answer, "Do we have a gate sterile area or not?"

We are instructed that all ground equipment be clear and in designated zones before entering the gate area. The ground crew should have prepared the area before the arrival of the aircraft. If not, the Captain should wait. Perhaps the ground crew was rushed and didn't have time.

And, also possibly, that particular Captain may have been reprimanded in the past for doing the opposite.

The sterile zones in the gate area are there for a reason, it is pretty risky to ignore them.

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: FlyHossD
Posted 2013-01-03 09:36:47 and read 2919 times.

At my former carrier, I was aware of several examples of where the Captain AND the F.O. were removed from flying duty for just such a collision, even though the ground marshaller and wingtip walker had indicated the wing was clear. In each of those cases, the crews were reinstated after review of the policy (and satisfactory drug test results).

Even though other company manuals indicated that the ground crews were responsible for clearance, the Flight Operations Manual still ultimately laid the burden with the crew.

MB, in your case, I'd say the Captain did the right thing.

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: GoBoeing
Posted 2013-01-03 09:42:41 and read 2855 times.

It's about not being a liability.

If the company policy is to have X amount of wingwalkers, or equipment is to be at least ___ feet away from the airplane, then that is what needs to be happening in order to park.

Negotiations has nothing to do with it.

The gate area should be ready for a flight that's been scheduled for MONTHS!

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: zeke
Posted 2013-01-03 14:09:06 and read 2680 times.

Quoting MasseyBrown (Thread starter):


As a rule, would the pilot have heard more about this from his superiors or the chief pilot?

Doubt it, it is a basic PIC responsibility. While they probably could have got away with it, the PIC would be hanging his licence on it if there was an incident and they knowingly entered a gate where it was not 100% clear. In normal operations the buffer around an aircraft is more than adequate, however if they had a brake failure where they overshoot the stop point, or needed to evacuate the passengers at the gate for whatever reason, it will be the PIC that will be held accountable. The driver of the truck, and the wing walker would be "contributing factors", however the NTSB will point the finger at the PIC decision.

The PIC needs to look at the bigger picture, the regulators take a dim view at pilots who are muppets to bad information, there are many cases in history where people have told pilots things are clear, and in realality they were not. One of teh reason we have TCAS and GPWS is due to controllers clearing aircraft into other aircraft or terrain. The pilot has the final authority to avoid that.

Quoting flight152 (Reply 2):
My FOM says that wingwalkers maintain responsibility for wing clearance when pulling into the gate.

Really ? Where does the FAA say that an operator can transfer responsibility from the PIC to a wingwalker in a FOM ?

Section 14.410 Responsibility and Authority of Pilot



The pilot-in-command of the aircraft shall be directly responsible for its operation and shall have final authority as to the operation of the aircraft. In emergency situations that require immediate decisions and actions (e.g., engine failure), the pilot-in-command may deviate from this Subpart D to the extent required for safety considerations. When emergency authority is exercised, the pilot-in-command, upon request of the Division, shall file a written report that, at a minimum, describes the circumstances of the emergency and how the pilot-in-command deviated from this Subpart D.



a) Careless or Reckless Operation



1) No pilot shall operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the person or property of another.



2) Examples of careless or reckless aircraft operation that may endanger the person or property of another are:



A) ....



B) ...



C) ...


D) Knowingly and substantially violating airport traffic rules established by the FAA or the airport owner.



E) ...

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: AAR90
Posted 2013-01-03 17:06:46 and read 2602 times.

At DFW we (AA) have Digital Docking Guidance System for all gates. If operable, it is MANDATORY that ALL equipment be behind marked lines. The only exception is pre-positioned refueling "trailers" which must be within specially marked lines. EVERYTHING must be clearly behind acft safety lines. Wing walkers are not required and can NOT overrule the above limitations.

IF the DGS is inop at that gate, ground crew will marshall the plane into the gate area same as most other stations. While ground crew is officially "responsible" for ground clearances, the Captain is ultimately responsible for the safe operation of his aircraft. If he wants something moved.... it gets moved or he doesn't move the plane. It really is that simple.

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: stratosphere
Posted 2013-01-03 17:15:26 and read 2599 times.

Hey if the pilot thinks the area is not clear and stops and asks to have equipment removed then so be it.. He doesn't want to bang up an aircraft even if the wingwalker says its ok. I am not an airline pilot but I am taxi qualified and have done so and even I have stopped short if I thought I was going to bang metal. Better safe than sorry.

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: MasseyBrown
Posted 2013-01-04 11:52:01 and read 2355 times.

Ok, thanks for all the replies. It was not my intent to blame the pilot, I just wanted to find out what the routine procedures were for a flight that landed on time and was 25 minutes late to the gate. Presumably the truck driver would hear about it.

Topic: RE: Pilot's Decision
Username: ARFFdude
Posted 2013-01-06 03:24:15 and read 1984 times.

Back when I was a ramp controller in ATL, I had a gap between two aircraft that I first sent a 767 through, then a 757, then had a 737 say it was too small and he didn't fell comfortable taxiing through it. A 767 had just fit through just fine, but it's no big deal, if he isn't comfortable with it then that's all there is to it.

Of course it means that he has to sit there a bit while I'm able to clear up the ramp, but that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things; he's PIC so he just has to tell me what he wants to do and I'll accommodate.


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