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Investigation Into Pilots Landing In Fog Question  
User currently offlineJulianUK From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2006, 105 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4424 times:

Now this is an interesting article, because it brings into question how difficult it would be for the airport to prove the RVR was below the minimum because it is always down to the pilot - I assume, question here, would be that the airport would be continue to issue RVR details to incoming pilots, but in the end the pilot will make a judgement and state "no I can see further than that so I am landing" - is that true?

J

Ryanair 'landed in unsafe fog'
ALASTAIR JAMIESON

RYANAIR is being investigated by aviation authorities after a complaint its pilots breached guidelines by landing when visibility was below minimum levels.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is probing claims that several planes operated by the Dublin-based airline landed at Stansted Airport on Monday night despite being advised that the runway visual range was too low for landings because of a combination of thick fog and inoperative landing lights.

Thirty four flights to Stansted, including many Ryanair services, diverted to other airports because the visibility dipped to as low as 200 metres - less than that required for night landings at the airport.

But several flights - all of them believed to be Ryanair - landed anyway to avoid costly delays.

The IAA - which has jurisdiction over Ryanair - is now investigating whether the landing aircraft broke the rules, which are set down by the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), whose member countries include Britain and Ireland.

The airline yesterday strongly denied any safety concerns and said it was unaware of suggestions its pilots had breached JAA guidelines.

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: "The fog was thicker than anticipated but the visibility was changing all the time, so it is by no means clear that any landings were outside the minimum visibility requirements."

An insider added the airport had not been the source of the complaint and that the claims were "likely to be a case of muck-raking" by staff at rival airlines.

A spokesman for the National Air Traffic Service said it was aware of the claims but said the issue was not in its remit.

"We can only advise the commander of an aircraft of the available visibility," said a spokesman. "The commander retains authority and the decision to land rests with them."

A spokeswoman for the IAA confirmed it was investigating the complaint.

This article: http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=641142006

Last updated: 29-Apr-06 01:13 BST

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21554 posts, RR: 55
Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 4393 times:

Quoting JulianUK (Thread starter):
I assume, question here, would be that the airport would be continue to issue RVR details to incoming pilots, but in the end the pilot will make a judgement and state "no I can see further than that so I am landing" - is that true?

I don't know about other countries, but the FAA doesn't give a damn how far a pilot thinks he can see if the visibility is reported to be below minimums. Unless the flight is operated under Part 91, in which case the FAA doesn't give a damn what the airport is reporting as long as the pilot can see the required distance. But airline flights don't operate under Part 91.

IIRC, a plane cannot start the approach if the visibility is reported below minimums. However they can continue the approach if they're already on it, and make their decision at the appropriate minimum altitude.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 4391 times:

For us in the U.S. we can continue the approach to a landing when the reported RVR goes below mins during a CATI/II app. if you've passed the final app fix(or final app seg) and at mins the capt. has determined that the vis is adequate for a safe ldg. For CATIII apps. a missed app. must be made any time the RVR is reported below mins by any controlling RVR.

User currently offlineA3204eva From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 1060 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 4390 times:

If the airport says the RVR is below the mins then the RVR is below what of what the a/c can land in. But this being RYR, I'm not really suprised. They've tried it a few times at EGNH when the RVR was well below the mins for the CATI rwy... they began the app but realised they didn't have a hope so went around and diverted to EGGP (or maybe EGNM, I can't remember which)


"They have lady pilots......... they're not that good, but they have 'em"
User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 4387 times:

Quoting A3204eva (Reply 3):
If the airport says the RVR is below the mins then the RVR is below what of what the a/c can land in

The airport doesn't say it's below mins. They just report the RVR. The crew must know THEIR mins and react accordingly. Consider a new capt. who is "high mins" the tower doesn't know this. Consider that different air carriers have different mins too. I landed in Milan a few months ago when at least 3 other airlines were holding 'cause their mins were higher than the reported RVR.


User currently offlineJulianUK From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2006, 105 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 4334 times:

So in this case are we saying it would be easy to prove that the pilots were operating out of their allowed margin or would it be a really tricky case if you were the lawyers?! If a pilot says "no I could see much further than the RVR issued 12 minutes ago and i am landing" then without an actual RVR issued 30 seconds before landing or whatever, then proving it is going to be really hard...

User currently offlineLH463 From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 4307 times:

I agree with what JulianUK is saying. It is all up to the pilot's and whether they deem it safe to land... Captain has the final say of his airplane not ATC. The only problem with that is that most flights were diverted away to other airports, and it's not a coincidense that only Ryanair aircraft were landing in "reported lesser than minimums visibility". That's where the lawyers can make a case.


Turning final...
User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 7, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 4285 times:

Quoting LH463 (Reply 6):
Captain has the final say of his airplane not ATC.

As I stated, in the U.S., it depends on the app. and the wx must be at or above your mins to start the app. Now depending on whether it's CATI/II or III dictates what you will do if it goes below mins. The RVR that the tower gives is the OFFICIAL vis, what the pilot says HIS vis is, is irrelevant. If the capt. could always override the reported RVR with his/her own determination of the vis why have any mins at all? We have all seen situations where you could see half of the rny but the RVR was below your mins so you couldn't start the app.


User currently offlineA3204eva From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 1060 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4260 times:

Quoting LH463 (Reply 6):
Captain has the final say of his airplane not ATC.

In a way that is true... I mean what can ATC to do stop him landing? BUT then you have the complications of what the pilot just did was illegal and he can say bye bye to that expensive licence  Smile

We had a light a/c here that decided he would try to land well below the RVR. ATC couldn't physically stop him... anyway, he ended up in court shortly after. The CAA weren't happy about his little adventure Big grin



"They have lady pilots......... they're not that good, but they have 'em"
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21554 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 4250 times:

Quoting LH463 (Reply 6):
It is all up to the pilot's and whether they deem it safe to land... Captain has the final say of his airplane not ATC.

Not exactly. ATC can't force a pilot to land, but they can force a pilot to go around by not issuing a landing clearance. They won't do that for bad visibility, but they will for snow removal, vehicles on the runway, etc.

Once the aircraft is past the final approach fix (FAF), it is up to the pilot to decide, once the appropriate minimums have been reached, whether they can see the runway or not, and thus whether to continue the landing or go around.

If the aircraft is not past the FAF, the pilot cannot continue the approach if the weather is below minimums - it doesn't matter what the pilot can see, it's what the observation equipment on the ground, or a certified observer in the tower, reports.

It doesn't matter how much pilots want to land. Those are not airport or ATC rules, those are FAA rules (or CAA, or JAA, etc.). Pilots aren't above those except in an emergency, and if you declare an emergency in order to land below minimums, there will almost certainly be an inquiry into why, followed by extremely negative consquences (can anyone say "careless and reckless"?).

Quoting JulianUK (Reply 5):
So in this case are we saying it would be easy to prove that the pilots were operating out of their allowed margin or would it be a really tricky case if you were the lawyers?!

If I were looking to find out, I'd find out what the last weather report the pilots received was and find out where the plane was at that point on the approach (that can be obtained from radar tapes and ATC recordings). If the plane hadn't reached the FAF, then I'd check the minimums that the crew were using to see if the weather was below that or not. If it was, then they acted illegally. If it wasn't, then it would be hard to prove that they did something illegal or not, as the judgement then falls to the pilot to make the decision at the minimums, and there's no way to prove that the pilot could or could not see the runway at that point. However, if every single other plane went around, I would be suspicious (but again, there's no way to prove anything).

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineCX flyboy From Hong Kong, joined Dec 1999, 6597 posts, RR: 55
Reply 10, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4142 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 1):
IIRC, a plane cannot start the approach if the visibility is reported below minimums. However they can continue the approach if they're already on it, and make their decision at the appropriate minimum altitude.

For us, this is called an Approach Ban. We can continue down to 1000ft but must then go around if conditions have not improved. If we are already passed 1000ft when told of the RVR below mins, then we can continue to the minima, which I must add, as other people have mentionned here, is decided by our company (With reference to local and CAD authority) and is different for each of our aircraft types. We certainly do not land if below our minimums, unless it is an emergency.


User currently offlineJulianUK From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2006, 105 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4115 times:

But ATC don't require you to read back what you have just heard do they? On an approach ATC could read you RVR every 30 seconds or so on approach but if you don't have to read them back they don't know you have received each one?

User currently offlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4402 posts, RR: 76
Reply 12, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 4054 times:

We need some perspective, here.
1/- there was a combination of low visibility and inoperative landing lights. We don't know which sort of landing lights were inoperative but it seems they were part of either the touch down zone or the center line. In any case, it seems that they officially were deemed necessary for low vis operations.

2/-RVR information is continuously provided to the ATCO through the visibility trans meters. They, in this phase, are not part of the weather info given through the METAR system.

3/- It is the captain's responsibility to check his minima and make sure that the transmitted RVR falls within those values.These minima are submitted to the Aviation Authority and the airport authority.

There is an approach ban if the above requirements are not present. It is only when an approach has been initiated with an RVR set above one's minima, and new lower RVR values (values that are below minimum )are provided to the crew AFTER the final fix has been passed that the captain has a "look-see" authorization, as Mir said.

There will be hell to pay if the airport authority finds out that an approach has been initiated and completed below the operator's published minima.



Contrail designer
User currently offlineMDorBust From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4022 times:

Not to be one to put a monkey wrench into some good 'ol fashion ryanair safety bashing.. but didn't there have to be someone in ATC clearing all those planes for approach and landing?

If the airfield was below minimum safety, couldn't they just be denying landing requests?


User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 14, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 4020 times:

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 13):
If the airfield was below minimum safety, couldn't they just be denying landing requests?

Come on brother, read the previous posts including mine that says each carrier can have different mins. The tower doesn't know your mins and will clear you for the app. It's the crews responsibility to know their mins and co. policies including how mins are affected by such things as lighting outages. Fedex is transitioning to LIDO from Jepp and there were many cases that the t/o mins were incorrect for our ops, both higher and lower. It's up to the crew to know the right answer. Sorry there is no excuse for not doing the right thing...CC


User currently offlineMDorBust From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 4005 times:

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 14):
Come on brother, read the previous posts including mine that says each carrier can have different mins.

Actually, I categorically ignored any posts that contained anything resembling; "the FAA says..." Because we aren't dealing with the FAA. As no one has yet to produce what the JAA says on the issue, my question remains especially in regards to this comment in the OP;

"The airline yesterday strongly denied any safety concerns and said it was unaware of suggestions its pilots had breached JAA guidelines. "

If each carrier had their own set of mins, wouldn't it be in violation of Ryanair operational procedures instead of JAA guidelines? There seems to be some indication that the JAA has a minimum, or you couldn't very well violate it could you?

But that of course makes this next statement very confusing:

"The IAA - which has jurisdiction over Ryanair - is now investigating whether the landing aircraft broke the rules, which are set down by the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), whose member countries include Britain and Ireland. "

Clearly there is some rule in operation here and it isn't merely an choice of what carrier has set what minimum.

I suspect we may someday find the answer in the OP;

"Thirty four flights to Stansted, including many Ryanair services, diverted to other airports because the visibility dipped to as low as 200 metres - less than that required for night landings at the airport. "

200 meters.

Whose standard is that? As implied by the OP, it's a hard limit for the airfields operations.


User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 16, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3994 times:

I would say that, as in our ops, that the co. mins for their cert. of ops., can not be lower than the FAA or JAA authorized mins. The avg. Jepp chart shows standard mins WE have CUSTOM charts that may show something else. The FAA has approved this therefore it's not violating FAA mins but it ain't standard. Does that help ?

User currently offlineMDorBust From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3988 times:

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 16):
I would say that, as in our ops, that the co. mins for their cert. of ops., can not be lower than the FAA or JAA authorized mins.

Makes sense.

I guess the "at the airport" portion of the article threw me for a loop by seeming to suggest that Stansted had a hard limit

Which brings me to another question, one that I ask as the evil trial lawyer in me comes out. If the FAA/JAA had a limit that company minimums couldn't be set under, and this "200" is that limit, couldn't controlers be held responsible if there were a mishap since they authorized a plane to land when the FAA/JAA limit was not being met?

Or to rephrase. Shouldn't controllers know that there is a dictated minimum even allowing for company variations and that their airport is operating below that allowable variation and act accordingly?


User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 18, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3985 times:

I can shoot a CATIII app to STN down to 175m. Is that the standard? CATI is 700m, with the ALS out it's 1000m. As posted once I'm on the final app .seg. I can continue even it goes below mins if I have visual cues for the ldg. Not true with CATIII.

User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21554 posts, RR: 55
Reply 19, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3977 times:

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 13):
Not to be one to put a monkey wrench into some good 'ol fashion ryanair safety bashing.. but didn't there have to be someone in ATC clearing all those planes for approach and landing?

If the airfield was below minimum safety, couldn't they just be denying landing requests?

The tower is responsible for sequencing traffic in the general airport area and preventing collisions on the runway, and nothing more. If the runway is clear, they will give a plane permission to land, since no collision can result. They will give advisories, such as current RVR, runway braking reports, windshear etc., but they will not withhold a landing clearance because they think that the weather is unsafe. It is the responsibility of the pilot to determine whether the weather is safe or not.

Quoting JulianUK (Reply 11):
But ATC don't require you to read back what you have just heard do they? On an approach ATC could read you RVR every 30 seconds or so on approach but if you don't have to read them back they don't know you have received each one?

It's extremely hard to get away with the "I didn't know" excuse. ATC tapes will show whether the controller gave the appropriate information, and it would raise a lot of eyebrows if the RVR was given out every thirty seconds but the pilot says he didn't hear it. The CVR would have recordings of what the radios caught, and that would probably be looked at. In all probability, there would be no problem hearing the transmissions on the CVR, and the pilot would be busted. Remember, though, that ATC doesn't care whether the pilot violated minimums or not - it's the regulatory authorities that do, so as long as ATC reads out the information, they've done their job whether the pilot acknowledges or not. ATC won't ask a pilot if they see the runway at the minimums (different for each carrier, so how would they know when to ask), and ATC will not tell the pilot to go around for anything other than a potential collision in the air or on the runway.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 20, posted (8 years 3 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3882 times:

Quoting JulianUK (Thread starter):
Now this is an interesting article, because it brings into question how difficult it would be for the airport to prove the RVR was below the minimum because it is always down to the pilot


Who cares.......the crew lands and the required distance (RVR) for the approach was there when the approach was started. Get a life......airports nor pilots nor controllers desire to prove anything. U see it you land!



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
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