Burj
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DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:37 am

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/...8/01/gJQAxxPSQX_story.html?hpid=z1

"Three commuter jets came within seconds of a midair collision at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday after confused air traffic controllers launched two outbound flights directly at another plane coming in to land, according to federal officials with direct knowledge of the incident......"

Later in the article it says that a controller caught the problem 12 seconds before a collision.... One of these days our luck is going to run out....

[Edited 2012-08-02 03:41:27]
 
IAHFLYR
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:11 pm

"12 seconds from impact". Really, really, from impact?    That would have to just about be a perfect storm for impact. TCAS was invented to avoid IMPACT and it works pretty darn good. I love the media.

From the article if one is to believe it, sounds as if a few folks in the tower were without situational awareness. A wind shift and the local controller and/or ground controller doesn't make everyone in the cab aware of the change in weather, not good. And then a call comes from what would appear to be Potomac TRACON that they were changing the arrival flow, and that goes in one ear and out the other. mmmm

Appears a few of the facts are still undisclosed.
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markalot
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:30 pm

I would think the airplanes taking off would be gaining altitude fast and be higher than the landing plane at just about every point except close to the runway. (confirmation from someone would be great)

A really bad mistake that shows how important procedures are, but I would agree the danger is hyped.
M a r k
 
tharanga
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:39 pm

I got a little confused from the article. the inbound plane was flying northward towards the runway, then told to turn south, and then ended up northwest of the airport. are all of these directions correct?
 
saab2000
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:48 pm

It is my experience that the controllers at DCA too often try to rush things and try to squeeze one last departure or arrival into a very, very narrow window. Lots of "Maintain visual separation with the departing 737, cleared for immediate T/O" and being on a 2 mile final and someone is "Cleared to line up and wait, be ready for an immediate". And all this when nobody is waiting. There's no lineup. So why the hurry? And even if there were a lineup rushing is usually a bad idea. I've had to go around twice on one flight due to this kind of thing at DCA.

Too much rushing and for no real good reason.

That is my experience as a frequent user of DCA.
smrtrthnu
 
IAHFLYR
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:48 pm

Quoting markalot (Reply 2):
I would think the airplanes taking off would be gaining altitude fast and be higher than the landing plane at just about every point except close to the runway.


Exactly. Loss of lateral or vertical required separation, probably. Collision and impact, remote.
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N202PA
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:13 pm

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 4):

It is my experience that the controllers at DCA too often try to rush things and try to squeeze one last departure or arrival into a very, very narrow window. Lots of "Maintain visual separation with the departing 737, cleared for immediate T/O" and being on a 2 mile final and someone is "Cleared to line up and wait, be ready for an immediate". And all this when nobody is waiting. There's no lineup. So why the hurry? And even if there were a lineup rushing is usually a bad idea. I've had to go around twice on one flight due to this kind of thing at DCA.

Just as a guess, because once things start to back up at DCA and snowball, it becomes very difficult to clear things up and get traffic moving.
 
saab2000
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:27 pm

Quoting N202PA (Reply 6):
Just as a guess, because once things start to back up at DCA and snowball, it becomes very difficult to clear things up and get traffic moving.

Same as every other busy airport. But because DCA is slot controlled there is a limited number of flights anyway. Even when DCA is 'badly backed up' there are like 7 or 8 airplanes lined up. Nothing like other busy east coast airports. In LGA it is not uncommon to see 25-30 lined up for departure. Same in PHL on a bad day.

And go-arounds cause more trouble, especially with the airspace restrictions.

I'm all for reasonable, tight spacing but this whole business of launching in the jet blast and wake turbulence of the preceding aircraft just so the controller can get one more departure is lame IMHO.
smrtrthnu
 
richierich
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:35 pm

Does anybody have any inside information into which flights were involved? If there were 160+ passengers in total, I assume we must be talking about about at least a couple of E-170s...
None shall pass!!!!
 
IAHFLYR
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:42 pm

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 7):
I'm all for reasonable, tight spacing but this whole business of launching in the jet blast and wake turbulence of the preceding aircraft



I'll buy into the jet blast, but wake turbulence with an airplane rolling down the runway and you're landing presumably in the touchdown zone of the runway, which in most cases would be the area the departure began their take-off roll?
Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
 
boacvc10
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:46 pm

could someone please link the relevant incident liveatc audio segment please, if they get a chance? thanks!

boacvc10
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Mainland
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:58 pm

Quoting tharanga (Reply 3):

I got a little confused from the article. the inbound plane was flying northward towards the runway, then told to turn south, and then ended up northwest of the airport. are all of these directions correct?

The way I take it the inbound was via the Potomac approach but may have been expecting landing from the south since a change in direction had just been made.

Quote:
The problem Tuesday occurred about 2 p.m. as a number of inbound planes were queued up to turn above Mount Vernon, fly north over the Potomac River and land on National’s main runway.

Warrenton calls in to reverse the flow and land via the Potomac approach. At the time there must have been a queue to take off to the north. Planes on approach head to land from the north.

Quote:
“The tower agreed, but they didn’t pass it on to all the people they needed to pass it on to,” said a federal official familiar with the incident who was not authorized to speak publicly.

As a result, an incoming flight that had been cleared to land was flying head-on at two planes that had just taken off.

...

“Are you with me?” the tower controller asked the inbound pilot, checking to see whether he was tuned to her radio frequency. When the pilot acknowledged her, she ordered him to make an abrupt turn to the south to avoid the other two planes.

“We were cleared [for landing] at the river there,” the pilot said after breaking off the approach northwest of the airport. “What happened?”

After a pause, the controller said, “Stand by, we’re trying to figure this out.”

As she directed him to make a loop around the airport for a second landing attempt the pilot cautioned: “We really don’t have enough fuel here for this. We have to get on the ground pretty quick.”

So planes in the air moving to land from the north, with presumably planes still taking off to the north.

Looks like the pattern change happened almost right at 2pm on Tuesday. The closest flight with a pattern of approaching from the northwest and making a loop, albeit not fully around DCA, is:

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/R...9/history/20120731/1635Z/KPWM/KDCA

(There's even a hitch to the south over Arlington) Granted though, flightaware may be imperfect.
You don't need a passport to know what state you're in...
 
saab2000
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:18 pm

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 9):
I'll buy into the jet blast, but wake turbulence with an airplane rolling down the runway and you're landing presumably in the touchdown zone of the runway, which in most cases would be the area the departure began their take-off roll?

It is not uncommon for them to ask a departing aircraft to maintain visual separation from the preceding departure and then clear them for T/O. As you turn up the river it is not uncommon to get rocked hard by the wake turbulence from a preceding 320 or 737. They're not heavies of course, but they still leave behind some very dirty air. Of course, I could refuse the clearance, but who wants to be 'that guy'? 
smrtrthnu
 
catiii
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:23 pm

Quoting boacvc10 (Reply 10):
could someone please link the relevant incident liveatc audio segment please, if they get a chance? thanks!

This story has a link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/...PSQX_story.html?wprss=rss_homepage
 
dumbell2424
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:36 pm

Quoting boacvc10 (Reply 10):
could someone please link the relevant incident liveatc audio segment please, if they get a chance? thanks!

There's ATC clip is on the Washington Post story in OP.


Brickyard 3329 was landing, and that's all I could gather from the clip after 3 listens

[Edited 2012-08-02 07:37:32]
 
IAHFLYR
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:40 pm

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 12):
It is not uncommon for them to ask a departing aircraft to maintain visual separation from the preceding departure and then clear them for T/O. As you turn up the river it is not uncommon to get rocked hard by the wake turbulence from a preceding 320 or 737. They're not heavies of course, but they still leave behind some very dirty air


LMAO....I am such the dume-ash, I was thinking of landing behind the departure not being the next to depart, sorry!   

I hear the 738's give off quite a bit of rough air when you're following them with minimum separation let alone less that minimum using visual.

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 12):
Of course, I could refuse the clearance, but who wants to be 'that guy'?



You know you secretly want to be "that guy".  
Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
 
DBQ
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:11 pm

Quoting burj (Thread starter):
As she directed him to make a loop around the airport for a second landing attempt the pilot cautioned: “We really don’t have enough fuel here for this. We have to get on the ground pretty quick.”

Should a plane really be urgently low on fuel at just the second attempt?
 
catiii
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:33 pm

LiveATC has the recording up now: http://www.liveatc.net/recordings.php
 
gothamspotter
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:26 pm

FAA just released the radar replay with full ATC audio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLZQQHPpoc0
 
zmp0psa
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:47 pm

Once again the media trying to make this more dramatic than it actually was. The coverage I've seen in the media so far today has left out way too many details and made too many assumptions. I'm not trying to downgrade the operational error that happened, as it was very serious, but as LaHood said (claims), "“At no point were they on a head-to-head collision course.” Most of the articles coverage I've seen left this out. I also haven't heard any mention to TCAS and how that would have also helped to avoid a collision if necessary.

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 1):
From the article if one is to believe it, sounds as if a few folks in the tower were without situational awareness.

Absolutely, a loss of situational awareness and/or a lack of communication would be my guess as to a cause, without knowing the details.

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 4):
It is my experience that the controllers at DCA too often try to rush things and try to squeeze one last departure or arrival into a very, very narrow window. Lots of "Maintain visual separation with the departing 737, cleared for immediate T/O" and being on a 2 mile final and someone is "Cleared to line up and wait, be ready for an immediate". And all this when nobody is waiting. There's no lineup. So why the hurry?

I do understand what you're saying about being in a hurry when there isn't the need, but as a controller it's difficult to change the speed you work at. IMO working at a consistent and efficient pace at all times makes the jump to a rushed workload much easier and safer.

Quoting DBQ (Reply 16):

Should a plane really be urgently low on fuel at just the second attempt?

The short answer is no, the aircraft should have enough fuel to make it to an alternate airport + 30 MIN. There are a lot of variables that factor in, but if the pilot truly felt he was running that low he would have declared an emergency.

ZMP
 
catiii
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:54 pm

Quoting gothamspotter (Reply 18):
FAA just released the radar replay with full ATC audio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLZQQ...Ppoc0

So that video makes it look like they didnt get within 1000' of each other.
 
Flighty
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:54 pm

It sounds like the safety margin went from 1 in 10 million to about 1 in 1,000. It's pretty serious, but it happens.
 
sandyb123
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:31 pm

Quoting gothamspotter (Reply 18):
FAA just released the radar replay with full ATC audio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLZQQHPpoc0

Perhaps no safety breach but this ATC operator completely looses control of the situation. Confusing and frustrating for the aircraft involved.

Sandyb123
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roseflyer
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:19 pm

What appears to have happened is that the winds were calm and approach control allowed cleared an E170 on the river approach to runway 19 while the tower was operating in North flow and having departures off runway 1. It looks like a communication breakdown between approach control and the tower. Fortunately the pilots on the E170 realized what was going on along with the tower. Minimum separation requirements were exceeded, but fortunately the pilots on approach were aware of what was happening and had traffic in sight.

Quoting sandyb123 (Reply 22):
Perhaps no safety breach but this ATC operator completely looses control of the situation. Confusing and frustrating for the aircraft involved.

I’m not sure I agree with that. The controller notified all aircraft of the traffic once she found out that an airplane was on approach that she did not intend to be on approach. She almost immediately gave the aircraft on approach a vector to stay clear of the aircraft on departure and the pilot indicated that traffic was in sight. The controller in the tower also suspended all departures and cleared the runway while she tried to figure out what happened.

I don’t know how you could have expected the controller to react differently when a different controller cleared an airplane for approach in the wrong direction. That E170 should never have shown up on the river approach, so she had to figure out what was happening and ensure no other aircraft were also on approach. The only thing she didn’t do was give the E170 on approach an altitude, but the pilot did the correct thing of maintain current altitude.
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capitalflyer
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:45 pm

She sounded amazingly calm given the circumstances and the pilot was annoyed but professional over the radio too. I am sure both had a few choice words off air. Kudos to both as a member of the flying public who has to trust these professionals.
 
traindoc
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:47 pm

I am in DC this week and have been exercising on the Mt Vernon trail which goes along the northern perimiter of DCA. This PM (8/2) there are two media trucks parked there as well. Lot's of great take offs, but no story. Unfortunately, the media just have to make everything worse than it is.
 
ATCGOD
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:03 am

Quoting sandyb123 (Reply 22):
Perhaps no safety breach but this ATC operator completely looses control of the situation. Confusing and frustrating for the aircraft involved.

Clearly a mix up between the back of the room and the local controller. Sounds like a runway change had just been completed and the supervisor who is in charge of coordinating the runway change didn't correctly notify the controller of the last aircraft for the previous runway in use. The local controller sounds very surprised to hear RPA3329 on the River Visual to 19. Just my $.02. Don't be so quick to hang the controller.
 
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Acey559
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:33 am

Quoting DBQ (Reply 16):

Should a plane really be urgently low on fuel at just the second attempt?

Should we, no but it happens all the time. The airline I work for is bankrupt and trying to save money any way possible and it's not uncommon to land with fuel gauges in the amber (around 1800 lbs) of gas. I talked to one captain not long ago who landed in the red with about 1000 lbs of gas on board. Weather pops up, especially this time of year, winds are different than forecast and heavy traffic volumes can turn an ordinary flight into one much more exciting. As for this incident, I was overnighting in DC and noticed they were using runway 1 for departures all day until mid afternoon. This happened as they were trying to flip the airport around. Glad nothing worse happened.
 
Mcoov
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:08 am

This happens to me all the time in FSX. What's the problem?   
 
IAHFLYR
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:20 pm

Quoting sandyb123 (Reply 22):
Perhaps no safety breach but this ATC operator completely looses control of the situation. Confusing and frustrating for the aircraft involved.


I disagree with your comment, the controller did what was required and worked with the cards she was dealt.

When things go wrong in the tower and you've got coordination to take place with the TRACON in order to sort the situation out it can appear someone has lost the picture when you only hear the radio calls and don't hear all the communication that is taking place both on landlines and inside the tower.

Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 23):
The only thing she didn’t do was give the E170 on approach an altitude, but the pilot did the correct thing of maintain current altitude.


That's correct.

Quoting atcgod (Reply 26):
The local controller sounds very surprised to hear RPA3329 on the River Visual to 19.


Ya think?   Those type of surprises are never good, but the end result was nothing close to mid air collisions or even near misses.
Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
 
Mir
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:26 pm

Quoting atcgod (Reply 26):
The local controller sounds very surprised to hear RPA3329 on the River Visual to 19.

Except that's not exactly what he said - he just said "on the river". I hate to criticize people for phraseology, but would it have killed him to say "on the river visual 19" instead?

Quoting Acey559 (Reply 27):
The airline I work for is bankrupt and trying to save money any way possible and it's not uncommon to land with fuel gauges in the amber (around 1800 lbs) of gas.

Hopefully that's something that's going into ASAP reports, because that will eventually lead to something more serious.

-Mir
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saab2000
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:22 pm

Quoting Mir (Reply 30):
Except that's not exactly what he said - he just said "on the river". I hate to criticize people for phraseology, but would it have killed him to say "on the river visual 19" instead?

This. Precise phraseology matters, especially in a place like DCA.
smrtrthnu
 
capitalflyer
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RE: DCA - 3 A/C Near Miss 8/1

Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:36 am

Quoting DBQ (Reply 16):
Should a plane really be urgently low on fuel at just the second attempt?
http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news...erseTrafficProcedure_207177-1.html

"Grizzle also said that one of the pilots in the DCA incident had reported low fuel, but the FAA found the aircraft in fact had plenty of fuel."

Why would the pilot have said he was running low if he had plenty? Was he just trying to get the tower to get him on the ground faster?

Is it any kind of violation to report false fuel levels? I guess he didn't declare an emergency (which I would assume he would have done had he actually been critically low on fuel) so no harm no foul.

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