D L X
Topic Author
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Joined: Thu May 27, 1999 3:30 am

Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:43 am

Last week, a United A320 was given clearance to take off 19C at IAD, but the controller then instructed two planes to cross that runway. The United aborted its takeoff roll and informed the controller of traffic on the runway.

https://youtu.be/ZCH_qvp1rlE
 
Waterbomber
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:55 am

While the Atco did make a mistake, his workload there was insane.
That needs to be addressed.
The pilots plugged the hole in the cheese there, but it could have been a disaster.
 
jetblueguy22
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:18 am

These kind of situations is what makes me apprehensive about going to a more text based system with ATC...audio has plenty of issues, but it at least allows everyone to be on the same page.
Look at sweatpants guy. This is a 90 million dollar aircraft, not a Tallahassee strip club
 
slcdeltarumd11
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:20 am

ATC seem very overloaded and over worked, it's amazing there ar not more situations like this at busy airports. Glad the pilots were all sharp here and avoided something bad. Pilots really do need to be sharp, ie why they have time out rules.
 
D L X
Topic Author
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Joined: Thu May 27, 1999 3:30 am

Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:28 am

Revision: it was a 739 that day per avherald.

http://avherald.com/h?article=4bdf88a4
 
wjcandee
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:02 am

jetblueguy22 wrote:
These kind of situations is what makes me apprehensive about going to a more text based system with ATC...audio has plenty of issues, but it at least allows everyone to be on the same page.


Yeah, but this tape also shows that with the current (idiotic in 2018) half-duplex communication system, the United pilots had absolutely no opportunity to say anything until the controller stopped his very-lengthy statements. "Tower, you already cleared United XXX for takeoff" wasn't possible for anyone to say during that sequence. Nobody could even say, UNITED STOP! because ATC was transmitting on the frequency.

The controller continued to do his job clearly and professionally, but listening carefully he was notably shaken after realizing his error. I was waiting to hear him being relieved from his post. Apparently, another controller took over after about another 30 seconds, according to a comment on the Youtube video.

I wonder if the Tucker Carlson squabble a few months ago about FAA's change in qualifications for controllers is in any way relevant here. If it is, prepare for another brouhaha. My own understanding of the statistics is that the bypassing controllers have a materially-higher failure/washout rate, but that among controllers who make it through the Academy and onto the line, one can't see any difference in performance among the controllers that bypass and the ones that take the more traditional path. That's at least what I read. And I also assume that nobody's being moved into that busy a tower position without being highly-qualified and experienced. But maybe I'm optimistic.

And as to "overwork", at least for the period in the audio, that particular position did not seem more challenging than many others, such as at DFW, ORD, JFK, LGA, etc. Line 'em up, cross aircraft downfield, depart 'em, turn them, and move them on to the next controller.
 
jayunited
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 11:58 am

What I found interesting is when the controller at 22 seconds cleared United 326 onto runway 19C gave the current weather then told him hold gonna have multiple aircraft crossing the runway. At 49 seconds in the controller clears United 326 for takeoff both Skywest and American still haven't been given clearance to cross runway 19C but United 326 has clearance, the controller doesn't give Skywest clearance to cross the runway until 1:21 a full 59 seconds after he told United 326 to line up and wait traffic crossing and 32 seconds after giving United 326 clearance for takeoff. American doest get clearance till1:32 a full 42 seconds after takeoff clearance was granted. I'm not a pilot but it seems to me the controller meant to hold United 326 but mistakenly give United326 clearance for take off and then simply forgot because at some point when United aborts the takeoff he asks United326 did I give you clearance? From the tape it seems that both the American and United pilots noticed the mistake but the Skywest aircraft which from the graph was further away didn't notice the United aircraft on the runway and proceeded to cross runway 19C. I'm sure they are investigating this event, but it just goest to show how quickly things can go wrong and why everyone has to pay attention not just the controller.
It also shows human factors and how sometimes the human brain is working so fast multitasking you make a mistake and do the exact opposite of what you intended to do and not realize your mistake until its pointed out. Listening to the tape I really believe he meant to hold United 326 not give him clearance for takeoff.
 
mcoatc
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 1:43 pm

Waterbomber wrote:
While the Atco did make a mistake, his workload there was insane.
That needs to be addressed.
The pilots plugged the hole in the cheese there, but it could have been a disaster.


I have a hard time agreeing with any of this. The controller was busy, but if you think his workload was "insane", this must be the first ATC recording you've ever listened to. There may be a complexity factor that isn't obvious to the listener, and we don't know what else might be going on in the cab, but I'm not sure what is overly challenging about launching departures and crossing arrivals. You just don't do it at the same time. As has been mentioned, listen to controllers at any of the top 5 or 10 airports (of which IAD is not) and you'll hear far busier people.

So far as a disaster, the arrivals were crossing roughly 9000' down the runway. Even with the 739's stellar field performance, the chances of metal touching metal in this scenario were rather small. Probably nauseating to all involved, but that's more than likely it.

Kudos the the UAL crew for having the situational awareness to reject. It was far more situational awareness than the controller in question, who after making his mistake, tries to immediately launch the aircraft in question. Hot brakes maybe? Checklists maybe? Re-set performance numbers maybe? You just tried to put on an airshow, maybe you should check with the crew to see if they need a few minutes.

Not a day I wish on anyone, but happy things ended safely.
 
rnav2dlrey
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:00 pm

if you think this workload is heavy, listen to ORD ground during a departure bank.
 
ual763
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:04 pm

wjcandee wrote:

I wonder if the Tucker Carlson squabble a few months ago about FAA's change in qualifications for controllers is in any way relevant here. If it is, prepare for another brouhaha.


It could technically be possible. Dulles is I *believe* a level 9 facility at the current time. Or maybe a level 10. Either way, that is technically the busiest level of facility you can start at coming out of the FAA academy. Figure the initial bid of the new hiring practice was in February of 2014, some probably went to the academy 6 months or so after that, then figure another 1.5-2 years OJT training they should be CPC by now signed off to work local on their own. Also, not to take it off track, but a class action lawsuit has now been filed in that case.

Now to this incident, kudos to the American and United pilots for the excellent situational awareness. They obviously looked both left and right before crossing the runway unlike Skywest.
From flying to the NOTAM office
 
RDUDDJI
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:38 pm

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
ATC seem very overloaded and over worked, it's amazing there ar not more situations like this at busy airports. Glad the pilots were all sharp here and avoided something bad. Pilots really do need to be sharp, ie why they have time out rules.


And yet somehow they give out millions of instructions per week without issue to 10's of thousands of flights... smh. As others have pointed out, IAD isn't even that busy or complex compared to other large airports. LGA would love to have three parallel RWYs to work with!
Sometimes we don't realize the good times when we're in them
 
mm320cap
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:53 pm

Some good lessons here (which as a Captain I always try to consider when I read these things). Kudos to the United crew. Kudos to the AMR crew for looking left before they crossed. It’s easy to just blindly follow clearances, but I’ve gotten in the habit of ALWAYS checking both ways crossing a runway or going into position (even on the 1’s in SFO). This reaffirms my commitment to that process.

It also highlights how beetleheaded that proposed FAA study would have been to reduce to 1 Pilot in the cockpit. That reduction of 1 set of eyes could be the deciding factor in countless incidents.

The controller made an error. I’ve had controllers catch MANY errors for me over the years, so I’m careful to remember that whenever something like this happens. They do an unbelievably good job safely moving the tin day in and day out.

Lastly, at the 9,000’ mark there definitely could have been a collision if it was a heavy -900. We do pretty substantially reduced takeoffs to balance the field length. Couple that with a slower rotation for tail strike avoidance and it’s not at all rare to be just breaking ground at that point.
 
YellowJ
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:07 pm

mcoatc wrote:
Waterbomber wrote:
While the Atco did make a mistake, his workload there was insane.
That needs to be addressed.
The pilots plugged the hole in the cheese there, but it could have been a disaster.




So far as a disaster, the arrivals were crossing roughly 9000' down the runway. Even with the 739's stellar field performance, the chances of metal touching metal in this scenario were rather small.
.


What does the 739 have to do with this? At all?

The same slow field performance you allude too, would have given it ample time to do a RTO, just like any other type. Considering SkyWest crossed the runway in seconds 9,000 ft down the line, I wonder why you think there would have been any impact regardless. The real problem would have been AA, who along with being the bigger plane, also received crossing clearance later than Skywest, but were much closer to UA.
 
wjcandee
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:20 pm

mm320cap wrote:
Some good lessons here (which as a Captain I always try to consider when I read these things)


Back when I used to read the wonderful blog from the humble yet uber-experienced line pilot from America West, I appreciated how he described things that years of experience made him do automatically in order to stay alive. Although he didn't describe it this way, his many tales made clear that he regarded many ATC clearances, particularly those to cross runways, as friendly suggestions to be exploited only after he had personally looked to make dang sure nothing was coming. Particularly so for clearances to take the high speed and keep rolling across a parallel runway. In at least one story, deciding to have a look personally kept him from having a very bad day. I always remembered that story. (PS Wish he was back on the web; maybe he is retired by now...)
 
wjcandee
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:28 pm

mcoatc wrote:
Kudos the the UAL crew for having the situational awareness to reject. It was far more situational awareness than the controller in question, who after making his mistake, tries to immediately launch the aircraft in question. Hot brakes maybe? Checklists maybe? Re-set performance numbers maybe? You just tried to put on an airshow, maybe you should check with the crew to see if they need a few minutes.
.


Hey, friend! Yeah, this was one of the things that made me think that he was a little freaked out after recognizing his error. It was kind of him to try to get them on their way immediately, but a little bit of frazzled thinking, it seemed.
 
MKIAZ
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:04 pm

I don't know how ATC works, but surely they are keying these movements into a computer system to help them keep track of some sort right? It would seem rather easy to have that system also be feed data on the real time position of these planes on the airfield and be able to do some rudimentary error checking. I.E. United 326 clear to takeoff 19C, then when controller gave skywest clearance to cross 19C a few seconds later, there should be a system that could see United 326 was on the runway and to issue an alert.
 
Passedv1
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:04 pm

MKIAZ wrote:
I don't know how ATC works, but surely they are keying these movements into a computer system to help them keep track of some sort right? It would seem rather easy to have that system also be feed data on the real time position of these planes on the airfield and be able to do some rudimentary error checking. I.E. United 326 clear to takeoff 19C, then when controller gave skywest clearance to cross 19C a few seconds later, there should be a system that could see United 326 was on the runway and to issue an alert.



No they don't. Not sure if that would help though, that would just add to the workload. What would have helped is the automated runway surveillance lights, although I am not sure what the actual name of the system is, these would have given red lights to everybody.

The system actually did work...although it was the LAST fail-safe (pilot paying attention, not blindly following a clearance)...the last-fail safe did do it's job.
 
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litz
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:06 pm

IAD is listed as having this : https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/technology/rwsl/

installed ... why didn't it stop the crossing traffic?
 
RDUDDJI
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:36 pm

Passedv1 wrote:
MKIAZ wrote:
I don't know how ATC works, but surely they are keying these movements into a computer system to help them keep track of some sort right? It would seem rather easy to have that system also be feed data on the real time position of these planes on the airfield and be able to do some rudimentary error checking. I.E. United 326 clear to takeoff 19C, then when controller gave skywest clearance to cross 19C a few seconds later, there should be a system that could see United 326 was on the runway and to issue an alert.



No they don't. Not sure if that would help though, that would just add to the workload. What would have helped is the automated runway surveillance lights, although I am not sure what the actual name of the system is, these would have given red lights to everybody.


If you’re referring to an A-SMGCS system, IAD already has one. Admittedly, I don’t know how much these systems are used outside of low vis ops. A pilot or ATCer would have to chime in on that.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance ... rol_System
Sometimes we don't realize the good times when we're in them
 
Samrnpage
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 11:28 pm

Everyone makes mistakes and I feel for the controller, but he shouldnt be allowed back in a tower for a while.
 
bzcat
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Mon Oct 01, 2018 11:39 pm

The cockpit voice recorder should be interesting. The UA crew was alert and made good decision to abort. The AA crew also made good decision to not proceed... they must have saw the UA 739 rolling down the runway. The Skywest crew probably didn't see the 739 because they would have only seen the AA plane from their window.
 
ual763
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Re: Pilots avoid collision at IAD after controller mistake

Tue Oct 02, 2018 12:57 am

bzcat wrote:
The cockpit voice recorder should be interesting. The UA crew was alert and made good decision to abort. The AA crew also made good decision to not proceed... they must have saw the UA 739 rolling down the runway. The Skywest crew probably didn't see the 739 because they would have only seen the AA plane from their window.


It’s a requirement that each taxiway intersection to a runway be able to see clearly both ends of the runway from the hold short line. I’ver personally been at this intersection before at Dulles, they would have been able to see the United rolling, even with the American beside them. Unfortunately, they either didn’t look at all, or they may have seen the United 737 but glanced so quickly they didn’t register movement and assumed it was holding position while they crossed. In the investigation, obviously the controller is ultimately to blame here. However, this is a wonderful lesson to those two Skywest pilots, and also every pilot, to pay better attention to not only your control instructions, but to those of everyone else around you. Oh, and obviously to look both ways ;)
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