Monday, April 18, 2016

(Out Of Control) Without A Control Tower? - IMRAN™


Roger Elowitz said...

Hi Imran,

Here's the comments of this 2000+hr pilot:

There is no government legislature, no police force, no control tower,
no rule book... that has ever prevented stupid, ignorant, callous,
inattentive, thoughtless, human behavior. Think of the control tower as
being the "local air police." They help with the orderly flow and
spacing of airplane traffic, both in the air and on the ground. That
doesn't mean they are always absolutely essential... but they definitely
are helpful.

The accident that was reported didn't say it was a mid-air
collision... only a near miss. Then, one of the planes seemed to have
lost control and crashed. The description of what happened is somewhat murkey.
The loss of control of one plane speaks to the lack of piloting skill of
one pilot.

In a perfect world, pilots should be talking to each other on their
radios at un-controlled (non-towered) fields... announcing their
positions in the air-space around the airport and on the ground.
However, many aircraft do not have electrical systems and therefore
are not "required" to have radios for communication. Pilots fly
using Visual Flight Rules... which means they operate in a "see and be
seen" environment. Yes! That makes things a substantial degree more
dangerous for sure.

I usually fly out of non-control towered airports and having my head
on a swivel is not an option... it is a MUST!!! But there are times
when all the communications in the world does not fix STUPID. One
morning as I was on final approach to an un-controlled field just a
mile from touching down... a plane seemed to come out of nowhere and
cut right in front of me. I had been self-announcing my position in
the traffic pattern around the airport so I was expecting anyone in
the vicinity would know where to look for me. I saw no one.

I narrowly avoided the mid-air collision and when I got on the ground
I went over to the pilot and asked him if he had heard me
self-announcing? He said "absolutely not!" I then asked him if he was
"self-announcing" his positions and he swore to me he had been doing
exactly that. So... here you have two pilots doing the right thing and
still they weren't communicating. What was going wrong? So I asked
that pilot what frequency he was using and when he told me I could
have "died." It seems that the "self-announcing frequency" had
recently changed and he was using "the old frequency." He had failed
to consult the latest charts for the updated change.

So... what if this was a towered field? The pilot who had tuned in the
wrong frequency on his radio would not have been communicating with
the tower. He could just as easily have assumed that the tower was
just not operating and proceeded to land anyway. He could have
completely missed the "light-gun signals" the tower was flashing him. Duh!

All the police in the world won't stop someone from passing a stop
sign or a traffic light if they aren't paying attention to the
conditions around them. More legislation, more rules and regulations,
more police on patrol wouldn't prevent an accident due to humans who
aren't giving the driving or flying... their full attention.

Not long ago a commercial plane took off on the wrong runway and the
control tower operator at the field wasn't paying critical attention
to the takeoff very early that dark morning. The plane ran out of
runway before it could gain enough altitude. More police or tower
controllers aren't the answer.

The problem is there are no "perfectly safe" systems as long as people
are part of the equations for operating them.



Imran Anwar said...

Thank you for always sharing such valuable thoughts, my dear friend.