Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bits and Pieces

I saw a quote earlier, ostensibly what the Long Beach tower controller said to the pilots of JetBlue 292 after their gear inspection flyby. Something like "Your landing gear is turned ninety degrees the wrong way," but I liked it better. ATC have a talent for saying things that are amusing in their succinct simplicity. I couldn't find the quote again, but I found a few other things I wanted to share.

"You never really read the pamphlets or pay attention to the flight attendants, but everyone was listening to every word they said."
---JetBlue Flight 292 passenger Pia Barma

Grrr. Listen to the briefing, people. We don't do it for our own amusement.

"There were a lot of people in our office that were really stunned about how perfect that landing looked."
---FAA spokesman Donn Walker.

Good when the FAA has something nice to say about what a pilot did.

(Both of those from the LA Daily News. BTW, correction to my previous blog entry: the A320 can't dump fuel in flight. The fuel load was reduced solely by burning it off. Don't know why I wrote that. Must have repoter genes.)

And here's an ATC trainee who singlehandedly made up for all the odd clearances, poor sequencing and confused silences I have ever received from ATC trainees. Note that trainees are very closely supervised, for a surprising amount of time.

Newark Tower, July 26, 2004:

"Scott Dittamo was in the final stages of his trainee program at the busy Newark Tower, receiving training on the local control position. The weather conditions were ideal; clear skies. Dittamo was looking out the window. 'We had a [Boeing] 747 coming in,' he said. 'You can point out a 747 easily on a clear day.' It was Air India Flight 145, with 409 passengers aboard.

"'He was on five-mile final approach,' Dittamo remarked. 'I saw him but I couldn't see gear.' With his [instructions] in his head - 'Always look for feet' - Dittamo glanced in a different direction and then turned back to the 747 to look again. No gear. 'I thought, something just doesn't seem right,' he said. 'In my mind, I said I would pick it up in my next scan. But then I looked up and the plane definitely had no gear.'

"By this point, Flight 145 was on a half-mile final at an altitude of 600 feet. 'I was surprised he didn't go around,' Dittamo stated. 'I was going to let it go for one more second, because this was a critical phase of the flight for the crew. But then I just said to myself, I'm not going to let this go for any longer.'

"Dittamo keyed the mike, 'Air India 145, check gear down. Gear appears up.' The pilot acknowledged the transmission with a calm, 'Air India 145.' Down came the gear and the 747 landed safely on Runway 4R.

"'Holy cow!' said another controller in the tower, realizing that Dittamo had just prevented a possible disaster. Several other pilots on the frequency, taxiing or waiting to take off, heard the transmission and instantly knew of the importance of Dittamo's actions to catch a very rare occurrence. One pilot ... offered a succinct compliment: 'Hey tower, good catch.' "

"Holy Cow." Yeah, that's what air traffic controllers say.

And the last one, which I have a much easier time believing an ATC actually said:

"Hey Al, are you okay with that SKW6100 (4,000 feet) and that VFR at 3,399 (feet)?"

I initially misread the second as "and that VFR at 3,999" which would have been funnier, assuming it worked out. Both of those are from an Air Safety Week article on awards given to air traffic controllers for especially astute saves.

3 comments:

david said...

Here's another story about a near gear-up landing in a 747:

http://www.avweb.com/news/columns/188536-1.html

aasmodeus said...

david, thanks. that was a really enjoyable read!

avi, my 4yo always pulls out the instruction pamphlet at the beginning of every flight, and starts asking questions. he's gonna grow up being one of those people who insists on sitting in the emergency row.

david said...

Here's the advice I've heard from the air-travel-paranoid:

1. Sit on the aisle, not in the middle, and never by the window.

2. Memorize the number of rows to the nearest emergency exit, so that you can count seat backs (you won't see anything if the plane is dark and smoke-filled).

That said, it is so incredibly improbable that you'll ever be in an accident in an airliner that you're more likely to hurt yourself by raising your blood pressure worrying about it. The aisle's still a good choice, though, just for ease of entry/exit (and extra shoulder/elbox room) -- in a plane, the tourists almost always pick the window seats, and the regular business travellers almost always pick the aisle.