Aviation News, Headlines & Alerts
Category: <span>Air Traffic Control</span>

Jeju Air Plane Rejects Takeoff From Jeju City, South Korea

Jeju Air flight 7C-510 had to reject takeoff from Jeju City, South Korea, on September 29th.

The Boeing 737-800 plane was accelerating to takeoff for Busan, South Korea, when the tower instructed the crew to stop.

The crew subsequently rejected takeoff at high speed. Several tires deflated and the plane became disabled on the runway.

All one hundred and fifty people aboard remained unharmed.

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Fighter Jets Escort Korean Airlines Plane to Stuttgart, Germany

Korean Airlines flight KE-917 was intercepted by two supersonic fighter jets on July 15th.

The Boeing 777-300 plane heading from Seoul, South Korea, to Zurich, Switzerland, was over Berlin, Germany, when it lost communication with the ATC.

The German Air Force subsequently dispatched two fighter jets that escorted the plane to Stuttgart, Germany.

The plane landed safely in Stuttgart. All two hundred and eleven passengers aboard remained unharmed.

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Small Planes Hit Each Other during Parachutist Competition; 4 Killed

Two small planes crashed into each other near Godollo, Pest County, Budapest, Hungary, on September 18th.

The planes collided during a parachutist competition, when one of them lost contact with the air control.

4 people list their lives in the crash.

The crash remains under investigation.

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About Close Calls

After making note of the Oct 31 near miss in Oslo, I remembered this 100 foot close call of two Boeing 747’s over Scotland. This occurred in late June, when a Lufthansa pilot was climbing, and a British Airways flight were 24.3nm apart on converging courses. A STCA (Short Germ Conflict Alert)

The Oslo near miss could have been prevented if the repetition protocol have been observed.

The Scotland near miss had two planes
(DLH418 Lufthansa Boeing 747-830, D-ABYC Frankfurt (FRA) – Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD))


(BAW87 British Airways Boeing 747-436, G-BNLM London-Heathrow (LHR) – Vancouver (YVR))

on a collision course 100 feet Vertical/3.9 nm Horizontal and 1100 feet Vertical/2.8nm from impact. The study of the event concluded that actions of both the pilots and the controller contributed but that the pilots avoiding ATC instructions caused the proximity issue.

The added pressure of reporting incidents such as these should help pilots and air traffic control to avoid similar events in the future. It will do so ONLY if adequate attention is paid to the mistakes, if alternative/better responses are deter mend, if the resulting studies are closely attended, and if protocol is adjusted to reduce the possibility of such problems re-occurring. On some level, the protocol worked, because these incidents were not collisions. However, they were closer than they should be. All I can say about this event is that it is a good thing that mistakes are reported.

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Oslo: October 31, 2013, Near Miss

We wrote about two Norwegian Air Shuttle planes that suffered a near miss when two planes followed the same instruction from ATC. The Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN) report on the event is below.

Report (Translation)
The 31 October 2012, two airliners from English too close together under a simultaneous missed approach (NAX741) and departure (NAX740) at Oslo Airport. There was strong tailwind on final. The AIBN believes that the flight crew on NAX741 had unrealistic expectations of the ability to be stabilized later in 1000 ft above the airport elevation. The decision to initiate the missed approach was taken at a late stage. Expectations of final-controller and tower controller that the speed of the landing would be reduced sufficiently during the approach, was not met. The missed approach for NAX741 came into conflict with the simultaneous departure of NAX740.

Visibility conditions were such that the tower controller could not maintain visual separation between aircraft. Planes were for each other and both were rising. Tower air traffic controller instructed NAX741 to swing west. A mixture of callsign originated and led to NAX740 initiated clearance given to NAX741. The minimum horizontal distance between the aircraft was about. 0.2 NM (370 m) while the vertical height difference was 500 ft (152 m). AIBN considers that there was real danger of collision in the incident. When the situation first arose, prevented the situation awareness and good reviews from the flight crew and tower controller further escalation of the conflict.

AIBN considers that established and practiced procedures will help to ensure that situations are recognized and averted before they become critical. Data from the cockpit voice recorder (Cockpit Voice Recorder CVR) was not secured. CVR data is important to understand the sequence of events, and AIBN therefore it is unfortunate that CVR data is not guaranteed. AIBN no new safety recommendation in this report, but refers to a previously issued safety recommendation (SL no 2012/06T) not closed.

Type of report: Full report
Location: Oslo Airport Gardermoen ENGM
Event Date: 31/10/2012
ICAO Location indicator: ENGM
Aircraft: Boeing 737-600/700/800 / Boeing 737-600/700/800
Operator: Norwegian Air Shuttle / Norwegian Air Shuttle
Reg notice: LN-DYC / LN-NOM
Flight conditions: IMC
County: Akershus
Type of event: Serious incident
Type of flight: Commercial, scheduled / Commercial, scheduled
Category Aviation: Tung, aircraft (> 10 000kg) / Tung, aircraft (> 10 000kg)
Flykategori: Land plane, multi-engine, turbofan / turbojet

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Oslo: Near Miss

On Oct 31, 2013, a Norwegian Boeing 737-800#LN-DYC en route from Trondheim to Oslo with 130 passengers and 6 crew, was descending towards Oslo and was switched to a different runway. A second Norwegian Boeing 737-800 #LN-NOM en route from Oslo to Trondheim took off. Instructions from ATC became confused, and both planes followed a single instruction, bringing them into proximity.

Flight 741, which was landing, was below Flight 740. Flight 740 got a TCAS (Traffic collision avoidance system) warning and diverged. Accident Investigation Board Norway noted the minimum separation between the two aircraft was down to 0.2nm lateral at 500 feet vertical.

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Proximity Blamed on Tenerife South ATC

On November 12, 2011, the Iberia Airbus A321 had been approaching Tenerife South airport at high speed just before it landed on the same runway that a Jet2 Boeing 757-200 was departing did so because of a premature take-off clearance to the 757.

The 757 was airborne over the runway as the A321 touched down at an unexpectedly fast approach. Although the A321’s airspeed had decreased constantly through the descent, its ground speed was 210kt. Expected airspeed is in the 180-203kt range.

The planes were separated by at least 4,100ft.

The incident has been attributed to the tower controller’s “improper handling” of the take-off clearance to the 757.

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Reagan National Airport Near Miss

What: US Airways en route from Washington
What: US Airways en route from Washington
What: US Airways en route to Washington
Where: Reagan National Airport, Washington
When: July 31, 2012 2:00 pm
Who: 192 aboard
Why: One US Airways plane had been rerouted into Washington’s Reagan international airport. Its route had been changed in Warrenton, Va due to an approaching storm. The problem is that no one apparently told Reagan National and that rerouted plane was scheduled to land into two US Airways Jets that were taking off.

Warrenton, Va ATC changed courses due to weather and wind patterns.

Reagan Airport ATC caught the potential collision 12 seconds before it happened and rerouted the incoming jet.

See Video below

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Air Lingus Attempts and Attempts and Attempts to Land in Barcelona Before Running Out of Fuel

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Jens Breuer

What: Aer Lingus Airbus A320-200 en route from Cork to Barcelona
Where: Barcelona
When: Mar 14th 2012
Who: 56 passengers, 6 crew
Why: Pilots on approach to Barcelona aborted their approach at 10,000 feet due to the poor visibility. Barcelona ATC refused the pilots requests for a Category III landing forcing pilots on a holding pattern for thirty minutes, then on flight on a wild goose chase looking for somewhere else to land, until the pilots eventually were about to run out of fuel.

After pilots declared an emergency, Barcelona ATC cleared the landing. Spanish authorities are investigating.

(The wild goose chase? First the denial and holding pattern, then off to Valencia, but before arriving, Barcelona said visibility had cleared, so back to Barcelona, but no, visibility hadn’t cleared. Pilots diverted to Girona, but Girona was congested, so back to Barcelona, which was finally cleared to land on declaring emergency.)

LEBL 142030Z 00000KT 0200 R25R/0300N R25L/0300V0550D FG BKN005 12/12 Q1027 NOSIG
LEBL 141930Z 00000KT 0200 R25R/0325N FG BKN005 12/12 Q1027 NOSIG

Fatalities Rise in Congo Crash, ATC Trainee at Fault?

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Guido Potters

What: Hewa Bora Airways Boeing 727-100 en route from Kinshana N’Djili to Kisangani (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Where: Kisangani
When: Jul 8th 2011
Who: 112 passengers and 6 crew
Why: Attempting to land in heavy rain, limited visibility, thunderstorms in the area, the plane broke up on impact, and came to rest 984 feet from the runway. The plane struck a tree about 1000 meters short of runway 13.

53 survived the crash. Emergency services rescued 43. Two flight attendants were the only surviving crew.

85 died as a result of the crash. Prior to this posting, the number of reported dead grew from 46 to 68 to 85. *

The cause of the crash has been attributed to a mistake by a trainee air traffic controller but ATC service provider at Kisangani Airport, denies allegations of controller error.

Update: Hewa Bora’s license “has been suspended until further notice.”

The captain had a total experience of 7,000 hours with around 5,000 hours on the Boeing 727.

Survivors are in hospital care in various hospitals of Kisangani

*Current death toll is 85

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21st Century Air Traffic Control: GAATS+ Technology

New technologies in aviation come about to solve problems and make air travel safer. From this new technology, controllers will have increased situational awareness.

Air traffic control relies on positive and procedural navigation: positive uses radar; procedural uses the radio-procedure of pilots reporting their position every few minutes.

Gander Automated Air Traffic System Plus (GAATS+) is Canada’s new trans-oceanic flight control system developed especially to help deal with sixty percent (the percentage of jets equipped with GPS position-reporting and text-based communications avionics) of the thousand jets crossing the North Atlantic daily (just as Air France 447 did.) It reduces radio procedure by extending positive control via north coast radar feeds.

The new technology is an advance in integration which automates ATC processes (taking advantage of the newest GPS technology, ADS-B and ADS-C) and is expected to save client airlines a million in fuel yearly. It is said that GAATS+ “provides significant enhancements to the original GAATS system, including electronic flight strips and increased automation of data exchange with other ATC facilities. GAATS+ also integrates automated flight plan processing, track generation, advanced conflict prediction and data-link communication for position reports.”

Of course I can not help but have opinions on operational technology, even without a single tangible thing that qualifies me to have an opinion.

The phrase that caught my eye is the statement that “GAATS allows reduced separation by lessening reliance solely on procedural control.”

I am not now nor will I ever be working in a control room. I will have to take the word of Air Traffic Controllers on how this system will work at making flying safer.

My opinion is only based on a layman’s experience and too much attention paid to aviation detail. I only see a few sticking points and they are broad ones:

  • The technology conundrum: Technology is good because it brings greater efficiency; but sometimes I wonder if a reliance on technology will allow skills to atrophy. Will a system like this ultimately result in less able controllers, the same way cockpit technology has resulted in less able pilots?
  • Separation conundrumI hear the phrase greater separation, and I think, “okay, these planes won’t impact each other; they’re safe from direct contact and wake turbulence.” So when I just see the GAATS literature talking about enabling “reduced separation,” what perceive a greater possibility for direct contact and/or wake turbulence. I know the idea of a 5 minute longitudinal separation as opposed to ten is intended to mean greater capacity for traffic. But increased technological accuracy and precision in tracking jets is a good thing only as long as we don’t use the precision in a way that is ultimately chancy.
  • New software conundrum Anyone who has ever had a system knows that the bugs in the system don’t show up right away. They are discovered at various points whenever parameters are stretched or unexpected /unanticipated/ extraordinary events occur. Even when software is not beta any longer, ( las GAATS+ is the latest incarnation of existing GAATS), it is still a developing work in progress, as new problems are revealed and are bridged. So we can only hope that any bugs that exist will not be fatal ones.

Alert! Alert! FIRST LADY in no DANGER whatsoever.

Wake up ATC. Turn off the TV. The eyes of the media are on you again.

It is the air traffic control’s responsibility to watch the distance between planes. That includes the one Michelle Obama was on. Not that she was in any danger.

Please note that the reportage below is somewhat exaggerated but these planes should be 5 miles apart. Let’s do avoid the wake turbulence, shall we?

Now, if you’re really interested, you can leave our site and go check out the CBS Recording of Michelle Obama’s plane being diverted which CBS so uncharitably does not allow to be embedded. If you listen to this recording, and you should even though you will have to sit through whatever advertising they put at the start of it, do take note of the calm, matter of fact manner of both the pilot and the air traffic controller. This was a routine situation go-round.

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Blame Samuel Jackson for Two More ATC Suspensions

The Ohio, controller who watched a DVD while monitoring three planes sent audio of Samuel Jackson in the movie The Cleaner to those three planes over his mike, and sticking his mike in the ON position so he couldn’t receive calls. The FAA announcement of that controller’s suspension said that a military pilot on an alternative frequency heard the movie broadcast over airspace. That controller has been suspended along with his manager.

Is this Oberlin Ohio controller the only one doing this or was he just the only one unlucky enough to get caught? What other distracting solutions have air traffic controllers found to keep them from falling asleep during long dull lapses during the night? FAA policy prohibits the use of portable DVD players.

We haven’t heard from Samuel Jackson.


Should They or Shouldn’t they – Sleeping on the Job

As a demonstration of the FAA’s zero tolerance policy, the seven controllers who were suspended were the seven caught sleeping during their shifts.

The FAA is adding an hour of down time between shifts, hoping that hour will make a difference. A bit of magic thinking there. The FAA doesn’t even allow napping during break time.

Rather than pay for naps or schedule unpaid naps, the FAA has rejected the possibility of controlled on the job napping, which is the solution offered by other countries like Germany and Japan which provide rooms for that purpose.

Yet how many exhausted controllers have made bad decisions based on being sleep deprived? According to research, US air traffic controllers get average 2.3 hours sleep before their overnight shifts.

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Burbank: Close call

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Jason Whitebird

What: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 en route from Oakland to Burbank,CA
Where: Burbank on Apr 19th 201
When: Apr 19 2010
Who: 119 passengers and 5 crew
Why: Approaching the runway prior to takeoff, a a Cessna 172 passed over the passed over the 737, with a clearance of 200 feet (vertical) and 10 feet (lateral).

The NTSB is investigating.

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LAX Wake Turbulence

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Francisco Muro

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Rudy Chiarello

What: American Eagle Embraer ERJ-140 en route from Lindbergh Field San Diego to Los Angeles
What: LAN Airlines Boeing 767-300 from from Lima Peru to Los Angeles, CA
Where: LAX
When: Jan 19th 2010
Why: At the time of the American Eagle’s arrival to LAX, both jets were flying at the same altitude. The danger was not collision. The danger was wake turbulence. Required separation behind the Boeing is 5 nautical miles.

George’s Point of View

Trailing behind an aircraft, wake turbulence is made up of multiple force drafts including wingtip vortices and jetwash. Jetwash is jet engine gas output which is turbulent but of short term but wingtip vortices can remain for up to three minutes.

Picture, if you will, invisible speed bumps made of wind that could knock your car off the road trailing the car in front of you. If this were a factor with cars, tailgating would be a completely different thing.

A cockpit voice recorder of the pilots responses will clearly indicate if the plane in the rear of the situation runs into the leading aircraft’s wake. What officials are questioning here are the actions and responses of LAX Air Traffic Control, which placed these two jets close enough to be endangered.

On January 19, maybe Air Traffic Control error put the Eagle jet less than three miles from the 767, but the pilot managed to stay out of the other jet’s wake. LAX denies this is a case of inexperience and maybe they are correct, because the worst case scenario crash did not happen. Maybe it would have happened if the jet following were flying at lower altitude.

What matters is that the flight landed safely and whether it was ATC or the pilot, someone did something right because both flights made it to the ground safely.

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Emergency Landing: Iran Contention with ATC

Pictured: An Orenair Boeing 737-4Y0
Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Nikolai Ionkine

What: Orenburg Airlines Boeing 737 en route from Perm to Dubai
Where: Iran
When: January 3, 2009
Who: not available
Why: While en route, the crew developed an issue with air traffic control in Dubai which forced an emergency landing in Iran. According to news reports, “The passengers have been given water, and an external air conditioner has been hooked up. In the near future, the aircraft should fly to Dubai.”

The statement sounds as if the passengers and crew are being held aboard the aircraft.

There was apparently no mechanical reason for the diversion.

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Transaero Go-round

Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Erezms

What: Transaero Boeing 737-400 en route from Moscow to Tel Aviv
Where: Tel Aviv
When: Dec 15th 2009
Who: 102 passengers and 7 crew
Why: On approach to Tel Aviv, twice the plane received re-directs, and in both cases, the flight made a go-around. (The approaches were made to runways scheduled with departing traffic.)

On the third approach, the plane landed safely.

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Nigeria: ATC Down

Pictured: An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-3BG/ER
Click to view full size photo at Airliners.net
Contact photographer Pieter-Jan Van De Vijver

What: Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300 en route from Addis Ababa to Lagos
Where: Lagos Nigeria
When: Dec 13th 2009
Who: 180 passengers
Why: On approach, ATC communication failed. With air traffic control’s radar and communication radio out of service, the flight circled, and after two hours in a holding pattern, landed after declaring a fuel emergency.

Other flights also had the same experience.

Nigeria’s Airspace Management Agency NAMA was unavailable for two hours.

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Cleveland ATC: A Close Call

What: Expressjet Embraer ERJ-145 en route from Cleveland to Kansas City Missouri
Where: Cleveland Ohio
When: June 26 2009
Who: not available
Why: Runway Incursion aborted. While at the controls, an air traffic control trainee scheduled the Expressjet and a CommutAir de Havilland Dash 8-200 on a collision course. The Expressjet pilot perceived the danger in time to avert the incident.

The same trainee caused a similar incident between an Expressjet and a Southwest flight on June 3.

George’s Point of View

The trainee in question had very little experience. I am more critical of the training process than the trainee. What preparation was there ahead of time? That question is not answered for us. Perhaps this incident is proof that a training system is working, since a collision did not happen. Or perhaps it is an indicator that training methodology needs to be revamped. (Do air traffic controllers train on simulators? I don’t know.)

What will we learn from this event? What will the ATC trainers learn?

If I had been a fly on that console, I’d have quizzed that trainee on what he learned from his mistakes. One does not have to make mistakes to learn, but to progress, one must learn from ones mistakes.

Skill, like character is forged like steel from iron, in trial by fire. How else does an expert become one without the benefit of experience?

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