1/20/2011 Near Midair - AA B-777 & 2 C-17s

tomokc

Well-Known Member
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443517104577571321974520172.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

An AA 777 and a flight of two C-17s came within 2,000' horizontally at FL220 due to a controller error. TCAS apparently alerted the American crew which took evasive action. The story reports that controller mistakes in 2011 were 80% greater than in 2007: "Total controller errors reported by the FAA last year were about 80% higher than in 2007, though that includes mishaps on the ground and reflects more voluntary reports of lapses by controllers."

So painting with a very broad brush, if controller errors persist, are aircraft in the flight levels protected by TCAS? Does this portend a trend? Should it?
 

Chief Captain

Well-Known Member
I don't quite get your question, but yes, TCAS works at all altitudes as long as both aircraft are properly equipped.

Not sure what you're getting at by talking about a trend. Controllers make mistakes, that's why we have multiple levels of safety (procedures, TCAS etc.) to ensure there's no loss of life.

The system worked as designed. Personally, I think ALL aircraft should have TCAS.
 

SeanD

Well-Known Member
I was working a flight out of ORD to TVC when a controlled failed to alert us of traffic. We were climbing out of 400o when the TCAS went berserk and it was LOUD. An SR-22 came within 300 feet. We dropped like a rock. The SR-22 pilot didn't even see us. The captain said he was wearing a red shirt and had blonde hair. Later we found out the controller had left his post momentarily.
 

Hacker15e

Dunning–Kruger Observer
I love how 2,000' of separation -- 1/3 of a mile -- has somehow become a "near midair".
 

tomokc

Well-Known Member
I was northbound departing KDAL years ago and was given a climb restriction by regional center for separation from an inbound flight to KDFW from the northeast. The inbound traffic blew through his DM altitude, and although we came within about two miles of one another, I had clear visual contact as he flew in front of us. I learned later that this was included in a litany of problems in Dallas. I always wondered why I wasn't requested to identify the traffic and maintain visual separation.
 

MercFE

Well-Known Member
Guess the media would have loved the traffic pattern we were sharing with a C-5 a couple weeks back at Dover.

Tower had us doing left patterns on 19, while the C-5 was doing right patterns on 32. He would alternate giving us each an additional 1000' on the downwind. Doesn't mean we always had it.
 

Hacker15e

Dunning–Kruger Observer
Kind of is when you're not TRYING to get close. ;)
I just think that many pilots (and, to be fair, controllers and members of the public, too) who are primarily used to flying with the VERY GENEROUS buffers around aircraft flying in the IFR and Flight Level environment seriously over-react to situations when those buffers are encroached.

Simply being inside those buffers does NOT, IMHO, at all directly mean there was a "near midair". Similarly, TCAS RAs also do not directly mean that.

I consider miss distances inside of the FAA "well clear" definition of 500' to be in consideration for "near midair" status, and even then it depends on what happened.
 

dasleben

That's just, like, your opinion, man
I just think that many pilots (and, to be fair, controllers and members of the public, too) who are primarily used to flying with the VERY GENEROUS buffers around aircraft flying in the IFR and Flight Level environment seriously over-react to situations when those buffers are encroached.

Simply being inside those buffers does NOT, IMHO, at all directly mean there was a "near midair". Similarly, TCAS RAs also do not directly mean that.

I consider miss distances inside of the FAA "well clear" definition of 500' to be in consideration for "near midair" status, and even then it depends on what happened.
I've never been a military pilot, so I'm not personally comfortable with the same level of distance some of you guys might be. A heavy jet simply doesn't have the same maneuvering capability that smaller aircraft do, particularly in the flight levels. 2,000' lateral separation, unintentionally, could have serious consequences to an aircraft that can't maneuver out of the way quickly.
 

SteveCostello

My member is well-known.
Yeah, so? 2000' of lateral or vertical separation is 2000', regardless of how fast the closure rate is.
Ah... I thought it was 2,000' of horizontal separation, as in both aircraft at or near the same altitude. 2,000' of vertical separation seems pretty safe to me (unless someone seriously busts altitude...)
 

dasleben

That's just, like, your opinion, man
Ah... I thought it was 2,000' of horizontal separation, as in both aircraft at or near the same altitude. 2,000' of vertical separation seems pretty safe to me (unless someone seriously busts altitude...)
It was 2,000' laterally. 1,000' is the normal separation standard.
 

Bernoulli Fan

Controller
It was 2,000' laterally. 1,000' is the normal separation standard.
1,000' vertically is the normal standard. Three or five miles, depending on facility, is the normal standard laterally. 2,000' laterally may not be a literal near-collision, but on radar the targets probably came close to merging. Opposite direction, same flight level, targets nearly merging...that's as bad a job as ATC can do. Anyone watching that on a scope would get a sick feeling in his stomach as there's no way to tell if the planes are going to hit or miss by a couple thousand feet.
 

SteveCostello

My member is well-known.
It was 2,000' laterally. 1,000' is the normal separation standard.
OK, so that is concerning. The article does not mention how convergent the courses were. Are we talking a few degrees? 10? 45? I don't have time to do the math on this right now, but that sort of detail makes the difference between, "Oh, hi there! Let me skooch over just a little bit for you" and "OMGWTFBBQWEREALLGOINGTODIE!!!111!!"
 

dasleben

That's just, like, your opinion, man
1,000' vertically is the normal standard. Three or five miles, depending on facility, is the normal standard laterally. 2,000' laterally may not be a literal near-collision, but on radar the targets probably came close to merging. Opposite direction, same flight level, targets nearly merging...that's as bad a job as ATC can do. Anyone watching that on a scope would get a sick feeling in his stomach as there's no way to tell if the planes are going to hit or miss by a couple thousand feet.
Yes, I meant 1,000 vertical separation. 2,000' laterally on converging tracks is a big deal for a jet that can't get out of its own way.
 

juxtapilot

Snowflake
Heh, I had a LOT closer than that at FL240 a few months ago, TCAS did it's job and everything turned out okay.. (Not controller error though..)
 
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