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Thread: Safety call vs ATC response.... when do you declare as preventive?

  1. #1
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Safety call vs ATC response.... when do you declare as preventive?

    This is an interesting one I'm sure some of you corporate and commercial pilots can chime in on.

    ATC won't allow a divert. I assume the option is declare an emergency, and worry about the paperwork later. But it's a fine line I expect. You divert and all is well, because without the turbulence an actual emergency was avoided, so therefore it was only a potential emergency. But stay the course like they did below, and one passenger didn't fare well.



    Unable To Divert, Citation Suffers Severe Turbulence

    A Cessna Citation 560 on a Part 91 business flight experienced severe clear air turbulence at 3 p.m. June 27 in the vicinity of Janesville, Wisconsin, after the pilot was unable to obtain air traffic control clearance to deviate. Although the twinjet was not damaged, a passenger sustained serious injuries. Anticipating turbulence along the route, the pilot briefed his three passengers and had the seat belt sign turned on.
    At FL240, due to turbulence, the pilot requested a deviation from ATC on the south side of a squall line and “made several urgent requests for a clearance to deviate,” according to an NTSB preliminary report. Controllers were not able to approve the deviation and instructed the pilot to descend to FL200. During the descent, the airplane encountered four 15- to 20-second severe turbulence events, with a five- to 10-second interval between events. Again, the pilot made “several urgent requests” for deviation, but the report said ATC was not able to approve the request.
    An elderly man and his caregiver were aboard the aircraft. The caregiver reported that she got out of her seat to help the man tighten his restraints. During that time, she was thrown about the cabin during the turbulence. The pilot landed the airplane as soon as possible, and the caregiver was treated at a local hospital for multiple bone fractures to her right leg.
    Last edited by Farmboy; 07-15-2019 at 03:37 PM.
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  2. #2
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    I'm just a run of the mill private pilot, but I know that ultimately PIC has the last word. So yeah, no doubt, declare if it seems needed. ATC can move other traffic.

    Just my opinion, hopefully some controller types will contribute - - -
    Gordon

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  3. #3

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    Do what ya gotta do

    If your reason for deviation is valid there likely wont be paperwork



    Sent from my iPhone using SuperCub.Org
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  4. #4

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    This is the type of scenario we use in our VMC and IMC talks. Things can get serious fast. I can just see the reaction when ATC chooses not to allow a deviation and the next call from the pilot is the emergency call for closest suitable airport and have an ambulance waiting.
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  5. #5
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    As pilot in command you can do anything to insure the safe completion of your flight. That includes breaking any and all FAA regulations, if necessary. As an airline Captain, I was responsible for 250 lives. Several times I broke a few rules when needed. You must justify it if challenged. If ATC gives you a direction that you consider unsafe, the answer is "unable." If they persist, declare an emergency and state your intentions. "Emergency" is the magic word. It let's ATC off the hook regarding separation. Don't abuse it with piss poor planning.

    NEVER follow a direction that will put you or your passengers in danger.
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  6. #6
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    The PIC screwed up. I once deviated 100 miles off course in the North Atlantic because the 1950 ARINC system was too slow. I asked for for the deviation around a line of thunderstorms and never received a timely clearance. I did what I had to do. There are procedures for this. You transmit position and altitude on a common frequency and also have TCAS. All the Captain can do is to caution passengers to 'keep your seat belt fastened while you are in your seat.". The incidents you hear about where pax are injured by unexpected turbulence are the ones who disregarded that warning.

    As I said earlier, ATC has to keep traffic separation. The emergency call releases them of some of that burden.

    Quote Originally Posted by Farmboy View Post
    This is an interesting one I'm sure some of you corporate and commercial pilots can chime in on.

    ATC won't allow a divert. I assume the option is declare an emergency, and worry about the paperwork later. But it's a fine line I expect. You divert and all is well, because without the turbulence an actual emergency was avoided, so therefore it was only a potential emergency. But stay the course like they did below, and one passenger didn't fare well.



    Unable To Divert, Citation Suffers Severe Turbulence

    A Cessna Citation 560 on a Part 91 business flight experienced severe clear air turbulence at 3 p.m. June 27 in the vicinity of Janesville, Wisconsin, after the pilot was unable to obtain air traffic control clearance to deviate. Although the twinjet was not damaged, a passenger sustained serious injuries. Anticipating turbulence along the route, the pilot briefed his three passengers and had the seat belt sign turned on.
    At FL240, due to turbulence, the pilot requested a deviation from ATC on the south side of a squall line and “made several urgent requests for a clearance to deviate,” according to an NTSB preliminary report. Controllers were not able to approve the deviation and instructed the pilot to descend to FL200. During the descent, the airplane encountered four 15- to 20-second severe turbulence events, with a five- to 10-second interval between events. Again, the pilot made “several urgent requests” for deviation, but the report said ATC was not able to approve the request.
    An elderly man and his caregiver were aboard the aircraft. The caregiver reported that she got out of her seat to help the man tighten his restraints. During that time, she was thrown about the cabin during the turbulence. The pilot landed the airplane as soon as possible, and the caregiver was treated at a local hospital for multiple bone fractures to her right leg.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"
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  7. #7

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    Not an uncommon discussion. Eddie has it right. Don't fly into thunderstorms. The two words: unable and emergency . . .
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    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farmboy View Post
    .... “made several urgent requests for a clearance to deviate,” ....
    Eddie is correct, It is always the pilot who is in charge. This is not an instance when you make a "request". This is when you inform the controller that you "are" deviating. The controller will comply or give you an alternate solution which is acceptable. Making a "request" along with the following extended discussion about why not and what if takes too much time out of the solution. The pilot's communications must show that he is primary and the controller is secondary. You would be surprised how just a few different words make a big difference in getting the desired results. The pilot can always inform the controller that he is not entering that weather and is beginning a hold in the present position. The approval to deviate will come in the next breath.
    N1PA
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  9. #9

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    Yep. You declare an emergency. I once told a co-pilot in a similar situation, "Tell the controller if we don't get some cool rules, we're going bogus". He relayed it just the way I said it, the controller laughed and said, "Go bogus if you have to" and so we declared and maneuvered. Paperwork filed, nothing said.

    I have to say though there are some parts of the world where it is not as easy. We had a 747 take a lot of damage after being unable to deviate for wx over northern China. The problem is in China all airspace above about 3000' and outside airway foundries is "military" airspace and is considered restricted. So really never know if you are deviating over a missile range or just a BS designation. Then there are also parts of Cuba where you really, really cannot overfly.
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  10. #10
    txpacer's Avatar
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    Years ago, I was talking a flight of two T-38s to the east coast when a nasty system shut down my destination and all alternates. I declared emergency fuel and told center I wanted direct TYS at FL410. They said negative, hold at 240.

    I considered just doing it, but I could tell crap was raining down in all sectors, so we landed at ROA on 5800 ft runway. 8000 ft is the min length for a T-38, so a two star had to approve the takeoff.

    The moral of the story is: sometimes declaring and doing what you want works, sometimes it might not be the best thing. Apply judgement to the situation.
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  11. #11

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    I think declaring emergency fuel might be ambiguous. Just state "I am declaring an emergency." Then, legally, you can do anything you need to.

    Declaring an emergency makes the controller's life easier in terms of maintaining separation. There are some nuances here - I like the idea that you tell them you are deviating, instead of asking - but if ATC says "unable" then declare.

  12. #12
    txpacer's Avatar
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    There is nothing ambiguous about declaring emergency fuel. Emergency means emergency.
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    Absolutely true, but make it clear to those that are a little hazy on the regs that declaring "minimum fuel" to ATC is advisory in nature and requires no action on their part. As you said, clarifying the issue to them with the statement" "declaring an emergency" eliminates ambiguity.

    Declaring "minimum fuel" lets the controller know that any further delay will necessitate a diversion or an emergency declaration. Declaring an emergency and stating your intention tells the controller "here I come, do your best to get all IFR traffic out of my way".
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    ATC is not perfect. Some do not know all the regs. Down here they are insisting that aircraft below the Class B shelf be identified, and when they are not, they divert Class B traffic. One of my students dutifully called SoCal while under LA's Class B in a no transponder aircraft and they ordered him to land! He quoted chapter and verse to them on the radio.

    Some do not even know there is a floor in Class B.

    One did not know that odd/even cruising altitudes do not apply when low level.

    Make your intentions crystal clear. They are generally knowledgable and good people, and should know that you call all the shots in an emergency. All of the shots!
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  15. #15
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    One of my students dutifully called SoCal while under LA's Class B in a no transponder aircraft and they ordered him to land! He quoted chapter and verse to them on the radio.

    Some do not even know there is a floor in Class B.
    I assume that aircraft was also a no electrical system machine? It would have to be when under a class B​.
    N1PA

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    65 hp Aeronca Chief. The kid is now a licensed Sport Pilot, and a student at USC. He goes in and out of SMO and Compton. Pretty sharp kid. Handheld.
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