Responsibilities of Ground Control

Jason spent 24 years as an air traffic controller at Los Angeles Center, and recently moved east to work in DC in the Airspace office as an air traffic subject matter expert. He is a Sport Pilot, owns a Rans S12XL E-LSA, and got his >87 knot endorsement so he can rent a C162. He's here to answer your questions about ATC procedures and rules, in a strictly unofficial capacity.

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Jim Hardin
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Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby Jim Hardin » Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:36 am

A question, NOT an argument :roll:

With the years of concern over runway incursions, why haven't the responsibilities of the ground controller been held to a higher standard of prevention?

The tower controller watches the skies with eyes and radar, in spite of the fact that they are not responsible for VFR traffic.

Why isn't the ground controller watching their charges with equal concern?

Before someone tries to excuse it with "workload", may I remind that a single pilot has a lot of workload as well.

chicagorandy
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby chicagorandy » Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:06 am

I'm not yet one, but doesn't the responsibility fall upon the pilot for all air and ground "control"? The good folks on the other side of the radio are just advising a necessary course of action.

I could easily be mistaken - lol

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FastEddieB
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby FastEddieB » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:58 am

chicagorandy wrote:I'm not yet one, but doesn't the responsibility fall upon the pilot for all air and ground "control"? The good folks on the other side of the radio are just advising a necessary course of action.

I could easily be mistaken - lol


I think you kinda are.

ATC instructions are NOT advisory in nature:

§ 91.123 Compliance with ATC clearances and instructions.
(a) When an ATC clearance has been obtained, no pilot in command may deviate from that clearance unless an amended clearance is obtained, an emergency exists, or the deviation is in response to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system resolution advisory. However, except in Class A airspace, a pilot may cancel an IFR flight plan if the operation is being conducted in VFR weather conditions. When a pilot is uncertain of an ATC clearance, that pilot shall immediately request clarification from ATC.

(b) Except in an emergency, no person may operate an aircraft contrary to an ATC instruction in an area in which air traffic control is exercised.


That being said, the pilot in command is the final authority:

§ 91.3 – Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.

(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

(c) Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.


So you’re not wrong, per sé, but up until a pilot exercises emergency authority, in the air or on the ground, he or she is not being advised by ATC, they are in fact being ordered to comply by ATC.

All THAT being said, I have found ground controllers neither more nor less likely to make mistakes than other controllers. They are sometimes one and the same person, just talking on different frequencies - at least at less busy towered airports.
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TimTaylor
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby TimTaylor » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:28 pm

Jim Hardin wrote:A question, NOT an argument :roll:

With the years of concern over runway incursions, why haven't the responsibilities of the ground controller been held to a higher standard of prevention?

The tower controller watches the skies with eyes and radar, in spite of the fact that they are not responsible for VFR traffic.

Why isn't the ground controller watching their charges with equal concern?

Before someone tries to excuse it with "workload", may I remind that a single pilot has a lot of workload as well.

I disagree with your premise.

EDIT: So Paul can understand, I disagree with the premise that ground controllers are somehow held to a lower standard than other controllers and they have less concern than other controllers.
Last edited by TimTaylor on Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Wm.Ince
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby Wm.Ince » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:35 pm

TimTaylor wrote:I disagree with your premise.

+1
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chicagorandy
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby chicagorandy » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:23 pm

"ATC instructions are NOT advisory in nature"

I stand corrected - you are course right that their instructions are not advisory - I worded my post poorly - I meant to say that the controllers -air or ground- are not 'responsible' for runway incursions or deviations, the pilot involved is.

It was my response to "why haven't the responsibilities of the ground controller been held to a higher standard of prevention?"

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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby TimTaylor » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:11 pm

I'm sure the controller would share some responsibility if he cleared you to cross a runway in front of a landing 757. A jury will decide how much.
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chicagorandy
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby chicagorandy » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:48 pm

Obviously Tim.

MY point is that IF the controller told you to hold before Rwy 13 and YOU didn't? It's not the controllers fault.

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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby TimTaylor » Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:30 pm

chicagorandy wrote:Obviously Tim.

MY point is that IF the controller told you to hold before Rwy 13 and YOU didn't? It's not the controllers fault.

Well, of course not. That's obvious.
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Jim Hardin
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby Jim Hardin » Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:46 am

I think you are all missing the point of the discussion... I am quite aware of the FAR's but reciting chapter and verse about the pilot's responsibilities does nothing to answer the opening question.

Re-read the opening post.

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FastEddieB
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby FastEddieB » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:06 am

Jim Hardin wrote:I think you are all missing the point of the discussion... I am quite aware of the FAR's but reciting chapter and verse about the pilot's responsibilities does nothing to answer the opening question.

Re-read the opening post.


The thread did drift a bit due to chicagorandy’s first post on the topic, which I felt deserved a response.

So far, not much discussion to be had about the original post, because I don’t think anyone to this point has agreed with your premise, that being that ground controllers are held to a lower standard and/or are less responsible than other tower controllers.

Perhaps some data might help your case and spur discussion. Even an anecdote or two, while not definitive, might enlighten the rest of us as to the genesis of your stated assumption.
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chicagorandy
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby chicagorandy » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:00 am

"The thread did drift a bit due to chicagorandy’s first post on the topic, which I felt deserved a response"

Point made...point taken to heart. Better to lurk before I leap.

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FastEddieB
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby FastEddieB » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:07 am

chicagorandy wrote:"

Point made...point taken to heart. Better to lurk before I leap.


Not the point I was making at all. It’s posts such as yours that stimulate discussion, and hopefully some learn from that discussion.

Please keep at it!
Fast Eddie B.

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chicagorandy
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby chicagorandy » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:58 am

'Online' conversations can sometimes be difficult to interpret- must be why they invented that Skype thingee - lol

TimTaylor
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Re: Responsibilities of Ground Control

Postby TimTaylor » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:07 am

In my many years of flying I have never experienced or had reason to believe a ground controller was any less responsible than a tower controller or any other ATC professional.
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