Deaths

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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bryancobb
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Deaths

Postby bryancobb » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:01 am

I'd like to have the controller's opinion on the following, based on his training and experience.

My DPE and 3 other pilots lost their lives in a midair, in day-VFR, unlimited visibility, in the airspace of a towered airport. I was scheduled for a Commercial Helicopter checkride with the DPE on Sunday. The accident occurred on Thursday.

The DPE was giving an Instrument Helicopter checkride and they were doing the ILS approach to RWY 21R at KPDK, in Atlanta. Applicant had on Foggles. DPE was acting see-n-avoid safety pilot. The missed approach called for a climbing RIGHT turn.

Another aircraft (fixed wing) was doing left traffic patterns to a parallel runway RWY 27L. Inside was a CFI and his student.

The helicopter was "Cleared for ILS RWY 21R, advise on missed." The fixed wing was cleared for "left closed-traffic RWY 27L, be advised helicopter on instrument practical test doing multiple approaches to your right to RWY 27R."

The airplane was turning from base to final and it's belly was facing the helicopter. The DPE in the helicopter advised the applicant to "missed approach." The applicant incorrectly began a climbing LEFT turn and within 2 seconds they had collided and fell straight down.

QUESTION: How much, if any, responsibility does the controller bear? It is my belief that in VFR, the pilot or safety pilot is 100% responsible and controllers do not provide separation of VFR aircraft from other VFR aircraft. The DPE only had 2 seconds or less to react and he was task-saturated.
Tower Controllers do provide "sequencing" so was it the controllers responsibility to see the potential danger and sequence them differently so they both would not be in a position to set the stage for this multi-fatality?
Bryan Cobb
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Warmi
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Re: Deaths

Postby Warmi » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:28 am

I am not sure about controller’s responsibility but , personally, if I were the fixed wing pilot , I would have extended my downwind as if the chopper was on final for 27L.
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drseti
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Re: Deaths

Postby drseti » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:36 am

That's a really tough, and very sad, situation, Bryan. The FARs are very clear [91.3(a)]: the Pilot in Command is solely responsible for the safe outcome of the flight.

That said, a contributing factor, IMHO, was not the actions or inaction of the controller, so much as his or her job title. I mean "Air Traffic Controller" -- sounds like this person is in control, doesn't it? But, in fact, the pilots control the aircraft. ATC controls nothing!

A better job title would be Air Traffic Advisor. They give great advice. Which I'm happy to receive. I'm grateful for their expertise and assistance. But, if I as a pilot fail to do my job, just because they're doing theirs, it's me, not the controller, who suffers.

OTOH, even though 91.3(a) puts the responsibility all in the pilot's lap, don't think for a minute that the controller won't be scarred. He or she will probably blame himself or herself, for the rest if his or her life.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
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Re: Deaths

Postby MrMorden » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:46 am

Paul, are you saying ATC bears no responsibility for maintaining separation? That is counter to everything I've ever heard. Sure the PIC is responsible for the flight, but he/she is also obligated to follow ATC instructions. I don't know about this particular situation, but i don't think I'd say ATC bears no responsibility in flight safety. If that is the case, why have ATC at all? If they provide a safety benefit, that logically entails some responsibility.
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Re: Deaths

Postby drseti » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:05 am

Andy, it is the legal responsibility of ATC to provide absolute separation for flights operating under Instrument Flight Rules. ATC may provide separation for aircraft operating under Visual Flight Rules, on a workload-permitting basis. I don't know the details of this particular accident either, but it sure sounds like both aircraft involved were operating VFR.

I was involved in a very close near-midair three years ago this month. I documented the whole thing in this EAA webinar:

http://www.eaavideo.org/detail/video/4890470314001

I stated in the webinar that there was plenty of blame to go around. I pointed out mistakes made by me, the other pilot, and ATC. I mentioned systemic problems related to airspace design. But, since I was operating under Visual Flight Rules, I also accept that it was solely my responsibility to avoid the collision. Fortunately, I did. These others weren't as lucky.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
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Re: Deaths

Postby MrMorden » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:19 am

BTW, I can't find any information on this accident. Does somebody have a link to an article or report?
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Re: Deaths

Postby MrMorden » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:21 am

drseti wrote:Andy, it is the legal responsibility of ATC to provide absolute separation for flights operating under Instrument Flight Rules. ATC may provide separation for aircraft operating under Visual Flight Rules, on a workload-permitting basis. I don't know the details of this particular accident either, but it sure sounds like both aircraft involved were operating VFR.

I was involved in a very close near-midair three years ago this month. I documented the whole thing in this EAA webinar:

http://www.eaavideo.org/detail/video/4890470314001

I stated in the webinar that there was plenty of blame to go around. I pointed out mistakes made by me, the other pilot, and ATC. I mentioned systemic problems related to airspace design. But, since I was operating under Visual Flight Rules, I also accept that it was solely my responsibility to avoid the collision. Fortunately, I did. These others weren't as lucky.


The original post mentions the helicopter was on an IFR, ILS approach, and performing the missed approach procedure.
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Re: Deaths

Postby drseti » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:58 am

MrMorden wrote:The original post mentions the helicopter was on an IFR, ILS approach, and performing the missed approach procedure.


Actually, the OP said the helicopter was on an ILS approach, but that doesn't necessarily mean they were operating under Instrument Flight Rules. You can fly approaches in VMC, under Visual Flight Rules. The controller says "cleared for the ILS XX approach, maintain VFR." If the pilot reads back that clearance (including the "maintain VFR" part), then the controller is not responsible for traffic separation. I don't know if this was the case in this accident, but it would be I'm the NTSB report.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
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AvSport.org
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Re: Deaths

Postby smutny » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:05 am

If a tower does not have radar installed at their location, then they are not responsible for separation services.

We had a mid-air at KRNT a number of years ago, it was then I learned of this. While that tower does get a radar feed from KSEA, a few miles away, but the equipment is not at KRNT, they bore no legal fault in the accident. As pointed out above, it is up to us to keep our situational awareness sharp when in the pattern.
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Re: Deaths

Postby TimTaylor » Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:02 pm

Something is wrong with this story. KPDK does not have a 27R or 27L. There was an accident similiar to this years ago at KFTY in which a friend of mine was killed.

Anyway, the two PIC's are totally responsible for see and avoid in visual meteorological conditions. The DPE was the PIC while the pilot was under the hood. If this happened at KPDK on RW 21 left and right, simultaneous landings and takeoffs are authorized on those two runways.

That said, the widows and their lawyers would certainly try to have a jury of 12 place some or all of the blame on the tower controller.

Also, even when an aircraft is flying on an IFR clearance, the PIC is still responsible for separation from VFR traffic when flying in visual meteorological conditions. All an IFR clearance does is guarantee IFR vs IFR separation, not IFR vs VFR.
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Re: Deaths

Postby bryancobb » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:30 pm

TimTaylor wrote:Something is wrong with this story. KPDK does not have a 27R or 27L. There was an accident similiar to this years ago at KFTY in which a friend of mine was killed.

Anyway, the two PIC's are totally responsible for see and avoid in visual meteorological conditions. The DPE was the PIC while the pilot was under the hood. If this happened at KPDK on RW 21 left and right, simultaneous landings and takeoffs are authorized on those two runways.

That said, the widows and their lawyers would certainly try to have a jury of 12 place some or all of the blame on the tower controller.

Also, even when an aircraft is flying on an IFR clearance, the PIC is still responsible for separation from VFR traffic when flying in visual meteorological conditions. All an IFR clearance does is guarantee IFR vs IFR separation, not IFR vs VFR.



TIMMMM !!!!! You are so correct. It was at Charlie Brown. I am so sorry. The helicopter I was to take my checkride in was from Prestige Helicopters at PDK. BIG MISTAKE ON MY PART. So sorry.
Bryan Cobb
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Re: Deaths

Postby TimTaylor » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:45 pm

The examiner was my friend and fellow church member Rich Hull. Very tragic accident. Here's the NTSB report.

https://www.ntsb.gov/about/employment/_ ... 61B&akey=2

Rich left a wife and two teenage children.
Last edited by TimTaylor on Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Deaths

Postby bryancobb » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:19 pm

This accident did in fact happen at FTY Fulton County, locally known as Charlie Brown Field.

My DPE was Rich Hull. I had done my helicopter Private checkride with him a year or so before because I never converted my military stuff to Civilian ratings. I don't know any of the other 3 pilots. It happened on February 19, 1993 if I remember right. My written test scores expired on FEB 28 so I had my practical test scheduled with Rich on Sunday the 21st.

Some of what I posted was inaccurate because I was going from memory. It's been years since I read anything about it. Here's the NTSB report.

https://app.ntsb.gov/pdfgenerator/Repor ... l&IType=FA

In the Atlanta area at the time, there was a lot of FAA safety seminars given because of that accident. Since I was close personal friends with Ron Carroll, the owner of Prestige helicopters, and because I attended several of the FAA discussions, I distinctly remember the Atlanta Center ARTCC director coming to one and giving us the black-n-white of what controllers' legal responsibilities are, and are not.

IN VFR WEATHER CONDITIONS, THE PILOT IN THE AIRCRAFT IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR SEE-N-AVOID. THAT'S TRUE IN ALL TYPES OF AIRSPACE EXCEPT "A". IN THE AREA OF POSITIVE CONTROL ABOVE 18,000, THE RESPONSIBILITY IS 50/50 BECAUSE ONLY IFR AIRCRAFT ARE THERE, BUT THE PILOT CAN DO THEIR SHARE TOO WHEN IN CLEAR AIR. AGAIN, YOU CANNOT BE SURPRISED BY AN UNEXPECTED VFR AIRCRAFT. THEY ARE NOT THERE.

IN A, B, C, D, & E, "SEE AND AVOID" IS IN CHARGE. AT FTY THAT DAY, RICH HULL WAS THE SAFETY PILOT, THE DOCTOR TAKING HIS INSTRUMENT CHECKRIDE WAS "UNDER THE HOOD." THE TWO PILOTS IN THE AIRPLANE WERE DOING "IDIOT CIRCLES" AND BOTH HAD THEIR EYES OUTSIDE. THE CONTROLLER'S JOB WAS TO "SEQUENCE" AIRCRAFT IN AND OUT OF THE AIRPORT IN AN ORDERLY FASHION. THE AIRPLANE WAS OPERATING INSIDE THE A.T.A. AND NOT LEAVING. THE HELICOPTER WAS COMING INTO AND LEAVING FROM THE A.T.A. AS NEEDED TO DO ALL THE TASKS AND APPROACHES ON THE CHECKRIDE. THE CONTROLLER FELT THEY HAD A HANDLE ON THE TWO AIRCRAFT BECAUSE THE AIRPLANE WAS LOCKED INTO LEFT-CLOSED-TRAFFIC DOING TOUCH-N-GOES WHICH GETS AN INSTRUCTION LIKE "REMAIN NORTH OF RWY NINER."

Federal Aviation Administration Order 7110.65H defines the controller's responsibilities in this situation.
Paragraph 2-21 states, Unless an aircraft is operating within the Positive Control Area (Above 18,000 MSL) or
"no advisories" is requested by the pilot, the controller may issue traffic advisories (as workload permits)
to all aircraft on your frequency when in your judgement, they may get closer than your minimum separation.
When there is no local radar like there is in an ARSA, TRSA, or TCA, the controller may issue traffic advisories to
VFR aircraft on your frequency when if you feel they are close enough to each other to warrant it.
Bryan Cobb
Sport Pilot CFI
Commercial/Instrument Airplane
Commercial Rotorcraft Helicopter
Manufacturing Engineer II, Meggitt Airframe Systems, Fuel Systems & Composites Group
Cartersville, Ga
bryandcobb@att.net

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Re: Deaths

Postby TimTaylor » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:32 pm

I always felt Rich was 50 percent at fault along with the PIC of the C150. If the helicopter overtook the C150 from behind, then maybe 100 percent at fault. I don't know if the doc under the hood started his left turn too early, but Rich would still be responsible, even if he did.

Lesson To Be Learned: Unless you are flying on an IFR clearance IN THE CLOUDS, you are responsible to see and avoid VFR traffic. It's also why, when flying VFR, you need to meet or exceed VFR cloud clearance regulations. Finally, all the certificates, ratings, and flight hours you may have, don't make you immune to such an unfortunate event.

Thanks for posting this sad event Bryan.

EDIT: I just checked my logbook. When this crash happened, I was flying my friends M20C based at KRYY (not the same day). At the time, we were spending a lot of time doing instrument approaches into KPDK, KFTY, KRYY, KCNI and KGVL trying to maintain instrument currency and competence.
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Re: Deaths

Postby TimTaylor » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:39 pm

In reading the NTSB report, I'm guessing that maybe the helicopter started his left turn immediately at the DH of a few hundred feet instead of climbing straight ahead to 1800 MLS (1000 AGL) before turning left. The C150 was descending on short final. It's up to the PIC of the helicopter (the examiner) to decide if he needs to take control, take corrective action, and thereby flunk the applicant. That's my assessment.
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