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Jude Bradley

EIN 104 Vs KJFK ATC

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I was flying home from Frankfurt into JFK in July 1984 on a TWA 747, and weather started to close in on JFK.  We circled for a couple of hours until we were finally waved off by ATC due to heavy flooding on JFK's runway.  We diverted to a sunny Philly, but Philly did not have the customs capacity to handle the dozen or so heavies diverted from JFK, so we waited a couple more hours in the cabin, nearly rioting in the unairconditioned aircraft until the flight attendants broke out the remaining food and sodas onboard.

Once deplaned and thru customs, I took a taxi to the domestic side of Philly and waited another two hours to check in with the ticket counter agent.  I just kind of rested my arms on the counter and said "thank goodness, I'm here" among-st the other passengers who were shouting to make new flights despite the fact that we were there due to an act of God.

The agent wryly smiled at me, and she handed me a ticket voucher for a flight home on a United DC-10 the next day, which would fly back to JFK to pick up some traveling wounded and whisk us home to San Francisco.  She said "I'm giving you a first class seat, because you are the last in line, and did not yell at me, but instead made me smile".  I will never forget her kind warmheartedness, although I slept most of my first class flight back to SFO, which was probably what she wanted me to do after my glass of champagne.  I did not have jet lag as a result of that long way home, and as a result of the kind hearted TWA guest service agent.

John

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I would trust the Aer Lingus pilot regarding his decision to avoid the storm as opposed to the ATC controller. Aer Lingus pilots are highly trained and experienced, especially long haul pilots, and I very much doubt the pilot in question would have made that decision had it not been for the safety of the aircraft and the benefit of all onboard.

It's actually reassuring to see that the pilot made his own judgement rather than soley trusting the direction of a third party who whilst I am sure is also highly trained, he is not the one looking out the window of a jet hurtling forward at 250 knots into bad weather on takeoff.

Edited by steve310002
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I’ll have to say the ny controllers actually do a pretty good job of getting us through the wx around the terminal area. They both can share the blame. The controller for his lack of patience with the pilot and the pilot for not going through wx that he could have safely gone through. They don’t pay commercial pilots to be reckless or to be cowards. They pay them to make the right call. ‘Abundance of caution’ is not the right call. Nothing would get done if that was the case, and yes, lots of money would be lost by the company if being overly cautious was acceptable. The judgement call has to be exactly correct. That is what the big bucks are paid for. We are trained to recognize what radar returns are dangerous and which ones are not. Use all the information and resources available, like atc or other aircraft, to come up with the correct plan of action to solve a problem. Just because you held your ground does not mean it was right. A better pilot is capable of changing his decision if it becomes apparent it may not be the correct action.

Having said all that, the controller completely gave in to impatience and resulting anger that day. He should have been relieved immediately. I can understand why there was no way for him to allow the shamrock to continue south into the face of three arrival stars, turn west into the landing traffic for ewr and lga, or north into the wx. But maybe he could have climbed him in a circle up to merge with the kingston arrivals and get above the south arrivals to let him continue southward until he was comfortable with going east. Or even keep him way down low below everything to escape south. But when your anger gets the better of you, then you do vindictive things instead of looking for solutions. He should have been relieved and put on break.

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1 hour ago, KevinAu said:

I’ll have to say the ny controllers actually do a pretty good job of getting us through the wx around the terminal area. They both can share the blame. The controller for his lack of patience with the pilot and the pilot for not going through wx that he could have safely gone through. They don’t pay commercial pilots to be reckless or to be cowards. They pay them to make the right call. ‘Abundance of caution’ is not the right call. Nothing would get done if that was the case, and yes, lots of money would be lost by the company if being overly cautious was acceptable. The judgement call has to be exactly correct. That is what the big bucks are paid for. We are trained to recognize what radar returns are dangerous and which ones are not. Use all the information and resources available, like atc or other aircraft, to come up with the correct plan of action to solve a problem. Just because you held your ground does not mean it was right. A better pilot is capable of changing his decision if it becomes apparent it may not be the correct action.

Having said all that, the controller completely gave in to impatience and resulting anger that day. He should have been relieved immediately. I can understand why there was no way for him to allow the shamrock to continue south into the face of three arrival stars, turn west into the landing traffic for ewr and lga, or north into the wx. But maybe he could have climbed him in a circle up to merge with the kingston arrivals and get above the south arrivals to let him continue southward until he was comfortable with going east. Or even keep him way down low below everything to escape south. But when your anger gets the better of you, then you do vindictive things instead of looking for solutions. He should have been relieved and put on break.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Part of CRM is using ALL available resources....that means using ATC to get feedback oo how other airplanes are deviating or going through weather. 

Sounds like the shamrock pilot may have gotten a little short sighted and only wanted to pay attention to the radar returns and nothing else.

Anywho...I'm preaching to the choir now. 

 

Have a good one!

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Kevin, whether or not you see him as a coward, he has a responsibility for the safety of the passengers on board. Could he have taken the heading? Yeah, probably. But he made a judgement call based on the information he was given and in my book that is to be commended. He obviously saw something that the controller wasn't seeing. It's not like he was being deliberately awkward.

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2 hours ago, nealmac said:

Kevin, whether or not you see him as a coward, he has a responsibility for the safety of the passengers on board. Could he have taken the heading? Yeah, probably. But he made a judgement call based on the information he was given and in my book that is to be commended. He obviously saw something that the controller wasn't seeing. It's not like he was being deliberately awkward.

One time I was headed east over Canada along the great lakes above a solid undercast. A Skywest rj was behind me since we took off out of ord. He began asking for weather deviations. So this guy was definitely seeing something I wasn’t seeing. We looked high and low on our radar to figure what we were about to fly through that the guy behind us wanted to avoid. The best we can come up with was that we were passing over toronto and he thought the return of toronto was a weather cell. I suppose we should commend them too.

My point was not that he was a coward, my point, is that the correct action is a narrow space bounded on both sides by the wrong action. His job was to keep it in that tiny space. Whether you fly blithely into a cell or you take a deviation around a stratiform shower, I would put both actions in the same box, the wrong thing. Just because you made a judgement call based on information isn’t good enough, the judgement call has to be correct and the information you base it on needs to be correctly interpreted.

Circling around like he did for an hour before thev start of an oceanic crossing for no good reason costs a lot of money and wasted a lot of people’s time. But more importantly, it wasted a lot of fuel. Which could put you in a real bind later on. And that is why your decisions can’t just be safe, they need to be safe and correct.

Edited by KevinAu

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2 hours ago, KevinAu said:

One time I was headed east over Canada along the great lakes above a solid undercast. A Skywest rj was behind me since we took off out of ord. He began asking for weather deviations. So this guy was definitely seeing something I wasn’t seeing. We looked high and low on our radar to figure what we were about to fly through that the guy behind us wanted to avoid. The best we can come up with was that we were passing over toronto and he thought the return of toronto was a weather cell. I suppose we should commend them too.

My point was not that he was a coward, my point, is that the correct action is a narrow space bounded on both sides by the wrong action. His job was to keep it in that tiny space. Whether you fly blithely into a cell or you take a deviation around a stratiform shower, I would put both actions in the same box, the wrong thing. Just because you made a judgement call based on information isn’t good enough, the judgement call has to be correct and the information you base it on needs to be correctly interpreted.

Circling around like he did for an hour before thev start of an oceanic crossing for no good reason costs a lot of money and wasted a lot of people’s time. But more importantly, it wasted a lot of fuel. Which could put you in a real bind later on. And that is why your decisions can’t just be safe, they need to be safe and correct.

What happened afterwards is a different matter, and yes, fuel consumption was the first thing that came to mind, and yes, this could have been handled a lot better, probably by both parties. I'm sure the controller could have found him a safe route, although I appreciate that he was extremely busy. However, I don't see anything wrong with Shamrock's initial call. He saw a cell on his radar and he wanted to avoid it. I can't see why anyone would question that.

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It is questionable because of whether the object on the radar warrants avoiding or not. Not all objects on the radar have to be avoided. A dangerous thunderstorm ‘cell’ has certain characteristics on the radar. Benign stratiform rain has its own characteristics. The key is to correctly interpret your radar to determine whether what you see warrants avoiding or not. If the departure corrider at jfk at that time was truly blocked by weather, atc would have stopped all departures and everybody would have sat on the ground. That’s just what they do. This is just a case of two obstinate people butting heads.

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have a guess at Virgin which airport gets the top prize (by a massive distance) for ASRs filed by captains due to ATC issues... go have a guess.  Its not heathrow.  Ill put you out of your misery.  Its JFK and its been top of the leaderboard since we started flying.  How they have never had a incident there ill never know. 

Edited by tooting

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On 7/31/2018 at 4:35 PM, KevinAu said:

If the departure corrider at jfk at that time was truly blocked by weather, atc would have stopped all departures and everybody would have sat on the ground.

I read somewhere that this is exactly what happened immediately after this event, though I haven't had the opportunity to absolutely verify that yet.

I wasn't there, but I think it's clear that there was some weather around; the previous departure had to deviate as well,and if the cell(s) were moving then it's entirely possible that a gap which was available a few minutes previously might have closed up by the time the EIN departed. Just because other aircraft went through before doesn't automatically mean it is safe -- remember a Learjet was just three miles ahead of DAL191 at DFW with dramatically (and tragically) different outcomes, so I'm a little uncomfortable with the assertion that "everybody else was flying through it so it must be OK". However, I do agree with you that in general terms some manipulation and interpretation of the radar is necessary to establish the difference between a dangerous cell and a mere heavy rain shower.

However, as you say not the best way to resolve the situation on either side. On the crew's side, runway heading for 15 nm at JFK is probably an unreasonable request and perhaps a different heading might have been possible, but the controller didn't offer much in the way of alternative solutions either.

Another aspect which stood out about this was the R/T...

"You're gonna turn right to 080, if you're unable a heading of 080 you're gonna continue to hold right there."

"Do you want me to turn right to 080?"

"You have to follow GREKI."

"Just to confirm - you want me to turn right now to 080?"

"All the way, all the way around 080"

What's wrong with a clear and unambiguous "EIN104, turn right heading 080"? (or even "EIN104, can you accept heading 080?") Yet again, non-standard phraseology = confusion. I wonder where we've heard that before? Or perhaps the Irish crew's standard of English just isn't good enough to fly in the USA?

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I'd love to cut and paste the 100s and 100s of ASRs that come to the office (I can't id get sacked) and get logged they are mostly always and I mean always about 3 things

a. about Rude aggressive, confrontational controllers in Jfk 

B. Runway changes on approach into Jfk, the record so far is 6 a few years back. 

C. Confusion corner at the end of the 22s. Start of the 4s

If we have an at risk flight (weather for example) we will sometimes tune into liveatc (and fr24) through the iocc speakers to hear them get down safety and some of stuff you hear Is shocking. 

Second on the ASR list has to be Miami and the speed they ask to maintain

Third is Lagos, they forget to put runway lights on. 

Seriously we get piles of complaints about jfk 

 

 

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Can’t disagree with you that they can be rude, aggressive, impatient and confrontational. But that describes pretty much anybody in new york. And they do see their fair share of dumb airplane moves. Just last week when I was taxiing out as part of one of the longest lines I’ve ever seen there (right turn on A out of T5, to go all the way around to near the approach end of 13L, to u turn onto B, to form two lines on P and Q for 13R) the ground controller went off on someone who couldn’t follow instructions and cut off somebody. Adding to his frustration was a virgin atlantic who kept missing calls and couldnt get any of the readbacks right of those that he did catch, and people who couldn’t understand the meaning of ‘monitor ground’. The controller got replaced as people made snide remarks about his attitude on the frequency. That’s just part of what you deal with flying into different parts of the world. No different than dealing with atc quirks of anywhere else. You deal with atc that will descend you into mountains in central america. You deal with total lack of standard phraseology and procedures in the caribbean. You deal with atc that yells at you in new york. That’s the world.

From the looks of the weather radar in that video, I really don’t see a problem with a left turnout into the wide green portions with a right deviation if necessary to avoid the yellow spot. That just doesn’t look like anything that warranted the type of drama we got.

 

Edited by KevinAu

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6 hours ago, skelsey said:

I read somewhere that this is exactly what happened immediately after this event, though I haven't had the opportunity to absolutely verify that yet.

I wasn't there, but I think it's clear that there was some weather around; the previous departure had to deviate as well,and if the cell(s) were moving then it's entirely possible that a gap which was available a few minutes previously might have closed up by the time the EIN departed. Just because other aircraft went through before doesn't automatically mean it is safe -- remember a Learjet was just three miles ahead of DAL191 at DFW with dramatically (and tragically) different outcomes, so I'm a little uncomfortable with the assertion that "everybody else was flying through it so it must be OK". However, I do agree with you that in general terms some manipulation and interpretation of the radar is necessary to establish the difference between a dangerous cell and a mere heavy rain shower.

However, as you say not the best way to resolve the situation on either side. On the crew's side, runway heading for 15 nm at JFK is probably an unreasonable request and perhaps a different heading might have been possible, but the controller didn't offer much in the way of alternative solutions either.

Another aspect which stood out about this was the R/T...

"You're gonna turn right to 080, if you're unable a heading of 080 you're gonna continue to hold right there."

"Do you want me to turn right to 080?"

"You have to follow GREKI."

"Just to confirm - you want me to turn right now to 080?"

"All the way, all the way around 080"

What's wrong with a clear and unambiguous "EIN104, turn right heading 080"? (or even "EIN104, can you accept heading 080?") Yet again, non-standard phraseology = confusion. I wonder where we've heard that before? Or perhaps the Irish crew's standard of English just isn't good enough to fly in the USA?

That exchange began with the pilot asking for direct greki, which is straight north. And it sounds like the controller was taking people east to get around the huge and dangerous looking weather to the north in order to get to greki. Why the aer lingus guy was unwilling to go east through the small rain shower but requesting to go north through the rather large, actual thunderstorm cell, I haven’t figured out.

Edited by KevinAu

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