Issue # 2002 - 1
The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Civil Aviation
Registry (AFS-700) in Oklahoma City is responsible for developing,
maintaining, and operating national programs for the registration of
United States civil aircraft and certification of airmen. The
Civil Aviation Registry manages and operates the national systems
and databases which are used to issue all FAA airmen certificates.
They also are responsible for the legal content of all airmen
The Registry's Airmen Certification Branch (AFS‑760) has final authority for the issuance of permanent airmen certificates and provides over 180,000 each year. Of the more than 4.2 million airmen records, approximately 580,000 are considered to be active pilots. Certificates are issued for pilots, flight engineers, flight and ground instructors, aircraft dispatchers, mechanics, repairmen, parachute riggers, control tower operators, and flight navigators. The Registry assists in programs affecting aviation safety and assists law enforcement agencies by providing technical advice and certified copies of records.
The Registry represents the FAA in Federal Court hearings as custodian of the official agency records for both aircraft and airmen. The Registry web site provides full sets of both the aircraft and airmen databases, various forms used to do business with the Registry, and other useful information. Additional database services can be requested and databases may be downloaded.
users, with access to the Internet, may review Registry data for
individual airmen certificates using a new option. The web site is
located at http://registry.faa.gov. Using the airmen search option,
the user can access basic certificate information for anyone who has
been issued an FAA airman certificate. Information including home
address, certificate type, ratings, type ratings and limitations are
part of the releasable data. Privacy Act information is not
included. Social security number information is not made available.
certificate holder's name cannot be removed from the database, but
his/her home address can be suppressed. Certificate holders who do
not wish to have their addresses made public may request that their
address data be suppressed from public access. They
can make the request directly on the web site or they can write and
ask to have it removed. A written request
for address deletion must include full name and certificate number
and should be sent to:
/*TR/ FAAO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, Paragraph 5-9-7, Simultaneous Independent ILS/MLS Approaches-Dual and Triple, states that controllers shall "provide a minimum of 1,000 feet vertical or a minimum of 3 miles radar separation between aircraft during turn-on to parallel final approach." A clarifying note to the paragraph states that during triple parallel approaches, no two aircraft will be assigned the same altitude during turn-on. All three aircraft will be assigned altitudes that differ by a minimum of 1,000 feet.
Simultaneous independent Instrument Landing System (ILS)/Microwave Landing System (MLS) approaches require the establishment of a no transgression zone (NTZ) that is at least 2,000 feet wide and is an equal distance between the extended runway final approach courses. Separate monitor controllers, each with transmit/receive and override capability on the local control frequency, ensure that aircraft do not penetrate the depicted NTZ. The NTZ begins at the point where adjacent inbound aircraft, established on the final approach course, first lose 1,000 feet of vertical separation.
Communications transfer to the local control frequency must be completed prior to losing vertical separation between aircraft on adjacent approach courses. This ensures that the monitor controller will have the ability to communicate with the aircraft and issue appropriate instructions when necessary. (ATP‑100)
/*T/ The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued numerous safety recommendations as a result of its investigation into the June 1, 1999, accident at Little Rock, Arkansas. This accident involving an American Airlines MD‑82 was, according to the NTSB, caused primarily as a result of aircraft operating procedure and crew fatigue. Like many accidents, however, a number of factors played a part.
AAL1420 approached Little Rock at about 2350 local time, with 145 people onboard, crew included. With a thunderstorm approaching the field, deteriorating visibility and gusty winds prevalent in the area, the crew changed from an approach to Runway 22L to an ILS to Runway 4R. According to the NTSB report, the aircraft touched down 2,000 feet down the 7,200‑foot runway, due in part to a 5‑knot tailwind component and a 20- to 25‑knot crosswind. The aircraft at touchdown was already slightly right of centerline, and the combination of tail and cross winds created a dangerous situation. Things deteriorated further as the spoilers, which help place the aircraft's weight on the landing gear, were not deployed. That fact, combined with higher than recommended engine power settings that negated directional stability of the aircraft, caused the aircraft to depart the paved landing surface. AAL1420 collided with the approach lighting system for the opposite runway at a speed of approximately 83 knots. As a result of the impact and resulting fire, the captain and 10 passengers were killed, and 110 other passengers and crew received serious or minor injuries.
Once again citing flight into known thunderstorm conditions, the NTSB recommended changes in company procedures, as well as improved weather depiction equipment. While development is active on a number of systems designed to provide enhanced weather detection and depiction capability, we must continue to focus on our own efforts on issuing accurate weather information. The controller at Little Rock provided excellent information to the pilots in the form of windshear alerts, wind direction and speed updates, and other general weather information. This was an example of "doing it right." We nevertheless need to stress the importance of providing as much weather data as we possibly can, whenever we possibly can. Pilots are ultimately responsible for making decisions to continue or not continue flight into certain conditions. Our responsibility is to provide the information for pilots to make informed judgments. Whether it is pilot weather report (PIREP) information, wind shear alerts, or observed conditions out the window, we must always exercise diligence and good judgment in providing information about the weather. The pilot's decision, good or bad, will be based in part on our efforts, and we cannot fail.
Finally, the NTSB report finds that the aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) equipment was delayed in reaching the scene due to, among other things, heading off in the wrong direction in its initial response. The controller informed ARFF of a potential accident at the end of the landing runway, but ARFF proceeded initially to the approach end of the runway. Please remember to be as specific as possible when alerting emergency responders. Understanding the press of time and confusion that exists during these situations, we must strive for clarity to avoid unnecessary delay in reaching the scene of an accident. (ATP-120)
Handling Emergency Aircraft (Part II)
In Air Traffic Bulletin issue number 2001‑4 dated Spring 2001, we presented the Incident'ly article, "Handling Emergency Aircraft" that discussed emergency assistance to aircraft in distress returning to an airport. A specific example was described where an aircraft had suffered an engine failure during takeoff. The pilot elected to attempt an immediate return to the airport. The article offered suggestions that were intended to help the air traffic control specialist (ATCS) obtain useful information to best assist the pilot and rescue personnel without increasing the pilot's workload or stress level. In this issue, we will take a look at other airborne emergencies and discuss some of the tools and techniques that are available to you for rendering assistance.
FAAO 7110.65 Air Traffic Control, Chapter 10, Section 2, Emergency Assistance, and FAAO 7110.10, Flight Services, Chapter 5, Emergency Services, provide the ATCS with guidance for handling airborne emergencies. Notice that there are a total of 17 items listed as "information requirements." Many facilities incorporate these information requirements into an emergency checklist. As you read through the list, you should recognize that not all of the elements on the list will be relevant to the situation that is presented to you. For example, if the pilot has gotten into marginal or full IFR conditions and is not rated for instrument flight, neither the point of departure nor whether or not emergency equipment is on board may be relevant immediately or at all. The book states that the minimum required information you need to assist an in-flight emergency is:
· the aircraft's identification and type
· the nature of the emergency, and
· the pilot's desires
In all cases, what information you request next and the number of items you request, are entirely dependent upon the situation with which you are faced. The emergency sections of both orders assume that the stricken aircraft is airborne, generally in the cruise mode of flight, and needs assistance to a safe landing place or in getting back on course. Use common sense as you seek information that will help you cope with the situation. Ask yourself, what information do I need to help the pilot? What information does the pilot need to make intelligent decisions regarding the flight?
For you to be truly effective, it is important to determine what the immediate priority is. In other words, what is the most immediate danger to the aircraft? Is it meteorological, rising or high terrain, obstructions, the pilot's ability to maintain control of the aircraft, or fuel endurance? Any single emergency could include one or all of these elements, but often, one will stand out as the most immediate problem and that is the one to address first. So, where to start?
The next three questions will tell you what your priorities will be. Discovering the aircraft's altitude, fuel remaining in time, and pilot reported weather will give you clues on how to proceed.
WHAT IS THE AIRCRAFT'S ALTITUDE?
Does the aircraft's altitude place it in an area of high or rising terrain, or near a "nest" of antennas? Think about how you phrase your questions to the pilot. Instead of asking, "Are you familiar with the Suchinasuch mountain range?" say something like this, "You are approaching an area of rapidly rising terrain 12 o'clock and 8 miles, the Suchinasuch mountain range elevations 11,500 feet." We have accidents on record where the former information style was used, and the pilot, although familiar with the mountain range, was not aware of his position in relation to it. The unfortunate pilot thought all was well and subsequently flew into a wall of granite. Up until that point, the controller thought all was well too, because the pilot had indicated that he/she was familiar with the mountain range.
If the aircraft's reported altitude places it in jeopardy, take steps immediately to guide the pilot to a safe altitude. Tell the pilot what the safe altitude is. If you have an emergency obstruction video map (EOVM), get ready to display it because you may need it! Alert the pilot to the particular hazard (terrain/obstructions). Be careful that you do not inadvertently steer the flight into trouble. Until you know where the aircraft is, provide advisories in lieu of control instructions.
If the aircraft's transmissions are weak, it could be due to its distance from your station. Asking the pilot to climb can sometimes improve radio reception. Again, be wary of inadvertently steering the aircraft into trouble. Until you know whether or not the pilot is capable of IFR flight, make sure the pilot can maintain VFR conditions while climbing. Inexperienced pilots often will do anything that Air Traffic Control says, even if doing so puts them in an unsafe situation.
WHAT IS THE PILOT-REPORTED WEATHER?
What is the weather like where the aircraft is? VFR pilots who encounter deteriorating VFR conditions are at great risk of losing control of their aircraft, especially if visibility deteriorates to the point that they are unable to see a horizon. Is the weather clear VFR, hazy, or can't-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face foggy? Does the weather look better in any particular direction? Can the pilot see the ground? Is the aircraft between layers or on top of an overcast or broken ceiling? If the flight is encountering less than VFR weather conditions, ask the pilot whether he/she is capable of instrument flight. VFR-only rated pilots generally have very limited training or experience with maintaining control of their aircraft by referring only to their instruments. The pilot's answer to your questions regarding weather and training will tell you whether or not the pilot's ability to maintain control of the aircraft may become an issue.
Here is another point worthy of consideration. If the aircraft is in a mountainous area or area of high promontories, check with the pilot to verify that the tops of the peaks are not obscured or hidden by fog or clouds. Also, if the pilot is looking for a landing place, it is not helpful to direct the plane toward an airport that has a ridge between it and the aircraft if the pilot cannot get over the ridge! We have an accident on record where the pilot suffered an engine failure at altitude and needed help finding a suitable landing place. The ATCS chose to vector the aircraft to an airport that was located behind a mountain ridge rather than another airport that the plane had just passed that was located in the same valley that the aircraft was flying over/in.
When a pilot is considering airports as possible landing sites, the weather conditions and approach options are of great importance. If the weather is below approach minimums, then the chances of a successful completion of that approach is doubtful. Such considerations are critical when fuel quantities are limited. If you can tell the pilot what weather and approach options are available for airports within flying range of the aircraft, the pilot can decide whether or not to spend time and fuel attempting an approach to a particular airport, or to bypass one or more airports for another.
Always issue weather information including PIREPs concerning icing conditions, freezing rain, hail, turbulence, wind shear, thunderstorms, or very heavy precipitation that the flight may encounter. Such information is extremely important to any pilot and can help them avoid the encounter or get out of or away from a current airborne weather hazard.
HOW MUCH FUEL IS REMAINING IN TIME?
In situations where the pilot is lost, disoriented, or must deviate to a destination other than originally planned due to a declared emergency, it is important to find out how much fuel is on board as soon as possible. In such cases, you, the ATCS, will want to know how much fuel is left in hours and minutes, not pounds or gallons. The checklist states, "fuel remaining in time." Why? In order to provide the best assistance to the pilot, you need to know how much time you have to work the situation, and how far the aircraft can reasonably be expected to travel in that time period. If the pilot has 45 minutes of fuel left, it is useless to consider airports that are 1 hour or more distant when closer alternates are available. Fuel expressed in pounds or gallons is useful for crash/fire rescue personnel and could be used in situations where the aircraft is making an emergency return to the airport after departure, or is crippled in some way that may make the landing other than routine.
Pilots should be able to tell you how much fuel endurance the aircraft has left in minutes, or hours and minutes. If the pilot gives you the number of gallons or number of pounds of fuel left, you could compute how much time the aircraft could stay aloft, but it is generally not practical since there are so many variables to consider. Fuel consumption rates are affected by engine power settings and all jets as well as some reciprocating engine fuel consumption rates are also affected by altitude and air temperature as well as the aircraft's gross weight. It is better to ask the pilot to compute fuel remaining in time because the pilot normally knows what the aircraft's fuel consumption rate is, and also has access to any graphs and charts necessary to accomplish the necessary computations. Small, general aviation reciprocating aircraft engines consume anywhere from roughly 7 to 16 gallons per hour (gph), and commercial jet/turbojet engines consume anywhere from 500 to 15,000 pounds or more of fuel per hour. And just to make it interesting, some of the single radial engine aircraft, such as the T-6, can consume 50 gph! So, for your purposes, fuel remaining in time is the only useful form to request.
RULE OF THUMB CALCULATIONS
You can use the flight time remaining to calculate approximately how far the aircraft can be expected to fly by employing a simple rule of thumb calculation. Groundspeeds of 60 knots, 120 knots, 180 knots, and 240 knots equate to 1, 2, 3, and 4 miles per minute (mpm) rates of travel, respectively. If the aircraft is traveling at a rate of 2 mpm, it will travel 20 miles in 10 minutes. Groundspeed readouts displayed on the radar screen make this calculation easy. If the aircraft's groundspeed is unavailable because you have no electronic display or the pilot cannot tell you what the aircraft's groundspeed is, there are two options that you might employ. The first is to assume single reciprocating engine aircraft travel in the 2 mpm range, light twins in the 3 mpm range, and jets and turboprops in the 4 mpm range (10,000 feet and below). There are exceptions, of course, and a thorough knowledge of aircraft performance is helpful when calculating their rates of travel this way. The second method is to use the aircraft's reported airspeed. Neither method takes into account the various winds aloft conditions that can slow or speed up the aircraft. (The pilot may report an indicated airspeed of 140 knots, but be making only 62 knots across the ground.) But as a rule of thumb, they work pretty well, especially in an emergency situation.
PLANNING YOUR STRATEGY AND PRIORITIES
Based on what the pilot tells you, you can begin to plan your strategy and priorities. Once you know who is in trouble, what the trouble is, what the pilot wants to do, and how much time you have to do it, it is time to assess what tools, knowledge and skills you have available to help.
One of the most valuable things you have to offer is up-to-date information and/or the ability to obtain it. You have access to en route and airport weather reports, information regarding airport locations and conditions, runway lengths, instrument approach availability, radio frequencies, NAVAIDs, and services that you can offer. If suitable information is provided to the pilot, then the pilot can make a more informed decision as to what he/she wants to do. Certainly make suggestions as appropriate, but refrain from trying to fly the aircraft for the pilot or making unilateral decisions. Unless you hold a certified flight instructor rating or are rated in the type of aircraft that is having difficulties, be very cautious offering advice on how to handle the aircraft.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Okay, let's look at a scenario to put some of this
Take stock of what tools you have available to quickly locate the lost or disoriented pilot. The first choice, of course, is radar. If the aircraft has an operating Mode C transponder and is within radar coverage, location of the aircraft should be fairly easy. In addition to assigning the aircraft a transponder code, ask what the last known position was and when the aircraft passed it. If the pilot is not sure, ask the pilot where and at what time he departed and what the intended destination is. If you can determine when and where the aircraft departed or the time of its last known position, and where it was going, you can get a general idea of where the aircraft may be by computing a time and distance calculation using its airspeed and heading. (Actually, the aircraft's groundspeed will provide you with a more accurate computation, but airspeed may be all that you can get.) How long has the pilot been in the air? If the aircraft is a C152 indicating an airspeed of 90 knots, and has been airborne for an hour, it has probably traveled roughly 90 miles. Coupled with the aircraft's heading, you will have a general idea of where to look for the aircraft.
Winds aloft will affect the aircraft's flightpath. A common but typical mistake low-time pilots make is forgetting to correct their course for winds aloft crosswinds. If the course is not corrected, the aircraft will drift downwind like a boat trying to cross a fast moving river directly to the other side. If your lost pilot has been flying a northerly course/heading and the winds aloft at the cruise altitude are 270 at 15, in one hour, if uncorrected, the aircraft will drift 15 NM east of his intended course centerline. If the wind direction is a headwind, then the aircraft's progress will be slowed by approximately 15 NM and correspondingly increased by the same amount if it is a tailwind.
But what if the aircraft does not have a transponder, or your facility does not have radar or radar coverage in the area where the aircraft is suspected to be? Is there another radar facility that might be able to see the aircraft? If not, do not despair as the aircraft can still be found.
Ask the pilot what kind of navigational equipment is on board the aircraft. Navigational equipment such as VOR, GPS, or ADF receivers on board the aircraft can be used to reorient the pilot. Does the pilot know how to operate it? Do you know how to operate it? Another tool that can help you is a VFR sectional chart, because the pilot can describe prominent landmarks that may help you figure out where the aircraft is. If you do not have access to a VFR chart, an IFR en route chart or controller chart can be used during a VOR orientation provided the aircraft has a VOR receiver on board.
If the aircraft is equipped with an operating VOR, you can figure out where the aircraft is by orienting the aircraft on a radial to the station and then selecting another station to figure out what radial the aircraft is crossing. That information will provide you with a fix or position. FAAO 7110.10 Flight Services, Paragraph 5-4-3 gives an excellent description of how to perform a VOR orientation that will facilitate other refresher training your facility has on hand. If the aircraft is in range of two VOR stations, you can also get a position fix by asking the pilot to tune in each VOR individually while holding a steady heading and centering the omni bearing selector (OBS) needle on a from indication. The point at which the radials cross will also give you a rough position fix.
Another tool is direction finder (DF) equipment. Is your facility or one nearby equipped with DF equipment? An aircraft's position can be determined by one facility with this equipment or by activation of a DF net.
If you are not fully comfortable with your ability to provide some of these NAV orientation exercises, is there someone in your facility who is competent in that regard? Is there a flight school nearby where instructors could be tapped as a resource? Are there airborne pilots who have the expertise to render assistance or advice to the hapless pilot?
DON'T BE IN A HURRY TO LEAVE THE PILOT ON HIS/HER OWN
In our scenario, the lost pilot is located 20 miles east of Wheresit using VOR orientation. Once the pilot is oriented toward Wheresit, find out whether the pilot wants any further assistance. Don't be in a hurry to leave the pilot on his/her own. Satisfy yourself that the orientation has been completed and that the pilot is confident of getting to Wheresit. Double check with the pilot to assure that he/she has enough fuel to get to the airport. If it took 10 minutes to find the aircraft and 5 more to get the aircraft started toward Wheresit, will the aircraft have enough fuel to get to its destination? Initially, the pilot said that there was 1 hour and 15 minutes of fuel on board. Fifteen minutes have elapsed since then, leaving 1 hour remaining. The pilot reported that the aircraft is a Cessna 152 with an airspeed of 90 knots, so at a rate of 1½ mpm, it should take approximately 13 minutes to fly the 20 miles to Wheresit. That leaves 47 minutes extra to enter the Wheresit traffic pattern, land and taxi. If you budget an additional 10 to 15 minutes for that, there should be roughly 32 minutes of fuel remaining by the time the aircraft is safely parked and tied down. If the airport has a control tower, brief the controllers there so that the aircraft is not delayed for landing clearance.
If the pilot doesn't have the fuel endurance to fly to an airport with better weather, and is committed to attempting an approach to an airport with IFR conditions, you can still help. If the pilot is instrument rated and the aircraft is appropriately equipped, but the pilot does not possess an approach plate for the airport, you can relay to the pilot the important information that may be found on the approach plate so that an approach may be conducted. The inbound course heading, minimum altitude to glide slope interception/final approach fix, decision height altitude/minimum descent altitude, frequency for the ILS localizer/VOR/NDB and missed approach directions can be relayed to the pilot so that the approach may be flown. If you will not be providing radar vectors to the final, include the minimum altitude to be flown for the procedure turn and on what side of the final approach course it lies.
If the aircraft is not equipped for instrument flight, consider whether an Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR) approach or a Precision Approach Radar (PAR) approach or DF approach may be available either from your facility or a neighboring one.
Last but not least, please remember that the pilot
is probably experiencing a certain amount of stress. Do not
increase that stress by firing off a lot of information all at once
or asking the pilot to respond to several questions at once. Do your
best to provide information and assistance whether it is in the form
of a VOR orientation, DF steer, or radar vectors to an airport or
better weather. Use the emergency checklist. Most of all, use your
head and common sense as you approach each problem. Engage other
people's assistance and expertise. (Two heads can be better than
one.) Provide accurate, up-to-date information that is appropriate
to the situation, such as weather, airports, runway lengths, NAVAIDs,
and services that you can offer. Then do your best to provide those