Clear Weather Ahead
visibility. Micro Burst. Icing. Embedded cells. SIGMET. No matter what
your affiliation with aviation, certain meteorological terms can evoke
a sense of apprehension, even anxiety. But eventually spring arrives,
better weather prevails, and forecasts feature a more benign vocabulary.
Clear. Light and variable. High pressure. CAVU. Welcome words signal
that it's time to relax. Up to a point. If there are any benefits associated
with flight operations in hazardous weather, one might be that a certain
amount of "adversity" tends to sharpen one's focus, to bring
an added level of attention to otherwise "routine" operations.
As the following ASRS reports show, clear weather can sometimes have
the opposite effect.
of these B737 crews were relaxed and "cruising down easy street."
Without the need to stay alert due to weather or traffic, they discovered
that a clear, open road can lead to complacency.
day. Very relaxed; easy approach; no traffic. On initial contact...Tower
said that we could land on Runway 2L if we had the airport in sight.
Sure, we've got the airport. There's Runway 2R dead ahead, the center
field buildings, and the runway on the left. VASI (Visual Approach
Slope Indicator) has us high; nose over a little; final flaps; on
speed; on glide path. Hmm, I don't remember this power station on
final.... On glide path; on speed, lined up; really nice touchdown
1200 feet down the runway. Turn off here at Taxiway T4. T4? The Airport
Diagram (10-9 page) shows T4 is on Runway 2C.... Years of flying military
and civilian and this is the first time I've done this.... Ground
control told us of our mistake but said it was OK because there was
no one around! Lucky for us. Nice day. Maybe too relaxed?
were climbing out on an absolutely beautiful day with very little
traffic, pretty quiet on the radio, smooth air, enjoying the flying.
We did not reset the altimeter from 30.22 to 29.92 passing through
FL180. After being level at FL290 for some time, the center controller
said, "I've had you 300 feet low for quite a while. Check your
altimeter." Oops! We got complacent. It pays to remain vigilant,
even on the "easy" days.
fever can affect anyone's ability to stay alert and focused. This C172
pilot was just a little out of "sync" and missed a clear opportunity
to prevent an expensive mishap.
was a beautiful day after 22 rainy days. I went out to enjoy the sun
and upon return, I decided to make a straight-in approach instead
of a full pattern. [My] landing checklist for the C172N doesn't say
"flaps" and because of the lack of normal pattern procedure,
I landed with only 20 degrees of flaps. I was wondering why speed
did not decrease. I floated and made a long touchdown. I immediately
applied brakes but could not stop in the remaining runway. I ran off
the runway and the airplane sustained some damage.... I could not
understand why I was floating. I could have, and should have, gone
around, but somehow I didn't. It was a beautiful day. I was not mentally
vistas are one of the benefits of the aviation profession, but as this
pilot of a light aircraft learned, they can also be a distraction. There
is no substitute for a physical checklist, even on the picture perfect
for a landing, I determined the active runway from broadcasts by a
Learjet preparing to depart. On downwind and base, I observed the
Lear's departure and did a mental landing checklist. I did not use
the physical checklists available to me in the aircraft. I know of
no mechanical malfunction. I either skipped the landing gear item
on my checklist, or if I did check, I did not lower the gear and confirm
it. The oversight was brought to light by the sound of the airframe
impacting the runway.
short duration flight and nice weather may have made my attitude
more casual than it should have been. The beautiful, low sun with
the Learjet departing out over the ocean may have interrupted or
distracted me from my mental checklist.... I will always use physical
checklists in the future and triple-check gear down. I became more
involved in enjoying the view than attending to the business at
visibility led this MD80 Captain to believe that everyone could see
what he could see.
were cleared to taxi down Runway 18R, exit at Taxiway W6 and give
way to another aircraft on Taxiway W. As we cleared the runway...tower
cleared a commuter for takeoff from Runway 18R. I realized at that
time that although we were clear of the runway, part of our aircraft
would be over the hold short line in order to keep Taxiway W clear.
As another aircraft cleared Taxiway W6 I was unsure if the tower wanted
us to go north or south on "W" and by then a B737 was cleared
to take off on Runway 18R. After takeoff the B737 pilot called the
tower to report that [our aircraft] might want to pull a little further
off the runway next time. I mistakenly believed the tower was watching
the situation and wouldn't clear anyone for takeoff until we had time
to clear. I should have immediately called the tower to let him know
we might not be clear of the runway. The great weather created a mindset
that all parties could see what was going on...
Voices of Spring
mild days in the spring and early summer, the air is filled with the
sounds of birds, frogs, and occasionally a little voice saying, "Something's
not right." As the people who submitted these ASRS reports found,
you can brush off the birds and forget the frogs, but it's a good idea
to listen to the "little voice."
U.S. Customs Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration keep
a close eye on unauthorized border crossings. If these pilots had heeded
a warning from "la pequeña voz," they might
have avoided an unplanned encounter with the authorities.
decided to fly to a small uncontrolled airport at the Mexican border.
We had lunch and then we were a bit rushed to get back to ZZZ in Texas....
The geography is such that a straight line back...would cross through
Mexican airspace.... We did in fact have current sectionals, an Airport
Facility Directory, and IFR charts, but elected to keep the Rio Grande
off to our right because it is the border with Mexico. This haphazard
method might have worked except that when we came over the Rio Grande
we did not recognize it for what is was. We discussed the almost dry
"creek bed" below us and felt that the Rio Grande couldn't
be that small. We crossed the border.... Knowing that we had entered
the [Mexican] airspace, we contacted Del Rio approach control. They
didn't seem to care when we gave them a position report. I discussed
with the other pilot the possibility that we could be intercepted....
We flew uneventfully on to ZZZ and landed. As we taxied up, several
custom agents and police met us. They were friendly and courteous,
but also armed. We were informed of the penalties and, after questioning
and search, released along with the plane.
lessons: Know where you are going. Have visual landmarks and use
all available equipment. We had a GPS and charts. Second, we could
have helped the authorities by more clearly articulating to Del
Rio approach that we knew were in violation of the airspace and
to have them contact other authorities. Finally, when you hear that
little voice tell you, "This doesn't seem right," follow
reports often point out that the "little voice" should be
heeded right away. In these reports, an air carrier crew and a solo
pilot confirmed the need to act swiftly when the voice calls.
check-in with approach, [we were] instructed to cross INTXN at 12,000
feet, then descend and maintain 7,000 feet. The Captain started the
descent from 12,000 feet too early. I said we were told to cross INTXN
at 12,000 feet. He said that he was sure he heard cross at 10,000
feet. By this time we are descending through 11,500 feet and ATC repeated,
"That was INTXN at 12,000 feet, then 7,000 feet." If I had
confirmed the clearance as soon as the Captain started the descent,
this could have been avoided. I should have listened to that little
voice and immediately confirmed with ATC.
was beginning my descent from cruise. ATC cleared me to descend and
maintain 5,000 feet. As I was descending through 4,600 feet, ATC told
me that he was showing me 400 feet low on his Mode C. He gave me the
current altimeter and restated, "Maintain 5,000 feet." I
acknowledged my mistake, apologized, and promptly climbed back to
5,000 feet. In my mind I was thinking that I was cleared to 3,000
feet instead of 5,000 feet. There was a moment during the descent
that I questioned myself about the altitude. I very nearly asked ATC
to confirm the altitude limit, but decided not to. It was only discovered
after ATC alerted me to the fact that I was 400 feet below my cleared
altitude. Had he not made the comment, I would have descended to 3,000
feet. Why I was thinking 3,000 feet instead of 5,000 is still not
clear to me. One thing is clear. There was a moment when the little
voice in my head spoke out and I ignored it. In the future I will
not hesitate to ask questions and confirm any doubts I have.
to the Solo
MD80 Captain's "little voice" was not in harmony with the
chorus, but it was the only one singing the right tune.
pushback from the gate, we heard a loud bang followed by our aircraft
moving backward faster than the pushback vehicle. We were instructed
to apply brakes slowly by ground personnel as we had become disconnected
inadvertently. After bringing the aircraft to a slow stop, I set the
brakes. The ground crew informed us that the tow bar had disconnected,
but we were now free to taxi out. Only on my insistence to inspect
the nose gear assembly did personnel discover that the pin that holds
the towbar to the nose wheel had broken apart and was still attached
to the aircraft. Maintenance was then called out to the aircraft to
remove the pin from the nose gear assembly. Good lesson in expecting
the unexpected during pushbacks and always using that little voice
in the back of your mind that's telling you something might be amiss,
even when others say everything is OK.