|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1801 To 2400|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : oak|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 420|
msl bound upper : 3000
|Controlling Facilities||tracon : oak|
|Operator||general aviation : personal|
|Make Model Name||Small Aircraft, High Wing, 1 Eng, Fixed Gear|
|Flight Phase||descent : approach|
|Route In Use||arrival other|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : atp|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 18|
flight time total : 3700
flight time type : 200
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : approach|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||non adherence : clearance|
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other controllera|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : anomaly accepted|
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
I am developing a touch of paranoia about flying in sfo bay area. Over the yrs, I've been vectored into a mountain 4 times. The first was a genuine communication radio failure in an medium large transport over denver. The other 3 were were all genuine ATC screw ups, all in the bay area. The subject of this report is not a vector into a hill (although it could have become one), but it does concern a controller in the bay area. In 3/89 I filed IFR from san carlos, ca, to oak to shoot several approachs there and then to return to sql. The clearance was vectors to VOR 9R approach at oak. The clearance for the approach said, 'cross encol at 1500,' which we did. During the descent from 3000 to 1500', approach informed us that we were about a mi left of course. I acknowledged, and told approach that 1 of my vors showed me slightly left of course, but the other 1 showed about the same deviation right of course. Inside the 6.0 DME from oak, I left 1500' for the published MDA of 460' MSL (I had the altimeter setting as reported by oak). By this time, I was in contact with oak tower. At about bezel, the controller wanted to know our altitude. I had been maintaining 460' (except for a momentary deviation of another 40' down to 420' during the debate with the controller--I promptly correct that), and told him so. The controller proceeded to berate me ('the area is a very noise sensitive area--you were supposed to cross encol at 1500',' etc), and told me to 'climb, climb.' he did not assign any altitude. I reported I still had the airport in sight. His response was, 'no, you don't.' my initial inclination was to believe the controller. At any rate, I climbed as directed and did the troubleshooting later. What I found was interesting. The DME had been tuned properly to oak. I asked for radar confirmation of my position during the next approach, and radar confirmed my DME readouts. So after rechking, I came to the reluctant conclusion that the controller did not know what he was talking about. At any rate, I find the behavior of that controller thoroughly unprofessional. Even if I had strayed outside the parameters ofwhat is, after all, a non precision approach (which I doubt), there were more important things for him to say than the harangue we got--such as: 'what's your position? We show you at...(10?, 2?, 7?) O'clock, 2 mi.' the 'no, you don't,' is arrogant, counterproductive, and intolerable. If I am where I think I am and the controller thinks 460' is too low, he should take that up with the FAA and have them increase the MDA. It is counterproductive to tell the pilot the 'the operation does not look safe to me.' (great for the passenger listening in on the conversation). After the abandoned approach, I was told to climb, and given vectors. When I asked about altitude, I was not assigned any. Instead, I was told to 'maintain visibility conditions.' I was on an IFR clearance. Has anybody ever told that controller that 'maintain visibility conditions' is a curve the pilot could do west/O? One of the reasons for filing this report is that the controller is probably the same man who tried to drive me into a hill a little over a yr ago. I cannot be sure, but the voice sounded familiar, and the arrogance was virtually unmistakable. I cannot be sure that the man in the tower the other day was the same guy as the one working the approach control about 15 months ago. If he isn't, things are even worse that in suspected--1 such controller would be too much for any 1 location. Back to 3/89: I have been flying long enough to know that anybody, including me, can make a mistake. I also know that equipment can fail, sometimes intermittently. That controller saw something he considered wrong. But instead of alerting the pilot and giving him enough information to pin down what might have been wrong, he used the occasion to indulge his own ego. Instead of conveying information, he revelled in flaunting power. This could mean that an intermittent system failure, if there was one, could not be pinpointed until it happens again, and which point it may kill somebody--he may not be in visibility conditions the way we were. Ps: perhaps somebody should tell the controllers that a pilot flying a light plane, and speaking english incadences and tones that clearly deny standard us midwest upbringing, is not necessarily a confused student pilot from some third world country. In fact, if he were, the more reason to treat him with professional courtesy.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: SMA DESCENDED BELOW PUBLISHED CROSSING RESTRICTION WHILE CONDUCTING A VOR APCH.
Narrative: I AM DEVELOPING A TOUCH OF PARANOIA ABOUT FLYING IN SFO BAY AREA. OVER THE YRS, I'VE BEEN VECTORED INTO A MOUNTAIN 4 TIMES. THE FIRST WAS A GENUINE COM RADIO FAILURE IN AN MLG OVER DENVER. THE OTHER 3 WERE WERE ALL GENUINE ATC SCREW UPS, ALL IN THE BAY AREA. THE SUBJECT OF THIS RPT IS NOT A VECTOR INTO A HILL (ALTHOUGH IT COULD HAVE BECOME ONE), BUT IT DOES CONCERN A CTLR IN THE BAY AREA. IN 3/89 I FILED IFR FROM SAN CARLOS, CA, TO OAK TO SHOOT SEVERAL APCHS THERE AND THEN TO RETURN TO SQL. THE CLRNC WAS VECTORS TO VOR 9R APCH AT OAK. THE CLRNC FOR THE APCH SAID, 'CROSS ENCOL AT 1500,' WHICH WE DID. DURING THE DSCNT FROM 3000 TO 1500', APCH INFORMED US THAT WE WERE ABOUT A MI LEFT OF COURSE. I ACKNOWLEDGED, AND TOLD APCH THAT 1 OF MY VORS SHOWED ME SLIGHTLY LEFT OF COURSE, BUT THE OTHER 1 SHOWED ABOUT THE SAME DEVIATION RIGHT OF COURSE. INSIDE THE 6.0 DME FROM OAK, I LEFT 1500' FOR THE PUBLISHED MDA OF 460' MSL (I HAD THE ALTIMETER SETTING AS RPTED BY OAK). BY THIS TIME, I WAS IN CONTACT WITH OAK TWR. AT ABOUT BEZEL, THE CTLR WANTED TO KNOW OUR ALT. I HAD BEEN MAINTAINING 460' (EXCEPT FOR A MOMENTARY DEVIATION OF ANOTHER 40' DOWN TO 420' DURING THE DEBATE WITH THE CTLR--I PROMPTLY CORRECT THAT), AND TOLD HIM SO. THE CTLR PROCEEDED TO BERATE ME ('THE AREA IS A VERY NOISE SENSITIVE AREA--YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO CROSS ENCOL AT 1500',' ETC), AND TOLD ME TO 'CLB, CLB.' HE DID NOT ASSIGN ANY ALT. I RPTED I STILL HAD THE ARPT IN SIGHT. HIS RESPONSE WAS, 'NO, YOU DON'T.' MY INITIAL INCLINATION WAS TO BELIEVE THE CTLR. AT ANY RATE, I CLBED AS DIRECTED AND DID THE TROUBLESHOOTING LATER. WHAT I FOUND WAS INTERESTING. THE DME HAD BEEN TUNED PROPERLY TO OAK. I ASKED FOR RADAR CONFIRMATION OF MY POS DURING THE NEXT APCH, AND RADAR CONFIRMED MY DME READOUTS. SO AFTER RECHKING, I CAME TO THE RELUCTANT CONCLUSION THAT THE CTLR DID NOT KNOW WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT. AT ANY RATE, I FIND THE BEHAVIOR OF THAT CTLR THOROUGHLY UNPROFESSIONAL. EVEN IF I HAD STRAYED OUTSIDE THE PARAMETERS OFWHAT IS, AFTER ALL, A NON PRECISION APCH (WHICH I DOUBT), THERE WERE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS FOR HIM TO SAY THAN THE HARANGUE WE GOT--SUCH AS: 'WHAT'S YOUR POS? WE SHOW YOU AT...(10?, 2?, 7?) O'CLOCK, 2 MI.' THE 'NO, YOU DON'T,' IS ARROGANT, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, AND INTOLERABLE. IF I AM WHERE I THINK I AM AND THE CTLR THINKS 460' IS TOO LOW, HE SHOULD TAKE THAT UP WITH THE FAA AND HAVE THEM INCREASE THE MDA. IT IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO TELL THE PLT THE 'THE OPERATION DOES NOT LOOK SAFE TO ME.' (GREAT FOR THE PAX LISTENING IN ON THE CONVERSATION). AFTER THE ABANDONED APCH, I WAS TOLD TO CLB, AND GIVEN VECTORS. WHEN I ASKED ABOUT ALT, I WAS NOT ASSIGNED ANY. INSTEAD, I WAS TOLD TO 'MAINTAIN VIS CONDITIONS.' I WAS ON AN IFR CLRNC. HAS ANYBODY EVER TOLD THAT CTLR THAT 'MAINTAIN VIS CONDITIONS' IS A CURVE THE PLT COULD DO W/O? ONE OF THE REASONS FOR FILING THIS RPT IS THAT THE CTLR IS PROBABLY THE SAME MAN WHO TRIED TO DRIVE ME INTO A HILL A LITTLE OVER A YR AGO. I CANNOT BE SURE, BUT THE VOICE SOUNDED FAMILIAR, AND THE ARROGANCE WAS VIRTUALLY UNMISTAKABLE. I CANNOT BE SURE THAT THE MAN IN THE TWR THE OTHER DAY WAS THE SAME GUY AS THE ONE WORKING THE APCH CTL ABOUT 15 MONTHS AGO. IF HE ISN'T, THINGS ARE EVEN WORSE THAT IN SUSPECTED--1 SUCH CTLR WOULD BE TOO MUCH FOR ANY 1 LOCATION. BACK TO 3/89: I HAVE BEEN FLYING LONG ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT ANYBODY, INCLUDING ME, CAN MAKE A MISTAKE. I ALSO KNOW THAT EQUIP CAN FAIL, SOMETIMES INTERMITTENTLY. THAT CTLR SAW SOMETHING HE CONSIDERED WRONG. BUT INSTEAD OF ALERTING THE PLT AND GIVING HIM ENOUGH INFO TO PIN DOWN WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN WRONG, HE USED THE OCCASION TO INDULGE HIS OWN EGO. INSTEAD OF CONVEYING INFO, HE REVELLED IN FLAUNTING PWR. THIS COULD MEAN THAT AN INTERMITTENT SYS FAILURE, IF THERE WAS ONE, COULD NOT BE PINPOINTED UNTIL IT HAPPENS AGAIN, AND WHICH POINT IT MAY KILL SOMEBODY--HE MAY NOT BE IN VIS CONDITIONS THE WAY WE WERE. PS: PERHAPS SOMEBODY SHOULD TELL THE CTLRS THAT A PLT FLYING A LIGHT PLANE, AND SPEAKING ENGLISH INCADENCES AND TONES THAT CLEARLY DENY STANDARD U.S. MIDWEST UPBRINGING, IS NOT NECESSARILY A CONFUSED STUDENT PLT FROM SOME THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. IN FACT, IF HE WERE, THE MORE REASON TO TREAT HIM WITH PROFESSIONAL COURTESY.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of August 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.