|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : clt|
|Altitude||agl bound lower : 0|
agl bound upper : 0
|Controlling Facilities||tower : clt|
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : approach|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||oversight : supervisor|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||other anomaly other|
|Independent Detector||other controllera|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : unable|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
I was training a developmental on the arw position. The WX was deteriorating with a lot of convective activity building basically everywhere. Specifically, the frw airspace and arw airspace were affected most heavily, with lots of other areas building. The visibility was restr to the point that the fre controller had requested not to receive any more FK100 aircraft because 'the visuals won't work.' the convective activity ranged from level 3 to level 6 in intensity, with the most intense areas located just north of the runway 18R and the runway 18L OM's. Movement of the activity was wsw at a fairly fast rate. As the volume of traffic increased the convective activity continued to encroach on the runway 18R final. I got the supervisor's attention twice as the situation deteriorated and told him we were getting to the point that we only had a very restr route to the runway 18R final with lots of airplanes still coming and that we were about to lose the ability to make 'legal' turn on's to the runway 18R ILS. I leaned over to the frw controller and cautioned them to be careful as 'we are about to be overloaded, and the WX is going to trap you with no options.' at one point during this time I heard the supervisor advise the frw controller that 'the tower still needs intervals.' within a short period of time the tmc came over and told me not to take anymore handoffs, the center is going into holding. He then told the supervisor the same thing. The supervisor's response was '...and it looks like it's just in time too.' before the last aircraft we had accepted had actually entered the final box we were told to start taking handoffs again and that they should be 20 mi in trail. Very quickly the convective WX moved over and just south of the runway 18R OM eliminating the ILS as a usable approach. Functionally the frw controller was left with only the lower southwest corner of their airspace to work in and the only approach option was the visual approach. It was no secret that the visual approach was not a desirable option. Someone -- I'm not sure who, asked the tmc if we should take everything to runway 23. He said, '...I haven't gotten a decision on that yet.' before a decision was announced and implemented I observed 5 aircraft on vectors to a visual approach to runway 18R confined to a 5 or 6 mi area just northwest of the airport, with another arrival flashing to frw at the satellite gate. After I was relieved for a break I ran into one of the tower controllers, and in passing he said that he had 'called down' during the session to advise that visuals would not work, and they wondered why we had kept running them. I returned to the TRACON a short time later. The following was observed: the departure push had started. The WX was now positioned in a line that extended from 10 mi southeast of gastonia northwest to gastonia and to hickory and off the edge of our scope. The departure push for drw consisted primarily of X and Y jets and a and B propellers. The area to the east of the line of WX was basically free of convective activity. The drw controller was in the process of trying to work their traffic in the standard flow for a 'normal' SOP. The problem was still the convective WX. Because no aircraft would turn into the WX a standard flow was not working and consequently the drw controller had a significant number of departures trapped in the northwest corner of the haray dta with nowhere to go. This not only had aircraft heading into ZTL shine arrival airspace, but also required excessive coordination workload with 3 ZTL sectors and at least one other TRACON position. Most importantly it allowed too many aircraft into a system already stressed to the limit. The supervisor was taking care of all the coordination and was doing a good job of supporting the existing operation. I discussed the situation with the supervisor immediately. I told him that it was unacceptable, because the situation never should have happened. Why? Because if preparation and planning had occurred the aircraft would have been taken to the east side of the airport/WX and there would have been no convective WX to preclude turning on course. Yes it would have slowed down the departure rate because they would have been mixed with the normal east departure flow, and been worked by the dre, and yes delays may have been encountered, but the operation would have been smoother and safer. It was not a secret that the WX was there nor that it contained severe convective activity. While working srw with drw combined the workload was manageable but the distrs were at best confusing. Because of the WX the shine arrs were being routed from over bzm to clt. I had not been told this, and when one of the arrs reported in on my frequency, it was very confusing and at first alarming since he said he was deviating for WX and I had traffic climbing out the west gate and did not know where the arrival was. When I 'found' the arrival I realized what the center was doing, but I had some things I needed to do before I could ask a supervisor what was going on. In the meantime ZTL called me for a manual handoff on an arrival. Why did they call me? It's simple. No one had told them that arw was going to be working the arrival traffic in my airspace so they called me for the handoff. I hollered to the supervisor asking for clarification of the situation and they mumbled something about they had either been too busy to tell me or had not had time. Not long afterwards I received a jet handoff from gsp at unarm. Since this is nonstandard I again called for clarification, and received the same answer that I got to my previous question. If there was a plan during this time frame it was not only not apparent, but more importantly, it was not communicated to anyone I know of. When the arrs were held it would have been a good time to plan for the situation. The fact that arrs were immediately restarted with no change in the operation supports my contention that there was no planning taking place. The fact that departure flows were not adjusted is evidence of a lack of planning. The fact that there was not time to coordinate a nonstandard operation is evidence of 'knee jerk reaction' not planning. The fact that during severe convective WX periods our facility is routinely allowed to become overloaded is unacceptable. It is no secret how strongly I feel about this subject as I havecomplained verbally about the situation for the last 5 yrs. A facility can handle a traffic overload in the absence of convective WX without compromising safety. However, the same is not true during periods of convective WX. Convective WX is too unpredictable to take chances with. The reaction of pilots are not something that can be depended on because they may deviate without warning when they see something that our radar is not yet painting or any of a hundred other reasons. This, coupled with nonstandard flows, restr runway and airspace usage, and most importantly unpredictability make overload during periods of convective WX unsafe.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: CTLR AT CLT TRACON CLAIMS THAT TFC MGMNT WAS NOT EFFECTIVE DURING CONVECTIVE STORM ACTIVITY. RPTR ALLEGES THAT NONSTANDARD RTES WERE USED FOR ARRS WITHOUT COORD FROM THE SUPVR.
Narrative: I WAS TRAINING A DEVELOPMENTAL ON THE ARW POS. THE WX WAS DETERIORATING WITH A LOT OF CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY BUILDING BASICALLY EVERYWHERE. SPECIFICALLY, THE FRW AIRSPACE AND ARW AIRSPACE WERE AFFECTED MOST HEAVILY, WITH LOTS OF OTHER AREAS BUILDING. THE VISIBILITY WAS RESTR TO THE POINT THAT THE FRE CTLR HAD REQUESTED NOT TO RECEIVE ANY MORE FK100 ACFT BECAUSE 'THE VISUALS WON'T WORK.' THE CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY RANGED FROM LEVEL 3 TO LEVEL 6 IN INTENSITY, WITH THE MOST INTENSE AREAS LOCATED JUST N OF THE RWY 18R AND THE RWY 18L OM'S. MOVEMENT OF THE ACTIVITY WAS WSW AT A FAIRLY FAST RATE. AS THE VOLUME OF TFC INCREASED THE CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY CONTINUED TO ENCROACH ON THE RWY 18R FINAL. I GOT THE SUPVR'S ATTN TWICE AS THE SIT DETERIORATED AND TOLD HIM WE WERE GETTING TO THE POINT THAT WE ONLY HAD A VERY RESTR RTE TO THE RWY 18R FINAL WITH LOTS OF AIRPLANES STILL COMING AND THAT WE WERE ABOUT TO LOSE THE ABILITY TO MAKE 'LEGAL' TURN ON'S TO THE RWY 18R ILS. I LEANED OVER TO THE FRW CTLR AND CAUTIONED THEM TO BE CAREFUL AS 'WE ARE ABOUT TO BE OVERLOADED, AND THE WX IS GOING TO TRAP YOU WITH NO OPTIONS.' AT ONE POINT DURING THIS TIME I HEARD THE SUPVR ADVISE THE FRW CTLR THAT 'THE TWR STILL NEEDS INTERVALS.' WITHIN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME THE TMC CAME OVER AND TOLD ME NOT TO TAKE ANYMORE HDOFS, THE CTR IS GOING INTO HOLDING. HE THEN TOLD THE SUPVR THE SAME THING. THE SUPVR'S RESPONSE WAS '...AND IT LOOKS LIKE IT'S JUST IN TIME TOO.' BEFORE THE LAST ACFT WE HAD ACCEPTED HAD ACTUALLY ENTERED THE FINAL BOX WE WERE TOLD TO START TAKING HDOFS AGAIN AND THAT THEY SHOULD BE 20 MI IN TRAIL. VERY QUICKLY THE CONVECTIVE WX MOVED OVER AND JUST S OF THE RWY 18R OM ELIMINATING THE ILS AS A USABLE APCH. FUNCTIONALLY THE FRW CTLR WAS LEFT WITH ONLY THE LOWER SW CORNER OF THEIR AIRSPACE TO WORK IN AND THE ONLY APCH OPTION WAS THE VISUAL APCH. IT WAS NO SECRET THAT THE VISUAL APCH WAS NOT A DESIRABLE OPTION. SOMEONE -- I'M NOT SURE WHO, ASKED THE TMC IF WE SHOULD TAKE EVERYTHING TO RWY 23. HE SAID, '...I HAVEN'T GOTTEN A DECISION ON THAT YET.' BEFORE A DECISION WAS ANNOUNCED AND IMPLEMENTED I OBSERVED 5 ACFT ON VECTORS TO A VISUAL APCH TO RWY 18R CONFINED TO A 5 OR 6 MI AREA JUST NW OF THE ARPT, WITH ANOTHER ARR FLASHING TO FRW AT THE SATELLITE GATE. AFTER I WAS RELIEVED FOR A BREAK I RAN INTO ONE OF THE TWR CTLRS, AND IN PASSING HE SAID THAT HE HAD 'CALLED DOWN' DURING THE SESSION TO ADVISE THAT VISUALS WOULD NOT WORK, AND THEY WONDERED WHY WE HAD KEPT RUNNING THEM. I RETURNED TO THE TRACON A SHORT TIME LATER. THE FOLLOWING WAS OBSERVED: THE DEP PUSH HAD STARTED. THE WX WAS NOW POSITIONED IN A LINE THAT EXTENDED FROM 10 MI SE OF GASTONIA NW TO GASTONIA AND TO HICKORY AND OFF THE EDGE OF OUR SCOPE. THE DEP PUSH FOR DRW CONSISTED PRIMARILY OF X AND Y JETS AND A AND B PROPS. THE AREA TO THE E OF THE LINE OF WX WAS BASICALLY FREE OF CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY. THE DRW CTLR WAS IN THE PROCESS OF TRYING TO WORK THEIR TFC IN THE STANDARD FLOW FOR A 'NORMAL' SOP. THE PROB WAS STILL THE CONVECTIVE WX. BECAUSE NO ACFT WOULD TURN INTO THE WX A STANDARD FLOW WAS NOT WORKING AND CONSEQUENTLY THE DRW CTLR HAD A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF DEPS TRAPPED IN THE NW CORNER OF THE HARAY DTA WITH NOWHERE TO GO. THIS NOT ONLY HAD ACFT HDG INTO ZTL SHINE ARR AIRSPACE, BUT ALSO REQUIRED EXCESSIVE COORD WORKLOAD WITH 3 ZTL SECTORS AND AT LEAST ONE OTHER TRACON POS. MOST IMPORTANTLY IT ALLOWED TOO MANY ACFT INTO A SYS ALREADY STRESSED TO THE LIMIT. THE SUPVR WAS TAKING CARE OF ALL THE COORD AND WAS DOING A GOOD JOB OF SUPPORTING THE EXISTING OP. I DISCUSSED THE SIT WITH THE SUPVR IMMEDIATELY. I TOLD HIM THAT IT WAS UNACCEPTABLE, BECAUSE THE SIT NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED. WHY? BECAUSE IF PREPARATION AND PLANNING HAD OCCURRED THE ACFT WOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO THE E SIDE OF THE ARPT/WX AND THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO CONVECTIVE WX TO PRECLUDE TURNING ON COURSE. YES IT WOULD HAVE SLOWED DOWN THE DEP RATE BECAUSE THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN MIXED WITH THE NORMAL E DEP FLOW, AND BEEN WORKED BY THE DRE, AND YES DELAYS MAY HAVE BEEN ENCOUNTERED, BUT THE OP WOULD HAVE BEEN SMOOTHER AND SAFER. IT WAS NOT A SECRET THAT THE WX WAS THERE NOR THAT IT CONTAINED SEVERE CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY. WHILE WORKING SRW WITH DRW COMBINED THE WORKLOAD WAS MANAGEABLE BUT THE DISTRS WERE AT BEST CONFUSING. BECAUSE OF THE WX THE SHINE ARRS WERE BEING ROUTED FROM OVER BZM TO CLT. I HAD NOT BEEN TOLD THIS, AND WHEN ONE OF THE ARRS RPTED IN ON MY FREQ, IT WAS VERY CONFUSING AND AT FIRST ALARMING SINCE HE SAID HE WAS DEVIATING FOR WX AND I HAD TFC CLBING OUT THE W GATE AND DID NOT KNOW WHERE THE ARR WAS. WHEN I 'FOUND' THE ARR I REALIZED WHAT THE CTR WAS DOING, BUT I HAD SOME THINGS I NEEDED TO DO BEFORE I COULD ASK A SUPVR WHAT WAS GOING ON. IN THE MEANTIME ZTL CALLED ME FOR A MANUAL HDOF ON AN ARR. WHY DID THEY CALL ME? IT'S SIMPLE. NO ONE HAD TOLD THEM THAT ARW WAS GOING TO BE WORKING THE ARR TFC IN MY AIRSPACE SO THEY CALLED ME FOR THE HDOF. I HOLLERED TO THE SUPVR ASKING FOR CLARIFICATION OF THE SIT AND THEY MUMBLED SOMETHING ABOUT THEY HAD EITHER BEEN TOO BUSY TO TELL ME OR HAD NOT HAD TIME. NOT LONG AFTERWARDS I RECEIVED A JET HDOF FROM GSP AT UNARM. SINCE THIS IS NONSTANDARD I AGAIN CALLED FOR CLARIFICATION, AND RECEIVED THE SAME ANSWER THAT I GOT TO MY PREVIOUS QUESTION. IF THERE WAS A PLAN DURING THIS TIME FRAME IT WAS NOT ONLY NOT APPARENT, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT WAS NOT COMMUNICATED TO ANYONE I KNOW OF. WHEN THE ARRS WERE HELD IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD TIME TO PLAN FOR THE SIT. THE FACT THAT ARRS WERE IMMEDIATELY RESTARTED WITH NO CHANGE IN THE OP SUPPORTS MY CONTENTION THAT THERE WAS NO PLANNING TAKING PLACE. THE FACT THAT DEP FLOWS WERE NOT ADJUSTED IS EVIDENCE OF A LACK OF PLANNING. THE FACT THAT THERE WAS NOT TIME TO COORDINATE A NONSTANDARD OP IS EVIDENCE OF 'KNEE JERK REACTION' NOT PLANNING. THE FACT THAT DURING SEVERE CONVECTIVE WX PERIODS OUR FACILITY IS ROUTINELY ALLOWED TO BECOME OVERLOADED IS UNACCEPTABLE. IT IS NO SECRET HOW STRONGLY I FEEL ABOUT THIS SUBJECT AS I HAVECOMPLAINED VERBALLY ABOUT THE SIT FOR THE LAST 5 YRS. A FACILITY CAN HANDLE A TFC OVERLOAD IN THE ABSENCE OF CONVECTIVE WX WITHOUT COMPROMISING SAFETY. HOWEVER, THE SAME IS NOT TRUE DURING PERIODS OF CONVECTIVE WX. CONVECTIVE WX IS TOO UNPREDICTABLE TO TAKE CHANCES WITH. THE REACTION OF PLTS ARE NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DEPENDED ON BECAUSE THEY MAY DEVIATE WITHOUT WARNING WHEN THEY SEE SOMETHING THAT OUR RADAR IS NOT YET PAINTING OR ANY OF A HUNDRED OTHER REASONS. THIS, COUPLED WITH NONSTANDARD FLOWS, RESTR RWY AND AIRSPACE USAGE, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY UNPREDICTABILITY MAKE OVERLOAD DURING PERIODS OF CONVECTIVE WX UNSAFE.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of July 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.