|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Locale Reference||navaid : pgs.vortac|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 22800|
msl bound upper : 24000
|Controlling Facilities||artcc : zla.artcc|
tracon : l30.tracon
|Operator||common carrier : air carrier|
|Make Model Name||MD-80 Series (DC-9-80) Undifferentiated or Other Model|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 121|
|Navigation In Use||other|
|Flight Phase||cruise : enroute altitude change|
|Route In Use||arrival star : lynsy|
|Function||flight crew : captain|
oversight : pic
|Affiliation||company : air carrier|
|Function||flight crew : first officer|
|Anomaly||non adherence : clearance|
non adherence : far
|Independent Detector||other controllera|
|Resolutory Action||controller : issued new clearance|
|Consequence||faa : assigned or threatened penalties|
|Problem Areas||Flight Crew Human Performance|
ATC Human Performance
Chart Or Publication
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
|Air Traffic Incident||Pilot Deviation|
I should preface this by saying it was the first time flying one of the company's different FMS airplanes for both myself and the first officer. I had some background in the system, having flown the B777 a few yrs ago, but the first officer had none and there was a steep learning curve and somewhat of a 'fog of uncertainty' during the flight for both of us, particularly with the VNAV portion of the system. We were just west of pgs at FL240 on a step-down after having been cleared for the lynsy RNAV two arrival to las. I had already briefed that we needed to hear 'cleared to descend via the lynsy 2' before we could start down. There was a large amount of radio traffic and a lot of xmissions was getting stepped on which added to the confusion. We had already passed pgs headed toward lynsy, which has a crossing restr of 12000 ft/250 KTS. We were discussing the arrival and VNAV setup and I heard the center controller give a frequency change, but the call sign was stepped on. We were now getting to the point where we needed to descend to make the restr. We both raised the question to each other as to whether we had been cleared to descend - and for the moment both tentatively agreed that we must have been cleared considering our proximity to lynsy, even though neither of us specifically heard the magic words 'descend via.' the first officer had now tried at least 5 times to get a radio call in to the controller. Knowing we needed to go down, the first officer set in 12000 ft and I started the nose over. At this time, ATC finally got through with our call sign and switched us over to las approach. We immediately acknowledged and changed frequencys. In retrospect, it would have been a good idea first to confirm whether we had clearance to descend. We contacted approach control and informed him we were descending on the lynsy 2. At this time, we had descended about 1000-1200 ft. The controller hesitated and then said 'okay, cleared to descend via the lynsy 2.' I started to level off, now realizing we had not been cleared previously, but he told us to continue descent. He then started asking for clarification on whether we had been previously cleared to descend and we replied that we thought we had been cleared by the previous controller. He admonished us about not descending until receiving the specific clearance to 'descend via the arrival' and we acknowledged. There were no further issues. In retrospect, I should have never have started the descent until getting verbal clarification on our clearance. Fuel was not a problem and we could have continued all the way overhead las at FL240 if that's what it took to make contact with the controller. I think the preoccupation with the VNAV and the accompanying radio confusion led us to make assumptions we should not have made. Fortunately, at no time was there any traffic conflict arising from this mistake. Lesson learned.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: AN MD80 FLT CREW START A DSCNT ON AN ARR BEFORE THEY WERE CLRED TO DO SO.
Narrative: I SHOULD PREFACE THIS BY SAYING IT WAS THE FIRST TIME FLYING ONE OF THE COMPANY'S DIFFERENT FMS AIRPLANES FOR BOTH MYSELF AND THE FO. I HAD SOME BACKGROUND IN THE SYS, HAVING FLOWN THE B777 A FEW YRS AGO, BUT THE FO HAD NONE AND THERE WAS A STEEP LEARNING CURVE AND SOMEWHAT OF A 'FOG OF UNCERTAINTY' DURING THE FLT FOR BOTH OF US, PARTICULARLY WITH THE VNAV PORTION OF THE SYS. WE WERE JUST W OF PGS AT FL240 ON A STEP-DOWN AFTER HAVING BEEN CLRED FOR THE LYNSY RNAV TWO ARR TO LAS. I HAD ALREADY BRIEFED THAT WE NEEDED TO HEAR 'CLRED TO DSND VIA THE LYNSY 2' BEFORE WE COULD START DOWN. THERE WAS A LARGE AMOUNT OF RADIO TFC AND A LOT OF XMISSIONS WAS GETTING STEPPED ON WHICH ADDED TO THE CONFUSION. WE HAD ALREADY PASSED PGS HEADED TOWARD LYNSY, WHICH HAS A XING RESTR OF 12000 FT/250 KTS. WE WERE DISCUSSING THE ARR AND VNAV SETUP AND I HEARD THE CTR CTLR GIVE A FREQ CHANGE, BUT THE CALL SIGN WAS STEPPED ON. WE WERE NOW GETTING TO THE POINT WHERE WE NEEDED TO DSND TO MAKE THE RESTR. WE BOTH RAISED THE QUESTION TO EACH OTHER AS TO WHETHER WE HAD BEEN CLRED TO DSND - AND FOR THE MOMENT BOTH TENTATIVELY AGREED THAT WE MUST HAVE BEEN CLRED CONSIDERING OUR PROX TO LYNSY, EVEN THOUGH NEITHER OF US SPECIFICALLY HEARD THE MAGIC WORDS 'DSND VIA.' THE FO HAD NOW TRIED AT LEAST 5 TIMES TO GET A RADIO CALL IN TO THE CTLR. KNOWING WE NEEDED TO GO DOWN, THE FO SET IN 12000 FT AND I STARTED THE NOSE OVER. AT THIS TIME, ATC FINALLY GOT THROUGH WITH OUR CALL SIGN AND SWITCHED US OVER TO LAS APCH. WE IMMEDIATELY ACKNOWLEDGED AND CHANGED FREQS. IN RETROSPECT, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD IDEA FIRST TO CONFIRM WHETHER WE HAD CLRNC TO DSND. WE CONTACTED APCH CTL AND INFORMED HIM WE WERE DSNDING ON THE LYNSY 2. AT THIS TIME, WE HAD DSNDED ABOUT 1000-1200 FT. THE CTLR HESITATED AND THEN SAID 'OKAY, CLRED TO DSND VIA THE LYNSY 2.' I STARTED TO LEVEL OFF, NOW REALIZING WE HAD NOT BEEN CLRED PREVIOUSLY, BUT HE TOLD US TO CONTINUE DSCNT. HE THEN STARTED ASKING FOR CLARIFICATION ON WHETHER WE HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY CLRED TO DSND AND WE REPLIED THAT WE THOUGHT WE HAD BEEN CLRED BY THE PREVIOUS CTLR. HE ADMONISHED US ABOUT NOT DSNDING UNTIL RECEIVING THE SPECIFIC CLRNC TO 'DSND VIA THE ARR' AND WE ACKNOWLEDGED. THERE WERE NO FURTHER ISSUES. IN RETROSPECT, I SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAVE STARTED THE DSCNT UNTIL GETTING VERBAL CLARIFICATION ON OUR CLRNC. FUEL WAS NOT A PROB AND WE COULD HAVE CONTINUED ALL THE WAY OVERHEAD LAS AT FL240 IF THAT'S WHAT IT TOOK TO MAKE CONTACT WITH THE CTLR. I THINK THE PREOCCUPATION WITH THE VNAV AND THE ACCOMPANYING RADIO CONFUSION LED US TO MAKE ASSUMPTIONS WE SHOULD NOT HAVE MADE. FORTUNATELY, AT NO TIME WAS THERE ANY TFC CONFLICT ARISING FROM THIS MISTAKE. LESSON LEARNED.
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.