|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||airport : bhm.airport|
|Altitude||agl single value : 600|
|Controlling Facilities||tower : bhm.tower|
|Operator||general aviation : corporate|
|Make Model Name||Jet Ranger/Kiowa/206|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 91|
|Flight Phase||descent : approach|
|Affiliation||company : corporate|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : commercial|
pilot : instrument
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 50|
flight time total : 5500
flight time type : 4250
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : local|
|Anomaly||airspace violation : entry|
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : anomaly accepted|
|Problem Areas||ATC Human Performance|
Flight Crew Human Performance
We departed; as usual; along the south side of the ridgeline. This was our second departure from this location this morning. As departures at bhm were using runway 24; we headed east along the ridgeline. This is in accordance with an (perhaps unofficial?) LOA from about 4.5 yrs ago; with birmingham tower. Immediately upon lifting from the pad; and establishing safe flight; I called birmingham tower for VFR clearance to the north. There was no response; so I waited a few more seconds; thinking maybe I was not yet high enough above the ridgeline for them to hear me. I tried the same call again. It sounded like I was stepped on by tower; or another departing aircraft. There was conversation going on about taxi-clearance for one of the commercial jets preparing to depart runway 6. I wasn't sure if tower had heard me that time again or not. Tower said something to the effect of 2 aircraft reading back that clearance at once; and I was expecting to hear one or more of the airline pilots to re-acknowledge clearance; so I hesitated to ensure not 'walking on them' yet again. At this time; the tower announced for the aircraft 2 mi south at 1500 ft to declare. I was just about to repeat again my call anyway; when this happened. I gave the call sign; and requested VFR clearance to the north; etc; as usual. The tower controller was obviously mad at this time already; and it showed. He started griping about me not calling sooner. I tried to explain to him that I had already called like 3 times; without success. (It might have been thrice; but maybe only twice; I cannot recall.) he said something like that wasn't good enough; that it was 'a little late now;' and that I was well within class C airspace (as if I didn't know that). I then tried to tell him that I had just lifted (thinking he might have thought I had just flown in from the south without making any calls) and that he would realize that I wasn't able to establish communications any sooner; and that is why I was suddenly there on his radar; close by in his airspace. I do not believe I did anything wrong/illegal/or stupid. Yes; in retrospect; I might have been more 'aggressive' getting my call through; but at that time; I was unsure if I could do that; since I had already tried at least twice; or more; without success. Furthermore; I was on the south side of the ridgeline that entire time; as per our earlier agreement; and do not know of any other air traffic that was anywhere in my vicinity. I have been doing this mission successfully here for the last 5 yrs; without a problem; since that one initial incident; which led to our LOA. I was in accordance with that the whole time. I do not know what else I could have done to make this a better; or safer transition.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: HELI PLT ENTERED CLASS C AT BHM WITHOUT ATC CLRNC DUE TO COM PROBS.
Narrative: WE DEPARTED; AS USUAL; ALONG THE S SIDE OF THE RIDGELINE. THIS WAS OUR SECOND DEP FROM THIS LOCATION THIS MORNING. AS DEPS AT BHM WERE USING RWY 24; WE HEADED E ALONG THE RIDGELINE. THIS IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH AN (PERHAPS UNOFFICIAL?) LOA FROM ABOUT 4.5 YRS AGO; WITH BIRMINGHAM TWR. IMMEDIATELY UPON LIFTING FROM THE PAD; AND ESTABLISHING SAFE FLT; I CALLED BIRMINGHAM TWR FOR VFR CLRNC TO THE N. THERE WAS NO RESPONSE; SO I WAITED A FEW MORE SECONDS; THINKING MAYBE I WAS NOT YET HIGH ENOUGH ABOVE THE RIDGELINE FOR THEM TO HEAR ME. I TRIED THE SAME CALL AGAIN. IT SOUNDED LIKE I WAS STEPPED ON BY TWR; OR ANOTHER DEPARTING ACFT. THERE WAS CONVERSATION GOING ON ABOUT TAXI-CLRNC FOR ONE OF THE COMMERCIAL JETS PREPARING TO DEPART RWY 6. I WASN'T SURE IF TWR HAD HEARD ME THAT TIME AGAIN OR NOT. TWR SAID SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT OF 2 ACFT READING BACK THAT CLRNC AT ONCE; AND I WAS EXPECTING TO HEAR ONE OR MORE OF THE AIRLINE PLTS TO RE-ACKNOWLEDGE CLRNC; SO I HESITATED TO ENSURE NOT 'WALKING ON THEM' YET AGAIN. AT THIS TIME; THE TWR ANNOUNCED FOR THE ACFT 2 MI S AT 1500 FT TO DECLARE. I WAS JUST ABOUT TO REPEAT AGAIN MY CALL ANYWAY; WHEN THIS HAPPENED. I GAVE THE CALL SIGN; AND REQUESTED VFR CLRNC TO THE N; ETC; AS USUAL. THE TWR CTLR WAS OBVIOUSLY MAD AT THIS TIME ALREADY; AND IT SHOWED. HE STARTED GRIPING ABOUT ME NOT CALLING SOONER. I TRIED TO EXPLAIN TO HIM THAT I HAD ALREADY CALLED LIKE 3 TIMES; WITHOUT SUCCESS. (IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THRICE; BUT MAYBE ONLY TWICE; I CANNOT RECALL.) HE SAID SOMETHING LIKE THAT WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH; THAT IT WAS 'A LITTLE LATE NOW;' AND THAT I WAS WELL WITHIN CLASS C AIRSPACE (AS IF I DIDN'T KNOW THAT). I THEN TRIED TO TELL HIM THAT I HAD JUST LIFTED (THINKING HE MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT I HAD JUST FLOWN IN FROM THE S WITHOUT MAKING ANY CALLS) AND THAT HE WOULD REALIZE THAT I WASN'T ABLE TO ESTABLISH COMS ANY SOONER; AND THAT IS WHY I WAS SUDDENLY THERE ON HIS RADAR; CLOSE BY IN HIS AIRSPACE. I DO NOT BELIEVE I DID ANYTHING WRONG/ILLEGAL/OR STUPID. YES; IN RETROSPECT; I MIGHT HAVE BEEN MORE 'AGGRESSIVE' GETTING MY CALL THROUGH; BUT AT THAT TIME; I WAS UNSURE IF I COULD DO THAT; SINCE I HAD ALREADY TRIED AT LEAST TWICE; OR MORE; WITHOUT SUCCESS. FURTHERMORE; I WAS ON THE S SIDE OF THE RIDGELINE THAT ENTIRE TIME; AS PER OUR EARLIER AGREEMENT; AND DO NOT KNOW OF ANY OTHER AIR TFC THAT WAS ANYWHERE IN MY VICINITY. I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS MISSION SUCCESSFULLY HERE FOR THE LAST 5 YRS; WITHOUT A PROB; SINCE THAT ONE INITIAL INCIDENT; WHICH LED TO OUR LOA. I WAS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THAT THE WHOLE TIME. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT ELSE I COULD HAVE DONE TO MAKE THIS A BETTER; OR SAFER TRANSITION.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of January 2009 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.