|Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day
|0601 To 1200
|atc facility : slc
|msl bound lower : 20500
msl bound upper : 21000
|artcc : zlc
|common carrier : air carrier
|Make Model Name
|Medium Large Transport, Low Wing, 2 Turbojet Eng
|Route In Use
|enroute : direct
|company : air carrier
|flight crew : captain
oversight : pic
|pilot : atp
|flight time last 90 days : 115
flight time total : 12000
|company : air carrier
|flight crew : first officer
|pilot : atp
|flight time last 90 days : 180
|altitude deviation : overshoot
non adherence : clearance
non adherence : required legal separation
|faa : reviewed incident with flight crew
|Air Traffic Incident
Inbound slc from stl we were given the standard repetitive clearance to 'cross 10 east of ffu at 17000' and 280 KTS.' before vacating our cruise altitude of FL310, the controller told us to 'commence descent to FL210 traffic.' descent was commenced at a normal rate, at approximately 80 NM from ffu, which is earlier than normal, but to due to the wording of our last clearance from center, we believed the traffic was probably at FL310, so we started down early. During the descent, we remarked about what a clear day it was and that a lower altitude that far out would be ok, because it would give our passenger a close look at the snowcapped wasatch mountains. After FL210, we assumed we were still expected to cross 10 mi east of ffu at 17000' MSL and a 500 FPM cruise descent was begun. At approximately FL208, the controller asked us what our altitude was. We replied out of FL210 and were told to climb immediately to FL210. We were then told our traffic was at FL200, 1-2 O'clock, 8-10 mi, eastbound. We immediately picked up our traffic visually about 1 minute before passing. No evasive action was required. This situation developed due to wrong altitude clearance assumptions by us, the flight crew and also, to a degree at least, due to ambiguous altitude and traffic calls from ATC. It is my finding as of 1-2 yrs ago that the flight crew frequently has to ask ATC, 'where is our traffic,' and quite often I do. This time I didn't. Had we been told initially when given the 'commence descent to FL210' clearance that we had eastbound traffic at FL200 and to expect 10 mi east of ffu at 17000' MSL and 280 KTS, this situation would never have developed. Proper wording of clrncs greatly improves comprehension of same. Also, being told where the traffic is eliminates guess work and the crew's need to ask where. Next time I will ask if all the information needed is not voluntarily given by ATC. Supplemental information from acn 84527: after landing, we contacted ATC to resolve the misunderstanding. He indicated that 'it worked out fine, no problem.'
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: ACR MLG ALT DEVIATION OVERSHOT DURING DESCENT INTO SLC CAUSING LESS THAN STANDARD SEPARATION WITH OUTBOUND COMPANY ACFT.
Narrative: INBND SLC FROM STL WE WERE GIVEN THE STANDARD REPETITIVE CLRNC TO 'CROSS 10 E OF FFU AT 17000' AND 280 KTS.' BEFORE VACATING OUR CRUISE ALT OF FL310, THE CTLR TOLD US TO 'COMMENCE DSCNT TO FL210 TFC.' DSCNT WAS COMMENCED AT A NORMAL RATE, AT APPROX 80 NM FROM FFU, WHICH IS EARLIER THAN NORMAL, BUT TO DUE TO THE WORDING OF OUR LAST CLRNC FROM CENTER, WE BELIEVED THE TFC WAS PROBABLY AT FL310, SO WE STARTED DOWN EARLY. DURING THE DSCNT, WE REMARKED ABOUT WHAT A CLR DAY IT WAS AND THAT A LOWER ALT THAT FAR OUT WOULD BE OK, BECAUSE IT WOULD GIVE OUR PAX A CLOSE LOOK AT THE SNOWCAPPED WASATCH MOUNTAINS. AFTER FL210, WE ASSUMED WE WERE STILL EXPECTED TO CROSS 10 MI E OF FFU AT 17000' MSL AND A 500 FPM CRUISE DSCNT WAS BEGUN. AT APPROX FL208, THE CTLR ASKED US WHAT OUR ALT WAS. WE REPLIED OUT OF FL210 AND WERE TOLD TO CLB IMMEDIATELY TO FL210. WE WERE THEN TOLD OUR TFC WAS AT FL200, 1-2 O'CLOCK, 8-10 MI, EBND. WE IMMEDIATELY PICKED UP OUR TFC VISUALLY ABOUT 1 MINUTE BEFORE PASSING. NO EVASIVE ACTION WAS REQUIRED. THIS SITUATION DEVELOPED DUE TO WRONG ALT CLRNC ASSUMPTIONS BY US, THE FLT CREW AND ALSO, TO A DEGREE AT LEAST, DUE TO AMBIGUOUS ALT AND TFC CALLS FROM ATC. IT IS MY FINDING AS OF 1-2 YRS AGO THAT THE FLT CREW FREQUENTLY HAS TO ASK ATC, 'WHERE IS OUR TFC,' AND QUITE OFTEN I DO. THIS TIME I DIDN'T. HAD WE BEEN TOLD INITIALLY WHEN GIVEN THE 'COMMENCE DSCNT TO FL210' CLRNC THAT WE HAD EBND TFC AT FL200 AND TO EXPECT 10 MI E OF FFU AT 17000' MSL AND 280 KTS, THIS SITUATION WOULD NEVER HAVE DEVELOPED. PROPER WORDING OF CLRNCS GREATLY IMPROVES COMPREHENSION OF SAME. ALSO, BEING TOLD WHERE THE TFC IS ELIMINATES GUESS WORK AND THE CREW'S NEED TO ASK WHERE. NEXT TIME I WILL ASK IF ALL THE INFO NEEDED IS NOT VOLUNTARILY GIVEN BY ATC. SUPPLEMENTAL INFO FROM ACN 84527: AFTER LNDG, WE CONTACTED ATC TO RESOLVE THE MISUNDERSTANDING. HE INDICATED THAT 'IT WORKED OUT FINE, NO PROB.'
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.