|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||airport : pdx|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 2500|
msl bound upper : 2500
|Controlling Facilities||tracon : pdx|
|Operator||general aviation : personal|
|Make Model Name||Small Aircraft, High Wing, 1 Eng, Fixed Gear|
|Flight Phase||descent : approach|
|Route In Use||approach : visual|
enroute : on vectors
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : atp|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 200|
flight time total : 15000
|Function||controller : approach|
|Qualification||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||inflight encounter : weather|
other anomaly other
other spatial deviation
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||controller : issued new clearance|
|Consequence||faa : reviewed incident with flight crew|
|Primary Problem||ATC Human Performance|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
|ATC Facility||procedure or policy : unspecified|
I came down the columbia gorge VFR. Got ATIS east and called pdx approach for landing just north of the east end of reed island. I was given a squawk and a vector to a VFR downwind. Told to maintain 2500' and given the winds and my choice of landing runways. I called the airport in sight over camas. I was given frequency 126.9. It took me a while to call on because of a lot of radio traffic. At this time it appeared that the WX was rapidly deteriorating to about 3000 and 3 mi in heavy rain. I was given a turn to the northeast for sequence. I questioned the call and asked how long I would have to stay on this heading because of heavy rain showers and the proximity to higher terrain to the northeast of pdx. I told the controller I could no longer stay on the assigned heading due to WX and terrain. After some delay I was assigned another heading which still did not solve the WX problem. Another light aircraft just behind me was having the same problems. The controller kept trying to have me follow an airplane to the airport that I didn't see to an airport I couldn't see. Once I got the airport in sight I was switched to tower, who I had to call 3 times to confirm landing clearance. On turn off I suggested that the ATIS be updated. I got the smart comment back that this was 'the WX we get from the WX bureau and even though it may not be accurate, that is what we have to use.' on departure I was given clearance to takeoff on runway 10L even though the active was runway 28R. I considered both approach control and tower services marginal with a lot of excess radio xmissions due to misunderstandings and mistakes. The situation was hurt greatly by inaccurate WX. The approach controller thought the WX was 5000/30. With the WX at 3000/3 in heavy rain the controllers ability to run visual apches is greatly diminished. As a pilot who previously flew for a reserve unit on pdx we were forever calling the WX bureau telling them to update their WX when they were slow to respond to major changes. Somehow, the system lost sight of what it was supposed to accomplish. Moving airplanes through the system safely. In a conversation I had with the assistant pdx tower chief he indicated that WX wasn't their responsibility. I indicated he could at least tell his own approach controllers and maybe call the WX folks to let them know what was going on. I was also told that when I was VFR it was my responsibility to avoid terrain even though I was assigned a hard altitude. I exercised my responsibility and complained about the vectors. I really dislike the attitude of the portland ATC management on this issue. Controllers frequently issue headings which take VFR aircraft on vectors into terrain or obstructions at or above their assigned altitudes. It is frequently necessary to call 2 or 3 times to get permission to deviate from their clrncs. I'm not about to knowingly let a controller run me into the hill. However with all the mistakes and confusion this operation certainly has the potential for this situation.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: SMA VFR NOT ON A FLT PLAN WAS VECTORED IN ARSA TOWARDS TERRAIN AND WX. THINKS ATC AT THIS FAC POOR.
Narrative: I CAME DOWN THE COLUMBIA GORGE VFR. GOT ATIS E AND CALLED PDX APCH FOR LNDG JUST N OF THE E END OF REED ISLAND. I WAS GIVEN A SQUAWK AND A VECTOR TO A VFR DOWNWIND. TOLD TO MAINTAIN 2500' AND GIVEN THE WINDS AND MY CHOICE OF LNDG RWYS. I CALLED THE ARPT IN SIGHT OVER CAMAS. I WAS GIVEN FREQ 126.9. IT TOOK ME A WHILE TO CALL ON BECAUSE OF A LOT OF RADIO TFC. AT THIS TIME IT APPEARED THAT THE WX WAS RAPIDLY DETERIORATING TO ABOUT 3000 AND 3 MI IN HEAVY RAIN. I WAS GIVEN A TURN TO THE NE FOR SEQUENCE. I QUESTIONED THE CALL AND ASKED HOW LONG I WOULD HAVE TO STAY ON THIS HDG BECAUSE OF HEAVY RAIN SHOWERS AND THE PROX TO HIGHER TERRAIN TO THE NE OF PDX. I TOLD THE CTLR I COULD NO LONGER STAY ON THE ASSIGNED HDG DUE TO WX AND TERRAIN. AFTER SOME DELAY I WAS ASSIGNED ANOTHER HDG WHICH STILL DID NOT SOLVE THE WX PROB. ANOTHER LIGHT ACFT JUST BEHIND ME WAS HAVING THE SAME PROBS. THE CTLR KEPT TRYING TO HAVE ME FOLLOW AN AIRPLANE TO THE ARPT THAT I DIDN'T SEE TO AN ARPT I COULDN'T SEE. ONCE I GOT THE ARPT IN SIGHT I WAS SWITCHED TO TWR, WHO I HAD TO CALL 3 TIMES TO CONFIRM LNDG CLRNC. ON TURN OFF I SUGGESTED THAT THE ATIS BE UPDATED. I GOT THE SMART COMMENT BACK THAT THIS WAS 'THE WX WE GET FROM THE WX BUREAU AND EVEN THOUGH IT MAY NOT BE ACCURATE, THAT IS WHAT WE HAVE TO USE.' ON DEP I WAS GIVEN CLRNC TO TKOF ON RWY 10L EVEN THOUGH THE ACTIVE WAS RWY 28R. I CONSIDERED BOTH APCH CTL AND TWR SVCS MARGINAL WITH A LOT OF EXCESS RADIO XMISSIONS DUE TO MISUNDERSTANDINGS AND MISTAKES. THE SITUATION WAS HURT GREATLY BY INACCURATE WX. THE APCH CTLR THOUGHT THE WX WAS 5000/30. WITH THE WX AT 3000/3 IN HEAVY RAIN THE CTLRS ABILITY TO RUN VISUAL APCHES IS GREATLY DIMINISHED. AS A PLT WHO PREVIOUSLY FLEW FOR A RESERVE UNIT ON PDX WE WERE FOREVER CALLING THE WX BUREAU TELLING THEM TO UPDATE THEIR WX WHEN THEY WERE SLOW TO RESPOND TO MAJOR CHANGES. SOMEHOW, THE SYS LOST SIGHT OF WHAT IT WAS SUPPOSED TO ACCOMPLISH. MOVING AIRPLANES THROUGH THE SYS SAFELY. IN A CONVERSATION I HAD WITH THE ASSISTANT PDX TWR CHIEF HE INDICATED THAT WX WASN'T THEIR RESPONSIBILITY. I INDICATED HE COULD AT LEAST TELL HIS OWN APCH CTLRS AND MAYBE CALL THE WX FOLKS TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON. I WAS ALSO TOLD THAT WHEN I WAS VFR IT WAS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO AVOID TERRAIN EVEN THOUGH I WAS ASSIGNED A HARD ALT. I EXERCISED MY RESPONSIBILITY AND COMPLAINED ABOUT THE VECTORS. I REALLY DISLIKE THE ATTITUDE OF THE PORTLAND ATC MGMNT ON THIS ISSUE. CTLRS FREQUENTLY ISSUE HDGS WHICH TAKE VFR ACFT ON VECTORS INTO TERRAIN OR OBSTRUCTIONS AT OR ABOVE THEIR ASSIGNED ALTS. IT IS FREQUENTLY NECESSARY TO CALL 2 OR 3 TIMES TO GET PERMISSION TO DEVIATE FROM THEIR CLRNCS. I'M NOT ABOUT TO KNOWINGLY LET A CTLR RUN ME INTO THE HILL. HOWEVER WITH ALL THE MISTAKES AND CONFUSION THIS OPERATION CERTAINLY HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR THIS SITUATION.
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.