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Pilot Requests Emergency Landing, Tower Calls ‘B.S.’

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#1 jnelsoninjax

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 03:24

Safety experts are stunned after a passenger plane filled with smoke while trying to land at a snowy Denver International Airport, but the air traffic controller dismissed the call for help from the pilot as “B.S.”
The April 3 flight from Peoria, Ill., was scheduled to land in Denver. Everything was going according to plan until smoke filled the plane. The pilot of the United plane called the control tower to request an emergency landing.
“This is 5912. Emergency, smoke in cockpit, roll trucks, please,” said the pilot.
But the control tower did not know who was calling.
“And who was that?” the controller replied.
“5912,” the pilot said, but the control tower apparently heard “United 12.”
“United 12, what’s your position?” the controller asked.
The pilot did not respond, and the controller decided it was a hoax.
“Did you hear that?” the controller asked another controller. “I know that’s BS. I know it is.”
“United 12. You, you know of United 12 anywhere?” he added.
“And, ah, I apologize. If you probably heard there, that’s not real what we’re hearing on the frequency,” the controller announced to his coworkers.
The plane prepared for an emergency landing believing that fire crews had been dispatched and were ready to assist.
When the plane landed, the pilots called the control tower again in a panic.
“We’re on the runway! We’ve been evacuating! We’ve been evacuating! 34 right!” the pilot screamed.
But even with the plane on the ground, the controllers still didn’t believe the emergency was real.
“12 verify that wasn’t you,” said the controller.
Prank calls to control towers are not that uncommon and the controllers may have thought this was one.
But longtime pilot and aviation expert Kevin Hiatt says lives were hanging in the balance at a time when seconds mattered.
“This is a very serious situation and could have had a very disastrous result,” said Hiatt.
“I think it’s very troubling. An air traffic controller should never assume or jump to a conclusion at any time,” Hiatt added.
Aviation experts say that the pilot was wrong in initially identifying himself as only as “5912.” He should have identified himself as “United Airlines 5912.”
Luckily the pilots landed and evacuated the plane safely, without help from the control tower.
The FAA has yet to comment on the incident.
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#2 -Razorfold

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 03:28

It happens. Sometimes when flying, just after taking off, my plane's radio picks up calls over a different frequency, its annoying and confusing but hey gotta live with it.

Aviation experts say that the pilot was wrong in initially identifying himself as only as “5912.” He should have identified himself as “United Airlines 5912.”


That is correct, you use your full callsign unless tower has responded to you using a shorthand version. If they have, then you can use the shorthand version.

Prank calls to control towers are not that uncommon and the controllers may have thought this was one.


And then you have **** like this and kids who think shooting lasers into the cockpits of planes while they're on approach is funny..

#3 Perfect72

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 03:35

It happens. Sometimes when flying, just after taking off, my plane's radio picks up calls over a different frequency, its annoying and confusing but hey gotta live with it.



That is correct, you use your full callsign unless tower has responded to you using a shorthand version. If they have, then you can use the shorthand version.



And then you have **** like this and kids who think shooting lasers into the cockpits of planes while they're on approach is funny..


Still, the ATC should have taken it seriously. Even if there are many hoax, lives are at stake for the real one. And in a panic it is completely acceptable to not announce the full name. The controllers should be fired. Period.

#4 -Razorfold

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 03:40

Still, the ATC should have taken it seriously. Even if there are many hoax, lives are at stake for the real one. And in a panic it is completely acceptable to not announce the full name. The controllers should be fired. Period.


The pilot could also squawk emergency and this wouldn't have happened since ATC would have immediately known. The media is also vastly blowing this out of proportion. One of the instrument panels caught fire, guess what there's a fire extinguisher in the cockpit. Was it an emergency sure, but the media is making this sound like the entire plane was on fire and all hell was breaking lose.

I do agree with you though that the controller should have sent the firetrucks rolling, but Denver is a busy airport and a simple prank call could shut down the airport for god knows how long.

#5 Reverend Spam

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 17:37

I would assume its ATC policy to regard all maydays as real unless proven otherwise... Sounds like an epic fail on the part of the controller... Dude's gonna find himself out of a job soon.



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