Nasty argument between pilot and tower.

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Originally Posted by MolaKule
I hope ATC wrote up his you know what!
They did. When ATC gives you a phone number to call, that's called a "Brasher Warning." It means an investigation will happen.
 
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I had heard, never listened until now. I think that guy will be doing a dance for a while, with the FSDO. He sounds like a real TOOL.
 
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Agreed. . . he'll likely have some 'splaining to do, but as Cujet pointed out, he may never have been in Class B in the first place. It's been my experience that the airspace overlays on ATC radars are far from pinpoint accurate, as compared to the advanced avionics many of us fly with nowadays. I hope we hear, "the rest of the story". As for refusing an ATC request, pilots can do that for various reasons that need to be articulable, not just because they don't feel like obeying. ATC is not infallible and I've refused ATC requests with an, "unable" many times over the years with no problems.
 
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I've been curious about how this incident turned out. I was able to find an audio recording of the the subject pilot's call to the ATC supervisor after he got on the ground.

Based on his explanation, suffice it to say he was busy / distracted by events within his aircraft during the airspace deviation. I think what occurred was the confluence of a distracted, tired pilot at the end of a long flight in very rough air, and an ATC controller who forgot to issue Class B clearance after her initial acknowledgement of the pilot's intentions. The pilot was distracted and overlooked the lack of Class B clearance. . . the controller was very busy with other traffic and failed to issue clearance to the offending pilot who was flying a single-engine Cessna P210; albeit a pretty zippy (high performance) Cessna in a descent (further increasing it's speed), which probably arrived within her airspace before she realized it would. By the time the controller / pilot interaction got terse, the pilot had already descended below mountains in the area, which restricted his options to safely leave the Class B airspace.

I'd be surprised if the pilot was violated for this incident. The pilot was apologetic and was apparently experienced in Class B operations. He was likely counseled by the local FSDO, and the controller was probably debriefed about her handling of the flight. Pilots / controllers are not infallible and both make mistakes. . . . daily. To be sure, there are lessons to be learned on both sides of this incident.

NOTE: Here's the link to the audio / telephone call between an ATC supervisor and the pilot: https://cdn.muckrock.com/foia_files/2020/09/15/FLM1_Phone_Call_N731NR_-_Redacted.wav
 
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Hi Guys.
Was the guy in the Cessna lucky he did not find himself looking at an F-16 from his cockpit window? Flying into resticted airspace without clearence could make ATC a little twitchy. Or does this type of thing happen all the time?
 
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Hi Guys.
Was the guy in the Cessna lucky he did not find himself looking at an F-16 from his cockpit window? Flying into resticted airspace without clearence could make ATC a little twitchy. Or does this type of thing happen all the time?
That’s called interception and it’s not likely from a Bravo bust. Flying through a temporary flight restriction (TFR) is more likely to trigger an intercept, particularly a presidential TFR.

ATC doesn’t get “twitchy.” That’s not how it works. Controllers are professionals that are held to very high standards. They adhere to the regs and procedures. Frankly, they’re usually as accommodating as possible.
 
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Hi Maximus.
Thanks for that. Twitchy was obviously the wrong word to use. Maybe i should have used suspicious.
Anyway, thanks for explaining things works.
 
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From the phone transcript, sounds like a couple of bad days all around. The problem is a bad day in the air is 100x worse than one on the ground. From his voice, that guy sounds very shaken/worried. I'd say he's probably learned from it and will be super cautious the next time he's flying through a restricted area.

I remember listening to that tape shortly after it first happened, always wondered how the ground conversation went. Cool to get to hear that side of it.
 
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Revoke pilot license and/or jail.

So, does the controller bear any responsibility for this airspace intrusion? If so, what should her penalty be? FYI, I've seen controllers do this exact thing several times over the course of my career. . . they get busy, they forget to issue the clearance to VFR traffic after initial call-up--I've reminded them with a 2nd call, and I get my Bravo clearance. To be clear, the pilot should always remain outside Class B airspace until cleared to enter, but in this case I can see how circumstances conspired to cause the incident.
 
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So, does the controller bear any responsibility for this airspace intrusion? If so, what should her penalty be? FYI, I've seen controllers do this exact thing several times over the course of my career. . . they get busy, they forget to issue the clearance to VFR traffic after initial call-up--I've reminded them with a 2nd call, and I get my Bravo clearance. To be clear, the pilot should always remain outside Class B airspace until cleared to enter, but in this case I can see how circumstances conspired to cause the incident.

obviously some sort of communication failure but didn't the controller ask the pilot to leave the space and he said no? I need to listen again but I was more focusing on that.

Beside the point as I'm sure all controllers are well trained but this particular controller sounded very seasoned and professional.
 

Astro14

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So, does the controller bear any responsibility for this airspace intrusion? If so, what should her penalty be? FYI, I've seen controllers do this exact thing several times over the course of my career. . . they get busy, they forget to issue the clearance to VFR traffic after initial call-up--I've reminded them with a 2nd call, and I get my Bravo clearance. To be clear, the pilot should always remain outside Class B airspace until cleared to enter, but in this case I can see how circumstances conspired to cause the incident.
I don’t believe the controller bears any responsibility.

Sure, they get busy and miss things, but if a pilot needs a clearance, and the controller forgets, that pilot does not have a clearance. Period.

Class B requires clearance.

If the pilot had filed IFR to or through that Class B, then, in the event of lost communications, the pilot could reasonably expect clearance and proceed into or through based on the last assigned clearance.

But this was a VFR flight with no expectation or pre-coordination. The clearance was asked for, as a courtesy from ATC, and wasn’t received.

Being a jerk on the radio doesn’t change the fact that no clearance was received, and the pilot violated Class B.
 

Astro14

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From the AIM:

Flight Procedures.

Flights. Aircraft within Class B airspace are required to operate in accordance with current IFR procedures. A clearance for a visual approach to a primary airport is not authorization for turbine- powered airplanes to operate below the designated floors of the Class B airspace.

VFR Flights.
Arriving aircraft must obtain an ATC clearance prior to entering Class B airspace and must contact ATC on the appropriate frequency, and in relation to geographical fixes shown on local charts. Although a pilot may be operating beneath the floor of the Class B airspace on initial contact, communications with ATC should be established in relation to the points indicated for spacing and sequencing purposes.

Departing aircraft require a clearance to depart Class B airspace and should advise the clearance delivery position of their intended altitude and route of flight. ATC will normally advise VFR aircraft when leaving the geographical limits of the Class B airspace. Radar service is not automatically terminated with this advisory unless specifically stated by the controller.

Aircraft not landing or departing the primary airport may obtain an ATC clearance to transit the Class B airspace when traffic conditions permit and provided the requirements of 14 CFR Section 91.131 are met. Such VFR aircraft are encouraged, to the extent possible, to operate at altitudes above or below the Class B airspace or transit through established VFR corridors. Pilots operating in VFR corridors are urged to use frequency 122.750 MHz for the exchange of aircraft position information.

ATC Clearances and Separation. An ATC clearance is required to enter and operate within Class B airspace. VFR pilots are provided sequencing and separation from other aircraft while operating within Class B airspace.
 

Astro14

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Blundering into class B without a clearance is very likely to cause a loss of separation. I had to deviate from assigned altitude a few days ago near Newark because of a TCAS alert in VFR traffic.

That’s a big deal for ATC, because that loss of separation is recorded by ATC, and the controller is at fault. Controllers get disciplined and fined for loss of separation when it is their fault. Loss of separation outs airplanes at risk of mid-air collision. This is a big, big deal for ATC. ATCs primary job is to keep airplanes at a safe distance to avoid mid air collisions.

Now, in my case, the controller was talking to the VFR traffic, and called the traffic for me. The VFR traffic didn’t see me (a 757 isn’t small, but the VFR guy was looking down). I had the traffic in sight (slightly above me) so the loss of IFR separation was OK, in my estimation, since I could assure the controller we were clear of traffic. The TCAS squawking loudly in the background as we made the radio call was confirmation that we were close, but there was no danger.

So, this VFR pilot, in the video posted at the beginning of the thread, created a potential loss of separation by flying into Class B without clearance. If a loss had occurred, the VFR pilot would be 100% at fault. Not the controller.

Controllers issue clearance into Class B as a courtesy. If they’re too busy to issue the clearance, you must stay out. An airplane that isn’t under positive control is a hazard.

Worth reading through ATC and pilot responsibilities in the AIM...
 
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I don’t believe the controller bears any responsibility.

Sure, they get busy and miss things, but if a pilot needs a clearance, and the controller forgets, that pilot does not have a clearance. Period.

Class B requires clearance.

If the pilot had filed IFR to or through that Class B, then, in the event of lost communications, the pilot could reasonably expect clearance and proceed into or through based on the last assigned clearance.

But this was a VFR flight with no expectation or pre-coordination. The clearance was asked for, as a courtesy from ATC, and wasn’t received.

Being a jerk on the radio doesn’t change the fact that no clearance was received, and the pilot violated Class B.

I agree with all counts. . . I'm just pointing out the human factors involved in the incident. If we lived in a black / white world, that pilot would be violated without question or compromise--the question is, should he be?

VFR traffic in Class B, rightfully takes a back seat to IFR traffic, but the controller issuing a squawk and tagging a VFR aircraft several miles outside the airspace implies that a Bravo clearance will be forthcoming prior to arriving at the airspace boundary, and the pilot likely had that expectation--I would have made that assumption too.

The fact that the pilot overlooked the "bravo clearance" was likely a result of his increased workload and cockpit distractions during a normally busy phase of flight. If the controller was too busy to deal with the VFR aircraft, she would have declined the initial call-up and told him to remain clear of Bravo. . . she didn't do that. The controller technically did nothing wrong, but she did set the table for this incident to occur.

Mistakes were made. . . license-suspending, career-ending mistakes? I don't think it rises to that level of enforcement.
 
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Just curious, let's say mistakes were made and the pilot was now within "unauthorized" airspace ... His next instruction was to leave the airspace and he should have followed up with that instruction/order but he instead doubled down and said No.

The most logical thing would have been to reset and forget about how they got there and focus on how to "safely" move forward. No?
 

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I’m no lawyer, so the “right” or “wrong” in a legal sense is a bit out of my expertise. And this guy needs a lawyer.

But the double-down “NO” was a huge mistake.

A calm, “unable, please provide assigned heading and altitude” would be the best way to handle this once he found himself in the wrong and without a clearance.

The clearance is like permission to enter private property, like entering someone’s house. You ask to enter, but get no reply.

So, you just walk in.

Then you’re asked to leave by the owner.

You say “NO”. “I asked to come in here!”

How you doin’ so far? Pretty close to arrest, I would say.

Now, if you had already received an invitation into the house (filed an IFR flight plan into the Class B) and couldn’t confirm, then your entry into the house was based on reasonable expectation.

How about this: you walked in without an invitation and the homeowner asks you to leave, and then you say, “I’m so sorry, I thought it was OK, can you accommodate me?” That’s a whole lot different approach than the confrontational “NO”. Might not get arrested, might just chalk it up to misunderstanding.

Totally different story.

If I were the FAA in this particular pilot’s case, the discussion would start with a license suspension and $10,000 fine. The negotiation proceeds from there.
 
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I’m no lawyer, so the “right” or “wrong” in a legal sense is a bit out of my expertise. And this guy needs a lawyer.

But the double-down “NO” was a huge mistake.

A calm, “unable, please provide assigned heading and altitude” would be the best way to handle this once he found himself in the wrong and without a clearance.

The clearance is like permission to enter private property, like entering someone’s house. You ask to enter, but get no reply.

So, you just walk in.

Then you’re asked to leave by the owner.

You say “NO”. “I asked to come in here!”

How you doin’ so far? Pretty close to arrest, I would say.

Now, if you had already received an invitation into the house (filed an IFR flight plan into the Class B) and couldn’t confirm, then your entry into the house was based on reasonable expectation.

How about this: you walked in without an invitation and the homeowner asks you to leave, and then you say, “I’m so sorry, I thought it was OK, can you accommodate me?” That’s a whole lot different approach than the confrontational “NO”. Might not get arrested, might just chalk it up to misunderstanding.

Totally different story.

If I were the FAA in this particular pilot’s case, the discussion would start with a license suspension and $10,000 fine. The negotiation proceeds from th

Just curious, let's say mistakes were made and the pilot was now within "unauthorized" airspace ... His next instruction was to leave the airspace and he should have followed up with that instruction/order but he instead doubled down and said No.

The most logical thing would have been to reset and forget about how they got there and focus on how to "safely" move forward. No?

OilUzer. . . my point(s) in this whole discussion is that it's not as clear-cut as it would appear. There's a lot about the scenario we don't know, so we can only go by the info that's been presented at this point. I know from experience that controllers can drop the ball. . . just like pilots do. It's just a hunch, but I'm guessing that when the controller (holy crap!) realized that the Cessna was already within her sector, she had to make a "deal" out of that or risk getting called on the carpet for not issuing the clearance in time. For his part, the pilot should have known he didn't have the clearance and remain clear of the airspace. There's no evidence that his airspace incursion was intentional. . .and there's no evidence that the controller intentionally "set up" the pilot to violate FARs. . . . "stuff" happens. Hopefully both parties involved learn from the incident.

As for Astro's "license suspension and $10,0000 fine. . . it could be appropriate, if the pilot has prior violations or other prior negative interactions with the feds. For a violation that didn't result in any damages or injury?. . . I think that would be overkill.

I've been in law enforcement my entire adult life. . . . there's a time to use "the hammer" and then times that it doesn't make sense. Based on what I know about this incident, I probably wouldn't get the hammer out, at least not until I heard the whole story from both sides. If a goal of the FAA is aviation safety, you have to ask yourself if that goal is being served by hammering the pilot solely without considering the actions of the controller. That's just my two cents. P.S.. . .I interact with controllers in Class B airspace practically every time I fly. . . for the most part, they are consummate professionals. . .but yet they are human.

This is a great discussion to have. Although it may seem that Astro and I are on different pages here, I believe our opinions stem from our varied past experiences--he with the military / airlines (very structured) and me with general aviation / law enforcement (the wild west). I agree with him on the facts, as we know them.
 

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Robster, I appreciate your legal and general aviation experience. I agree that we are pretty close on our reaction to this incident.

I would not say that my military background encourages me to be rigid and rule following. On the contrary, in my day, fighter pilots knew the rules, and spent their whole career breaking them. I was routinely over 600 KTS in the break at Oceana. That’s just a bit above the FAA speed limit of 250 below 10,000... Knew I was breaking a rule, also knew I wouldn’t get called on it.

The day that I flew a visual low approach to runway 29 at EWR in an F-14, I followed every single rule about airspeed, bank angle, etc. while talking to tower. It was their idea, so I was cleared into their Class B. There was no limit on thrust setting, however, so as I flew back out to “The Lady”, I used full AB. Everything I did followed the rules to the letter. Though, someone on the ground, and later, my Commanding Officer, might have disagreed.

You’re absolutely right to say that airlines are very rigid in adherence to the rules and procedures. It’s a necessity of the profession, in order to get the best performance out of a cockpit team that met only 45 minutes prior.

The $10,000 and suspension of license is the standard FAA fine for airline pilots when the Feds decide to take action. It sounds draconian, and it is, but it’s no different than getting a $50 ticket from your local cop. That’s the standard, then it’s up to the pilot (and his lawyer, and Union) to negotiate it down.

This pilot messed up. It may have stemmed from a personal expectation of clearance via assignment of squawk. But that personal expectation of clearance is most certainly NOT a clearance, and it is not an “expect” in the sense of subsequent clearance. “Expect” is used often. “Cleared the Newark 4 departure, maintain 2,500, expect flight level 350 10 minutes after departure” is an expect given in the event of lost communication.

That’s not the kind of “expect” that this pilot had been given.

But it’s the pilot’s reaction in this event that would earn him the big hammer from the FAA in my opinion. If there is a misunderstanding with air traffic control, a polite request/reminder, or query, on the radio will smooth things over.

Keying the mic and venting your frustration while criticizing air traffic control and yelling at them, is asking for a violation to be issued.

Controllers make mistakes. It happens. A polite prod will get you what you need. Yelling at them most certainly won’t.

I’ve had my disagreements with ATC. A polite “we will be unable” or “please say again” gets the relationship back to where it needs to be without being a jerk (as this pilot was) or getting violated (as this pilot deserved).
 
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