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Old 12-21-2016, 03:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default ATC Error Sends EVA 777 toward mountains and other aircraft

ABC7 exclusive: Error sends jet from LAX into flight path of other plane | abc7.com

By Rob Hayes
Monday, December 19, 2016 09:07PM
ALTADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- An air traffic controller error sent a jet from LAX into the flight path of another plane and flying low over the mountains above the San Gabriel Valley, Eyewitness News has exclusively learned.

As a big rainstorm pounded Southern California early Friday, an EVA Air Boeing 777 that left LAX around 1:20 a.m. heading to Taipei was given an incorrect instruction by a controller based in San Diego to turn left instead of right.

That sent the airliner toward the mountains above Altadena, as well as toward the flight path of an Air Canada plane that had just taken off.

Audio traffic indicates the same controller realizing the problem and telling the airliner to "Stop your climb" and several times to head southbound.

"EVA 015 Heavy, what are you doing? Turn southbound now, southbound now. Stop your climb," the frustrated controller says after the plane apparently does not heed her initial instruction.

Several times the controller tells the pilot to head south. More than a minute later, she is still trying to get him to change direction.

The EVA crew eventually pulled up and got onto the right flight path.

The ordeal played out in the skies above the San Gabriel Valley in the rainstorm while countless people slept below.

But some residents say they were startled late at night by the ominous sound of a large jet that seemed to be flying too close to the ground. They said they don't get low-flying planes in their area because of the nearby mountains.

"It sounds like it's getting lower and lower and really loud, really big," said Altadena resident Kate Sullivan. "Like a really big fricking jet is going right over the house really slowly."

Her main concern is Mt. Wilson nearby, which rises 5,700 feet above the ground.

"We never have jets coming in, in this neighborhood, because we have Mt. Wilson right here. The mountains are right here!"

The FAA has launched an investigation.

Federal regulations require planes to be at least three miles away from another object laterally or 2,000 feet above mountains. FAA officials said the EVA never lost the required distance to the other jetliner to be in danger of a plane-to-plane collision, but the agency is investigating whether it did come too close to the mountains.
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Old 12-21-2016, 08:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: ATC Error Sends EVA 777 toward mountains and other aircraft

I'll be interested to read the report on this one, and to see detailed graphics of the flight path. Thank goodness everything was straightened out in time.
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Old 12-21-2016, 11:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: ATC Error Sends EVA 777 toward mountains and other aircraft

Significant investigation to follow after this incident. They were VERY fortunate with the way it ended.
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Old 12-21-2016, 03:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: ATC Error Sends EVA 777 toward mountains and other aircraft

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They were VERY fortunate with the way it ended.
I hope not. It would mean safety margin is almost nil.
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Old 12-21-2016, 04:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: ATC Error Sends EVA 777 toward mountains and other aircraft

fyi one would hope that TCAS and EGPWS would have helped if needed - Oy: You Have To Hear This Audio Between ATC & EVA Air Pilots - One Mile at a Time

Last edited by YOWguy; 12-21-2016 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 12-21-2016, 04:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It sounds like there will be faults by both sides. There are also a lot of unknowns. Regardless, there will be no shortage of people grabbing their pitch forks who are neither controllers or pilots.
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Old 12-22-2016, 02:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: ATC Error Sends EVA 777 toward mountains and other aircraft

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Originally Posted by arctic9048 View Post
It sounds like there will be faults by both sides. There are also a lot of unknowns. Regardless, there will be no shortage of people grabbing their pitch forks who are neither controllers or pilots.
I just need to point out that the bold part in the quote is a logical fallacy.
You don't need to be a controller or a pilot to see that a small mistake like this could have had tragic consequences.
With that train of thought, no one can comment or request action if a doctor makes a mistake and people die "because you are not a doctor" or if a police man shoots an unarmed person "because you are not a policeman".

It only takes someone with a bit of common sense to foresee that the consequences could have been tragic.

Undoubtedly, there will be people who have little 'insight' into aviation safety management and what procedures are updated on a continual basis to enhance aviation safety (refer to ICAO Annex 19 for instance).
No need to grab pitch-forks, but one must also not underplay the real consequences which could have happened.

As CFIT is still a real problem and this could have been an example of such, the relevant authorities will do a comrephensive investigation of what how this incident transpired and what steps needs to be taken to prevent or mitigate a re-occurance of a similar event in future.

This is thus a good opportunity for all to learn something.

As you state, there was faults made by all parties involved. The controller involved is just a small part in the incident. The pilots should have queried the clearance if their situational awareness module in their head were in the 'on' position.

Identifying those faults and putting in place recommendations is what is now important.

I don't know if TCAS or EGPWS were triggered. Fortunately they are also available... because we learned from past tragedies and developed these systems.

With advances in computing power and communications, I foresee a future where flight track planning and clearances is automated between controllers and pilots without spoken words.
Controllers will simply input the desired flight path on their screens and it will show up on the flight management computers of the pilots who would then have to acknoledge the clearance - all without an exchange of words.

The above will eliminate the difficulties experienced in understanding others with a different accent. It will eliminate the problems associated with 'what was intended and what was actually communicated'.
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Old 12-22-2016, 09:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by arctic9048 View Post
It sounds like there will be faults by both sides. There are also a lot of unknowns. Regardless, there will be no shortage of people grabbing their pitch forks who are neither controllers or pilots.
I just need to point out that the bold part in the quote is a logical fallacy.
You don't need to be a controller or a pilot to see that a small mistake like this could have had tragic consequences.
With that train of thought, no one can comment or request action if a doctor makes a mistake and people die "because you are not a doctor" or if a police man shoots an unarmed person "because you are not a policeman".

It only takes someone with a bit of common sense to foresee that the consequences could have been tragic.

Undoubtedly, there will be people who have little 'insight' into aviation safety management and what procedures are updated on a continual basis to enhance aviation safety (refer to ICAO Annex 19 for instance).
No need to grab pitch-forks, but one must also not underplay the real consequences which could have happened.
You're right. It was a poor choice of words but rather I should have said what you said, those with little insight. It really rubs me the wrong way when you read an article that clearly has plenty of unknowns and then you get to the end and see the author has absolutely no background and instead is an "avid points collector" and blogger. Regardless, in that situation, separation is already lost and at that point, the only thing you're trying to do is avoid a collision no matter how many further regulations are going to be violated.

One of the unknowns would be what the MIA was when the incorrect turn was noticed. What if the MIA is 7000, the EVA is at 5500 and there is traffic at 7000. That would be, to put it bluntly, a real ****** up situation with absolutely horrible options. To me, with plenty of time to think about it, the safest thing would probably end up climbing the EVA and tell the guy at 7000 to turn 90 degrees immediately and toss he flight attendant in the back who are still standing. Maybe that would be the safest at that point and maybe it wouldn't be but an avid points collector certain wouldn't have any valuable insight.

The other thing is, sometimes non-standard phraseology works and is allowed if standard phraseology is unsuccessful. Personally, with merging targets, I rarely call traffic and tell the other aircraft the altitude unless they're still climbing/descending and even more rarely with a foreign carrier. Instead, I'll say "thousand feet below/above" as it leads to less confusion. I've had a foreign carrier mistake a traffic call for a clearance. "Traffic at FL330" and next thing you hear is "Roger, descending to FL330."

I don't think any less of a foreign carrier but rather because there is an obvious language barrier. And in the above situation, had I not caught the error then yeah, it would have been a hearback/readback and I'm guessing I would end up with the deal. With that being said, there needs to be more shared responsibility. If the controller said right and he said left instead then yeah...she screwed up but so did he.

Last edited by arctic9048; 12-22-2016 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 12-22-2016, 06:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: ATC Error Sends EVA 777 toward mountains and other aircraft

Arctic, it sounds like you're maybe an ATC? That's pretty cool. And in my situation, reading this article just reaffirmed that I am not cut out to ever be in ATC. So I don't judge, but it is something to be concerned about.

Also we'll have to wait for more information but from what I read, it sounds like the bigger problem was the mountains, not the traffic. TCAS can help prevent an aircraft collision but that won't stop a plane from hitting a mountain in the rain at night.
Does anyone know... do airliners have terrain alarms? Does the GPS map tie in with the altimeter to warn of terrain? I know the radio altimeter would tell them, but that would be too late.
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Old 12-22-2016, 08:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Patman252 View Post
Arctic, it sounds like you're maybe an ATC? That's pretty cool. And in my situation, reading this article just reaffirmed that I am not cut out to ever be in ATC. So I don't judge, but it is something to be concerned about.

Also we'll have to wait for more information but from what I read, it sounds like the bigger problem was the mountains, not the traffic. TCAS can help prevent an aircraft collision but that won't stop a plane from hitting a mountain in the rain at night.
Does anyone know... do airliners have terrain alarms? Does the GPS map tie in with the altimeter to warn of terrain? I know the radio altimeter would tell them, but that would be too late.
I am. And aircraft do have terrain avoidance but I'm not a pilot and I'm not familiar with the different versions but I would imagine it's safe to assume a 777 is advanced.

With that being said, regardless if the pilot took the wrong turn on his own or the controller issued the wrong turn, you're in a terrible situation. There are no good situations if a plane is both below the MIA (Minimum IFR altitude) and beneath traffic. I would rather issue an unsafe altitude as long as I knew it wouldn't be a collision before I issued a turn to an aircraft below the MIA. The MIA allows for 1000 feet above the nearest terrain or obstruction. I have absolutely no idea what a turn would do below the MIA but I would obviously know what I was doing if I gave a climb clearance even if it brought the aircraft dangerously close to another aircraft. No matter what you do...you're already in a cruddy situation and someone is going to have paperwork but the only thing that matters at that point is making sure no one actually dies.
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Old 12-22-2016, 08:09 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: ATC Error Sends EVA 777 toward mountains and other aircraft

Here is a good explanation - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground...warning_system
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Does anyone know... do airliners have terrain alarms? Does the GPS map tie in with the altimeter to warn of terrain? I know the radio altimeter would tell them, but that would be too late.
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