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Friday, February 01, 2008

P-56 'Near' Miss and How It could have Been Worse

Stop sweating, it wasn't that close but it could have been. The events are the best of my recollection.

We were coming out of DCA, and of course P-56 is the big topic. So we brief the heck out of it. We're sitting on the approach end waiting to take off on runway 01.

I'm looking at my VOR needles and it's saying the radial to turn and intercept is to the right. The 328 radial IIRC.

Of course, we know we're turning left, staying to the left side of the river, it's VFR weather, etc. So I'm thinking, 'Why does this show a turn to the right to intercept?'

I look at the plate and guess where the navaid is?

Yup, right at the departure end on the right side. So that's when the needle swaps over to the left side, during the climbout.

Now, there's tons of things telling you not to turn right, even the needle after takeoff, but I can see where it might cause someone to delay the turn a little, thinking they are still to the left of the needle. But it won't be there as soon as it matters, and with a west wind, well, you're maybe late in the turn.

Still, it's kinda hard to not do the right thing if you are paying attention to all the clues and doing what you're supposed to do. I'll never say never though.

Here's what REALLY made it almost a near miss!

We take off, and I'm flying, and ATC tells us to turn right, direct SWANN (I can't remember, we're going to Newark). I tell the captain, 'Yeah right, I don't like that idea, we're too close to P-56'. So I stay on the left side of the river and I'm still in the process of settling down on the radial, that's how shortly after takeoff this is. It's night, but good weather. I can see the river. (P-56 is 1.5 miles from the runway, not a whole lot of time at 170+ knots or somewhere in that neighborhood.)

So we agree, and he calls ATC after waiting for an opening and ATC tries to tell him that turn wasn't for us! Well, funny, because he heard it that way too. Turns out there is a VERY similar callsign on frequency that the turn is for. Like 1156 and there's an 1165 similar; i.e. close.


So it's all sorted and fine, but it makes you think how on on another day, things could go really wrong. ATC making a little mistake won't help either. This is all little stuff but as usual in aviation, it's the chain of events. We broke the chain on the ground before takeoff with a good brief.

I told the captain I'd rather violate a turning instruction than almost certainly violate P-56 and get to be someone's missile lock practice for the day, lose my license for a while, etc etc.

Be careful out there guys and gals!


Anonymous said...

Your Captain sounds like a "tool". Bet it was the worst 4-day ever!

PS F/O Report sent. ;)

Rob said...

Hey, yeah, some yahoo from Alabama.

Family in the shrimpin' bidness.

Thanks for the FO ER! I checked and I only have ONE besides that with 7 months here. Gotta get busy.

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