ATC role in the event of an incident

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ATC role in the event of an incident

Postby AndyToop » Mon Feb 11, 2008 1:39 pm

Hi Bob,

Back on some previous forum - i dont remember exactly which, someone pitched in with a thanks to ATC after the Heathrow 777 crash. Someone else tried to imply that ATC at Heathrow were bystanders, i unforunately used ironing to correct that misconception and was jumpet on my some crazy Norwegian that wasn't even Per (Irony Kjell if your lurking here :twisted: !)

Anyway - my question is, what can you tell us about what happens in the tower when the crash button is hit and how the role the guys in the tower play with regards the incident and the other traffic.



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Kjell Engkrog
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Re: ATC role in the event of an incident

Postby Kjell Engkrog » Mon Feb 11, 2008 7:05 pm

Oh, the ironing... :D

Yup, that was me. I`m sure Bob will forgive an old tower-dog chipping in, I have a couple of T-shirts in my closet with regards to this. I spent my plugged in days in single manned towers, so whenever anything happened it was down to me and myself to get the ball rolling. Here`s my recollection of one of them.....

"Tower, [callsign], we have an emergency situation, we have lost one engine" This from a transitting Beech 200 at 6 thousand feet.
- Chrash alarm, get the engines rolling.
- To the Beech, "say POB?"'
- call center, ask them to alert the rescue coordination center
- Fire engine on radio, what`s up?
- Explain to them
- Call hospital, get me some ambulances - need to explain to girl on switchboard what to do (When listening to myself on the tape the day after even I would need clarifications, made the mistake of assuming she knew what a "light twin with one out 3 p o b landing shortly" meant....)
- Beech requesting runway state and wind - winter, he was a transit, remember
- Get the dash ahead of beech on the ground
- clear fire engines onto runway and into position (no parallell taxiway, no siree)
- Advise the one behind to go someplace else, as I could wind up with a fouled runway (or worse)'
- Coordinate going to someplace else
- Phone from RCC requesting status? Tell them to "go to Hades, I`m busy!" (I wish), while talking to police on another phone
- Beech on final, requesting emergency services (Way ahead of ya there!)
- Number of cigarettes together with PIC afterwards (turned out I knew him well) - 3
- Number of swear words directed at journo who managed to finagle his way upstairs and starting shooting flashes at my face - countless.
- Number of steps his feet hit on the stairway going down again - few
- Number of minutes between first call and landing - 4.5
- Number of minutes of me not on phone/radio/intercom for the duration - less than 1 (according to the tape)
- being praised in writing for resolute behaviour - priceless.

Okay, that was a minor one in the grand scheme of things, but trust me I was busy. When the boss arrived (yes, he`s on the call list as well) he asked me how long it took from the crash alarm until they reported ready on the radio I answered two minutes, when listening to the tape with a stop watch the next day it turned out to be 22 seconds. Yup, time stood still for a while there.

Now, for the LHR debacle, there is a thread on the ATC forum at PPRuNe where one of the guys on duty at that TWR described some of the goings-on.

The norm would be having one handling the emergency, and the rest to take cue from him in getting the others out of the way. Supervisor to oversee or do all the calling, if not able to delegate to somebody else.

Actually there is one accident where I know the TWR crew were bystanders to the actual crash - Sioux City. But they had been busy, everything was ready when the DC10 crossed the airfield boundary. They were standing up and cheering, that soon stopped......

You look like I need a drink

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Re: ATC role in the event of an incident

Postby ATCBob » Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:30 am

Yes, like Kjell says!

For any unusual incident you are always expected to use "best judgement" because each situation can be unique, but for a major accident with evacuation and possible injuries there's standard and rehearsed emergency procedures with a long call list of people and offices to be notified such as airport manager, city hospitals, city disaster coordination, facility manager, airport security, etc which can take about a half hour to go through. If you're working alone you have to prioritize that with coordinating the activities on the airport grounds but in general the entire airport is shut down, approach control is notified, other aircraft on the field are told to hold position (evacuating passengers wander in all directions) and ARFF (airport rescue & firefighting) is set loose to go where they need.

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