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Old 10-03-2018, 08:31 PM   #21
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That's good to hear. Glad to hear the airport was on alert and took safety into account.
Sydney Airport, in a densely populated area, closes from 11pm to 6am. Calling a fuel shortage to request early landing is not uncommon, but a Mayday is something else. Air Traffic are less accommodating for landings after 11pm. Many overnight flights arrive asap after 6am.
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:40 PM   #22
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The UA flight landed with 1hr + 35 mins of fuel. A communication snafu caused the emergency.
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:49 PM   #23
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Surprising to hear a Mayday call from an aircraft was a "communication snafu".
Especially when the aircraft persisted with it in communication with Traffic Control. Surely it wasn`t being used as a way to open a closed airport for early arrival?
Here`s one report,including the communications between pilot and ground. There was no lack of opportunity to withdraw the Mayday call.
Sydney Airport triggers 'full emergency response' after United Airlines mayday call - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
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Old 10-08-2018, 06:08 PM   #24
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There appears to be a difference between Australian and US and possibly ICAO procedures which triggered this event.

Without getting too technical, there are different levels of fuel urgency. In the US and most other parts of the Northern hemisphere there is a level of urgency best described as "If you screw us around a lot more you WILL have a fuel emergency on your hands" This is NOT an emergency, nor does it REQUIRE any expedited handling. It's a courtesy call that the controllers can try and smooth you in, or there's paperwork for them. Apparently the Aussies don't see it that way. Stand in line and wait your turn or you ARE an emergency. The UAL flight never declared an emergency, they demanded a certain runway instead of the inevitable delay to go to the one the Aussies wanted them on. It appears the Aussies forced the mayday on them.

Mind you, most international flights arriving Sydney have been airborne a LONG time, there's a LOT of them and fuel plans are, well, fuel plans. Winds are winds and don't always obey the forecasts. As mariners you can appreciate that. Fuel getting close and terminal delays requiring diverts to alternates is not an unusual occurrence and I suspect they get "requests" a lot, some carriers being more nervous than others. But it's a VERY busy airport so they don't need this disruption all the time.

I suspect this is a hard ball game.

(Disclaimer, although I am in the business, this part of the world is not my turf).
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Old 10-08-2018, 09:32 PM   #25
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True, Sydney is at the end of some very long flights.I`ve heard of incoming flights declaring a fuel shortage,and believe they are well accommodated. But a Mayday is different,with major ramifications.
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:54 PM   #26
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True, Sydney is at the end of some very long flights.I`ve heard of incoming flights declaring a fuel shortage,and believe they are well accommodated. But a Mayday is different,with major ramifications.
How does declaring an emergency or Mayday create major ramifications?

First there is no official ďfuel shortageĒ term, you may be referring to ďminimum fuelĒ, which implies that the aircraft has sufficient fuel to land with required reserves but any change or extend vectors would cause them to declare an emergency, Mayday Fuel Emergency.

Though Iím retired, I have declared an emergency on two different occasions with the only ramifications I had to deal with was confirming verbally I was ok to the airport fire chief or police. Neither were fuel related. The FAA never needed paper work, just a quick phone call from them to confirm what happened. If there would have been an accident then that would have ramifications requiring paperwork, but only if you survived.

ATC or USCG services never get upset when they are alerted to a situation. As a captain itís your responsibility to utilize all resources availability, not declaring an emergency until your engine fails is to late. Same applies if your boat rudder shaft hits something and for awhile your bilge pumps can handle the water intrusion but after two hours stops working. Now your boat is sinking. You may only have a few minutes but hopefully you notified the USCG back when things werenít an sinking ship emergency, but to notify them of a potential problem or to request a auxiliary pump, either way they would be in a better position to assist if things go bad. They would have requested regular updates as to your situation and would be in position to activate a search and rescue.

So, what would be the ramifications of running out of fuel and crashing offshore or off airport with 194 bodies onboard without declaring an emergency? Should they have waited until both engines flamed out first? What would be the point then?
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:57 PM   #27
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Old 10-09-2018, 09:26 PM   #28
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So to tie in to that, it appears "Min fuel" does not impress down under. So they got it their way. And you're right, no skin off my back. There is some company paperwork but it's on line and when you put your number in 3/4 of the form, all but the narrative, populates. 10 minutes tops.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:10 AM   #29
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Nightflyer, I don't know who you flew for and not sure you were so insulated by the "airline". I am an airline captain now. If I declared an emergencey, there is paperwork. I would end up filing two different reports(FSAP/ASAP would be one of them). Now the company would file reports on my behalf with the FAA and NTSB based on my report. So there may have been more paperwork filed on your behalf than you realize if you worked for a large carrier. And based on your name, likely Fedex or UPS. I would also get a call from the chief pilot's office. But you are mostly correct...in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.
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Old 10-11-2018, 12:59 AM   #30
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. But you are mostly correct...in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.
As a layman, I1d have thought that calling Mayday, as I understand it the ultimate distress call, would be "a big deal". Perhaps I should read it another way, and it`s just the aftermath,that is not "a big deal".
Contrast a current inquiry into a Saab340 passenger plane which had a propeller detach mid flight from one of its 2 engines as the crew were in the process of closing the engine down due to severe vibration caused by the prop coming loose. The crew called a PAN PAN and continued on route 100km to Sydney,landing successfully. On landing it was found the departing propeller had not caused any aircraft damage in the process.
The crew have been greatly praised,and as far as I`m aware,not criticized for their choice of distress call.
I hope not, but one day I might have to consider an emergency call from my boat. The discussion is interesting as to what call, if I decided to make one, would be made.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:36 PM   #31
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As a layman, I1d have thought that calling Mayday, as I understand it the ultimate distress call, would be "a big deal". Perhaps I should read it another way, and it`s just the aftermath,that is not "a big deal".
Contrast a current inquiry into a Saab340 passenger plane which had a propeller detach mid flight from one of its 2 engines as the crew were in the process of closing the engine down due to severe vibration caused by the prop coming loose. The crew called a PAN PAN and continued on route 100km to Sydney,landing successfully. On landing it was found the departing propeller had not caused any aircraft damage in the process.
The crew have been greatly praised,and as far as I`m aware,not criticized for their choice of distress call.
I hope not, but one day I might have to consider an emergency call from my boat. The discussion is interesting as to what call, if I decided to make one, would be made.
You are getting into the semantics and adding a little emotion. Yes MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY of an airplane on fire unable to hold altitude is a big deal. But a controller forcing your hand into an emergency fuel situation is less of a deal...which is what it sounds like happened here. And a propellor departing a SF340 would absolutely positively be considered an EMERGENCY!!!! Now while declaring an emergency in an airplane that is still in controlled flight is not necessarily the same is yelling out MAYDAY three times....but it means the same thing.

How would it go in the states in this same SF340 situation???....:

"(ATC) Center, this is TWA 1234 we have lost a propeller on one engine. We have shut that engine down. We are declaring an emergency."

Notice the word MAYDAY is never spoken. MAYDAY or PAN PAN is used to get the attention of the provider on that frequency. So if you are already talking to them, it most likely will not be necessary. Now if you are flying along in a single engine airplane and the engine quits and you are not talking to anyone, then MAYDAY is necessary to get the attention of whoever is the "owner" of that frequency in hopes of getting some assistance or at least no where to go looking for you after you crash.

A PAN PAN can still be an emergency. I think that is where the semantics comes in...and how the article was written or reported. ANd also the slang/semantics as it relates to Australia. I seriously doubt this aircraft ever said the word MAYDAY...but the Aussie controllers labelled it as a "MAYDAY". In the US we would have just called it an emergency aircraft. And I don't think we would have shut down the city for it either but I do not know that for sure.

PS....in our checklists, the serious malfunctions will almost always say "Land at the nearest SUITABLE airport.". I put "suitable" in bold because it is up for interpretation. But if your SF340 pilots passed over a suitable airport and "continued on" to SYD, they could get into a heap of trouble. At the very least they would be asked to explain the basis of their decision. But 100km is not that far in an airplane. A good example as it relates to my operation:

If I were coming in from the west coast into Houston and lost an engine 100 miles west of Austin, if I overflew Austin and continued to Houston, I am willing to bet I would be asked to explain that decision. And if I didn't have a good explanation, then the FAA could escalate it to enforcement action.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:18 PM   #32
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You are getting into the semantics and adding a little emotion. Yes MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY of an airplane on fire unable to hold altitude is a big deal. But a controller forcing your hand into an emergency fuel situation is less of a deal...which is what it sounds like happened here. And a propellor departing a SF340 would absolutely positively be considered an EMERGENCY!!!! Now while declaring an emergency in an airplane that is still in controlled flight is not necessarily the same is yelling out MAYDAY three times....but it means the same thing.

How would it go in the states in this same SF340 situation???....:

"(ATC) Center, this is TWA 1234 we have lost a propeller on one engine. We have shut that engine down. We are declaring an emergency."

Notice the word MAYDAY is never spoken. MAYDAY or PAN PAN is used to get the attention of the provider on that frequency. So if you are already talking to them, it most likely will not be necessary. Now if you are flying along in a single engine airplane and the engine quits and you are not talking to anyone, then MAYDAY is necessary to get the attention of whoever is the "owner" of that frequency in hopes of getting some assistance or at least no where to go looking for you after you crash.

A PAN PAN can still be an emergency. I think that is where the semantics comes in...and how the article was written or reported. ANd also the slang/semantics as it relates to Australia. I seriously doubt this aircraft ever said the word MAYDAY...but the Aussie controllers labelled it as a "MAYDAY". In the US we would have just called it an emergency aircraft. And I don't think we would have shut down the city for it either but I do not know that for sure.

PS....in our checklists, the serious malfunctions will almost always say "Land at the nearest SUITABLE airport.". I put "suitable" in bold because it is up for interpretation. But if your SF340 pilots passed over a suitable airport and "continued on" to SYD, they could get into a heap of trouble. At the very least they would be asked to explain the basis of their decision. But 100km is not that far in an airplane. A good example as it relates to my operation:

If I were coming in from the west coast into Houston and lost an engine 100 miles west of Austin, if I overflew Austin and continued to Houston, I am willing to bet I would be asked to explain that decision. And if I didn't have a good explanation, then the FAA could escalate it to enforcement action.
Excellent post! As a former ATC and FAA pilot, I wouldn't change a word...although I might change the spelling of "propellor".

I twice declared an emergency as a pilot and never had to file any paperwork. It really wasn't a big deal as it was justified and precautionary in nature. Once was an unsafe landing gear indication that resulted in a dead stick landing (My Uncle and Godfather's favorite Cessna 210! ) and another was an engine failure on approach in a Lear 60, which is almost a non-event. Both ended with a happy ending.

As an Air Traffic Controller, I declared emergencies several times for small General Aviation pilots who were too overwhelmed to do it for themselves. Some were Min Fuel, some were landing gear, all were out of an abundance of caution.

In my experience, it's never a problem declaring an emergency on either side of the equation. The only negative possibility is NOT to declare if you think you need (or might soon need) the assistance. Out of an abundance of caution, I would always recommend alerting the authorities of a potential problem before it becomes a larger issue for you.
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:00 PM   #33
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Interesting posts, very informative, thank you.
Sydney Airport must deal successfully with aircraft in need of special accommodation. If not there would be more media reports of emergencies or worse still, aircraft falling out of the sky. That doesn`t happen, the system must work.
The complicating feature of Sydney Airport is location. Pacific Ocean one side,housing everywhere else, except for the massive Kurnell fuel storage and (? ex) refinery nearby. As a result, there is a curfew from 11pm-6am by virtue of the Sydney Airport Curfew Act 1995 (Federal Legislation). Exceptions exist for certain specified low noise aircraft. An over water approach is quieter for residents, but weather won`t always allow that.
I suspect there is sensitivity about potential to game the legislated curfew. Residents are only too aware of landings during curfew. The Airport should obey the law, just as it should grant exceptions for genuine need. Information of contravention reaching the public sector is rare, which I expect is why this event received publicity, but I`m aware that not long ago an airline was fined for landing after 11pm when refused permission and directed to divert.
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:44 AM   #34
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Curfews are not all that uncommon. There are some in the states...Orange County likely the most restrictive. I just flew in and out of Toronto...the same 2300-0600 curfew there. It is more common on other countries because we value our freedom a bit more over here.... And have the attitude of, if you don't like the noise, don't move next to the damn airport. Of course, Orange County is in the Socialist Republic of California so that is why it goes over there...
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Old 10-15-2018, 11:57 AM   #35
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I was asked about fuel efficiency by a fellow pilot just before I retired 6 years ago so I did a calculation using the Learjet 60 and my 34 Californian LRC numbers. Both came out to about 2.2 NM/USG...but the boat is a whole lot more fun when the engines are shut down.
I donít know Al. I think it depends on where you shut down the Learís engines. I bet itís a lot of fun to shut them down at about a thousand feet AGL. Thatíll pucker your butt.
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:05 PM   #36
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Curfews are not all that uncommon. There are some in the states...Orange County likely the most restrictive. I just flew in and out of Toronto...the same 2300-0600 curfew there. It is more common on other countries because we value our freedom a bit more over here.... And have the attitude of, if you don't like the noise, don't move next to the damn airport. Of course, Orange County is in the Socialist Republic of California so that is why it goes over there...
The surprise about the Sydney curfew is it comes not from airport rules, regulations, or anything easily changed, but by Act of Parliament which requires amending legislation for change.
Victoria State`s Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, out of town, runs 24hrs. Because of the State Govt in power, some call Melbourne "Moscow on the Yarra" (The Yarra is a muddy stream which runs through Melbourne, claimed to be a river, the Govt I`d best not say).
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:26 PM   #37
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Interesting posts, very informative, thank you.
Sydney Airport must deal successfully with aircraft in need of special accommodation. If not there would be more media reports of emergencies or worse still, aircraft falling out of the sky. That doesn`t happen, the system must work.
The complicating feature of Sydney Airport is location. Pacific Ocean one side,housing everywhere else, except for the massive Kurnell fuel storage and (? ex) refinery nearby. As a result, there is a curfew from 11pm-6am by virtue of the Sydney Airport Curfew Act 1995 (Federal Legislation). Exceptions exist for certain specified low noise aircraft. An over water approach is quieter for residents, but weather won`t always allow that.
I suspect there is sensitivity about potential to game the legislated curfew. Residents are only too aware of landings during curfew. The Airport should obey the law, just as it should grant exceptions for genuine need. Information of contravention reaching the public sector is rare, which I expect is why this event received publicity, but I`m aware that not long ago an airline was fined for landing after 11pm when refused permission and directed to divert.


Iím wondering here if there is a controller in the tower during the hours Sydney airport is under curfew? I would think not although the area center and approach controllers likely are working. So do they leave the runway and approach lights on?

I did note in reading the news release that the landing time for the aircraft in question was 0630. So I donít think he was trying to bust curfew. Likely just ensuring he didnít get stuck in an early morning traffic hold and needed to inform controllers he might need to jump the line in that case.
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Old 10-16-2018, 03:34 PM   #38
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San Diego Lindbergh Tower had (has?) a night curfew but manned the tower 24/7 for emergency and exempted aircraft such as law enforcement ops.

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I don’t know Al. I think it depends on where you shut down the Lear’s engines. I bet it’s a lot of fun to shut them down at about a thousand feet AGL. That’ll pucker your butt.
During my annual simulator sessions, I used to request a no-notice deadstick landing exercise to practice a no-engine landing from 3000 ft near an airport. That was long before Sully taught us that we could land on the water!

It's a challenge but I always made the airport.
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Old 10-16-2018, 05:27 PM   #39
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I think Sydney is staffed 24/7. Specified "quiet" aircraft can use it outside the 11pm-6am curfew so it has to be, and I think it would be anyway, for safety and emergency purposes, like air ambulances,and the Royal Flying Doctor Service(RFDS).
We are getting a second international/domestic Sydney airport about 80km west of Sydney, won`t be finished for some years yet. Supposed not to have a curfew, but local residents think otherwise.
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Old 10-16-2018, 11:06 PM   #40
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During my annual simulator sessions, I used to request a no-notice deadstick landing exercise to practice a no-engine landing from 3000 ft near an airport.
Did that once..... ANC from 6000 in a 737.....Worked out. Did you know you can slip one of those?
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