Every time I write one of these “near miss” posts, I get a bucketload of email from pilots and controllers who remind me I don’t know what I’m talking about and the media is exaggerating the problem, but it’s undeniable that the National Transportation Safety Boad — which does seem to know a thing or two — is reporting more “near misses” this year involving airliners than I’ve ever seen.
Here’s today’s release, which occurred last Friday in Anchorage and involved US Airways Flight 140 from Phoenix (A319) and a cargo jet (B747):
According to the TCAS (collision avoidance system) report from the A319 crew, that aircraft was approaching ANC when, because of the effects of tailwinds on the aircraft’s approach path, the crew initiated a missed approach and requested new instructions from air traffic control. The tower controller instructed the A319 to turn right heading 300 and report the departing B747 in sight.
After the A319 crew reported the B747 in sight, the controller instructed the A319 to maintain visual separation from the B747, climb to 3000 feet, and turn right heading 320. The A319 crew refused the right turn because the turn would have put their flight in direct conflict with the B747. The A319 crew then received a resolution advisory
to “monitor vertical speed” and the crew complied with the descent command. During the descent, the A319 crew lost sight of the B747. At about 1700 feet above ground level,
the A319 crew received a “clear of conflict” aural command.
One supposes one of the first questions will be why the controller directed one airliner to a heading that put it on a course with the other one.