Aviation In Canada

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Communication in Abnormal Situations

Recently, a regional airline that flies in the Moncton FIR was flying from one airport to another. Upon reaching destination, the regional turboprop cancelled IFR and circled the destination airport for a short period, telling the FSS there that they 'were checking something'. Eventually, they decided to head back to their point of departure. When they called for and received their IFR clearance back, I asked if they needed any assistance, and was told, "everything's fine". They continued to destination and while on about a 7 mile final, radioed to the tower that they had an unsafe gear indication and were requesting the fire trucks to stand by for their landing.

Think about this for a minute. Why would the pilots withold such information for so long? What they ended up doing is scrambling the crash crews at the last minute, rather than giving them a heads up. Most pilots I've experienced such a problem with, especially given that the flying time between the original destination and their final destination was 30 minutes, would have communicated the situation, allowing the crews a decent time to prepare for their arrival. Think about it: Would you like to have the boys ready to help, or starting from zero and accelerating to 60 with no notice whatsoever? And why keep this secret from ATC? I know we can't push a button and fix his gear problem, but we have direct lines to other resources which may be able to help. I don't understand. Perhaps a pilot reading this can offer some suggestions as to why this pilot would have held off for so long about his situation...?