The Dallas Morning News has a shocking account of an American Airlines Pilot’s fuel emergency being ignored by air traffic control.
When a pilot declares an emergency, every effort should be made to give priority to the emergency. The pilot has final say in any decision, and can chose to refuse an ATC instruction if he or she feels its not the right choice. Failure to ignore bad ATC instructions can lead to tragedy, like Avianca Flight 52.
The most amazing part of this story is the fact that the supervisor chose to ignore the emergency. Supervisors are there to make sure things like ignoring emergencies do not happen.
Air traffic controllers at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport recently were retrained after an American Airlines pilot declared an emergency but was told he couldn’t land on the runway he requested.
The crew on the Aug. 31 flight between Tulsa and D/FW declared a low-fuel emergency and asked to land against the flow of traffic.
“We’re not sure if it’s a fuel leak or what, but we need to get on the ground right away, please,” the captain of the aircraft is heard saying on audiotapes obtained by WFAA-TV (Channel 8).
A controller supervisor is then heard to say that type of landing would delay other flights. The controller went on to suggest that the pilot land on a different runway or possibly go into Dallas Love Field.
Mike Conely, representative of Local D10 at D/FW for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said that controllers weren’t happy either when they heard the tapes.
“A lot of the controllers were upset. They heard the tape between the controller and the supervisor. What really transpired here is the supervisor made a bad decision,” Mr. Conely said.