Seems that an airline pilot with a fuel emergency was denied his requested runway because it was counter to the pattern in use...well, not the next time:
The Video Story link:
The Dallas Morning News Text:
Incident at D/FW spurs retraining
Controllers schooled on emergency procedure after pilot request denied
11:10 PM CST on Tuesday, February 20, 2007
By KATIE FAIRBANK / The Dallas Morning News email@example.com
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.
Ultimately, the captain accepted landing with the air traffic and put the jet down safely at D/FW.
"That is not normal," Denny Kelly, a retired captain from Braniff Airways who now works as an aviation consultant, said about the air traffic controller's decision. "That airplane could have run out of fuel, flamed out and crashed."
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.
American Airlines said the emergency declaration resulted from a bad valve causing false readings on the fuel gauges in the cockpit.
"American feels that its pilots need to know that when they have a fuel emergency, they will receive the appropriate help from the air traffic control in this type of situation," airline spokesman Tim Smith said. "They have to feel if they have a fuel emergency, they'll get the support they need."
The Federal Aviation Administration has retrained all of the controllers at the airport to clarify how to handle such incidents. "This was a situation where there was confusion about the term 'minimal fuel' and 'fuel emergency,' " FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said. "The controller was confused about the distinction. When the supervisors became aware of the incident afterward, they used the tapes as an opportunity to retrain everyone in the facility that if a pilot declares an emergency, he should be allowed to land on the runway he's requested."
Since the retraining, a similar incident occurred at the airport Feb. 1.
"They, in fact, stopped all the arrivals and departures," Ms. Brown said of that incident.