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21 août 2009

Collision de l'Hudson : controverse et lynchage médiatique

Aux USA, les média se déchainent en cette fin d'été à propos de la collision entre un avion de tourisme et un hélicoptère au dessus de l'Hudson.

Les faits rapportés par le NTSB

"On August 8, 2009,  at 11:53 a.m. EDT, a Eurocopter AS 350 BA (N401LH) operated  by Liberty Helicopters and a Piper PA-32R- 300 (N71MC)  operated by a private pilot, collided in midair over the Hudson  River near Hoboken, New Jersey. The certificated  commercial pilot and five passengers onboard the helicopter were  killed. The certificated private pilot and two passengers  onboard the airplane were also killed. Visual  meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plans were filed  for either flight.

  The helicopter  departed West 30th Street Heliport (JRA), New   York, for  a sightseeing tour at 11:52 a.m. The   airplane departed  Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New   Jersey, at 11:49  a.m.; destined for Ocean City Municipal   Airport (26N),  Ocean City, New Jersey. The airplane pilot   requested an en  route altitude of 3500 feet.

According to  preliminary radar data, the helicopter turned   south from JRA and  climbed to 1,100 feet, with a transponder   code of 1200.  According to witnesses, the pilot of the   helicopter had  transmitted a position report of "Stevens   Point"  (Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New   Jersey) on the  common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF),   123.05.

On the day of the  accident, Teterboro Air Traffic Control   Tower staff  consisted of five controllers. At the time of   the accident, the  tower was staffed with two controllers:   one controller was  working ground control, local control,   and arrival radar,  and was also acting as the controller in   charge of the  facility. The second controller was working   the flight  data/clearance delivery position. Two other   controllers were on  break and the front line manager had   left the facility  at about 1145. 

At 1148:30, the  Teterboro tower controller cleared the   airplane for  takeoff on frequency 119.50. The first radar   target for the  airplane was recorded at 1149:55 as the   flight departed  runway 19. 

The tower  controller advised the airplane and the pilot of   another helicopter  operating in the area of each other and   instructed the  pilot of the airplane to remain at or below   1,100 feet. At this  time, the tower controller initiated a   non-business-related  phone call to Teterboro Airport   Operations. The  airplane flew southbound until the   controller  instructed its pilot to turn left to join the   Hudson River. At  1152:20 the Teterboro controller instructed   the pilot to  contact Newark on a frequency of 127.85; the   airplane reached  the Hudson River just north of Hoboken   about 40 seconds  later. At that time there were several   aircraft detected  by radar in the area immediately ahead of   the airplane,  including the accident helicopter, all of   which were  potential traffic conflicts for the airplane. The   Teterboro tower  controller, who was engaged in a phone call   at the time, did  not advise the pilot of the potential   traffic conflicts.  The Newark tower controller observed air   traffic over the  Hudson River and called Teterboro to ask   that the controller  instruct the pilot of the airplane to   turn toward the  southwest to resolve the potential   conflicts. The  Teterboro controller then attempted to   contact the airplane  but the pilot did not respond. The   collision occurred  shortly thereafter.  A review of recorded   air traffic control  communications showed that the pilot did   not call Newark  before the accident occurred.

The helicopter  departed from the 30th Street Heliport at   1152 for what was  planned to be a 12-minute tour.  The   initial part of the  tour was to be flown outside class B   airspace, so the  pilot was not required to contact air   traffic control  before or after departure.  The first radar   target for the  helicopter was detected by Newark radar at   about 1152:27, when  the helicopter was approximately mid-   river west of the  heliport and climbing through 400 feet.   According to  recorded radar data, the helicopter flew to the   west side of the river,  and then turned southbound to follow   the Hudson.   According to Liberty Helicopters management,   this was the  expected path for the tour flight. The   helicopter  continued climbing southbound until 1153:14, when   it and the airplane  collided at 1,100 feet. 

As noted above,  immediately after the Teterboro tower   controller  instructed the airplane to contact Newark tower   on frequency  127.85, the Newark controller called the   Teterboro  controller to request that they turn the airplane   to a heading of 220  degrees (southwest) and transfer   communications on  the aircraft.  As the Newark controller   was providing the  suggested heading to the Teterboro   controller, the  pilot of the airplane was acknowledging the   frequency change to  the Teterboro controller. The Teterboro   controller made two  unsuccessful attempts to reach the   pilot, with the  second attempt occurring at 1152:50. At   1152:54, 20 seconds  prior to the collision, the radar data   processing system  detected a conflict between the airplane   and the helicopter,  which set off aural alarms and a caused   a "conflict  alert" indication to appear on the radar   displays at both  Teterboro and Newark towers. During   interviews both  controllers stated that they did not recall   seeing or hearing  the conflict alert. At 1153:19, five   seconds after the  collision, the Teterboro controller   contacted the  Newark controller to ask about the airplane,   and was told that  the pilot had not called. There were no   further air traffic  control contacts with either aircraft.   The role that air  traffic control might have played in this   accident will be  determined by the NTSB as the investigation   progresses. Any  opinions rendered at this time are   speculative and  premature.

The recorded  weather at TEB at 1151 was wind variable at 3   knots, visibility  10 miles, sky clear, temperature 24   degrees Celsius,  dew point 7 degrees Celsius, altimeter   30.23 inches of  mercury."

Le contrôleur en poste ainsi que son superviseur qui s'était absenté du bâtiment ont été immédiatement suspendu sans toutefois d'impact salarial.

Immédiatement, la presse s'empare de l'affaire et disserte de ce fameux coup de téléphone non professionnel à UNE employée de l'aéroport. A ce stade l'anonymat des contrôleurs est encore préservé. Le NATCA de son coté est très choqué des approximations inhabituelles du communiqué du NTSB ... il va réagir.

Réaction du NATCA pointant les incohérence du NTSB

NATCA STRONGLY DISPUTES NTSB INFERENCE OF CONTROLLER RESPONSIBILITY IN HUDSON RIVER CRASH SEQUENCE

"Air traffic controllers today are strongly disputing misleading and – in one passage – outright false parts of Friday’s NTSB Hudson River mid-air crash press release that mistakenly and unfairly assign responsibilities to a Teterboro, N.J., controller during the pre-crash sequence of events that simply did not exist.

At issue are four words in the NTSB press release that wrongly infer that the Teterboro controller could have warned the pilot of the Piper aircraft about the helicopter over the Hudson River that the aircraft eventually hit. The press release infers that at the time the Teterboro controller told the aircraft to switch his frequency to talk to Newark Tower controllers, there were several aircraft detected by radar in the area immediately ahead of the airplane, “including the accident helicopter.” NATCA emphatically declares that these four words are absolutely false and have contributed to the reckless and mistaken conclusion that the Teterboro controller could have prevented this crash.

The same NTSB press release clearly states that the helicopter did not show on radar until 1152.27, seven seconds after communication with the aircraft was switched from Teterboro to Newark at 1152.20. But the poorly written and misleading passage about the “accident helicopter” has left the mistaken impression that the Teterboro controller was responsible for not warning the aircraft about that traffic.

Furthermore, and equally disturbing, the NTSB privately revealed to NATCA officials over the weekend that it knows that the four words in question in its press release are “misleading and inappropriate.” A high-ranking NTSB official stated in an e-mail that the wording “could have been clearer” but that a correction “will not be issued.”

“We believe the NTSB is wrong to infer there was a traffic advisory that could have been issued from Teterboro Tower to the aircraft,” said Ray Adams, NATCA Facility Representative at Newark Tower who is representing the Teterboro Tower controller in the NTSB crash investigation. “The helicopter was not depicted on the radar prior to the switch of control from Teterboro to Newark Tower. Teterboro had no opportunity to call that traffic. The service of air traffic control is based on "known and observed" traffic. The Teterboro controller had neither seen nor known about the accident helicopter at the transfer of communication to Newark.

“Also, let’s remember that the aircraft never made radio contact with Newark, as Teterboro had requested. Nobody was talking to him. You cannot issue traffic warnings to a pilot who is not communicating with you. You have to reach the pilot first and the Teterboro controller – as is accurately made clear in the NTSB press release– tried twice, to no avail.”

Added NATCA President Patrick Forrey: “Let me make this as clear as I can: our air traffic controller at Teterboro did his job. We believe he is not responsible for contributing to this tragic accident and there is nothing he could have done to prevent it from happening. We respect the NTSB and we value our participation in NTSB investigations. But in this case, the NTSB has completely ignored our input, painted an unrealistic view of the job description of a Teterboro controller and fueled a public feeding frenzy that unfairly blames this particular Teterboro controller for not acting to stop the sequence of events that led to the crash.

“We respectfully ask that the NTSB immediately act to stop this rush to judgment that this controller had anything to do with the crash until the Board’s full investigation is complete. An immediate correction of the flawed press release would be an appropriate first step.”"

Alors certes, le NTSB et la FAA ont convenu que le NATCA avait raison sur les faits mais l'ont éjecté de l'enquête pour avoir rompu la clause de confidentialité. Aux USA en effet, le syndicat des contrôleurs est observateur des enquêtes et à accès au dossier bien avant qu'il soit rendu public, la contrepartie est qu'il doit en respecter la confidentialité en particulier vis à vis des médias.

Visiblement d'autres sources proche de l'enquête mais qui savent rester anonymes continuent d'alimenter la presse avec des documents sensibles, l'identité des contrôleurs impliqués ainsi que des transcripts des conversations ...

Ce qui a motivé l'appel du contrôleur à l'employée de l'aéroport est apparament le fait que cette dernière avait du aller chercher un chat mort sur le tarmac d'où un échange certes peu professionnel mais néanmoins bien innocent.

La transcription qui suit est issue de la presse, elle n'y a aucune confirmation officielle.

"11:48:46 a.m. the Teterboro controller contacts a helicopter in the area to report that a plane is taking off and "will be turning to the southeast, join the river, climbing to 1,100 (feet)." The controller asks the Piper, tail number N71MC, to report its altitude.

11:50:05 a.m. Piper pilot: "Climbing out of four hundred."

Teterboro controller: "Traffic 11 o'clock and two miles, northwest bound one thousand (feet), a helicopter."

Piper pilot: "Seven one mike charlie, lookin'."

At that point, the helicopter pilot reports the Piper is in sight, and the Teterboro controller tells the Piper, "helicopter has you in sight."

Piper pilot: "Thank you, sir."

11:50:41 a.m. the Teterboro controller gets on the phone with a woman from the airport's operations center. "Do we have plenty of gas for the grill?" he asks.

Operations: "Huh?"

Controller: "I said, we got plenty of gas in the grill?

Operations: "(unintelligible) it kinda sucks that we can't, we won't be able to do it today."

Controller: "(unintelligible) fire up the cat."

Operations: "Ooh, disgusting. Augh, that thing was disgusting."

Controller: "Chinese people do it, so why can't we?"

Operations: "Augh, stop it."

Controller: (laughter).

11:51:17 a.m. Controller, to the Piper pilot: "One mike charlie, start a left turn to join the Hudson River."

Piper pilot: "One mike charlie."

Controller: "This freakin' guy"

Operations: "I know (laughter).

Controller: (unintelligible)

Operations: "Oh my god, it was pretty bad. Ugh."

The conversation continues for about 2½ minutes, interspersed with radio communications with various aircraft.

11:52:19 a.m. the controller radios the Piper and instructs the pilot to contact the Newark airport tower on a certain frequency, and the pilot repeats the instruction. At about the same time, the Newark tower calls the Teterboro tower about the Piper plane.

Newark controller: "Hey, Teterboro, Newark. Would you switch that guy, maybe put him on a two-twenty heading to get away from that other traffic please?

Teterboro controller: "Say again, Newark."

Newark controller: "Can you switch that PA-32 (the Piper)?"

Teterboro controller: "I ... did keep an eye on him, though."

Newark controller: "I'm not talking to him, so..."

Teterboro controller, trying to radio the Piper: "One mike charlie, Newark is (on frequency) twenty-seven eighty-five. He's lost in the hertz, try him again."

Newark controller: "One mike charlie, Newark."

During this time, the Teterboro controller is also on the phone with the woman in the operations office.

11:53:07 a.m., Teterboro controller says to the operations office: "Damn."

Operations: "What's the matter..."

Controller: "Yeah, let me straighten stuff out." He hangs up at 11:53:10, four seconds before the collision occurs.

Teterboro controller, on the radio to Newark: "Newark, Teterboro. Did you get him yet?"

Newark controller: "Nope."

11:55:17, Newark controller: "I think he went down in the Hudson."

11:55:42, another helicopter pilot in the area: "Be advised there was an airplane crashed into a helicopter just south of the Lincoln (tunnel) a minute ago.

Teterboro operations: "Did he say what I thought he said?"

Controller: "Yeah."

Operations: "Where at?"

Controller: "Over the river."

Operations: "Oh, my lord. Okay, thanks.""

De leur coté, la FAA et le NATCA semblent revenus sur une ligne plus proche. La FAA déclare en effet que "the controller's actions were inappropriate and unacceptable, but didn't appear to have contributed to the accident." ce qui ne plait pas trop au NTSB qui rappelle que c'est à lui de déterminer quel a été le rôle de chacun dans cet accident. Le NATCA confirmant pour sa part que "This phone call and the FAA's allegations that it was inappropriate are something that will handled by the FAA in a disciplinary matter we will be involved in, but the bottom line for us is that this call had nothing to do with this tragic accident that occurred"

Posté par one atc à 11:14 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]
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