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A Lufthansa A350’s Irritating Oakland Diversion

A Lufthansa A350’s Irritating Oakland Diversion

2023-12-19 12:19:08

A San Francisco-bound Lufthansa jet not too long ago needed to divert to Oakland attributable to an organization coverage, though the climate was good, and all different planes had been having no points touchdown in San Francisco. Have been air visitors controller simply being petty, is Lufthansa’s coverage pointless, or is that this simply the worth you pay whenever you err on the facet of maximum warning?

Lufthansa pilots can’t do visible approaches at night time

This incident occurred on Monday, October 16, 2023, and entails Lufthansa flight LH458 from Munich (MUC) to San Francisco (SFO). The flight was operated by a six-year-old Airbus A350-900 with the license plate D-AIXC. VASAviation did an incredible job making a video that has each a visualization of the flight path, plus the audio between the Lufthansa pilots and the air visitors controller.

This incident revolves round how Lufthansa reportedly has an organization coverage whereby pilots can’t do visible approaches at night time, however reasonably require instrument touchdown system (ILS) approaches. I wasn’t conscious of this restriction, and I’m undecided if it solely applies on sure flights (like lengthy hauls), or what. I assume the intent is that that is an additional operational security layer.

Why does it matter that Lufthansa doesn’t permit visible approaches? Properly, air visitors controllers need to area planes out a bit extra for instrument approaches reasonably than visible approaches, particularly at airports like SFO, the place parallel landings are carried out.

When visible approaches are allowed, controllers can inform pilots to keep up visible separation from different plane, so that they don’t have to depart as a lot of a buffer as with an instrument touchdown (the place it’s fully on the controllers to offer correct spacing). And that brings us to the problem right here…

Right here’s what occurs between the Lufthansa pilots and the strategy controllers:

  • The controller clears the Lufthansa jet to make a visible strategy, and the Lufthansa pilot advises “attributable to firm procedures, we’re unable visible strategy at nighttime”
  • The controller then advises that “if that’s the case, then it will likely be prolonged delays”
  • The Lufthansa pilot responds “if that’s the case, that’s the case,” at which level the controller places the Lufthansa jet into an prolonged holding sample
  • After a while, the Lufthansa pilot advises “if we aren’t arrange for base quickly, we must declare gasoline emergency and that might actually **** up your sequence” (I can’t inform if he says s*ck or f*ck)
  • At this level the controller asks “what’s your divert area?” suggesting that reasonably than letting the Lufthansa jet declare a gasoline emergency at SFO, the aircraft will simply need to fly to its diversion level
  • The Lufthansa pilot says “it will be Oakland,” to which the controller responds “you want vectors to Oakland?”
  • The Lufthansa pilot responds “no, however I simply don’t perceive why all people is taking… my firm forbids visible separation at night time, so what’s the drawback right here?”
  • The controller responds “I can’t have this dialog with you, you both divert to Oakland or you may proceed to carry, it’s as much as you”
  • The Lufthansa pilot responds “okay, you promised me 10 minutes, that ran out 4 minutes in the past, so what number of extra minutes?”
  • The controller responds “dialog is over,” after which says “what are your intentions, you wish to divert otherwise you wish to proceed with the delay?”
  • When the controller advises that it will likely be an extra 10-15 minute delay, the Lufthansa pilot requests to divert to Oakland

Sadly this became fairly the messy delay for Lufthansa:

  • The flight was initially supposed to depart Munich at 4:20PM, however solely departed at 6:30PM
  • The flight was speculated to arrive in San Francisco at 7PM, however ended up touchdown in Oakland at 9:43PM, after a 12hr13min flight
  • Then at 11:30PM the aircraft departed Oakland for San Francisco, the place it landed at 11:55PM

Who was within the incorrect right here?

Normally in these interactions between pilots and air visitors controllers, there’s one celebration that’s clearly appearing out of line.

On this case, the Lufthansa pilots are doing nothing incorrect. They’re following firm procedures, and there’s no flexibility in terms of that. It’s a fairly black and white matter. I’m curious how the pilots introduced this diversion to passengers. “Ja, so sadly though the climate is sweet in San Francisco, we will likely be diverting to Oakland due to a particular firm process that solely we observe, when all different planes are touchdown simply positive?”

The remainder of that is completely past my space of experience, however I’d be curious to know what any OMAAT readers who’re pilots or air visitors controllers assume. Just a few ideas and questions:

See Also

  • Are there some other airways that require instrument landings at night time? And is that this Lufthansa coverage particular to lengthy haul flights the place fatigue might be extra of a problem, or all flights?
  • If that is Lufthansa’s firm coverage, you’d assume that this wouldn’t be the primary time that this has come up at SFO, and that that is one thing that air visitors controllers would have handled earlier than
  • To the credit score of air visitors controllers, they might have very properly had a constant visitors circulation, and permitting in an instrument strategy might have tousled the spacing a bit, and will have triggered issues for different planes
  • On the similar time, it looks like the air visitors controllers aren’t precisely attempting to go above and past to accommodate the Lufthansa jet, and even appear to have fairly an angle with the Lufthansa pilots, and nearly get pleasure out of their diversion; no less than that’s the tone that I sense
A Lufthansa Airbus A350 needed to divert to Oakland

Backside line

A San Francisco-bound Lufthansa Airbus A350 needed to divert to Oakland, attributable to an organization coverage whereby Lufthansa pilots apparently can’t make visible approaches at night time. Air visitors controllers had been unwilling or unable to assist the Lufthansa pilots, and that triggered a little bit of a spat between the 2 events.

That is an fascinating state of affairs, and it appeared just like the circumstances had been the right storm for this to occur, provided that SFO typically has parallel approaches and is constantly busy, so there’s not a lot room for further spacing.

What do you make of this Lufthansa state of affairs?

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