Controller Robert Morgan, pictured above, was the calm voice that guided a non-pilot, Darren Harrison, from over the ocean to a safe landing recently in Florida. Fortunately, Robert is a CFI – and was available to help [MORE] Congratulations on another “first solo” Robert – you made every CFI proud! This success also clearly highlights the importance of ATC assistance during an emergency. Air traffic controllers can provide amazing resources. Single Pilot Resource Management (SRM) was recently featured in the SAFEblog and is required in the FAA certification standards. One important point to remember, however, is that not all controllers are CFIs – or even pilots (more on this below).
The availability of ATC as a resource should be emphasized in all training and should be part of every flight review for safety. Both Sullenberger in the “Miracle on the Hudson” and Al Haynes in the United 232 Sioux City crash, emphasized the importance of a calm and efficient air traffic controller as a key component in their successful emergency landings. Many applicants on flight tests forget to “call a friend.”
“We worked together seamlessly in one of the most dire situations anyone can imagine to try to save every single life.
Every year, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) awards the coveted Archie League Medal of Safety to controllers who go above and beyond the call of duty to save pilots in distress.
“The ability to think quickly and remain calm under pressure while maintaining situational awareness are all unique qualities that air traffic controllers and flight service station employees possess.
They all have a willingness to jump right in to resolve complex situations, offer a reassuring voice to those on the frequency and coordinate their efforts with other controllers.”
SAFE member Dean Brown is a committed educator – Indy Center Controller and CFI – working to improve both controller training about emergencies and pilot understanding of how ATC can best help during emergencies. The correct initial (and continuing) response is critical to a successful outcome during emergencies. Frequently, a controller lacks a full understanding of how busy and disorienting emergencies can be for a pilot. Dean is working on rolling out a comprehensive training course for controllers covering a wide variety of emergency situations. If you have suggestions or are a controller wanting to collaborate in this important work, reply in the comment section please (we will get in touch). Fly safe out there (and often)!
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