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FMS entry errors
In the Av Hazard "Same sounding names at MDW" (Pro Pilot, Feb 2009, p 28), you cite the cause of the Dec 20, 1995 American Airlines Boeing 757 crash in Cali, Colombia as the crew having "typed in the wrong waypoint and not checked the spelling." In fact, Colombia identified more than one waypoint with the same identifier, in this case "R."
The crew's mistake was assuming the North American FMS protocol of "the 1st on the list is the closest to us" would apply in this case. In fact, the protocol for Colombia and other Latin American countries was "the largest city is the 1st on the list among those with identical identifiers." By selecting the 1st of the waypoints identified as "R," the crew set in motion the incorrect turn that took them into the mountain. Crew error? Of course, but not nearly so basic as simply not checking the spelling of a waypoint in the database.
__ATP. Cessna Citation Excel
- This reader does make a valid argument, but the point being made in the Feb issue was that the pilot must be vigilant in what is entered into the GPS or FMS. Most navigation systems require the pilot to confirm waypoints twice to ensure the correct one is selected. Waypoint data and geographical locations should not be confirmed unless the crew is positive the correct waypoint is entered. NTSB cited the following as probable causes:
•The flightcrew's failure to adequately plan and execute the approach to Runway 19 at CLO (Cali, Colombia) and their inadequat use of automation.
• Failure of the flightcrew to discontinue the approach into CLO, despite numeouscues alerting them of the danger of continuing the approach.
• The lack of situational awareness of the flightcrew regarding vertical navigation, proximity to terrain, and the relative location of critical radio aids.
• Failure of the flightcrew to revert to basic radio navigation at the time when the FMS-assisted navigation became confusing and demanded an excessive workload in a critical phase of the flight.
Another comment on FMS entries
The pilot reported that he misinterpreted the waypoint LUWKE with LUKEY. At first glance, these waypoints certainly appear confusing, although they are geographically different. However, it has been my experience that when you are not familiar with an area, one easy place to look for help is the departure procedure.
Generally, ATC will not clear you to an initial transition waypoint not depicted on the departure procedure page. For instance, if you take a look at the departure procedure for MDW (MDWAY7), the only waypoint that resembles the spelling and sound is LUWKE. The other waypoint, LUKEY, does not appear on the procedure. This little trick has made my life a lot easier over the years.
__ATP. Bombardier Challenger 604
Taxiing pilot lowering REIL
While I was on approach to LOM (Wings Field, Philadelphia PA) at night, a local flight instructor took it upon himself to change the runway lighting because the REIL was bothering him while he was preparing to depart. After asking if I had the runway, without identifying himself he lowered the intensity setting and shut off the REIL. I was told by line service there have been many complaints about this individual. Someone needs to have a talk with this flight instructor.
__ATP. Cessna Citation Bravo
- All pilots should be aware of the traffic in the area before adjusting pilot controlled lighting at an uncontrolled airport, whether in the air or on the ground. LOM can be very difficult to pick out in the surrounding ground lights and airport lighting is critical for a safe approach. A good way to approach the issue would be to use the FAA Hotline (800-255-1111). Report the incident with date, time, N number, aircraft, airport, and explain that airport personnel have said this has happened repeatedly. This way, the local FSDO can help solve the problem.