March 2002 Issue

Airspace Blunders

Poor planning, high workloads, complexity and, surprisingly, technology lead reasons for airspace incursions

[IMGCAP(1)] It was a typical pre-9/11 afternoon as we approached White Plains. New York Tracon handed us off to White Plains Tower and the controllers were issuing their usual rapid-fire instructions to the arriving mass of airline, regional, business and general aviation aircraft.

The frequency was so congested that most of the arriving aircraft were unable to read back the instructions. We had the TCAS turned down to a six-mile range and our heads were on swivels since the airspace was so busy. The TCAS screen was full of targets.

We were watching the business jet ahead of us turn onto final when suddenly it made an abrupt nose-up maneuver. The pilot cried over the frequency, What...

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