Please review this presentation created by the WAA on the Westchester County Airport and all of the benefits it brings to our community. HPN PowerPoint December 2020 (1).pdf
WAA/ATC Meeting Thursday, December 10, 2020
If you were unable to attend Click Here to view a recording of the meeting.
HPN Traffic Conflict-A Teaching Moment
A traffic conflict situation we can all learn from occurred one morning recently at Westchester County Airport, when it was operating as a non-towered airfield. We at the Westchester Aviation Association ("WAA") hope that a review of this situation can be useful in causing us to think about safe operations and how our actions can contribute to professional operations.
The field was VMC, with 10 miles visibility and a 4,600' broken ceiling.
The essence of the incident is that a jet departing HPN taxied to Runway 34, in the dark, shortly after 5AM. The jet had obtained a "hold for release" IFR clearance for its short repositioning flight. In the meantime, a twin turboprop under VFR flew a right base to runway 34, turning about a 2 mile final. It made CTAF calls in the blind on a 4 mile right base, and on a 2 mile final. The jet called Approach to state it was ready to depart. It was released, with a void time 9 minutes later. It requested, and was granted, an early right turn direct to DPK VOR on departure rather than flying the Westchester 7 departure. The jet reported that it was "rolling". ATC told the jet that it showed traffic on a 2 mile final, at 1,000'. The jet acknowledged the call but did not report the traffic in sight. The jet then stated on CTAF that it was departing Runway 34. Words were exchanged between the twin turboprop and the jet, complaining about the jet taking off with the turboprop on short final. The jet responded that it had a void time clearance. The jet completed its flight, and the twin turboprop landed on Runway 34.
ANALYSIS AND OBSERVATIONS
Non-towered operations at HPN require a high level of cooperation among aircrews and high vigilance in avoiding traffic conflicts.
- In the recent situation, the jet departed with traffic on a 2 mile final, or less, that would cover the distance to the runway in about 30 seconds. That departure clearly caused the arriving turboprop to be concerned about separation from the jet on the runway. Such a traffic situation could require a very low altitude go-around by the turboprop if the jet delayed its departure at all, or had any issue that would cause it to abort its takeoff. It can be assumed that Tower controllers would not have cleared the jet for departure with the twin turboprop on short final at 1,000' or below. While it is not known if the jet had the arriving traffic in sight, either way would counsel that the jet should have delayed its departure with no other aircraft reporting in the pattern.
- A void time of any duration should not have caused the jet to depart with traffic on a short final. The void time was 9 minutes after ATC release. A delay of departure of several minutes by the jet would have eliminated any potential conflict, especially since it had already been granted an expeditious routing that avoided having to fly the SID, and would have easily complied with the void time restriction. One reason ATC gave as lengthy a void time as 9 minutes for the jet may have been that the controller saw the traffic on final and planned that the jet would depart after its arrival. Even were the void time only a few minutes away, safety suggests that the departure not occur and a new void time be obtained because of the traffic situation
- The turboprop flew a non-standard pattern to Runway 34, flying a right based to a 2 mile final. All arriving VFR aircraft are required to observe the standard pattern for the HPN runways (e.g., left hand traffic) when approaching the airport to land, unless instructed otherwise by the tower. In this case, the tower was not operating so VFR operations should have used left hand traffic patterns. While the pattern used int his case did not seem to contribute to the conflict situation, there have been recent occasions, when the Tower has been closed in busy periods, when some traffic is flying left and right patterns, with base legs pointing aircraft at each other. Please fly left traffic unless instructed otherwise by ATC.
- Arguing on the frequency, either pilot/ATC or pilot/pilot, accomplishes no purpose and is contrary to safety. As understandable and right as objections to an operation may be, it is far better practice to talk about it once on the ground whether by telephone with ATC or through call to the owner/operator/chief pilot of the other aircraft. And, a corollary: profanity should never be used on the air.
We at WAA encourage all of our airport users to fly safely and cooperatively. And we hope that you will join us at the December 10 7:30 pm virtual WAA/ATC meeting, details of which are available here: Click Here to register for the meeting.
11/29 Runway Closure Update
HPN Airports Operations has decided to take the advice of the WAA's very own Scott Dyer and cancel the Notam closing Runway 11/29 during tower closure periods.
Effective Wednesday, October 21, 2020 Runway 11/29 will be open during the tower hours of operation 0700-2200. Thank you, Scott for continuing to keep the lines of communication open between the General Aviation Community and the Operations team at HPN.
The Northeast Virtual Aviation Safety Stand Down
This WAA sponsored event took place on Saturday September 12, 2020 via a Webinar and was attended by 170 guests. This live event took the traditional aviation safety stand down to the next level! The event included multiple different live presentations, each followed by Q&A. The WAA would like to thank Gene Benson for his partnership on this informative session. If you were unable to attend The Northeast Virtual Aviation Safety Stand Down, you may download it using this link: https://youtu.be/KGss0gFvJ8k
Please take a few moments to watch this detailed video created by Scott Dyer, WAA Board members and CFI. The video details what corporate and jet crews need to know about avoiding VFR aircraft around Westchester County Airport, including inbound/outbound VFR routes, transition routes and practice areas. Much of the battle of avoiding conflict is knowing where the VFRs usually are.