Originally Posted by MEM_ATC
I have a few questions regarding declaring an emergency with ATC, and why you WOULD or would NOT declare an emergency. Your comments would be appreciated. Here are some scenarios:
SITUATION 1 - Pilot tells ATC that his Number X hydraulic system has failed. NEGATIVE emergency, but he wants the emergency equipment "STANDING BY". I have no idea what each individual hydraulic system controls on the many different aircraft that fly within my sector. Is this a paperwork issue to have the equipment standing by -vs- meeting you at the runway? Or is it a public relations issue with the passengers seeing the emergency equipment waiting at the edge of the runway?
SITUATION 2 - A passenger has a heart attack at FL230. The pilot contacts his local Operations at AUS to have an ambulance standing by, but he never informs ATC of this critical situation until he's on final 10 miles from the airport. The Center could have deleted all speed restrictions... sent him direct to the airport... and then AUS Approach/Tower would have made the aircraft #1 instead of vectoring for sequence and spacing.
SITUATION 3 - CRJ departs and immediately takes a bird strike. The pilot states that it's nothing serious, but he wants to declare an emergency. Another aircraft takes a bird strike, notifies the Tower to ensure that "Bird Activity" is on the ATIS, and then continues on with his flight. Is one pilot being safe and prudent, while the other is being reckless?
SITUATION 4 - A cargo hauler tells the Center that he has fumes in the cockpit. It's not an emergency, but the crew is on oxygen. The pilot does not want the emergency equipment standing by.
SITUATION 5 - Aircraft goes around on short final due to an unsafe gear indication. We tell the pilot that the gear appear to be down and locked, and the crew then performs some checklist items on the downwind as they are being vectored back for landing. The pilot wants the emergency equipment "standing by, but does not want to declare an emergency.
Please tell me what your companies require of you in these (or similar) situations. Are you discouraged from declaring an emergency? Does declaring an emergency generate a mound of paperwork for you? Do you have to justify your decision to declare an emergency? What would happen if you didn't declare an emergency when you should have made the call?
Thanks for any insight that you can provide?
1) I would consider that a real emergency and declare it as such. Even with two HYD systems functioning, flight control performance and redundancy will be degraded.
2) Our normal reaction to that sort of medical situation is to declare an emergency, get direct routing routing and arrive at the marker at 300 Kts.
3) Depends on where the strike was, and how big was the bird...I'd probably RTB for a goose, but anything smaller would just depend on the situation.
4) After ValueJet and SwissAir, there is no legitimate reason not to declare. An illegitimate reason might be that the flight is operating in non-compliance with one or more regs and does not want to attract FAA/NTSB people.
5) See #4
Most 121 ops will have to do paperwork for any event that is remotely unusual (ie go-around, abort T/O). Any situation where declaring an emergency is even up for discussion would almost certainly have already triggered the company paperwork anyway. It is much better to declare and not really need it, than to not declare and wish you had. I don't know of anyone who has been second-guessed, although I'm sure it can happen (with airline Mgt today, anything is possible...
) Hope this helps.