January 1, 2019
Just over a year ago I completed In Operations Experience (IOE) at a Part 135 Certificate Airline and was in my first week of single pilot operations when the weather turned icy and cold. The radios were chaotic that dark morning and in all the confusion I exceeded a clearance in taxi and got the dreaded call to copy a phone number. A tough pill to swallow for an FAA Safety Team Representative, Commercial Pilot, Certificated Flight Instructor Single and Multi-Engine and Instrument.
I, of all pilots, should have known better, having harped on students, training them about having their Taxi Diagram out, and not only reading back clearances, but comprehending and understanding them. I failed on that day.
So, what happened? First, it was my first week at a complex airport in the first icing event of my life. I was stressed. Second, the Air Traffic Controllers were being overrun by impatient pilots making communications, tense at best, and chaotic at worst. Third, I hadn’t yet established the moxie to slow down and assert that I was in trouble and needed to act always as PIC.
I contacted my chief pilot who talked through the events of the morning with me. He advised I call the number and answer any questions truthfully. He gave me immediate verbal retraining and told me I had 24 hours to complete the ASAP/NASA report equivalent to the ASRS/NASA report in Part 91 flying.
The number was to a KMSP Tower Supervisor. He was a gentleman and was very straight forward with specific questions that I answered specifically. I was thanked and informed the information would be passed to the Flight Services District Office for review and possible action.
Next I filed the online Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) report, of which you Part 91 pilots know as a NASA report, through the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). It was easy, and helped me to organize and sort out the event as well as reflect immediately upon its safety repercussions for me and others.
In the end, I had several discussions with FAA personnel who were informative and supportive. I have since been preaching the gospel of PIC responsibility and the need to never give up that responsibility based on peer pressure, pride, or simple lack of experience or understanding.
My hope is others will learn from my mistake and never be afraid to slow things down and keep control. The alternative is embarrassing at least and dangerous regardless. You may learn more about the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS)(NASA) report in the Aeronautical Information Manuel. It’s of great importance to future aviation safety and requires all of our participation to be successful in forwarding safety.