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Testy verbal exchanges between airline pilots and air traffic controllers happen all the time. This one took place last month on a United Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco. The pilot had some angry words for the ATC after being told to make a go-round of the airport. Not once, but twice. The pilot’s anger stemmed from being told he was cleared to land his 737-900 but then being told to make a go-round of the airport because there were two planes waiting to take off.The pilot was apparently angry because he was in his final approach. The pilot told San Francisco ATC, “You guys gotta do better than this. That’s twice.” The air traffic controllers at SFO told the pilot to take it up with "NorCal," which supersedes the air traffic controllers at local airports and runs all of the air traffic control in Northern California.So he did. But not without one last conversation with the air traffic controllers at SFO.Pilot: “What’s going on, that’s twice?"Controller: “I’m not sure.”Pilot: “This is unacceptable, come on, well, let’s not do this again.”Controller: “We don’t work in the tower, sir.”Pilot: “They told me to talk to you.”
That's when the pilot reached out to NorCal:
Pilot: “Can we make sure we don’t put anyone on the runway anymore?”Controller: “We’re wondering the same thing, we’ve got a few over here, and we’ll make sure you land this time.”Pilot: “Yeah, definitely file a report for this, this is just unacceptable."Controller: “We are 100 percent agreeance with you, sorry for it.”Pilot: “Thanks. I know it’s not your fault, but unfortunately, you’re the only one I’ve got to vent to. He told me to talk to you guys, that’s the funny part.”Controller: “That’s great. Apparently, aircraft on the ground have priority over aircraft in the air. Again, just for your information, we’ve had issues with the tower here for a while as far as some of these go-arounds, and things like that, but I think it’s more fit for an official report because we’re hearing now that they’re trying to blame us for our speeds, but I don’t know what’s wrong with what we did."Pilot: “Yeah, I’ll fill one out for sure. I mean, it’s just unacceptable, two go-arounds for the same issue, something’s gotta happen with that.”Controller: “I agree with you 100 percent.”There were no disturbances or injuries.
Rich Thomaselli has written for TravelPulse since 2014 and has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. His work has...
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