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Istanbul ATC Communications Provide Fascinating Insight Into The Chaos During Failed Turkish Coup

Very tense situation recently in Istanbul during the military coup. This was recently recorded from Istanbul ATC from aircraft attempting to depart on their scheduled air service.

Normally, engine start clearance, permission to push back from the gate, as well as taxi clearance are granted once that aircraft’s flight plan has been verified in the ATC national system. Once the coup began, all flights were in effect grounded, by order of the Turkish military. Not having access to real time information, the local controllers were unable to provide an estimate on the ground stop—leading to consternation from the affected flight crews.

Airlines are required to provide a certain level of service, depending on their respective contract of carriage—in effect, this spells out how long a plane may sit on the ramp, away from the jetway, before departing. If a carrier is both unable to depart, and unable to reach a jetway to allow passengers the opportunity to disembark, there are serious consequences as laid out by the flag carrier’s laws.

At one point, the exasperated controller allows an aircraft to push and takeoff under its own discretion. She did not know how long the situation would persist.

There are severe consequences for aircraft violating flight restricted operating areas. For instance, in the US, operating an aircraft in a TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) area can range from administrative consequences to the pilot, being escorted by military aircraft out of the area, or in the worst scenario, being shot down.  During the coup, the situation was so unstable that no one knew what to do.  Taking off without permission could result in being shot down while staying on the ground during military action could be equally as dangerous.

Thanks to VASAviation for the recording that was posted on YouTube.

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