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Confusing Callsigns

schoolio

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I was flying in SOCAL yesterday, and I was in 6PA. There was another airplane in the area, last three 6DA. I was a 7k, waiting for higher. The controller apparently cleared 6DA up to 9k, but I thought he cleared us and responded back to him, "Out of 7 thousand for 9 thousand, 6PA". At about 7500, he advised us that we were supposed to be at 7k, so we went back down.

My question is this - if I responded back to him with my callsign and he didn't correct me, what are the ramifications? I wasn't the PIC, but was working the radios. Should the PIC file a NASA report? The controller didn't sound pissed, he just advised us to go back to 7k...

Obviously he should have responded to my mistake, but since he didn't, well, whose fault is it and who would be blamed if the FAA were to investigate the incident?
 

JeffSKDTW

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schoolio said:
Should the PIC file a NASA report?
Well, considering the purpose of the NASA reporting program is to identify those areas of the system that are flawed, it would probably be helpful to submit a report.

Furthermore, there is no reason why you couldn't submit the report--it's not just limited to the PIC. In fact, you were the one operating the radios and are the one with the most first-hand knowledge of what happened.

From an immunity standpoint, I doubt you have anything to worry about. But, in the interest of improving the system, I'd report it.

Obviously he should have responded to my mistake, but since he didn't, well, whose fault is it and who would be blamed if the FAA were to investigate the incident?
Whose "fault" was it? Like most aviation issues, it really isn't just one person or one failure. The controller should have identified the fact that there were two similarly sounding callsigns and used full callsigns (AIM 4-2-4(a)(1)). However, you should have ensured you heard the correct callsign (AIM 4-2-4(a)(2)). In fact, the AIM suggests that you say "VERIFY CLEARANCE FOR (your complete call sign)" if doubt exists concerning proper identity.

Chalk it up to experience, report it, and remember it.
 

A Squared

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schoolio said:
Obviously he should have responded to my mistake, but since he didn't, well, whose fault is it and who would be blamed if the FAA were to investigate the incident?

The pilot would be blamed. Now before vector4fun pops in and says I'm wrong, I'll add that the controller may *also* face some sort of corrective action. I don't dispute that. But the FAA has recently made it abundently clear that reading back an incorrect clearence or a clearence intended for another plane, and not being corrected by the controller, does *not* let you off the hook for an altitude deviation.
 

moxiepilot

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I'd file a NASA form as suggested, just to increase the awareness of situations like that for the future.
 

Dr Pokenhiemer

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Maybe you and 6DA responded at the same time. If his radios were stronger, ATC may have actually heard 6DA respond. That's why the controller will say PAPA ALPHA or DELTA ALPHA. It is not the responsibility of the controller to inform you of a similar callsign (which they sometimes will do), however, it is part of your situational awareness duties to pick up on that yourself by monitoring the radio.
 
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