Drones – An Rising Threat

With the increased, unregulated, drone activity we are coming up to the point that is not about “how”, is about “when” an accident will happen.


This year, there was a near-miss with an unidentified drone when it came close to hit an Airbus 320 at Heathrow airport, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed.
The Airbus A320 pilot reported seeing a helicopter-style drone at 700 feet AGL during its approach to the runway at 1416 GMT on 22 July.

The CAA has not disclosed the airline or how close the drone came to the aircraft.
The CAA has given the incident an “A” rating, meaning a “serious risk of collision”.
Investigators were unable to identify the drone, which did not appear on air traffic control radar and disappeared after the encounter.

In another incident, on May, the pilot of an ATR 72 reported seeing a helicopter drone only 80 feet away as he approached Southend airport at a height of 1,500 feet.
These incidents have prompted a warning from the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) that the rapid increase in the number of drones operated by amateur enthusiasts now poses “a real risk” to commercial aircraft.

The association’s general secretary, Jim McAuslan said; “The risk of a 10 kilogram object hitting a plane is a real one that pilots are very concerned about”.
“A small drone could be a risky distraction for a pilot coming into land and cause serious damage if they hit one.”

Sales of drones have increased rapidly, with UK sales running at a rate of between 1,000 and 2,000 every month.

They are expected to be very popular as Christmas presents.

They cost as little as £35 for a smaller model – more advanced drones capable of carrying a high definition camera and travelling at 45 miles per hour cost almost £3,000.
Only a very small minority of people operating drones have attended training courses in how to fly them.

A spokesman for the CAA said it had to depend on people using their common sense when they operated drones.

He said the current level of risk should be “kept in perspective” but warned that breaking laws governing the use of drones could potentially threaten commercial aircraft.
“People using unmanned aircraft need to think, use common sense and take responsibility for them”, he said.

“There are rules which have the force of law and have to be followed.”

Drones may not be flown higher than 400 feet or further than 500 metres from the operator, and they must not go within 50 metres of people, vehicles or buildings.

There are exclusion zones around airports and the approaches to them for drones weighing more than seven kilograms.

Mr McAuslan said there was an urgent need for rules to be tightened before much larger unmanned cargo planes – potentially the size of a Boeing 737 – took to the skies.

Capt. Ivan

AVIATION – The Invisible Highway

AVIATION: THE INVISIBLE HIGHWAY is a story about how the airplane has changed the world. Filmed in 18 countries across all 7 continents, it renews our appreciation for one of the most extraordinary and awe-inspiring aspects of the modern world. The documentary is produced and directed by Brian J. Terwilliger (“One Six Right”), narrated by Harrison Ford, and features an original score by Academy Award-winning composer James Horner. It’s scheduled for a 2015 release.

Website:  aviationtheinvisiblehighway.com

Capt. Ivan

FAA to increase Take Off and Landing Separation at U.S. Busiest Airports

The FAA – Federal Aviation Administration is implementing changes in landing and takeoff procedures at more than a dozen big airports, including six of the 10 busiest U.S. fields to reduce the hazards of mid-air collisions.

The idea is to increase takeoffs and landings separations between aircraft simultaneously cleared for takeoff on one runway and those planes arriving on another.

Pilots and air-safety experts support the changes, recommended last summer by the National Transportation Safety Board, but said they could worsen delays at peak times or in bad weather.

The rule change comes after an investigation of five near-miss incidents over the past several years with US air safety investigators at the NTSB judging that the current rules created hazardous situations and unnecessary risk of collisions because pilots were not necessarily given clear guidance when conducting go-around maneuvers.

The NTSB issued a recommendation letter in July, following the investigation of five incidents in which commercial jetliners came within ‘hazardous proximity’ of other aircraft while arriving or departing at major US airports.

According to the new rule, tower controllers will have to delay issuing takeoff clearances regardless of weather conditions to make sure landing aircraft have touched down or taxied away from any potential conflict’.

The initial rule change affects 16 airports, many of which have already implemented the changes. Others have until February or April to comply, and an additional set of airports will be subject to the revised rules in July. Among the airports currently covered under the new rule are JFK in New York, McCarran in Las Vegas, O’Hare in Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth, as well as the airports in Charlotte, Denver, Houston, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and “a handful of other locations.”

Source’s:  The Wall Street JournalAir Traffic Management

TODAY: 100 Years of Commercial Aviation

Today, Jan 1, marks the 100 anniversary of commercial aviation. IATA – The International Air Transport Association has launched a new website for the celebration.

The first commercial flight in history was done across Tampa bay, this date on 1914 by a Benoist airboat of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat, piloted by Tony Janus.

Benoist Airboat

Benoist Airboat

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG, hailed the success of commercial aviation’s first 100 years.
He said: “Aviation is a miracle. It’s truly wonderful. Everybody who lives finds it somehow touches their lives.
“Without question, aviation is a force for good. There are issues we must address such as the environment where our performance must improve, but it’s a fantastic industry.”
Walsh highlighted the rise of the low-cost airlines in recent years, saying “now everybody expects to be able to fly”.
He went on: “I generally believe we are at an exciting stage in aviation where we can improve our environmental and financial performance.”


IATA – General Director and Chief Executive Tony Tyler said:

“Over the last century, commercial aviation has transformed the world in ways unimaginable in 1914. The first light provided a shortcut across Tampa Bay. Today, the aviation industry reunites loved ones, connects cultures, expands minds, opens markets and fosters development. Aviation provides people around the globe with the freedom to make connections that can change their lives and the world.”

IATA released some statistics which showed:

• On average, every day more than eight million people fly. In 2013 total passenger numbers were 3.1 billion – surpassing the three billion mark for the first time.
• That number is expected to grow to 3.3 billion in 2014 (equivalent to 44 per cent of the world’s population).
• About 50 million tons of cargo is transported by air each year (about 140,000 tons daily).
• Aviation supports more than 57 million jobs with the industry’s direct economic contribution being around €405 billion;
• Global airline industry turnover is expected to be around €558 billion in 2014, with an average industry profit margin of 2.6 per cent.
Key facts on aviation
• One hundred years on, planes are now taking off at the rate of 52 every minute.
• Every 60 seconds, a total of 5,700 passengers board aircraft around the world.
• About €9 million worth of cargo is delivered by air every 60 seconds.
• Every minute, the global fleet of aircraft travel more than 71,000 kilometres.
• In 2013, more than three billion passengers travelled by air, with nearly half of those who travelled as tourists taking to flights.
• Air passenger numbers are set to rise by around six per cent in 2014.
• Today, New Year’s Day, an estimated eight million people will fly.
• Travellers have the choice of around 4,000 airports and 1,500 airlines worldwide and can fly on around 40,000 city-to-city routes.
• Airlines carry 50 million tons of cargo a year and carry 35 per cent of world trade by value
• Aviation accounts for two per cent of global CO2 emissions.
• Fifty-seven million jobs are supported by the commercial aviation industry worldwide.

Capt. Ivan

How can this happen? 5 month baby dies at airport luggage carrousel accident.

A five-month-old baby died on a carousel for outsized luggage in the airport of the Spanish resort town of Alicante late on Wednesday, airport and emergency officials said on Thursday.

The baby’s mother was travelling from Gatwick airport near London with the baby and another small child and was due to be picked up by the father in the airport, an airport spokeswoman said.

Officials could not confirm the exact circumstances of the death, but one airport security worker said it appeared the accident happened after the mother put the baby down briefly on the conveyor belt.

“The mother apparently put him down on the conveyor belt when she went to reach for something,” she told Atlas news agency in televised comments.

Emergency services received a call at 0033 local time (6:33 a.m. ET) requesting psychological counseling for the family, an emergency services spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Source:  Reuters

NTSB urges FAA to review existing separation procedures

The NTSB – National Transportation Safety Bureau, has issued a safety recommendation to the FAA – Federal Aviation Administration to review all existing separation standards and operating procedures.

This recommendation comes after the NTSB has reviewed a series of recent events in which air carrier aircraft that were executing a go around came within hazardous proximity to other landing or departing aircraft.

These events occurred at airports controlled by the FAA in which ATC procedures permit takeoff and landing operations on non-intersecting runways with intersecting arrivals or departure paths and have resulted in flight crews having to execute evasive maneuvers at low altitude to avoid collisions.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The NTSB manifests its concern that actual FAA separation procedures are inadequate to prevent such events

 Recent Events

Dotcom Flight 2374 and Spirit Airlines Flight 511, Las Vegas, Nevada

On July 30, 2012, about 1944 coordinated universal time (UTC), two airplanes came within hazardous proximity of one another at Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport (LAS), Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS is one example of an airport that has runway layout and procedures that facilitate independent converging runway operations), when Spirit Airlines flight 511, an Airbus Industries A319, was executing a go-around from runway 19L and Dotcom flight 2374, a Cessna Citation 510, was landing on runway 7R (see figure 2). Runways 19 L/R and 7L intersect and may not be operated independently of one another. Runway 7R is located approximately 1,000 feet south of runway7L and does not intersect any other landing surface, permitting controllers to conduct arrival and departure operations independently of all other runways; however, the flight path of runway 19L intersects the flight path of runway 7R. The airplanes were being controlled by separate LAS ATC tower controllers operating on different frequencies. The pilot of Spirit Airlines flight 511 announced that the airplane was “on the go,” and the air traffic controller immediately responded with “traffic ahead and to your right landing 7R is a Citation out of 2600 off your right.”

The transmission was not acknowledged, and the controller instructed Spirit Airlines flight 511 to “expedite your climb.” The pilot of Spirit Airlines flight 511 never reported Dotcom flight 2374 in sight. When the controller responsible for Dotcom flight 2374 recognized that Spirit Airlines flight511 was executing a go-around, he notified the Dotcom flight 2374 pilot of the position of Spirit Airlines flight 511 but did not provide any control instructions to ensure that the airplanes avoided one another. According to recorded radar data, the pilot of Dotcom flight 2374 turned the airplane off of the final approach course to the left to pass behind Spirit Airlines flight 511, then turned back to the runway and landed on runway 7R. Spirit Airlines flight 511 passed in front of and slightly above Dotcom flight 2374 on short final. The reported closest proximity was 0.21 nautical miles (nm) laterally and 100feet vertically. There were no injuries reported to passengers or flight crew and no damage reported to either airplane.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Figure 2. Spirit Airlines flight 511 (red dots) executed a go-around while attempting to land on runway 19L. Dotcom flight 2374 (blue dots) was simultaneously landing on runway 7R.

Read NTSB Safety Recommendation A-13-024











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