When Bob Haygooni paid a midflight visit to a cockpit at his new employer, Air India, he was shocked. The pilots, he said, had completely covered the windows with newspaper to keep out the sun. “All you had in the cockpit was this yellowish glow, as the light permeated the newspaper,” Mr. Haygooni recalled, saying it was a visibility hazard he had never seen before in 30 years of flying.
But “this was a normal thing at Air India,” said Mr. Haygooni, a former United Airlines pilot who flew for the Indian airline for 16 months.
"Visibility Hazard"??? I assume "midflight" means they were at cruising level, IFR, NOT VFR. Don't know about you, but when that big fire ball shines through the windows with very little atmosphere to filter it, I block it with whatever I have, turn on WX radar and peek out from time to time. I am also not aware of any requirement to be on the lookout while flying IFR. I love my job, but skin cancer was not part of my deal. As for Air India, I guess they have their plate full without this dramatization.
Amos, you must be working for Air India or something? Have you haver heard of "see and avoid"? Also when flying IFR you have the direct responsibility to watch out for other traffic. And what does skincancer have to do with this? If the sun is low over the horizon, its rays actually travel further through our protective atmosphere....
1. You can not see traffic directly into sun - well not unless you are wearing an arc welding helmet. 2. Dazzle caused by the sun reduces the ability to see traffic removed from the glare ball. 3. I have flown for the RAF and three world majors. In all of these it was common and accepted practice to place a map or other obstruction over the window in line with the sun. You ain't goin' to see anything there anyway.
p.s. It is, of course, up to the ol' man whether you use this technique or not
Not just confined to a third world carrier. If anyone has a copy of this months Airliner World, turn to page 37. One very large US carrier with both windscreens partially blocked during a landing. I'm assuming its not a practice autoland. Now I know flying into Sun is a pain, but I have never seen anyone obstruct the screen during landing.
There is a difference between an old Jep map shading a bit on the left side window when sitting for 10 hrs with the sun at 10 o´clock and the widespread Indian culture of covering all cockpit windows completely, effectively turning the old bird into an airborne submarine. I have come into the cockpit of one flight while in the hold into LHR in the middle of rush hour where you could see nothing outside!
Yes, I know: IFR, TCAS, God watching over you etc., but having experienced 4 actual near misses which required avoidance maneuvering, this culture makes my p..s freeze.
Recently had a Turbulev climbing straight through my level at 12 o´clock - no TCAS.
Appalled to learn that the complacency is not confined to the sub-continent....
I have nothing to do with Air India. However, I do have a lot of experience flying into the sun (and not only when it's "low over the horizon"). "See and avoid"? Give me a break. Must be flying Cesnas for too long. In modern radar controlled airspace, with TCAS II, you really don't need to be on a "lookout" through the windows - you will be better off looking at your ND for potential traffic hazards and peek outside ONLY when a potential conflict is near. I don't remember ATC requiring different separation when I'm in clouds or at night. On the other hand, read the statistics about pilots getting skin cancer, and you'll figure out what skin cancer has to do with it.
I may put forward an educated guess here that the skin cancer rate in pilots is rather due to the increased amount of cosmic radiation (high energy gamma rays) rather than the UV light which is filtered out by first the actual windshield and than by the cool pilot's sunglasses...
As a SLF I rather prefer to fly in a plane where the pilots are able to quickly look up and see whats coming than as someone phrased it "flying submarine" or grandma's coffee parlor in the garden...
Of course, but in my experience you rarely, if ever, spend the entire cruise in cloud with limited visibility.
To artificially subject yourself to zero visibility is a bit daft.
Would you agree that the longer you spend not being able to see outside the chances of you twonking something are increased?
You can rely on TCAS and Radar all you like, they aren't infallible or 100% reliable. Uberlingen springs to mind.
What would you do if you were in the cruise and you had an RA out of the blue (which does happen)? Follow the TCAS commands and attempt to locate the other aircraft visually. You can't do both if you've got charts all over the place.