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Possible near mid-air - finding out details...

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Possible near mid-air - finding out details...

Old 30th May 2018, 12:18
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Gnome de PPRuNe
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Possible near mid-air - finding out details...

Recently while out for a stroll, I could hear two light aircraft out of sight behind trees. One made a sudden large power increase and a few seconds later both aircraft became visible, one heading north straight over me, the other heading west.

Suspecting they might have got rather too close for comfort, I later checked on FR24; even allowing for FR24's inaccuracies, they did appear to get pretty close horizontally and were both reporting the same altitude; the west bound aircraft suddenly climbed 300'!

The north bound aircraft was a high wing type climbing out from the circuit of an airfield several miles to the south, the west bound was a modestly fast low wing retractable and heading into a hazy lowish sun (it was about 6pm or so).

Obviously I'm curious to find out if indeed they did get that close and took avoiding action; can anyone point me in the direction of where I might find details at a later date please, if one or both reported the incident?
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Old 30th May 2018, 14:14
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Mostly, these don't get reported - whilst the Airprox board encourage it, in reality most pilots of light aircraft will just chalk it up to experience.

If you have seen the encounter on FR24, you have the aircraft registrations. G-INFO will find you the registered owners, and you can always drop them a line asking directly. There's a good chance they'll simply ignore you, but it's the least unlikely way to answer your question, in my opinion.

G
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Old 30th May 2018, 14:36
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Gnome de PPRuNe
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Hi Genghis, many thanks - Airprox Board has led me to the reports to keep an eye on over the next several months!

I can recall one of the registrations and it was several weeks ago (possibly a month) but I wouldn't wish to contact either party directly. If it's reported and analysed that will satisfy my curiosity; if it wasn't, no harm was done, possibly just a laundry bill to settle!
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Old 31st May 2018, 00:12
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Don't forget there are two more possibilities:
1) two aircraft manoeuvring in in Class G airspace, neither of which saw the other at any point. Having a professional interest in the output from the Airprox Board over many years, I know there are many 'near-misses' reported by a pilot which went completely unnoticed by the other pilot. Statistically there will be occasions when two VFR aircraft get close yet are each unsighted by the other (especially when the wx conditions you describe prevail). In this case there would be no report and no subsequent investigation / AB output.
2) one or both pilots saw each other and yet neither considered safety was or may have been compromised - even if one climbed rapidly, it may or may not have been in order to avoid the other one. If one or both pilots were happy they could maintain some separation from the other, they probably wouldn't consider it to be an AIRPROX and there's therefore no legal requirement for any reporting action.

I have no idea of the actual scenario...this is just to explain that if you don't ever see any Airprox Board report relating to the situation, it may not be down to any sinister reasons!
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Old 31st May 2018, 08:38
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Thanks NudgingSteel!

Many years ago I was a backseat pax in a PA-28. Somewhere north of Booker we spotted another PA-28 perhaps a mile or two to our left, converging at 90% and roughly our altitude. I believe that in such a situation the aircraft with the other on its right "gives way"; this one didn't, so my mate closed the throttle and we went underneath, maybe 200' lower. There was no risk of collision at that point though certainly a conflict had existed and had we not been keeping a good lookout (four pairs of eyes, all with good flying experience) the outcome could well have been very different. The other PA-28 belonged to the Oxford Air Training School so may have been a solo student. Anyway it wasn't reported to any one so far as I know!
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Old 31st May 2018, 12:23
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Somewhere north of Booker we spotted another PA-28 perhaps a mile or two to our left,
But you didn't see the other three that were potentially in confliction! Which sums up the whole problem of operation in Class G airspace.

2 s
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Old 31st May 2018, 16:05
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Close sightings are a fact of life for those of us required to operate for much of the time in Class G.

If everyone "AIRPROXed" every time they had to take avoiding action on aircraft flown by pilots not looking out as they are required to do, the reporting system would probably become swamped. From past experience, most "other" pilots involved deny it ever happened (obviously because they hadn't seen...).
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Old 31st May 2018, 16:43
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But, if they did report wed have a better understanding of the issue.
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Old 31st May 2018, 16:49
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Originally Posted by woptb View Post
But, if they did report wed have a better understanding of the issue.
The main issue is that some pilots don't look out, or at least don't "see and be seen".

The fact that most light aircraft are flown from the left seat and the requirement is to give way to the right - cross cockpit visibility isn't so good by the design of some types. That doesn't help.

If all pilots used their transponder on Mode C it would help prevent many potential AIRPROX situations from developing.
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Old 1st Jun 2018, 07:58
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But, if they did report we’d have a better understanding of the issue.
What is there to understand that we don't already know? You don't see the one that you hit or have an airprox with, for reasons that are well understood. The only cure is compulsory electronic anti-collision systems.

2 s
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Old 1st Jun 2018, 13:10
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I remember an incident when I was in training, in the circuit as P1S, on base and about to turn for final when a plane suddenly appeared out of the haze on finals, same level, no radio call and seemingly unaware.
I pulled, added power and watched him go underneath, my instructor didn't see him until after as he was watching a plane clearing the runway, we did a 360 and landed after, my instructor spoke to the pilot (and his instructor), wrong frequency calls and they were also watching the clearing plane.

Bad airmanship? Radio frequency was a simple mistake, the clearing plane was definitely a distraction, only two holes in the cheese but they very nearly lined up, a split second later and I would have been looking in the direction of the turn and who knows.

This was in a supercub with radio and few radio aids, I also spent a lot of hours in an Auster with no aids and a hand held when flying into fields that required a radio.
Compulsory TCAS equipment isn't going to be viable in much of the permit to fly categories, primarily due to cost.

Mk1 eyeball is still the best tool, accepting there are limitations and that other folk don't always do what you expect.
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Old 1st Jun 2018, 15:23
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I've had several situations where other aircraft flew distinctly non-standard circuits (or parts thereof) for reasons that were very much valid to themselves at the time. The conversations afterwards were always useful to both parties and while I can't say that I've significantly improved safety across the whole of GA, I think that every little bit helps. Just accepting that we can't see everything is not a step towards a solution or an improvement in my view. A better understanding can still be created, if not industry-wide, then perhaps by educating pilots, one confused soul at a time... (tongue firmly in cheek there).
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Old 1st Jun 2018, 20:23
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Momoe, keeping a good lookout in an Auster or a Supercub isn't easy. For years I didn't bother to use radio when pulling up gliders, but one fortunate day, did turn it on. Very fortunate! The highly skilled glider pilot that I was tugging out of Shenington, said "Traffic! look out!" Thinking most conflicts come from Wellesborne, I looked to my right. The glider pilot on tow said, loud and clear, "Turn LEFT, NOW!"

The plane that passed over us at about five feet clearance, never saw us at all. The glider pilot I was towing correctly DID NOT PULL OFF TOW.

And again in the Supercub, I was towing up a young Navy pilot in a competition, which had been notammed, and I saw a two engine plane heading our way out of Oxford ......I correctly turned right. The plonker flying the twin turned Left! so we were nose to nose! I only had one maneuver left, and dived. The Navy lad in the glider correctly did not pull off tow. When he flew the task, I caught up with him at Control, and said he had done well, not to let go. He said he paid for 2,000 feet, and wanted to get his money's worth!

The RULES say to avoid head on collision, both aircraft should TURN RIGHT!
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Old 1st Jun 2018, 23:17
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Exciting Short Final

I had accrued six hours of instrument training and was with my 20,000 hour instructor on a CAVU (now CAVOK) short final approach in a Cessna 172 to 22 at KSSI, a controlled airport, in 1977. We had had no radio traffic on the approach frequency. Just as I selected flaps 40 at approximately 1/4 mile before the runway's threshold and trimmed accordingly at 70 knots, a small twin appeared, unexpectedly and largely, in my window at our altitude - 300 feet. He was no more than twenty feet distant but 40+ knots faster! He plunged directly in front of us, waggled his wings in a pronounced fashion to bleed airspeed, landed perfectly, then turned off on the first taxiway. As I landed, my instructor, a gentleman in the true sense of the word, said in an uncharacteristic venomous tone "I am reporting that S.O.B. to the tower and the FAA as soon as we shut down!"

The trouble was this: I knew the pilot of the twin. Not only that, I worked for him! He had three (count 'em THREE) Naval Distinguished Flying Crosses! He also claimed the FIRST NIGHT KILL in Viet Nam, as an F-4 Phantom pilot off of the U.S.S. Constellation. He flew with the surety and confidence which most humans have in walking and breathing. He had just purchased race car driver A. J. Foyt's Cessna 320 Skyknight and had sold me a 1/3 interest the day before this near miss! He was handsome and wealthy and intelligent and my friend.

Only through the deepest and most persistent persuasion did I talk my instructor, also by that time a dear friend, out of making a scathing report to the Federal Aviation Administration. In retrospect, I regret my youthful decision. (I was 29.) Friend, foe, or anything in between, if a pilot's showboating puts lives at risk, it's time to file a report!

Still looking at the grass from the green side forty years later...

- Ed
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Old 3rd Jun 2018, 07:27
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Originally Posted by mary meagher View Post
The RULES say to avoid head on collision, both aircraft should TURN RIGHT!
I recently attended a safety forum regarding VFR, because of the increasing accident and near-miss rate in our busy Class G and F airspaces.

One of the experts, who gave a great presentation on how to scan well the sky, concluded that the RULES are probably NOT perfect.

1) GA aircraft often have 2-seat side-by-side arrangements, and the pilot sits on the LEFT side, whereas the conflicting traffic that needs to be given way to, comes from the RIGHT side. This rule worked well with ships with a central bridge, but doesn't work so well with many GA aircraft types anymore. .

2) I am not sure the rules say anything about LEVELS. In straight and level flight, you can visually acquire a traffic coming from your RIGHT with 500 ft vertical separation, which suddenly dives / zoom climbs to your altitude, so you really need to do quick and hard evasive actions. And if the moron files a report, you, the person flying straight and level, will be punished by the RULES.
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Old 3rd Jun 2018, 19:52
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Mk1 eyeball is still the best tool, accepting there are limitations and that other folk don't always do what you expect.
It's only a useful tool if you see the other aircraft, and in sufficient time. It is certainly not the best tool for the job, hence the number of incidents.

2 s
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Old 3rd Jun 2018, 21:14
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Originally Posted by cavuman1 View Post
if a pilot's showboating puts lives at risk, it's time to file a report!
Wonderfully well-intentioned though your thoughts are, its my (considerable) experience that filing a report will have no effect but to make you look like a bitter and spiteful individual. Its up to the regulators to change that playing field, but they never will.
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Old 4th Jun 2018, 18:37
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2 s,
Ok, I'll bite.

TCAS is a great aid, whether it's the best tool for the job is debatable.

There have been several incidents where pilots have disregarded the TCAS instructions resulting in very near misses or mid-airs:specifically DHL Uberlingen.

Driverless cars are great - in theory. I'm sure that if everyone had driverless cars all using the same systems, the roads would be a much safer place, same with planes and TCAS, the technology isn't quite mature enough and the logistical/cost issues are prohibitive.
As alluded to by Mary, even when contact is established, the other person doesn't always follow established procedures, I've been sitting quite happily in a thermal and had 4 FJ's blast through 500ft below me in airspace marked quite clearly as gliding activity (Long Mynd), made it worse by immediately going vertical and disappeared into cloud, at least they can see outside cloud, how can you avoid the glider thermalling in cloud?
The other issue is that TCAS only works if everyone has it, vis-a-vis recent air prox involving a FJ and para-gliders, FJ was at fault but realistically para-gliders are never going to have TCAS and even if they did, the relative closing speeds would make it's usefulness questionable at best.

MK1 eyeball may have limitations but it seems to work reasonably well, the number of mid-airs is statistically very low (Near Midair Collisions: How Many Really Occur?)
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Old 4th Jun 2018, 22:21
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The other issue is that TCAS only works if everyone has it,
Not true. It requires one aircraft to have TCAS and the other to have a working transponder.
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Old 5th Jun 2018, 15:30
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Originally Posted by ShyTorque View Post
Not true. It requires one aircraft to have TCAS and the other to have a working transponder.
Then still the one without could collide with another one without. I guess you couldnt manage the one has, the other dont in forhand. If it was possible I guess bo one needed TCAS.

Conclusion, every A/C in the country or world should have it. You could make it every A/C minus one if one could guarantee the function on every TCAS.
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