View Full Version : Yet Another DJ Near Miss

24th Dec 2003, 16:11
Reports today of another near miss when a Virgin Blue TCAS alert activated due to conflict with a light aircraft on a flight from Sydney to Launceston.
Looks like another winning effort down to NAS.
How many more will it take???

24th Dec 2003, 17:06
Is it a Dick-E airspace issue? :confused:

24th Dec 2003, 18:42
Is it a Dick-E airspace issue?
Absolutely !

. B737 on visual approach through E airspace to a non-radar tower;
. B737 takes evasive climbing action in response to TCAS RA at A075;
. VFR lightie says he was the traffic and that remaining silent was part of the new procedure to reduce chatter;
. B737 crew later reported the aircraft missed by 200FT!!

How many more will it take??? No idea! Misses don't count.

24th Dec 2003, 21:02
Don't you people get it. This is not an incident. the NCD test was applied and passed.

24th Dec 2003, 21:34

Virgin plane in second 'near miss'
December 24, 2003

THE crew of a Virgin Blue passenger plane activated a collision avoidance system as they approached Launceston this afternoon when a light aircraft was detected nearby.

The Virgin Boeing 737 flight, en route from Sydney, was north of Launceston when the incident occurred about 1.35pm (AEDT), Airservices Australia (ASA) spokesman Richard Dudley said.

He said the Boeing 737's collision avoidance system was activated and the pilot took avoidance action during the incident.

The matter will be investigated by ASA's safety personnel and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Mr Dudley said.

It is believed the other aircraft was a four-seater single-engine plane, however this could not be confirmed by ASA.

Virgin Blue spokeswoman Amanda Bolger said no one was in any danger during the incident.

She said the Virgin plane's crew activated a proximity alert after they became aware of the other plane, carried out a level change and landed as normal.

Ms Bolger could not confirm how many people were on board the Boeing 737 which can carry up to 144 passengers.

She said the airline did not want to speculate about the cause of the incident until investigations were concluded.

"Last time certain organisations made wild speculative statements and they turned out to be false," she said.

"We're certainly confident that our crew responded appropriately to the proximity alert."

Civil Air president Ted Lang blamed the incident on new federal air traffic control rules.

The National Airspace System, which came into effect late last month, allows light planes into areas used by commercial airliners.

Mr Lang called on federal Transport Minister John Anderson to consider an alternative plan which keeps light planes out of the flight path of commercial planes.

This latest incident comes less than a month after another controversy concerning a Virgin passenger plane and a Cessna in Melbourne.

Civil Air claimed at the time that the two aircraft had a near-miss when collision avoidance measures were activated.

However, an Australian Transport Safety Bureau report released last week found the planes did not come close to having a near miss.



25th Dec 2003, 02:52
This is a serious query, it is certainly NOT a joking matter. :(

I am not very familiar with the TCAS system, however I am curious as to the reason that this is another Virgin Blue incident.

Is it just bad luck, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or IF there is the ability to set limits on the TCAS?? Do Virgin Blue have different criteria/values set to say Qantas? :confused:

What I mean is do Virgin Blue have their TCAS warnings set at too fine, thus causing them to get more warnings than other carriers??

Kaptin M
25th Dec 2003, 03:17
The parameters that TCAS utilise are not able to be modified by the crews, and are "factory set",lame.
Depending on the type of transponder that the lighties are using (whether or not it incorporates altitude reporting), may cause the crew of the other aircraft interrogating the lighties Tx (in this case VB) to receive a warning. If the lightie does not have Alt reporting on its Tx, and it comes within a specified range, then TCAS assumes that both aircraft are at the same altitude (when in fact they might be separated by a 1,000' or more).
If the other aircraft does have Alt reporting, then rate of closure is incorporated into TCAS' calculations, and advisories are issued to both aircraft.

So although the ATC'er may have been aware that both aircraft had sufficient vertical separation, TCAS may have issued a command to the VB crew - which is an aural warning, and REQUIRES the crew to disconnect the autopilot, if engaged, and follow the TCAS command, regardless of ATC instructions.

Hope that clarifies things a little. :ooh:

25th Dec 2003, 05:20
So although the ATC'er may have been aware that both aircraft had sufficient vertical separation

In this instance ... the lightie was unknown to the Tower or the B737 until the TCAS RA !!!

I believe the passengers on the B737 got a good look at the lightie as they zipped by.

25th Dec 2003, 07:13
"However, an Australian Transport Safety Bureau report released last week found the planes did not come close to having a near miss. "


Come in spinner.

89 steps to heaven
25th Dec 2003, 09:33
Deputy Prime Minister Anderson.

Raise above saving political face. It is time to fix a poor decision before there is an avoidable loss in our skies.

We have had close, extreemly close. Do we really want to wait for the third time?

Stop serving out on the Union for calling things for what they are, you urgently need to review your position and admit that a miscalculation has been made. :confused:

Class C is safer than E. We should have never be coerced into changing. :oh:

For all those concerned, please make this your New Years resolution.

I am an ATC and a Civil Air member for those who might wonder.

25th Dec 2003, 13:04
Don't you people get it. This is not an incident. the NCD test was applied and passed.

Of course it was an incident, just not one where the difference in distance between two hurtling objects comes into play.

All TCAS RA's are incidents, it just wasn't a Breakdown of Separation because no seperation standard exists.:ok:

25th Dec 2003, 13:38
Kaptin M,

Yes I realise that the Crew would not be able to adjust it.

I thought maybe different Airlines had different figures built in(factory set) by the Manufacturer?

So you are saying that every Aircraft in the World, that has TCAS fitted, has the same alerts and at exactly the same distances, yes?

IF that is true, it is odd that it seems to be only Virgin Blue having these near misses.


PS. Did you get my email?

25th Dec 2003, 13:45
89 Steps - no, not a third time - there's been more than TWO!

Anyway what's wrong with you lot - there were about 90 odd people all seeing and avoiding the light aircraft.

Skinny Dog
25th Dec 2003, 15:22
While I don’t pretend to have any inside knowledge re the recent TCAS warnings, I can’t help but feel it may be more to do with inexperience and a basic understanding of just how TCAS works.
Both recent incidents have occurred on climb / descent. Traffic or targets just don’t suddenly appear. If you have operated in some of the very busy environments overseas you soon become intimate with TCAS and how it works, including some of it’s limitations, especially operational techniques which will cause hard warnings.
Basic airmanship will in most cases warn you of the possibility of an imminent hard warning, enabling the crew to adjust the climb or descent rates to avoid this sort of incident.
Current software may have sorted out the so-called “Dallas Bump” when a TCAS warning occurred when one aircraft was on a high rate of descent and an aircraft climbing up on the reciprocal track could cause a warning even though both aircraft were separated by 1000’ or more.
On all the glass cockpit aircraft I have flown the so called targets were clearly visible enabling crew to adjust their ROC or ROD.
Perhaps we should be looking at operating techniques rather than blaming the system.

25th Dec 2003, 15:26
there were about 90 odd people all seeing and avoiding the light aircraftPity none of them were in control of the aircraft! TCAS saves the day again?

25th Dec 2003, 16:58
Good one Mike Smith, John Anderson et al. Your airspace system works really well. Can someone please turn their lights on as they are wandering around without their transponder turned on. Also they are not looking out their windscreens as their heads are between their ... (well they would say they dropped a pen between the rudder pedals). Here's a start:

TCAS RA doesnt mean "NAS system worked as planned" it means the last link in the chain didnt break

If a collision occurs you cant say "The pilots failed to see and avoid" because you have been told (by scientific research-see ATSB report) that see and avoid has its limitations ie you probably wont see a lightie when you are approaching head on at 250kt and the other is say 110kt. ie 360kt closing speed 6nm/min or 1nm/10sec.

If Mr Anderson mentions another semi trailer again it means he still has no idea and is intent on proving this to everyone.

Boyd Munro
25th Dec 2003, 17:19
I have spoken to the pilot of the light aircraft involved. It was in level flight at 7,500ft and the pilot had the Virgin Jet in sight at all relevant times, and heard it on the radio.

There was no risk of collision. The Virgin Jet was speed-limited to 250 knots and the weather was crystal clear. The light aircraft pilot was monitoring the frequency which the Virgin Jet was working, and was looking at the Virgin Jet.

Had there been a collision risk he would have spoken up or taken avoiding action. He was flying some family members to be with other family members for Christmas and was not in a suicidal mood.

This is a simple old-fashioned beat-up unworthy of any Australian genuinely concerned with Air Safety.

Boyd Munro

PO Box 172 Unley SA 5061
[email protected]

25th Dec 2003, 17:40
Mr Munro,

Please explain, if there was no risk of collision, why the 737 took avoiding action. Surely there would at least have been a breakdown in separation had they not done so? And to have the 737 visual at all "relevant times". I admit I don't know the relative flight paths but a 250 kt "speed limited" 737 sure can creep up pretty fast. I believe it would have at least been prudent for the single engine driver to speak up.

I'll have to wait for the report to know the facts. And as far as near misses go, it won't be the first or last time an aircraft which has been the cause of avoiding action will claim it saw the other aircraft.

25th Dec 2003, 17:42

does this mean you endorse Dick Smith and John Anderson in their total endorsement of our new safer system?

404 Titan
25th Dec 2003, 19:31
Boyd Munro

Boyd, how about you ask the crew of the Virgin aircraft what they saw before saying this was a non-event. I can assure you trying to see a light aircraft while doing 250 kts + is next to impossible sometimes. If they did get an RA as has been advertised then this is definitely another serious breakdown in separation by international standards even if Australia doesn’t recognize this anymore. This is just a political excuse to try and ram down our throat this whole NAS BS. I can assure you when, not if, there is a mid air caused by this new airspace, all you NAS people will go scurrying off into your little holes. Rest assured though that those responsible will be held accountable.:yuk: :*

25th Dec 2003, 19:56
Mr Boyd Munroe,

After the last incident , I am more sceptical of initial reports, however , if the GA pilot saw the 737 and considered there was no collision imminent. I would still expect him to advise the 737 of his position.

I would prefer the 737 captain to make a decision as to whether any adjustment to his flight path was required, rather than rely on the GA pilots judgement.

There is little use in having an exceptionally well-trained and experienced pilots on the RPT aircraft if in in tight situations he's not in the position to command: you need situational awareness to command.

This has been a concerned regards the CTAF and the continued reference to see and avoid procedures. We are worried that this exact situation will occur in approaches to our major regional uncontrolled airports. We do not want the GA aircraft pilot , who may have 50 hours flying experience, making the crucial decision. That being the decision" not to make a call" as he feels no conflict is going to occur.

Regardless of the what the exact proximity of the two aircraft would have been, had the Virgin Blue flight not altered course ,surely you can see that the decision to make or not make a call based upon the GA pilot's prediction of conflict is not nearly as safe as allowing the professional captain of the 737 to make that decision.

Mandatory calls at major regional airports will help by transferring the information to the 737 captain , so that his professional decision can be made.

The Australian passengers are expecting him to make that decision and he has been trained and has sufficient skill and experience to make the best decision possible.

We believe the Australian regulators in designing an airspace system must ensure that in uncontrolled airspace with a high density of flights, where ever possible the rules must allow the RPT pilot to be aware of any possible conflicts.

Hence our extremely strong stand against CTAF and see and procedures that encourage the GA pilots in uncontrolled airspace to fail to inform the RPT captain of his close proximity.

I'm not qualified with regards to en route airspace . however , it does appear that if E class is a controlled airspace then surely those who have a responsibility to control it can do a better job if they are aware of all traffic within that airspace.

I believe the average Australian passenger expects that his safety is being guarded by either the RPT captain or the ATC operator.

25th Dec 2003, 22:05
Had there been a collision risk he would have spoken up or taken avoiding action What an asinine statement! Do you consider TCAS RAs 'normal'? Allegedly, after responding to the RA, the Virgin crew reported missing by 200'. Furthermore, please tell us how a light aircraft can 'choose to miss' a jet bearing down on it? Perhaps you don't understand much about physics, or perhaps you are running a little political interference? Either way, the aviation community will laugh you all the way out of the coroner's inquest. It was certainly close enough to announce himself, if only to save the DJ crew the nervous moments of the RA (although they are getting to be routine, now).
Any pilot who thinks that; another aircraft responded to an RA, yet no collision risk existed (in a non-controlled situation, such as NAS classE), either wouldn't know if his arse was on fire or is doing practice intercepts in an F18 (although that never happens, right:hmm: )was not in a suicidal mood Doesn't have to be. Just doesn't have to understand the risk. Like the Minister, yourself, Dick etc. The public are getting it, though. One of these a week in the paper, and watch Anderson flip faster than a two-bob on ANZAC day. Maybe I could get a job writing the grab: "Well, it is Dick Smith who must bear full responsibility.....etc". Sad that the professional opinions, I-told-you-so's etc were/still are put down to "scaremongering". Not to mention the unneccessary risk to the public. Hope this fiasco is ended before it gets worse.
You ought to be ashamed, Mr Munroe. "Air Safety Australia". Is that like Airservices Australia?

25th Dec 2003, 22:34
Boyd, in the USA, ATC ask you to report RAs as NMACs or 'Near Mid Air Colllisions' so that they keep the tapes, investigate it, whatever. If we are going to move to the US NAS system, can we use the same NMAC stuff? I don't see why we shouldn't.

NEAR MID AIR COLLISION is what has happened!! Get it? :mad: :*

26th Dec 2003, 09:57
Boyd says:

I have spoken to the pilot of the light aircraft involved. It was in level flight at 7,500ft and the pilot had the Virgin Jet in sight at all relevant times, and heard it on the radio. There was no risk of collision

So there you have it. Investigation complete. From an unbiased source. Who lives in Europe.

What I have gathered from the news reports today:

A spokesman for Mr Anderson said the union's campaign was political "because they believe it will be of benefit to the Labor Party".


"The new system has been run very well so far," the spokesman said. "It is working as it's meant to work


A Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said that while CASA had not been involved in designing or implementing the new system it had conducted a safety audit of its operation and determined there was nothing inherently unsafe about it. http://www.examiner.com.au/story.asp?id=210340

A spokesman for Mr Anderson says Mr Lang was proved wrong over claims about a similar incident earlier this month and says he is engaging in politically motivated scaremongering.



How on earth do you associate helping the ALP with CivilAir's stance Anderson? Are you completely devoid of the concept of professional concern? I hope your attitude of trying to simlify and dumb down all of this into neat notional political side-taking is remembered at the next Federal election and you are sent off to where you belong.

How on earth is the latest Civil Air Press release scarmongering or sensational?? http://www.civilair.asn.au/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=prpub

Nice of you to finally join the NAS argument Boyd.

26th Dec 2003, 10:41
According to the FAA (USA): ...
Near Midair Collision (NMAC) - an incident associated with the operation of an aircraft in which the possibility of collision occurs as a result of proximity of less than 500 feet to another aircraft, or a report is received from a pilot or flight crewmember stating that a collision hazard existed between two or more aircraft.
In this case ...
. TCAS RA and subsequent avoiding action by B737 due possibility of a collision;
. B737 crew reports miss by 200FT
. B737 crew submitted report.

NEAR MID AIR COLLISION is what has happened!!
Yep ... guess this one qualifies !!

Mixture Rich
26th Dec 2003, 10:44
From one VFR driver to another (AND i don't have all of the facts) why would you NOT talk to the DJ driver. Whilst I cohabit the skies with DJ also, it is in class D, but I also cohabit with Son of Skippy into MBZ's. When they make their call, I can ascertain where they are and what their intentions are...but I cannot read minds and i don't know if, for some reason, they have to change their intentions, so i talk to 'em. Nice bunch generally on the odd occassion when we have had pilot to pilot social intercourse. We both know where each other is situated and what our individual intentions are. I have on occassion done an orbit or extended downwind or whatever to facilitate an RPT...he's bigger than me.
To say that under the new rules you can't talk in E is a cop out. Do you REALLY think that is what they mean? When DO you think you can talk in E?
I have to agree with the ATCers, change E to C so we can all be "stayin' alive, stayin' alive" (sorry JT). In the meantime, if i see a bloody big red or red and white thing anywhere near me I'll be the first to break the rules and speak up on Area Frequency and / or CTAF/MBZ and if that don't elicit a respnse 121.5
I don't want to be the next report in AAP as venturing into areas where comercial jets fly. Funny 'bout that, where the hell did I fly before >FL40 only to be beamed down to the closest Mackers carpark to land:\

26th Dec 2003, 11:17
Have a butcher's at the AIR SAFETY AUSTRALIA website - no mention of directors, offices etc. Its veerrryy supportive of Dick tho'. The ASIC website doesn't help either.

Could well be another one of the SIF with his "own" organisation - a bit like the "Pedestrian Council".

Suffering Sucataash
26th Dec 2003, 11:38
Skinny Dog,

I have to go with your comments, we can have a similar "Bump" out of Sydney 34R leveling at 5000' with crossing inbound traffic at 6000' and 34 departures from Melbourne with 27 arrivals when they sometimes meet at BAKER. Simple solution is to reduce the RoD/RoC as you see the traffic on the TCAS and you can avoid the RA.

Did the Vigin crew get a TA prior to the RA and did they take any preventative action? Or do they just wait until they get close enough for the RA so they don't disturb the VNAV path?

Who is flying the aircraft? :\

26th Dec 2003, 12:09
From the uninformed and well informed comments on this and other threads it seems both of the incidents that have got press time were everybody having a brilliant NAS-type day. In one the jet crew acquired the VFR visually, in the other the VFR acquired the jet visually. Then the TCAS went off and it's a headline.:confused: :confused: :confused:

Maybe TCAS can't deal with the system? Is TCAS the problem???

If it happens here twice in a month, and there is any truth to the comparisons of statistics, it should happen 40 times a month in the oh-so-very-much-busier US system:mad: So does it?

404 Titan
26th Dec 2003, 12:22

There is nothing wrong with the TCAS. It is working as it was designed. I have been flying to the US, Canada and Europe for a number of years now and while TA’s are not uncommon, RA’s are definitely not. Looking at out company stats system wide they are not very common at all and definitely are treated as a breakdown in separation. For a regulator like CASA/ASA or the ATSB to say that they aren’t fly’s directly in the face of international norms. I think John Anderson and the like need to wake up and smell the roses because very soon if they don’t they will be smelling s**t which will be on their faces.

26th Dec 2003, 12:33
BLASToid - you're right - none of the 90 odd people who were watching this unfold and assisting in their own subtle way with see and avoid - were not in control of the aircraft. BUT - in my little world of make believe I know that they and I are Chocolate Biscuit buyers and we vote. When I discuss this debacle with family and friends I know that they too buy chocolate biscuits and vote and perhaps our system of democracy may, one day, fix this!

26th Dec 2003, 12:49
2 X RA's in as many weeks in class "E"?
No, Mr. Experts, this is NOT “normal” nor is it acceptable!
Review this stupid situation immediately or have blood on your hands.
The TCAS RA procedure is in the "Non-Normal Manoeuvres" section of the B737 Operations Manual for a very good reason.
i.e. It is not supposed to be a weekly occurrence because of a system that allows an RPT jet on a normal descent path to be "surprised" by another A/C to the extent that it needs to take the last step in COLLISION (yes, that's what the "C" in TCAS stands for!) avoidance.
In addition, what about the potential for injury to unrestrained cabin crew and pax during one of these "routine" RA's?
As someone has already stated, “TCAS RA doesn’t mean "NAS system worked as planned" it means the last link in the chain didn’t break”
As a regular user of airspace in Australia in an RPT jet I feel a lot less safe now than I did a month or so ago as a direct result of the NAS.
Are you listening?
This is NOT acceptable.
Get it?


26th Dec 2003, 16:06
Boyd Munro

An oxymoronic 'Dick'sycophant if ever there was

"You can teach a monkey to ride a bike... ":ok:

26th Dec 2003, 20:17
Hmmmmm......oxymoronic sounds like an apt description of an AN 767 Flight Engineer!! However, this continuing NAS whining from union bludging ATC and B grade airline pilots is becoming more than rather repetitive and tiresome. You people all really need to get out more....and get a life please!!:{ Why some Aussies think they know better than a far superior airspace system that has worked well in the US for years is beyond me...is this just some pathetic patriotic prattle? :rolleyes: I would be most interested to know how these neurotics behave behing the wheel of a motor vehicle..if in fact they ever have the nerve to drive. One could not imagine them managing day to day without a multiple recurring heart attack...:ooh:

27th Dec 2003, 13:40
Ahhh! Winstun. The point is that we don't have the US system yet, our current system has (supposedly) just been made a little more US-like, with the aim of making it a lot more US-like in the future.

If there are differences in outcome between the US system and ours it may mean there is something wrong with our current hybrid.

The (previously reliable) batsman has let a couple through to the keeper. Sooner or later the bowler will get one on the stumps.

I'll bet you like looking at train crashes too:ouch:

27th Dec 2003, 16:54
Winstun, come on you're believing John Anderson's propaganda now.

I drive a car doing up to 60 knots every day. That's on a straight, 2 dimensional road and I know where the other cars are coming from - on the black stuff on the other side of the road. Give me a break.

You simply cannot draw an analogy between the road and our airspace system.

From someone who drives - and flies - in Australia and the US.

27th Dec 2003, 19:12
Who the hell this J. Anderson is I care not.You simply cannot draw an analogy between the road and our airspace system. Damn right Your (lack of) risk perception is astonshing. You are quite content to know where other cars "are coming from"...save the small fact that they are inches from head on collision with you 24/7, quite likely poorly maintained, and driven by the unskilled, distracted, fatigued, tipsy, high or even neurotic... seen the figures on the dead and disabled? :hmm: Let you in on a little secret..60 knots or 500 knots, yous a gonner..:ooh: The fact that a unionised 1970s style, pencil pushing, public servant type airspace system has survived in Australia for so long, is no reason not to change it. :ok:

27th Dec 2003, 19:25
Hey Winstun,

What have you got against:

1. Unions,
2. Pencils,
3. The 1970's - man?


I hope you are approaching puberty soon so that your hands will have a more constructive use that they have on your keyboard.

404 Titan
27th Dec 2003, 19:29
People I suggest you ignore Winstun as he is wasting a very precious resource we all hold dear, air. Frankly I’m surprised his mother didn’t strangle him at birth because of the great gasps of it he was consuming.:suspect:

28th Dec 2003, 04:20
Winstun, my point was that at 110 km/hr I usually know the other car's there, have time to see it coming and time to do something about avoiding hitting it - a luxury I don't enjoy at 400 odd kts TAS on climb or descent. This is now the primary means of seperation in Australian Class E airspace.

The jobs got enough "threats" without introducing new ones, like the "Minister for Transport and Regional Services, The Hon. John Anderson MP's", NAS.

Incidentally, on a per departure basis, the road is a far safer place to be in spite of the "unskilled, distracted, fatigued, tipsy, high or even neurotic". Tell you anything?

And without casting aspersions on our Recreational Pilots some of them, who are now responsible for avoiding a collison with 400 odd people, may fall into any of your first three categories. No offence intended.

28th Dec 2003, 17:04
my point was that at 110 km/hr I usually know the other car's there, have time to see it coming and time to do something about avoiding hitting it ..:ooh:...Yeah right!!! Maybe you bunnies can work out a reaction time to a 110 kmh x2 closing speed on 2 feet..:rolleyes: the road is a far safer place to be in ...hmmm, over 1700 of your citizens dead this year and many several thousand more maimed..tell you anything? :hmm: And without casting aspersions on our Recreational Pilots.....may fall into any of your first three categories Actually I think you will find it most likely that your airline pilots may fall into those first three, categories.
Well, lets see:
unskilled : many an airline pilot in Oz is a cadet type with only a few hundred hours, many more have less PIC time than your average GA or private pilot. And they spend nearly all their time on autopilot...:rolleyes:
distracted: well, you only need to listen to the airliner disaster transcripts...a very common missing sterile cockpit, not to mention F/Es, flight attendants, jumpseat riders, and others chiping in...
fatigued: 12, 15, 20 hour tours of duty..speaks for itself...:sad:
tipsy n' high? we could go on: seen many of the headlines lately? :rolleyes:
neurotic: a now evident trait on this forum amoungst many of the more highly strung airline pilots in Australia that have had no experience in domestic US airspace operations. :zzz:

Kaptin M
28th Dec 2003, 18:59
Sorry to temporarily hijack this thread, however I have just read The Village Idiot's (aka Winstun) comments on the topic titled Help UAL Captain AL Haynes Save his Daughter on the Rumours & News forum. Following is a link

But for those who don't wish to follow it, here is TVI's contribution:

"If I were a heavy UAL captain, I would be a little embarassed seeking donations. 200K is less than 1 year's salary, and I am quite sure he could manage this himself. Or with the help of a few of his UAL captain collegues or UA232 survivors. Over Christmas, spare a thought and some coin for the over thirty thousand children than die every day from greed :*

You are one very, very sick puppy, with a deep envy of professional pilots (something you realise you'll never be :O ) that is obviously gnawing away deep inside you, Winstun!

Suffering Sucataash
29th Dec 2003, 03:15
Rejoining the rhumb line for a moment,

What is the training or culture with VB crew regards TCAS.
How many TCAS training sim sessions a year do you do with VB?
Do you react in anyway to a TA before the RA pops up?

29th Dec 2003, 05:02
Ok, Winstun, I'm going to have one last try. I thought that like NAS, I'd give you a try before I relied on everyone else's opinion of you - but you've so far lived up to expectations.

Yeah right!!! Maybe you bunnies can work out a reaction time to a 110 kmh x2 closing speed on 2 feet..
Based on this statement maybe you can explain to me why, in your opinion, it is safe to have aircraft, one of which may be no bigger than the average family car, to have closing speeds of somewhere up around 1000km/hr and rely on "see-and-avoid"? If it's dangerous at 220 km/hr, what is it at 5 times that?

the road is a far safer place to be in You took this quote out of context. On a per departure basis, ie. per trip, the road is a lot safer. Check the NTSB website if you don't believe me. There are far more threats in your average aircraft flight than there are on the road.

In response to your other points.

Unskilled, in the organisation in which I work if the PF is a S/O, the Captain or F/O MUST take over and respond to any RA. If the Capt or F/O happens to be a Cadet they have already demonstrated proficiency to the standard required so what does that matter? And no, I'm not a Cadet. Also, neither of the DJ crews involved in the two recent incidents would have come from a Cadet background. Again, what does it matter anyway?

Distracted, agreed. That's why my company has put in additional requirements to ensure that all possible flight deck duties are completed prior to entry into Class E airspace. If they're forcing us to change the way we do our job, they're obviously taking the issue fairly seriously.

Fatigued, sure. It's for this reason we don't need additional threats to monitor.

Tipsy/Neurotic. Unless you're casting aspersions on every airline pilot in Australia...and if you are, where's the proof, not hearsay but proof.

Winstun, in conclusion a simple challenge. Show me that the NAS is safer than the system it has replaced and I will change my opinion, accept your point of view and remove any post I have made in relation to it. Until then, the system is fundamentally and dangerously flawed in my opinion.

31st Dec 2003, 21:43
Winstun (or anyone else), still waiting...

1st Jan 2004, 06:19
TCAS RA response should not be used as a primary separation tool in controlled airspace because it introduces another hazard for all other airspace users. Upon complying with RA commands that aircraft then becomes an unknown factor to air traffic control and is, therefore, uncontrolled. All other (controlled!) aircraft must be protected from an aircraft carrying out manoeuvres that are unknown to ATC. This is a little like placing an aircraft in a situation where a go-round is possible however ATC are aware of this potential and can provide a contingency plan. With TCAS RA there is no prior awareness that the manoeuvre may take place - strategic ATC moves to tactical ATC with lots of unknowns - not good. I support aircrew following RA commands except under exceptional circumstances - captain must always have veto.


1st Jan 2004, 14:09
A reduction in safety margin isn't necessarily unsafe. It just makes you statistically more vulnerable.

What level of statistcal vulnerability is acceptable? When and on what basis do we decide whether the current arrangment is acceptable or not?

Progress comes at a cost and the cost of maintaining a margin of safety is just another overhead.

At $39 a seat, who can complain? You get what you pay for.

Air Ace
1st Jan 2004, 14:15
Ah, the Million Dollar man again........ Are you suggesting the "reduction in safety margin" resulted in a cost benefit to Government?

I don't think even the Government believes that!

"....the cost of maintaining a margin of safety is just another overhead". A margin or any margin? You jest of course????? :yuk:

Kaptin M
1st Jan 2004, 14:40
RTB RFN, from your post it appears that you have only a scant knowledge of TCAS.
TCAS will provide an RA with consideration of the nearest 4 aircraft likely to be a factor in any RA - RA`s may be issued to more than 1 (or all) aircraft if necessary.
I support aircrew following RA commands except under exceptional circumstances - captain must always have veto. Sorry NOT an option - TCAS RA`s MUST be complied with, within 4-5 seconds.

Making manouvres contrary to the RA may well be the CAUSE of a midair.

1st Jan 2004, 15:10
Here we are again, back with "affordable safety". Venture_Executive, how much of a cost is it if two aircraft collide? Does that constitute an overhead or not? As an engineer you of all people should realise that safety is not a cost but an investment.

RTB RFN I disagree. There should be NO discretion when following an RA. TCAS updates at a rate four times faster and with five times more accuracy than radar. I am amazed that any airline still allows discretion upon encontering an RA. The one I work for doesn't. You follow the RA - don't ask questions, don't try and determine visually whether you'll miss - just do what it tells you to do.

Again, I issue the simple challenge, can anyone show me that this system is safer?

1st Jan 2004, 15:47
KAPTAIN M thank you for your assumption regarding my knowledge of TCAS however my research regarding a particular airspace solution revealed that discretion with RA is not rare and is applied with various situations and with consideration of other knowns, appreciating the fact that there may be unknowns. Your opinion regarding uncompromising obediance to the instructions from the equipment is your right and often legislated for commercial operators (now work out who's left!).

This reminds me of an analogy with selection questioning for FLTENG in the 70's whereby only blind obediance to the captains intent permitted selection and any level of counter meant non acceptance. This has since been reversed during the eighties/nineties (CRM reared its ugly head). The human intelligence quotient was appreciated. What of Minimum Safe Altitude Warning and similar systems.

There have been many posts on PPRUNE that counter your opinion of absolutes with RA and they surely draw some merit, despite my own dubious knowledge. The principle of following SOP's is easily upheld by statistics however there will always be the case for intelligent human discretion. As the late Doctor Ratner said to me "its always smart to follow SOP's except when it is dumb to". Often this is only determined after the fact, after the smoking hole.

My primary point is that an RA disturbs the ATC equilibrium and may cause compounding hazards as a result of ATC action or inaction, adding additional complexities, requiring resequencing of any number of aircraft. In a normal system this is acceptable. However where the TCAS RA is depended upon as part of the normal system of separation the additional hazards may prove to be unacceptable. Consider a busy scenario with perhaps 30 aircraft within 30 nm's (work out where that happens in AUS) and tell me that any RA system can cope with such a dynamic environment with so many aircraft trying to electronically resolve compounding solutions. Has RA been tested in such an environment with such complexities. What of weather and restricted airspace (firing) etc - sure these are of secondary importance to avoidance of a collision but does the RA consider these? No - it considers only limited and immediate consequence; it does not look far ahead to ensure you are not placed into a dead end situation. Enter the human.

TCAS - it's not perfect however from my "scant" knowledge of TCAS I believe the captain must hold veto for an exceptional circumstance. BTW I personally watched the B737 try to dive in front of the E120 and I wondered if traffic had been provided and the aircraft were on the same freq. would the outcome have been any different (this was pre-2B so the prob. of other traffic is v. low).

This happened - Chopper departs on Christmas day no mode C. Switches it on and whadayerknow - 3,400 feet out.

So its a clear blue sky and your equipment says RA and you respond when you happen to notice the blooming of an aircraft in your RA directed position. Options - quickly review your Turning Rejoin - bug out procedures and slide smoothly beneath or blindly follow the RA just in case that's not the one!

2nd Jan 2004, 06:59
Affordable safety is a political ideology.

With this government you get user pays (unless you are a Packer and thus exempt from tax).

With the opposition you get "we said what they said" and thus no viable opposition at all.

Rather than petitioning Anderson (who is too dumb and under too much pressure to listen) you need to be fairly up the rear of the ALP convincing them that safety is a community issue and thus a community expence.

Then you ask the community what risk they are prepared to accept and tell them what cost.


Kaptin M
2nd Jan 2004, 14:09
Date: 07/01/2002
Location: Uberlingen, Germany
Airline: Bashkirian Airlines / DHL Worldwide Express
Aircraft: Tupolev TU-154M / Boeing 757-200APF
Registration: RA85816 / A9C-DHL
Fatalities/No. Aboard: 71:71
Details: The airliner and cargo plane collided over southern Germany at 35,400 ft. Debris was spread across a 20 mile radius. Fifty-two children on a beach holiday were among the 69 aboard the Tupolev. The Tupolev pilot received contradictory instructions. The collision avoidance warning system (TCAS) told the pilot to ascend followed by an order from the Swiss air traffic controller to descend one second later. The Russian plane did not immediately respond to the tower's order to descend, so it repeated the command 14 seconds later. Thirty seconds later the two planes collided. The Swiss air traffic controller that guided the planes had no way of knowing the Russian pilot was receiving contradictory instruction from his cockpit TCAS unless told so by the pilot. Russian aviation officials said the pilot correctly gave precedence to the control tower, but Western aviation experts said pilots are trained to give precedence to the cockpit warning.

"Western aviation experts said pilots are trained to give precedence to the cockpit warning."
This has been the training I have received from ALL 4 airlines for whom I've worked - Ansett, Singapore, Malaysian, and Japan Air Lines.
TCAS RA's and complying with avoidance procedures are included as a standard simulator exercise, usually practised annually by pilots.
The Captain using his "power of veto", and not acting in accordance with a TCAS RA immediately negates any RA's that may have been issued to (the) other aircraft, further making a mid-air collision MORE likely.
It is not MY opinion that I am expressing, RTB RFN, it is standard operating procedures practised by all major (and not so major) airlines, to the best of my knowledge.

2nd Jan 2004, 15:33
All that your post achieves is to underscore that you cannot blindly follow RAs. Follow the RA, sure, but if you have let your SA slip to the point that you don't know who the intruder is, you are behind the eight-ball. Uberlingen showed that you must aquire the intruder visually, because you don't know what he is doing. And in ausNAS, you don't know whether the RA you are receiving is going to cause a collision with an aircraft with a false modeC indication (or even a VFR tobago pilot who thinks "there is no danger of collision"- until you start the radical RA manouvre).
Those words- "a pilot manouvering in response to an RA assumes responsibility for seperation"- are there for a reason. You can't say that your role is to follow the RA, and that's it.
TCAS was not meant to be used like this. NAS allows, nay promotes, unknown intruders.
NAS is an accident waiting to happen.

2nd Jan 2004, 16:00
NAS is an accident waiting to happen . Quite right ferris and until they scrub the system, following TCAS RAs is the only option to avoid that accident.

Kaptin M
2nd Jan 2004, 17:17
From previous posts, I believe that you are an ATC'er, ferris, is that correct? Because it would appear from your post, and those of RTB RFN's that ATC are not aware of the training that we pilots receive wrt TCAS.
And that is something that needs to be addressed by both your side, and ours.

From the pilots' perspective, a TCAS RA should ALWAYS receive priority over an ATC directive, (accompanied by a transmission at the time of "TCAS climb/descent.") - although they may be totally conflicting, as was the case with the Uberlingen mid air.
It isn't always possible to obtain a visual on other traffic, and especially in low vis conditions, or at night, next to impossible to determine whether an aircraft is at the same level, or even 1-2,000' higher or lower.

TCAS RA's are a "last resort" manouvre, where there has been a breakdown in separation - whether under radar coverage or outside.
"TCAS was not meant to be used like this" - this is PRECISELY what TCAS was designed for, however TCAS was NOT meant to be used INSTEAD of ATC radar coverage, it is meant to be an EXTRA Safety buffer. I believe all ATC'ers and pilots would unanimously agree on that - except perhaps for our adventurer, Mr Dick Smith!
Class E airspace is DANGEROUS!

2nd Jan 2004, 19:37
Correct, Kaptin. ATC. Doesn't mean I'm not aware of your training, or that my training is different. What it means is that in my part of the world, at least 20% of the pilots are from countries where "follow the RA" is not the rule. Years after Uberlingen, and nothing has changed. You can even get speedbird pilots argue either way on prune. I digress......
Any criticism I have of TCAS (and it's a great piece of kit which should be followed in ALMOST all circumstance) is that it is an arse-saver, not a day to day SA awareness tool. The architects of NAS don't see it that way. ADSB may provide what they are looking for, but until that is in every flying contraption SCRAP AUSNAS.

Four Seven Eleven
2nd Jan 2004, 20:00
Kaptin M and Ferris
One does not have to look outside Australia to find companies which do not follow RAs every time. In fact, in the ATSB report into the Melbourne Virgin "non-incident", it was noted that:
A short time later the crew of the 737 received a resolution advisory from their traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) about the C421. Because the crew of the 737 had the C421 in sight, they chose to maintain visual separation rather than follow the TCAS RA. That action was in accordance with company policy.

It is incumbent on all of us to be aware of all of the possibilties. Never assume that the other aircraft will follow an RA, as it is evident that this is not a universal policy.

2nd Jan 2004, 21:17
ADS-B ain't no NAS arse-saver either:

1. It gets its altitude reporting from the same barometric source as current transponders, and is therefore subject to the same or similar technical faults;

2. RFPs currently out there in OZ for GA applications are looking for modified mode AC SSR units sending ADS-B data via an additional 1090MHz modified squitter. It will still require pilot activation to do such things as squawk altitude or even send any bloody data at all. Like we see every day with current Mode AC SSR transponders - they're in stealth mode if they forget/decline to turn it on. For ADS-B to work the transponder also has to be connected to or include a GPS navigator - whether this will have to be separately activated or not God (no, not you, Dick) only knows;

3. The ADS-B data transmitted by the unit should send aircraft identification (ie registration or "tail number"), but you can imagine how much support that will get from some of our less civic minded GA friends when they work out that the local council can buy a cheap receiver to find out which aircraft are really using their aerodrome. If it's mandated that the avionics sends aircraft identification you can bet that the shonkies out there that don't want to pay landing fees won't turn it on;

4. IF ADS-B units send aircraft identification it's of limited use if you can't bloody well talk to him if he's on a different "appropriate frequency" than you are;

5. It still puts the separation responsibility for flight through class E airspace firmly in the cockpit. Does the crew have the resources during an increasing workload phase of flight to both monitor the Cockpit Traffic Display (or whatever it's called when it finally appears), and keep some eyes out the window for non-SSR/non-ADS-B aircraft, and still conduct their normal flight/system management functions, comply with ATC sequencing/separation requirements, etc, etc?

6. While it may provide a means of bringing current non-radar class E up to radar class E standards, it won't make any class E any better than the current crap standard of radar class E;

7. It will only be of any use in low level airspace if every aircraft capable of powering a transponder is required by legislation to have the kit. That's a fargin big job, even in our little corner of the world. Some GA types are already creating a stink because they not only want heavily subsidised or free ADS-B units (which necessarily require an attached GPS Navigator) but they want all the whistles and bells (moving map displays, etc) payed for by the nice people who already pay for everything - the fare paying pax;

8. Aside from all that, in class G airspace and in what is now non-radar class A airspace it offers significant benefits.

There's more, but after a bottle and a half of dubious red I couldn't be bothered.



PS. Too right, 4711. I did draft a rather large diatribe about all this, but you've put it more succinctly without boring everyone's tits off.

Edited to fix dodgy spelling. The grammar a toss about I could not give.

2nd Jan 2004, 23:26

TCAS is designed to handle 40 "attackers" at closing speeds of 10,000 fpm and 1200 kts. I suspect that it is better at handling that problem than we humans, TAATS aided or not.

This isn't about cool words like "strategic" and "tactical" - this is about hand-to-hand fighting!!

The average RA, whether it be corrective or preventative, does not require wing-bending manoeuvres or great chunks of altitude. It was designed to allow the arse-saving change of flight path to be completed smoothly and relatively slowly so that our grandmothers lined up waiting for the rear dunny do not get crushed by the double bar cart being pushed down the aisle. In most cases, a couple of hundred feet is all that is required. In most cases, I doubt that you would even know that it had happened before the crew reports the event - notwithstanding the MEL incident which was the focus of alerted ATC activity.

I am surprised (and very disappointed) at VB giving crews the option - it would really make your day if the aircraft you were visually being calm about did not have an operating transponder and nobody had acquired the real enemy! Those fairly uninformed people at Eurocontrol put out some very strong messages about slavishly following RAs, not trying to visually second guess the TCAS and not worrying about the tactical recovery plan. Worth reading.

When it says "Traffic", I look harder - when it says "Climb" or "Descend", I very smoothly and calmly but very slavishly follow the instructions.

And so should you all!

3rd Jan 2004, 00:52
visually being calm about did not have an operating transponder Welcome to ausNAS.uninformed people at Eurocontrol Those people are quite uninformed when it comes to australian operations. I work with some guys who cannot get their head around the fact that there are large sections of oz that don't have ANY radar coverage, not just primary radar. TCAS is predicated on correctly operating transponders, something that is checked daily in a full radar environment.When it says "Traffic", The CANTY DJ incident showed that under NAS, you can go from TA to RA in 2 seconds. Nothing is calm at that point.And so should you all! What will the IL76 pilot, callsign "aussy" (contracted by the oz govt to shift stuff for the mil in our various world-domination campaigns {it cracks me up every time I hear the callsign}) do?

Suffering Sucataash
3rd Jan 2004, 04:24
Great, Just FCUK*%! Wonderful,

A short time later the crew of the 737 received a resolution advisory from their traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) about the C421. Because the crew of the 737 had the C421 in sight, they chose to maintain visual separation rather than follow the TCAS RA. That action was in accordance with company policy.

So now we have to worry about VB aircraft as well.

What is the harm in just following the RA, so what if you can see an aircraft which may be the offending party, just follow the RA. It's not that hard is it!

7th Jan 2004, 19:32
NAS Dictionary:

Separation (se-p&-'rA-sh&n):

"The failure of two aircraft to achieve a collision"

Airspeed Ambassador
8th Jan 2004, 07:03
A short time later the crew of the 737 received a resolution advisory from their traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) about the C421. Because the crew of the 737 had the C421 in sight, they chose to maintain visual separation rather than follow the TCAS RA. That action was in accordance with company policy.

Company policy!!?? What a load of bollocks! Virgin does not give its pilots the option to ignore an RA just because the crew has visually acquired the supposed threat aircraft. The company policy is to "treat all TCAS warnings as genuine and action taken as specified in the B737 QRH - Non-normal manoeuvres". End of story!

Perhaps we should be more concerned about the threat from transponders that are incorrectly calibrated. The other day while on descent into Canberra I overheard a VFR aircraft requesting a radar check of his transponder altitude (well done to the pilot, a smart thing to do) - it was out by 500 feet! :uhoh: 500 feet in the wong direction is going to make any TCAS RA useless!

8th Jan 2004, 09:41
Airspeed Ambassador,

Yep, out flying the eastern seaboard yesterday, and heard an aircraft in lengthy discussions with ATC about its Mode C. ATC were advising that it was 400' in error. And it was inconsistent - had been overeading during climb, underreading in level flight. They instructed him to squawk Mode A only......

AA, you are a DJ pilot, yes? Are you saying the DJ policy is quite clearly follow the RA in all cases, no discretion allowed? (as an aside, I emphasis QF policy is to do so unless it's clearly unsafe to do so). If that is DJ policy, then the ATSB report is, shall we say, extremely suspect. I'm sorry, either they are covering up for the boys not doing the right thing or they have had the wool pulled over their eyes. I'm not wanting to have a go at DJ blokes, just discuss an extremely important aspect of operating in this Class E nonsense.

Awaiting with baited breath the ATSB report on the Tassie one.....

Next Generation
8th Jan 2004, 21:19
Airspeed Ambassador

The company policy is to "treat all TCAS warnings as genuine and action taken as specified in the B737 QRH - Non-normal manoeuvres". End of story!

The QRH for an RA states "Follow the planned lateral flight path unless visual contact with the conflicting traffic requires other action"

I would therefore draw the conclusion that an RA does not over-ride the Captains right to make a command decision based on all sources of information, which includes visual acquisition of the threat aircraft.

Airspeed Ambassador
9th Jan 2004, 04:14
Next Generation and Ushuaia,

The point of my original post was not to have a go at the DJ crew concerned. I was not there and I did not see and hear what they did. I simply wanted to point out that the ATSB report statement that their actions were according to company policy, is not true.

Of course the Captain always has the discretion to take alternative action to the norm when in his opinion it would produce a safer outcome.

With respect to TCAS, I would be interested to hear from you the scenarios that would warrant a disregard of the RA commands.

My QRH has the following warning regarding TCAS in the NNM section;

WARNING: Once an RA has been issued, safe separation could be compromised if current vertical speed is changed, except as necessary to comply with the RA. This is because TCAS II-to-TCAS II coordination may be in progress with the intruder aircraft, and any change in vertical speed that does not comply with the RA may negate the effectiveness of the other aircraft's compliance with the RA.

TCAS is a good system. Things would have to look mighty bad before I would disregard what it is telling me.

mr hanky
9th Jan 2004, 04:37
Next Generataion

The QRH for an RA states "Follow the planned lateral flight path unless visual contact with the conflicting traffic requires other action"

I would therefore draw the conclusion that an RA does not over-ride the Captains right to make a command decision based on all sources of information, which includes visual acquisition of the threat aircraft.

Not sure how you draw your conclusion. Given that all TCAS commands are vertical, how does a QRH instruction to follow the planned lateral flight path imply discretion to disregard an RA?

Both my company procedures and AIP GEN 1.5 7.1 are quite unambiguous about this. Discretion doesn't come into it.

9th Jan 2004, 22:59
Fortunately most operating States (countries) are signatories to ICAO which includes agreed Rules of the Air. As such each state will promulgate local rules/laws/guidance that accord with ICAO. And hopefully not too much is lost in the translation.

Basically the Rules say that a pilot shall follow an RA unless doing so would jeopardize the safety of the aeroplane.

A review of the ICAO Rules of the Air covering TCAS (ACAS) from http://www.eurocontrol.int/acas/OperationalProcedures.html are as follows: 3.2 Use of ACAS indications

The indications generated by ACAS shall be used by pilots in conformity with the following safety considerations:

a) pilots shall not manoeuvre their aircraft in response to traffic advisories (TAs) only;

Note 1.— TAs are intended to alert the pilot to the possibility of a resolution advisory (RA), to enhance situational awareness, and to assist in visual acquisition of conflicting traffic. However, visually acquired traffic may not be the same traffic causing a TA. Visual perception of an encounter may be misleading, particularly at night.

Note 2.— The above restrictions in the use of TAs is due to the limited bearing accuracy and to the difficulty in interpreting altitude rate from displayed traffic information.

b) on receipt of a TA, pilots shall use all available information to prepare for appropriate action if an RA occurs;

c) in the event of an RA, pilots shall:

1) respond immediately by following the RA as indicated, unless doing so would jeopardize the safety of the aeroplane;

Note 1. — Stall warning, windshear, and Ground Proximity Warning Systems alerts have precedence over ACAS.
Note 2. — Visually acquired traffic may not be the same traffic causing an RA. Visual perception of an encounter may be misleading, particularly at night.

2) follow the RA even if there is a conflict between the RA and an air traffic control (ATC) instruction to manoeuvre;

3) not manoeuvre in the opposite sense to an RA.

Note. – In the case of an ACAS-ACAS coordinated encounter, the RAs complement each other in order to reduce the potential for collision. Manoeuvres, or lack of manoeuvres, that result in vertical rates opposite to the sense of an RA could result in a collision with the threat aircraft.

4) as soon as possible, as permitted by flight crew workload, notify the appropriate ATC unit of the RA including the direction of any deviation from the current air traffic instruction or clearance;

Note. — Unless informed by the pilot, ATC does not know when ACAS issues RAs. It is possible for ATC to issue instructions that are unknowingly contrary to ACAS RA indications. Therefore, it is essential that ATC be notified when an ATC instruction is not being followed because it conflicts with an RA.

5) promptly comply with any modified RAs;

6) limit the alterations of the flight path to the minimum extent necessary to comply with the resolution advisories;

7) promptly return to the terms of the ATC instruction or clearance when the conflict is resolved; and

8) notify ATC when returning to the current clearance.

Note.— Procedures in regard to ACAS-equipped aircraft and the phraseology to be used for the notification of manoeuvres in response to a resolution advisory are contained in the PANS-ATM (Doc 4444), Chapters 15 and 12 respectively.

14th Jan 2004, 05:45
My first post. The TCAS aircraft I have flown displayed aircraft within 2700' of my altitutude (assuming all transponders are accurate), within an option to increase this to 10000'. Are most other, particularly RPTs, similiar? If this is the case wouldn't the DJ crew have seen the aircraft on their display some time earlier than the TA aural warning? If it was displayed 3000' earlier this would have been around a minute prior to receiving a TA (assuming about 2000 fpm RoD).

14th Jan 2004, 09:45
With the exception of 2 (I think) aeroplanes the VB fleet does not have the up/down functionality - it is only +_ 2700 ft

Time Out
19th Jan 2004, 07:43
The report is here (http://www.atsb.gov.au/aviation/pdf/200305235.pdf)

19th Jan 2004, 08:30

Airspace review after near miss
January 19, 2004

THE Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has recommended a review of parts of the National Airspace System (NAS) after finding a reported near miss over Launceston last month was "a serious incident".

The crew of a Virgin Blue passenger plane was forced to take emergency action to avoid a mid-air collision as the flight approached Launceston on December 24.

The Virgin Boeing 737 flight, en route from Sydney, detected a light aircraft nearby and managed to activate the plane's collision avoidance system.

The ATSB today said an investigation had classified the near-miss a "serious incident" and recommended a review of certain aspects of NAS airspace implementation in Class E airspace, including education, training and chart frequency material.

It said the incident was far more serious than two other reported near-misses investigated since the new NAS was introduced.

"The ATSB investigation found that a 737 passenger jet on instrument flight rules descent into Launceston had to initiate an immediate climb to avoid a potential collision with a Tobago general aviation aircraft travelling under visual flight rules at an altitude of about 7500 feet (2286m) in the opposite direction," the ATSB said.

"Based on the circumstances of this serious incident, the ATSB has recommended that CASA and Airservices Australia, in consultation with the NAS Implementation Group, review NAS procedures and communications requirements for operations in Class E airspace, particularly for Air Transport operations during climb and descent in non-radar airspace, with a view to enhancing pilots situational awareness."

The ATSB said the Virgin crew did not see the Tobago at any time, even after alerts appeared on systems including collision avoidance, traffic advisory and resolution advisory. It said the Tobago pilot saw the 737 but thought his flight path did not present a risk of collision and therefore took no evasive action.

"While the ATSB investigation could not conclusively determine the reason the Tobago passed so close to the left of the 737 when its intended track should have led it to pass to the right, the discrepancy was within the tolerances of the various navigational equipment," it said.

The ATSB said the incident did not provide the basis for a key change to the NAS, but certain aspects should be reviewed.

"While the ATSB does not want to be prescriptive about the review, the bureau believes that it should include examination, and where necessary revision and updating, of education, training and chart frequency material," it said.

"It is also desirable that the responsible authorities seek industry input in their review."

The National Airspace System, which came into effect late last month, allows light planes into areas used by commercial airliners without guidance from air traffic controllers.



Capt Claret
19th Jan 2004, 09:04
That old addage, "Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the blind obedience of fools" springs to mind.

I find the thought that some one could hear a transmission from an opposite direction aircraft, regardless of type, that is going to have to decend through one's level, and say nothing based on assumptions and the stupid ramblings of the NAS education :yuk: :yuk: material, frightening in the extreme! :sad:

19th Jan 2004, 10:09
From what Boyd says, and lets face it he does represent an organistaion called "Air Safety', the Tobago pilot was obviously an extremely responsible pilot (What's wrong with flying a bug smsaher within 1 mile and 200ft of a 737 after all?) and had his state of the art (probably) 20 year old transponder flashing away in mode C. Obviously a full proof system!!!

Now what happens if we have another less responsible or competent pilot flying VFR with no flight plan, in his 25 year old spamcan, complete with very reliable transponder from that era, which he forgot to take out of sby mode anyway?

Well noone will be any the wiser I guess - as long as they continue to miss!!

Are we really entrusting the safety of our airline pax to a group of amateurs (no disrespect intended) and ageing, technolog , which is prone to human error in its operation?

19th Jan 2004, 10:21
I have a couple of questions.

1. Why is it always DJ. Are they operating differently to QF???? I smell a rat and it isn't a white one.

2. The BASI report quotes the TB10 pilot as having the DJ in sight the whole time, the TB10 had an operating Txp (which pre-NAS it wouldn't have required), and the TB pilot was 'unconcerned'. Separation therefore was not an issue.

3. So why have the ATSB come to the conclusion, or should I say collusion, that this is a serious incident. :E

As for a review of NAS, well the ATSB ACTUALLY said:

"The ATSB investigation was of a single serious occurrence and does not provide the basis for a major change to the US-based NAS, which is yet to be fully implemented in Australia. However, based on the circumstances of this serious incident, the ATSB has recommended that CASA and Airservices Australia, in consultation with the NAS Implementation Group, review NAS procedures and communications requirements for operations in Class E airspace, particularly for Air Transport operations during climb and descent in non-radar airspace, with a view to enhancing pilots’ situational awareness."

Which is not a review of NAS, I eagerly await the CivilAir beatup of this.


Sya pikir itu bohong besar!!!

19th Jan 2004, 10:38
The atsb have come to the conclusion that this was a seriopus incident because it WAS a serious incident

ie had the crew of the 737 not taken timely action in response to the TCAS RA, or had the TCAS been MEL'd or had in fact the aeroplane not been required to have one, the two aircraft would have in all probability collided.

Not really all that hard to figure out I would have thought!

NAS WILL kill someone at some point, I just hope that when this day does come John Anderson is still an elected official so we can collectively kick his arse!

19th Jan 2004, 10:51

The CivilAir beat-up?

Why aren't you calling it an ATSB beat-up?

Or do you shoot all messengers with equal accuracy?


19th Jan 2004, 10:57

Now pre November the whatever, in non-radar Class C, no txp was required.

The tower, it is said, did not have either aircraft in view. The DJ was asked "right or left base" but didn't answer properly (a fact that seems to have disappeared since the draft report).

So, it seems the DJ blundered on figuring out what it was going to do while the TB10 pilot did the right thing and kept it in view.

There was never going to be a collision, BUT, because the TB10 had (as a result of NAS) a working txp the DJ pilots got an RA and decided to look outside.

Oh, and to quote Jeff Griffith, Vice President Air Traffic Management, Washington Consulting Group, previously Deputy Director, Air Traffic Service at the FAA commenting on this incident:

"It should be noted that the U.S. does not have a requirement for transponder in Class E airspace below 10,000 feet and outside 30 miles from a major airport like Atlanta, Chicago, etc. This is unlike Australia, where transponder with altitude reporting is required in Class E airspace. That requirement in Australia provides an additional level of safety."

I suppose NAS was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs too :)


19th Jan 2004, 11:12

I am going to assume for the moment you and Winstun are not the same person, and take you to task a little:

[edited because your comments are just too stupid for me too even bother]

Col. Walter E. Kurtz
19th Jan 2004, 11:14
So, will the NASIG actually listen to the industry now - or is everybody else still luddites/scaremongers/unionists/paranoid/fearful of change/protecting their jobs/trying to keep recreational pilots out of the air/wrong?:mad:

PE Persawat: Pre Nov27, the TB10 would have required a clearance to enter Class C, and would have been in contact with ATC and under their control (unless it was a VCA - but that's another story).

Point is - the new system allowed a 'radio silent' aircraft to share the same airspace as high speed jet aircraft - unannounced and unseen (except by TCAS).

By all accounts, the TB10 pilot was doing what he was supposed to do as per crap procedures.

Please do not make broadcast transmissions or engage in chatter on an ATC frequency. The safety of others depends on you not doing this

Great, just GREAT!

19th Jan 2004, 11:16
No, I am not Winstun and wasn't even growing one last time I looked ;)

19th Jan 2004, 11:23
The pilot of the 737 replied with his callsign - as per the report - simply because he had yet to make a determination of what he/she intended to do - being at 15 odd DME means that they had a little while to make a final determination

The tower simply gave them the option of either.

To rely on those sort of radio transmissions to maintain seperation and make sure that no collision risk existed is just pure lunacy!

I don't believe that the TB-10 pilot made a determination that being on tracks 2 degrees apart was OK until AFTER the event - I reckon he sat down and thought about it after the proverbial hit the fan.

The idiocy of this system just astounds me! - as for you pesawat - well you should abide by the old adage, better to let people think that you are an idiot than open your mouth (or in this case keyboard) and prove that you are!

Can anyone explain to me - including you Dick Smith - how the opposition to NAS by professional pilots and controllers is an industrial campaign????

19th Jan 2004, 11:46
US controllers have told me that to change their E to C would require an enormous number of new controllers- controllers they don't have- and that their system is so overloaded it wouldn't be feasible (they are looking at making changes though). That is why they have E. They certainly don't kid themselves that their system is 'safe'. It's just 'expeditious'.

I think Dick has taken that to mean that if he changes C to E in Australia, he will be able to make a corresponding reduction in controller numbers. I also think he will find that assumption, well, flawed.

He therefore views any opposition to the changes, no matter how well reasoned, as an industrial campaign (even if the opposition is coming from pilots).

Am I wrong, Mr Smith?

19th Jan 2004, 15:29
What no-one has considered is the airspace split between Tower and En-route, and the effect the airspace structure has on pilot situational awareness.

The airspace step is such that the B737 must maintain F150 til 30Nm LT to stay in "controlled" airspace (ie E). This results in high rates of descent for jets - in this case … about 2500ft/min

The division between LT Tower and the overlying en-route sector is A085. Technically, the B737 entered the Tower airspace only seconds before the TA. Typically, En-route transfer aircraft to the Tower early, 40Nm. It was the initial call by the B737 to the Tower that assisted the Tobago pilot's traffic awareness and influenced his ability to sight the jet.

If En-route required the jet on frequency, and didn't make the transfer to the Tower until closer to the actual boundary (and the TCAS TA/RA point) … what chance would the Tobago pilot have of sighting a jet descending at 2500ft/min and closing at 360kts with minimal time to assimilate the jet's initial call … I'd suggest - very minimal.

Just as an aside ... the response to the RA put the B737 back in En-Route E as they climbed to 9200FT!


Not sure which version of the report you read … but the ATSB report states that the B737 crew advised "we'll be overflying for a left circuit" and following receipt of traffic info changed this to "we can accept a right circuit. We might just join final at about 5 miles"

Border Collie
20th Jan 2004, 02:18
Let's face it, under the old system there would have to have been a stuff up for this sort of incident to occur. Either the ATC was dyslexic and got the levels wrong, one of the pilots busted his level, or someone was in the airspace without a clearance. Same result, a near miss but under this NAS it seems that everyone was applying the correct procedures. To me that would indicate the system is flawed. Reminds me of the good ole' days back in Townsville when it was a joint user mil/civil ATC base. Thursday was radar maintenance day. Didn't matter whether it was broke or not it had to have the Thursday maintenance and the poor techs would set about their work, just because the procedures said they had to. Come Friday they had to fix what they did on Thursday.

Motto....if it aint broke don't fix it!!!!!

20th Jan 2004, 05:37
As I asked previously, what were the pilots doing for the 30-40 prior to the aural traffic warning when the aircraft was displayed, assuming it popped up at 2700' below. I assume it was displayed from then because if it had just popped up with an immediate TA it would have been mentioned in the report. I am not attempting to blame the pilots, but rather to see where the other errors were made. Was the training they received regarding the new airspace lacking, are VBs procedures regarding instrument scanning missing something, were the crew just too complacent (been into Launceston a thousand times etc)?

I am by no means totally convinced with the new procedures, but it is here, and we should attempt educate crews/pilots better to ensure these errors don't occur again. Pretty much all of the GA pilots I have encountered over the years are not intent on having a mid air, so I think everyone is interested in avoiding these situations.

Just out of interest in 2002 there were 2 mid air collisions at GAAP airfields, killing quite a number of people, with debris falling onto suburban areas. I can't recall any outcry, demanding the closure of GAAPs

20th Jan 2004, 05:53
can't recall any outcry, demanding the closure of GAAPs Maybe there should've been an outcry, but calling for full control services? After all, isn't Dick and NAS all about applying resources where the greatest risk exists?
Be careful what you wish for.......

what were the pilots doing Maybe they were LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW as they are allegedly supposed to? You can't have it both ways- either they are 'seeing and avoiding', OR misusing TCAS as some sort of traffic spotting device (see previous discussions about TCAS limitations). I wasn't aware TCAS had been certified, or that CASA had authorised the SOPs, to allow pilots to stop looking out of the window and monitor the TCAS instead. Care to fill us in?

NAS. It's a liability lawyer's dream.

89 steps to heaven
20th Jan 2004, 09:09
Lets also remember that TCAS is not perfect.

Yesterday I had a B737 on right base with a helicopter inbound to the east of final, cleared on a segregated flight path. Helicopter & B737 were showing on Tower display & I had both visual.

I gave traffic info the B737 as required. Pilot response was to request confirmation of helicopter position as it was not showing on TCAS. Helicopter was approx 4 miles in 11 o'clock to the jet.

Again, everthing was being done correctly as per the new system, but the potential for problems was there should have only 1 other mitigator been absent.


20th Jan 2004, 11:00
Haven't seen any comments on how close to Launceston this incident occurred. If is was quite close, then the VFR a/c was not following one of the basic suggestions of the NAS - keep clear of IFR and heavy IFR traffic areas.

Any comments?

Chief galah
20th Jan 2004, 12:59
kimwest - good question, doubt if you'll get a reasonable answer.

While we're at it, how does the use of TCAS sit with CAR 162 (2) & (4), to wit

Rules for prevention of collision

(2) When two aircraft are approaching head-on or approximately so and there is danger of collision, each shall alter its heading to the right.


(4) An overtaking aircraft shall not pass the aircraft that it is overtaking by diving or climbing.


20th Jan 2004, 15:46
During a TCAS RA the last thing I would consider is whether I'm approaching head on....or overtaking the traffic...or approaching from the left or the right...see the point!!:)

20th Jan 2004, 16:21
Haven't seen any comments on how close to Launceston this incident occurred.
From the ATSB report, the B737 was 14.2Nm LT when they received the RA. The Tobago was at 11Nm LT

The Tobago was essentially following the IFR route between LT-FLI (give or take a couple of degrees)

21st Jan 2004, 05:14

Are you familiar with the ERC Low for that area. Have a look and tell me how a VFR going Launie-Mainland is supposed to avoid an IFR route (unless it is carrying drop tanks that is).

Avoiding IFR routes, en-route, is impractical. That is what quadrantal levels are for (which of course don't work if an a/c is on descent).

And yes, I will admit that is a weakness with NAS. Perhaps descending aircraft need to give way????

On another weakness (apart from education which is APPALLING), is the freqs on maps. I am advised this is being fixed.


21st Jan 2004, 05:23
Ferris, I totally agree, the Mark I eyeball is the primary tool to be used for spotting traffic. But for 2 pilots to be continually scanning outside for about a minute with neither looking in at any of the displays (I am in no way suggesting this is what happened incidentally-that is what investigations are for) is a bit strange.

I am aware of the limitations on TCAS thank you. But if it wasn't supposed to be used to increase SA and assist in traffic spotting, why does it display aircraft +-2700', with later some systems giving you an option of +-10 000'? It may not have been it original purpose, but it sure does help spot aircraft. I guess it's like the GPS system. The US DoD originally designed it to guide cruise missiles onto enemy targets, not for lighties to conduct GPS approaches. Not the original design concept but very useful nevertheless.

I fly a high performance jet into some extremely busy MBZs and CTAFs and have found it incredibly useful. Yes some aircraft are not shown but it certainly assists finding the majority.

21st Jan 2004, 07:32
I find it quite amazing that the pilot of the Tobago calculated, based on the fact that he thought the 737 was on the 009 Radial and he was on the 007 radial, that extrapolate the 2 degree difference out to 15-odd NM LT and you find you will miss by a whopping 0.2 NM - enough, appaently, not to warrant anything to be said.

MATS specifies a 5.5 degree tolerance on VOR radials; bring that in with the other aircraft tracking using the VOR and it is obvious that when two aircraft tracking using VOR radials are within 11 degrees of each other, they will never be separated.

An over-reliance perhaps on modern avionics? :rolleyes:

21st Jan 2004, 18:39
I think your moniker is quite appropriate Chief galah!

Perhaps if you were to put "amateur" in front of Chief it might be even more appropriate!

22nd Jan 2004, 03:26
Amos 2 - bit harsh.

I think the issue that is being raised is that legislation must match rules (or rather the other way round in the heirarchy of power).

Therefore (and of course this has been said before) - to implement US NAS in AUS you need to ensure that AUS legislation matches US legislation where required to support the RULES. This extends to to other legislation involving safety in the air and on the ground such as OH&S and on and on. Otherwise there is contradiction and ambiguity.

Oh [email protected]@er it! let's just take the whole shopping cart and avoid the Pandoras box.

Good plan that reform but little consideration.

Australia that other state just SW of HAWAII.

and the governor could be.............................

22nd Jan 2004, 07:22

When was the last time you flew? Quadrantal Levels??? What are they? Don't you fly hemispherical levels??

Descending acft give way? So what happened to priorities for RPT acft? What happened to priorities for acft that are inbound for landing?

Freqs on maps...now there's a thought!!

p_t why don't you go away and have a good long think before you post to these forums. Remember it is better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth (or post) and remove all doubt.

Hasta la vista.

22nd Jan 2004, 08:27
A question for QF and DJ (VOZ) jet jockeys.

If your TCAS is known to be u/s, do you have any additional company policies with respect to operating in class E or G?

Blue skies :ok:

Capn Bloggs
22nd Jan 2004, 14:06
Amos 2,
Leave Chief Galah alone. He's on our side, or are you too dim-witted to realise?

An over-reliance perhaps on modern avionics?
No, just an over-reliance on ego. Reminds me of the classic: "Dick, your ego's writing cheques your skill and experience can't cash".

If the TCAS is U/S, the aircraft doesn't leave a major base until it is fixed. This caused a huge delay a few days ago. I wonder if DS would like to pay $500k for spare TCAS units just so he can swan around in the ether being avoided by everybody else?

22nd Jan 2004, 18:26
Vref+5.It may not have been it original purpose, but it sure does help spot aircraft Yes some aircraft are not shown but it certainly assists finding the majority There's the rub. It'll be the minority that hits you. It's always those unusual factors in accidents. The trouble with NAS is, that factor doesn't have to be very unusual (like a light aircraft with an inop/inaccurate transponder). Or even a pilot of a slow aircraft who thinks he can avoid a jet.
Blastoid.they will never be separated. They don't have to be separated to an ATC standard, they just have to miss. But how a Tobago pilot can know he will miss an opposite direction jet is beyond me. If the jet had altered course at the last minute (for any one of a thousand reasons clearly not apparent to the Tobago pilot), how would he have got himself out of it? Too late for the radio then. I am yet to hear any of the NASites describe how slow aircraft avoid fast ones.

NAS is not as safe as the previous system. What gain has been made to justify that increase in risk?