View Full Version : US NAS even the FAA couldn't fix it!

24th Jan 2004, 13:38
It is interesting to note that the FAA tried to fix US NAS way back in 1979 realising then, the danger of uncontrolled VFR traffic at levels up to FL180 and at certain busy terminal areas.

So, have we really attempted to install an already flawed system and increased those flaws due to integration with the Australian paradigm? I recommend this book to all budding transport Ministers. It can also help provide an insight as to the difference in human physiology between driving on a road with a white line down the middle compared to missing something coming at you at unexperienced closure rates - head on ....ER LEFT, NO RIGHT uh LEFT - HECK THAT WAS CLOSE!

Make your own mind up but admit that this shows a different tale to the propaganda offerred by Pro AUSNAS proponents.

Selective quotes from Mid-air Collisions: The Accidents. The Systems and the Realpolitik. E,L. Wiener, PILOT ERROR –THE HUMAN FACTORS, 2nd edition, EDITED BY Ronald and Leslie Hurst.

Following the San Diego collision in September 1978 involving an air-carrier Boeing 727 and a Cessna 172 light aircraft there was a public demand for action and among the many proposed solutions were higher control of visual flight rules aircraft and expansion of positive control airspace. This began a political battle involving general aviation, the FAA and the US Congress.

…these accidents are seen to result from an air traffic control system which emphasises airspace allocation and political compromise, rather than dealing directly with the variety of problems facing pilots and controllers operating within the National Airspace System.

By December (1978) the FAA had proposed a number of restrictions on the NAS including dropping the floor of positive controlled airspace from 18,000 to 12, 500…..and 10,000. VFR aircraft would fly under controlled visual flight rules requiring clearances similar to those issued to IFR. NPRM 78-19 which specified the new NAS plans …..increased TCA’s from 21 to 65….and TRSA’s from 67 to 147 …

The AOPA made their position clear “If there is a proliferation of TCA’s we will violently oppose them.” A letter writing campaign to Congress was begun. The political impact of an organisation with 230,000 members was not to be lost to their elected representatives.

By the end of summer 1979 the counter-vailing pressures of 78-19 were building and Congress was threatening to block its implementation. …. amendment denying FAA and funds for implementation. FAA began to vacillate …In September 1979 canceled the proposals.

Conclusion – Where does collision avoidance stand today? There are two answers. First, it stands confused. The current system could be said to be excellent by most standards of accident prevention; but by the harsh and absolute standards of aviation, tolerant of nothing short of perfection, it is beginning to show signs of trouble for the third time since WW2.

Chris Higgins
24th Jan 2004, 22:58
As I sit here in Pittsburgh this morning there is almost 20 cm of snow blanketing the entire landscape. The cloud base is about 100 feet overcast, the visibility about a half mile. Cleveland, Columbus and Detroit, together with Chicago, Boston and New York only have about sixty sunny days a year where you could send a student on a 100 mile navex. I know, because I instructed here from late 1990 to 1995, while also flying air-ambulance.

You could never make a living here as a flying instructor. In Summer we get lines of thunderstorms that go to FL 450 and extend for 180 miles in width. In winter we get icing so bad that there are no light aircraft that would survive in it. I taught instrument ratings and it was very difficult to even get the weather to do that!

Where does this lead us? Basically, we don't fly much in the way of VFR anymore in the United States. The regulatory protection offered by full-radar control and positive traffic separation doesn't make VFR practical anymore. Yes it happens. It's just that it is happening in the most remote regions of the United States and at low altitude. Why? Because even the VFR pilot is aware that he is offered no protection from anything and it's more a celebration of freedom than a practical way to get around.

How does this relate to Australia?

It doesn't! I grew up in Australia and started learning to fly in Port Macquarie in 1983. Flew out of Katherine, Alice Springs, Mt Isa and Townsville. Each town boasting that it got more sunny days than the next. The pre-existing system in Australia with everyone transmitting on the correct frequency while within the same boundary and a listening watch from Flight Service was really the only practical solution to the high percentage of VFR activity. In addition, the lack of "big brother" encouraged the most astute IFR airline driver to communicate in clear, friendly and professional terms with the most nervous of student flyers.

The Australian System is really so bad now that it is time for a complete overhaul of the system and a return to a system that suits our weather, our tax resources and the independent spirit of the Australian soul. Australians do not just fly from one coastal city to another. Gunnedah, Armidale, Walcha or The Pilliga Scrub might be the next destination for a Baron pilot based in PMQ.

The NAS has to be developed outside of the bean-counting boardrooms.

Dick Smith has proved a very creative and energetic force in Australian Airspace history. Unfortunately, a fleeting glance of the USA, Canada or Europe, while on an "adventure" is scarcely a scientific observation of a foreign regulatory process. Nor is it safe to assume such observations mesh into a society that is unique to it's own.

Sadly, the Australian Airspace has lost much of it's professionalism with the release of exams to private testing centres, Approved Testing Officers and pay-for-training programs that "guarantee" employment on first officer programs.

As an Australian, living in a country that has had to deal with the mistakes of its past, it gives me great pain to observe the same mistakes being made in Australia, fifteen years later.

Capn Bloggs
24th Jan 2004, 23:47

You forgot this midair (http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20001213X34444&key=1) , just 9 years after US AOPA blew it's top and started the fax brigade. And I thought that AUS AOPA, under DS, BM, BH and BP invented the concept!

PS: Contributory causes: pilots not looking out. The lawyers will always get us in the end, won't they?! (edited to remove implication that RTB is a lawyer).

Hear hear.

25th Jan 2004, 05:02
Chris you have added an interesting, practical and erudite dimension to the NAS posts and they have inspired me to work harder to put in to repair this mess - even if only by words.

I learned to fly in the late seventies and was controlling and flying in Alice during the eighties. I suspect that the personal comparison of aviating in those days to what has happened since in AUS, during the past 15 years of stupidity, cuts to the bone. We were the lucky people; many pilots and controllers I talk to today know nothing of that system.

Aviation is a passionate business and perhaps this is reflected by the actions of the US AOPA in the late seventies however history may indicate that they misjudged their actions.

My consideration has always been to try and represent what "the people down the back" really want out of all of this. The trusting souls who pay their dollars, often for an experience that is quite surreal - what do they expect? I believe that they place enormous store on "us" providing the safest experience that is possible' This same point is driving the airline representatives, controllers and aviation safety and project people I have inter-related with regarding NAS. Not income or job protection.

If protecting flying public means paying a few extra bucks because of high regulation then so be it. If the industry needs to be managed by the Public Sector to ensure this - then so be it.

What they will never want is any hint of cavalier action by any part of the industry or system that will affect them.

Capn Bloggs.

When I first read this article and now your addition, the history is both amazing and damning - what more can be found?. In another post I read that DS had been to the States and the people he spoke to lauded NAS. I said in one of my threads that this contradicted the people I spoke to in the states in 1992 who condemned their system and applauded ours. I wondered at the difference between truth and opinion. I believe that to truly know you must experience and now we have the input by Chris. Sounds a fair and honest comparison to me.

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