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Mid air over Hertfordshire

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Mid air over Hertfordshire

Old 7th Jul 2004, 22:29
  #61 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Ashbourne Co Meath Ireland
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Very Very sad.

Trouble is, even with all the relevant radar services in place, close encounters of the wrong kind can still happen.

I still have very vivid memories of looking at a Dan Air BAC1-11 over Midhurst VOR whilst doing IMC training, over 15 years ago, and it was close enough to be able to see rivet lines down the side!

We were flying beacon hold exercises, just under the TMA at 2400 Ft, with a full radar service from Dunsfold, and suddenly got a call "late call - be aware of opposite direction traffic". We looked, and there it was, fortunately turning away from us, but it was way too close for comfort.

The instructor had a chat by land line with the Dunsfold controller when we returned to Shoreham, and to his credit, the controller filed it as an incident, and it eventually transpired that the problem was the controller at Gatwick. The 1-11 was positioning back to LGW from Lasham, and being worked by Gatwick. Trouble was, the Gatwick controller had suppressed all non Gatwick transponder returns, so he didn't even see us on his screen, so allowed the 1-11 to operate on the base of the TMA visually!

Hopefully, all concerned learnt from that experience, and it's not happened again, as it was a serious pucker moment for us!

I've also had a couple of other close encounters in the SE of England, and yes, some of it is the way that things are so cramped, and some of it is people that won't work within the system, like the Belgian Cherokee that went through the Lydd ILS pattern at 1500 Ft without talking to Lydd, so we missed him by about 300 Ft as he popped out of a cloud in front of us, and then went back into another one. We had been warned that he was sort of in the area, but not communicating with Lydd, the cross channel controller had called Lydd when he saw where he was going, and the height he was at.

At least that pilot did get his ear bent when he landed shortly after in one of the closer to London airfields.

I'm not sure there's an easy answer to this, VFR means Visual, and to really keep an eye on what's out there is sometimes much more easily said than done.

A sad day all round.
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Old 7th Jul 2004, 22:43
  #62 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Wink

I won't add to the list of near misses.

Isn't it about time an "entry level" TCAS was introduced ... and yes .. sorry to say it .. made an airworthiness requirement in certain areas ?.

GPS is now available over the counter for less than a laptop computer, surely something very very simple ie switch on switch off + a small display can be manufactured ?

My heart goes out to those who lost their loved ones.
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Old 7th Jul 2004, 22:47
  #63 (permalink)  
 
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Be careful what you wish for.

I think we just have to keep looking outside.
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Old 8th Jul 2004, 13:27
  #64 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Yes TCAS would be wonderful, complete with compulsory Mode C, S, X,Y & Z. Unfortunately all these black boxes have at least 3 modes: On, Off and F ed. What is more, pilots have several modes inlcuding Select that annoying squawking TCAS to Off, Can't operate that TCAS, select off, or even worse (while flying) I wonder how this box works - lets have a look.....

Mk1 eye ball aimed outside. And I hope I never have to share airspace with those that can't see the point of keeping an active lookout.
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Old 8th Jul 2004, 15:32
  #65 (permalink)  

The Original Whirly
 
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This looking outside is all very well, and I entirely agree with it, but....

Fixed wing aircraft have wings in the way, either above or below them.

Microlights have a great big wing in the way, above them, and nobody can see them anyway.

Helicopters can't be easily seen anyway, and can't see behind them.

Gliders are white and hard to see, and even harder to avoid since they don't fly in straight and predictable lines.

We all have to navigate and change radio frequencies and so on, and 10% of the time with head inside is enough for an accident...if it's the wrong 10%.

Maybe what we really need is a reliable LARS, or even just FIS, in the crowded airspace around London. Something we can all use, or even that's compulsory. Maybe even just a dedicated frequency, with blind calls being compulsory. Not the situation as it is now where everyone talks to a different person, or simply doesn't bother to talk at all. It wouldn't be that expensive, and it might save lives. Lookout is far easier if you know what you're looking for and when you need to look.
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Old 8th Jul 2004, 15:46
  #66 (permalink)  
 
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Something we can all use, or even that's compulsory.
Oh no, Whirly. Leave us a little freedom and pleasure in life. As you have said, we all take risks when we fly. Trying to eliminate them completely will make life not worth living. The authorities are already trying to strangle us with this Mode S rubbish. let's not strangle ourselves.

QDM
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Old 8th Jul 2004, 15:47
  #67 (permalink)  

 
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Whirly...

Maybe even just a dedicated frequency, with blind calls being compulsory. Not the situation as it is now where everyone talks to a different person, or simply doesn't bother to talk at all. It wouldn't be that expensive, and it might save lives.
I'll second that one.

M
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Old 8th Jul 2004, 17:45
  #68 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
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No system will ever be perfect so don't knock yourself out looking for it.

Feel sorry for the relatives and remember there but for the grace of god etc. then go home and give your kids a big hug.

and when all is said and done, sh*t happens.
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Old 8th Jul 2004, 19:07
  #69 (permalink)  

The Original Whirly
 
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QDM x 3,

Normally I would agree with you. I don't want any more rules in aviation either. When this thread started I hadn't realised where the mid-air had been. When I found out, I remembered just how crowded that bit of airspace is, between London and Luton and Stansted, with most traffic following the M25, and traffic coming in and out of Elstree, Stapleford, and North Weald. I don't have a chart with me; this may not be quite right, but anyway, it's crowded round there! So all I'm suggesting really is that we have blind compulsory radio calls in that area, not anywhere else...unless there's anywhere else that really needs it. Maybe, on reflection, also in the Manchester Low Level route.

I'm trying to find a sensible balance between freedom and safety, before there are too many accidents and they take away our freedom completely.

Finally, for all those who believe in see and avoid...

Back in 2002, we were doing the Dawn to Dusk competition. It was a beautiful sunny evening, with infinite visibility. We were approaching Cambridge, to orbit and take photos. Most small airfields were closed, so we started to make blind calls, mainly so that we could say, hand on heart, that we had, and get some brownie points for good airmanship. We hadn't seen any aircraft, or heard anyone on the radio, for a while. But within a few minutes, other aircraft followed suit, making blind position calls. When we were overhead Cambridge, so was someone else, one was approaching, and there were a couple of others close by. We didn't see any of them!!!!!!!!!! So much for see and avoid.
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Old 8th Jul 2004, 19:28
  #70 (permalink)  
 
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London LARS?

Given the amount of traffic in the area I was talking last year about a London LARS unit.

As an ex Farnborough, current Thames, and now training on Luton ATCO it is amazing how busy it looks on radar under the TMA on busy afternoons in the summer.

As for staffing a London LARS.... where and by whom? (Let's not even appraoch the subject of funding!)

Last edited by AlanM; 8th Jul 2004 at 19:55.
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Old 8th Jul 2004, 20:41
  #71 (permalink)  
 
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I have flown through this area many times, its pretty local to me, and have referred to it amongst friends as the Triangle of Death. Its rare to fly through and not have something come close. Its normally a big heli or twin, heading into or out of London. I suspect that most of them are air taxies into/out of City or the Thames heli port.

They are never looking, at least not the ones I've been close to. You can often see them doing other things as they pass by. Its dangerous airspace and you need you wits about you. God help the day when Bookworm flies through there.

Thinking about this tragedy and with my own experiences in mind, I am still surprised that a school teach there. I don't know where the microlight schools of Plaistows and Hunsdon train, but I do hope its away from the ToD. I know that Stapleford train over Hanningfield, well away from it.

Anyone flying up or down the east of the country is going to be going through here. Stansted transits are notorious, but I say that without having yet requested one myself and my comment is based on the reports of others.

Either way, I suspect that this bit of airspace is probably the busiest bit of class G in the UK and it cries out for an ATC service.

North Weald is ideally placed to offer this and CAA funding should be made available for it. Two lives lost is two too many. North Weald could do with a new Raison d'Etre (not that it needs it, in my book) to help its fight and a decent service through this area would make it a lot safer.

The area is dangerous enough for the CAA to post advice on transiting it, so why not actually do something serious about making it safer.

I know that this doesn't relate to the two people who lost their lives and will be small comfort to their wives and children, but we really are bound by airspace that crams us all together so that commercial aircraft have a good safety zone.

The en-route fees from all of this traffic should pay for some safety for us too.
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Old 8th Jul 2004, 20:44
  #72 (permalink)  

The Original Whirly
 
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Alan,

That's why I'm suggesting merely a dedicated frequency and blind calls, because it doesn't take staff and money. All it takes is someone to make the decision.

Is there anyone reading this who could do it?

QDM3, non-compulsory blind calls, OK? Just the option, for those of us who'd like to tell the world where we are, and hopefully hear who else is around, in a crowded area. It works for helicopters in LA - and there are really a lot of them. Why not for GA around London?
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Old 9th Jul 2004, 06:37
  #73 (permalink)  
 
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And I hope I never have to share airspace with those that can't see the point of keeping an active lookout.
God help the day when Bookworm flies through there.
Why bar shaker and boomerangben, you've given me a wonderful idea for managing risk by decreasing traffic density around my flights:

ATTENTION ALL PILOTS: AT 1200Z on SAT 10 JULY, BOOKWORM WILL FLY THE FOLLOWING ROUTE WITHOUT LOOKING OUT ONCE...

Anyone flying up or down the east of the country is going to be going through here. Stansted transits are notorious, but I say that without having yet requested one myself and my comment is based on the reports of others.
So let me get this straight... You've flown through the triangle of death many times, and not once have you even requested a routing that would allow you to avoid the area of high traffic density. Instead you fly through it, in the belief that you will see anything that represents a potential conflict in time to avoid it.

We're not very good at spotting other traffic so we'd better have a plan that's a bit more constructive than 'must try harder next time'.
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Old 9th Jul 2004, 08:09
  #74 (permalink)  
 
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I favour the mandatory introduction of ModeS and TCAS on all aircraft including Gliders, Micros and Balloons.

Its a mature system, idiot proof and it works very well in practice. The box of electronics now need be no more than a packet of fags in size and the display could be one taken out of a high street PDA or multimedia mobile phone for about 60.

The key is certification. Its the authorities that cause these advances to be so expensive. Yet the cost of accidents is very high by any measure. The CAA should fund a low cost, quick and smart certification of a GA wide TCAS system.

Anything without it would still be allowed to fly but only in an ATZ or under a RIS. Very few aircraft would be without it.

Hundreds and thousands of times a day airliners at 9,000ft are being spuriously vectored around and held high/low because of someone chugging around with their ModeA in a C152. I regularly get "avoiding action - turn right, right heading 180, unknown traffic no height information 3 miles in your 1 o' clock"...

Suddenly 50odd tons of airliner is cranking round a steep (for us) turn with people falling over in the cabin and two pilots scrunching their faces up expecting a loud bang. Although we actually know full well its someone bimbling along at 1,500ft along Weston Super Mare front having a nice day out.

Cheers

WWW
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Old 9th Jul 2004, 08:27
  #75 (permalink)  
 
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Whirly,

It would be nice if we could have a frequency for blind calls. But there are pilots out there (and I have in mind some well trained (ex mil) pilots) who simply hate using the radio and would not use it. What is more, the standard of some pilot's navigation and RT would mean that it would be useless anyway.

Perhaps we should all remember the rules of following line features, after all we are talking about the M25 corridor.
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Old 9th Jul 2004, 08:28
  #76 (permalink)  
 
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Would some of you get real.

Mode A, C, or S will not totally prevent mid airs.

Suddenly 50odd tons of airliner is cranking round a steep (for us) turn with people falling over in the cabin and two pilots scrunching their faces up expecting a loud bang.
Come on WWW, how often does this really happen.

VFR means look out the window.

Last night I had a close encounter with a large sea bird we both took avoiding action because we both were looking, so is it mode S for seaguls etc.

Tony
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Old 9th Jul 2004, 09:50
  #77 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Wink

This is a tough one to call.

I used to teach at EGTI when it and EGTH were still open,
and am suprised that there have not been more incidents in this airspace.

With the amount of transit traffic routing around Luton, Stansted and Heathrow CTR's, all capped by the TMA at 2400 feet the only survival strategy I could offer my students was to keep a very good lookout for the majority of people who were obviously not doing so AND get Radar Information Service from the appropriate agency.

The latter was fine in theory, but the frequencies involved were overloaded more often than not because RIS for GA traffic was not their primary role.

There is in my view a case for a dedicated GA RIS in the areas capped by the TMA but this would mean a significant investment by the air traffic service and I cannot see it happening.

These accidents are devastating to the families involved, and there has to be a set of solutions that can, if not eliminate, at least mitigate the risk, if that solution is fag packet sized and AFFORDABLE so be it.
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Old 9th Jul 2004, 10:24
  #78 (permalink)  
 
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These accidents
Obviously, people's minds are quite appropriately focussed on this most recent tragedy, and any loss of life is a bad thing.

However, taking the longer view, is there really a disproportionate number of mid-air collisions under the LTMA? Midairs are thankfully surprisingly rare in any event, and I don't recall a cluster of them in that neck of the woods.

By contrast, there is a relatively larger number in ATZs between aircraft joining, leaving and participating in the circuit pattern; just the time when people should be most aware of the position of other aircraft.

2D

Last edited by 2Donkeys; 9th Jul 2004 at 11:59.
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Old 9th Jul 2004, 13:34
  #79 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Hello all.

This is just a note to ask anyone who may have seen or heard anything with regards to this incident to please call the number below as the two men killed in the microlight were serving Hertfordshire Police officers both of long service to the force, so it was not only a sad day for aviation but a very dark day for the Hertfordshire force aswell.... again our thoughts are with the famillies who they have left behind and to the close colleauges of the men.

If you saw anything or even if you think you did or could help with any enquires with regard to this incident pls call.......

01707 354236.

Thanks.
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Old 9th Jul 2004, 13:44
  #80 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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I agree it's very sad, but does it matter that they were police officers? Surely all aviation deaths affect all concerned whether they are civilian or otherwise

Hope we can find out why and how, and learn from the lessons
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