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-   -   Class E airspace & gliders. (https://www.pprune.org/questions/587927-class-e-airspace-gliders.html)

RAT 5 7th Dec 2016 16:05

Class E airspace & gliders.
This is just a question to those who have more knowledge of the subject; both as CPL's & glider pilots, and also with more in-depth knowledge of how airspace categories are created.
EASA is tasked with air safety. In this scenario I wonder if the rules need reviewing with regard to air safety and if EASA are even active on this front.

I've just read a report of a near miss between a powered glider in class E airspace and a commercial jet. Wx was severe clear. Jet was IFR on radar ATC to an ILS; glider was VFR and not in radio comms with relevant ATC. Evidently the rules state that a powered a/c has to have a mode S transponder ON when above 5000' amsl or 3500' agl. In this instance, because the engine was OFF it was effectively a glider, so no requirement for a transponder. Hence ATC could not identify it, nor could the jet's TCAS. Neither was there any requirement for the glider to have radio comms with local ATC. Radar could see many primary targets, but on a closing HDG to ILS the crew could be overloaded.
So here we are in 21st century EU, with one a/c having all the bells & whistles of TCAS & transponders, and the glider having everything switched off and relying on Mk.1 eyeball. Indeed, it seems the only Mk.1 eyeball of the glider pilot saved the day. The jet guys saw it too late.
How on earth, or in the air, can it be SAFE to have a bit of kit on board an a/c that is mixing it with IFR traffic and have it switched off? Neither the jet not ATC knew the glider was there. Is it going to take a mid-air for the rule makers to see sense? What is ECA doing about it to lobby EASA? Are the technical arms of the pilots' unions not tasked with promoting the safe operations of its members and the industry as a whole? What are the more learned opinions? It seems bit like driving down the motorway in fog with your lights OFF because it's daylight.
Surely any a/c entering airspace where there is commercial traffic under IFR performing IFR approaches should announce itself to ATC, even if VFR, and have mode S ON. The kit is on board. Why would there be resistance to such rules in the name of safety? And what's just an engine got to do with safe flight operations? (and pls do not mention LaMia)

Ian W 7th Dec 2016 16:35

This is not a new problem. I remember in the mid-70's having to separate inbound IFR flights from glider competitions. There is also this case in the US: http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.av...6FA277A&akey=1 Hawker 800 collision with a glider. Sounds much the same Hawker IFR in descent and glider VFR.

There are simple battery powered beacons that could be used that would at least alert the powered aircraft TCAS.

Jan Olieslagers 7th Dec 2016 17:01

Let me guess: this surely was in UK airspace? Someday someone is going to realise they really made a puddle of it. Perhaps even something will be done. Someday, but probably not someday soon. No fatalities as yet.

oggers 7th Dec 2016 17:09

Well, if a safety case can be made then we can replace class E with class D or even C and job done. But not only would that upset a lot of users who would have to upgrade their kit to continue to use airspace that they have always operated in, it would also require more resources for ATC to deal with the extra workload. It also would not stop the occasional glider or puddle jumper from blundering into controlled airspace anyway.

I expect the class of each area of airspace is under ongoing review that attempts to balance public safety with access. Seems to me the best thing is to just get on with mandating ADS-B as a requisite for all aircraft that wish to use class E. But it still won't stop infringers.

This incident should also serve as a reminder to all pilots that they have a responsibility to look out at all times when VMC regardless of whether they are IFR or VFR, being vectored, or getting a separation service.

RatherBeFlying 7th Dec 2016 17:14

Many air carrier aircraft now emit ADS-B which makes their position visible to PowerFLARM. Before PF I had three interesting encounters.

With PF I catch them 10+ miles away.

Transponders are battery hungry; very few gliders have the capacity to always have one on.

Class E is a hodgepodge airspace. Yes there are approaches used maybe half a dozen times a day. Do we really want to make them all Class B and C and shut down the many airspace users for a very few movements a day?

Oh yes, the local IFR frequency is never published on VFR charts; so how can anybody expect VFR users to know about IFR traffic.?

maxred 7th Dec 2016 17:15

Was he in an airway?

IFR traffic in Class E airspace is controlled by ATC, and the weather and speed restrictions make sure that IFR and VFR can see and avoid each other.

Jan Olieslagers 7th Dec 2016 17:23

Class E is a hodgepodge airspace.
It looks like that, yes. Still: there's none here in BE but there's plenty of it in Germany, where I often fly, yet I never hear of any issues there? Perhaps they're better at hushing up... ;)

the local IFR frequency is never published
What is an IFR frequency? I think a lot of the UK difficulties are due to the lack of a one to one correspondence between any 3-D position and a service/frequency. All over the continent, if one is at coordinates lat x / lon y / elevation z, there is one and only one service to talk to, and one frequency for all that are within their area. No question of "IFR frequencies", thus. I think the UK needlessly complicates matters, thereby increasing danger, by refusing this simple arrangement, leaving pilots the choice of a service to tune into.

blind pew 7th Dec 2016 17:44

What's wrong with looking out?
In my first airline we wrongly believed that looking out wasn't necessary...until Zagreb. We certainly didn't know that both Germany and Switzerland mixed VFR and IFR traffic.
I had an airmiss in the Ekron hold with a German reg. Cessna..fat pilot with a cigar in his mouth...Zurich Atc didn't bother using primary radar.
We also had a few other very close airmisses..one between two circling DC9s and two involving heavy jets and military who were all on radar but different controllers.
North of Montpellier an airbus hit a glider...atc were at fault (and the airbus crew) and the glider was hit from behind.
It's a bit like the idiots one sees everyday playing about with electronic gadgets in their cars.
See and be seen.
It's everyone's airspace and why should we give up even more personal freedoms when all it needs is a bit more common sense and some professionalism

Jim59 7th Dec 2016 18:28

Many air carrier aircraft now emit ADS-B which makes their position visible to PowerFLARM. Before PF I had three interesting encounters.
Sorry to disagree, but there are two types of PowerFLARM... Not all work with ADS-B

PowerFLARM Core comes in two variants, PURE and ADS-B. The ADS-B variant has all the functionality of PURE, but with an additional SSR (Transponder) and ADS-B receiver for 1090ES. In addition to FLARM equipped aircraft, you will also be able to see transponder equipped aircraft. Aircraft without 1090ES ADS-B Out capability will be shown with approximate range and altitude difference (Mode-C). Aircraft with ADS-B Out will be shown identical to FLARM aircraft.

Jim59 7th Dec 2016 18:36

Just to clarify, most Class E airspace in the UK is also a TMZ as detailed in the IAIP (extracts below).

Although Class E is controlled airspace, in which an air traffic control service is provided to IFR aircraft only, VFR aircraft may also operate within it and do not require a 'clearance' or need to be in contact with ATC, they will, however, require a functioning Mode S SSR transponder. VFR aircraft operating without a transponder can access the airspace, but must first establish two-way radio contact with air traffic control before entering. VFR flights that request an air traffic service will be assisted with either a Basic or a Traffic Service, subject to the operational capacity of the air traffic unit. Additional procedures are to be introduced to accommodate gliding activity through airway N560 between the Scottish TMA northern boundary and Inverness.

Notifications The following airspace is notified as Class E Airspace:
(a) Parts of the Scottish Terminal Control Area below 6000 ft (See ENR 6-2-1-5);
(b) part of Airway N560 (between Glasgow VOR GOW and KOKAL) (See Note);
(c) part of Airway N562 (between Turnberry VOR TRN and Machrihanish DME MAC) (See Note);
(d) part of Airway N580 (between Glasgow VOR GOW and Tiree VOR TIR) (See Note);
(e) part of Airway P600 (between Aberdeen VOR ADN and BUDON) (See Note);
(f) Airway Y904 (between Aberdeen VOR ADN and Wick VOR WIK) (See Note);
(g) Airway Y905 (between Aberdeen VOR ADN and Sumburgh VOR SUM) (See Note);
(h) Airway Y906 (between RIMOL and Stornoway VOR STN) (See Note); →
(i) Airway Y911 (between BOYNE (FIR Boundary) and Isle of Man VOR IOM) (See Note);
(j) Airway Y958 (between BRUCE and TOBMO) (See Note).

Note: Additionally notified as Transponder Mandatory Zone airspace for the purposes of Article 39(2) and Schedule 5 paragraph
3(6)(b) of the Air Navigation Order 2009.

Maoraigh1 7th Dec 2016 19:31

"Class F Advisory Routes" were crazy - traffic IFR in IMC or VMC, but VFR traffic permitted as if in Class G. EASA rightly objected.
They became "E+", open to Mode S with Charlie, without talking to ATC, but to non-transponding aircraft in radio contact with the relevant ATC, only if given permission.

eagleflyer 7th Dec 2016 20:20

The mentioned incident most certainly happened in Germany. I know of a couple of fairly recent ones regarding inbounds to Zurich and numerous others at various other airfields across Germany, mostly small ones with no TMZ, D or C airspace. I filed a couple of reports myself. When looking at such an incident one has to consider that it might be seen with different eyes. I have made the experience that some encounters will be a nearmiss for one crew (mostly the airlinerīs) and a non-event for the other (mostly the gliderīs).

As an ATCO I see more and more gliders flying with their transponders turned on, especially in the vicinity of IFR-airfields without airspace protection. This is mostly a good thing, but sometimes it can drive you crazy because there are so many targets on a nice Sunday afternoon.

As a glider pilot however I know that still relatively few numbers of gliders are transponder equipped, especially the ones operated in clubs. Installing a transponder and a new 8,33kHz radio can easily cost a third of the current hull value, which is why clubs are reluctant to do it. Also thereīs the mentioned power problem, youīll need an extra battery or solar panels. The new 200.000$ motorgliders are mostly outfitted with some sort of transponder, often even with ADS-B in/out, which helps a lot both ways.
What almost every glider and many airplanes do have (in Europe) is FLARM. Thatīs a low power anti collision device with rather limited range.

I think the concept of having heavy jets in E is not without faults, in the perfect world the airlines would certainly prefer to have class A - D all around their flightpaths. However my opinion is that class E works sufficiently well as long as everybody plays by the rules and knows what heīs doing. Itī all about training and information. The local USAF units regularly invite pilots or talk to them during events. This has reduced the number of incidents around the two airbases in the western region of Germany.

As someone who has a good view to both sides of the medal I would like to keep it as it is, with well-sized protected (B / C / D) airspace around major airports, but only TMZ or less at airfieldīs with sometimes less than 20 IFR-movements per day. What would help is depicting the airspace situation on the approach plates. As a solution with a good in-/output relation one could also think of putting FLARM sensors around airfields and make that data available to everyone via ADS-B.

As an advice for glider pilots:
-ALWAYS keep a good lookout!
-Know where you are, electronic devices are a great help, but donīt let the distract you.
-Call the tower before transiting across the extended centerline of an airfield. You can tell them youīre there and they will tell you about any expected traffic.
-Try to avoid thermalling anywhere close to the extended centerline, especially at glide slope level (roughly 1000ft/3NM).
-DO NOT BY ANY MEANS bust the VMC minima. Riding along at the cloud base will make you wonder where that noise is coming from with no chance to avoid the source of it.
-Swich on your XPDR if youīre equipped and the battery is ok.

For heavy metal crews:
-Always keep a good lookout down low.
-Make your company provide you with the airspace structure of departure and destination airport, know the rules.
-Donīt request descend unnecessarily early.
-Donīt do visual approaches that will place you where noone will expect you to be.

As an ATCO:
-Keep your traffic in protected airspace as long as possible, even if it means a detour, level off etc... If you didnīt and something bad happens you will not be happy again and be hung by your balls.
-Have a good idea about present soaring conditions.

Maoraigh1 7th Dec 2016 21:28

The Jetstream "Drone" trials, with human pilots only for T.Off and land, will likely be flying in Class E+, at about 15,000 ft, near to Feshie Gliding site, as their route is between Lancashire (Warton?) and Inverness.

Silvaire1 7th Dec 2016 21:50

Surely any a/c entering airspace where there is commercial traffic under IFR performing IFR approaches should announce itself to ATC, even if VFR, and have mode S ON.
In the US, virtually every airliner route under IFR flies through Class E airspace where VFR traffic is not required to be in ATC contact and is unlikely to have Mode S. The key is understanding that IFR in Class E does not provide a 'sterile' environment in visual conditions, and flying accordingly. Eagleflyer's post lays that out pretty well, for all concerned.

mary meagher 7th Dec 2016 21:54

Amusing that Jan Olieslagers immediately assumes the traffic conflict was in the UK. Whereas Eagleflyer, who is a German glider pilot as well as an ATCO, has posted VERY VERY GOOD ADVICE for all you power pilots and airliners that enjoy flying in unprotected airspace....

Quite simply, he says "have a good idea about present soaring conditions!".

So on a day with no lift for gliders to soar - no cumulus clouds, no wave bars, it is very unlikely that gliders may get in your way.

On a very good day, during a gliding competition, the directors will publish NOT JUST ONE task, but several to choose from. Probably only one will be decided on and flown depending on when thermals get going and how long they last. There may be quite a flock of gliders following a cloud street line of energy. Which can be pretty intimidating. A right turn into an area with no cloud may be a good move to avoid them. Or a climb to smooth air at a higher altitude. Gliders actually prefer bumpy air...

Jan Olieslagers 7th Dec 2016 22:15

Amusing that Jan Olieslagers immediately assumes the traffic conflict was in the UK.
Even more amusing that none has yet answered... sounds like a suppressed "guilty, your honour" :)

But I gladly agree: Eagleflyer has offered excellent advice. Thanks!

RAT 5 7th Dec 2016 22:53

Thanks guys. Germany and Class E around a medium busy ILS airport. I wonder how many of these young bucks flying their shiny jets look outside that much. We all know they should, but.....They have 150hrs spam can stuff and then are hammered in the sim with IFR SOP's. LoCo cockpits now, commonly, have a total of 6 years in them. I wonder if they really understand the threats of Class E. If you are trailing a glider, you in a shallow descent with an attitude of zero degrees & 210kts and the glider in nearly level flight at 80kts, they will be invisible to you. They are the VFR traffic avoiding you by sight, but you are the shark coming from their 6. They have a transponder, may be, but it's not on. They have a radio, but are not talking to ATC. I'm sorry, but how daft it that? If an EU official is downed tomorrow the rules will change the next day.
The whole public, when the know the facts, will throw their hands up in a "how could this be allowed to happen" moment. I get a €50 in France for doing 5kms over the limit. Safety? Bollox. I hit a glider up the jacksie............ because he was invisible but could have been seen, electronically. What then?
TEM tells me it's time to change the rules. Either no Class E around IFR radar airports, or change Class E rules. It's an accident waiting to happen, AND it is easily preventable. Guys will scream about transponders, but why not the minimum of a radio just to warn guys where you are. We do it over Africa, we do it on N.Atlantic and other remote areas. We tell guys we are around. It is a self-preservation thing. Why not with gliders?
And I fly recreationally as well as jets, light a/c & paragliders. In the latter we are warned to keep the hell away from any powered a/c airfield. Good advice because we don't; have the manoeuvrability if a sail plane: but one thing for all gliders is lift. You hate to lose it and if you see the perfect source & trigger it is like a moth to a flame. I'm on the side of safe skies for everyone, but I sense from the replies there is not a universal strongly supported case for change. Surprising. It is still an open debate. OK, but let us have that debate and analyse the merits of both sides. Let us NOT just bumble along hoping it'll be alright.

One thing: I suspect these replies come from above average aviators who are diligent about their professional & pleasure flying. One thing I was told many years ago, and i agree with; a weakness inherent in those of above average ability and thought is that they think they are average. They mix with and debate at their own level. It's not easy to appreciate there are some puppets out there. That's not arrogance, just..... How old are the rules of todays airspace? When were they last reviewed? And are they in tune with todays environment?

Silvaire1 8th Dec 2016 00:52

I'm on the side of safe skies for everyone, but I sense from the replies there is not a universal strongly supported case for change. Surprising. It is still an open debate. OK, but let us have that debate and analyse the merits of both sides. Let us NOT just bumble along hoping it'll be alright.
In the US that debate was resolved by the early 90s based on real world experience, and occurred between over a roughly 15 year period initiated by two airliner/GA mid-airs over major cities in Southern California (in 1978 and 1986). Mode C transponders are generally required above 10,000 ft, and near large airports up to 10,000 ft. Airliners must have TCAS and use it as they pass through mixed IFR and VFR non-communicating aircraft in the Class E that covers most of the US below 18,000 feet. The system has proven to work in airspace with very high GA utilization and did not require Mode S or separating airliners into their own radio communication mandatory airspace.

Negative transponder aircraft with no engine driven electrical system are exempt from the Mode C transponder requirement above 10,000 ft in the US. Some feel that particular exemption, for sailplanes only and not powered aircraft, should be debated. There is no push from anybody influential for airspace changes that would preclude airliners from mixing with VFR non-communicating (or non-radio) traffic in Class E.

I think the biggest issue in the EU is non-uniorm airspace between countries, making it near impossible for any international IFR pilot to remember the rules and expectations for traffic avoidance when operating at any given airport. A simple, uniform Pan-EU airspace structure would add more safety than any overdone system that separates airliners from everybody else, or demands radio communication.

RAT 5 8th Dec 2016 02:11

In the US that debate was resolved by the early 90s based on real world experience,

One of my points exactly. In the EU the increase in commercial air traffic during the past 20 years, has been huge. The LoCo's operate into many 'regional' airports with a density of movements not envisaged when the airspace was created. 20 years ago was the start of easyjet & RYR. They now have 600a/c between them. The spored the growth of many other similar type operators. Regional airfields became airports and massively busy. Some still do not have radar nor ILS. In the EU, only at the LoCo and turbo-prop regional level, there must be >1500 extra a/c in there past 20 years operating into some still very basic airfields. I'm not suggesting all airfields become radar ILS equipped; that requires much capital investment. All I'm suggesting is that the aviation environment has changed rapidly & hugely since the last review of airspace regs. The number of a/c is planned to increase greatly in the next 10 years. The number of affected airfields will also increase hugely. They all want a slice of the pie and some golden eggs. The infrastructure investment is going into terminals and parking space, not into the ATC and NAV facilitates. Meanwhile the regs are still the same as 25 years ago when the skies were a much quieter place.
I suspect there is a lack of awareness & knowledge at the high end. A mid-air will waken everyone up. Sadly, an increase in airmiss reports may not be enough to prompt change.

Piper.Classique 8th Dec 2016 06:34

See and avoid
I've got a Flarm in my glider. I can't run a transponder, all the battery space and power is claimed by the vario, radio, and Flarm. There isn't either room or electricity or indeed money for a transponder. I use my eyes, aided by the Flarm and a bubble canopy. Now, if you are worried about flying in class E instead of grabbing more airspace look at the possibility of getting Flarm certificated for your use, as what it will show you is gliders! We don't want a midair any more than you do. Or use the airports that are already in class D airspace. Not that that will help glider pilots beaten out of the sky by light aircraft, which is statistically far more likely.

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