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Very Light Jets with no TCAS in commercial airspace

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Very Light Jets with no TCAS in commercial airspace

Old 9th Feb 2008, 00:44
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Very Light Jets with no TCAS in European airspace

Times

Boom in private jets with safety loophole raises risk of collision

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/to...cle3338008.ece

''The growth in the number of small, private jets could cause a mid-air crash because a loophole in safety rules means that they lack collision- avoidance systems, according to Europe’s air traffic regulator.

This month the first of a new breed of very light jets, known as VLJs, began operating from small airports in Britain. More than 100 are due to be delivered to air taxi companies and private operators in Europe each year for the next decade, according to Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based body that oversees air traffic control. They will operate in controlled airspace at similar heights to airliners but will not have the advanced safety systems that prevent collisions.

The Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) is a cockpit device that monitors the airspace within 40 miles of the aircraft and informs pilots when there is any risk posed by another plane. If two aircraft continue on a collision course the system instructs one aircraft to climb and the other to descend. If one aircraft does not have the system or if it is not working properly, a collision may still occur.

In September 2006 154 passengers and crew onboard a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 died after an Embraer Legacy business jet sliced off its wing tip in Brazil. The 737 plunged 37,000ft (11,278m) into jungle. The Legacy was damaged but landed safely. Investigators found that the TCAS of the Legacy was not operating and could not correspond with the 737’s system.

Under international aviation safety rules all jets weighing more than 5.7 tonnes must have TCAS. VLJs typically weigh less than 4 tonnes and are therefore exempt.

Alex Hendriks, the deputy director of air traffic management strategies at Eurocontrol, told The Times: “TCAS is mandatory for airlines because of safety considerations. Why should we exclude a certain category of aircraft just because they are small?

“It is the same as saying that motorcycles are smaller than cars and therefore don’t have to have lights when they are ridden at night.” Mr Hendriks is leading a review about VLJs and the consequences for European airspace safety and capacity. One of the key questions is whether VLJs should lose their exemption from the TCAS requirement.

Mr Hendriks, a pilot who recently flew a Cessna Mustang light jet across the Atlantic, said: “We have already warned the VLJ operators that there may be additional regulations that will force them to have the full TCAS that airlines have. The risk will increase as the traffic increases.

“We don’t want to wait for a crash before we come up with a regulation.”

Any new regulation may not come into force until 2012 to allow operators time to install the equipment. It will cost £100,000 to equip each aircraft. The cramped cockpits may have to be redesigned to accommodate the equipment.

Jet Bird, which has ordered 100 Embraer Phenom VLJs and plans to start an air taxi service in Europe next year, has decided against fitting the system.

Stefan Vilner, its chief executive, said: “First of all it’s very costly and secondly it’s not required.”

He added: “I don’t think our customers would have a clue whether it was there or not. If you catch a Ryanair flight you don’t think about its TCAS, you assume safety is a given.”

Mr Vilner said that the risk of a collision would be minimised because Jet Bird would be operating away from the busiest sections of airspace.


David Kaminski-Morrow, of Flight International magazine, said: “Europe’s skies are already congested and VLJs will make them more so. I hope it won’t take a mid-air collision before VLJ operators start considering whether the safety investment is worth making for their passengers and their business.”


Should not all jets operating in European airspace be fitted with a piece of safety equipment that only makes sense if all aircraft in that airspace are fitted with it? Whether passengers are aware of the operator's safety equipment or not is irrelevant - it is exactly that so-called ignorance that should make responsible management ensure that the best safety systems are fitted! Maybe it is not just the passengers that are ignorant....

Last edited by flying brain; 9th Feb 2008 at 11:17.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 01:30
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More informed professional comment

Commercial airspace???

TCAS not operating????

Maybe it's not just the passengers that are ignorant....???

That is one statement amidst your jibberish that you have so ably shown is demonstrably correct.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 03:07
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Investigators found that the TCAS of the Legacy was not operating and could not correspond with the 737’s system.
Not quite right. The TRANSPONDER of the Legacy was inoperative (because it seems the TCAS was switched off), hence that lack of a TCAS warning in the 737.

Lack of a TCAS only means that no CA guidance will be given to the pilot of the VLJ. Assuming that aircraft above 5,700kg have a TCAS and the VLJ has a transponder, then at least one aircraft will be given CA guidance.

That said, it does seem ridiculous to me that a high-performance jet of any type, especially a single-pilot one in busy European airspace, does not have TCAS.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 04:27
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If anyone needs TCAS, it will be the wealthy doctors, lawyers, business tycoons and rogue traders who buy these things. The ground is going to kill more of them than mid air collisions. These things are going to be lawn darts the world over.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 09:54
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The quotations attributed to Mr Vilner remind me of the attitudes of some cowboy air taxi operators of the seventies.
Time for a small change to the legislation.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 11:27
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This is not something new... Some existing business jet are below 5700 kgs MTOW, like Cessna Citation Mustang, CJ1, CJ2 etc...
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 12:41
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the odd one or two shuttling fat cats between meetings
I'll bet that those have TCAS, because the Flt Ops boss of said fat cats would have demanded it even though the regs may not require it. Not so for the new cut-throat bottom line-driven airtaxi operators.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 12:47
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TCAS was originally only a Terminal area protection system - designed to warn if ATC porked up. However, it is now used everywhere by 5700kg+ aircraft.

Perhaps the compromise should be that single pilot VLJ operation will only be permitted in CAS if the aeroplane is fitted with TCAS?
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 12:54
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You can order your Cirrus SR20 with TCAS.....a PVT 4 seater!!!! So why on earth would you not do it with a VLJ.

It may not be law, buts its common sense.

J
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 12:59
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TCAS is not a requirement for RVSM operations.

However, in Europe at least, it is mandated for fixed-wing turbine engined aircraft having a maximum certificated take-off mass exceeding 5,700kgs, or a maximum approved passenger seating configuration of more than 19. Not much help in getting VLJs to carry it though.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 19:23
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Not sure what all the concern is about. These aircraft will still have to be equipped with transponders so will be 'visible' to TCAS equipped traffic. Do we know if these VLJs are able to respond to TCAS warnings within the expected parameters of Rate of Climb/RAte of Descent?

I would be more concerned by the implied suggestion that European ATC is so poor that TCAS is now seen as an integral part of safety and not just the final safety net it was designed to be.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 20:00
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Lawn darts? Surely Sir means fit them with an EGPWS sywtem as well then?
 
Old 9th Feb 2008, 20:32
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Even without TCAS they need Mode-S transponders in Europe, with enhanced features within the densly flown airspace. ATC will be able to use advanced collision avoidance prediction from this.

While a TCAS equipped aircraft will get TA/RA for non-TCAS aircraft, two VLJs without TCAS definitely will not get any help to avoid collision.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 20:44
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Quote:

Stefan Vilner, its chief executive, said: “First of all it’s very costly and secondly it’s not required.

The consensus on the second point seems to be 'if it's not required, it should be', but can anybody comment on the first point re cost? What sort of figures are we talking about?
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 21:18
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Im heavily involved in this industry at present and whilst it is wise to be cautious, the majority of this thread is storm in a tea cup type stuff.

TCAS for VLJ's would be far more effective in use in class G as a lot of these a/c will be operating from regional fields without any radar capability until they join airways.

As for airways, due to the low speeds currently anwhere from .58 to .68 then Swanwick appears to favour 280 or below unless you can get a quick climb above 370, and even then it depends on your destination and the day etc.

The biggest problem by far facing the introduction of the VLJ's is pilots - simply put - we do not have enough...... either for the charter fleet or for the owner fleet that will require safety / mentor pilots (although i do not agree with the word mentor we seem to be sheep in europe and have a desire to follow the yanks) - wrong, very wrong....... IMHO

Still we manage to drive with the smart car on the roads so i am sure we will manage with VLJ's - its all relative, and there is a sensible solution out there..

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Old 9th Feb 2008, 21:20
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Having recently arrived as a pilot in the world of GA I was deeply shocked to discover that it was legal to operate a small jet below 5700KGS without TCAS. It is absolutely ridiculous that any new VLJ should not have it and any operators who are doing this should be named and shamed. (I am certain that the new Mustangs being purchased by LEA are all properly and fully TCAS equipped by the way.)

In ten years of busy airline shorthaul flying I know that TCAS saved my bacon and those of my pax at least once through an RA and it is a vital tool in any event to assist situational awareness because of the display of prox traffic in busy airspace. Just think how many times one has regulated a climb or descent rate or queried an ATC instruction because of ones ability to "read" what is going on around one. It is essential.....

The problem I suggest arises more with older equipment like CJs where a retrofit costs in excess of £25000 rather than purchasing of new, where there are no excuses.

I must say that I did think that there was legislation which was coming into effect this summer making it mandatory, but I am not sure where I heard that.

The biggest problem seems to be a lack of appreciation by some owners who despite their millions are blissfully ignorant of the risk and this is componded by cowboy operators who are literally gambling with the lives of their pilots and indeed customers to make themselves a few extra pieces of silver.

TCAS should be mandatory for any AOC operated aircraft.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 21:31
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but can anybody comment on the first point re cost? What sort of figures are we talking about?
The article in the first post mentions a figure of £100,000 to equip each aircraft.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 21:34
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£25000 is the guide to retrofit a Citation.............
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 21:39
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Presumably a collision with a 5.6 ton object is not deemed hazardous, whilst 5.7 tons is...

Preposterous!

If they share airways with the rest of us then they need TCAS. End of.
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Old 9th Feb 2008, 21:47
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If they share airways with the rest of us then they need TCAS. End of.
Well if you're going to take that line, stop all airliners ever descending through class G airspace, make all aircraft that enter controlled airspace have TCAS and kick out all light GA traffic without TCAS that travels in the airways...to be fair often they are a similar size and weight to VLJs and the only difference is that they are slower and travel at lower altitudes....they share the same departure and arrival paths.
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