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Very near miss in Texas....!!

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Very near miss in Texas....!!

Old 2nd May 2010, 23:09
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Very near miss in Texas....!!

Reported in the Aviation Herald...

Incident: Southwest Airlines B737 at Houston on Apr 28th 2010, near collision with a news helicopter
By Simon Hradecky, created Sunday, May 2nd 2010 16:53Z, last updated Sunday, May 2nd 2010 17:06Z

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, flight WN-1322 from Houston Hobby,TX to Baltimore,MD (USA), had been cleared for takeoff from Houston Hobby Airport's runway 12R and had just rotated when the crew spotted a helicopter ahead and above them and took evasive action, the helicopter crew reacted as well and took a sharp right turn away from the runway. Both aircraft completed their flights safely.

FAA spokeswoman Lynn Lunsford said, that the news helicopter (call sign "Sky 2") had been cleared to takeoff from the south ramp in direction north, but took off to the south before turning north. The Southwest Boeing 737 was cleared to depart runway 12R followed by a left turn to the north. As the helicopter approached the runway, it passed above and ahead of the Southwest 737. The crew of the Southwest 737 saw the helicopter first and slowed their climb allowing the airplane to pass underneath the helicopter, the crew of the helicopter turned hard right away of the runway. Preliminary radar data suggest, that the helicopter was at 200 feet AGL, the 737 at 100 feet AGL with a minimum separation of 100 feet vertically and 125 feet laterally.

Incident: Southwest Airlines B737 at Houston on Apr 28th 2010, near collision with a news helicopter
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Old 2nd May 2010, 23:55
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had just rotated when the crew spotted a helicopter ahead and above them and took evasive action
Astonishing! and nicely done.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 00:18
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Both crews did what was required to avoid a conflict. Sounds like both had it under control. I know I downplay near misses but if you are visually in contact avoidance usually isn't that difficult.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 00:22
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What the crews did to avoid a collision isn't the issue. It's how the situation came into being that matters.

A crew in an IFR aircraft fortunately catches sight of a far smaller one and takes action promptly. Good on them for keeping a good lookout, but it could easily have been a far nastier situation. I hope they bought lottery tickets on the way home.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 00:28
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Sorry, but visual contact or no, having to (see and) avoid right at rotation is what I would call difficult!
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Old 3rd May 2010, 00:39
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looking for traffic at rotation is part of the job.

I know a guy in a DC9 at ORD ...cleared for takeoff...someone else screwed up and he had to rotate prior to Vr to jump over the offending jet. He made it. Got an award...good guy.

So do your job.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 00:40
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This business of helicopters being near to the end of runways during fixed-wing takeoffs used to leave me a tad annoyed. I'd role with TECAS images, having been assured, and sometimes reassured, that all was well. Didn't like it one little bit. Still, the warning concentrated the mind.

Didn't these guys have any electronic warning?
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Old 3rd May 2010, 01:03
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Hi PTH!
I agree, quite obviously, that keeping a good look out in all flight regimes, is critical - and that's how I was trained. To expand a bit on my previous (and agreeing with Rivets), I just think that it would be difficult at 100AGL in a jet to 'avoid'....no real room to maneuver - but especially with a helicopter....it's a small target and it doesn't act like an airplane does. I did a lot of flying at airports with helicopters of all kinds, and they DID have a tendency to 'hang around' over the thresh holds. IF everyone is following their clearances AND the rules, all is well. In this case, the chopper followed the avoidance rule of breaking right....but....
The question remains though....WHY was he there? If I understand it correctly, he was cleared from the south ramp for a north bound departure...but instead, departed south and THEN went north bound. I would think that this would have screwed up the timing/spatial positions that the tower controller had when he gave T/O clearance to SWA and the chopper...??
Not being an ATCO, I'm just guessing....perhaps HD or others could enlighten...?
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Old 3rd May 2010, 07:05
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Sounds like the chopper didn't behave quite as ATC anticipated?
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Old 3rd May 2010, 07:18
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Q is, was the chopper driver made aware of the traffic taking off? And vice versa?

Had a similar situation once, whilst the chopper did was he was supposed to do, still its not so nice to get that "traffic,traffic" just after rotation. The chopper was cleared for takeoff on a different freq and flew parallel to the rwy and the guy working with me didnīt tell it.
I really would have liked to be made aware of it. (was in a single hand flown Citationjet)
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Old 3rd May 2010, 07:32
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Well done the 737 crew.

The difficulty is rotating towards the normal pitch attitude of 17.5 degrees, escape the ground as you pitch through say 12+ degrees, and then having done so, lowering the nose to reduce the climb angle.

Good CRM between PF & PM. The CVR once / [if ?] released will be quite interesting.

Rapid TOI from ATC me thinks.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 07:37
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Sounds like the chopper didn't behave quite as ATC anticipated?
Helicopter transitioning into wind before a turn north perhaps?.ATCO unaware of the whole picture.....these and other items will be considered when the INVESTIGATORS get going...until then it is all speculation.

Well done for retrieving what sounds like a nasty event.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 07:54
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See and avoid still comes in handy, even if ATC is in "control". Not always easy to anticipate what a helicopter is going to do next. Wycombe Air Park mixes up all sorts, you need eyes on stalks.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 09:06
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Perhaps an ATCO working in the USA could enlighten me?
Assuming the report in the avherald was accurate (I know, I know, early days, investigation barely started etc), is it normal to clear someone for departure across the flightpath of another a/c also cleared for takeoff?

Because it reads like that's what happened, here.
Any a/c departing N from the South ramp will cross runway 12, by the look of it. If the intention was to cross the helicopter before the Boeing commenced the roll, why not wait until that was a fait-accompli before clearing the Boeing to go, or at least provide traffic info once it looked like it was going to work?
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Old 3rd May 2010, 14:49
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Without a proper airport diagram showing where the helicopter was parked, what was the clearance issued , and what was the actual flight track , the you are all speculating widely .
Normally heli routes do not interfere with dep/arr normal traffic ( low and perpendicular) clearances to x active are done by TWR controller, and a normally buildt controller will not allow a x during a take off.
there is something more ,( as usual) I'll wait until I see the R/T transcript and see the track .
For the SLFs here asking about " electronic protection" : helicopters are not required to carry TCAS and in any case TCAS RAs are disabled at those altitudes.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 14:58
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For the SLFs here asking about " electronic protection" : helicopters are not required to carry TCAS and in any case TCAS RAs are disabled at those altitudes.
Thus showing you the calibre of the most of the posters above you!

Am surprised this thread is still here.

As SAS says:

A crew in an IFR aircraft fortunately catches sight of a far smaller one and takes action promptly.
No heroics or superpowers involved with this - just luck.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 18:16
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With winds probably from southeast there's no surprise a heli wanted to depart facing that direction. From the diagram one could assume that the intention of ATC was to get him behind the 737, maybe also behind the threshold, but it didn't work out that way - that's the reason for traffic information.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 22:27
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Sounds like both had it under control.
Nothing of the kind! Sounds like a nice, and lucky, one by the B737
looking for traffic at rotation is part of the job.
And if you see any conflicters there's been a screw up!

Been there, done it and subsequently used foul language on the RT. It is not normal and I'd suggest the airport may have to review their procedures.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 23:46
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In the US see and avoid is the rule once airborn. It works really well. It works at all altitudes from lift off to cruise. Electronic help came just recently but it shouldn't be your collision avoidance system. Looking out the window and doing what makes sense is the best way to avoid a midair. Electronics will not avoid conflict more than your eyeball. Most of the near miss reports recently would be solved by looking out the window. Quite a simple concept but so accurate. Remember constant bearing, decreasing range and how that can ruin your day? Change the constant bearing and all will be fine. Usually turning behind the conflict fixes everything. I went through a long career of flying using this technique and believe looking out the window is the best way to retire with no incidents. It worked well for me.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 23:52
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"Thus showing you the calibre of the most of the posters above you!"

Piper pilots and people who call helos "choppers."
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