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Flying at 250 Kts in E,F and G airspace.

Old 19th Aug 2003, 01:59
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Unhappy Flying at 250 Kts in E,F and G airspace.

A bit of saftey discussion during that hot Summer.
Because of the exceptional weather conditions during the last weeks, numerous gliders (including myself ) found themselves at altitudes above 3000 m ( FL100 +) for very long periods (6 to 8 h per day ) . While always operating in VFR country (G,F or E ) the number of Irish low costs 737s and Military types I have crossed is too numerous to say. nothing dangerous mind you, , but we always missed by pure luck.
We are all supposed to separate ourselves with the "seen and be seen "concept but how does this work when one is doing 250 Kts and the other 50 ?
Our Irish low cost friend is going down into second zone uncontrolled airfields where Para, gliding and GA activity is , especially on Summer days, intense.
The most stupid situation I saw was in Poitiers (F) where the European Twin Glider championship was held during 15 days 3 weeks ago and an Irish 737 came down in the middle of the pack every evening at the same time as the circuits returns...
95% of the gliders do not carry SSR and Poitiers has no radar and is a class E CTR. ( not even radio contact is mandatory )
But friends also reported incidents in other places where paras were seen falling around the same 737s on several occasions.

I do not want to start a sensational debate, but merely to raise a point that possibly should aim at making us aware of the danger, looking more outside and possibly fly at a (much) lower speed below 10.000 ft for instance, when in those areas.

I would perticularly appreciate the views of our Irish friends .
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 02:09
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Above 10,000ft in the UK and you are in Class A airspace and can't legally be there. <NOTE TO SELF: just check that before pressing submit>

Like many I assumed similar regualtions applies on the continent outside specialst areas.

If you don't show up on radar, you don't carry transponders and your flight path cannot be filed or predicted then I believe the onus is on you to avoid scheduled IFR traffic by whatever means possible (RAS/RIS/Airmanship).



Last edited by Wee Weasley Welshman; 19th Aug 2003 at 22:50.
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 02:46
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"Above 10,000ft in the UK and you are in class A airspace and can't legally be there"

News to me...!!??
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 02:50
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Clearly it's been a little while since your Air Law exams! Good job you don't need to know this stuff to do your job.

Just to refesh yourself, here's a link for you:
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 03:12
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WWW, do you include Scotland in your version of the UK???

Scottish TMA is Class D up to FL245
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 03:44
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pub user, it's interesting that you seem to think that a pilot doesn't need to know about airspace classification to do his or her job - or did I just miss some irony somewhere?

Is WWW's appreciation of the environment that he flies in is typical of a 'Low cost First Officer'? That would be worrying to say the least!
Old 19th Aug 2003, 04:54
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It is sad to see how low people have to go to have a swipe at Ryanair.

Everyone who flies knows (or should know) that there is NO speed restriction above FL100. The see and avoid principle also applies at those levels also in C,D,E,F and G airspace depending on flight rules.

Furthermore anyone who flies must know that powered aircraft give way to airships and gliders.

This is fear is a non flier who has found a new excuse to complain about Ryanair.

Sad indeed.


PS Surprised at WWWs answer.

However along the same lines, all airspace in France above FL115 is class D and VFR flights require clearance.
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 05:15
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Red face

Tried to correct post but having ISP problems...

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Old 19th Aug 2003, 08:56
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Steady on mate! It's all too easy to fob it off as one more swipe at 'The Flyin'Harp'. I don't think ATCWatcher's post was anything of the sort. Seems to me more like a call for consideration of a potential problem than anything else. The examples quoted refer to France but the airspace structure in Germany raises the same issues. Thankfully both give us non-commercial types a decent level of access to airspace. Sorry ..... forgot, us non fliers.

As for WWW's thorough and highly informed musings on the subject ....
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 17:16
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To those glider pilots out there:

Below 10,000 ft I have a lot of bright lights turned on in order to allow other traffic seem me - that includes you. I also carry a Mode "S" transponder that allows other aircraft to "see" me on a psedo radar screen.

What do you have - nothing! You do not have transponders, an few if any have radios. Not only that, you usually paint your aircraft pure white which also minimises your visibility. Perhaps you should be a little more considerate of the threat you pose to other traffic by being so inconspicious.

I am also on an IFR flight plan, and adhering to it, therefore my workload in the cockpit precludes me from looking out the window all the time. I will take whatever action is necessary to avoid all the traffic I see, but given the difficulty posed by gliders - their size, slim profile, colour, lack of lights, don't be surprised if you are never seen by an airliner crew.

In the interest of self preservation I suggest that you assume that an airliner crew cannot see you regardless of right of way rules, and give them a wide berth.
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 17:56
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Can you explain how a glider doing 50kt can give a wide berth to a jet airliner doing 250kt+ "?

That's a bit like the papers decribing the collision between a Red Arrow and a yacht off Brighton as "the yacht (doing 5kt?) sailed across the path of the Hawk (>250kt?).

Surely the greater responsiblity in avoiding collisions must go to the faster aircraft.

However, as an ex glider pilot, I do agree with your overall comments.

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Old 19th Aug 2003, 18:05
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Mach Buffet,

Being on an IFR flight plan does not absolve a flight crew from the responsibilities of lookout.

Anytime any aircraft on any flight plan is in VMC, the flight crew are required to keep an adequate lookout.

There is no getting round the fact that gliders have right of way and as I pointed out in my last post, it is not up to the glider pilot to avoid you but for you to avoid the glider.

Unfortunately, your attitude to the equipment on your aircraft and your unwillingness to maintain an adequate lookout can only be compared to the Captain of the Titanic.

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.

Still think that the whole topic was started as a Ryanair swipe because firstly of the ill informed information in the initial post and secondly French regional aircraft fly to all sorts of regional airports in France and have done so for years yet for some reason they never got a mention. Funny that.


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Old 19th Aug 2003, 18:38
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Hello guys. Just a few words on the topic. Crashing into a fellow pilot regardless of who is to blame is not a desirable outcome for either of us. Looking out when on the approach and landing phase is of course of great essence in avoiding other traffic. The Ryanair Flight Ops is aware of these issues in French airports, but also in Germany and Austria. The Chief Pilot has issued specific memos, and route briefings for airports like Carcassone, Hahn, Poitiers etc have specific instructions to be followed. Amongst other things, reduce to minimum approach speed as soon as practicable, follow only the published STARs and SIDs, and if lack of such procedures then fly the full approach procedure, never accept self positioning or visual approaches, and finally turn on all lights. (I asked if we should turn on all the lights inside the cabin and the flight deck but they thought I was not funny) Airmanship though is a two way road. We will try our best to avoid all those out there having fun, but they should also show airmanship in avoiding crossing the localizer, or flying on the published SIDs or STARs. Most VFR traffic is local traffic so learning where they shoud avoid flying is not that difficult. It is not long ago that I was in Perpignan and we had a TA while on the localizer bellow 2000 ft fully established. Not a nice situation to be in while training a new f/o. In East Midlands at our training center just before you enter the Sim there is a big chart with all the french airfields and the class airspace. On all our route briefings it has on the top corner the class airspace the airport is in, so this is still part of our training. Poitiers and Carcassone is flown by Buzz on behalf of Ryanair, so this particular time I do not think we can blame our Irish pilot friends as buzz has none of them.
We are all here to have a safe, efficient, and pleasnt flight for all involved, pax and crew.
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 18:41
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ATC watcher I wonder why you have had so many close encounters with Irish 737s ?

History shows that many UK and foreign airlines have operated public transport fixed wing and helicopters outside controlled airspace. Many have been involved in incidents because unfortunately you cannot get into most east coast airports and remain inside controlled airspace.

If you want to examine the figures you'll see that the majority of incidents involve fast jets.

The only 737 I can recall in the last 10 years was in the Scottish TMA on base leg to Edinburgh in Class E airspace. A hang glider ( I think) did what he was allowed to do by our antiquated rules and flew there without talking to anyone and could not be seen on radar.

If you want an improvement in air safety then the rules and classifications of airspace need changing to protect people like that from themselves and paying members of the public.

Mach buffet also makes good points about how little you do to make yourself more conspicuous.
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 21:33
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The fact remains that in todays fast environment "see and avoid" can only be described as inadequate as the sole method of avoiding collisions. Yes, we all know that we should keep a good lookout, but there are a lot of things we should be doing at the same time and often in a cockpit that was not designed to give us the view required to maintain a decent lookout.

So I agree that if even only in the interest of self preservation, our glider friends should make an effort in making themselves conspicuous and avoiding areas where other traffic can pose a significant risk. It's not about "having the right" to be there, but whether it is smart to be there. After all, being right does not mean a thing when you hit the ground in pieces after a mid-air..
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 23:08
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Red face

Whaoo ! .. quite some answers to do

WWW : problem is wider range than the UK only .In France Class G can go up to FL195. .
Gliders cannot avoid large jets coming down from their cruising levels at 250 Kts especially when they come through the cloud base..

DG : No, I am not having a go at Ryanair in particular, far from it. ( I appreciate them for other reasons ) reading again my post, I understand you can take it this way but rest assured that was not the intent at all. But it is a fact that the 5 close encounters I had in the last 3 weeks 3 were RYR 737s, 1 USAF C17 and one GAF Tornado. I am trying to have a discussion on what I feel is a problem , nothing else.
Why not mentioning French Regionals : less problem for us , possibly because they mostly come in the early morning and late evenings ( no glider activity then ) and mostly use turboprops, and are possibly more aware of the surroundings, particularities of the places. But there was serious calls with Proteus (flying for AFR) and even a collision in Quiberon with a small aircraft 3 years ago.
Speed restrictions : You are misinformed : In France and Germany it is 250 Kts indicated below FL100 ( see their AIPs)
Likewise No, not all airspace in France is class D above 115. Above the Alps and the Pyrennees it is above 195, ( and these large areas below are precisely there for gliders )

And , by the way I do fly around 300 h a year as PIC.

Mc Buffet : It is exactly people like you that I am afraid of ; Not having time to look out the window when in IFR in VFR country on a bright day ? Do not forget that if you hit me, you are very likely to go down with me….

John Pilot : Thank you. This is the kind or post I expected to read. The Landing lights are helpful on departure, ( first you hear about the take off on the R/T, assuming you are monitoring the correct frequency , bearing in mind in class E it is not mandatory !) you know where to look, can predict the path the aircraft will go and try to keep away . The problem is in my opinion on APP, when the jets are coming from their cruising alt down to the fields. Most of us are a few hundred feet feet below cloudbase and we do not know where the jets are going to come down through that cloudbase. . Also we normally do not look upwards, but horizontally to keep away from other gliders )

I mentioned Poitiers because 2 of the “encounters “ I had took place there,. I have learned in that the local authorities created “Cones “ to be avoided 15 Km wide and 3000 ft hight to protect the arrivals and departures near the runway. But this Cones practices are local initiatives, are only known to local based club, not to transiting gliders . Yet I believe the problems are at distance further than that and at higher altitudes.
The other was near Hahn in Germany. The airport there is supposed to be surrounded by a TMZ ( transponder mandatory Zone ) and we keep away from that. It you look at the map you will see that on the East you have only a 3 NM corridor between the TMZ and the Frankfurt TMA, and on the West, a 8NM corridor between the TMZ and the Buchel TMA. This is the only place we can fly, and this is where the concentration of the gliders is strongest on the correct days. .
Yet I met a 737 and a Tornado in that airspace which indicated, in my opinion , a lack of knowledge of local practices.

As to painting our gliders bright orange, do you really think that will change anything ?
The gliders I fly have wings less that 10 inches thick and the fuselage has a cross-section around 2- 3 feet in diameter, if I am flying towards or away from you the color does not make a difference.
Unfortunately gelcoat ( the coating of the gliders ) does react badly to UV and as white is reflecting most of it, nearly 100 % of modern gliders are white.
Transponders : we are getting into it , but GA mode S transponders ( that will be mandatory in the next 5 years or so depending on which State you are registered ) are not yet available in sufficient numbers to cover demand.
That might solve part, if not most of of the problem, but not the speed one , also TCAS is very poor in azimuth detection and also not everyone has one (Military , GA jets, ) .. In any case it will be years before all gliders are SSR equipped and we have to accomodate each other until then.

Findo : Your databse seems to be excluding mainland europe .. look at the latest report for France or Germany for instance.
In the last 2 years in France there was a collision between a A320 and a glider in Montpellier, and others serious airprox above the alps .

S76 Heavy : Do you thonestly think what you are saying ? I am not claiming any "right to be there ", neither Have I said that I am right and the fast jets are wrong. I am trying to find a way to accomodate each other safely - in a better way.
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Old 19th Aug 2003, 23:59
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Just to try to tighten this up a little...

Let's just assume, for the sake of argument that:

1. A glider, which is properly equipped for the operation under the applicable regulations, is operating in a geographic area and at an altitude where the pilot of that glider has the right to operate;

2. An air carrier aircraft is also operating properly within the applicable regulations in the vicinity of the glider; and,

3. The air carrier must, under the rules, yield right-of-way to the glider.

In the US (yes, I know this wasn't in the US, but speaking conceptually...), the right-of-way rules are expressed in:

§ 91.113 Right-of-way rules: Except water operations.

(a) Inapplicability. This section does not apply to the operation of an aircraft on water.

(b) General. When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft. When a rule of this section gives another aircraft the right-of-way, the pilot shall give way to that aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.

(c) In distress. An aircraft in distress has the right-of-way over all other air traffic.

(d) Converging. When aircraft of the same category are converging at approximately the same altitude (except head-on, or nearly so), the aircraft to the other's right has the right-of-way. If the aircraft are of different categories --

(1) A balloon has the right-of-way over any other category of aircraft;

(2) A glider has the right-of-way over an airship, airplane, or rotorcraft; and

(3) An airship has the right-of-way over an airplane or rotorcraft.
OK. So you're flying a glider and God is on your side. However, God, to my knowledge, has yet to envelope any gliders in a protective cloak in which operations may be undertaken with impunity. I mean, what are you going to say as that 73 bears down on you? "Yeah. I see him. But he can't hit us. It's illegal for him to hit us." Perhaps true, but certainly an impractical approach to fostering aviation safety.

With apologies to Roger Waters, I can imagine that a conversation between the two occupants of the glider, having survived the collision, would go something like this as they fell to their deaths:

"I certainly was in the right!"
"you was definitely in the right. that geezer was cruising for a

Of course, then they die.

So, guess what? The glider guys are correct: they have every right to do what they do so long as it comports with the rules. Further, the heavier-metal guys are also right: if you're in a glider you've GOT to take-on more responsibility than the regs perhaps demand. However, let's not continue to beat on this as a "conform to the rules" argument, because even a strict adherence to the rules isn't enough in aviation in general. If you're going to work to change the rules, that's fine. However, if we're talking about things AS THEY EXIST, then let's be a little more practical about keeping airframes apart and little less pragmatic when it comes to betting your life on the rules.

Rant over.

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Old 20th Aug 2003, 03:21
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Beautifully put if I may say so and I say so as both a glider pilot and a commercial aviator.

I think ATC Watcher was probably trying to say something similar but rather spoiled it by banging on about Ryanair.

I also sometimes have to operate out of airfields which have limited ATC resources and protection and try to be sensible. For example, I will tell my F/O to avoid flying underneath cumulus clouds on a summers day if at all possible for there are likely to be gliders there.

Likewise charging down the leading edge of a wave bar at 250 knots at altitude anywhere near a gliding site is perhaps not the brightest thing to do.

We really should try to understand one another more and stop relying on arcane laws.
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Old 20th Aug 2003, 04:57
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ATC Watcher,

AV8Boy has put the point I tried to make in a much more eloquent way than I could hope to acchieve. I never accused you of making the "I have the right to be there" statement, unfortunately I have had dealings with simpletons who did use it.

I have had a few occasions to test the "see and avoid" principle, and lady luck simply happened to be on our side. Otherwise I would not be typing this. BTW I fly helicopters IFR in Class G airspace (North Sea) and there are precious few gliders out there, but the problems with other traffic (usually non-offshore related) are still very, very real. I have friends in the commuter business who have had close encounters with gliders, though.

So like you I try to find a practical solution instead of waiting for the authorities to take their finger out and legislate. And even then we still have to rely on common sense.
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Old 20th Aug 2003, 05:21
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With todays radar coverage, I cannot se one sigle reason why any european country should have anything but class D or higher airspace above say FL100. One exception might be over oceans where there are not to much traffic. (offcourse areas with oil installations are except from this) Airports serviceing more then 1 or 2 passenger flights a day should have a class D or higher CTR, AND the CTR need a TMA streching to said FL100.

It's not only me that has this view, but Eurocontrol as well....

And the MIL boys argument that they need mass amounts of class G to fly in is . They manage quite well in class D and A over here.

As for Gliders, I thought the "sail before steam" applied everywhere, sure does here. (But then we have som peculiar deviations from Doc4444 )

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