New series on Roger-Wilco. The tower with a soul…

On 31/12/2009, in The tower with a soul, by steve

If you enjoyed reading the sometimes incredible stories in Same Time, Same Place, Same Level…, keep your seatbelts fastened! The last part of Same Time having just been published, we are bringing you a new series under the title: The tower with a soul. This will be the story of the first 25 years in the life of the new control tower at Budapest Ferihegy airport.

Presented in several chapters covering the professional as well as the human interest aspects that characterized the first 25 years of the new tower, the series is not trying to be an official history of the edifice or the control unit it houses. It will be the picture as seen through the eyes of a controller who has been there right from the start. Factual, often moving, sometimes a tad subjective… but at all times a real life rendition of life in a tower with a soul.

Part 1 will be posted in the first week of January 2010.


Same time, same place, same level…22

On 30/12/2009, in Same time, same place..., by steve


We have come to the end of this irregular overview of the life of air traffic control. If it told you anything new, very well, if not, you must be a controller yourself… I hope I have not frightened you away from flying, on the contrary, I trust next time you step on board an aircraft you will give a thought to the controllers who, in spite of the human failings they might have, will be watching every move your flight makes, to make your journey as safe and quick as is humanly possible.
My time with the microphone is over, but there is a new generation of air traffic controllers working the airways, and I haven’t the slightest doubt, they will carry the flame as high as we did, and probably higher still. And in time, they will have their own crazy stories to tell….



Same time, same place, same level…21

On 29/12/2009, in Same time, same place..., by steve

Flying to freedom

This chapter had been written well before the fall of the Berlin wall and the famous opening of the border by Hungary, allowing thousands of East Germans to flee to the West. It is a nice quirk of history that the place where this story took place is just a few miles East of the place where the mass escape happened several years later.

That with a bit of ingenuity a small airplane can be used to beat an oppressive regime was amply demonstrated by the crew of the West-German Cessna that came visiting one Sunday afternoon.

Hungary had long been the gate to freedom for some of those poor souls whose fortune (or rather misfortune…) had left them east of the Iron Curtain after WW2. The trick had been fairly simple. Meet your West-German friends or relatives in Budapest, do a bit of surgery on their passports and off you go. The real nationals of the Federal Republic, who a few days later reported having “lost” their passports were promptly issued temporary papers and after one more goulash at beautiful Lake Balaton, they too would make their retreat. Of course, these earthbound souls did not have friends with an aircraft handy.

Click here to read the full article


Only heroes and luck stop terrorists today

On 28/12/2009, in Battle stations, by krisztian

It has been a long time ago since the media last brought us news concerning the airlines and terrorism. Until Flight 253 of Delta Airlines departing Amsterdam bound for Detroit came in the news. Second day of Christmas brought us back to reality. If you want to know what happened, you can read all the news items concerning this event. What interests me more, is what went wrong and why. Even more interesting, how can we prevent this in the future.

A lot of comment has been given concerning the fact that the passenger who now is labeled as a terrorist, was on Terrorism Watch lists, that his father had warned the US government about the activities of his son. People pose the question: how could such a passenger board a US bound flight? But why try to find the blame in a paper carousel that is so far away from the operations on the ground and the true security measures that have been put into place.

Consider the following. All US bound passengers have to go through profiling. Passengers coming from connecting flights from anywhere must at some point before heading towards US territorial airspace go through the profiling process. This process was set up to filter passengers with evil intentions. Airport security, the x-ray people, are there to filter all equipment which might be dangerous for the flight. So, what happened?

Click here to read the full article


Environment. The Copenflop – Is aviation better off now?

On 27/12/2009, in Environment - Without hot air, by cleo

We all remember how seriously aviation had been preparing for the UN environmental conference held earlier this month in Copenhagen. Led by IATA, the aviation industry arrived with concrete proposals and plans which were seen by several non-aviation experts as templates suitable also for other industries.

Once the conference kicked off, aviation experts must have felt like adults thrown into a kindergarten with a very poor teacher at the helm. Kids shouting all over the place, getting into fights, leaving the playroom when not granted their favorite toys… Those who ventured outside to escape the worst of the circus fared no better. There was another kind of kindergarten out there, albeit with destruction and tear-gas thrown in to increase the fun.

Of course the kids inside were the same politicians who are convinced that electric cars charged from a public utility produce virtually no emissions and also who had promised to shutter nuclear reactors while having no idea how to replace their generating capacity. It was no surprise to see them come together after having brandished the environmental flag at home and then fail to agree on the time of day, let alone actual environmental action.

Click here to read the full article


Pilot fatigue – The views of the Flight Safety Foundation

On 25/12/2009, in View from the left seat, by pbn

The issue of fatigue in the cockpit, and outside it among maintenance personnel for example, has been on the agenda for some time now and things were brought to a head by the Colgan Air crash in Buffalo on Feb. 12, 2009.

Predictably, the reactions are varied and range from the studied to the opportunistic. Clearly, something as complex as human fatigue can only be addressed on a scientific basis applied in the specific aviation context. Traditional ways of regulations and compliance monitoring may also need to be reviewed before they are pronounced as the solution to this very real problem.

For some airlines fatigue risk management is nothing new and they have long ago adjusted their crew scheduling and fatigue reporting practices to mitigate the risk as much as possible. For others, the task is still looming large.

Mr. William R. Voss, President and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation gave a testimony on 1 December 2009 to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Aviation Hearing on Aviation Safety: Pilot fatigue.

He too argues for a balanced and well reasoned approach, something that is scaleable to suit both major and smaller operators and points out that some measures that do not necessarily require a regulatory approach can be implemented now. Which is not to say that there is no need for new rules that reflect the latest scientific knowledge about fatigue and the risks it entails.

You can read the full text of the testimony here.


Performance and its measurement – some coaching aspects

On 23/12/2009, in Managers' corner, by andras

The author is a member of the Business Coach Association in Hungary. More information about the Association is available here (the English language page is under construction).

I don’t think anyone having worked as a manager for any company in any profile whatsoever has had the luck to avoid being the target, or the executor, of PERFORMANCE-MEASURMENT (PM). This category seems to be an above-all factor in many an organisation, and even the survival of the company itself can depend on whether these figures meet the EXPECTATIONS.

Figures, charts and spreadsheets dominate. Headcount and HR-decisions are based on results from PM. But is there an alternative? Can top-notch executives be persuaded to apply other ideas and depart from these fundaments? This question can become an exceptionally exciting issue once a company (or, rather, its management) faces problems that cannot be solved by traditional methods, and when the decision is made to ask the assistance of a coach.

Click here to read the full article


Same time, same place, same level…20

On 22/12/2009, in Same time, same place..., by steve

Loading in the shadows

friendsControllers and pilots are really a big, worldwide family. True, we have our differences, but then, which family does not? We all serve the flying public and we help each other wherever we can, on and off duty alike.

We also like to think of the world as a big, free place where airspace is there for all to use and enjoy and for us political borders are mostly just lines on a map… Flying, this wonderful invention of humanity, is basically a peaceful business and that it is sometimes abused to bring sorrow and destruction to those below is really the shame of some of our political masters.

That we, flying people, remain friends who respect each other to the bitter end even when pitched against each other is amply demonstrated by numerous events that live on in our common memory. Take for example those flying heroes of the First World War, where, after an ace of the Austrian-Hungarian air force had been shot down, the British fighters dropped a wreath of flowers from the clouds when he was being buried.

In our present world, torn as it is by strife and enmity, aviation is once again called upon to do its bit. But as you will see, the old spirit lives on, even today.

Click here to read the full article


CAA Radiotelephony Manual – free download

On 21/12/2009, in Bookshelf, by steve

CAP_413There are certain books that should not be missing from any pilot’s or controller’s kits. Among these is the UK CAA’s Radiotelephony Manual (CAP 413). Now in its 19th edition, it has numerous additions and clarifications (including the call sign suffix “Super” for the Airbus A380) that we all must be aware of.

If you think this is nothing for you, think again. A leading cause of runway incursions the world over is improper radiotelephony usage… It is easy to slip into “slang” when we repeat the same limited set of expressions over and over again, especially when our friends on the other end of the radio tend to do the same. The result? Incident reports aplenty in which radiotelephony figures in a prominent place.

Browsing a volume like CAP 413 is an easy way to remind us of the many things we thought we knew as well as to learn about the new things in town.

You can get your free copy of the Radiotelephony Manual here.


Air France 447 – Second Interim Report published. Cause still unknown.

On 18/12/2009, in SKYbrary News, by steve

News from EUROCONTROL’s aviation safety knowledge base SKYbrary


The loss of AF447 over the Atlantic Ocean on 1 June 2009 is proving to be every bit the nightmare of accident investigators and safety experts alike. The French accident investigation bureau BEA has now published their second Interim Report which includes new findings and makes a number of safety recommendations but the cause of the accident remains undetermined.

Further investigation will be needed to figure out what exactly has happened on that fateful night. Accidents with their cause undetermined hang like a Damocles’ sword over the industry… We can try to initiate mitigating actions in a general sense but only focused action has a guarantee of hitting its target. It is exactly this target that is missing in cases with the cause undetermined and hence there is not much to focus on.

Luckily, not many accidents remain unsolved even if in some cases a repeat of the problem cannot be avoided before the cause is found. A famous case concerned the Boeing 737, two of which were lost to the same cause before the third one managed to land safely and the culprit (a part worth a few bucks but prone to freezing) was found.

Let’s hope AF447 will reveal its secrets soon…

You can read the AF447 Second Interim Report here.


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