European Parliament adopts resolution on sustainable future for transport

On 30/09/2010, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

The European Parliament adopted in July a resolution that sets out the priorities for a sustainable European transport policy in the next ten years. The resolution puts high emphasis on a safer, cleaner and more efficient European transport system but also underlines its economic impact and need for more research. Consequently, the report gives reference to the completion of the Single European Sky and the SESAR program to enhance the EU’s competitiveness and efficiency. The resolution also makes the link between research leading to environmental improvements. Thus, the European Parliament states that for programs such as SESAR, not only research and development activities should be supported but also their application.

Read the resolution here.


Paul the octopus

On 29/09/2010, in Buzzwords explained, by daniel

What is the connection between an octopus and flight plan adherence?

Daily across Europe, regulations are put in place to protect ATC from receiving more traffic than the controller can handle safely. However, it regularly happens that more aircraft than planned enter these protected sectors, exceeding their capacities by more than 10%, which is regarded as an ATFCM “over-delivery”.

The Flight Plan & ATFCM Adherence campaign is an initiative of DMEAN and the CFMU. A Task Force gathers representatives from the pilots, dispatchers and controllers communities, their representative bodies and associations as well as airlines and ANSPs. Together they are working on the preparation of the Flight Level Adherence Days to be held on 29-30 September 2010.

So, what is the fuss?

Click here to read the full article


Work hard, fly right, the motto of Continental Airlines.

On 27/09/2010, in On the go..., by steve

The case of an overbooked flight – the two sides of a coin

It was the last day of our holidays and travel plans called for taking a Continental 737-800 from San Francisco to Newark where we would change to a Continental 767-400 bound for Brussels. The flight from SFO was uneventful and the five hours 20 minutes passed quickly. By the time we got to the gate of the Brussels flight in EWR, most of the passengers were already there and you could see that the gate agents were extremely busy although boarding was still more than an hour away.

We soon found out what the commotion was all about. The flight was overbooked and the people with confirmed seats on paper but none in the aircraft were obviously less than pleased with their predicament. As I ambled over to the gate desk to have our boarding pass and passports verified, I heard a guy with a German accent loudly proclaim to the young lady handling his case: THIS COULD NEVER HAPPEN ON LUFTHANSA!

Obviously, an overbooked flight is not something any airline likes to have on their hands but it does happen also at Lufthansa. In fact, no company is immune to this phenomenon but in this particular case a storm in New York the day before had left schedules in tatters and a lot of rearrangements had to be put in to keep things and people moving. OK the German guy was not expected to know this and he was of course entitled to love Lufthansa more than Continental but facts are facts and I told him saw. He was obviously surprised to find a fellow passenger (and possible overbooking victim like himself) side with the enemy… But after hearing me out, he had the grace to apologize to the Continental girls for his outburst.

Work hard, fly right!

Next thing, I heard the announcement asking for volunteers to give up their seat for appropriate compensation and travel at a later date. I have heard this kind of announcement before but each time my schedule was very tight and there was no question of volunteering. Not this time however. I was curious… what exactly were they offering?

Click here to read the full article


Near midair at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport (MSP)

On 24/09/2010, in Life around runways, by steve

On the morning of September 16, at around 06.49 a US Airways Airbus A320 (N122US) operating as flight AWE 1848 was cleared for take-off from Runway 30R bound for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with five crew and 90 passengers on board.

At the same time, Bemidji Aviation Services flight BMJ46, a Beech 99 cargo flight with only the pilot aboard, was cleared for takeoff on runway 30L en route to La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Weather conditions at the time were reported as a 900-foot ceiling and 10 miles visibility below the clouds.

Immediately after departure, the tower instructed the US Airways crew to turn left and head west, causing the flight to cross paths with the cargo aircraft approximately one-half mile past the end of runway 30L. Neither pilot saw the other aircraft because they were in the clouds, although the captain of the US Airways flight reported hearing the Beech 99 pass nearby. Estimates based on recorded radar data indicate that the two aircraft had 50 to 100 feet of vertical separation as they passed each other approximately 1500 feet above the ground.

The US Airways aircraft was equipped with a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) that issued climb instructions to the crew to avert collision. The Beech 99 was not equipped with TCAS and the pilot was unaware of the proximity of the Airbus. There were no reports of damage or injuries as a result of the incident.

NTSB and FAA investigators conducted a preliminary investigation at the Minneapolis airport traffic control tower on September 18th and 19th and are continuing to review the circumstances of this incident.


Use of selected altitude by ATC

On 23/09/2010, in SKYbrary News, by steve

News from EUROCONTROL’s aviation safety knowledge base SKYbrary.

The ability of a controller to see the selected altitude set by the flight crew gives him the ability to intervene when, for whatever reason, the selected altitude does not match the clearance. This greatly reduces the chance of a level bust.

Read the full article here.


Interesting people, unusual flight plans…

On 21/09/2010, in Interesting people, by steve

Marissa Colclasure – The sky is not the limit, it is the beginning

Marissa is a mom, pilot, sky-diver and co-founder of Wings over Hawaii

What were you dreaming of becoming when you were a kid?

I dreamt of flying. In some form or fashion. I’ve never said I wanted to fly for the airlines or flight instruct , just I wanted to be happy flying.

What moved you to become part of the aviation family?

Oh I was bit from the bug early on, my father was a pilot. He was one of those dads that had 5 odd ball jobs to support my mom being a stay at home mom of five kids. I am the second in the lineup. I would tag along to anywhere my dad would go. Especially the airport. He was a flight instructor and jump pilot.

What were the most significant sideways jumps in your professional life?

Sideways jumps would have to be my pin pong like career. I know a little about a lot in aviation. FBOs, corporate flying , airline dispatcher, flight instructor, jump pilot, international trip planner I’ve sought out a lot of different jobs, just to know, and learn. What has brought me back to the beginning is that while I could do quite well at those things, there was always something more to my being.

What were the most significant event(s) that influenced your professional life?

Click here to read the full article


A lesson in loyalty and independence

On 17/09/2010, in The lighter side, by steve

The company behind Roger-Wilco, BluSky Services Group, has in its logo the image of a Siberian Husky serenely looking out over snowy peaks. Since BSSG is an aviation consultancy (with in house multimedia and graphics expertise also), a lot of people have asked why the logo shows a husky so prominently instead of an aircraft or some more imaginative rendering of what we are doing. The company slogan “Quality, reliability, integrity…” does give you a hint…

The truth is that the husky has in fact been real, our companion for 12 years and he died the year BluSky Services was established. He flew west after having supported us in some of the most difficult periods of our life, both private and professional, but he left his spirit behind to carry both BSSG and Roger-Wilco forward.

This is the true story of Cyrano, the Siberian Husky, BluSky’s mascot and one time security chief.

I guess at some point all parents face this dilemma: the kids want a pet and the parents are not sure (or worse…). We were no different but our kids were persistent and persuasive. They aimed for a dog and promised to take care of it like no other kids ever did. Although we had our doubts in the end we relented, convinced that a pet would do only good for everyone. But it had to be something special, a race that was like no other.

Siberian Huskies are known for their loyalty, crew spirit, intelligence but also for being fiercely independent. Treats that we though would be a good combination for an aviation family.

Click here to read the full article


When things go wrong…

On 15/09/2010, in Flashback, by steve

The aviation industry has such a wonderful safety record that people boarding an aircraft rarely, if ever, think about the possibility of an accident happening to them. Of course the same people will have driven down the highway to the airport similarly unaware that, statistically, they were in a much more dangerous place than on board their aircraft. This is as it should be of course.

But for those of us whose life is dedicated to aviation as pilots and air traffic controllers, incidents and accidents have a different meaning altogether. We train to handle them intellectually and emotionally and we do everything we can to prevent and avoid them. Nevertheless, on occasion things do go wrong and we are in danger of being reduced to mere spectators of the brute forces of physics.

But we fight back, to the last breath, the last instruction, the last pull on the control yoke and never give up. In many cases, this kind of resolve can actually beat the odds and we turn a potential catastrophe into an incident of little consequence.

We all have memories of cases where things had gone wrong. Some were more serious than others, in some friends and colleagues flew west into the sunshine never to return in others some escaped with their lives while others did not.

I will never forget the sight of the blackened vertical stabilizer of the IL-18 that flew into the ground in Budapest in bad weather or the voice of the navigator of a TU-134 who continued broadcasting a narrative of what they were experiencing on board as the stricken aircraft that had lost all instruments in near zero visibility slowly rolled to one side finally hitting the ground with its wingtip…

I was on duty when we got the AFTN messages that a Tu-154 of MALEV went missing over the Mediterranean and the message was brought to the duty supervisor by the tearful wife of the captain of that flight (she was one of the operators on duty in the AFTN centre). The IL-18 that went down while approaching Copenhagen in pouring rain, took off from Budapest while we were on duty in the tower.

Click here to read the full article


Predictably Irrational – The hidden forces that shape our decisions

On 13/09/2010, in Bookshelf, by steve

By Dan Ariely
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN – 13 978-0-00725652-5

Air traffic management and flying aircraft require controllers and pilots to constantly make decisions, often split second decisions and usually in circumstances where there is no room for a second try. You have to get it right first time, every time. Of course controllers and pilots are trained to do this and the exemplary safety record of aviation bears witness to just how effective this training really is.

If you read Dan Ariely’s book, you will appreciate how important it is to enable those selected experts to act (most of the time at least) in a fashion that goes against most of what humans tend to do without dose of controller or pilot training.

In a series of illuminating and groundbreaking experiments, Dan (who is a professor of behavioral economics at MIT) demonstrates how expectations, emotions, social norms and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities.

Not only do we make astonishingly simple mistakes every day, but we make the same type of mistakes. We consistently overpay, underestimate and procrastinate. We fail to understand the profound effects of our emotions on what we want, and we overvalue what we already own. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They are systematic and predictable.

From paying for coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, Dan explains how to break through these systematic patterns of thought to make better decisions.

Predictably Irrational is not simply a fascinating read; it has the power to change the way we interact with the world – one small decision at a time.

Recommended also for pilots and air traffic controllers. After all, when not flying or controlling aircraft, they tend to make the same, predictably irrational mistakes as the rest of us.

Order your copy here.


From tragicomedy to tragedy

On 10/09/2010, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

Earlier on I called the history of the Ferihegy control tower a tragicomedy. By the first half of 2010 it seems we have been left with tragedy only. There were so many sad and somber events that even a guy with an essentially optimistic outlook like me is left wondering… Why have we deserved all this? Are we such a hopeless people that natural disasters are not enough for us, we manage to add our own to it, lest anyone feel good and happy.

The first half of the year brought two new cases of colleagues flying west into the sunset, never to return. In the spring, Gyorgyi Kardos joined the ranks of heavenly met forecasters and more recently Miki Hamori left us suddenly, after having enjoyed only three short years of retirement. I knew Miki well, we worked a lot in the same shift. He was one of those rare controllers who returned to the tower from approach control and carried shift Charlie on his back for at least 15 years. I consider him a bit my forerunner. He too was mostly not listened to by our managers when in fact they should have listened. He was so full of professionalism paired with modesty that he should really be an example for the younger generation. It was impossible to get bored when he was around. He was full of stories and his metaphors were without equal. Not all his similes were for the faint hearted but they were all spot on and from him even the rougher metaphors were somehow acceptable and never offensive. Consider this: you are lacking like grunts in the Bear brand cheese. For aircraft descending unusually slowly, he had this: he was descending like a pebble in thick shit. Sorry for the rough example but it is hard to find another metaphor that would be more fitting. His wife was also an aerodrome controller and they retired at almost the same time. Sue, our heart goes out to you!

It is probably inappropriate to call a funeral nice but Miki’s funeral was both nice and perfectly fitting for a man who had dedicated his life to aviation. Light aircraft with Miki’s ashes and close relatives on board took off from Dunakeszi Airport near Budapest and they flew to Ferihegy where the ashes were dispersed over the grassy area alongside runway 31L together with the flower seeds people were asked to bring to the fare-well ceremony instead of flowers. It was hoped the seeds would take and bloom, bringing back memories of better and nicer times past. The airport supervisors formed a cross on one of the taxiways with their vehicles while this was going on, a gesture of note and nice sensitivity.

The area where Miki's ashes now rest

I will not qualify the rest of the happenings. I trust the reader to do that for us.

Click here to read the full article


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