When birds meet

On 31/01/2011, in Safety is no accident, by gabesz77

When the synthetic voice announces “Hundred above” we know that in 100 feet we will reach the altitude where we must decide whether we land or not.. Malmo Sturup airport runway 35 and the lemon-colored terminal slowly come into view from behind the low cloud layer that hid them from sight so far. “Minimum” and “Continue” are announced and we touch the concrete runway softly like a gentle kiss.

-Taxi to stand six via Alpha, Yankee and Delta – says the controller and we taxi carefully on the rain-soaked apron to airbridge number six. I scamper down from the plane for the walk-around inspection and stop alongside the push-back tug. In spite of the drizzle, our airplane, looks imposing as it stands proudly – and as yet undamaged – alongside the airbrdige. For the hundredth time the thought flashes through my mind: I have picked a great job!

Malmo airport became famous, or should I say infamous, during the Hungarian gipsy exodus. A lot of them arrived there from the area of Mohacs in Hungary in the hope of a better future. They flew Malev on the return trip, compliments of the Hungarian taxpayers… most of the migrants were expelled from Sweden. But there were a few exceptions, some of them managed to find their luck and they fly home regularly on our services. Now it looks like we will not escape without a minor scandal on this trip either. A homeless-looking, drunk passenger refuses to follow the cabin crew’s instructions, he is on his cell, blocking other passengers from reaching their seats, finally he starts to push and tug at others. The purser says that in her considered opinion flight safety would be adversely affected if this passenger was allowed to fly with us. There are few questions, we trust our colleague’s opinion fully, this is why we are an effective crew. The police arrive. At first only one officer but he is soon joined by another three. The passenger is led away and for security reasons we have to find and off-load his baggage from the hold. This means we have lost the 10 minutes we gained on arrival and will be pushing back 7 minutes late.

We taxi to the holding position and the tower issues our take-off clearance.

-Runway 35 cleared for take-off, wind 310 degrees 8 knots.

We set take-off power and the powerful engines start accelerating the aircraft. At 131 knots I announce V One, this means we must now take off no matter what. 138 knots… Rotate… the captain pulls back on the sidestick and the nose of the plane rises. It is than that I notice the seagull!

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28 January 1986 – Space Shuttle Challenger explodes

On 28/01/2011, in Anniversaries, by steve

The space shuttle system was an innovative solution for sending humans into space. The whole program, from inception to this day, has a varied history, one that can serve up several lessons in what happens when government bureaucracy and brilliant engineering come together to create something that had never been tried before.

Challenger, at the time of the accident, was NASA’s second oldest shuttle and her fate was sealed by the failure of a stiffened O-ring and a decision making process that left much to be desired. Challenger exploded 73 seconds into flight over the Atlantic ocean, nine miles above the surface. The shuttle itself shot out of the wreckage and its momentum carried it upwards for another three miles before it plunged back to Earth, killing all six crew members.

The event was also the first such occurrence in history broadcast live on TV for the whole world to see. You can view an original video of the explosion as it happened here.


Great potential in addressing the quality of the runways

On 28/01/2011, in Life around runways, by steve

Armann Norheim, Rapporteur of the ICAO Friction Task Force speaks to Bryan
Camoens on the issues facing airfields around the globe, wet weather conditions and how
maintainence and planning schedules should be set.

Bryan Camoens:
What are some of the issues that airfields are facing across the globe?

Armann Norheim:
Increased focus on safety areas (RESA). There has been a growing awareness among regulators of the fact that operations on wet and contaminated runways do not have the desired safety level and this has brought the quality of safety areas into sharp focus.

Bryan Camoens:
Could you please elaborate on some of the challenges and solutions for airfield expansion and renewal projects?

Armann Norheim:
Airports built before today’s safety standards and recommendations came into effect might find themselves in situation with no room available to expand. The reason for this can be topographic or built in by expanding urban areas. An emerging solution to this problem related to safety areas is the new technology of Engineered Materials Arresting Systems (EMAS) for aircraft overruns.

Bryan Camoens:
What key issues need to be taken into account when attempting to maximise safety and efficiency for airports?

Armann Norheim:
Appropriate safety areas dimensioned and free for obstacles to meet the operational requirements of the aeroplanes for which the runway is intended. With appropriate safety areas the airliners can utilise the full potential payload of their aircrafts. (Reduced/lack of safety areas should result in reduced published declared distances, TORA, LDA).

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ATC Global – Separating the vision from the reality?

On 27/01/2011, in Events, by steve

My apologies but I stole that title from the ATC Global 2011 web site. I did this because I wanted to make sure that their slogan for the year is an error and not what the industry will get dished out at the event itself. Separating the vision from the reality is an ominous thing to say… Is it not so that first you have a vision and then you go through all the kinks and bends so that in the end you realize that vision? SESAR and NextGen both have a vision and I do not think they would want to see a future reality that has been separated from their vision!

When you go to the registration page, things are a bit better: A single global ATM system – The vision and the reality. But this is still a slogan that on first sight suggests that there may be something wrong with the vision…

Why did they not say “From vision to reality?”

With SESAR promising to present details of Release 1 at ATC Global one can only hope that the conference slogans are just an unfortunate mistake and not a heads-up about what is to come…


A first SESAR release in 2011 – WHAT?

On 26/01/2011, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

One of the products in the run-up to the SESAR world was/is the ATM Master Plan, setting out the when and the how of new air traffic management improvements for Europe. Based on this plan, there are several lower level thingies called implementation packages which show in more detail what will be done and when. Together they form the great PLAN that will hopefully bring the much needed improvements.

In the latest issue of SESAR e-news and in an article entitled “SESAR delivers in 2011” we now read the following.

“During the last meeting of the SESAR Joint Undertaking’s Administrative Board, the members accepted the SJU’s proposal for a first SESAR Release as part of the SESAR programme. The release will provide the air traffic community with the first tangible results coming from Europe’s ambitious ATM modernisation programme.

Click here to read the full article


Freight dogging with TNT Airways

On 26/01/2011, in The lighter side, by heading370

Sure they can…!

A large majority of Air Traffic Controllers are usually busier during the day than during a nightshift. There are however a few radiotelephony callsigns which are always associated with night operations. One such call sigh is “Quality”, the official ICAO callsign of TNT Airways which sounds familiar to all ATCO-s on night duties. Our contributor Heading370 travelled to Liege Airport in Belgium to join the crew of TAY47R to find out how a typical short haul cargo flight is operated by the company.

TNT opened their European hub at Liege Airport in Belgium in 1998. They had several reasons to choose this airport. The company was looking for a location in the vicinity of the Paris-Amsterdam-Frankfurt-London area with excellent road connectivity and the future opportunities for expansion combined with unlimited number of night flights at an uncongested airport. That’s exactly what Liege was able to offer and made it a number one choice for the company. TNT Airways, the airline of the group has been created in 2000 and now operates a fleet of 42 aircraft. Every night an average of 40 aircraft serve 63 airports in 26 European countries from the Liege hub. The company also operates flights to New York JFK 5 times a week and flies to Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong three times a week. TNT Airways employs about 500 people in Liege including 250 pilots.

TTNT Airways’ fleet consists of 4 Boeing B747-400ERF (payload 117 tons), 2 Airbus A300B4-200F (payload 43 tons, operated by Air Atlanta), 5 Boeing 757-200SF (payload 25 tons – operated by Icelandair and Gestair), 12 Boeing B737-300SF including 2 QC (payload 17 tons), and 19 British Aerospace BAE146-200/300 including 2 QC (payload 12 tons).

Using the QC models the company can offer passenger charters as well besides its usual cargo operations.

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Goodies for the fight against runway incursions

On 24/01/2011, in Life around runways, by steve

Although we hear the word runway excursion more often these days than runway incursion, these latter remain a problem and constant efforts are required to maintain the awareness of the dangers involved in stumbling on an active runway without clearance.

Training of pilots, air traffic controllers and vehicle drivers is essential of course. Additionally, posters in the crew room as well as folders and flyers on desks a great help for any runway incursion prevention campaign.

A while ago we created designs for bumper stickers you can put on airport vehicles, making the dangers of runway incursion visible in yet another powerful way.

We would like to share these designs with you. Feel free to use them at your airport. You can also read more about runway incursions here.

Even the bull stops at a red stop bar...

No question...

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Airfield expansion and renewal – Maximizing benefits while minimizing costs the key

On 21/01/2011, in Life around runways, by steve

Jeffrey Gagnon, a speaker at the Airfield Engineering and Asset Management Conference, talks to Bryan Camoens on the issues airfields are facing across the globe, as well as the challenges and solutions for airfield expansion and renewal projects.

Bryan Camoens:
What are some of the issues that airfields are facing across the globe?

Jeffrey Gagnon:
Airports have to become “greener” currently and in the future by using “green” technology in both existing and future development of both vertical and horizontal work. The issues of sustainability and sustainable practices in both design and construction and the use of life cycle assessment (LCA) all fall under the umbrella of “Green” technology. Another issue which will be quickly effecting airfield pavements is the increase in aircraft tire pressures of future aircraft and those aircraft about to enter into the commercial fleets from Boeing and Airbus, in-particular the B-787 and A-350 where tire pressure are increasing from 218 psi to over 250 psi. Industry is unsure how these new aircraft will affect the life of the current pavements in place at numerous airfields and if current mix designs for asphalt pavement are sufficient for these new aircraft.

The other issue these new aircraft are affecting is the ICAO load rating system of Pavement Classification Number (PCN) and whether this classification system should be reviewed and revised to meet the future needs of the aircraft manufactures and airport authorities (owners).

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Going supersonic

On 19/01/2011, in The lighter side, by gabesz77

While preparing for this afternoon’s Luton flight I noticed on the Significant Weather chart that strong north-easterly winds were blowing at high altitudes almost everywhere over Europe. Added to this, the weathermen were forecasting severe turbulence too. During an extra thorough briefing we went through all the options and even considered flying the complete route at Flight Level 200 where things appeared to be more manageable.

There was some shaking and buffeting after take-off and we encountered a lot of icing too but both disappeared once we reached our cruising level and the flight progressed normally.

Flying over Germany we noted that the wind had picked up considerably, at places it was reaching 130 knots. This was a headwind slightly off the nose and we thought about how big a help this will be on the return trip, assuming of course that it does not change speed or direction significantly. Calculating swiftly we concluded that it should be possible to break both our individual speed records! Our calculations showed that for 1000 km/hour we would need a ground speed of 539 knots and to reach the speed of sound, we would need 575 knots (taking the air temperature into account).

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New clouds on the Mode-S/ADS-B horizon in Europe

On 18/01/2011, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

Most of those who took part in the epic battle over the introduction of Mode S Enhanced Surveillance (EHS) have either retired, moved to other activities or flew west to greener pastures but I guess there is still a hard core who will remember how the airspace users lost that one to the three big States in Europe and EUROCONTROL who was caught between a rock and a hard place… I was one of those doing the shouting, telling anyone who would listen that Mode S Enhanced Surveillance would cost the airlines an arm and a leg and would generate next to zero benefits. The majority of the airlines and some ANSPs agreed… This was back at the beginning of the previous decade and in the end, the three promoters of Mode S EHS, fed up with the indecision of the others and the opposition of the airlines, banded together and set up the Three State Program, in effect deciding that they would put in Mode S EHS regardless of the opposition. They did have the grace to announce clear time-frames (2003) to have everything on the ground ready and the benefits accruing for the airspace users. We are now in 2011 and very little of that grand promise has been realized, certainly if we look at things from the benefit point of view. If anyone out there has news about Mode S Enhanced Surveillance quantifiable benefits being available to anyone, please let us know…

But the story continues except that the stakes are even higher. This time the matter is on the level of the European Commission and its Single European Sky Implementing Rules (SES IR). Mind you, there is nothing wrong with the Commission wanting the jump start SES via implementing rules. On the contrary, this is a good thing. Except that the old specter of Mode S implementation is beckoning again in the Surveillance Performance and Interoperability IR.

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