FAA: Fly Safe With Your Drone

On 28/11/2015, in UAS, by steve

Photo Dewaele

Photo Dewaele

You’re heading to the stores to buy that shiny new camera-equipped drone you’ve yearning for. You can’t wait to get into the sky and let loose your inner high-flying aerial photographer, right?

Did you know you’re also going to become a pilot?

When you fly your drone anywhere in the nation’s airspace, you automatically become part of the U.S. aviation system. Under the law, your drone is an aircraft. So while the rules for drones may be different, you have the responsibility to operate safely, just as a Cessna or 747 pilot does.

The FAA has developed this saf ety checklist that you, as a pilot, should use whenever you send drone into the Wild Blue Yonder. We want you to fly safe, fly smart – and have fun.



Jumbo Mason

On 28/11/2015, in View from the left seat, by phil

Bizarre things sometimes happen on aeroplanes. ‘Jumbo Mason’ is a fictional short story, based on a real event that happened to a friend of mine. After I had written the story he contacted me saying, ‘How did you know what went on in the hold?’ I replied, ‘I invented it.’

I had heard of the events at third or even fourth hand but not till then from the man himself. My version was remarkably close to what actually happened. I will reveal all after you have read the story.

jumboA shadow fell over me, blocking the warm sun and the light on my book.

Pete grinned down at me, “Thought I’d find you here.”

“Be a dear and rub some of this onto my back.”

I rolled over, passed him the tube of suncream and pointed to the bit I couldn’t reach. He sat on the edge of my sunlounger and began to rub.

“Mmmm – lovely.”

“Can I do the front too?”

“No, certainly not! Really – you men are all the same. Why don’t you go and get me a nice cold drink instead. Fresh lemonade would be good.”

He sauntered off towards the beach bar. I’d always fancied Pete. He was the first officer on our crew, newly married and, now, definitely off limits. We had been good friends for several years, flirted a bit, gone out together, and enjoyed cosy dinners when we met down the routes. But he had fallen for my flatmate, Judy, instead. I had been her bridesmaid.

Pete was tall, rather diffident, but good fun when you got to know him. In his early thirties, he had a round face and floppy blond hair which fell endearingly across his forehead, very English. Judy was short, bouncy, dark haired and very Irish. The only thing they seemed to have in common were their blue eyes, but the fact was they suited each other very well.

He returned with my lemonade and a beer for himself. “Here you are Suze, wrap yourself round this.”

“I do wish you wouldn’t call me that. You know how much I hate it, sounds like that weird French drink. ”

He draped himself over the chair beside me and shot me one of his most charming smiles. When he did that I could forgive him anything. I wished I’d encouraged him more when we’d been going out together.

“Who’s that over there?” I asked, changing the subject. I pointed to two men readying a small sail boat at the water’s edge. “I saw you in the bar with him last night.”

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New stories coming soon!

On 23/11/2015, in View from the left seat, by steve


Photo British Airways

Photo British Airways

The Roger-Wilco blog has grown over the years mainly on the strength of our contributors who have supplied us with interesting articles, stories and news which then attracted many loyal readers from all over the world.

It is with great pleasure that I can tell you that Phil Hogge, whose name will be familiar to many of our readers, has kindly agreed to share with the Roger-Wilco family some of the short stories he has written. After a lifetime in aviation and now retired, Phil is amusing himself writing short stories based on things people have told him, things he has seen and done. They are all fictional but all based on the truth and sometimes suitably embroidered! The stories give a wonderful flavor of what airline life was like in the 1960s and 70s. We will be bringing Phil’s stories under the “View from the left seat” tag. Check back often!


An ANSP that Cares

On 20/11/2015, in ATC world, by steve

Hungary has always been at one of the busiest cross-roads of European traffic and time and again had to absorb even more flights when conflicts near-by and not so near-by resulted in a reshuffling of the routes taken by overflights of all kinds. The airport in Budapest has always been a lively place and its traffic is now recovering nicely following the crisis the industry went through in recent years. All in all, air traffic controllers in the country have always had a lot on their plates and have justifiably earned praise for their safe and efficient operation.

Photo HungaroControl

Photo HungaroControl

The Hungarian air navigation service provider, HungaroControl is well known in the industry and they count as one of the most innovative ANSPs… some might even say too innovative but that is pure jealousy in my view. The list of new products and services they have put out is impressive. ATCO training, one of the premier simulation and validation centers, a sequencing tool for arriving and departing traffic… not to mention the fact that Hungary has the first completely and truly free route airspace in Europe. CPDLC is in the pipeline and work is underway to introduce the remote tower concept, expected to actually replace the current brick and mortar facility at some point in the not too distant future. Clearly, this is an ANSP that is not afraid to push the boundaries.

It was with this background that their email requesting that we, industry folks answer a few questions from which HungaroControl wants to get an idea of their reputation in the world. I am not too keen on surveys in general (the Star Alliance is especially keen on asking for my opinion after each time I fly with them and this happens quite often) but a survey coming from an ANSP is probably a first and as such, it picked my interest.

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A Square is not a Circle

On 11/11/2015, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

QuestionOne of the most boring features of air traffic management conferences are the reports from ANSPs, SESAR, even the European Commission which, year after year, tell those who come to listen that everything is fine, all the projects are on track and things could not be brighter. We even get news of a few small scale trials like 4D trajectory and the like… few people seem to notice, or possibly even care, that the word “initial” is often there in front of the functionality in question.

This is the magic word, past versions were “evolution not revolution”, “learn to walk before you run” and so on. In fact this little word signifies the very thing the new ATM development trajectory was supposed to eliminate: the lowest common denominator that could be agreed and this may in fact be a far cry from what the original concept of operations envisaged.

The other aspect that does not seem to bother people are the dates attached to all but the simplest developments. Looking into EU Regulation No. 716/2014 which establishes the Pilot Common Project supporting the implementation of the European Air Traffic Management Master Plan reveals a few things we all should be worried about.

The list of ATM functionalities that the PCP contains gives a clue already at how things have been put upside down since the concept of operations for SESAR was written.

Just as a reminder, the concept of System Wide Information Management (SWIM) was put into SESAR mainly because an earlier study had shown clearly that the majority of problems experienced by users were a direct result of or closely related to inferior management of the sea of information aviation stakeholders create and consume, or would, if the environment was better organized. It was also recognized that without going away from the legacy message based solutions, and replacing them by the kind of information sharing SWIM introduces, none of the advanced ATM concepts would be able to work properly. SWIM was developed to address the problems and the off-the-shelf technology required has been around for more than ten years. Now look at Regulation 716/2014 and lo and behold, the date for implementing an INITIAL version of SWIM is 2025!

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Yes I do have an issue with remote towers!

On 05/11/2015, in Life around runways, by steve

I remember very well the day when the idea of remote towers was brought into the picture by our colleagues from Sweden during the latter part of the SESAR definition phase. I was there on behalf of the airlines and we were laboring to insert (against considerable opposition I might add) the real paradigm changing ideas, like new separation methods and rearranging the responsibility for separation provision, to name just a few. Those things were projecting a very real change in how we would do air traffic management in the future… and into this exalted sphere came the idea of the remote tower. At that time this was meant to improve safety at remote aerodromes which could not be supplied with air traffic services in a cost effective way.

Fine… bring it in but please let’s not make this a priority. There were so many things to tackle first, things that would create additional capacity and also bring the culture change we on the airline side believed was essential if European ATM was to be salvaged.
Remote towers (essentially a development driven by technology) were none of those. They still are not, in spite of the hype. What is more, they are diverting attention and effort from something far more important.

I do not doubt that remote towers bring safety benefits to small, remote airports where no air traffic service of any kind was being provided previously. But when big, complex airports start to consider going “remote”, one cannot but wonder: what is happening here?

Of course, the ANSPs caught on very quickly that substantial savings can be realized by going away from the brick-and-mortar tower and go “virtual”. A good example is HungaroControl in Budapest who are very keen on the remote tower concept not because it brings additional capacity or safety benefits but because the current tower, owned by the airport operator, is very expensive to rent and maintain. I do not blame them for this but it shows one of the main driving forces behind the remote tower rage.

The industry concerned is only too happy to encourage the ever wider use of the concept, after all, selling cameras and other hardware, not to mention clever software (that is not rocket science at all) is something that has a nice, fat margin. Again I do not blame them, they need to earn money too.

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