In the late 1960s, a series of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accidents took the lives of hundreds of people. A CFIT accident is one where a properly functioning airplane under the control of a fully qualified and certified crew is flown into terrain, water or obstacles with no apparent awareness on the part of the crew.
Beginning in the early 1970s, a number of studies examined the occurrence of CFIT accidents. Findings from these studies indicated that many such accidents could have been avoided if a warning device called a ground proximity warning system (GPWS) had been used. As a result of these studies and recommendations from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in 1974 the FAA required all large turbine and turbojet airplanes to install TSO-approved GPWS equipment.
The ICAO recommended the installation of GPWS in 1979.
In March 2000, the U.S. FAA amended operating rules to require that all U.S. registered turbine-powered airplanes with six or more passenger seats (exclusive of pilot and copilot seating) be equipped with an FAA-approved TAWS. The mandate affects aircraft manufactured after March 29, 2002.
Prior to the development of GPWS, large passenger aircraft were involved in 3.5 fatal CFIT accidents per year, falling to 2 per year in the mid-1970s. A 2006 report stated that from 1974, when the U.S. FAA made it a requirement for large aircraft to carry such equipment, until the time of the report, there had not been a single passenger fatality in a CFIT crash by a large jet in U.S. airspace.[
After 1974, there were still some CFIT accidents that GPWS was unable to help prevent, due to the "blind spot" of those early GPWS systems. More advanced systems were developed.
Older TAWS, or deactivation of the EGPWS, or ignoring its warnings when airport is not in its database, or even the entire EGPWS altogether still leave aircraft vulnerable to possible CFIT incidents. In April 2010, a Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft crashed near Smolensk, Russia, in a possible CFIT accident killing all passengers and crew, including the Polish President. The aircraft was equipped with TAWS made by Universal Avionics Systems of Tucson. According to the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee TAWS was turned on. However, the airport where the aircraft was going to land (Smolensk (XUBS)) is not in the TAWS database. In January 2008 a Polish Air Force Casa C-295M crashed in a CFIT accident near Mirosławiec, Poland, despite being equipped with EGPWS; the EGPWS warning sounds had been disabled, and the pilot-in-command was not properly trained with EGPWS.[
The FAA specificationshave detailed requirements for when certain warnings should sound in the cockpit.
The system monitors an aircraft's height above ground as determined by a radar altimeter. A computer then keeps track of these readings, calculates trends, and will warn the flight crew with visual and audio messages if the aircraft is in certain defined flying configurations ("modes").
The modes are:
The traditional GPWS does have a blind spot. Since it can only gather data from directly below the aircraft, it must predict future terrain features. If there is a dramatic change in terrain, such as a steep slope, GPWS will not detect the aircraft closure rate until it is too late for evasive action.
In the late 1990s improvements were developed and the system is now named "Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System" (EGPWS/TAWS). The system is combined with a worldwide digital terrain database and relies on Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. On-board computers compare current location with a database of the Earth's terrain. The Terrain Display gives pilots a visual orientation to high and low points nearby the aircraft.
EGPWS software improvements are focused on solving two common problems; no warning at all, and late or improper response.
The primary cause of CFIT occurrences with no GPWS warning is landing short. When the landing gear is down and landing flaps are deployed, the GPWS expects the airplane to land and therefore, issues no warning. EGPWS introduces the Terrain Clearance Floor (TCF) function, which provides GPWS protection even in the landing configuration.
The occurrence of a GPWS alert typically happens at a time of high workload and nearly always surprises the flight crew. Almost certainly, the aircraft is not where the pilot thinks it should be, and the response to a GPWS warning can be late in these circumstances. Warning time can also be short if the aircraft is flying into steep terrain since the downward looking radio altimeter is the primary sensor used for the warning calculation. The EGPWS improves terrain awareness and warning times by introducing the Terrain Display and the Terrain Data Base Look Ahead protection.
In commercial and airline operations there are legally mandated procedures that must be followed should an EGPWS caution or warning occur. Both pilots must respond and act accordingly once the alert has been issued. An Indonesian captain has been charged with manslaughter for not adhering to these procedures.
Main article: TAWS § TAWS Types
TAWS equipment is not required by the U.S. FAA in piston-engined aircraft, but optional equipment categorized as TAWS Type C may be installed. Depending on the type of operation, TAWS is only required to be installed into turbine-powered aircraft with six or more passenger seats.
For fast military aircraft, the high speed and low altitude that may frequently be flown make traditional GPWS systems unsuitable, as the blind spot becomes the critical part. Thus, an enhanced system is required, taking inputs not only from the radar altimeter, but also from inertial navigation system (INS), Global Positioning System(GPS), and flight control system (FCS), using these to accurately predict the flight path of the aircraft up to 5 miles (8.0 km) ahead. Digital maps of terrain and obstacle features are then used to determine whether a collision is likely if the aircraft does not pull up at a given pre-set g-level. If a collision is predicted, a cockpit warning may be provided. This is the type of system deployed on aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon. The U.S. FAA has also conducted a study about adapting 3-D military thrust vectoring to recover civil jetliners from catastrophes.
On May 5, 2016 a military GPWS called Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) equipped aboard an F-16 made a dramatic save after a trainee pilot lost consciousness from excessive G forces during basic fighter maneuver training. In an approximately 55 degree nose down attitude at 8,760 ft and 652 KIAS(750 mph), the Auto-GCAS detected the aircraft was going to strike the terrain and executed an automatic recovery and saved the pilot's life.
Pierre-Henri (nick name Até) is a dual Canadian and French citizen. Até grew up on RAF Linton-On-Ouse with an exchange instructor father on the RAF Jet Provost.
After being Europe’s youngest pilot at 15 in 2001 and flying in the French national Precision Flying team for the 2006 World Championships, he joined the French Navy to fly jets.
After 26 months as an exchange Officer in the US NAVY he graduated as a Naval Aviator and flew Super-Etendard from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
In 2014 he transitioned to the Dassault Rafale.
Até deployed several times including after the 2015 French terrorist attacks.
He flew missions over Iraq, flying combat missions from the French aircraft carrier both at night and day.
He received a Cross for Military Valour for meritorious action in the face of the enemy.
Flying several seasons in the French Navy Tactical Display as wingman he became the Leader of the display in 2017. Meanwhile, he was appointed Rafale Navy Subject Matter Expert at just 29 and chief instructor for the Rafale in the Navy at 30 years old.
Leaving the military to fly for a Major Airline on the Boeing 737MAX, he decided to share his experience.
Até holds over 2500 hours of flight time including more than 1850 hours on fighter aircraft.
He flew a wide range of aircraft from general aviation or aerobatic aircraft to Business jets and of course fighter aircraft.
He has completed over 200 carrier landings.
Enjoying triathlon, he took part in the 2007 Amateur Long distance Triathlon World Championships and in the 2009 Amateur Short Distance Duathlon World Championships.
He has spoken for events or companies like Dassault, Safran, MBDA, Thales, The London Tech Week, EdTechXEurope, and banks
Até is married with a family of three and now lives in Hampshire, UK.
The Women In Aviation conference was held in Long Beach from 14-16 March 2019. Our previous guest, Jennifer Aupke, attended and is providing an exciting recap of the event, including her meeting with notable aviation luminaries.
WAI Membership is open to women and men from all segments of the aviation industry, and all members may participate in their numerous scholarships. For more membership information, visit the WAI website.
Experienced Combat Rescue Instructor Pilot 👣 with a demonstrated history building teams and innovating for military officer training and combat planning and operations. Experienced in planning, programming, budget and execution operations at multiple levels as well as requirements management and operational test and evaluations. 340 combat hours and 76 saves. Motivational speaker, blogger, and change agent.
Previously served as executive officer to MAJCOM leadership (Four and Two star generals and SES), learning strategic communication and high level task management covering multiple directorates and operational capabilities. Ranked #1 of 17 execs in general officer’s career.
Skilled in Government Acquisition (Program Manager lvl 1), PPBE, Requirements management and Operational Test and Evaluation. Served multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Airplane and Rotary wing Multiengine Land Instrument and commercial Rating.
Innovator. Disruptor. Connector. Strong operations professional with a global perspective- M.S. focused in Leadership and Liberal Studies from Duquesne University. AFWERX contributor, DEF AGORA lead, Principal/Founder The Milieux Project, Advisory Board Member, GirlApproved.
Member of: EAA, WAI, Whirly Girls, and the Friends of CAP
Deborah Hecker originally had no intention of becoming a pilot. She graduated college with a degree in International Relations with the intention of becoming an attorney, went backpacking through the Middle East, and returned to study for her LSAT (Law School Admissions Test). On her birthday, a friend gave her a present of an airplane introductory flight, and she was hooked.
She bought a used Cessna 172 and pursued her ratings. She built up her time and got her first flying job flying automotive parts around the northeast. She later was hired by Piedmont, and eventually ended up flying for American Airlines.
Deborah performed management duties for American in addition to her flying, and worked her way up to Chief Pilot.
Deborah also has created several scholarships, all under the umbrella of Women In Aviation International (WAI). These scholarships are open to men as well as women - the only requirement is to be a member of WAI:
Adapted from Aero Crew News
Captain Valerie Walker started her aviation career in unconventional, adventurous ways full of interesting challenges. She was a flight instructor, police aerial patrol pilot in fixed wing and helicopters, DC-3 bush-pilot in Botswana, South Africa, Flight Test Pilot for Plane & Pilot and Air Progress magazines, plus various freelance aviation jobs. She was hired into Western Airlines’ first class to include a female airline pilot and many years later retired from Delta Airlines as a captain rated on the 727, 737, 757 and 767. Throughout her career she pursued her second passion in martial arts and continues to train, teach and hone that craft. On March 8, 1976, she was hired into Western Airlines’ first class to include a female airline pilot. Martial arts and flying have always been her two passions. Martial arts had to be put on the back-burner as she put everything she had into aviation. she built her flying experience as a with less than reassuring equipment or procedural safety margins. In her teens and twenties, the military didn’t accept women as pilots, so her career path was unconventional, adventurous and full of interesting challenges that made her adaptable and able to think outside the box. Later, aviation blessed her with the resources to pursue a variety of martial arts disciplines, and she’s done so for the last 35 years. She became a first-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate while continuing to train in Wing Chun, Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Hapkido and Kendo. After 9/11, Valerie was one of 40 airline pilots selected to be in the first class of Federal Flight Deck Officers. They trained with Special Forces instructors in hand-to-hand combat and firearm retention, as well as in law and shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. At that time, she began developing a combination of the best common principles and thought processes from all of my martial arts disciplines. Her goal was to develop a 10-minute briefing for flight crews with no martial arts backgrounds yet who might encounter a terrorist situation. An airplane isn’t a politely scripted martial arts dojo. It’s a place where an unexpected real life-or-death situation can occur which requires us to be situationally aware and employ a few tools that are easily remembered; that don’t require a great deal of fine motor-skill finesse, and are good for fighting in the tight confines of a hollow tube that’s shooting through the air at Mach .82 with its tail on fire with no visible means of support and packed with panicked strangers. Valerie retired from Delta Airlines and still teaches martial arts, still trains, and is still always learning.
Aponte was raised and educated in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. After receiving his primary and secondary education, he enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico and joined the campus ROTC program. On December 29, 1972, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
Aponte was assigned to Moody Air Force Base in the state of Georgia and completed his pilot training in August 1974. He was then reassigned to the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexicoas pilot-weapons system officer and aircraft commander General Dynamics F-111D. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on May 1, 1975. Aponte flew the F-111 F and D models, the 02-A and T-38 aircraft.F-111 - Type of aircraft flown by Aponte
Aponte became a Captain on May 1, 1977 and served as aircraft commander and instructor pilot of the F-111F aircraft of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath in the United Kingdom from August 1978 to May 1981. During this period, he earned his Master of Science degree in management science from Troy State University.
In May 1981, he returned to the United States and served as instructor pilot of the 0-2A aircraft, assigned to the 549th Tactical Air Support Training Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. During this period, Aponte attended the United States Marine CorpsWeapons and Tactics Instructor School in Marine Corps Air Station Yuma located in Arizona, the United States Air Force Squadron Officer's School and United States Air Force Air Command and Staff College (the latter two by correspondence). He served at Patrick Air Force Base until May 1984, when he was sent to Howard Air Force Base in Panama. Aponte was promoted to major on October 1, 1984 and was the chief of the Latin American Political Military Affairs Division and deputy director for Latin American Affairs.
On June 1988, Aponte was reassigned to Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico where he served as aircraft commander F111-D, 523rd Tactical Fighter Squadron and from 1989 to December 1989 as chief, Quality Assurance of 27th Tactical Fighter Group.[
In August 1990, Aponte joined the Air Force Reserve and was assigned to Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations Western Hemisphere Division in the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.. At the Pentagon, Aponte was the international political officer who led the reserve officers assigned to the Western Hemisphere, European and Defense Attached Directorates. In 1992, the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, The Thunderbirds, selected him as the Spanish Language Narrator for their highly successful Latin America Tour. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on June 18, 1993 and completed by seminar Air War College in 1994. From November 1999 to January 2001, he served as individual mobilization augmentee to Deputy Under Secretary International Affairs. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel on August 1, 1997.
In January 2001, he was assigned as a mobilization assistant to the deputy to the Chief Air Force Reserve. There he led transformation efforts and was a tiger team member in response to frequent mobilization and demobilization issues resulting from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
In April 2003, Aponte became the Deputy Director for Operations, Headquarters United States Southern Command in Miami, Florida. Aponte was promoted to Brigadier General on March 1, 2003. In October 2004, he was named Director, J-7, of the United States Southern Command.
His directorate is the focal point for transformation initiatives, knowledge management, experimentation and gaming within the U. S. Southern Command. The directorate seeks out new concepts and rigorously tests them both in simulation and as part of operational experiments. The first transformation initiative was the startup of the Secretary of Defense mandated Standing Joint Force Headquarters (SJFHQ). The SJFHQ, consists of planning, operations, knowledge management, and information superiority experts who form the backbone of the Joint Task Force command structure in the event of contingency operations. Aponte retired July 1, 2007.