When it comes to aviation, there is no such thing as useless information.
If you've read this story on my author website, you will read how seemingly useless information saved my life 50 years ago.
A recent episode of Air Disasters highlighted the crash of Atlantic Airways Flight 670. In that accident, the BAE-146 aircraft was attempting to land with a slight tailwind on a short damp runway which had a major drop-off at each end. The airplane was unable to stop, and went off the end of the runway into a ravine and burst into flames. Four of the 16 passengers lost their lives.
The accident board found that, when the spoilers failed to extend upon landing, the Captain selected the emergency brakes. A relatively innocuous entry into the airplane flight manual notes that when the emergency brakes are engaged, the anti-skid system is deactivated.
What you may remember from your studies is the phenomenon of reverted rubber hydroplaning. When a lock tire skids over a damp surface, it heats up and the heat turns the water to steam. This layer of steam lifts the airplane off the runway, and the brakes become relatively ineffective.
In the case of Atlantic Airways Flight 670, seemingly unimportant information - the lack of antiskid protection when using the emergency brakes, and the potential for reverted rubber hydroplaning - led to this accident.
Takeaway: there is no such thing as unimportant information in aviation!
From Ric's Website:
Ric Hunter is a 27-year combat veteran of the Air Force; he retired as a colonel. He has 4000 flight hours in high-performance aircraft including the F-4 Phantom and F-15C Eagle. He commanded an Eagle squadron and was a 3-time Top Gun. After active duty service, Ric became a freelance writer/photographer for magazine feature articles in aviation, and hunting and fishing magazines. He was founder and president of the Panama City, Florida, Writers Association. After attacks on 9-11-01, he returned to serve his country once again as a civil servant for eight years. He took over world-wide program management of the Air Force’s 50-million dollar fighter aircraft flight simulator program, thus freeing young pilot staff officers to return to cockpit duties for the war on terror. Ric recently completed FIREHAMMER, an historical fiction novel, based on a true story, that puts the reader in the cockpit of an F-4 aircraft during evacuation of Saigon and then in the last battle of the Vietnam War, rescue of the SS Mayaguez and its crew. The novel is available on Amazon by Red Engine Press. His hobbies are hunting and fishing, and riding his Harley-Davidson through the Blue Ridge Mountains. He now resides with his wife, Jan, on top of a mountain in western North Carolina where he is a consultant to industry and freelance journalist, photographer and novelist.
From the LeRoy Homer, Jr. Foundation Website:
LeRoy Homer was a soft spoken man with an ever-present smile; his friends described him as having a heart of gold. He grew up as one of nine children, seven of them girls. LeRoy had dreamed of flying since he was a young boy. As a child he assembled model airplanes, read every book he could find on aviation, and at fifteen began flying lessons. He completed his first solo flight at 16 and by the time he entered the US Air Force Academy, he had a private pilot license.
He graduated from the US Air Force Academy and then began his military career flying C-141s. He served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and received commendation for flying humanitarian operations in Somalia, an assignment that put his life at risk. During his active service in the US Airforce, LeRoy achieved the rank of Captain and later became a Major after he entered the US Airforce Reserves. In 1995, LeRoy joined United Airlines.
It was that same year that LeRoy met Melodie, his future wife. Introduced by friends, they communicated by telephone and eventually meet for the first time at LAX airport. The former Melodie Thorpe wondered if she would recognize him on their 3,000-mile blind date. Easy, he told her that he’d be the one in the pilot’s uniform. Two years later they were engaged and married in 1998.
On the morning of September 11th, 2001, United Airlines Flight #93 had 37 passengers including the two pilots, five flight attendants and the four hijackers. The pilots had received messages from United Airlines dispatch that said “beware of cockpit intrusion. 2 ac [aircraft] have hit the wtc.” Melodie Homer also sent a message to her husband via the cockpit computer system. When the cockpit door was breached, FAA’s air traffic control center in Cleveland could hear LeRoy Homer declaring “Mayday” amid the sounds of a physical struggle in the cockpit. According to the official transcripts of the cockpit voice recorder from the flight, the hijacking took place 46 minutes after takeoff, and the plane turned toward Washington, DC. It was later determined the plane was headed for the US Capitol.
As the hijackers attempted to fly the aircraft, the passengers and flight crew using GTE Airfones called family, friends and found out about the other attacks. The passengers were determined to take back the plane. What they didn’t realize was the automatic pilot had been manipulated in a way that made it difficult for the hijackers to fly the Boeing 757. They are heard on the cockpit voice recorder saying “This does not work now.” and then a minute later “Inform them, and tell him to talk to the pilot. Bring the pilot back.” The pilots were the first to fight the terrorists, and along with the crew and passengers saved Washington, DC from an attack.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” We know where LeRoy W. Homer Jr. was standing on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.
Allyssa is a successful salon owner. She was initially not interested in fixed-wing flying - she wanted to fly helicopters. A family friend invited her to go along with him in his Cessna 150, so she went along. What started out as a few trips around the pattern on a Friday turned into a three-hour flight, and Allyssa signed up for flying lessons the next Monday!
She scheduled three lessons a week, and received her Private certificate in about six months. Six months ago she purchased half ownership in a Piper Cherokee 160, which she keeps in a T-hangar. She discovered that there are occasional maintenance issues involved in owning an airplane, so there may be occasional times when she wanted to fly and a maintenance issue prevented flying.
Allyssa flew her plane to Oshkosh with only 85 hours, and read all 30 pages of NOTAMS before takeoff! Once there, s he slept under the wing, the way REAL pilots do it!
From CBS News:
For the first time, a new network of satellites will soon be able to track all commercial airplanes in real time, anywhere on the planet. Currently, planes are largely tracked by radar on the ground, which doesn’t work over much of the world’s oceans.
The final 10 satellites were launched Friday to wrap up the $3 billion effort to replace 66 aging communication satellites, reports CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave, who got an early look at the new technology.
On any given day, 43,000 planes are in the sky in America alone. When these planes take off, they are tracked by radar and are equipped with a GPS transponder. All commercial flights operating in the U.S. and Europe have to have them by 2020. It’s that transponder that talks to these new satellites, making it possible to know exactly where more than 10,000 flights currently flying are.
Tucked inside the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that was blasted into space on Friday are 10 advanced Iridium Communications satellites, each the size of a Mini Cooper. Once active, they’ll power satellite phone communications, space-based broadband and carry a device which will solve an issue that’s plagued aviation for decades.
“Seventy percent of the world’s airspace has no surveillance. Aircraft fly over the oceans and report back their positions to air traffic control every 10 to 15 minutes at best and in between those periods, no one knows where they are,” said Aireon CEO Don Thoma.
Aireon, based in McLean, Virginia, was developing the technology to change that even before Mayalasia Airlines flight MH370 vanished over the Indian Ocean in March 2014. But a Boeing 777 with 239 aboard disappearing was a wake-up call, prompting years of safety experts demanding change.
“I can find my kids by pinging their iPhone. We shouldn’t have aircraft that disappear anywhere in the world today,” former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Debbie Herman said back in 2016.
To make that happen, the Aireon technology is hitching a ride to space as part of the largest technology swap the universe has ever seen. Iridium is replacing its existing constellation of 66 satellites and 9 spares orbiting the earth built and launched in the mid-90s.
Walt Everetts help designed the first generation of Iridium satellites, naming two of them after his sons Nicholas and Andrew. He’ll be in the company’s command center outside Washington, D.C. as his team maneuvers the new satellites into place, simultaneously powering on the new and devastating old. The legacy satellites will then be moved out of orbit where they’ll burn up in the earth’s atmosphere.
“It’s kind of like changing a tire on a bus going 17,000 miles per hour,” said Walt Everetts, vice president of satellite operations for Iridium. “With these new satellites that we’re putting up, we have more capacity, more processing capability, more memory … so we are taking an old flip phone and upgrading it into a smartphone.”
While not fully complete, the updated network circling the globe 485 miles overhead is already tracking planes. Aireon was able to instantly confirm the last known location of Lion Air Flight 610, the Boeing 737 Max that crashed in the Java Sea last October.
“With the Iridium-Aireon system, every airplane is in reach of an air traffic controller … so no matter what happened to that airplane we would know within seconds of where that airplane was,” Iridium CEO Matt Desch said.
The technology may also make it possible for air traffic controllers to allow more flights to be in the air at the same time on busy routes over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It could also allow for more direct flight paths, which means more flights, the potential for fewer delays, and shorter flights to places like Europe.
From Aerion’s website:
ADS-B is an air traffic surveillance technology that relies on aircraft broadcasting their identity, a precise Global Positioning System (GPS) position and other information derived from on-board systems. The data is broadcast every half a second from the aircraft, and is being used by Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) to identify and separate aircraft in real-time.
Charles Doryland was an Eagle scout who attended West Point, intending to be an Infantry officer. During his senior year, while walking to the hospital to take his commissioning physical, he went to the Air Force line, thinking that he could choose either the Army or the Air Force. He passed his physical, and was offered a pilot training slot.
He ended up flying F-86s after pilot training, then B-47s. Then he was selected for Test Pilot School, and was subsequently stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Later, after attending graduate school, he was assigned to Edwards Air Force Base.
Charles was the pilot of "Balls Eight", B-52 number 8, on flights carrying the X-15s on their journeys into space.
He volunteered to fly RF-4s in Vietnam, and achieved 100 missions over North Vietnam in five months, then served in Saigon during the Tet Offensive.
Charles went back to graduate school for his Doctorate, and taught at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). Following his retirement from the Air Force he was a university professor until fully retiring at age 65.
Increased navigational accuracy can place several aircraft on the same course in the same lateral position
Strategic lateral offset procedure (SLOP) is a solution to a byproduct of increased navigation accuracy in aircraft. Because most now use GPS, aircraft track flight routes with extremely high accuracy. As a result, if an error in height occurs, there is a much higher chance of collision. SLOP allows aircraft to offset the centreline of an airway or flight route by a small amount, normally to the right, so that collision with opposite direction aircraft becomes unlikely.
In the North Atlantic Region pilots are expected to fly along the oceanic track center-line or 1 or 2 nautical miles to its right, randomly choosing one of these three offsets on each entry to oceanic airspace. The aim is to not achieve an overall even distribution of one-third of all flights on each of the three possible tracks, as one might assume. When the procedure was originally developed, 4.9 percent of aircraft in most oceans could not offset automatically, so the centerline had to remain as an option. Because of the possibility of opposite direction traffic on the centerline, it is the least desirable option, with the highest risk. The procedure lowers the overall risk of collision should an aircraft move vertically away from its assigned level. This randomization has the advantage over a planned assignment of offsets to each individual aircraft in that it mitigates the collision hazard for same-direction flights should an aircraft be erroneously flown along a track that was not assigned by ATC.
SLOP is recommended for use in modern flight management system-based, RVSM (reduced vertical separation minima)-equipped aircraft operations to mitigate the midair collision hazard, which is amplified by the accuracy of modern aircraft navigational technology and onboard flight instruments.
Lateral navigation (left–right) based on global positioning system (GPS), and RVSM quality altimetry (up–down), are each so accurate in their own dimension that opposite-direction aircraft which are erroneously flying the same altitude on the same navigational path are very likely to collide.
In addition to mitigating en route midair collision hazard, SLOP is used to reduce the probability of high-altitude wake turbulence encounters. During periods of low wind velocity aloft, aircraft which are spaced 1000 feet vertically but pass directly overhead in opposite directions can generate wake turbulence which may cause either injury to passengers/crew or undue structural airframe stress. This hazard is an unintended consequence of RVSM vertical spacing reductions which are designed to increase allowable air traffic density. Rates of closure for typical jet aircraft at cruise speed routinely exceed 900 knots.
Wake turbulence is thought likely to be experienced by the lower of two aircraft when it arrives approximately 15–30 nm behind an opposite-direction aircraft which has crossed directly overhead on the same route. On November 13, 2015, ICAO published a revised version of Document 4444, Pans ATM Paragraph 16.5 that includes provisions for applying SLOP in a continental/domestic air space for aircraft that are capable of offsetting in tenths of a mile. Centerline is not an option as aircraft can offset up to one-half mile right of course, in tenths of a mile, providing 5 alternative offsets.
In January 2017, the ICAO SPG (Authority for the NAT region) published updated guidance indicating that SLOP is now a requirement on the North Atlantic, rather than a recommendation. The guidance was part of a number of changes that were contained in a revised 2017 edition of NAT Doc 007:North Atlantic Airspace and Operations Manual.
From Natalie's website:
The flyGIRL mission is to encourage and inspire women and young girls to open their hearts and minds to their potential. We want every girl and woman to dream big, aim high, and fly!
Natalie Kelley launched flyGIRL after she earned her pilot’s license. The experience of pushing her own boundaries, challenging herself, and succeeding as a woman in a male-dominated industry completely changed Natalie’s life. She gained confidence and a sense of independence that she had forgotten in adulthood. With her own money, Natalie launched flyGIRL and self-funded the first $5,000 flyGIRL Scholarship to finance a portion of the cost to send another woman to pilot training.
Today, flyGIRL has helped dozens of young women explore their potential and change their lives through scholarships, a supportive network, motivational articles and speaking engagements. Contact flyGIRL to learn how to bring our mission to your organization, community, or school!
An engineered materials arrestor system, engineered materials arresting system (EMAS), or arrester bed is a bed of engineered materials built at the end of a runway to reduce the severity of the consequences of a runway excursion. Engineered materials are defined in FAA Advisory Circular No 150/5220-22B as "high energy absorbing materials of selected strength, which will reliably and predictably crush under the weight of an aircraft". While the current technology involves lightweight, crushable concrete blocks, any material that has been approved to meet the FAA Advisory Circular can be used for an EMAS. The purpose of an EMAS is to stop an aircraft overrun with no human injury and minimal aircraft damage. The aircraft is slowed by the loss of energy required to crush the EMAS material. An EMAS is similar in concept to the runaway truck ramp made of gravel or sand. It is intended to stop an aircraft that has overshot a runway when there is an insufficient free space for a standard runway safety area (RSA). Multiple patents have been issued on the construction and design on the materials and process.
FAA Advisory Circular 150/5220-22B explains that an EMAS may not be effective for incidents involving aircraft of less than 25,000 pounds weight. It also clarifies that an EMAS is not the same as a stopway, which is defined in FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-13A, Section 312.
As of May 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been working on developing a harmonized regulation regarding arresting systems.
Research projects completed in Europe have looked into the cost-effectiveness of EMAS. Although arrestor beds have initially been installed at airports where the runway safety areas are below standards, their ability to stop aircraft with minimal or no damage to the air frame and its occupants has proven to bring results far beyond the cost of installations. The latest report, "Estimated Cost-Benefit Analysis of Runway Severity Reduction Based on Actual Arrestments" shows how the money saved through the first 11 arrestments has reached a calculated total of 1.9 Billion USD, thus saving over $1 B over the estimated cost of development (R&D, all installations worldwide, maintenance and repairs reaching a total of USD 600 Million). The study suggests that mitigating the consequences of runway excursions worldwide may turn out to be much more cost-effective than the current focus on reducing the already very low probability of occurrence.
Higher EMAS bed with side steps to allow aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) access and passenger egress.
The FAA's design criteria for new airports designate Runway Safety Areas (RSA's) to increase the margin of safety if an overrun occurs and to provide additional access room for response vehicles. A United States federal law required that the length of RSA's in airports was to be 1,000 feet (300 m) by the end of 2015, in a response to a runway overrun into a highway at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.[ At airports built before these standards were put into effect, the FAA has funded the installation of EMAS at the ends of main runways. The minimum recommended overall length of an EMAS installation is 600 feet (180 m), of which at least 400 feet (120 m) is to consist of the frangible material.
As of July 2014, 47 United States airports had been so equipped; the plan was to have 62 airports so equipped by the end of 2015.[ As of May 2017, over 100 EMAS have been installed at over 60 US airports.
As of May 2017, there were two recognized EMAS manufacturers worldwide that meet the FAA requirements of Advisory Circular 150-5220-22B, “Engineered Materials Arresting Systems for Aircraft Overruns.” (The FAA must review and approve each EMAS installation.)
The first, original EMAS was developed in the mid-1990s by Zodiac Arresting Systems (then known as ESCO/Engineered Arresting Systems Corp.) as part of a collaboration and technical acceptance by the FAA. EMASMAX® (fourth generation EMAS) arrestor beds are composed of blocks of lightweight, crushable cellular cement material, encased in jet blast resistant protection, designed to safely stop airplanes that overshoot runways. Zodiac’s latest, most durable EMAS is installed on over 110 airport runways at over 65 airports on three continents. Zodiac's EMAS has undergone intense testing, including several live aircraft test runs at speeds up 55 knots and is the world’s first and only EMAS that has safely stopped aircraft in real emergency overrun situations at commercial airports.
In October 2016 EMAS saved Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence's B737 from a runway overrun at La Guardia Airport, and in December 2018 EMAS saved a Southwest Airlines B737 at Burbank Airport.
Runway Safe EMAS (second generation EMAS) is a foamed silica bed made from recycled glass and is contained within a high-strength plastic mesh system anchored to the pavement at the end of the runway. The foamed silica is poured into lanes bounded by the mesh and covered with a poured cement layer and treated with a top coat of sealant.[
Runway Safe EMAS has been installed to replace older EMAS at Chicago Midway. Runway Safe has also installed an EMAS at Zurich airport 2016.
There is a third manufacturer, certified by the Chinese CAAC, with a product that is very similar to the original one of Zodiac ESCO.