Although the frequency of midair collisions has seen a decrease over the past few years, there have been five in the past year that have resulted in loss of life. Last fall, an amateur-built Searey collided with a Cessna 172 in upstate New York, a Cessna 170 and a Skykits-Savannah collided in Nevada, and a Cirrus SR22 collided with a Robinson R22 helicopter in Maryland. This summer, a Cessna 150 and an F-16 collided in South Carolina. Most recently, a Cessna 172 and a Sabreliner jet collided near San Diego, California. While each accident has a specific set of circumstances and the NTSB is
in the process of investigating, there are steps pilots can take to minimize the risks.
1. See and avoid continues to be the foundation for flying under visual flight rules. Pilots must be extra vigilant and constantly scan the airspace for traffic.
2. Always fly on a designated VFR cruise altitude: Easterly–odd thousands plus 500 feet; Westerly–even thousands plus 500 feet.
3. Request ATC’s VFR flight following service to the maximum extent possible.
4. If your aircraft is equipped, ensure the transponder is always on to increase your aircraft’s electronic visibility.
5. Consider equipping with ADS-B (both Out and In) so you can benefit from the increased situational awareness available with the Traffic Information Service-Broadcast (TIS-B).
6. Consider installing an active traffic system or carry a portable traffic awareness product.
7. More than 50 percent of all midair collisions happen within 5nm of an airport—extra vigilance is required in the terminal area.
a. At towered airports monitor the frequency and communicate early with the tower to gain situational awareness.
b. At nontowered airports, broadcast your position and intentions no later than 10nm from the airport. Follow standard traffic pattern entry procedures, and broadcast your position and intentions on the common traffic advisory frequency in accordance with Section 4-1-9 of the Aeronautical Information
c. Ensure aircraft landing lights, position lights, and anticollision lights are on in the terminal area for maximum visibility.
Bottom line: Midair collisions happen infrequently; however, when they occur, the chances for injury or death are substantial. To learn more about midair collision avoidance and to increase your safety margins, please see the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Collision Avoidance Spotlight.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a new list of pilot, air traffic and citizen reports of possible encounters with unmanned aircraft (UAS). The reports cover November 13, 2014 through August 20, 2015.
Because pilot reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically over the past year, the FAA wants to send a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal. Unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time.
Orville Wright and his brother Wilbur, invented the first airplane to achieve powered, sustained, heavier-than-air, controlled human flight. The Wright Flyer was first flown by Orville for a length of 120 feet in 12 seconds, at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour over the ground at Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina in December 1903.
From those humble beginnings, aviation has revolutionized all aspects of modern world history and impacts all of our lives on a daily basis.
The first pilot, Orville Wright, was born on August 19, 1871. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt first established National Aviation Day in 1939 to coincide with the birthday of Orville Wright. This was later expanded to National Aviation week.
Every flight has some level of risk. It’s up to the airman to review that risk in advance and then develop the appropriate risk mitigation strategies. One of the best ways of doing this is by using a Flight Risk Analysis Tool or FRAT. FRATs are generally easy-to-use, visual tools that can help pilots proactively identify hazards and make better go/no go decisions for every flight. Using a FRAT to put everything on paper allows you to graphically depict risk limits free from the pressure of an impending flight or maintenance task. It also sets the stage for managing risk through proactive mitigation strategies that are documented.
The FAA Safety Team (FAAST) has produced an easy-to-use FRAT — found here http://go.usa.gov/3sJWA — that will get you started in effective safety risk management. The FAAST FRAT is a simple automated spread sheet that will run on a Windows or Mac system. Just download the appropriate file for your computer and you’re in business.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released preliminary aviation accident statistics for 2014 that show a slight increase in fatal general aviation accidents, which increased from 222 in 2013 to 253 in 2014.
The overall number of GA accidents decreased slightly from 1,224 in 2013 to 1,221 in 2014, the safety board said. Despite fewer accidents, the accident rate for GA aircraft increased from 6.26 per 100,000 flight hours in the previous year to 6.74 in 2014.
The safety board also reported that in 2014:
–There were 28 accidents involving Part 121 operations (commercial air transport).
–The number of accidents involving scheduled Part 135 (commuter) operations decreased from seven in 2013 to four in 2014.
–On-demand Part 135 operations, which include charter, air taxi, air tour and air medical flights, reported 35 accidents in 2014, down from 44 in 2013. The accident rate decreased from 1.30 per 100,000 flight hours in 2013 to 1.02 in 2014.