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Some Recent Airproxes

These are short and incomplete summaries only. Full reports are available on:

Report Number
A/c A
15 Oct 2016
4nm NE Stokenchurch

THE EUROPA PILOT reports that the other aircraft was neither on frequency with Farnborough nor using a transponder in busy airspace under the Heathrow tab (below 3500). He saw the other aircraft 50ft to port, at the same level, and had no idea why he didn't see it earlier. He suspected it was from Booker or Denham because it was heading towards Heathrow.
THE C152 PILOT reports that he was on a local flight from Wycombe conducting a trial lesson. He called Wycombe Tower for rejoin when overhead Princess Risborough. He was given the airfield information, and RWY24 was in use. Whilst in the descent he completed the airfield approach check followed by his pre-landing checks. He looked to check for traffic in the Wycombe circuit downwind position for runway 24. He had about 1.5-2nm to run when a Europa came into view in his wind shield at about 500m. He could see the Europa was flying straight and level and he himself was still in the descent and could see they were not in a risk of collision. The pilot of the Europa was looking straight ahead and he doesn’t think he had seen him. The Europa was on his right and he had not seen it until it came into view in his wind shield. It was a very late sighting in his opinion. He thinks the Europa was shielded from his view by the airframe of the C152 for most of the time that they may have been on a converging course.
THE BOARD members quickly agreed that both pilots had evidently not maintained a robust lookout. Notwithstanding, they had both seen each other in the end, albeit late, and members noted that the C152 pilot had been able to judge that they would not collide even with minimal avoiding action.
2 November 2016
3nm SW Guildford
THE CESSNA 152 PILOT reports that they were returning to their base after a training detail in the Frensham Ponds area. When overhead Guildford at 2200ft, the student shouted that there was an aircraft very close, above and to the right in the 2 o'clock position. The instructor’s view was still obscured by the Cessna’s high wing. By the time the instructor acquired the aircraft visually, it was below and in the 8 o'clock position.
THE PIPER PA28 CHEROKEE PILOT reports that he had not seen the other aircraft. Additionally, there were no relevant radio reports from either LARS or the reporting aircraft. There was fairly heavy traffic at the time, and a number of aircraft were seen from time to time in the area, but none in an Airprox situation. As there was no report/indication whatsoever of an Airprox at the time, SSR, QNH and heading/track data had not been retained. He was routing via Farnborough and Daventry to his destination. He did not ask LARS for a Traffic Service because they had told other contacts that it was not possible.
THE BOARD commented that it was unfortunate that the C152 pilot had not reported on frequency that he intended to file an Airprox. By doing so, he would have alerted other pilots and ATC to the incident and would have prompted them to make appropriate notes and retain any recordings that might assist in the investigation. The Board then turned its attention to the cause of the Airprox. Members acknowledged that because both pilots were operating in Class G airspace it was ultimately their responsibility to ‘see and avoid’ each other. It was apparent that the C152 trainee had only seen the PA28 at a very late stage, and the instructor had only seen it after it had passed; the PA28 pilot reported that he had not seen the C152 at all. It was quickly agreed that the cause of the Airprox was a non-sighting by the PA28 pilot and effectively a non-sighting by the C152 pilot.
14 November 2016
5nm NW Huntington
THE TUTOR PILOT reports that he was on a navigation sortie to the south of Cranwell. The TAS audio alarm sounded and a solid yellow circle appeared on his display. The TAS indicated that the contact was only 0.25nm away to the left. The pilot of the left-hand seat leaned forward to look behind the canopy arch and saw the conflicting traffic. It was on a constant bearing and at the same altitude, so an avoiding-action climbing turn to the left was commenced, followed by a right turn to remain visual with the other aircraft. A separation of 500ft was achieved, and it was perceived that the other aircraft did not become visual with them because its flightpath remained unchanged. The pilot opined that if TAS hadn’t picked the other aircraft up, he may not have detected it because of the constant bearing and canopy-arch masking. He assessed the risk of collision as ‘High’.
THE R44 PILOT reports that the other aircraft was not on the Connington frequency so he was not aware it was there until he saw it at around 1km and 200ft above. He reported that he turned left and descended to increase that separation.
THE BOARD were told that the Tutor pilot had been receiving a Traffic Service from Wittering prior to the Airprox, but had been told to go ‘en-route’. This explained why he hadn’t called Conington as he passed by, and the Board agreed that it was better to remain with a radar equipped ATSU for as long as possible. The Board were perplexed as to why the Tutor’s TAS had not alerted before it did, although there were known limitations on the Tutors’ TAS due to the positioning of the antenna, and it was possible that it was obscured by the aircraft itself on this occasion. In looking at the actions of the R44 pilot, the Board noted his concerns about the Tutor pilot not being on the Conington frequency, but also thought that with so many airfields in the area, it was difficult for pilots to call each one as they passed. Noting that the pilot reported seeing the Tutor at 1km away, they thought that he had probably seen it with enough time to take effective avoiding action.
18 November 2016
Let 410
7nm N Gloucester
THE LET 410 PILOT reports that they were 7nm north of Gloucestershire Airport, in VMC conditions, and undergoing landing preparations when they received a TCAS RA on an unknown aircraft. He believed they did not receive any Traffic Information from ATC, and they were not visual with the other aircraft. They followed the TCAS RA instruction to climb.
THE PA28 PILOT reports that although he was airborne at the stated time and position of the Airprox but he had no recollection of the event. He noted that he regularly operates out of Gloucestershire Airport and it is normal to be given Traffic Information on the scheduled flight as it arrives and departs.
THE BOARD Civil Airline Pilot members noted that although the L410 pilot had acted correctly in accordance with the generated RA, they surmised that his TCAS would probably have given him a TA first; whilst manoeuvring on a TA is not advised within controlled airspace, they opined that in Class G it might be considered wise to use such information tactically. That said, they stressed that once the RA was given, the pilot acted accordingly and the other aircraft was avoided. Turning to the PA28 pilot, the Board noted that he was operating, as he was entitled to do, in Class G airspace without an ATS. The Board could not be sure whether the pilot had seen the L410 at the time, but if he had then he had clearly not considered it to be a problem, and some members opined that 0.4nm separation could be considered to be normal operations in Class G airspace.      
20 November 2016
THE B777 PILOT reports being on approach to Heathrow, just past the BNN hold, when a large white drone, about 2m across and with 4 ‘prongs’, was seen in the right 1 o’clock position and then to pass down the right hand side at no more than 0.5nm from the aircraft.
THE BOARD members agreed that although range estimation could be problematic when estimating separation from drones, the pilot’s description of the object was such that there was no doubt as to the object’s identity as a drone
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