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Airproxes

These are short and incomplete summaries only. Full reports available on www.airproxboard.org.uk

Report Number
Date
A/C A
A/C B 
Location
 
2016105
A320
PA28
5nm ENE Luton Airport

THE AIRBUS A320 PILOT was on final approach to RW26 at Luton and established on the ILS. A light aircraft was 2nm ahead, 400ft below and he was aware that its pilot was talking to the Approach controller, who was trying to vector him out of the way. Due to its proximity and the fact that they seemed to be getting closer and they could not see the traffic as they were in cloud and it was below them the decision was taken to carry out a missed approach. The reported separation was based on TCAS information.

THE PIPER PA28 PILOT reports that he was cleared to enter controlled airspace and was instructed to orbit. He was then instructed that if he was visual with the aircraft on final [not the subject A320] to position behind it and continue en route. He was then asked to expedite because there was further traffic on final [the subject A320]. He complied with the request. The controller then stated that he was too far east and to take up a southerly heading. He carried this out straight away. 30secs later the A320 pilot announced going around because the crew were not visual with his aircraft.

THE BOARD agreed that it had been the A320 pilot’s concern and uncertainty about the presence of the PA28 that had been the root cause of the Airprox being reported. Notwithstanding, the Board noted the actions of the controller and the effect they had had on the Airprox and agreed that if he had taken positive action by passing a clearance to ensure that the PA28 pilot crossed the approach path at right angles, then the Airprox would not have occurred. Accordingly the Board considered that a contributory factor was that the controller did not positively control the PA28.
2016118
27 June 2016
C150
PA28
2nm E of Shanklin
THE C150 PILOT reports that he had been flying an anticlockwise circuit around the Isle of Wight over the sea and tracking the coast. As he approached Ventnor, he commenced a gentle let down over the sea with a view to crossing the coast at Sandown and then descending to circuit height as he passed over the upwind end of runway 23. He had been looking to the left to identify Sandown airport in anticipation of turning to join the circuit. When he turned to look ahead he was suddenly aware of another aircraft heading in his general direction but turning to the right so that it would pass him on his port side. The aircraft passed each other at very similar altitudes with only a few hundred metres lateral separation.
 
THE C150 PILOT reports that he had been   flying an anticlockwise circuit around the Isle of Wight over the sea and   tracking the coast. As he approached Ventnor, he commenced a gentle let down   over the sea with a view to crossing the coast at Sandown and then descending   to circuit height as he passed over the upwind end of runway 23. He had been
looking to the left to identify Sandown airport in anticipation of turning to   join the circuit. When he turned to look ahead he was suddenly aware of   another aircraft heading in his general direction but turning to the right so   that it would pass him on his port side. The aircraft passed each other at   very similar altitudes with only a few hundred metres lateral separation.

THE PA28 PILOT reports that he had   planned a clockwise circuit of the Isle of Wight. Whilst routing across   Sandown Bay he saw a C150 travelling in the reciprocal direction at a very   similar height and just to the left of the nose of his aircraft. He instinctively manoeuvred slightly to the right of his track whilst the C150 appeared to   continue straight and level. The C150 passed down the left side of his   aircraft. Whilst aware of the close proximity of the C150, he was not unduly   alarmed by the event and did not report an Airprox or hear any other aircraft report an Airprox.

THE BOARD members began their discussion by debating whether or not there was a case for a flow system   around the Isle of Wight given the likely traffic levels of ‘sightseeing’   aircraft but acknowledged this as unworkable. They noted that neither   aircraft had any form of electronic warning system that could have alerted   the pilots of the proximity of the other aircraft, and opined that electronic   conspicuity equipment was an extremely valuable tool for aircraft flying in   Class G airspace, and that GA pilots should seriously consider fitment of   such equipment as an aid to cued lookout.  

2016126
4 July 2016
C182
PA24
6nm N Gloucestershire
 Airport
THE C182 PILOT reports that he was climbing away from Gloucestershire Airport, routing towards the M50/M5 junction. He opted to descend to remain VMC under a cloud-base of approximately 2500ft. Gloucester App asked him to report his altitude, which was 2700ft at the time, and then gave Traffic Information on traffic 12 o’clock, similar level 1 mile away. The traffic appeared either from within, or from behind cloud on a reciprocal, conflicting heading. He took immediate avoiding action to the right, and estimated the aircraft passed down his left-hand side at a distance of about 200ft.

THE PA24 PILOT reports that he was on a route that would take him overhead Gloucestershire Airport, planned at 3000ft to keep clear of airspace earlier on in the flight. He called Gloucester Approach for a Basic Service and informed the controller that he would be descending to 2500ft to remain VMC. He was then asked to report in the overhead. The flight continued normally until Gloucester called to say there was traffic in his 12 o’clock, reciprocal heading and similar altitude. The pilot and co-pilot looked out for the traffic and almost immediately saw the reported aircraft in the 10 o’clock position, slightly above and about 100m away. They saw the other aircraft take avoiding action.

THE BOARD first looked at the actions of the C182 pilot. He was receiving a Basic Service from Gloucester and, once given Traffic Information on the reciprocal traffic, was able to see it and take timely avoiding action. Likewise, the PA24 pilot was also given Traffic Information and was then able to see the C182, albeit he perceived no action was necessary because the C182 pilot had already turned away. That being said, (and notwithstanding the timely calls by ATC) because they were both on the same frequency, members wondered whether, on hearing each other’s radio calls, the pilots could have independently assimilated earlier that they were in conflict thereby building their own situational awareness.
2016136
2 April 2016
C172
Husky
Sleap Airfield
THE C172 PILOT reports that he was returning to Sleap airfield from the South. He called Sleap A/G to report his approach which was acknowledged with relevant airfield data. As he approached the ATZ he heard a call from a pilot in a Pitts who was getting airborne for an aerobatic detail over the airfield. He called the tower and reported that he would join downwind, and positioned accordingly, the A/G operator acknowledged. He was aware that a Husky was also in the circuit. He reported downwind and heard another pilot report that he was approaching from the North and positioning on long-final. He couldn’t see the other aircraft and reported his intention to extend downwind, which was acknowledged. After a short time, he queried the position of the traffic on final and was informed by the A/G operator that the aircraft was now on short-final. He turned left-base and then final for a normal approach. He called final, which was acknowledged. He then saw the Husky late downwind to his left on a tight low-level circuit. Almost simultaneously a Pitts came into view late downwind beyond the right wingtip of the Husky in a steep climb. He then saw the Husky turn onto left-base. He closely monitored the approach of the aircraft. When it became apparent that it would pass behind him he continued on to the runway. The Husky went around.

THE HUSKY PILOT reported by telephone that he cannot fully remember the details due to the time between the incident and the report being submitted. He did remember that he didn’t hear any radio calls from the C172 pilot, he also recalls that another pilot in the circuit didn’t hear any calls either. He further said that he was instructing a student and they were both looking for the C172, the first they saw was when it appeared slightly to their right and underneath them, they then went around to avoid.

THE BOARD looked at the actions of the C172 pilot who had extended his visual circuit downwind in order to integrate with an aircraft joining straight in allow them to adequately de-conflict themselves. The Board could not determine why it had been that the Husky pilot and other aircraft in the circuit had apparently not heard the C172 pilot’s final call, but they agreed that this had been a key factor in the resulting incident given that the Husky pilot therefore was not able to update his situational awareness of the C172’s position
2016138
18 July 2016
DA42
Drone
2nm SE Morton in Marsh
THE DA42 PILOT reports he was flying at 2300ft when he spotted a four-prop drone, black in colour and square design flying straight-and-level in the opposite direction. He took avoiding action by banking left 30°.

THE DRONE OPERATOR could not be traced.

THE BOARD noted that there are no specific ANO regulations limiting the maximum height for the operation of drones that weigh 7kg or less other than if flown using FPV (with a maximum weight of 3.5kg) when 1000ft is the maximum height. Drones weighing between 7kg and 20kg are limited to 400ft unless in accordance with airspace requirements. Notwithstanding, there remains a requirement to maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions. CAP 722 gives guidance that, within the UK, visual line of sight (VLOS) operations are normally accepted to mean a maximum distance of 500m [1640ft] horizontally and 400ft [122m] vertically from the Remote Pilot. All drone operators are required to observe ANO 2016 Article 94(2) which requires that the person in charge of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made, and the ANO 2016 Article 241 requirement not to recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property. Allowing that the term ‘endanger’ might be open to interpretation, drones of any size that are operated in close proximity to airfield approach, pattern of traffic or departure lanes, or above 1000ft agl (i.e. beyond VLOS (visual line of sight) and FPV (first-person-view) heights), can be considered to have endangered any aircraft that come into proximity. In such circumstances, or if other specific regulations have not been complied with as appropriate above, the drone operator will be judged to have caused the Airprox by having flown their drone into conflict with the aircraft. Members noted that the drone was operating at 2300ft and therefore beyond practical VLOS conditions. Therefore, in assessing the cause, the Board agreed that the drone had been flown into conflict with the DA42. Turning to the risk, although the incident did not show on the NATS radars, the Board noted that the pilot had estimated the separation to be 100ft vertically and 50m horizontally from the aircraft. Acknowledging the difficulties in judging separation visually without external references, the Board considered that the pilot’s estimate of separation, allied to his overall account of the incident, portrayed a situation where safety had been much reduced below the norm.
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