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Airprox of the Month



Airprox report 2016081 relates how a Cessna 152 on a general handling sortie entered the Chatteris paradropping site which had notified paradropping activity up to FL 150 for that day. The pilot found himself amongst a group of parachutists, the nearest of whom was stated to be only 300 ft away.  

The Board looked at the actions of the C152 pilot who seemed to have either been uncertain of his position and had inadvertently flown over the parachuting site, or was unaware of its existence. A GA member commented that modern gps-based electronic maps were available that could either be carried in tablet form or installed as part of the aircraft avionics. These not only assist in navigation but also warn the pilot when they are too close to an avoidance area or NOTAM. Whilst it was acknowledged that this equipment represents best practice and is not mandatory, he wondered if the C152 pilot had considered their use in order to assist in his navigation task. Other members then questioned the C152 pilots lack of Air Traffic Service and, although noting that in Class G airspace this is not mandatory, commented that it is also good practice to seek at least a Basic Service, and that this would probably have allowed Air Traffic Control to give an early indication to the C152 pilot that he was transiting towards an active parachuting site in time to avoid the area. 

I would add to the Board's comments that a recent analysis of 530 infringements of NATS controlled airspace that occurred in the period 2013-2015 showed that only 10% of the infringing pilots were using VFR GPS suitable for VFR navigation and subjective analysis suggested that of these half were not being used effectively.



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