Director of the UK Airprox Board's Monthly Update

Avoiding collisions - a monthly update from Director UK Airprox Board giving some learning themes for recreational pilots.

During our April meeting the Airprox Board discussed 24 incidents, with 10 of these involving drones/ were assessed as having a definite risk of collision (2 x Category A and 3 x Category B).  There was a clear flavour of ATC issues in this month’s reports - although some incidents involved multiple factors, there were 10 instances of controllership, ATC procedures, controller handover or ATC manning mentioned in our discussions. Other than these aspects, there were also 6 instances UAVs, mostly with commercial aircraft.  Of the remaining 14 aircraft-to-aircraft incidents, 5 of poor airmanship decisions and 6 late- or non-sightings.  Two of the airmanship lapses involved pilots flying through active glider sites below the maximum winch-launch height, and in one of these it seems the pilot flew below and across the front of a winch-launching glider – probably a very lucky escape from striking the winch cable.  The Board lamented the fact that some GA pilots do not seem to appreciate the risks of flying over active glider sites; despite efforts to highlight these risks in association with the BGA in the past, there remains a steady stream of incidents.  Whether this is a result of poor flight planning or poor navigation is hard to establish - given that there is no formal requirement to avoid glider sites per se[1] I hope it’s not simply down to indifference.  I’ve chosen these 2 incidents as my Airprox of the Month as below. 
My Airprox of the month this month are Airprox 2016253 and 2016259.  The reports largely speak for themselves and I’ve already mentioned how dangerous it is to fly over glider sites below the maximum winch launching height.  Remember as well that gliders can get airborne in quite poor weather conditions including low cloud and high winds so you should always assume that a glider site is active unless you are positively informed otherwise.  Gliders are also not necessarily constrained by runway direction either, so anticipate them launching and landing in any direction on the site (although they will be doing so largely into wind unless in emergency).   Full reports for both incidents can be found at in the ‘Airprox Reports and Analysis’ section within the appropriate year and then in the ‘Individual Airprox reports’ tab.

[1] Other than the universal requirement to conform with or avoid the pattern of traffic in the vicinity of an aerodrome – SERA 3225(b).