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

During the September 2017 meeting the Board reviewed 16 aircraft-to-aircraft Airprox and 18 aircraft-to-drone incidents.  Five of the aircraft-to-aircraft incidents were assessed as having a definite risk of collision (one risk Category A and four risk Category B), along with ten of the drone incidents. 

The Board is continuing with its introduction of a barrier-approach to Airprox assessments and these have yielded some interesting insights.  We use 9 barriers to assess each incident: ATC regulations & procedures; ATC manning & equipment; ATC situational awareness & action; ATC collision warning systems; Flight Crew regulations & procedures; Flight Crew tactical planning; Flight Crew situational awareness & action; Airborne collision warning systems; and See & Avoid.  Of the 63 incidents assessed so far for 2017, key trends in barrier effectiveness are shown below:

For example, in just choosing a couple of barriers we can see that ‘see & avoid’ was ineffective/partially effective in 58% of incidents, and ‘airborne collision warning systems’ were either absent or ineffective (mostly due to incompatibility) in 50%. Food for thought that reinforces the need for robust lookout and the fitment of increasingly affordable collision warning systems.

My Airprox of the month this month involved a DA40 and an ASK21 at Burn glider site.  On the face of it, Airprox 2017107 was a simple case of the DA40 pilot flying through Burn glider site below the maximum winch-launch altitude and into conflict with the ASK21 that was just at the top of its launch.  However, there were some key human factors elements behind the DA40 pilot’s inattention to his task which gave an interesting back-drop to the incident and highlighted the need for pilots to remain alert at all times and plan properly despite the apparent low complexity of a flight.  No doubt we’ve all done it, “It’s just a short hop, I’ll be alright – what can possibly go wrong?” when we really ought to think things through properly and prepare for all contingencies.   Full details of the incident are at in the ‘Airprox Reports and Analysis’ section within the appropriate year and then in the ‘Individual Airprox reports’ tab.