Air Traffic Management http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net STRATEGY, TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE WORLD'S MOST GLOBAL INDUSTRY Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:30:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 NATS secures QinetiQ contract renewal http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/nats-secures-qinetiq-contract-renewal/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/nats-secures-qinetiq-contract-renewal/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:30:50 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28752 More ››]]> UK based air traffic services provider NATS has been awarded a seven year contract extension to continue its work with QinetiQ, the defence technology company that operates a number of Ministry of Defence test and evaluation air ranges.

The contract renewal will see specialist NATS air traffic controllers facilitating live weapons tests at ranges throughout the UK, including the use of state of the art fighter aircraft, armoured vehicles, ships and Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS).

QinetiQ operates and manages some of the MOD’s core Test and Evaluation (T&E) Air Ranges in the UK at MOD Aberporth, MOD Hebrides and MOD West Freugh. All of the ranges are operated under a 25 year Long Term Partnering Agreement, which delivers T&E and training support services to the MOD.

Working with QinetiQ at the ranges is very different to conventional air traffic management. NATS’ role is to advise on and devise the air traffic management element of each trial, working to ensure the vehicles – whether they are fighter jets, RPAS, ships or tanks – are where they need to be for any particular test to ensure that the right data can be captured for analysis.

Air traffic controllers also have to keep the airspace ‘sterile’. Infringements into segregated ‘Danger Area’ airspace are always an issue wherever they occur, but never more so than where fast jets and live weapon trials are taking place.

Catherine Mason, NATS Managing Director Services, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen to continue our close relationship with QinetiQ. The work at Aberporth and the ranges is hugely important to UK defence and NATS has some of the world’s most respected expertise in managing the ATM element of these highly specialised and vital trials.”

Rik Sellwood at QinetiQ said: “By putting this contract out to competition we have reaffirmed that NATS is well positioned to meet our requirements, while ensuring that we are getting the best value for money for the UK taxpayer. This process will result in efficiency savings over seven years and looks certain to further strengthen our proven relationship with NATS.”

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Brussels outlines EU security measures http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/brussels-outlines-eu-security-measures/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/brussels-outlines-eu-security-measures/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:21:15 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28750 More ››]]>

The European Commission has today released a fact sheet detailing EU security measures in civil airliners.

What are the current rules on the minimum crew members required in the cockpit?

On 27 March, EASA (the European Air Safety Agency) issued a recommendation for airlines to observe the “four-eye-rule” in the cockpit; stipulating that in the case of the Captain or First Officer leaving the cockpit, a member of the crew should be present in the cockpit with the remaining pilot.

European safety regulations require that pilots shall remain at the aircraft controls unless absence is necessary for physiological or operational safety needs.

There is no European requirement that a member of the cabin crew must enter the cockpit in the event a pilot needs to take a short break for such needs. There is however a requirement that the cockpit door can be opened from the outside in case of emergency.

For more information: EASA Safety Information Bulletin SIB No. 2015-04 issued 27 March 2015 on authorised persons in the flight crew compartment

COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 965/2012 of 5 October 2012 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council

Is there legislation in place regulating medical and fitness checks of airline pilots?

There is a European Regulation which mandates that pilots must have a current Medical Certificate. This certificate is issued by an approved specialist in aviation medicine and revalidated at regular intervals throughout a pilots’ career. Within the European Regulations for Medical Certificates there are requirements that relate to psychiatry and psychology.

These medical rules are binding upon every Member State and airline. During initial examination no one can obtain a medical certificate who has a medical history or clinical diagnosis of any psychiatric or psychological condition which is likely to interfere with the safe exercise of the pilot’s functions. During periodic revalidation (at least once a year) the approved medical examiner must also assess the pilot’s psychiatric and psychological status to maintain the needed level of psychiatric and psychological quality to exercise the profession.

These psychiatric or psychological tests are carried out by independent specialised aero-medical examiners approved by the Member States. Airlines are required to check the validity of their pilot’s aeromedical certificates before assigning them to flying duties. Every pilot is obliged to refrain from taking flight duty if she/he feels unfit to fly.

Throughout a pilot’s airline career there are proficiency checks to verify competency. These checks are normally performed twice a year in a simulator, including situations where the pilot’s ability to cope under stress is tested.

For more information: COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1178/2011 of 3 November 2011 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to civil aviation aircrew pursuant to Regulation

What about pilot background checks?

European Aviation Security Regulations require that crew members of an EU air carrier are subject to background checks before being issued with a crew identification card. Such background checks include verification of the person’s criminal and employment record. The checks are required to be repeated at regular intervals not exceeding 5 years.

For more information: REGULATION (EC) No 300/2008 of 11 March 2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation security

Which safety & security rules apply to the cockpit door of airliners?

European Safety Regulations, based on global standards set by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) include requirements that all aircraft above a certain weight carrying out commercial air transport operations must be equipped with a flight deck door. This door must be designed in such a way that it is capable of being locked and unlocked from either pilot seat in the flight deck, in order to prevent unlawful access. The aircraft involved in the accident on 24 March 2015 was covered by these European Regulations that relate to the flight deck door as well as by the operator’s approved security procedures.

Airlines must have operational procedures in relation to the Regulation on the Flight Deck Door. These procedures include access to the flight deck under normal and emergency conditions.

In Europe the standard procedure is that the cockpit is monitored from the pilot’s seat by CCTV to monitor the area outside the cockpit. In some cases there is a spyhole and not a CCTV monitor, there is a procedure, which ensures that another crew member should enter the cockpit in case one pilot leaves the station. This procedure was put in place for the purpose of monitoring the cockpit door so that the remaining pilot can remain in her/his seat at the controls of the aircraft.

For more information: COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 965/2012 of 5 October 2012 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council

Regulation (EU) No 748/2012

How are investigations of air crashes in the EU being carried out?

The causes need to be established through an independent and credible civil investigation conducted in line with European rules (Regulation 996/2010).

After fatal civil aviation accidents, there are generally two separate investigations which need to be closely coordinated since they share the same evidence:

An accident (or safety) investigation is conducted by the national accident investigation authority in accordance with European rules; and a judicial/criminal investigation is opened with the aim of compensating victims and punishing wrongdoers.

The safety recommendations resulting from an accident should be considered by the competent authority and, as appropriate, acted upon to ensure adequate prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation.

Often such recommendations are addressed to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which takes the necessary action to address the safety issues. Where urgent action is needed, measures are taken even before the investigation is completed.

Who is in charge of the investigation on the crash of flight 4U 9525?

In accordance with the European Union Rules (REGULATION (EU) No 996/2010 on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation) the French authorities (BEA – Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile) initiated a safety investigation.

The French safety investigation authority (BEA) leads the investigation, as the accident took place on French territory (France is also the state of design and the manufacturer). Germany is entitled to participate in the accident/incident investigation, as the country of registration of the aircraft and the home country of the operator. EASA, the certifying authority of the Airbus A320, has the possibility to send an advisor to assist in the investigation and has done so.

Are “budget carriers” subject to the same safety rules as other airlines?

All airlines operating in the European skies are subject to exactly the same safety rules and exactly the same oversight. Airline safety rules must be applied by all.

What is the European Commission’s role in the accident investigation?

The Commission has no formal role in the investigation of accidents. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has sent two experts, one to the accident site and one to the BEA headquarters outside Paris.

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Time Based Separation goes live at Heathrow http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/time-based-separation-goes-live-at-heathrow/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/time-based-separation-goes-live-at-heathrow/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:57:32 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28748 More ››]]> A new way of separating arriving aircraft at Heathrow Airport by time instead of distance in order to cut delays caused by strong winds has gone live as part of a phased introduction this year.

Traditionally, air traffic controllers separate flights by set distances dependent on the aircraft type and the size of the spiralling air turbulence – or wake vortex – they create as they fly.

However, during strong headwinds aircraft fly more slowly over the ground resulting in extra time between each arrival. Having to maintain a set distance in those conditions reduces the landing rate and can cause delays and cancellations.

On a normal day around 40 aircraft an hour land at Heathrow, but that can drop to just 32 on windy days, which is capacity that can’t be reclaimed because the airport is so busy, having been essentially full for the past decade.

Time Based Separation (TBS) takes live wind data from the aircraft to dynamically calculate the optimal safe spacing between each aircraft in order to maintain the landing rate. Its introduction is expected to halve current headwind delays at the airport and significantly reduce the need for airlines to cancel flights.

TBS stats

Martin Rolfe, NATS managing director operations, said: “Working with Lockheed Martin, we’ve produced a world first that will deliver major benefits to the airport, to airlines and to passengers. Strong headwinds are the single biggest cause of arrival delay and Heathrow and the introduction of TBS will radically reduce delays and cancellations while improving the airport’s resilience against disruption.”

Derek Provan, Heathrow director of airport operations, added: “Time Based Separation on final approach, a world first at Heathrow, addresses the biggest single cause of arrival delays at the airport. We are committed to giving passengers the best airport service in the world by investing in innovative operational procedures such as this one.”

NATS has studied over 150,000 flights to measure the behaviour of aircraft wake vortices in strong headwinds, with the results showing that they dissipate more quickly in windy conditions. This means aircraft can be safely separated on final approach using a time based method.

Juliet Kennedy, NATS operations director at Swanwick centre, said: “Safety is always our absolute top priority and we’ve done extensive research and consultation with the airport and airlines to be sure that Time Based Separation is safe.”

The TBS tool has been developed by NATS with Lockheed Martin and while it is initially being introduced at Heathrow, it would also prove beneficial at other major airports both in the UK and around the world.

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EASA recommends minimum two crew in cockpit http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/easa-recommends-minimum-two-crew-in-cockpit/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/easa-recommends-minimum-two-crew-in-cockpit/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:31:28 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28740 More ››]]> European aviation safety chiefs have issued a temporary recommendation for airlines to ensure that at least two crew, including at least one qualified pilot, are in the cockpit at all times of the flight.

Until now there has been no European rule that states that if one of the pilots leaves the cockpit, he or she should be replaced temporarily by another crew member. EASA now urges airlines to re-assess the safety and security risks associated with a crew member leaving the cockpit.

“The agency makes this recommendation based on the information currently available following the dramatic accident of the Germanwings Flight 4U9525, and pending the outcome of the technical investigation conducted by the French Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA),” said EASA. “This recommendation may be reviewed in the light of any new information concerning the accident.”

Patrick Ky, EASA executive director, said: “While we are still mourning the victims, all our efforts focus on improving the safety and security of passengers and crews.”

Following the recommendation, Tony Tyler, the director general of the International Air Transport Association said: “Airlines are licensed by national governments. They comply with the safety regulations and procedures of those national governments. This includes procedures with respect to cockpit access and medical requirements. Through experience and sharing of best practices many will exceed those requirements with their own company policies.”

He added that with the French investigating judge’s shocking revelations yesterday, individual carriers around the world are already looking at their procedures. “This proactive approach is characteristic of an industry that places safety at the top of its priority list,” he said.

“It is, however, imperative that the air accident investigation is fully completed in order to determine any and all outcomes which can help prevent a tragedy like this from happening again. The interests of aviation safety are best served by considerations made in light of full and complete information and understanding of any accident, or issue concerning safety or security.”

You can read the recommendation here

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Germanwings co-pilot hid medical illness http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/germanwings-copilot-hid-medical-illness/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/germanwings-copilot-hid-medical-illness/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:05:33 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28719 More ››]]> German prosecutors confirmed they have found a torn-up sick note for March 24 – the day of the Germanwings air disaster – stating the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was not fit to fly.

After having conducted a search of the Dusseldorf apartment of the co-pilot, the German authorities said police failed to find a suicide note and found no evidence of a political or religious background that could have explained his actions.

“However, documents were secured containing medical information that indicates an illness and corresponding treatment by doctors,” they said in a statement.

The documents state that Lubitz received a note from his doctor for the day of the incident excusing him from work, but that he tore up the note and did not inform Lufthansa about his condition.

“Doctor’s notes that were found that were current and for the day of the incident support the assumption, based on a preliminary evaluation, that the deceased concealed his illness from his employer and work environment,” the prosecutor said in the statement.

French investigators yesterday said audio evidence salvaged from the wreckage of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed on Tuesday, killing all 150 on board, suggests that the 28-year old co-pilot deliberately locked the captain out of the cockpit and set the aircraft controls to crash.

Brice Robin, the French investigating judge, reported that the co-pilot was alive and breathing normally until the impact of the crash, and that the most plausible interpretation of the investigators was that his actions were deliberate: to lock the captain out, to refuse to respond to Marseille air traffic control and to activate the descent.

“He did this for a reason we do not know … but it can be seen as a willingness to destroy the aircraft,” said Robin.

Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr the parent company of Germanwings, said on Thursday that Lubitz had passed the company’s health checks. “He was 100 per cent flightworthy without any limitations,” Spohr said.

He did however say that there had been a period six years ago when Lubitz took a break from his training for several months. He said that if the reason was medical, German rules on medical privacy prevented the sharing of such information.

Further investigations surrounding Lubitz’s medical records will take several more days to complete.

Germanwings air tragedy was murder-suicide French investigators say the audio evidence salvaged from the wreckage of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed on Tuesday, killing all 150 on board, suggests …
Germanwings pilot locked out of cockpit: NYT The audio file from the cockpit voice recording of the Germanwings Airbus A320 air disaster in the Alps on March 24 indicates that one of …
Cockpit voice recorder in usable condition French air accident investigators today said they have ‘usable’ cockpit voice recordings from the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the Alps on March 24. …
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Germanwings air tragedy was murder-suicide http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/germanwings-air-tragedy-was-murdersuicide/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/germanwings-air-tragedy-was-murdersuicide/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:08:00 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28682 More ››]]> robinFrench investigators say the audio evidence salvaged from the wreckage of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed on Tuesday, killing all 150 on board, suggests that the 28-year old co-pilot deliberately locked the captain out of the cockpit and set the aircraft controls to crash.

Brice Robin, the French investigating judge, told a press briefing that the co-pilot was alive and breathing normally until the impact of the crash, and that the most plausible interpretation of the investigators was that his actions were deliberate: to lock the captain out, to refuse to respond to Marseille air traffic control and to activate the descent.

“He did this for a reason we do not know … but it can be seen as a willingness to destroy the aircraft,” said Robin.

Describing the sequence of events, the judge said that for the first 20 minutes, there was normal conversation between the two pilots before the commander started his briefing in preparation for landing at Dusseldorf.

He described the quality of the conversation up to that point as cheerful, pleasant and courteous. As the briefing started the answers the captain received from the co-pilot – a German national called Andreas Lubitz – became terse, sombre and laconic. “It was not a real exchange between the two,” said Robin.

The captain then asks the co-pilot to take over from him and the sound of a seat being moved back and door closing is heard – as the captain leaves the cockpit most probably for a toilet break.

“The co-pilot is alone in the cockpit and it is then that co-pilot manipulates the Flight Management System in order to embark on a descent of the aircraft. He was left alone in charge of the aircraft,” said Robin.

According to the judge, this manipulation of the flight controls could only have been deliberate at this altitude as the aircraft was overflying Toulon and the top of descent point would have been planned much later on the Dusseldorf routing.

There were then several calls by the commander to be allowed back into cockpit on the video phone. “There was no answer even after knocking,” said Robin.

Investigators heard normal breathing from the cockpit and that sound of breathing was heard right until the end of the flight. “The breathing was not of someone who was suffering from any kind of malaise,” Robin reported.

“We could only hear breathing. He did not say anything, not a single word, from the time the captain left the cockpit,” said Robin, who added, “I think the captain knew what was going on and would have opened the door if he could have.”

Several attempts were made by Marseille air traffic control to contact the aircraft which included requesting nearby aircraft to conduct a relay to communicate with the unresponsive aircraft.

As the ground proximity warning system started to sound, there were violent knocks heard in an attempt to get the door open.

Who were the two pilots? The First Officer was Andreas Lubitz, 28. He was from Montabaur, in Rhineland-Palatinate. He had 630 flight hours. He joined Germanwings in September 2013 straight from the Lufthansa Flight Training School in Bremen. Lufthansa said both pilots were trained at the Lufthansa Flight Training School in Bremen. The captain had over 6,000 flight hours' experience and joined Germanwings in May 2014. Previously he was a pilot with Lufthansa and Condor, a Lufthansa partner airline. They were unable to confirm whether this was Lubitz's first job as a professional pilot, or any previous experience. The chief executive of Lufthansa has said there were no indications of abnormal behaviour in Lubitz and that there is "no system in the world" that could have predicted and prevented his actions. "He was 100 percent fit to fly. There was no particular thing to note or to watch out for (in him)." "We choose ur staff very stricty. the choice of staff is very strict - we not only take into account their technical knowledge but also the pyschological aspect of our staff." He said the psychological tests carried out on their pilots by a specialised German training centre were regarded as among the best in the world. "The co-pilot qualified as a pilot in 2008. He first worked as a steward and then became a first officer (pilot) in 2013." "He took a break in his training six years ago. Then he did the tests (technical and psychological) again. And he was deemed fit to fly." "He took a several months break for reasons i do not know. Then he had to do the test again."

Who were the two pilots?
The co-pilot was Andreas Lubitz, 28 from Montabaur, in Rhineland-Palatinate. He had 630 flight hours, joining Germanwings in September 2013 after training at Lufthansa Flight Training School in Bremen. Both pilots were trained at Bremen. The captain had over 6,000 flight hours’ experience and joined Germanwings in May 2014. Previously he was a pilot with Lufthansa and Condor, a Lufthansa partner airline.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said pilot psychological testing was conducted by a specialised German training centre and regarded as among the best in the world.
“The co-pilot qualified as a pilot in 2008,” said Spohr, first working as a steward before becoming a first officer in 2013.
He took a break in his training six years ago and when he returned undertook the technical and psychological tests again. “There was never any doubt cast on his competence and skills and he was deemed to be fit in all areas,” said Spohr who admitted that the reasons – if medical – for his break in training would have been protected by medical privacy.

“One can hear just before the final impact, the noise of the first impact on the slope,” said Robin, who said there was no mayday distress call even at late stage.

“At this moment, the interpretation of things – some 40 hours  after the crash – is likely that the co-pilot through ‘voluntary abstention’ refused to open the cockpit door to the captain and activated the command that led to the loss of altitude,” said the investigating judge who added that the reason for the co-pilot’s action remains unknown, adding that the “co-pilot indicated a willingness to destroy the aircraft”.

Although he would not be drawn on terming the actions of the co-pilot as a suicide attempt, Robin said investigators were now trying to understand the environment of the co-pilot and that German colleagues would be conducting this aspect of the investigation.

“He voluntarily allowed the aircraft to descend to that altitude. That is not normal. There was no reason to do that. There was no reason not to allow captain back in to the cockpit or to not respond to air traffic control.”

“I know now that it was not unintentional so the characteristics of the investigation change,” said Robin.

He said he had already explained the investigation’s findings to the families of the victims. “The victims would have only realised at the very end,” he said although he admitted that ‘there were some screams just before impact.”

Read: Germanwings pilot locked out of cockpit: NYT

 

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Germanwings pilot locked out of cockpit: NYT http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/germanwings-pilot-locked-out-of-cockpit-nyt/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/germanwings-pilot-locked-out-of-cockpit-nyt/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 08:48:29 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28671 More ››]]> The audio file from the cockpit voice recording of the Germanwings Airbus A320 air disaster in the Alps on March 24 indicates that one of the pilots could not get back in to the cockpit before the aircraft crashed, according to a report in the New York Times.

Investigators continue to study the voice recordings from the Cockpit Voice Recorder for answers while the search continues for a second black box.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” an unnamed source told the Times, citing the recordings. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”

“You can hear he is trying to smash the door down,” added the source who is a senior military official involved in the investigation. “We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out,” said the official. “But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door.”

In a statement in response to the media report, Germanwings said: “There are media reports as to which one of the pilots supposedly has left the cockpit and was not able to get back in. We have not received any information from the authorities leading the investigation and therefore can neither confirm nor deny the reports of the New York Times. We are working on obtaining more information but will not participate in any kind of speculation. The investigation on what caused the accident falls to the responsible authorities.”

Read:

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Cockpit voice recorder in usable condition http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/cockpit-voice-recorder-in-usable-condition/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/cockpit-voice-recorder-in-usable-condition/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:56:38 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28639 More ››]]> 3French air accident investigators today said they have ‘usable’ cockpit voice recordings from the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the Alps on March 24.

Flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Dusseldorf had reached a cruising altitude of 38,000ft (11,500m) with 150 passengers and crew on board. The aircraft began an unexplained descent at 09.31 before dropping off radar screens at 09.47. No distress call was issued.

Rémi Jouty, the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses chief, told a press briefing that investigators expect to have an initial read-out of the audio data file within days although a full definitive transcription could take weeks or months.

“Detailed work will be carried on the file to interpret the voices and sounds that can be heard on the file,” he said, adding that he expected to have more analysis of the voices in ‘a matter of days’.

 Bild published this timeline of what it says happened to the Airbus (times are local, one hour ahead of GMT). 10:30:00 Germanwings flight 4U9525, call sign "Germanwings One Eight Golf", confirmed instructions from French air traffic control 10:31:02 Flight 4U9525 leaves its assigned cruising altitude without approval and begins to descend. Radar observes an average descent rate of approximately 17.8 metres per second (3,500 feet per minute). Attempts by French air traffic control to contact the flight on the assigned radio frequency radio link are not answered 10:35:08 Attempts to contact the flight on the international distress frequency are also unsuccessful 10:36:00 French air traffic control declares an international normalized emergency according to international norms. French search and rescue services are informed. Flight 4U9525 passes through an altitude of around 7600m (25,000 feet). 10:36:47 French air traffic control tries one last time to contact Flight 4U9525 German Wings on the international distress frequency. There is no response 10:40:00 Flight 4U9525 disappears from radar. The last known altitude was about 1890m (6,200 feet) 10:42:00 French air traffic control informs the search and rescue national control centre of the loss of radar contact. 10:49:00 Two military search and rescue helicopters head towards the location of Flight 4U9525's final radar contact. There is no report of the aircraft's Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) being detected 11:10:00 The wreckage of Flight 4U9525 is identified by search and rescue helicopters

German news publication Bild published this timeline of what it says happened to the Airbus (times are local, one hour ahead of GMT).
10:30:00 Germanwings flight 4U9525, call sign “Germanwings One Eight Golf”, confirmed instructions from French air traffic control
10:31:02 Flight 4U9525 leaves its assigned cruising altitude without approval and begins to descend. Radar observes an average descent rate of approximately 17.8 metres per second (3,500 feet per minute). Attempts by French air traffic control to contact the flight on the assigned radio frequency radio link are not answered
10:35:08 Attempts to contact the flight on the international distress frequency are also unsuccessful
10:36:00 French air traffic control declares an international emergency according to international norms. French search and rescue services are informed. Flight 4U9525 passes through an altitude of around 7600m (25,000 feet).
10:36:47 French air traffic control tries one last time to contact Flight 4U9525 Germanwings on the international distress frequency. There is no response
10:40:00 Flight 4U9525 disappears from radar. The last known altitude was about 1890m (6,200 feet)
10:42:00 French air traffic control informs the search and rescue national control centre of the loss of radar contact.
10:49:00 Two military search and rescue helicopters head towards the location of Flight 4U9525′s final radar contact. There is no report of the aircraft’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) being detected
11:10:00 The wreckage of Flight 4U9525 is identified by search and rescue helicopters

Around a minute after a routine communication with air traffic control at 09.30, Jouty said the radar trajectory showed the aircraft start to descend and continued descending to the point of impact. “The descent lasted about 10 minutes. The last altitude recorded by radars is very close to the impact point. The altitude at the time was a little over 6,000 feet, a little over the average altitude of the impact site. That means that the radar followed the plane until impact,” he said.

At a separate press conference French president Francois Hollande said the casing of a second black box – the flight data recorder – has been found but not the recorder itself.

Jouty stressed it was too early to draw any conclusions about the causes of the crash. There were however clear indications from its radar trajectory that the aircraft was flying until the very end and that a mid air explosion as well as depressurisation were unlikely scenarios. He added that the nature of the debris was indicative of a high speed impact with the aircraft flying at an angle to the surface, similar to the 2014 crash in Mali of Air Algérie flight 5017.

He said the rate of descent of the aircraft ranged between 3,000-3,500 ft/min and that the curve of the aircraft’s descent suggested some element of control. “The curve is compatible with an aircraft controlled by pilots, except for the fact that we can’t imagine pilots sending an aircraft into a mountain, but it may also be compatible with an autopilot,” he said.

The BEA chief added that there was no information to suggest difficult weather conditions.

“At this stage, evidently, we are not in a position to offer any explanation or interpretation which could have led to the descent of this aircraft and the reasons why it could unfortunately have continued to descend into terrain, as well as the reasons why it seemed not to have responded to attempts by air traffic control which was trying to make contact,” Jouty told reporters.

Read: No survivors in Germanwings A320 accident

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Profit should not motivate FAA reform: NATCA http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/profit-should-not-motivate-faa-reform-natca/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/profit-should-not-motivate-faa-reform-natca/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:01:39 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28636 More ››]]> US air traffic controllers remain opposed to any new model that generates profit from the services they provide, according to the controller union chief Paul Rinaldi.

Even so, the NATCA union insists the current funding mechanism for the nation’s air traffic control system is unacceptable and admits that it is exploring alternative funding models in order to maintain and advance the system’s safety and efficiency.

Testifying on March 24 before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, NATCA president Paul Rinaldi delivered his remarks during a hearing about the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorisation process and options for FAA air traffic control reform.

Rinaldi’s testimony outlined existing problems at the FAA including negative impacts on the National Airspace System (NAS) as a result of an unpredictable funding stream. He explained that these impacts have driven NATCA, along with stakeholders, think tanks, and others to explore ways to fix the problem, which harms the economy and impact jobs.

“NATCA looks forward to working with Congress and other stakeholders to determine a solution that protects air traffic control and secures it for future growth,” said Rinaldi. “But before we can support any change, we must carefully examine all of the specifics. No system is like the United States’ and no model used elsewhere in the world is perfect, much less for a system as large, complicated, and diverse as ours.”

NATCA has laid out the following principles for any reform:

  • Safety and efficiency remain the mission;
  • Stable, predictable funding to adequately support air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, and ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure;
  • Robust and continued growth in the aviation system; and,
  • A dynamic aviation system that continues to provide services to all segments of the aviation community, commercial passenger carriers and cargo haulers, to business jets, to general aviation, from the major airports to those in rural America.

Rinaldi also provided members of the subcommittee with an overview of alternative funding and structural models that could address the existing funding problem. He provided key points on the potential models that have been discussed for the FAA and the effects these changes would have on air traffic control.

Rinaldi made clear, however, that NATCA believes the US must have a mission-driven model and that the organization opposes any model that derives profit from air traffic control services. He emphasized that NATCA cannot endorse a particular system without knowing all of the details and ensuring a seamless transition.

Read Rinaldi’s complete testimony.

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FAA fast tracks drone ‘cognoscenti’ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/faa-fast-tracks-drone-cognoscenti/ http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/2015/03/faa-fast-tracks-drone-cognoscenti/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 18:13:53 +0000 http://www.airtrafficmanagement.net/?p=28622 More ››]]> The Federal Aviation Administration has established an interim policy to speed up airspace authorsations for certain commercial unmanned aircraft (UAS) operators who obtain Section 333 exemptions.

The new policy helps bridge the gap between the past process, which evaluated every UAS operation individually, and future operations after it publishes a final version of the proposed small UAS rule.

Under the new policy, the FAA will grant a Certificate of Waiver or Authorisation (COA) for flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with a Section 333 exemption for aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds, operate during daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions, operate within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilots, and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports:

  • 5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
  • 3 NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
  • 2 NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
  • 2  NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure

The “blanket” 200-foot COA allows flights anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and other areas, such as major cities, where the FAA prohibits UAS operations. Previously, an operator had to apply for and receive a COA for a particular block of airspace, a process that can take 60 days. The agency expects the new policy will allow companies and individuals who want to use UAS within these limitations to start flying much more quickly than before.

Section 333 exemption holders will automatically receive a “blanket” 200 foot COA. For new exemption holders, the FAA will issue a COA at the time the exemption is approved. Anyone who wants to fly outside the blanket parameters must obtain a separate COA specific to the airspace required for that operation.

Get more information on the FAA and UAS on the FAA website.

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