To the Letter


Changing the geometry of a potential collision course

I just read the excellent article “Mid-Air Collision Avoidance While Flying” by Dave Loveman in Aviation Safety Letter (ASL) 1/2010, and I’d like to add a couple of points that I gleaned as a Royal Canadian Air Force interceptor pilot. Those of you who routinely fly aircraft with autopilots coupled to a GPS, take note!

The earmark of a collision course is that the angle between the aircraft about to collide remains constant and there is NO relative motion to attract your attention. An approaching aircraft that is drifting up, down, left or right in your window will be a lot easier to detect and you aren’t likely to collide! The danger with a true collision course is that it is very difficult to detect because the spot on the window is “frozen” and simply gets bigger and bigger until you hit it! The same phenomenon happens in the cockpit of the other aircraft as well.

What I try to do, particularly when flying cross-country, is avoid flying on a constant heading for more than a few minutes. I will alter my heading either left or right for a moment and then return. It gives me comfort to imagine that I’ve changed the geometry of a potential collision course. True, by “jinking” I may have just created a collision course, but hopefully my erratic flight will have caught the attention of the other pilots.

As a curiosity test, the next time you’re the passenger of a car driving in open country, try putting your finger over a converging vehicle and note the angular change.

George Porayko
St. Andrews, Man.

Flight test stress

I have been a professional pilot for many years and accumulated thousands of flying hours, both military and commercial. During my career, like all my colleagues, I was required to pass numerous written exams and flight tests. These are required to obtain the various licences and ratings needed not only to earn a living as a professional pilot but also to fly all types of private and recreational aircraft.

In conversations with other pilots and colleagues, it became clear that very few people enjoy flight tests. During a flight test, our abilities and knowledge are being put under a microscope. Even at the best of times, it can be difficult for some of us to relax and demonstrate our knowledge and proficiency under this kind of stress. Fortunately, most flight test examiners are fair and make you feel relaxed and comfortable. However, there are some who are intimidating, or make you feel like it is their duty to trip you up on something. This can be disconcerting for someone who feels capable, yet is nervous about the flight test.

I respect the role and the importance of flight test examiners, and I encourage them to put the candidates at ease before and during the flight.

Derek Brown
Moose Jaw, Sask.

Thank you for writing. The flight examiner’s responsibility is to ensure pilot licence holders are fully capable and qualified to exercise the privilege of their licence. It is Transport Canada’s policy within the Pilot Examiner Program that examiners should do their best not to intimidate the candidates. The Pilot Examiner Manual expresses the following policy:

“Pilot Examiners are professionals who can be counted on to be on time and to be well organized and business-like in their conduct of flight tests. They are polite and respectful toward flight test candidates.” —Ed.

Invest a few minutes into your safe return home this summer…

…by reviewing the requirements for flight plans and flight itineraries in Section RAC 3.6 of the Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual (TC AIM).

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