Regulations and You

How an Everyday Event can Turn into a Dangerous

by Gavin Wyllie, Advisory and Appeals Officer, Policy and Regulatory Services, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

In this issue, the Advisory and Appeals Division wishes to share a case with our readers illustrating the importance of cooperation between pilots flying in the same vicinity, particularly at an uncontrolled airport without air traffic control. As usual, the names of the people involved have been omitted; our goal is simply to be educational.

The case is a recent decision from the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (TATC). In the case, the TATC stated that safety in aviation is everybody’s responsibility. The TATC further stated that everyone flying into, working at, and providing services at an uncontrolled airport bears this responsibility.

The facts centred on a daytime incident at a rural airport in Ont., which was serviced by radio through flight service station (FSS) specialists. These specialists were located in a town remote from the rural airport. A Learjet from the USA had been cleared by Toronto air traffic control for a runway northbound approach from the south at the rural airport north of Toronto. At the same time, a Cessna (Cessna 1) was flying in the circuit at the rural airport with a flying instructor and student at the controls. Following Cessna 1 in the circuit was another Cessna (Cessna 2) with the owner-passenger and his instructor on board. According to the testimony of the owner of Cessna 2, Cessna 1 turned towards the north end of the runway with a relatively steep angle of descent, instead of turning base. Cessna 2 stayed high and extended its downwind and base legs and eventually left the area.

The owner of Cessna 2 provided evidence that Cessna 1 had placed himself in a head-on situation with the Learjet. Cessna 2 was astounded by the bold actions of Cessna 1 in placing itself on a collision course with the Learjet in what appeared to be an “I’m here first” attitude.

One of the specialists at the remote location had asked Cessna 1 by radio to do a missed approach but received no response. According to the compelling testimony of the co-pilot of the Learjet, at the last moment, Cessna 1 pulled up sharply and passed directly over the Learjet at an estimated 50 ft. The Learjet was on its rollout. The co-pilot of the Learjet had heard a specialist asking Cessna 1 to break off its approach to accommodate the incoming jet. The co-pilot also added that it would have been too dangerous for the Learjet to have done a missed approach as an avoidance manoeuvre.

The Tribunal Member weighed the testimony of the three eyewitnesses who were pilots: the Learjet co-pilot and the two pilots in Cessna 2. These witnesses all placed Cessna 1 about 50 ft above the Learjet on the active runway and provided evidence that there had been a risk of collision due to proximity attributable to Cessna 1. The two witnesses for the Cessna 1 owner included an airport employee and the student pilot aboard Cessna 1. The TATC determined that the airport employee did not see the crucial part of the incident, as Cessna 1 overflew the Lear. The student pilot testified that he never descended below 600 ft AGL and that he climbed to a point half a mile west of the runway at the critical time. This version of the events was not accepted by the TATC, which found the student pilot to have little credibility and did not accept his version of the events because it was the only one quite different to every other witness of the event.

The flight instructor and his student in Cessna 1, doing the abrupt short final making a beeline for the north end of the runway, were found by the TATC to have intentionally flown in close proximity to the Learjet and were found to have created a risk of collision. Evidence was given that the pilot had informed one of the specialists that Cessna 1, which was already in the circuit, was not being considered by the incoming Learjet. The TATC found that everyone did their best to fly safely except the flight instructor in Cessna 1, who had some 20 000 hr of flying time and had to bear responsibility for this event.

A monetary penalty of $5,000, for the contravention of section 602.12 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs), was assessed by the Minister of Transport (Minister). Section 602.12 of the CARs prohibits a person from operating an aircraft in such proximity to another aircraft as to create a risk of collision. The penalty assessed by the Minister was upheld by the Tribunal. It should be noted that the rural airport was the home base of operations for the Cessna 1 instructor’s flying school.

In conclusion, there is clearly no room for the pilot to position his aircraft in direct conflict with another aircraft during a landing when a missed approach or an extended downwind leg to accommodate would have been a reasonable response to the situation. The “statement” or action by Cessna 1, the slower-moving local aircraft, was inappropriate, violated aviation safety standards and warranted the penalty assessed by the Minister.

Updates on TAWS and EWH to prevent CFIT!

Here is a quick update on Terrain Avoidance Warning Systems (TAWS), and eye-to-wheel height (EWH) information, and the crucial roles these play in controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) prevention.

Advisory Circular 600-003 on TAWS

TAWS stands for Terrain Awareness Warning System. This equipment provides aural and visual alerts (both cautions and warnings) to flight crew when the path of the aircraft is predicted to collide with terrain (in some systems, also with obstacles), and this allows flight crews sufficient time to take action.

Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) is proposing regulations that require the installation and operation of TAWS for Commercial Air Taxi, Commuter and Airline Operations (Subparts 703, 704 and 705 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations [CARs]) and Private Operators (Subpart 604 of the CARs) to prevent controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accidents. TCCA recently issued Advisory Circular (AC) #600-003, to update industry on the current status and implementation dates of the TAWS regulations. Read the complete AC at www.tc.gc.ca/media/documents/ca-opssvs/ac-600-003.pdf.

TC AIM update on approach slope indicator systems, specifically on eye-to-wheel height (EWH) information

The October 2011 issue of the TC AIM included a significant update of Section AGA 7.6—Approach Slope Indicator Systems; specifically, detailed information on EWH information has been added. Readers will recall that EWH was a significant issue in the accident involving a Canadair Global 5000 at Fox Harbor, N.S., on November 11, 2007 (TSB File A07A0134, which was summarized in ASL Issue 1/2011). Take a few minutes to read AIM Section AGA 7.6 at www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/publications/tp14371-aga-7-0-3097.htm#7-6.

Graph of Plane landing

Worth Watching—Again! Black-holes and Little Grey Cells—
Spatial Disorientation During NVFR

This excellent aviation safety video was produced in 2000, and it addresses Night Visual Flight Rules (NVFR), black-hole illusion, somatogravic illusion and other traps and challenges facing pilots flying VFR at night. The video also contains some recommended procedures and practices that will assist pilots in making their night VFR flights as safe as possible. It has been available on the Transport Canada Web site in streaming video format for many years now at www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/publications/TP13838-5810.htm. Take a few minutes to watch it, and if you have already seen it, then, watch it again! Time well spent!

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