Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Brazilian Mid-Air Collision Update

First the news from Aviation Week.

Legacy Pilots Guilty On 1 Count, Says Judge

”A Brazilian federal judge on May 16 sentenced two ExcelAire pilots to four years and four months of community service after finding the pilots guilty on one criminal charge stemming from the Sept. 29, 2006 midair collision of their Embraer Legacy 600 with a GOL Airlines Boeing 737.

The pilots, Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, were found guilty of a failure to notice that their aircraft’s traffic collision alert and avoidance system was disengaged prior to the crash.”

For those that need to refresh their memories, we’re talking about the Mid-air collision involving GOL1907 over the Amazon in 2006.

Now, for the thinking.

Federal Aviation Administration -- Aircraft and Operator Requirements Solution Set Smart Sheet

Aircraft Separation

The successful implementation of trajectory-based operations will reduce the dependence of the NAS (National Airspace System) on surveillance.  Separation will typically be achieved by strategic separation of trajectory, rather than tactical separation through surveillance.  However, surveillance will continue to play an important role in monitoring compliance to trajectories, detecting blunders, and mitigating unexpected failures of aircraft or facilities.  In some instances, separation by the ANSP (Air Navigation Service Provider) will not be sufficient.  Such instances include closely-spaced parallel approaches, certain crossing traffic and climbing/passing traffic situations, along with operations outside controlled airspace.  In these instances, NextGen will include a transfer of separation responsibility to the flight crew, analogous to how responsibility is transferred in visual conditions today.”

(Emphasis added)

There are a hundred different things to think about here.

Precision caused collision?
Human Factors on warning that a switch (Transponder) is off?
How concerned should a pilot be about legal liability -- in a mid-air?
Will failure to maintain required separation result in enforcement action?

Have fun thinking.

Don Brown
May 18, 2011

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