Dubai Air Show

Air Display Pilots' Briefing Makes Safety Paramount

 - November 14, 2011, 8:47 AM
The focus on safety is on full display at the daily briefing that all pilots, crews and coordinators attend. Shown here is a Dassault Rafale fighter. (Photo Mark Wagner)

“Safety first”: That’s the credo behind the daily flying display here at the Dubai Air Show, where some of the world’s greatest pilots are pushing their high-performance military aircraft to the limit right before visitors’ eyes. The focus on safety is on full display at the daily briefing that all pilots, crews and coordinators attend.

The briefing conducted on Saturday before the flying display’s final practice session illustrated the care and caution that go into what can look like death-defying performances. With 16 separate flight displays scheduled for the daily show, some involving multiple aircraft, close to 100 pilots, support crewmembers and airshow coordinators filled the briefing room in the shadow of the airshow control tower.

All participants had submitted their planned flight routines, which were reviewed and approved by the show Flying Control Committee headed by Brig. Gen. Khaled Bahussain, FCC Dubai Air Show 2011 chairman Brig. Gen. Khaled Bahussain. The pilots and crews had already studied the flight rules, flight display airspace, emergency procedures and other show details.

A meteorologist provided a picture of recent, current and expected weather conditions, using multiple satellite images and charts projected on the briefing room screen, enabling pilots to account for winds, visibility, cloud heights and other meteorological factors. Using aerial photos and charts, the briefing coordinator then reviewed the flight display area, radio frequencies to use, emergency procedures and flight limitations: No maneuvers initiated below 300 feet; recovery from vertical maneuvers by 60 feet above the ground; and the speed limit of Mach 0.90.

After a final admonition to fly safely and observe all rules the briefing ended, and flight crews left to prepare for a thrilling–and safe–aerial display.