Switzerland has the notoriously difficult approach over the mountains into Lugano Airport. In England, it’s London City’s steep 5.5-degree glideslope to touchdown that can really test an aviator’s skills. And of course, the dead-end approach into Greenland’s Kangerlssaq Airport in the Sondrestrom Fjord can be a doozy when the weather turns bad.
The FAA plans to start introducing instrument approaches using its Wide Area Augmentation System on July 10, bringing much higher levels of accuracy, signal availability and approach performance to GPS-based satnav. WAAS avionics now entering the market herald the end of today’s “dive and drive” nonprecision approaches, replacing them with two new procedures.
Cessna 208B Caravan, Alliance, Neb., Feb. 8, 2007–The Caravan pilot’s descent below minimum descent altitude on a nonprecision approach caused this crash, according to the NTSB. A contributing factor was a low ceiling (reported weather was 1.25 miles visibility and a 200-foot overcast in mist).
Embraer E170, Cleveland, Ohio, Feb.
Before GPS, approach classifications were cut and dried–they were either precision (ILS) or nonprecision approaches. But as pilots move into the future, they will need, before considering an approach into an “obstacle-rich environment,” to first navigate through an acronym-rich environment of new terminology to decide how to reach the threshold.
The enhanced vision system (EVS)–a tiny infrared camera that marries an image of the world outside the airplane to the head-up display–could easily be listed as one of the most important aviation safety innovations of the last 20 years.
BOEING 737-200, PATNA, INDIA, JULY 17, 2000–What causes a flight crew to lose control of their aircraft, without mechanical failure as a catalyst, and stall on final approach in visual conditions? While we can never fully navigate a pilot’s psyche, a court of inquiry formed by the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation recently released its findings into just such an accident.
After many years of diligent, and what must often have been discouraging, marketing efforts by their manufacturers, sales of head-up displays (HUD) have now taken off and are climbing rapidly. The main impetus behind this is the recognition by the airlines that HUD confers unique operational and cost benefits that are simply not available in the standard flight deck.
The SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) program to define and implement a new air traffic management system for the Single European Sky (SES) presents an opportunity for all stakeholders to work together to develop a common concept of operations (ConOps, in Eurocontrol jargon).
For a glimpse into aviation’s future one need look no farther than Seattle Boeing Field, the home of a specially modified Boeing 737-900 outfitted with an array of experimental avionics and flight controls. For much of the spring Boeing has been inviting select groups of airline representatives aboard its technology demonstrator for flights to Moses Lake Airfield in Central Washington to showcase the cutting-edge systems.