One of the biggest dangers facing helicopter crews around the world, and in current operational theaters in particular, is “brownout.” Rotor downwash can create clouds of sand and dust that obscure the pilot’s view at critical times, especially when landing. Snow and fog also bring their own low-visibility dangers.
The Nor’Easter that tore through the Northeast over the weekend caused flooding damage and power outages throughout the region and spurred New Jersey to declare a state of emergency. At Teterboro (N.J.) Airport, wind gusts of nearly 60 miles per hour were reported, knocking out power to the control tower and remote antenna transmitters around 6 p.m. Saturday, resulting in an immediate switch to back-up batteries.
In a November 7 response to a request by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the DOT Inspector General’s office reviewed a recent series of ATC equipment outages in Southern California, as well as a problem with a runway-incursion alerting system at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).