Wilson Construction operates fleet of 3 airplanes and 7 helos based at UAO (Aurora OR). With the company’s Bombardier Challenger 300, Beech King Air 350 and MD 500E are (L–R) Hangar Mgr Juan Aguilar, F/W Mx Dir Tom Anders, F/W Capt Thomas Call, F/W Chief Pilot Gabriel Miller, R/W Mx Dir Brett Vaughters, R/W Ops Dir & Chief Pilot Ron Stewart, Pres Don Wilson, and VP Stacy Wilson.
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Features 14 SITUATIONAL AWARENESS Overheat detection equipment by Glenn Connor New system by Saab Avionics uses fiber optic sensors for engine and bleed air temperature measurements.
18 AUTOMATION Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System by Don Witt US Air Force Auto GCAS saves lives and airframes. A similar system could be used in civilian aircraft. 24 FLIGHT DEPARTMENT PROFILE Wilson Construction by Brent Bundy Operator flies 3 planes and 7 helos to support electrical utility services activity.
30 COTS SMA Special mission aircraft by Don Van Dyke Suitably modified and equipped business aircraft serve as effective, reliable and efficient platforms in variety of roles. 36 EVENT COVERAGE Schedulers & Dispatchers 2020 by Pro Pilot staff Ground service providers convention celebrated in Charlotte NC.
38 WX BRIEF Terminal aerodrome forecast by Karsten Shein Airport forecasting reports are important weather tools for pilots. 42 GLOBAL ECONOMY Sustainable growth by Dennis Bushnell Financially advantageous approaches to preserve the ecosystem.
46 INTERNATIONAL OPS Australia and New Zealand by Grant McLaren Understanding ADS-B and Transportation Security Program requirements is crucial when operating GA aircraft here.
4 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / April 2020
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8 TERMINAL CHECKLIST Quiz on procedures when flying into ABQ (Albuquerque NM). Answers on page 10.
12 SQUAWK IDENT Pro Pilot readers explain why turboprops are better suited for some of their missions.
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Cover Wilson Construction operates fleet of 3 airplanes and 7 helos based at UAO (Aurora OR). With the company’s Bombardier Challenger 300, Beech King Air 350 and MD 500E are (L–R) Hangar Mgr Juan Aguilar, F/W Mx Dir Tom Anders, F/W Capt Thomas Call, F/W Chief Pilot Gabriel Miller, R/W Mx Dir Brett Vaughters, R/W Ops Dir & Chief Pilot Ron Stewart, Pres Don Wilson, and VP Stacy Wilson. Photo by Brent Bundy.
6 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / April 2020
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Terminal Checklist Answers on page 10 4/20
5. An aircraft at FL250 receives a “descend via” clearance at ESPAN. If, after passing DETEC, ATC issues a clearance to “descend and maintain 12,000,” the flight should comply with the published altitude restriction at VLCNO before descending to 12,000 ft MSL. a True b False 6. Select the true statement(s) that apply to receiving a “descend via the SNDIA Arrival” clearance from Albuquerque Center at TAMEY. a Center may assign Rwy 3 as the landing runway. b The aircraft must be at 270 kts and between FL280 and FL200 at FITEE. c The aircraft may be at any altitude above the MEA of 13,100 ft MSL on the route from FITEE. d The aircraft is not expected to comply with the speed restriction at VLCNO unless cleared for the holding pattern.
Not to be used for navigational purposes
Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson. Reduced for illustrative purposes.
4. Select the true statement(s) regarding obstacle and terrain clearance for this STAR. a The Grid MORA of 14,300 provides obstacle/terrain clearance of 1000 ft. b The MSA of 9100 ft MSL provides obstacle/terrain clearance of 1000 ft within 25 nm west of ABQ VOR. c The MSA of 11,900 ft MSL provides obstacle/terrain clearance of 2000 ft within 25 nm east of ABQ VOR. d The Grid MORA of 12,900 ft MSL provides 2000 ft clearance only within 25 nm southwest of the ABQ VOR.
When programming the navigation equipment to fly this STAR, waypoints may be selected from the database and manually inserted. a True b False
1. Select the item(s) required for this STAR. a Radar. e Special authorization. b RNAV 1. f GPS or DME/DME/IRU. c SAF DME. g Autopilot in lateral navigation mode. d Turbojet aircraft.
Refer to the 10-2H SNDIA 3 RNAV ARRIVAL for KABQ/ABQ (Albuquerque NM) when necessary to answer the following questions:
2. Which of the following is a maximum error limitation that applies to the RNAV 1 equipment requirements to fly the STAR? a Cross-track error/deviation: limited to 1 nm. b Cross-track error/deviation: limited to 0.5 nm. c RNAV system error: not more than 1 nm for 95% of the total flight time. d RNAV system error: not more than 0.5 nm for 95% of the total flight time.
diately initiate a descent to 14,000 ft MSL and after passing VLCNO, comply with the lower published altitude restrictions on the chart. a True b False 9. Which procedures apply to flying the STAR routing and landing at ABQ? a Fly at track of 193° from SNDIA to ASIDE. b Maintain 210 kts and a minimum altitude of 9000 ft MSL at CRSTN. c Maintain an airspeed 210 kts or less at a mandatory altitude of 9000 ft MSL at CADAT. d At CRSTN, expect RNAV (RNP) approach or radar vectors to the final approach course for Rwy 3 or 8. e At CADAT, expect RNAV (RNP) approach or radar vectors to the final approach course for Rwy 3 or 8.
7. ARTCC issues a “descend via” clearance at TAMEY. “Descend- 10. Select all that apply. After reaching VLCNO, ATC issues ing on the SNDIA Three Arrival” is an appropriate way to verify a clearance to fly a heading of 180°. The pilot should____ to approach control that a “descend via” clearance was issued. a consider the STAR canceled. a True b False b modify the route in the RNAV system. c maintain RNAV 1 accuracy requirements. 8. If ATC issues the clearance “descend via SNDIA Three d prepare to intercept the route of 109° from ASIDE to Arrival, except maintain 14,000,” the flight should imme- CADAT. 8 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / April 2020
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Answers to TC 4/20 questions 1.
a, b, d, f The procedural notes in the Briefing Strip indicate that DME/DME/ IRU or GPS, RNAV 1, and radar are required, and the arrival is for turbojet aircraft only. No special authorization is required. AC 90-100A, US Terminal and En Route Area Navigation (RNAV) Operations, states that “pilots must use a lateral deviation indicator (or equivalent navigation map display), flight director and/or autopilot in lateral navigation mode on RNAV 1 routes.”
b, c AC 90-100A states RNAV 1 equipment requirements. Aircraft operating on RNAV 1 STARs and SIDs must maintain a total system error of not more than 1 nm for 95% of the total flight time. Cross-track error/deviation must be limited to 0.5 nm.
a AC 90-100A lists criteria for requesting or filing RNAV routes or procedures. RNAV STARs must be retrieved by procedure name from the onboard navigation database and conform to the charted procedure. Whenever possible, RNAV routes should be extracted from the database in their entirety. However, selecting and inserting individual named fixes from the database is permitted, provided all fixes along the published route to be flown are inserted, and waypoints are not entered using latitude/longitude or place/bearing.
b MORAs are represented in abbreviated form by indicating the thousands figures plus the first hundred figure in smaller character. On Jeppesen charts, all MORA altitudes that are 5000 ft or lower have an obstacle clearance of 1000 ft. MORA altitudes that are 5001 ft or greater have an obstacle clearance of 2000 ft. Grid MORAs are charted for the To-Scale portion of STAR charts based on grids formed by 30 minutes or 1 degree of latitude/longitude. The minimum safe/sector altitude (MSA) provides 1000 ft of obstacle/terrain clearance in an emergency situation. The MSA of 9100 ft MSL is depicted in magenta for the sector west of ABQ VOR bounded by the 020° and 200° bearings.
b Unlike a “descend via” clearance, when cleared to “descend and maintain,” the aircraft is expected to vacate its current altitude and begin an unrestricted descent to comply with the clearance. For aircraft already descending via a STAR, published altitude restrictions are canceled unless re-issued by ATC.
6. b According to FAA document Climb Via/Descend Via Speed Clearances Frequently Asked Questions, ARTCCs cannot assign a landing runway but
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may issue the “runway transition” with the “descend via” clearance. The approach (TRACON) controller will assign the actual or expected landing runway. A “descend via” clearance means that the aircraft is expected to comply with the lateral path of the STAR and with all published altitude and speed restrictions. Therefore, the speed restrictions of 270 kts and 250 kts at FITEE and VLNCO, respectively, apply regardless of whether the aircraft is holding. At FITEE, the aircraft must be between FL280 and FL200. The aircraft must not descend below 14,000 ft MSL after passing FITEE because it must arrive at VLNCO between 16,000 ft MSL and 14,000 ft MSL.
b When changing frequency, pilots must advise ATC on initial contact of current altitude, and state “descending via” with the procedure name, and runway transitions, if assigned. FAA Information for Operators 14003 states phrases such as “on the” or “descending on” a procedure are not acceptable and can create miscommunication and additional workload with unnecessary controller queries.
8. b If a flight is cleared to “descend via” a STAR, but the controller adds “except maintain (altitude)” the pilot must comply with all published altitude and speed constraints until reaching the assigned altitude, unless explicitly canceled by ATC. In this case, the aircraft must maintain 14,000 ft MSL after passing VLCNO. AIM 5−4−1 provides examples of arrival clearances and describes compliance actions. 9. a, c, d The plan view and routing description indicate a track of 193° from SNDIA to VLNCO and then to ASIDE. A mandatory altitude of 9000 ft MSL (as shown by the blue lines above and below 9000) applies to both CRSTN and CADAT. However, the 210-kt airspeed restriction at CRSTN is mandatory as indicated by “At” while 210 kts is the maximum airspeed allowed at CADAT. Information on both the plan view and in the landing instructions indicates that an RNAV (RNP) approach clearance or radar vectors are expected to Rwy 3 or 8 at CRSTN and Rwy 21 or 26 at CADAT. 10.
a According to the AIM 5–4–1, if vectored or cleared to deviate off of a STAR, pilots must consider the STAR canceled, unless the controller adds “expect to resume STAR.” The pilot should not modify the route in the RNAV system until a clearance is received to rejoin the procedure or the controller confirms a new route clearance. When the aircraft is not on the published procedure, the specified accuracy requirements (in this case RNAV 1) do not apply.
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ur average stage length is 315 nm. We have had Hawker, Learjet, and Gulfstream aircraft in our fleet. We have found that the operational costs are much better with turboprops. We currently operate a Pilatus PC-12, and have a Cessna Denali and an XTI TriFan 600 on order. Mark Verville ATP. Pilatus PC-12 Managing Director APEX Global Ventures Coronado CA
A Do you have a turboprop in your fleet? What advantages does it have over jets of comparable size?
fly a King Air 200. It is particularly great for landing/taking off from short runways of 4000 ft or so. It also has an aft baggage area that stores up to 400 lb and does not require that the bags be taken in through the cabin. Also, it’s much more economical to operate than a jet because it is single-pilot. John Pulis ATP. King Air 200 Chief Pilot Air Time Willis TX
e have been operating a King Air 200 for the past 10 years, and have found it to be the perfect platform for our mission envelope. Our longest legs generally run about 2.3 hours 1-way. When calculating flight times compared to a small or medium jet, there is very little difference. In addition, the direct operating costs are much lower concerning fuel, maintenance, and insurance. We just purchased our 3rd King Air B200, and can’t conceive of moving into anything else. We have been very happy with the B200. Charles Hackett Comm-Multi-Inst. King Air B200 Chief Pilot Blue Sevens Denton TX
Pilatus PC-12 has a bigger cabin than small jets, and fuel costs are lower. Jerry Harris Pvt-Inst. Pilatus PC-12 Owner & Pilot Mallard Haven Church Creek MD
or an air ambulance, I fly a Pilatus PC-12. Nothing comes close to the Pilatus regarding economy and utility. We travel fast while carrying a good amount of weight. Also, we can get into airports that have a very short runway without a problem. Lloyd Sharp ATP. Pilatus PC-12 Life Flight Pilot Metro Aviation Eagle Point OR
e work with a Daher TBM 910, and it’s fast and reliable. Its loading is so much easier than a light jet. For example, 6 passengers and their luggage will go nearly 1000 nm, or 3–4 passengers can go nearly 1500 nm at cruise speeds of over 320 kts. TBMs are very versatile aircraft. Also, the Garmin G1000 NXi installed is very user-friendly. Rhett Butler ATP/CFII. TBM 910/850 Instructor SIMCOM Aviation Training Scottsdale AZ
t my previous job, a Part 91 activity, the owner had a jet and a turboprop – a Kodiak 100, which is a strong workhorse. The main purpose of the turboprop was to get the owner and his personal effects in and out of his private ranch,
which has a 1500-ft grass airstrip. Obviously, the jet was never able to carry out this mission. Arnoldo Rojas ATP. Legacy 500 & Phenom 300 Pilot Elite Jets Naples FL
onducting scheduled and charter operations on 30-pax aircraft to fixed destinations would not gain any significant performance or speed advantage from a jet aircraft. Instead, having a jet aircraft would result in much higher fuel and maintenance costs for the end customer. Brandon Eastin ATP. Embraer EMB-120 Captain Phoenix Air Group Cartersville GA
ur company operates a pair of King Air B200s in a 5-state territory of the western Rocky Mountains. These aircraft offer excellent high-altitude/high-temperature performance for the mountain airports that we use, with proven load-carrying capability. The main reason we prefer the King Air is its shortfield capability, even on contaminated runways. Barry Hitt ATP. King Air B200 Chief Pilot Tri-State G&T Westminster CO
t Horizon Air we have the Q400. It’s fuel efficient for the numerous short routes that we fly. Also, the instant power from the props in gusty winds versus a jet’s slower spool-up time is a great advantage. Alan Dutton ATP. Bombardier Q400 Captain Horizon Air Troutdale OR
urboprops can go into smaller fields, they cost less to operate, and ramp fees, insurance, and training costs are lower. Allen Lambert ATP/Helo. King Air 200/ Beechjet 400 Pilot Allen Lambert Pilot Service Roanoke VA
Ou tec Off EF we red
12 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / April 2020
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ur fleet consists of Pilatus PC12s and Cessna Citation CJ3s. The Pilatus is essential to our business success. It’s extremely versatile, being as comfortable flying into St Barthélemy as it is into JFK. A jet is always going to need a long flat piece of pavement, but that’s not the case for a PC-12. Maxwell Maroney Comm-Multi-Inst. Pilatus PC-12 Instructor & Captain Tradewind Aviation Danbury CT
e operate a King Air B200 with Blackhawk 52 engines and Garmin G1000 avionics. We consistently see 304 kts TAS and frequently use all 9 seats. We operate primarily in the western US and from high-density-altitude airports, and very few of our flights cover more than 500 nm. The King Air serves our needs well. Also, since we’re in the public domain, a TP has a more conservative ramp pres-
ence than a jet. This is important to us when critics are looking for any perceived excess in spending. Compared to our TP, 9-seat jets always have slightly higher operating costs. Keven Christopherson ATP/CFI. King Air B200 Chief Pilot PacifiCorp South Jordan UT
irst and foremost is purchase price. Second is the plane’s type of mission, eg, gravel or paved strip. Third would be runway length. For example, a turboprop will be more cost-effective to buy and operate below 300 nm than any jet. In addition, direct operating costs, residual values, and other factors need to be taken into consideration in a sideby-side comparison. René Armas ATP. Challenger 650 Pilot Jet Link International Montréal QC, Canada
urboprops are great because of their payload capability. Also, they perform exceptionally well in shorter-field operations. Tim Riley ATP/CFI. Pilatus PC-12 Captain Bay of Dreams Leasing San Diego CA
ur fleet of 13 aircraft includes 2 King Air 350s and 3 Pilatus PC12s at SUS (Chesterfield MO), and a King Air 200 at SGF (Springfield MO). Operating costs are lower for 300– 500-mile missions, especially in the PC-12s. Turboprops have much better short-field capabilities. Our market expands to smaller groups and companies when chartering turboprops. This allows us to serve a diverse group of clients with different mission types. Aaron Rye ATP. King Air 300/Beechjet 400 Dir of Safety & Captain Aero Charter Ballwin MO
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Overheat detection equipment New system by Saab Avionics uses fiber optic sensors for engine and bleed air temperature measurements.
OHDU1 on LHS, frame XX
Valve position Optical sensing line Optical connector Optical transmission line
Image courtesy Saab
OHDU2 on RHS, frame XX
Saab’s Overheat Detection System consists of a fiber optic sensing line placed near the engines and bleed air ducts, and includes optical integrators and processing hardware and software for collecting data and control.
By Glenn Connor ATP. Cessna 425 President, Discover Technology Intl
key to knowing your airplane is monitoring how your engines are doing, especially when they get hot. For small single-engine aircraft, the status of just a few things tells you what the engine is up to – literally – in terms of running and exhaust gas temperatures. The development of engine efficiency has led to higher operating temperatures, and engine installations now often include some complexity due to the use of composite materials. There is a physical challenge of having enough strategically-placed engine and overheat temperature sensors to help detect bleed air loss,
which is a serious concern in more modern aircraft designs. Saab Avionics’ timely announcement at NBAABACE 2019 unveiled a solution – the comapny’s new fiber optic-based Overheat Detection System (OHDS). This is a significantly lighter system with fewer components than conventional setups, thus saving weight and providing a new way of delivering large amounts of information to feed the analytics for maintenance forecasting.
Origins of Saab’s OHDS Saab began developing OHDS in 2013 as part of the Gripen program. The Gripen is Saab’s most recent fighter aircraft. It incorporates a number of Saab innovations, including flight controls, structures,
and avionics. There was a need for monitoring bleed air ducting, especially in areas where bleed air and composites were used. Rather than using a conventional approach that would include numerous components, thus adding too much weight, Saab decided to use what are called Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors – a string of temperature sensors engraved along a fiber optic line, coupled to a unique optical digital processor. Operation of the FBG sensors allows changes in temperature to be measured in wavelength and correlated with temperature. The lightweight nature of the Saab design also enables more of the components spread around the entire aircraft to cover and monitor more areas of the engine and bleed air compartments. The OHDS solution reduces the total number of components by up to 90% compared to conventional systems, and reduces weight by 80% – both highly significant factors in aviation. Saab saw that OHDS was a perfect new technology that could transition to commercial aviation, and the company received its first order from
14 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / April 2020
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Conventional continuous loop system for fire detection and overheat warning utilizes well established thermistors and robust cables and brackets.
Airbus for the A350. The manufacturer was so pleased with the new system that it awarded Saab its prestigious Airbus Innovation Award for OHDS.
Conventional OHDS In any turbine aircraft, systems are installed for overheat sensing, rate of rise of extreme temperatures, and, of course, flame detection. Furthermore, for each aircraft, there are several types of systems in different locations, which also consist of multiple detector sensors. These include what is called a continuous loop system, which works to provide a more complete area of coverage. Typically, modern bizjets have a dual loop fire detection system that is set to alarm based on a given temperature limit. The bleed air systems are monitored by thermal switches for high temperatures. As is clear from a physical inspection beneath the skin of the aircraft, each of these systems requires many components, such as mechanical tubes, brackets, and other large elements. The actual temperature sensors for aircraft are tried and true devices, generally based on older foundations. The most typical heat sensor for aircraft is a tube packed with thermally sensitive eutectic salt and
a nickel wire center conductor. If high temperature or overheat are detected, the resistance of the eutectic salt drops, enabling flow of electrical current to provide the alarm. Multiple temperature sensors can be connected to a controller which processes the alerts or alarms to be sent to the flightdeck. Thermocouples are another classic type of temperature sensor. If the temperature rises rapidly, the thermocouple produces a voltage back to the cockpit, activating a fire warning circuit. The one common challenge faced by all of the conventional fire detection systems and OHDS is how to get sensors in as many places as possible, including the odd areas of the engine or bleed air systems, without the significant cost in wire and supporting components.
A solution by Saab Saab’s OHDS is different. It uses a lightweight fiber optical line that has temperature sensors engraved at different lengths of the fiber optic cable. This strand of sensors can then be placed throughout the bleed air ducts and in and around composite structures, as well as in engine areas. The magic of the Saab OHDS comes in 2 parts – its use of FBG sensors placed along the length of the fiber
optic cable, and an electro-optical control unit for integrating and processing continuous temperature data. Connected to the optical fiber is an optical interrogator that produces and reads the optical signals over the entire length of the fiber line. Optical interrogators are small electronics that manage the data moving across the fiber optic line for use by the processing hardware and software. This component is also where communications with the temperature data and the aircraft avionics are accomplished via digital databus. The Saab OHDS power requirements are minimal, at 28 VDC. The installation or routing of sensor cables follows the bleed air duct routing. So, in practice, the use of the Saab OHDS provides the exact location of a bleed air overheat event, saving the detective work of guessing at the general location of the fault in the aircraft, which is what conventional single-point location sensors allow for.
Bragg spectrometer In aviation, as technology evolves, we get exposed to new fancy-sounding words, and a Fiber Bragg Grating is one of these new terms. What an FBG does is actually simple – chang-
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Photo courtesy Airbus
Saab received the Airbus Innovation Award in recognition of its OHDS being selected for the Airbus A350.
Well received attributes
Fiber optics, used as part of the Saab OHDS, operate with Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors in such a way that temperature changes can be measured in wavelength and correlated with temperature.
es in temperature will change the reflected light moving along a fiber optic cable, which in turn can be correlated to a temperature. With a control unit that pulses light continuously through the fiber, wavelengths of light can be converted to data that relates to temperature with a high degree of accuracy of both location and temperature measurement. What is also interesting is that these types of FBG sensor can also be used to measure pressure or strain. In fact, FBG has been in use in extremely harsh environments such as seismology, and even as downhole sensors in oil and gas wells for measurement of the effects of external pressure and temperature.
Additional new features of Saab’s OHDS include reliability, low-cost redundancy, ease of integration, and the ability to add numerous temperature sensors along the length of the fiber optic line. Since the actual temperature data is gathered by light, the distance to connections does not impair the data, so future implementations may be very clever in nature all around the aircraft. The Saab OHDS is also designed to react to a set alarm threshold, and allows for fault location to a high degree of accuracy, as well as for tracing trends. Another function of the new Saab OHDS is the ability to supply data logs regarding engine operation. The ability to track engine temperatures and excursions from the norm enables forecasting of both trends and preventative maintenance.
Chasing the flame One of the most fearful things that can be said on a flightdeck is “Fire!” The results of a fire of any kind in a modern aircraft are so horrendous that fire and overheat detection systems are put everywhere from the wheel well to the cargo bay, and from the APU to bleed air systems, and, of course, all over the engine compartment. The use of composite structures is a challenge to conventional fire and overheat detection systems, with sensor location mostly determined by an educated guess
based on the nearest heat source – which is totally logical. But what if you miss a spot? For the most part, the technology of commercial aviation overheat and fire sensing has been advanced along the margins with no real breakthroughs – until now. The use of modern fiber optic cable etched with FBG sensors all along its length takes science-fiction-sounding terminology and creates an award-winning new product by Saab Avionics. In any aircraft system, an 80% reduction in weight is stunning. In addition, when you can reduce your parts count by 90%, you have a more productive aircraft. There is a tiny glass-like cable in the future of the modern airplane. Serpentine around the engines, nacelle, bleed air ducts, APU, and other places where its sensors will live inconspicuously, providing real-time data for the moment, and predictions of things to come. And the light-pulsing device that is part of the OHDS will be gathering huge amounts of data that can be shipped out to forecast the future of your aircraft’s health, as well as yours. Glenn Connor is president of Discov er Technology Intl. He is a pilot and a researcher specializ ing in the develop ment of enhanced vision systems and advanced avionics.
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Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System US Air Force F-16 Auto GCAS saves lives and airframes. A similar system could work in commercial aircraft.
Image courtesy Lockheed Martin
F-35 Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System
By Don Witt
ATP. Learjet series, Airbus A320, Boeing 737, Boeing 757/767
he aviation community still searches for a solution to the deadly problem of loss of control inflight (LOC-I). In civilian aviation, LOC-I continues to result in more fatalities than any other accident category. Many factors open the door to LOC-I. It might be vertigo or loss of orientation, as in the Airbus A320 dive to the sea off Sochi in 2006; it could also be flight control malfunctions like the past rudder handovers in Boeing 737s at COS (Colorado Springs CO) and PIT (Pittsburgh PA), or the more recent Boeing 737 MAX accidents. There are many causes of civil LOC-I fatal accidents, but, in nearly all cases, the flightcrew members are conscious and fighting for control, or grasping for the situational awareness needed for survival. On the other hand, military fighter pilots in recent years have most frequently died due to loss of consciousness when the pilot experiences G-LOC
Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System in Lockheed Martin F-35 combat aircraft.
– loss of consciousness due to sustained very high G forces. These pilots literally die in their sleep. Fortunately, G-LOC will never be a cause of airline or bizjet accidents, because such aircraft cannot generate or sustain enough G to put their pilots to sleep. However, modern jet fighters are capable of sustaining G forces that are right at human physical limits, and many hours in training, not to mention actual combat, are spent in just that regime. What is common to both civilian and military fighter jet accidents is an aircraft effectively out of control plunging into the ground. The good news is that the military, specifically Lockheed Martin, NASA, and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), have found a solution for their side of the street, and just maybe some day it will work on the civilian side too, providing automatic recovery from loss of control safely before ground contact.
G-LOC – a silent killer Even in World War II, piston-engine fighters could sustain enough G to bring a pilot to “gray out” or “black out.” Some Spitfires had a bar above the rudder pedals so the pilot could move his feet up, raising his legs and helping him keep enough blood flowing vertically up to the brain and eyes in hard turning fights. For the same reason, modern F-16s have reclined ejection seats. In the Vietnam era, front-line fighters could generate upwards of 9 Gs momentarily at higher speeds, but they could not sustain it. An F-4, however, could sustain a steady 6 Gs, but that was usually in a descent. The main problem for a pilot at 6 Gs was that, if he turned around to see if an opponent was behind and tracking him, his head would fall against the canopy and he could only return it forward with a lot of difficulty. With the F-16 came the ability to
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sustain more than 9 Gs in a turn. Unfortunately, at this level of sustained G force, loss of consciousness can come suddenly and without warning. In an F-4, tunnel vision and loss of vision at 6 Gs were clear warnings that loss of conscious¬ness was next, but sometimes those warnings are not perceived in time, or even at all, at 9 Gs in an F-16. Suddenly, the pilot is just gone. Worse yet, he may be gone for a considerable time. That could be 10 or even 20 seconds, which may not sound like much time, but at 600 kts it’s plenty of time to reach the ground. In fact, 75% of F-16 crashes have been due to G-LOC. What to do? A long period of development by Lockheed, NASA, and AFRL led to an amazingly successful technical solution to the problem – Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS), a computer program constantly running constantly during flight. It projects the aircraft’s current trajectory and “looks” at a precise detailed map of the terrain (Digital Terrain Elevation Data [DTED]) to compute a potential crash. Obviously, Auto GCAS doesn’t know if a pilot is conscious or not, but if the flightpath is headed at the cold hard ground, it will wait until the last possible moment (so as not to interrupt something the pilot is actually trying to do) and then roll the aircraft right side up and pull hard until the flightpath is safe again.
Taking it to the limit Perhaps the most difficult aspect when developing Auto GCAS was refining the program so it wouldn’t unnecessarily interrupt something like a low-altitude strafing pass by being overly “cautious.” In fact, one of the saves Auto GCAS achieved in combat was during a relatively low but steep strafing pass when the pilot was apparently target fixated. I can relate to such an event because I was abruptly yanked out of a strafing pass, not by a computer, but by my back seater. At the moment, I had lost all contact with reality. Fortunately, my “guy in the back” put 9.5 Gs on the meter in his pull up, and we very narrowly missed the targeted truck and the ground beyond. Although most F-16 pilots do not have the luxury of a back seater, now they have Auto GCAS.
USAF technicians are considering it for the branch’s large aircraft, tankers, transports, and heavy bombers. So, why not install a similar system in airliners and bizjets with fly-bywire (FBW) technology? In the case of LOC-I accidents, civilian pilots collide with the terrain because they can’t help it, and CFIT accidents happen because they don’t know the ground is there. Auto GCAS could prevent either event because it does not care why an aircraft is hurtling toward terrain – it just acts. Sadly, current civilian Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems (EGPWS) do not automatically recover an aircraft from flight into terrain. In fact, the guidance in an EGPWS manual is not even very specific about how the pilots should effect such a recovery. F-16s of the Air National Guard 162nd Wing, Tucson AZ. These aircraft can sustain forces greater than 9 Gs in fight.
The Air National Guard 162nd Wing, based at Morris ANGB in Tucson AZ, does a great deal of F-16 training. In fact, the F-16 Auto GCAS save video found on YouTube, declassified by the USAF, occurred in its training program. If Auto GCAS was viewed skeptically by pilots at first, after several saves like this it is now accepted enthusiastically by most, as 7 F-16s and 8 pilots have been saved so far. An aspect of Auto GCAS termed Pilot Activated Recovery System (PARS) can be initiated by the pilot when he/she has lost spatial orientation and literally doesn’t know any more which way is up. Think of delivering ordnance in a steep dive on a pitch black night, a dive that starts with a roll to inverted, and you might understand how that could happen! PARS is a separate button in the F-16 cockpit, and the pilot must let go of either the throttle or the sidestick to activate it. PARS initiates an Auto GCAS recovery, a rapid roll to level, and a 5G pull up. A PARS Auto GCAS function could have avoided the fatal 2006 crash of a Sochi-bound Airbus A320. And since almost all civilian LOC-I accidents occur with fully conscious pilots at the controls, PARS could eliminate the leading cause of civilian air accidents, namely LOC-I. Will we ever see an Auto GCAS system in commercial jets? I hope so.
“Almost” was not good enough EGPWS supplement for one jet I train states that the “action required” in response to a “TERRAIN, TERRAIN, PULL UP” warning should be “immediately apply engine power, establish a positive climb attitude, and climb at the maximum practical rate until warnings cease.” What exactly do “apply engine power” and “climb at the maximum practical rate” mean? Unless a bizjet pilot has experimented in his aircraft or in a level C or D simulator, he may have no idea. I know from such experiments that a pilot can pitch up a Learjet from a speed as low as 200 kts on an approach to a pitch attitude of 45º nose up while applying full throttle, and climb at least 4000 ft from where he started before loss of speed and increasing angle of attack require a significant reduction in pitch and climb rate. But do you know what your specific aircraft can do? If a bizjet pilot receives an EGPWS warning on a dark and stormy night, he/she may then climb below the optimum or available climb rate because he/she doesn’t know what is available and, even more important, doesn’t know what is required and how to get it. Commercial jets vary widely in their ability to outclimb steep terrain. The American Airlines Boeing 757 accident in Cali, Colombia in 1995 was the penultimate reason we have EGPWS today. It is of interest to note that the crew pitched up
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Photo by José Vásquez
Auto GCAS has proved its value with US military activities, saving lives and fighter jets. Civil aircraft operators could also benefit from it.
very aggressively once they received warning from their old look-downonly GPWS equipment. They almost made it! During investigation, the fact that the aircraft’s spoilers did not auto-retract with full throttle was a major bone of contention. The Air Line Pilots Association said this made the difference, but all other parties investigating the accident argued that it did not and said it was entirely the crew’s fault. Surprised? That 757 crew actually pulled so hard they were in the shaker twice, but it was too late. A modern Enhanced GPWS or TAWS system will usually annunciate a “Caution Terrain” 60 seconds prior to a potential impact. In many situations, this is a comfortable time period in which to escape. However, it can be shortened dramatically during a turn because EGPWS projects the current flight path and cannot anticipate the turn. In other words, a pilot flying (unknowingly) parallel to a high ridge could turn abruptly into the ridge and receive a very short warning from EGPWS. Escaping this situation could quickly become very difficult – if not impossible. An Auto GCAS, on the other hand, would not let that happen because it would roll wings level and pull up hard as soon as the system saw that escape was about to become impossible. If Auto GCAS were to be developed for large aircraft like transports, heavy bombers, or civilian airliners and bizjets, commanded recoveries would always be issued much earlier than they are in a fighter jet because of the lower available roll rates, G
limits, and climb rates of such aircraft. Also, there is no need to press any attack to the last seconds in civilian aircraft.
Climb, or turn, or both? Auto GCAS for civilian and heavy military aircraft might eventually include not only vertical pull ups but horizontal or oblique turns to maximize escape performance, such as presently provided for in the US Navy’s F-18 Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS). US Navy F-18s are equipped with TAWS, loosely analogous to civilian jet TAWS. Navy TAWS does compute optimal roll/turn directions (oblique recovery [ORT]), as well as pull ups (vertical recovery [VRT]). The Navy’s TAWS is simply a warning system with no automatic control inputs, but it does issue aural commands, such as “ROLL RIGHT/LEFT!” and/ or “PULL UP!” Simultaneously, the F-18 HUD shows a direction arrow. The biggest difference between Navy and civilian TAWS is that, like USAF Auto GCAS, it only issues the warning at the last possible moment, because so many missions require flight very close to and/or directly at terrain. On the other hand, the priority for civilian TAWS is to provide early warning (60 seconds) with lots of time to recover.
Much room for improvement in civilian world Remember that LOC-I is the leading cause of fatal accidents in civilian flying, followed by CFIT. It has been
argued that FBW can prevent LOC-I accidents with hard limits to aircraft attitude, angle of attack (AoA), and load factor. This, of course, does not address blundering into terrain. Airbus, with its family of A320, A330, A340, and A380 FBW aircraft, was the 1st manufacturer to explore that possibility, but it has not exactly panned out. The Sochi accident is one example, and the Air France Flight 447 (A330) crash in the Atlantic is another. In fact, Sochi showed that an A320 can be flown into the sea without exceeding any control law limit and without any system failure. It’s also the case that the Airbus Flight Control Computers, ELACs and SECs, prohibit extreme flight attitudes, but only in normal law. When various instrument and FCC failures drive the system into alternate law, all protections are lost – except load factor. This was the situation Air France Flight 447 was in, with no AoA protection, when the crew lost control. If further failures drive an Airbus airliner into direct law, absolutely all protections are lost. One could ask what good are protections that disappear when things go wrong. In the case of the F-16 Auto GCAS, certain electronic failures will cause Auto GCAS to cease operating. Perhaps some level fail down in such complex systems is inevitable. Auto GCAS is not, of course, designed to prevent loss of control due to high AoA. Such protections are already part of the F-16’s original flight control laws. However, Auto GCAS is now an operational reality, proving itself by saving lives and airframes in the US military, so civilian manufacturers and regulators need to sit up and take notice.
Don Witt was a USAF F-4 pilot and holds a DFC. He is a retired United 767 and A320 captain and former safety manager for a large corporate flight department. He is presently a Learjet instructor and has been a long-time aerobatic instructor.
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FLIGHT DEPARTMENT PROFILE
Wilson Construction Operator flies 3 planes and 7 helicopters to support electrical utility services activity.
By Brent Bundy Phoenix Police Officer-Pilot AS350, AW119, Cessna 210/182/172
The versatility of the Wilson Construction ﬂeet of aircraft fulfills the company’s worldwide transportation needs and jobsite utility services.
Pres Don Wilson has incorporated business aviation as part of his construction business for over 40 years. He is rated in helicopters and airplanes.
Arrival of electricity
Photos by Brent Bundy
e take for granted the conveniences of modern-day life, such as the reliable flow of electricity. To the farming communities of rural Oregon and Washington, this is a luxury that didn’t come as quickly as it did for much of the rest of the country. Fortunately for them, Matt Wilson, an entrepreneur from the Midwest, saw an opportunity. He started his company nearly 70 years ago and, almost from the beginning, he used aircraft in his operations. A lot has changed since Wilson Construction began, but it still provides a necessary service, and aviation remains pivotal to its success. 24
By the 1930s, 90% of Americans living in urban areas had access to electricity in their homes. This was in stark contrast to the 10% of rural families that had electric power. President Franklin Roosevelt set out to change this, and the Rural Electrification Administration was founded in 1935 to address this disparity. By 1960, the farms had caught up to the cities, with 9 out of 10 having received electric power. Shortly after World War II, Minnesota native Matt Wilson relocated to the Pacific Northwest. He saw the formation of the electrical co-ops that were building the infrastructure of the expanding power grids. Matt realized that, with the right personnel and equipment, he could work with the co-ops to help provide this service.
He founded Wilson Construction in 1952 in his home and quickly found success. By the mid-1970s, he had more than 30 employees laying cable and working on the electrical expansion around his base in Troutdale OR. In 1974, Matt brought on a new team member – his son Don Wilson. “I had been involved with the company most of my life, but after college, I took a full-time position,” Don recalls. Over the next decade, through the purchase and later sale of a tree trimming company, Wilson Construction began to expand its footprint and started working with larger power companies. “Since that time, we’ve been an ‘internal growth’ company, and we’ve diversified into 4 divisions – distribution, transmission, substations/switchyards, and underground high-voltage.” The company has also gone well beyond its headquarters in Canby OR, with contracts across the country, necessitating offices in Sacramento CA, Phoenix AZ, Spokane WA, and wherever the job is.
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Vice President Stacy Wilson.
Aircraft become essential As expansion began to hit its stride in the late 70s, Don quickly realized that ground transportation was not going to work. “In one of my first years with the company, I drove 60,000 miles throughout Oregon and Washington. I knew there was a better way, and that was aviation, so I got my pilot’s license,” Don says. He had always wanted to fly. In 1977, Don convinced his father to buy a Piper Turbo Arrow, which they flew for a few years before moving to a Seneca that the company kept for 10 years. This was followed by an upgrade to a Beechcraft King Air, then a Beechcraft Baron, and back to a King Air. Along the way, they also owned a Cessna CitationJet. Wilson has now settled into a well-rounded fleet that serves all its needs. Based out of UAO (Aurora OR), the company’s stable includes a 2011 Bombardier Challenger 300, a 2008 King Air 350, and a 2009 King Air C90GTi. The diversity of these aircraft allows Wilson Construction to cover all the bases. “The Challenger is a great plane to get us to jobs up and down the east coast, or even to international destinations,” Don explains, “We recently had a contract in northern Minnesota, and the Challenger would get our people there for meetings and back home within 2 days. Flying commercially, those would have been 4-day trips. All of our planes save us time and money.” The 2 King Airs are used for closer projects and office visits on the west coast. “The 90 is great for getting us to hard-to-reach job sites, much like a helicopter,” Don adds. “And the 350 is similar, with just more range.” As the primary and sole
pilot for Wilson for many years, Don has flown every aircraft the company has owned. Keeping things in the family name is another company pilot – Don’s daughter, VP Stacy Wilson. “I grew up in this company, flying with my dad,” she recalls. Shortly after college, she earned her pilot ratings. “I started in a Cessna 172, got my instrument, and then moved on to my multi-engine. Later, I flew the company Seneca.” While she has enjoyed most of the aircraft she’s flown, she clearly has a favorite. “I love the King Air C90GTi! It’s got great power from the Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine. It’s just such a fun, capable aircraft,” she says. “We often fly over mountains, sometimes in poor weather, and to short-field locations, and I don’t think there’s a better plane for us than that 90.” With projects from California to Minnesota and Virginia, timely ac-
Fixed-Wing Chief Pilot Gabriel Miller.
cess is vital. “Our aircraft make it possible. Whether it’s a customer with an issue, or us needing to extend a meeting, we’re not tied to the airlines,” Don proclaims. Stacy adds, “Also, many of our competitors are publicly traded companies. We are privately owned, and that affords us additional freedom from layers of bureaucracy, which allows us to respond to our customers quickly.”
Wilson’s team Although Don and Stacy fly many of the company missions, running the daily operations of the airplanes is Fixed-Wing Chief Pilot Gabriel Miller. Much like the family aviation connections in the Wilsons, Gabriel
Fixed-Wing Captain Thomas Call.
comes from a history of pilots. “My grandfather was a bomber pilot in World War II, and my father was a recreational pilot, so I’ve always been around planes,” he states. Near the end of his college years, Gabriel earned all his ratings, up through CFI. The Washington native then found work as a line technician at an FBO in Seattle – a job that would pave the way toward his current position. “While working at the FBO, I fueled Wilson Construction’s 1st King Air. That was when I met Don,” Gabriel recalls. Gabriel landed his first position in jets in 2008, flying a Beechjet for charter, followed by a handful of other charter jobs. As he progressed in his flying career, he maintained contact with Don. “For more than 10 years, I would send him my résumé with a quick e-mail,” Gabriel says. Maintaining connections with Don paid off in 2015, when Wilson Construction called. They were looking for a pilot. “I joined as a pilot at the beginning of 2016 and was offered the chief pilot spot in 2018. Every job I’ve had in aviation has come through networking, and this was the dream job.” Gabriel holds the unusual distinction of having both his company owner and VP as part of his cadre of pilots. In addition, both Gabriel and Captain Thomas Call fly all 3 planes, including the Challenger 300. This versatility allows them to put approximately 200 hours per year on each aircraft, needing contract assistance on the Challenger only occasionally. Flight attendants are not staffed. “We run very lean, and our passengers are very low-key. We have very few pop-up flights and, when we have them, Don and Stacy will usually take those assignments,” Gabriel explains.
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Wilson Construction’s helicopters are equipped for a variety of jobsite functions, including longline operations and powerline side pulling. Dir of Helicopter Ops & Chief Pilot Ron Stewart.
All pilots attend annual training at FlightSafety Intl (FSI) on each type in which they are certified, and they adhere to an internally-developed Safety Management System (SMS). Over 90% of the company’s flights are for business purposes. The pilots conduct a handful of overseas trips each year using Collins Aerospace International Trip Services for planning. “My favorite part of our operation is that everyone in the company has access to the aircraft – it’s not limited to the top management,” adds Gabriel. “If it makes sense financially and we can save both time and money using our aircraft to get someone somewhere, or needed parts to a job site, then we’ll do it. We have 700 employees, and I’ve probably flown 500 of them. Business aviation is ingrained into everything we do. It is a great tool, and this company would not be what it is without it.”
The helicopter role Airplanes have played an important role within Wilson Construction for much of the company’s history, but fixed-wing operations are not the company’s only aviation asset. Helicopters entered the picture over 20 years ago. Overseeing the vertical-lift side of the house is Director of Helicopter Operations and Chief Pilot Ron Stewart. Growing up in southern Oregon, Ron’s father owned a road construction company, and like his fellow team members at Wilson Construction, he was exposed to aviation early in life. “My father owned a couple of planes when I was young – a Cessna 172 and a 206,” he remembers. However, when he was 12 years old, he was given a ride in
an early-model Robinson R22. “That set the hook for me. I think it was the helicopter’s ability to hover and land anywhere I wanted – that’s what I fell in love with.” In 1990, he was driving down the I-5 freeway in California when a Bell JetRanger flew overhead. He looked at his wife and said, “That’s what I want to do.” To his surprise, she agreed. Ron soon found himself working his way up through his CFI rating and doing some agricultural spraying in an R22. This led to purchasing his own R22 Beta and building hours by following airshows up and down the west coast. “I made enough to pay for insurance and fuel,” he comments. Ron eventually added a cargo hook to his R22, taught himself to long-line, and got a forest service contract in the mid-1990s. In the late 1990s, he was hired full time by Timberland Helicopters for charter and fire prevention work. This was also his 1st true opportunity to spend time in turbine helicopters. The company soon added an MBB Bo105 to the fleet for EMS, in which Ron gained experience. Before long, he had taken over as chief pilot. After leaving Timberland, Ron took a position as chief pilot with an operator in Reno NV before making his way to Phoenix AZ for another helo opportunity. He took a sabbatical from aviation for a few years, but was soon airborne again, this time in Alaska. He then returned to AZ for a stint flying MD 600s and MD 900s, tapping into his past powerline experience. In 2011, Wilson Construction called, looking for a new operations director. “When I joined the company, my mission was to restructure things into a more cohesive unit. We had a good group of pilots that
just needed some guidance, and we’ve achieved that,” Ron relates. With somewhere north of 11,000 flight hours, his cockpit time now is just for fun, as he describes it. He logs some 50 flight hours a year, as he concentrates on the day-to-day workings of the company’s Part 133 Rotorcraft External Load Operations. That includes oversight of his 7 pilots and working with Director of Helicopter Maintenance Brett Vaughters and his 6 mechanics. The rotary-wing fleet consists of 7 helicopters – 2 MD 530s, 3 MD 500Es (including serial #5, the oldest flying E-model), 1 MD 500E being converted to an F-model, and 1 Leonardo AW119Ke. While the airplanes are used for transportation, the helicopters are primarily put to work in the field. They are equipped to side-pull electrical lines, as well as long-line parts on job sites. The excellent maneuverability of the MD 500s makes them ideal for this type of work. The AW119Ke is tapped
Director of Helicopter Mx Brett Vaughters.
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At the company’s hangar in Aurora OR, maintenance work is performed on both the helicopters and airplanes. Routine field work is handled by mechanics assigned to helos on missions. Director of Fixed-Wing Mx Tom Anders.
for its extra capacity and lifting capability. In contrast to the company’s fixed-wing side’s 600 hours per year, the helos will see upwards of 4500 hours annually of cumulative flight time. Whenever an aircraft is assigned to a job site, it is accompanied by a mechanic to handle field work when necessary. “What’s unique with us is that we are a construction company that operates helos,” says Ron. There is zero pressure to fly. If at any point we need to stop a job, we will. Our helicopters are a tool to enhance the overall operation of Wilson Construction.” Maintaining peak safety means adapting traditional Crew Resource Management (CRM) to a single-pilot cockpit. “For us, CRM includes the pilot, the electrical lineman, and the fueler. We incorporate everyone into the safety culture,” he adds. This is also an area highlighted with the uniqueness of having the company president as one of his pilots. Ron adds, “With Don being both an airplane and helicopter pilot, he understands what we need. He understands the costs involved. If we need something, especially if safety is concerned, Don makes sure we have it.”
Keeping the fleet flying The added maintenance work required by helicopters necessitates several technicians on the rotary-wing side. For the airplanes, Director of Fixed-Wing Aircraft Maintenance Tom Anders tackles most of the work. Raised in southern California, Tom’s father owned a flight school, which means his introduction to aviation came early. “For as long as I can remember, I was around airplanes. But I learned early
that I did not want to be a pilot. I just didn’t like the lifestyle. I wanted to be home with my family,” he says. Tom soon found that he had a propensity for all things mechanical. By 1983, he had earned his A&P certification in Cheyenne WY, and then he moved to Oregon for a position at PDX (Intl, Portland OR). Starting in line service, he quickly moved up through the ranks and became a lead tester. When the company closed its engine shop, Tom transferred to the service floor and again climbed the ladder to lead technician. While working at PDX, Tom performed maintenance on a Piper Seneca III. That plane belonged to Don Wilson. In 1996, Tom was offered a job at UAO by the owner of a collection of planes. That same owner had hangar space to lease, and contacted Don, who was flying a Beech Baron by then. Don sold the Baron, bought his first King Air C90, and moved in. That found Tom working on another plane owned by the Wilson family. Eventually, Don added more aircraft to his fleet and needed more hangar space. In 2012, Don hired Tom full time, and 3 years later moved into the current Wilson Construction hangar. The facility can house all 10 aircraft, but they are rarely all together. “The helos aren’t making money when they are in the hangar, so they are usually out on job sites. They are brought here for major maintenance,” Tom explains. Tom is the sole mechanic for the airplanes, but he has built strong relationships with other techs in the area and will use them when necessary. The close, family-like atmosphere with the company’s helicopter mechanics also provides a source of assistance. With 200 hours per year flown on each plane, Tom is kept quite busy, but he can handle most
routine work in-house, although he seeks the best outside companies for major work. “I am constantly evaluating who gives us the best service at the best rate.” Just as the pilots do, he attends FSI for annual training. Tom has worked a variety of positions and locations, but feels he has found a sweet spot with Wilson Construction. “I’ve been working on the company’s planes since the late 1980s, and Don and Stacy are wonderful to work with. We have a great crew here. Everyone gets along and respects each other. We truly do work as a team.”
Charging forward For 68 years, the company that Matt Wilson founded has played a key role in bringing electrification to the communities of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Throughout most of this time, aviation has been the solution for the company’s transportation and utility needs. And with the Wilson family at the controls of both the organization and the aircraft they fly, that is not likely to change. Steady growth and constant evolution of the fleet ensures that Wilson Construction will continue to bring power to the people. Brent Bundy has been a police officer with the Phoenix Police Dept for 28 years. He has served in the PHX Air Support Unit for 18 years and is a helicopter rescue pilot with nearly 4000 hours of flight time. Bundy currently flies Airbus AS350B3s for the helicopter side of Phoenix PD’s air unit and Cessna 172, 182s and 210s for the fixed-wing side.
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Special mission aircraft Suitably modified and equipped business aircraft serve as effective, reliable and efficient baseline platforms in a variety of roles.
Photo courtesy Pilatus
Pilatus PC-24 features exceptional short-field performance, even on unpaved runways, and a spacious cabin, permitting it to serve in roles ranging from executive transport to medevac.
By Don Van Dyke
ATP/Helo/CFII, F28, Bell 222. Pro Pilot Canadian Technical Editor
lobal geopolitical tensions continue to rise, and the accompanying strategic and tactical threat environment is complex and evolving. Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) technologies provide military and civilian leaders with reliable, actionable information needed to make correct decisions in near real-time to mitigate or counter threats and emergencies.
Special mission aircraft Special missions serve military, civil/paramilitary, public safety/service, and research sectors in task-centric aviation roles that were briefly introduced in Pro Pilot (June 2016). Special missions require custom design, support and planning – and, most importantly, a specific mission-oriented approach. Mission-critical organizations and military forces depend on specialist Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and system integrators to provide the airborne assets capable of meeting mission goals.
A variety of business jets and turboprops meeting size, performance, range, and endurance requirements, are commonly configured as Special Mission Aircraft (SMA). Aircraft for infiltration/exfiltration, ISR, and refueling missions are in particular demand. Some SMAs are the most innovative and technologically advanced designs available, while others perform largely as business aircraft but with reversibly customized interiors and external hard points. When employed as military Special Operations Forces (SOF) aviation assets, SMAs support active combatants via surveillance and delivery of supplies, but are not usually armed with major offensive weapons. Procurement guidelines and certification standards for SMAs have been discussed in Pro Pilot (April 2018), and a compendium of selected SMA was presented in April 2019. SMA operations are tasked to accurately position, orient, and move sensors to enhance situational and domain awareness, acquire and deliver actionable intelligence, monitor dynamic situations, and perform reconnaissance to capture static images for analysis in order to support smarter decision-making in near real-time.
The SMA market, currently valued at $16.5 billion and involving more than 2000 aircraft, is expected to grow to $30.7 billion by 2028. Today’s key SMA market drivers include identifiable needs and objectives, technical innovation, performance (aircraft endurance, payload, range), short turnaround fielding, and procurement, modification and operating costs. Greater operating performance, upgraded avionics (digital technologies, sensors, communications, multiple integrated platforms), and shrinking form-factors encourage the trend of smaller aircraft to engage in special missions. The features of 2 armed Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPAs) are compared in Table 1 to illustrate this conclusion. Key challenges facing the rapidly changing SMA market include increasing terrorism, insurgencies and conflicts; electronic warfare (EW) and counter-measures; cyber-security threats; market and budget constraints; lack of expertise and trained pilots; regulations; and ethical considerations.
SMA airframers SMA airframers offer unique expertise in producing and modifying platforms suitable for multi-role equipment and achieving mission objectives. Bombardier. Challenger and Global platforms serve the Northrop TABLE 1
MTOW Range, maximum Range, mission Speed, maximum Speed, cruise Endurance Altitude, maximum Hard points
189,233 lb 4482 nm 2400 nm 490 kt 455 kt >8 hr 41000 ft 11
99,516 lb 6000 nm 1000 nm 510 kt 488 kt >8 hr 51000 ft 4-6
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Grumman E-11A, Saab GlobalEye AEW&C, Saab Swordfish, and Raytheon Sentinel R1.
Bombardier Global 6000 platform for the Saab Swordfish carries torpedoes, sonobuoys, and anti-ship missiles.
Britten-Norman. Special mission roles for which the Britten-Norman Defender 4000 is suited include ISR, counter-terrorism, and maritime patrol. Daher. TBM 910 and TBM 930 high-speed single-engine turboprops feature under-wing hard points with electrical connections for various sensors and large-format cameras. The aircraft perform ISR missions with a multi-sensor optronic retractable turret, as well as synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indicator (GMTI) radar, a communication interception system, and secure transmission. Dassault Aviation. Falcon 8X multi-role aircraft (MRA) engage in maritime surveillance, reconnaissance, anti-surface warfare (ASuW), EW, and fleet training. Thales universal electronic warfare capability (CUGE) payload includes multi-polarization antennae and artificial intelligence (AI) software to improve automated data processing.
Dassault/Thales Falcon 8X Archange seeks to renew French capabilities in ELINT/SIGINT, particularly in voice radio communications and radar.
Diamond Aircraft. Leonardo and Diamond Aircraft collaborated to produce the DA62-MSA short-/medium-range Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA). Its sensors, through an Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance (ATOS) system, deliver a single, intuitive operational picture to the crew.
Leonardo recently unveiled its lightest-ever multi-mode Gabbiano TS X-band surveillance radar, weighing less than 53 lb. Sensor options offer additional capability, including Leonardo’s SAGE Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system and Spider communications intelligence (COMINT) system. The aircraft’s endurance is up to 12 hrs. Embraer. A variant of the Embraer EMB-145 may fill a gap in Boeing’s portfolio of small business jets for ISR.
EMB-145H AEW&C, featuring the Saab Erieye radar system, is derived from the EMB-145 regional jet, and incorporates a reinforced airframe, upgraded avionics, increased fuel capacity, and enhanced APU.
Gulfstream. USAF EC-37B Compass Call, based on the Gulfstream G550, carries an IAI EL/W-2085 Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) radar, avoiding the need for a rotodome. Pilatus. USAF U-28 Draco, a modified Pilatus PC-12, provides an oncall/surge capability for improved tactical ISR supporting special forces. Most aircraft have a sensor turret with EO/IR cameras and SIGINT systems to geolocate and monitor hostile communications. The U-28A is certified to operate from short, unimproved fields.
The Saab GlobalEye AEW&C can simultaneously perform airborne, maritime and ground surveillance duties, all without any onboard operators.
Textron. The 3 mainstay Textron SMA aircraft are the Beech King Air 350ER, Cessna Grand Caravan EX, and the Cessna Citation. The Sierra Nevada Scorpion (Beech King Air 350ER) is an ISR version of the US Army MC-12W Liberty to be converted to an Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System – Multi-Intelligence (EMARSS-M), similar to the MC-12S Huron developed by Boeing. The Cessna Grand Caravan EX is also a popular multi-role ISR SMA.
Grand Caravan EX is engineered for challenging missions, high payloads, and short, rough runway ops while delivering single-engine economy and simplicity.
Technology providers/integrators OEM technology providers assist in the design, integration, and certification necessary to meet SMA mission, operational, and performance goals. Airborne Technologies. The Airborne Technologies Self-Contained Aerial Reconnaissance (SCAR) pod mounted on the Viking Twin Otter
The G650ER allows multiple configurations and rapid integration of SMA equipment for transport, ISR, AEW, maritime patrol, and international atmospheric research.
RUAG Aviation. Royal Netherlands Coastguard operates 2 RUAG Dornier 228s in maritime surveillance and SAR. Saab. GlobalEye (or Swing Role Surveillance System – SRSS) is based on a Bombardier Global 6000.
The SCAR pod requires no airframe mods and only a NATO wing-mounted hard point for installation. It can accommodate EO cameras, radar, Visual Detection and Ranging (ViDAR) optical radar, electronic warfare equipment, searchlight, ELINT/SIGINT/COMINT sensors, and satellite communications.
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Guardian 400 is self-sufficient, uses Wi-Fi for data connection to the operator station, and requires no external cabling. The pod was presented for the first time at the 2019 Paris Air Show. Aquila Aerospace. In early 2019, the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAE AF) announced its intention to acquire a Bombardier Challenger 650 for special missions including maritime surveillance, SAR, VIP transport, MEDEVAC, and ISR. Bombardier Specialized Aircraft division supports Aquila with engi-
Modifications required by the UAE AF will be performed by Aquila Aerospace, Al Bateen Airport, Abu Dhabi (OMAD), the first modification and integration center in the Gulf to specialize in SMA derivatives of business aircraft.
neering and technical assistance. Cobham Aerospace Communications provides high-performance command, control and communication (C3) technology to OEMs in more than 100 countries. Field Aviation. A variety of Challenger 604 aircraft have been converted to modified multi-mission maritime surveillance, VIP transport, and medevac applications. GVH Aerospace offers rolechange and permanent conversions of business aircraft for special mission roles. This includes equipment for ISR, remote sensing, special communications, maritime patrol, SAR, medevac, and NVGs for military, paramilitary, and civilian users. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) provides and installs CAEW&C, MPA, compact ISR, and SIGINT systems for Beech King Air, Gulfstream 550, Bombardier Global 6500, Challenger 650, and Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft. L3 Military Aviation Services (MAS) is an integrator for SMA structures, avionics, and systems. It has been involved in design, modification, test-
Core SMA activities by military, civil and R&D segment
The IAI ELW-2085 Conformal Airborne Early Warning and Control (CAEW&C) system, which uses a Gulfstream G550 platform, is one of the largest and costliest SMAs.
ing and certification of aircraft adapted for a variety of missions. L3 MAS holds Design Approval Organization (DAO) accreditation and is credentialed to install NATO standard encrypted data links and to provide secure communications upgrades for government and military customers. Leidos, formerly Science Applications Intl Corp (SAIC), leverages SIGINT to target an adversary. Leidos is developing a SIGINT/EW system to integrate sensors, data fusion workstations, and numerous antennae to detect and designate targets. The company’s ARL-E is a manned multi-intelligent airborne platform
Research & Development (R&D)
Information, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR)
Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) Electronic/Signal Intelligence (ELINT/SIGINT) Surveillance and reconnaissance
Intelligence and information sharing Maritime traffic/fisheries surveillance Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) monitor
Academic, scientific, commercial R&D Cyber security Systems validation
Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4)
Cyber security Emergency & disaster control Targeting
Emergency broadcast Public broadcasting Electronic-media outlets
Academic, scientific, commercial R&D Cyber security Systems validation
Preventative/ pre-emptive action
Anti-submarine (ASW), Anti-surface Warfare (ASuW) Electronic warfare (EW)
Government action at sea Maritime law enforcement
Academic, scientific, commercial R&D Cyber security Systems validation
Disaster management & emergency services
Emergency & disaster management Emergency evacuation Search and rescue
Emergency & disaster management Insurance risk and claims management Search and Rescue
Academic, scientific, commercial R&D
Law enforcement & security (police, criminal investigation, good public order)
Border surveillance Drug interdiction, patrol, surveillance Security emergency support Peacekeeping
Border surveillance Customs & immigration patrol Drug interdiction, patrol, surveillance, SWAT Investigation, enforcement
Fire (firefighting, hazardous materials, rescue)
Fire emergency support Fire/CBR hazard monitoring
Fire emergency & disaster support Firefighting and surveillance CBR hazards containment
Academic, scientific, commercial R&D
Medical (emergency medical service)
CASEVAC/MEDEVAC Medical emergency support
Emergency evacuation MEDEVAC/air ambulance
Air-to-air refueling All-weather transport Transport of troops, equipment, supplies
Air-to-air refueling Special personnel transport (prisoner, VIP/VVIP) Transport of personnel, equipment, supplies
Aerial photography, mapping & survey Flight inspection, calibration
Aerial photography, mapping & survey Flight inspection/calibration
Aerial photography, mapping & survey Infrastructure trend monitoring
Environmental monitoring & management
CBR monitoring Environment & resource monitoring
Agriculture, animal, insect management Construction and land development Maritime management Environment, ice & resource management
Agriculture, animal, insect management Atmospheric research & cloud seeding Environment and pollution monitoring Geothermic survey
Training & education
Pilot, observer, operator training Training (target towing, EW simulation…)
EMS and paramedic training Pilot, observer, operator training
Observer, researcher training
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providing a persistent capability to detect, locate, classify/identify, and track surface tar¬gets accurately and rapidly in day/night, near-all-weather conditions.
The 4000-nm range of the Bombardier Challenger 650 can translate into a 10-hour loiter period near targets. System sensors permit the aircraft to remain beyond the range of anti-aircraft systems while still making them and other key assets targets.
Raytheon adopted multiple-intelligence (multi-INT) to integrate outputs from synthetic aperture radar, GMTI, EO/IR and SIGINT systems to scan large geographic areas, providing decision makers with high-resolution imagery and data in near real-time. Strategic Aviation provides configuration solutions including night vision systems, ballistic floor armor, countermeasure missile systems, forward looking infrared radar (FLIR), flight tracking systems, medevac systems, and Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) mapping equipment.
pilot safety, and reduce unintended casualties. For decades, avionics systems have shown the ability to enhance performance while reducing form-factor, weight, and cost. The Diamond DA62-MSA baseline sensor fit includes the compact Leonardo Gabbiano Ultra-Light (UL) TS X-band surveillance radar, which includes an extensive suite of modes, including optimized maritime patrol capabilities (such as high sea state detection), high-resolution ground mapping via synthetic aperture radar, GMTI, and weather avoidance modes. Propulsion. Current research seeks to develop technologies, especially regarding thermal and electric propulsion, to meet future needs of SMA users with optimized environmental efficiency and avoid production of NOx, CO2, and particulates. Electric propulsion has achieved great performance gains, exhibiting light weight, comparatively better power density than that of combustion engines, and a greater speed range which reduces the need for gearboxes. Enabling stealth while reducing noise pollution is an additional benefit.
Future trends The SMA market will continue to view business aircraft as platforms most suitable for modification and employment in specialized roles. The main performance demands will be for speed, endurance, payload, and flexible interior design – all at reasonable cost. Range and cabin size. The Bombardier Global 7500 holds the 8225-nm distance record for a purpose-built aircraft. The Gulfstream G700, introduced in October 2019, boasts the tallest, widest, and longest cabin in the industry, and a 7500-nm range. While future applications of these 2 flagships are unclear, they both feature capabilities of great interest to the SMA market. Sensors. The increasingly high accuracies of airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems seek to provide positive target identification at long range (greater than 20 km), increase standoff range for enhanced
As part of their innovation strategies, Daher, Airbus and Safran have announced a collaborative partnership for the design and development of the wing-mounted EcoPulse distributed hybrid propulsion demonstrator based on a TBM platform. Maiden flight is scheduled for 2022.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is applied in at least 3 particular SMA areas: • Aircraft operations. • Acquisition, processing, and interpretation of ISR data. • Application of conclusions. Further examination of the benefits of AI is perhaps best left to a separate discussion. Tankers. As potential adversaries develop sophisticated surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), current tankers become more vulnerable. The USAF is currently considering a KC-Z next-generation tanker able
to support strike assets in increasingly dangerous skies. It will support all-important logistics missions, in addition to air-to-air refueling. Business models. Increasingly, a portion of special missions are undertaken by commercial operators. Dynamic Aviation sources, overhauls, modifies, flies, and maintains its 140-turboprop SMA fleet of Beech King Air and Dash 8 aircraft inhouse. The innovative ISR, airborne data collection, and public health and safety solutions offered have created a field of government and commercial customers in more than 80 countries. For over 40 years, Canadian PAL Aerospace mounts airborne ISR supporting safety/security, regulatory and law enforcement, as well as environmental management and specialized air ambulance operations. Another commercial creation is likely from the Leidos purchase of a Bombardier Challenger 650, whose 4000-nm range can translate into a 10-hour loiter period near targets. Its sensors and physics allow it to operate out of range of opposing anti-aircraft systems, while still making them and other key assets targets. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the concept is the proposed business model, as the aircraft is contractor-owned and operated. Leidos will integrate the sensors, data systems, and all ancillaries on the aircraft. The company will fly, maintain, and support it. In other words, it – as owner – will sell a subscription to the service. The future of the SMA sector depends on its ability to continue fulfilling user needs with innovation and with ever greater reliability, repeatability, and quality. Our security depends on it.
Don Van Dyke is professor of advanced aerospace topics at Chicoutimi College of Aviation – CQFA Montreal. He is an 18,000-hour TT pilot and instructor with extensive airline, business and charter experience on both airplanes and helicopters. A former IATA ops director, he has served on several ICAO panels. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and is a flight operations expert on technical projects under UN administration.
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Schedulers & Dispatchers 2020 Queen City hosts NBAA’s S&D Conference at Charlotte Convention Center March 10–13. By Rafael Henríquez Managing Editor
Million Air CEO Roger Woolsey, Pro Pilot President Eleni Smith, and Business Development Latin America Irene Woolsey at Million Air Pit Crew S&D party at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Photos by Rafael Henríquez
esilience. Adaptability. Coming together to devise a plan to recover from the difficult times facing humanity. Keynote speakers at NBAA’s Schedulers and Dispatchers Conference insisted on these concepts during the event, celebrated from March 10–13 at the Charlotte Convention Center in North Carolina. In spite of scarce attendance due to global health concerns, many flight planning and ground service providers from all over the world came together to demonstrate their products and services. In addition, a pre-conference event at CLT (Charlotte–Douglas NC) showcased aviation careers for local STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students. Next year, SDC will take place in Fort Worth TX from Feb 23–26.
Monterey Jet Center Customer Service Mgr Kawai Lopez (L) and CSR Dina Young welcomed customers at the company’s booth.
Castle & Cooke President of Aviation Operations & Business Devt Tony Marlow met showgoers at S&D. West Star Aviation had CSR Lead Sheli Mitchell (L) and Line Program Manager Teresa Garner at the convention.
Bohlke Intl Airways Director of Marketing Ashley Smith greeted clients at the show.
Assisting customers were Manny Aviation Services’ Manuel Romero Vargas (L) and María José Ardizábal (R).
From Clay Lacy Aviation were (L–R) Charter Sales Rep Brian Potter, Client Service Mgr Manny Hernandez, Dir of Charter Svcs Elizabeth Nagy, and GM FBO Svcs Steven Lee.
(L–R) Business Jet Center CFO Tammy Williams, Brand Mgr Hannah Wright, and Brand Ambassador Angelica Villela received attendees.
(L–R) Banyan Director of Customer Support Jon Tonko, FBO Sales and Client Relations Giselle Nieves, and Director of FBO Sales & Client Relations John Mason.
(L–R) FlightSafety Intl Dir of Training Murphy Ownbey, LGA Center Mgr Glenn Hausmann, and Regional Sales Mgr Joey Weaver.
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(L–R) Pentastar Supv Jennifer McKenna, Sales Supt Rep Kimberly Massa, Dir of FBO Svcs Jim Davis, and CSR Andrea Weinman.
Texas Jet Bookkeeper Lesa Moke (L) and Customer Service Manager Holly Hopkins were available to meet guests. Avfuel was represented by Lead Mktg Designer Katie Slovan (L) and Event Coord/ Social Media Spclst Melissa Novak.
Real Alfa Flight offers ground handling services in Mexico. At the show were (L–R) Edith Real, Julio Real, Denisse Resendiz, Graciela Bernal, and Rafael Cruz.
Wilson Air Center Rgnl Cust Svc Mgr Mary Kay (L) and Mktg Specialist Margie Anderson. (L–R) Odyssey Aviation Exec Dir Sales & Cust Support Zelda Evans, Kissimmee GM Gary Barrett, and Exec Dir Cust Svc & Charter Sales Racquel Hinds.
Representing CSL (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico) were CSR Paola García (L) and International Flights Rossy Cazares.
GOGO Business Aviation Sales Operations Manager Merja Waters explained the company’s offerings for bizav operators.
Sheltair ISP GM Dwight Bruno, FRG CSM Sandra Luzuriaga, Regional VP Michael Lerma, Cust Rel Ambassador Beverly Patton, Sr VP FBOs Tom Craft, Sales Lead Specialist Crystal Starner, Bizav Sales Mgr David Buritica, and Dir Sales & Mktg Karen Kroeppel.
Caribbean Support & Flight Services Security Mgr Henry Cuervo, Ops Mgr Bety Baños, and CSR Mauricio Barraza.
Honeywell Senior Technical Sales Manager Carey Miller (L) and Connectivity Services Sales Manager Len Snider.
(L–R) Duncan Av CSR Kylee Smith, East Central US Regional Mgr Bill Otte, FBO Svcs Mgr Troy Hyberger, and CSR Crystal Bohling. Rudy’s Inflight Catering Founders Joe (L) and John Celentano are always accessible at S&D.
UAS Client Implementation Mgr Monica Rodriguez (L), Intl Business Devt Mgr Bau Brolet, and Business Devt Mgr Vicki Matso.
Austria-based Magnum FBO, member of the Signature Select family, was represented by CEO Florian Samsinger.
(L–R) Go Rentals VP Mike Morris, Director of Aviation Development Trissy Pickett, and VP of Operations Mauricio Souza.
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Terminal aerodrome forecasts Airport forecasting reports are important weather tools for pilots.
Citation Bravo awaits taxi while ground crews clear the runway of snow. Terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAFs) can provide pilots with forecasts of when takeoffs or landings may be affected.
By Karsten Shein Comm-Inst Climate Scientist
ased on the terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF) from EUG (Eugene OR), the pilots figured that they’d have no problem getting in. The forecast for their arrival in a couple of hours had 3 miles of visibility with a broken scud at 400 ft, deteriorating over the following 12 hours as a fog developed over the region – not ideal, but not a problem for the experienced crew. Fortunately, the pilots noted the issue time was already nearly 3 hours old, and the latest metar said the airport was already down to a 0.5-mile visibility in freezing fog and 100 ft broken ceiling. Waiting just a few minutes, they refreshed their TAF list and got the latest forecast, now just a few seconds old. Sure enough, the fog was now expected to build faster than previously forecast. The 2 pilots, based at EUG, knew they needed to plan for several alternates. Bringing up the TAFs for PDX (Intl, Portland OR) and AST (Astoria OR),
they felt confident that conditions at PDX would remain above minimums for the next few hours. As it turned out, they were able to shoot the ILS at EUG and land safely just a few minutes before the airport went zero-zero in a thick fog. TAFs play an important role in flight planning and anticipating conditions over the next several hours at departure, arrival, and alternate airports. But, like any meteorological information, it is important for pilots to know and understand their strengths and limitations. TAFs are rudimentary forecasts made specifically for many, but not all, military and civilian airports and their immediate vicinity. In the US, they are valid for a 5-statute-mile radius around the airport, while elsewhere it is 5 nm (~9 km). Most TAFs are issued every 6 hours on a routine schedule at 0000, 0600, 1200, and 1800Z in most places. However, at core airports, and where forecasters can do so, TAFs may be issued on a 3-hr schedule instead. While there are international standards for TAFs, each national aviation
or weather authority has some discretion in how they are produced. At military airfields and at many international airports, TAFs are prepared and issued by forecasters located on site. In the US, TAFs are issued by meteorologists at the airport’s relevant National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Offices. Some offices, such as those serving major metropolitan areas, may have the responsibility for issuing regular TAFs at more than a dozen airports. Because the purpose of a TAF is to provide the most relevant forecast weather conditions significant to aviation, and to do so quickly and efficiently, they are intentionally limited to just a few basic parameters and formatting. For example, the US NWS instructs its meteorologists to limit TAFs to no more than 6 lines, not including any TEMPO (temporary weather) statements, and each line is limited to no more than 69 characters. Military forecasters often include much more forecast information. For example, forecast temperature and altimeter settings are rarely included in civilian TAFs, but are common in military-issued TAFs.
TAF structure Nearly all TAFs contain the same basic structure of information. They begin on the 1st line with the airport identifier – leading with the regional code, such as K for CONUS US stations, P for Pacific (including Hawaii and Alaska), E for Europe, C for Canada, T for the eastern Caribbean and Atlantic, and M for Mexico. The US NWS also makes it a point to drop the last letter of an airport designator in its Pacific region, adding in the second position an H for Hawaiian airports, an A for Alaskan airports, and a G for Pacific Island territory airports, except where the airport designator begins with that subregional letter. While it works out for airports such as ANC (Anchorage AK), which becomes PANC, an airport such as
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OGG (Maui HI) becomes PHOG. This can be confusing for pilots who do not frequent these airports. Every now and then, the code AMD will follow an airport identifier. This simply means that the TAF has been amended by the forecaster because the original TAF forecast conditions are no longer representative of the expected weather. Similarly, COR indicates a corrected TAF, suggesting some error in the original forecast. Corrections are normally issued within an hour of the original issuance, while amendments occur if an update is made more than an hour after issuing the original TAF. AMD and/or COR will be repeated at the end of the TAF, followed by the 4-digit UTC (Z) time at which the amendment or correction was made. Amended or corrected TAFs always supersede the original TAF. The airport identifier (or AMD or COR) is followed by the origination day and time (eg, 011153Z – 1st day of the month at 1153 UTC time). Pilots should note that the origination time is the time the forecast was actually made, not the time it was issued, amended, or corrected. TAFs can be issued as much as 30 minutes after origin because the issuing office often bundles the TAFs for a single transmission at the prescribed issuance time. Following the origin time are the valid times, meaning the times covered by the forecast. Routine TAFs are always valid for 24 hrs, and the valid times may be displayed as a single-day identifier followed by a start and stop hour or by 2 days and Z-times. You might see a valid time displayed as 211818 or 2118/2218. Both mean the TAF is valid from 1800Z on the 21st day of the month until 1800Z on the 22nd. Subsequent TAF lines will normally begin with FM (meaning “from”), a 2-digit day, and a 4-digit Z-time (eg, FM281700). Importantly, at the few TAF-listed airports where weather observations are not available 24 hrs a day, TAFs are only valid to the end of the observing period, and the TAF at those airports, may end with AMD NOT SKED followed by the period of service interruption. Where a short-term weather condition – usually less than an hour or 2 – may be significant to aviation at some time during the valid period, the forecaster will include the phrase
TAF map from the US NWS (aviationweather.gov.) TAF tools are an easy way not just to flight plan forecast weather at destination and alternates, but to visualize developing conditions across a region.
TEMPO (or begin a line with TEMPO), for temporary. The duration of the temporary condition will follow in the same format as a valid period. So, TEMPO 0115/0117 is a forecast of certain following conditions occurring between 1500 and 1700Z on the 1st of the month. Similarly, the forecaster may also include the phrase BECMG and a 4-digit time to indicate the start and end hour over which the conditions will gradually become those forecast following the BECMG entry. For example, BECMG 2023 OVC020 suggests that between 2000 and 2300Z, an overcast ceiling at 2000 ft will form. Finally, a TAF might use the term PROB40 (or in some cases PROB30). This just means that there is a moderate likelihood (around a 40% probability) that the following forecast conditions will occur. If the probability of forecast conditions exceeds the 30–50% range, it is simply reported as the forecast. If it is less than 30%, it is not reported in the TAF.
Weather groups After the timing qualifiers, the remainder of the forecast line is a forecast of wind, visibility, weather, sky condition, and, optionally, any important conditions such as wind shear, icing, or probability of convection. TAF weather coding is mostly identical to METAR coding. Wind is forecast in direction (first 3 digits)
and speed (last 2 digits). Gusts are forecast with a G and the 2-digit gust speed. KT follows the wind forecast to indicate that the speed is in kts (some countries may report in meters/second). Calm wind is forecast as 00000KT. If winds are forecast to shift by more than 30º, the direction digits are replaced by VRB (although meteorologists normally avoid using VRB in TAFs). Visibility will be reported either in statute miles or in meters. In the latter, visibility will be a 4-digit number with the units implied. Statute mile visibilities will be given in whole and quarter mile amounts (up to 6 miles) followed by SM. If visibility is forecast to exceed 6SM, the letter P will precede the visibility. In meters, 9999 indicates any visibility forecast greater than 9000 m (~7SM). The phrase CAVOK is still in wide use internationally, and simply indicates that ceiling and visibility are good, with values exceeding the maximum reportable. Familiar METAR codes are used in TAFs to forecast the likely weather conditions for the forecast period. Common codes include FG (fog), RA (rain), TS (thunderstorm), and NSW (no significant weather). Precipitation qualifiers may be added to indicate showers (SH), freezing (FZ), or intensity (+/-). Sky condition is the forecast state of clouds, reported in coverage and height in hundreds of feet (eliminating the 2 trailing zeros). There may PROFESSIONAL PILOT / April 2020 39
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min ceiling less than 200 ft and visibility less than 800 m). If there is another reason that an airfield is unusable, the word BLACK will precede the applicable color code.
TAFs are an important component of flight planning. They can help to optimize departure/arrival times and the selection of alternate airports.
be multiple cloud levels and the qualifier of CB to indicate vertically developing clouds. A TAF sky report might state BKN001 OVC030, forecasting a broken ceiling at 100 ft AGL and an overcast deck at 3000 ft. In lieu of cloud decks, some TAFs will show vertical visibility (VV) in hundreds of feet, often when fog is also forecast. SKC means a forecast of clear skies. TAFs may also forecast icing or turbulence by following the sky group with a 6-digit number beginning with 6 (icing) or 5 (turbulence). The 2nd digit indicates the type of icing/ turbulence. The next 3 digits are the base of the forecast layer in hundreds of feet, and the last digit is the layer depth in thousands of feet. Because TAFs are generally limited to immediate airport operation considerations, these groups are rarely included. Military TAF forecasters will also frequently include temperature and altimeter settings, but civilian forecasters do not. Where present, forecast altimeter settings will begin with QNH (or just Q where space is limited) and a 4-digit altimeter setting followed by INS (inches). Temperature forecasts start with T followed by the maximum temperature (°C)/hour (Z) and minimum temperature/hour for the forecast period. Despite their basic nature, TAFs are often more accurate than the area forecasts issued for the region surrounding the airport. This is because they take into account observations
made at the airport, as well as localized nuances in geography and weather patterns that the forecasters know affect the airport’s weather.
Trend type forecasts A cousin to the TAF is the trend type forecast (TTF), normally only produced by a professional forecaster located at the airport itself, and issued as part of a METAR to alert pilots to a likely significant change in weather conditions over the next 2 hours. TTFs are most commonly issued in the UK and Europe, but may be issued anywhere. The TTF forecast appears in the METAR following the code TEMPO. When a TTF appears in a METAR, pilots should consider the TTF to be better information than what is contained in the current valid TAF for the airport. A TTF might look something like TEMPO 0500 +TSRA VV002 RED. This TTF suggests that a developing strong thunderstorm is expected to drop visibility to 500 m and ceiling to 200 ft. The term RED is a so-called “color state.” These are included in TAFs and TTFs in some places, and were added to improve the speed at which a pilot could interpret ceiling and visibility conditions. There are 8 colors to this index, and they represent the worst conditions forecast for the valid period, ranging from blue (BLU – best, with minimum 2500 ft ceiling and 8 km visibility) to red (RED – worst, with
TAFs are a good information source for pilots, both during flight planning and enroute. Ahead of the flight, they are a way to quickly sort out the meteorological viability of alternate airports. Many pilots don’t consider the individual weather forecasts of airports they are considering as alternates, preferring to simply choose a nearby airport that can handle their aircraft and may have the right facilities to get the boss home and turn the flight as soon as the weather at the destination improves. However, ignoring the TAFs at potential alternate airports may mean that, when you divert, you find your designated alternate is in even worse shape than your original destination. A quick look at the TAF for the alternate can have you deciding instead on a different alternate a little further out where the forecast is not quite as dire. Enroute, looking at TAF updates along with the current METAR of your destination can help you validate the accuracy and timing of the forecast. For example, you may notice that the old forecast had arrival time winds of 10 kts down the runway, ramping up to a strong crosswind later that day. But halfway through the flight, the new TAF advances the frontal wind shift to your arrival time, meaning you’ll face a stiff 25-kt crosswind gusting to 32. Similarly, you might have seen a TAF call for a ceiling dropping from 5000 ft broken to a 100 ft overcast after your arrival time, but the METARs are showing a more rapid deterioration, giving you time to prep for an instrument landing to the minimums.
Karsten Shein is co founder and science director at ExplorEiS. He was formerly an assistant professor at Shippensburg University and a climatologist with NOAA. Shein holds a commercial license with instrument rating.
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We strive for perfection by continuing to educate ourselves and learning from the challenges, making us the leading experts in the industry.
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Sustainable growth Financially advantageous approaches to preserve the ecosystem.
By Dennis Bushnell
Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center
he human approach to solving problems is short-term minded. For gradual evolutionary changes and issues with minor long-term impacts, such a tactical approach has proved successful. Encouraging this near-term focus are the amygdala, the part of our brain that keeps us conservative; and desire to hold on to power, both financial and political, on the part of current status quo “winners.” The overall result is a reluctance to change, risk aversion, and short-term fixation. Although we have studied climate change and ecosystem degradation driven by human activity, official denial has prevailed until rather serious changes started to become apparent. Evidence of such changes includes extreme floods, storms, diseases, fires, ocean level rises and circulation changes, species extinctions, and temperature increases. In fact, during the Permian extinction, ocean circulation changes increased anoxic ocean conditions, resulting in an overgrowth of cya-
nobacteria. These blue-green algae produce hydrogen sulfide, which, in small percentages in the atmosphere, is poisonous to humans and takes down the ozone layer. Indeed, climate change is much more than warm days and wet feet, but there are ways to mitigate its effects. In his book Drawdown, Paul Hawken provides an extensive compilation of approaches to climate change. He discusses more than 80 ways to palliate its consequences with an estimated total monetary savings of approximately $73 trillion over 30 years.
Human effect Fundamentally, humans have been too successful as a species. We have pursued ever greater population numbers and economic growth without considering the finite size of our planet and the resources available in it. The ecosystem provides the essentials for life, such as water, air, food, soil, plants, and minerals, and we are degrading it seriously at our peril. Major effects include shortage of fresh water, extinction of species, pollution, deforestation, and loss of topsoil and wildlife habitat.
Sustainable growth is only possible via technology and approaches to maximize resource utilization, and/or controlling population. For many centuries, as humans depleted local resources, we have simply moved to other regions where supplies were available, but that is no longer an option as these practices are degenerating the entire planet. There appears to be general agreement that we are short approximately 50% of a planet now, and as world population continues to grow and living standards rise, projections include a shortfall of some 3 planets. Altering technology and approaches to adapt to such growth is termed “sustainability,” and its various alternatives include green growth, reusability, and the circular economy. It also involves the valuing, protection, and strengthening of what are called “ecosystem services.”
Image courtesy Dassault Systèmes
Energy storage solutions have improved tremendously over the past decade. Going forward, these advances will permit cleaner travel options. Photo shows a concept of Solar Impulse and Dassault Systèmes.
Financial incentives The purpose of this report is to consider the examination and application of financial gain incentives to greatly accelerate the development of sustainability for the entire
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ecosystem. This financial approach is responsible, for example, for the now hugely successful growth in generation and storage of renewable energy. During the past few decades, technology has reduced the costs of renewables, and prices are still decreasing. However, as a matter of fact, not much really happened with regard to application and utilization of renewable energy until it was the best solution, financially speaking. The major determinant of renewable energy application has always been financial gain, not the climate downsides mentioned. It’s noteworthy that inexpensive renewable energy – that is, green electricity generation – and storage solutions are pivotal keys or enablers for climate change mitigation, as electrification can be applied widely to the other major processes that produce CO2, such as transportation and industrial and commercial operations. There are 2 obvious high-level sources of financial benefit for both the ecosystem and climate. One approach strives to mitigate the trillions of dollars of negative effects that will result from ecosystem degradation and climate change if the current negative trends continue, while the other aims to alter technology and approaches to situations with the potential to yield greater profits. First, we’ll examine the current financial approaches to climate. Second, we’ll address similarly the rest of the ecosystem to reach sustainability, enable a circular economy, and promote green growth, abandoning ecosystem degradation in the process.
Changing business practices Keeping current business models may result in an estimated average loss of 7% (or more, depending on temperature rise) of global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100. On the other hand, working to reduce impact on both ecosystem and climate is projected to increase global GDP some 5% by 2050. Changes for the financial and ecosystem good will come with some consequences, and there will be winners and losers. The big winners with the shift toward renewable energy are manufacturers catering to this industry, and the general public, with reduced climate impacts across the board, cheaper energy bills, and
Distributed energy generation situates energy conversion units close to consumers, substituting large units with smaller ones. Communities could be self-supporting in terms of electricity needs.
cleaner air. Losers thus far, due to availability of lower-cost options for energy generation, include coaland nuclear-based power producers. Similarly, as renewable energy production becomes more efficient and storage solution costs continue to decrease, the gas and petroleum industries will be affected, too. Consequently, as we change our ways to reverse current environmental trends, there will be financial difficulties to be considered and solved. For example, the stock market value of the US coal industry in 2011 was approximately $37 billion. As of 2019, it’s worth about $2 billion. Historically, there have been concerns regarding the costs of environmental remediation. However, actions have shifted to concerns regarding the even greater cost of not taking action, along with the financial loss that will result from not taking advantage of the opportunities associated with remediation approaches, even if specific major industries are negatively affected. An indication of this 180º shift is seen in the increasing importance of environmental performance in the evaluation of top management. Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has said that companies that don’t adapt to the challenges of climate change will go bankrupt without question. The value of the rapidly growing global green economy in 2015/2016 was ~$7.87 trillion.
Prospective financial losses Negative climate changes in the form of floods, droughts, fires, etc, directly affect local and regional
economies due to loss of human lives and interrupted productivity. In addition, the disbursement of insurance money, also tied to natural disasters, accounts for some 11% of US GDP. Furthermore, estimates indicate that a 2º C temperature rise would reduce GDP by 15%, and a 3º C rise would reduce it by 25%. In 2100, temperature rise is slated for 4º C, producing a 30% reduction in GDP. In the US, this temperature rise means $23 trillion will be lost. In this regard, the US economy could shrink 10% to 25% by 2100, depending on the promptness and effects of positive reaction. Without a doubt, fields such as agriculture, fishing, health services, mining, supply chains, real estate and land/labor work would benefit greatly from more stable climate. Estimates of the cost of CO2 emissions on the economy were on the order of $100 per ton in 2018. With 37 billion tons emitted, the result was $3.7 trillion/year. On societal costs, this equates to approximately 4% of GDP. Other estimates of the social cost of carbon range from $220 to upwards of $500 per ton of CO2 emissions, depending on what costs are included. Now, given the cost of raising children, in terms of reducing carbon emissions at the personal level, having 1 fewer child saves the most in CO2 emissions by far – 58 tons/year. Given the obvious manifestations of climate change, consumers are increasingly demanding climate-friendly operations and products across the board, which has resulted in loss of business for those that do not adapt to these demands.
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Harvesting renewable energy can be done at remote locations without harming the environment.
In terms of public health, it’s estimated that almost 25% of all diseases are caused by adverse environmental exposure. The yearly cost for unmitigated climate change would total at least 5% of GDP, but it could be as high as 20%. What’s more, warming of 6º C could lead to present value loss of $43 trillion, or 30% of the global total. Since 1980, extreme weather has cost $1.6 trillion. In contrast, over the course of a decade, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations cost $45 billion but produced $640 billion in benefits.
Prospective financial gains Renewable energy generation is at or below cost parity with fossil carbon fuels, and prices are still plummeting. Energy storage markets are huge and growing rapidly, and costs keep decreasing. Battery prices have fallen some 85% over the past decade, leading to cheaper electricity and electric transportation, reaching new markets, and reducing the cost of living and manufacturing. Investment in renewable energy in the past decade is calculated at $2.5 trillion, jobs have increased in related fields, and health issues from fossil fuel pollution along with cooling water requirements have been reduced. The benefits of shifting to renewable energy also extend to other realms. Less costly energy, for example, enables more profitable desalinization, aluminum production, ocean mining, etc. Also, distributed energy, including at-home energy generation, constitutes a more reliable and less expensive system.
Energy conservation developments have permitted more efficient buildings that produce their own energy. In agriculture, there are potentially huge profits in switching from traditional practices to halophyte/saline methods. These allow for utilization of currently unexploited planet resources such as deserts, wastelands, and saline/seawater environments. This approach would: • Produce biomass for replacing petroleum for petrochemical feedstock. • Produce massive amounts of food while freeing up a sizable portion of the 70% of the fresh water now used for agriculture. • Produce biofuels. • Absorb major amounts of CO2. • Address resource challenges related to land, water, food, energy, and climate. • Reduce agricultural costs and the need for water conservation. Reportedly, investing $1.7 trillion in climate change mitigation over the next 10 years would yield $7 trillion in economic returns due to avoidance of negative climate effects and the increased productivity of new equipment.
Ecosystem degradation Ecosystem degradation comes with negative financial implications for society. Major personal, commercial, industrial, and agricultural losses can be expected due to depletion of natural resources, such as loss of topsoil, fresh water shortages, deforestation and extinction of species, and pollution, including trash and industrial waste. Avoiding ecosystem degradation
could save some 9 million human lives per year from deaths related to pollution (ozone, carbon monoxide, NO2, SO2, ammonia, lead, etc), which is 15 times the number of deaths from wars and 16% of global deaths/year. It’s estimated that 9 out of 10 people in the world breathe highly polluted air. Pollution costs some $4.6 trillion to the global economy. Marine plastic pollution alone costs up to $2.5 trillion/year. The world’s terrestrial ecosystem services, which are considered based on variables, have been valued on an annual basis to be approximately equivalent to the annual GDP, and the cumulative loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services between 2000 and 2050 could be equivalent to 7% of the 2050 world GDP. Estimates indicate that, between 1997 and 2011, the world lost up to $21 trillion in ecosystem services due to land cover change and/ or degeneration. Ecosystem services vital to human well-being, such as crop pollination, water purification, flood protection, and carbon sequestration, are worth between $125 and $140 trillion/year, which is 1.5 times greater than the global GDP.
Reversing ecosystem degradation Growing salt-tolerant plants, such as halophytes, using saline water in unused areas has immense advantages, including the following: • Utilization of wastelands and deserts, which make up 44% of the land area, and seawater (97% of the planet’s water resources). This could be our last major play regarding the ecosystem. • Seawater contains 80% of the nutrients needed to grow plants, and researchers are developing new techniques to extract nitrogen from the air, thus requiring less fertilizer. • Economics are very favorable because advanced technology is not required, and cultivation uses inexpensive land and water. The shift to halophytes could occur relatively soon. • Halophyte cultivation would free up 70% or more of the total fresh water used for conventional glycophyte agriculture and for direct human use, thus solving both water and food problems. • Cultivating halophytes would similarly eliminate the necessity of
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using arable land and freshwater for biofuels and for providing petrochemical feedstocks for plastics and other industrial products. It is literally green energy and chemicals. • Halophytes sequester up to 18% of their CO2 uptake in their deep roots (5 tons of CO2/ha), removing this gas from the atmosphere. • Seawater contains trace elements essential to healthy human physiology, which we have largely depleted from arable land due to overuse. Currently, the University of Nottingham in the UK is attempting to use atmospheric nitrogen for agriculture, aiming to spend far less on fertilizers, eliminate runoffs, and reduce oxygen loss in oceans. Other forms of ecosystem degradation such as the highly-polluting hard-rock mining can be reduced by switching to ocean mineral extraction using inexpensive renewable energy. Recycling – also known as the circular economy – is another environment-friendly practice that works with nearly any material, including solids, liquids, and gases. Companies doing this usually operate locally and at ultra-low costs. On less than a half-acre and with help from developing technologies, individuals and communities could grow their own food, recycle on site, use distributed energy generation, solve their printing needs, practice tele-education and tele-medicine, and use 5-sense virtual reality (VR) for applications like tele-traveling. This would eliminate the need for physical travel, as tele-workers and those in the “gig economy,” which is based on flexible jobs connecting to
Producing parts at home with the use of 3D printing technology is an optimal solution as it reduces waste and eliminates costs and pollution associated with shipping.
ing both the avoidance of financial downsides and evolving markets for mitigation approaches, and their offshoots, fixing the ecosystem and climate is the way forward to excellent financial growth and success. And, although it will require changes, these are either already under way or available for financial exploitation. So, yes, the intimately related decarbonization, circular economy, and green growth are achievable in the mid-term, and they’re financially advantageous. In the case of climate, there was minimal progress until the profitability became apparent. That same power of financials can – and should – be successful in regard to improving the outlook for the rest of the ecosystem.
Because of massive reductions in the costs of renewable energy and storage solutions, favorable financials and increased profits are currently on a path that could fix climate in a few decades. Given the huge economic value of the ecosystem and the major financial upsides of various mitigation alternatives, it is more than conceivable that these approaches could also fix the rest of the ecosystem issues. These considerations, options, and experiences refute the long-held conventional wisdom that fixing the ecosystem/climate issues would be extremely costly and detrimental to economic growth. In fact, consider-
Dennis Bushnell is chief scientist at NASA Langley Research Center, where he is responsible for technical oversight and advanced program formulation. His major technical expertise includes flow physics and control, drag reduction and advanced configuration aeronautics. Bushnell is a fellow of AIAA, ASME and the Royal Aeronautical Society and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Photo courtesy MIT
Halophyte crops have many advantages. These plants can remove up to 5 tons of CO2 per cultivated hectare, and they don’t compete for fresh water with humans because they use saline/seawater.
customers through online platforms, can live just about anywhere. And going forward, some may not need a job at all since these opportunities could result in huge personal financial independence. The ongoing major shift in wealth generation from exploiting natural resources to inventing things has far smaller effects in the ecosystem. Various adaptations and resilience approaches to ecosystem preservation promoting positive climate changes have overall benefits estimated at $7 trillion. McKinsey and Company, in its Sep 20, 2019 issue of the Shortlist, estimates business opportunities of up to $60 billion/year related to new approaches to plastics recycling. Manufacturing is already being transformed by 3D printing, as various parts are produced at the individual level. This reduces waste, enables use of new/different materials and much more complex/optimized designs and functionalities, all this at greatly reduced costs while using 90% less materials. The US green economy’s estimated worth is $1.3 trillion/year, or 6.8% of our $19 trillion/yr economy. There are greater returns in the green economy than in the stock market. Estimated yearly GDP climate losses are some 4% of GDP. Therefore, the total effect of the green economy and loss mitigation is around 11% (4+6.8) of GDP, or nearly $2 trillion. The global green economy is approximately $8 trillion. Reportedly, there was a $10.4-trillion private investment from 2009–2019 in the global green economy.
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Australia and New Zealand
Photos courtesy Air Centre One
Understanding ADS-B and Transportation Security Program requirements is crucial when operating GA aircraft here.
By Grant McLaren Editor-at-Large
usiness aviation movements to, from, and within Australia and New Zealand remain at steady levels, although there has been an uptick in volume over recent years. While these sovereign island nations are welcoming and efficient bizav operating environments, and the locals are friendly, there are considerations to be mindful of in terms of trip planning and day of operation tactics. “From an operational standpoint, trips to this region are pretty straightforward, and there are full-service FBOs across Australia and at many locations in New Zealand,” says ITPS Ops Mgr Ben Fuller. “However, there are visa considerations and Transportation Security Program (TSP) requirements to take into account in Australia, and insecticide spraying of cabins must be done prior to arrival. Also, ADS-B mandates are expanding in this region. Operating costs here are much less expensive than they are at popular destinations in Asia, and
(L) Air Centre One CSR and support staff greet Bombardier Challenger 604 crew arriving into AKL (Auckland, New Zealand). (Above) Customs/ immigration processing inside the FBO at AUK.
and airport availability become important considerations. Even more challenging can be flying from South Africa to the west coast of Australia – a distance of about 4500 nm with few tech stop opportunities. Once you get past Réunion or Mauritius, there’s really nowhere to tech stop on a direct routing.” AKL (Auckland, New Zealand)-based Air Centre One CEO Robin Leach advises operators to do due diligence in researching midocean tech stops, particularly late at night. “PPG (Pago Pago, American Samoa), for example, has no ATC at night, and there’s only pilot-controlled runway lighting. NAN (Nadi, Fiji), on the other hand, is a 24-hour ATC-controlled airport. We think it’s best to avoid landing in the dark at uncontrolled airports in the South Pacific.”
TSP mandates for Australia both ground handling capabilities and services are on par with those in North America or Europe.” Happily, there are few airport slot requirements in this region, virtually no Prior Permission Required (PPR) mandates, and parking – whether short- or long-term – is seldom an issue. However, there are planning considerations that depend on where you’re flying in from and where your destinations will be in Australia and New Zealand. Noise curfews must be considered at certain airports, and cabotage restrictions apply when transporting local nationals within country. “While you can anticipate straightforward operating conditions and good ground handling throughout this region, one of the larger challenges may be getting to Australia and/or New Zealand with shorter-range aircraft,” says UAS Ops Mgr Duke LeDuc. “If you’re traveling from North America, you may need to island hop, so tech stops, ETPs
For more than 10 years, Australia has mandated air operators with equipment above 5700 kg MTOW have approved TSPs in place. A TSP covers all aircraft registered to a particular operator, and revisions may be necessary from time to time. Note that fines of up to A$22,000 may be imposed if operating to Australia without a TSP and/or without having requested a TSP, irrespective of whether you already have a Safety Management System (SMS) or non-Australian security certification in place. “All operators to Australia require TSPs. In the case of charter, this can involve a rigorous 60-page application and, potentially, months before they receive approval,” says Avfuel Account Exec David Kang. “While the private version of the TSP is a simpler and shorter process, you should still plan on the process taking 3–4 weeks.” ITPS Sr Flight Planner Keith Quibodeaux says that TSP mandates for private General Aviation (GA) ops
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to Australia have eased somewhat recently. “Now, so long as you’re not providing revenue services and do not have a permanent facility in Australia, you can e-mail your TSP application and expect to have it approved within a few weeks. No foreign-registered private operator has been stopped from operating to Australia without a TSP as long as it’s been applied for.” International Support Providers (ISPs) may assist you with this TSP process if you provide your authority in writing. At present, New Zealand does not mandate an equivalent to the Australian TSP requirement.
ADS-B mandates ADS-B requirements are in effect for both Australia and New Zealand. This covers airspace from FL290 all the way up, as well as within controlled airport airspace. Exceptions had been possible in Australia up until Dec 11, 2015, but now all ops above FL290 must be ADS-B equipped/certified. ADS-B was mandated in New Zealand last year, and coverage will expand as of Dec 31, 2020. “The government is currently subsidizing all locally-registered aircraft, at a rate of NZ$2500, to install ADS-B equipment this year,” says Leach. “Very soon, you’ll need to have ADS-B for almost any effective operations in both Australia and New Zealand.”
Airways, slots and parking For travel within Australia and New Zealand, operators file on airways. Once airborne, however, ATC usually allows direct routing. Flight plans for Australia may be filed up to 24 hours in advance, but they need to be submitted at least 1 hour prior to departure. The only airports in Australia requiring both arrival and departure slots are SYD (Sydney NSW) and PER (Perth WA), although BNE (Brisbane QLD) mandates arrival slots in some circumstances. Slots at SYD are an issue only between 0600 and 0800 local, following the night curfew backlog. “There are no airport slot or PPR mandates in New Zealand, but there’s been talk of introducing slots for AKL,” adds Air Centre One Ops Mgr Donovan Bowden. “For any ops to New Zealand with aircraft from
Dassault Falcon 7X on final approach to WLG (Wellington, New Zealand). After a long duty day crossing the Pacific Ocean, crews can be assured of full support, services, and GA infrastructure at major airports of entry in both Australia and New Zealand.
ICAO states, landing permission is just a matter of filing eAPIS in advance, and advising who’s on board. Parking can be an issue for GA aircraft at some smaller locations, particularly at airports not offering tow-in/tow-out services. “At AKL, for example, aircraft are towed and the ramp can usually accommodate 9–10 business jets at a time,” notes Leach. “But some smaller airfields do not have the capacity to tow aircraft and may only be able to park 1 or 2 aircraft at a time.” Overnight parking for any aircraft larger than a Gulfstream G550 or a Bombardier Global Express can be an issue at SYD, so it’s important to pre-confirm parking options here.
Visa & customs/immigration Both Australia and New Zealand have introduced Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs). This is a quick process involving a light background check that can be done entirely online. Although ETAs can be applied for right up until you enter Australia or New Zealand, ISPs always recommend making ETA applications as soon as the trip schedule is known. Approved ETAs are good for 2 years, and flightcrew members may stay up to 21 days per entry. Note that crew and passenger visas for Australia cannot be obtained on arrival. Online ETAs are available for most nationalities, but you must have at least 6 months remaining passport validity upon arrival. Leach points out that ETAs for New Zealand are only available to passengers and crew who are on the Visa Waiver List (VWL). “You’ll need a traditional visa if your nationality is not on the VWL. And if you’re a
flightcrew member who will remain with the aircraft, a 21-day visa is available. Current ETAs are valid for a period of 2 years, but crew ETAs with 5-year validity will be available this year.” Business aviation users normally clear customs and immigration within FBOs at larger Airports of Entry (AOE) in Australia and New Zealand, but not always. “In New Zealand, customs and immigration will normally come over to the FBO to clear GA,” explains Leach. “This is usually also the case in Australia, although you may not always get offsite clearance at SYD, and you may need to go over to the terminal.” Bowden adds that in New Zealand it’s best to first clear at a major AOE, such at AKL, rather than attempt to make direct international arrivals into smaller locations. “ROT (Rotorua) will let you depart internationally but not arrive from outside the country,” he says. “DUD (Dunedin) provides customs and immigration services only by request, and needs 6 days’ prior notice. And NPE (Hawke’s Bay/Napier) will allow clearance, with prior arrangement, but will not entertain schedule changes.” For customs/immigration clearance into Australia, ISPs recommend providing 48-hour advance notification with complete crew and passenger info. Upon arrival, crew members need to provide a stamped GenDec from the last departure point. Rules are very strict regarding temporary pet importation into both Australia and New Zealand. You’ll need to provide prior notification of any pet arrival, paperwork must be complete and correct, and procedures are rigorous. “In New ZeaPROFESSIONAL PILOT / April 2020 47
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SYD (Sydney NSW, Australia) is one of the most popular destinations for business jets in the region, such as this arriving Gulfstream G450. Be mindful that arrival/departure slots are mandated here, and often there are limits to the size of aircraft that may be RON at SYD.
land, a vet must physically examine each pet upon arrival,” says Leach.
Agricultural requirements All arriving aircraft into Australia and New Zealand must spray the cabin, at top of descent, and complete a certificate. Note that at certain tech stops along the way, such as NAN, spray at top of descent is also mandated. “The requirement is to spay pre-embarkation and again at top of descent,” notes Bowden. “You don’t have to use the entire can, normally it’s about 25 grams or about ¼ of a can. On arrival, you’ll meet a quarantine officer to show the used cans along with a completed disinfection certificate. Without this certificate, even if you’ve sprayed the cabin, they’ll likely respray the entire aircraft and keep the doors closed with passengers on board.” Approved disinfectant spray can be difficult to obtain, including in the US, but it’s normally stocked at FBOs in the Hawaiian Islands, and also in Fiji and Tahiti.
Smaller airfield ops Most popular GA airfields in Australia, with some exceptions such as ASP (Alice Springs NT), are located along the coasts, mostly on the east and southeast sides of the country. New Zealand has several major AOEs, including AKL and WLG (Wellington), as well as several other non-AOE airfields that are frequented by GA operators. “At smaller airport locations, ground service and capabilities may be limited, and handling could be very basic,” notes Bowden. “They’ll take bags on and off and remove trash, but may not be able to arrange
lav, potable water and catering services. Fuel can also be limited at smaller locations. At NPE, for example, they only have a 10,000-liter truck. We recommend doing your servicing at major locations before going into smaller domestic airfields. It’s usually best to pick up catering off airport, even at larger AOEs.” In Australia, FBOs exist at major AOEs such as SYD, MEL (Melbourne VIC), BNE, PER, and DRW (Darwin NT). However, business aircraft operators should anticipate ground landing limitations and potential delays at some other locations. For example, while CNS (Cairns QLD) has an FBO, you’ll need to clear at the main terminal before taxiing over to the FBO. At some smaller airports, you could be handled by a local airline.
Weather challenges are fairly limited in Australia and New Zealand, although there can be cyclone and typhoon activity from time to time. For crews remaining overnight, particularly at smaller locales, be aware that hotel accommodations may sell out occasionally. LeDuc cautions crews to consider safety during RONs in this part of the world. “Don’t play with the wildlife,” he says. “This part of the world, particularly Australia, has some of the deadliest crocodiles, snakes, spiders, sharks, and venomous frogs that you’ll find anywhere in the world. Even kangaroos, although they look cute, will kick you. A swim in the hotel pool may be a better option than jumping into the ocean or a nearby river.”
Over recent years, both Australia and New Zealand have become stricter in terms of noise issues. Within Australia, only Stage 3 aircraft are currently permitted to operate. Moreover, for SYD and ADL (Adelaide SA), late-night noise curfews are based on takeoff weight (TOW). GA aircraft up to 75,000 lb actual TOW with Stage 3 noise certificates may operate during late-night at both SYN and ADL. On the other hand, both OOL (Gold Coast QLD) and MEL are closed to ops during late night hours. Over in New Zealand, at WLG, strict operating curfews are imposed from 2300 to 0630 local, the only exceptions being medevac or emergency situations. It’s always best to confirm applicable night and noise restrictions with your service provider on a stop-bystop basis.
For a 1st-time operation to Australia, understanding ADS-B requirements and TSP mandates is critical, as these are potential lead-time and restrictive issues which could impede a short-notice operation. It’s always best to provide 48 hours’ advance notice for customs/immigration requirements, pre-confirm parking, and research any noise curfew issues which could limit flexibility of planned operations.
Weather and RON
Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 40 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.
48 PROFESSIONAL PILOT / April 2020
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Professional Pilot Magazine April 2020