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readytotaxi
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Concern Over African Airspace.

Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:19 pm

This piece in the Sundaytimes travel section today.

"Airline pilots have reacted with alarm to news that the minimum safe distance between aircraft using African airspace has been halved,bringing it into line with other regions of the world.The implementation of the Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) effectively means that aircraft can now pass within 1,000ft of each other at altitudes from 29,000 - 41,000ft. "It's a matter of standardisation" says the CAA,explaining that Africa is one of the last regions in the world to introduce RVSM. "In the past, altimeters weren't as accurate as they are now.These days instruments allow a narrower margin of error."
Pilots however are not convinced that all the 180 plus airlines operating out of Africa have instruments that are sufficiently accurate - or that airlines not correctly equipped WILL stay below 29,000ft.
"In theory,airlines using old DC-9s older 737s and stripped out Russian planes should now be banned from operating between 29,000 - 41,000ft, says South African pilot Nick de Vries.
"But flying low burns more fuel.These guys will be up there,whizzing along without a clue how far they really are from the aircraft flying above or below them - especially at night. I'll be dimming the cockpit lights and keeping a good lookout."

Is this news media hype, or should we be concerned?
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flexo
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:34 pm

I can understand the concern.

I have always been a little worried flying over Africa to begin with. I mean I wouldn't trust most of the African countries to properly organize even a street intersection so I have serious doubts about their ATC capabilities.
 
PITingres
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:13 pm

There was a bunch of hand-wringing on this subject over at pprune. I'd say that the opinions were fairly evenly divided between it making accidents more likely and less likely. The more-likely camp points to inaccurate instrumentation or undisciplined flying, and the less-likely camp says that it will make each level less crowded with less chance of a mid-air. Who knows? My guess is that the change is unlikely to make things drastically worse, and might possibly make the airspace marginally safer. I certainly wouldn't panic over it. (Any of the seriously incompetent flyers probably can't find a 2000 foot level either.)
Fly, you fools! Fly!
 
PhilSquares
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:55 pm



Quoting Readytotaxi (Thread starter):
Is this news media hype, or should we be concerned?

Prior to the implementation of RVSM, it was a big issue. Having flown in/out/through Africa, in the days where there was 4000' separation on the same direction there was concern for worry, and that was merely an ATC issue.

Not that there's 2000' separation on the same direction and 1000' opposite direction, I personally feel there is an increased cause for concern. Additionally,the maintenance standards while on paper are very stringent, in reality the standards are rarely enforced, especially when it comes to internal flights.

Again, just an opinion from someone who has flown there too many times.
Fly fast, live slow
 
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readytotaxi
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:13 pm



Quoting PhilSquares (Reply 3):

What extra precautions do you take when traveling these sectors?
you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
 
PhilSquares
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:15 pm



Quoting Readytotaxi (Reply 4):
What extra precautions do you take when traveling these sectors?

Here's a good place to start. http://www.ifalpa.org/sab/2001/02SAB...ht%20Broadcast%20Procedure_Oct.pdf

In addition, all exterior lights on and acute awareness on the radio to have a good situational awareness of all the traffic around you and crossing your route. Finally, have a good look outside at all times.
Fly fast, live slow
 
flexo
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:55 am



Quoting PhilSquares (Reply 5):
Here's a good place to start. http://www.ifalpa.org/sab/2001/02SAB...t.pdf

Wow, that document is really interesting. I guess flying over Africa is more VFR than IFR afterall!
Sometimes even at cruising altitude there's high clouds impairing visibility. I suppose you would try to avoid them at all costs over Africa?
 
Illini_152
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:53 pm

S.L.O.P.

Use it. We don't fly over the dark continent, but we do head south of the border quite a bit, when we're on airways, especially in the non-radar environment.
Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
 
411A
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:08 pm

Flying over Africa now, I haven't noticed any particular difficulty with RVSM...in fact, it seems better than last year, as more levels are available.
 
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readytotaxi
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:39 pm

Cool, which part of the continent are you passing over, heading west?
you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
 
lowrider
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:05 pm



Quoting Illini_152 (Reply 7):
S.L.O.P.

Agreed. There are certain parts of the world where I use it every time. Along with aggressive self annoucing. Although head on closure rates may exceed 10 miles per minute, see and and be seen still seems to rule the day.
Proud OOTSK member
 
PhilSquares
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:16 pm



Quoting 411A (Reply 8):
Flying over Africa now, I haven't noticed any particular difficulty with RVSM...in fact, it seems better than last year, as more levels are available.

Sounds like Hajj flying! Been there done that, no thanks. Flying down to JNB is bad enough. I think flying E/W across Africa is about the most dangerous flying in the world.
Fly fast, live slow
 
Soku39
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:14 pm



Quoting Flexo (Reply 6):
Wow, that document is really interesting. I guess flying over Africa is more VFR than IFR afterall!

There might be VFR stuff below 10,000 feet, but airlines and other scheduled operations are all on IFR flight plans, and that's who we're talkin about. There's not to much see and avoid with 700+ knot close in rates.
The Ohio Player
 
flexo
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:23 pm



Quoting Soku39 (Reply 12):
There might be VFR stuff below 10,000 feet, but airlines and other scheduled operations are all on IFR flight plans, and that's who we're talkin about

Obviously. But if you can't trust others to stick to their assigned flight paths you gotta keep a good lookout.

Quoting Soku39 (Reply 12):
There's not to much see and avoid with 700+ knot close in rates.

While I see your point, that seems to contradict:

Quoting PhilSquares (Reply 5):
Finally, have a good look outside at all times.

 
411A
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:14 am



Quoting PhilSquares (Reply 11):
Sounds like Hajj flying! Been there done that, no thanks. Flying down to JNB is bad enough. I think flying E/W across Africa is about the most dangerous flying in the world.

Yes indeed, been doing it for years.
Quite frankly, I have not had any problems...perhaps because I have the First Officer/Flight Engineer do all the work, while I read the newspaper and puff on my Havana cigar.

Oddly enough, however, I was listening on 11,300 one night, and here comes Eqypt Air, CAI to JNB, in an A340 (I think) and he was told by Khartoum to descend for crossing traffic. He says NEGATIVE, and I think he turned OFF his radio, as they did not come up on KRT VHF like they were supposed to.
 
ryu2
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:33 am

Is ATC comms in Africa all in English or do they sometimes, use, eg French or Arabic as well in countries where those languages are spoken?
 
Soku39
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:37 am

It's not the plane you see that kills you, and there's always the chance you may miss one. Add to that the planes are closer and you start to see the problem.

[Edited 2008-10-20 23:40:53]
The Ohio Player
 
sw733
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RE: Concern Over African Airspace.

Thu Oct 30, 2008 1:12 am



Quoting Ryu2 (Reply 15):
Is ATC comms in Africa all in English or do they sometimes, use, eg French or Arabic as well in countries where those languages are spoken?

From my experiences, it's like the rest of the world...English is the default, but sometimes you get some folks who don't follow the rules. Africa is kind of like Europe, in that there are several different official languages going on (down by me you have Afrikaans and Oshiwambo, in Angola you have Portuguese, Botwana/Zimbabwe has English, South Africa has...everything), but you also have an incredible amount of tribal languages which Europe, for the most part, does not. So the need for a universal language is even more important, but again, not everyone follows the rules (especially domestic flight, say a Port-Gentil to Libreville flight in Gabon, where French may be spoken between ATC/Pilot)

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