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Braybuddy
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Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Fri Aug 27, 2004 7:39 pm

Some of the most amazing air-to-air photos on airliners.net are take at LAX, usually from a Cessna which seems to fly close to aircraft taking off. The telephoto lenses used surely can't be that big, due to the fact that the bigger they are the more important (and harder) it is to keep them still. I would have thought on safety grounds alone this would have been prohibited (remember the PSA 727/Cessna collision in 1978), but surely after 11 September 2001 this is risk-taking of the highest order? Is LAX the only airport where this is allowed?
 
JMChladek
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Fri Aug 27, 2004 8:28 pm

Overflights by private aircraft at lower altitudes can be done over larger airports upon the authorization of approach/departure control for that airport. If authorized for low altitude, it has to be done at a set minimum altitude so as not to interfere with take off and landing operations at the airport and the direction also has to be such for similar reasons. The aircraft must have two way communications established with the controlling agency and the aircraft must be equipped with an altitude encoding transponder to do this though. The airspace around LAX is called class B airspace and clearance is needed by all aircraft before entry unless there are some designated air cooridors within the airspace to allow for traffic to proceed without clearance (but they need to stay in those cooridors, they can't deviate from them).

In my own student flights, I have regularly flown over well used airports in class C airspace at about 3000 to 4000 feet and even flew over MCI airport after getting clearance to enter class B airspace on a cross country flight. ATC tends keeps everything on a pretty tight leash with assigned vectors and altitudes in class B airspace. So if something funky happens, they can figure it out pretty quick and act accordingly.
 
CFIcraigAPA
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Fri Aug 27, 2004 8:35 pm

The VFR fly-ways (read: corridors) that are established around and through Class B airspace at larger airports are placed so that there is minimal disruption to commercial air traffic. While I am not familiar with LAX airspace (I could walk down a few aisles and get a sectional chart), my guess is that they have that one close enough to the airport that no commercial jet can climb to that altitude over that short distance. Since all of LAX's runways are parallel and east-west facing, it makes it logical to prescribe a north-south corridor closer to the field.
At most if not all Class B airspace areas, there are established VFR corridors which you can find on sectional and/or Terminal Area Charts.
As for the whole Sept 11th thing, well, the aircraft are supposed to be in contact with ATC at all times. So, take comfort in knowing that simple radio contact with ATC can prevent a plane from straying off course and doing the unthinkable. Riiight. . .
CM
Prior Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Fri Aug 27, 2004 10:49 pm

There are big signs by the runways at LAX when taking off to the west that say "No Turn Before Coastline". Or at least they were there up to my last visit in 2001. This would help keep the airspace above "clear".
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
timz
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RE: LAX Rules

Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:52 am

"the aircraft are supposed to be in contact with ATC at all times."

Apparently not necessarily. There's a VFR corridor (a gap in the Class B) directly over the field, as discussed below

https://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/1705959

where the chart says you don't need to contact ATC.

In that thread, the guy says the offshore route no longer exists, which poses a mystery, since the pics were clearly not taken from anywhere near the SMO 132-deg radial.
 
SPREE34
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 2:42 am

Define "Close."
The VFR corridor has vertical limits. Federal Air Regulations, and ATC operating rules specify the separation that is required. In a situation where both aircraft are receiving RADAR service, in Class B airspace they could be allowed as close as 500 feet vertical, and zero miles lateral.

Re: September 11th. How is this "risk taking of the highest order"????

1978, PSA182 and the Cessna, different situation. PSA182 had been issued traffic by ATC, and advised ATC the traffic was in sight. ATC cleared PSA182 to "maintain visual separation." They did not. Your post suggest that small aircraft are a hazard to larger aircraft. In this example you brought up, the larger Boeing 727, overtook and struck the smaller Cessna. Cockpit voice recorders later indicated the PSA crew was not sure they did have the Cessna in sight, though ATC had been told otherwise by the crew.
I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 2:55 am

The PSA accident revealed serious deficiencies in both airline and ATC procedures. The PSA crew did not keep the Cessna in sight after first sighting it (it was very low in their windshields, partly obscured by the wipers but that's no excuse), ATC did not enforce restricted airspace regulations, and ATC did not heed collision warnings from the computer systems (after too many false alarms). Finally, the Cessna turned right shortly before impact. Why is unknown.

[Edited 2004-08-27 19:55:58]
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
SPREE34
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:13 am

Starlion, There is/was no "restricted" airspace. Are you referring to what was then the "TCA"? Did PSA dip below TCA airspace? Did the Cessna stray into the TCA?

"ATC did not heed collision warnings"
You are referring to the "Confilct Alert" feature on the RADAR. That feature functions on the basis of IFR separation rules. 3 miles, or 1000 feet. When someone is maintaining "Visual separation" obviously there is not going to be 3 miles or 1000 feet. When either parameter decreases below minimums, the conflict alert activates, but you as the controller know it's going to, and the aircraft in question are separated by another means (visual) so no contrary clearances are issued. This in not a false alarm, the conflict alert is correct, the aircraft will not be separared by standards. But, AGAIN, you the controller know that pilot A has pilot B insight and has agreed to miss.
I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:56 am

Re: September 11th. How is this "risk taking of the highest order"????

With passengers prohibited from taking nail clippers on board airliners (which is ridiculous considering duty free alcohol in glass bottles is allowed) I would have thought that a much greater danger exists by allowing light aircraft fly close to large airliners. A light aircraft would certainly be a risk to an airliner if flown by someone with fanatical or suicidal tendencies.
 
SleepyFlyBoy
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 4:08 am

"when taking off to the west that say "No Turn Before Coastline"."

that sign is for noise abatement procedures and not for making the airspace clear.

the Cessna or other aircraft that take pictures of these airliners are all abiding by the reg's. There are vfr flight corridors in and around class B airspaces but none would allow you to fly directly overhead of an airport at less then 1000'. Most corridors are along rivers or non-populated areas where you can dip below the class B. In new York it is commonplace to have a good mix of General aviation aircraft mixed in with jet and turboprop aircraft all in the same airspace. When flying through new yorks class B you can ask for anything really like for instance a low approach to one of the runways at Kennedy or laguardia or newark and depending on how busy it is they will either laugh at you or try and accommodate you. If you are flying late at night around 1 or two am then you have a pretty good shot at it. Friends and I flew 4 piper warriors (4 seaters) in formation right down to the runway at Kennedy. They let us do two low approaches to their runways but warned us that if our wheels touched we would have to pay a landing fee. This was at 2 am on a weekday and there was a japanair 747 and a jetblue aircraft on the ground at jfk. lga let us do a low pass over the field at 1500 and 1000 but ewr was a little too busy I guess because they just told us to climb to like 3000 if we wanted to overfly. As long as you are in contact with atc this is completely safe and is completely by the books. You do have to see and avoid traffic but they also give you traffic advisories.

mike
kick the tires and light the fires
 
timz
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RE: San Diego

Sat Aug 28, 2004 4:31 am

"Are you referring to what was then the [San Diego] "TCA"?"

Pretty sure San Diego didn't have a TCA in 1978.

As I recall the critical transmission by PSA was (after ATC pointed out traffic) "Okay, we had him there a minute ago." Unspoken message: we don't see him just now, but don't worry, we know you're busy, we'll spot him. They were being helpful, which turned out to be a mistake.
 
SPREE34
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 4:42 am

Fr: Braybuddy
"With passengers prohibited from taking nail clippers on board airliners (which is ridiculous considering duty free alcohol in glass bottles is allowed) I would have thought that a much greater danger exists by allowing light aircraft fly close to large airliners. A light aircraft would certainly be a risk to an airliner if flown by someone with fanatical or suicidal tendencies."

So we assume fanatical or suicidal types can take the 110 knot C150, or even 140 knot C182, execute the aerobatic maneuver necessary to intercept and then catch the accelerating air carrier, therefore all small aircraft should be restricted as to where they fly. Hardly fair to General Aviation.
If we apply this philosophy to motor vehicles, then busses, motor homes and trucks larger than a package van should be allowed free access to anywhere, but you and I should not be permitted to drive our cars anywhere near them or any train, or train station.

What do you do about the fanatical or suicidal airline pilot/flight attendant/baggage handler/air traffic controller?

I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
 
spacecadet
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 4:47 am

With passengers prohibited from taking nail clippers on board airliners (which is ridiculous considering duty free alcohol in glass bottles is allowed) I would have thought that a much greater danger exists by allowing light aircraft fly close to large airliners.

You'd be wrong. Exactly how do you propose flying a Cessna 172 at 100 knots into an airliner travelling at 250 knots? You can't chase him down from behind. You can try to hit him head on but the other pilot will see you and take evasive action and then he's still got a much faster plane then you. Hit him cross-wise? Man, you'd have to have some pretty good predictive aim to do that.

There's far more danger of an accident happening between an airliner and a light aircraft, and there have been dozens of near-misses in the past decade (check the FAA's near-miss database), but that was just as true before Sept. 11 as it is now.

I would think a terrorist plot to purposely fly a general aviation aircraft into an airliner in flight would have a ridiculously low chance of success, practically infintessimal. Certainly just driving a truck bomb into a building would be much more likely to succeed. Or, flying a general aviation aircraft loaded with bombs into a building. But flying one into another aircraft... I mean that's like shooting at a moving target with a bullet that's slower than the target you're shooting at. It's practically impossible to do it on purpose.
I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
 
StearmanNut
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 5:36 am

Intentionally trying to collide with a big jet using a Cessna or a Beech is going to be darned hard to do.

But, get a Cessna into the traffic pattern with these big beasts and there you find that coming together may be a really immediate thing. Just one slip of misundertanding the tower's instructions can put everyone at risk and the big boys don't have the ability to play "dodge the puddle jumper" while on short final at approach speeds.

It can happen, but more accidentally than intentional. I speak from experience.
If wishes were horses, a Tail Dragger I would fly...
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 5:57 am

Starlion, There is/was no "restricted" airspace. Are you referring to what was then the "TCA"? Did PSA dip below TCA airspace? Did the Cessna stray into the TCA?

"ATC did not heed collision warnings"
You are referring to the "Confilct Alert" feature on the RADAR. That feature functions on the basis of IFR separation rules. 3 miles, or 1000 feet. When someone is maintaining "Visual separation" obviously there is not going to be 3 miles or 1000 feet. When either parameter decreases below minimums, the conflict alert activates, but you as the controller know it's going to, and the aircraft in question are separated by another means (visual) so no contrary clearances are issued. This in not a false alarm, the conflict alert is correct, the aircraft will not be separared by standards. But, AGAIN, you the controller know that pilot A has pilot B insight and has agreed to miss.



Ok, I was unclear earlier. There was a 4000ft min altitude restriction around Montgomery Field. Controllers were required to instruct aircraft to remain above 4000ft, but this was not done by all controllers. If the controller had instructed the PSA 727 to do so, the accident might not have occured.

The controller did get a conflict alert, but he was counting on the 727 having visual contact with the Cessna. The pilots even said they spotted him but when they lost sight of him they failed to explicitly report this to ATC. This loss of visual contact was the primary reason for the accident.

Contributory reasons:

ATC failed to understand that they had lost sight of the Cessna even if it was implied in the transmissions.

If ATC had not been relying on visual procedures, the accident could easily have been avoided. This is particulary ironic since radar service was available.

The pilot of the Cessna neither maintained the heading assigned by ATC nor informed ATC that he was changing heading.

Approach control failed to warn either aircraft of the conflict alert.

Approach control did not restrict the 727 to a min altitude of 4000ft around Montgomery Field.

Source: "Air Disaster" 2 by Macarthur Job.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Skymonster
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:55 am

LOL... A while ago I was contacted by some military bod from the Pentagon about this picture...

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Andy Martin - AirTeamImages


He said he wanted to use the picture in a report that discussed the impact general aviation could have on commercial airport and air operations. Although he didn't say so directly, I got the impression he was more worried about a GA aircraft packed with explosives that took off from some small insecure airfield being suicide bombed into a terminal complex packed with people, than he was about a Cessna colliding with a 747.

As a current private pilot certificate holder, I declined to let him use the picture saying that I didn't want to be a party to or support anything that might eventually result in more restrictions being placed on general aviation than is currently the case.

Andy
There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:56 am

SPREE34:
I know, there are a thousand ways to kill people on transport of any kind if the will is there. . . I was only making the point that air travel has become hypersensitive to risks after 11 Sept, to the point of being fanatical. If a driver crashes his bus head-on into another bus in LA and causes, say 50 fatalities, it would not generate the same coverage as someone nose-diving a Cessna head-on into a 747. Unless Al Qaeda become desperate, I don't see them training to be bus drivers.
In my original post I was only wondering why light aircraft were allowed to fly so close to airliners taking off. I would have thought it a risk that the authorities, given the present security situation, would not be prepared to tolerate. Excessive, I know, but then a lot of security since 11 Sept has been excessive.
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Light Aircraft Flying Close To Airliners

Sat Aug 28, 2004 7:03 am

"I would think a terrorist plot to purposely fly a general aviation aircraft into an airliner in flight would have a ridiculously low chance of success"
Did anyone ever think that two airliners, hijacked on the same day, would manage to fly from Boston to New York to destroy the WTC? If Hollywood made a film of that scenario five years ago it would have been ridiculed . . . .

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