1/20/2011 Near Midair - AA B-777 & 2 C-17s

FlyingScot

Spanish Proficient
dasleben said:
Well, I wouldn't put it in those words, but there are a lot of distractions occurring around that time. Passing through FL220, I know I'd probably be on the SATCOM talking to dispatch, reading off departure information. The other guy would more than likely be on autopilot, looking up the oceanic entry point estimate, and potentially setting up the FMS for cruise. There's a fair amount of heads-down time going on.
I think the concept of see and avoid plays a more limited role in the aircraft as they get bigger and faster.

I spent a lot of time flight training. I emphasized the scan which could include 1 second stop in each sector and a glance out the rear window if we thought traffic might be there. When I started flying freight I would do a training flight with a seasoned freight dog and was shocked to see how much time was filling out paperwork and not looking out. I thought if this was my student I would be sitting him down for a serious conversation about a proper scan. It was not long before I found myself relying on ATC for the see part of the see and avoid equation.

While jumpseating I see a lot of heads down time even in the airport environment. Now that I fly a TCAS equipped aircraft I rely on this equipment even more than ATC for traffic awareness, especially when in the airport environment. From what I have seen there is not an adequate lookout for most time planes spend at flight levels. We pilots rely on TCAS and ATC to let us know when to look so we can see to then avoid.
 

Chief Captain

Well-Known Member
At least in my experience I disagree that if TCAS steps in it automatically prevented an incident. Or that every time an RA is received that automatically means multiple levels of safety have failed. Does it at times? Absolutely. 95% of the time I've seen an RA however , it was between two positively separated aircraft who were aware of what each other were doing with a timely and detailed traffic call. I'm sure receiving an RA isn't exactly a gentle experience and I can absolutely agree that receiving one when you don't see the traffic, even if the other traffic sees you is a rather serious matter. Having said that, the TCAS software isn't aware of the actual plan of action and can and does act on normal separation.
Agreed. If we're talking to each other, then I wouldn't consider the RA a serious event. However, if I'm doing my own thing and the RA pops up, I'd consider it serious.
 

dasleben

That's just, like, your opinion, man
I think the concept of see and avoid plays a more limited role in the aircraft as they get bigger and faster.

I spent a lot of time flight training. I emphasized the scan which could include 1 second stop in each sector and a glance out the rear window if we thought traffic might be there. When I started flying freight I would do a training flight with a seasoned freight dog and was shocked to see how much time was filling out paperwork and not looking out. I thought if this was my student I would be sitting him down for a serious conversation about a proper scan. It was not long before I found myself relying on ATC for the see part of the see and avoid equation.

While jumpseating I see a lot of heads down time even in the airport environment. Now that I fly a TCAS equipped aircraft I rely on this equipment even more than ATC for traffic awareness, especially when in the airport environment. From what I have seen there is not an adequate lookout for most time planes spend at flight levels. We pilots rely on TCAS and ATC to let us know when to look so we can see to then avoid.
I hear ya. I hate to say that it plays a more limited role, but the fact of the matter is in my operation, we're not both scanning sectors of the windscreen for 10 hours straight. Lots of times we're doing paperwork, eating dinner, or variety of other tasks. Not to say that we're not looking for traffic; if something shows up on the TCAS (even as a non-threat), we'll look for it, flash lights if head-on, etc. SA over the radio is important too, but that's not always possible when oceanic. TCAS is an important tool out there.

Agreed. If we're talking to each other, then I wouldn't consider the RA a serious event. However, if I'm doing my own thing and the RA pops up, I'd consider it serious.
It should still be followed. If there's positive separation, the RA probably won't be aggressive. One thing that gets us is during an enroute step climb, a climb done in VNAV will more or less "go for it" at full climb thrust, even for a 2000' step. If there's traffic above, it can set off an RA. The aircraft above will still respond to it, even if he knows you're down there (how does he know you're not busting your altitude assignment?).
 
Top