A PILOT'S GUIDE TO STAYING SAFE IN THE VICINITY OF NON-CONTROLLED AERODROMES
Acknowledgements: Australian Transport Safety Bureau (www.atsb.gov.au)
At and around non-controlled aerodromes, pilots are responsible for making themselves aware of nearby aircraft and maintaining separation. This report aims to provide pilots with an appreciation of the types of safety events that are associated with operations at non-controlled aerodromes, and to provide some education on expected behaviours to assist pilots in being prepared for the risks.
Generally, operations at non-towered aerodromes can be considered to be safe, but this relies on all pilots maintaining awareness of their surroundings and of other aircraft, and on flying in compliance with procedures, whilst being observant, courteous and cooperative. Most of the 709 airspace-related safety occurrences reported to the ATSB between 2003 and 2008 at or in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes were incidents, but they also included 60 serious incidents and six accidents (mid-air and ground collisions).
Most of the occurrences involved conflicts between aircraft, or between aircraft and ground vehicles. A large number of these involved:
· separation issues
· ineffective communication between pilots operating in close proximity
· the incorrect assessment of other aircrafts’ positions and intentions
· relying on the radio as a substitute for an effective visual lookout
· or a failure to follow published procedures
This guide has been released in association with a more detailed and larger report (AO-2008-044(2)) into non-controlled aerodrome operations.
Aerodromes located in uncontrolled airspace and consequently without a permanent air traffic control presence are known as non-towered aerodromes. In the vicinity of these aerodromes, pilots are responsible for making themselves aware of other nearby aircraft and for maintaining separation; and are expected to make a series of standard broadcasts regarding their position and intentions.
What you need to do
Non-towered aerodromes have been, and will continue to be, a central component of the airspace system. A number of issues related to communications, situational awareness, and following circuit procedures persist in occurrences at non-towered aerodromes, which pilots can easily address to make sure that safe operations are always maintained.
The aim at all times is to achieve “radio-alerted see-and-avoid”, to be aware of other traffic, and to position your aircraft appropriately to prevent conflicts with that traffic. Observing these simple points will help to you to do this:
· Maintain a lookout for other aircraft at all times
· Get a radio, and always make the standard broadcasts - even when you think there is no nearby traffic
· Achieve “radio-alerted see-and-avoid” by making all of the standard broadcasts within 10 NM of a non-towered aerodrome
· Use the same procedures at all non-towered aerodromes, unless otherwise stated in a specific aerodrome’s published procedures
· Be aware that any radio-equipped aircraft could be conducting straight-in approaches at non-towered aerodromes
· Avoid overflying aerodromes where possible, and take note of IFR inbound and outbound routes
(To read the full report click on AR-2008-044-1)