As 2023 draws to a close
It’s now traditional that I take Christmas and New Year’s off but it’s also a good excuse to put you to work instead. Recently I found myself considering these two reports and I’m wondering if anyone here might be able to shed some light on the issues.
First of all, this is trivial but I am intrigued by this case where a stone got stuck in the wheel spat. Specifically, why did the AAIB even bother with an accident report?
Second, I’m mystified by a reference to low-flying rules in the UK. This is from a military report about a bird strike. The bolding is my addition:
The UK Military Low Flying Handbook (UK Handbook) uses the Bird Avoidance Model Geographical Information Service to provide guidance for avoiding bird strikes during low-level flights. The 56th Rescue Squadron complies with the UK Handbook when flying in Night Rotary Region 5 (NRR 5), in accordance with AFI 11-202, Volume 3, Flying Operations, 22 October 2010, USAFE Supplement, 19 March 2012 (Tabs V-2.12 to V-2.13 and BB-15.6 to BB-15.9). NRR 5 includes the coastline from Blakeney to beyond Salthouse (Tab NN-9). The UK Handbook advises aircrews to consider the bird avoidance guidance during the flightplanning process (Tab NN-8). It states rotary wing aircraft in NRR 5 should remain below 500 feet AGL (Tab NN-9). It also states aircrews should cross coastlines at right angles and above 500 feet AGL to avoid bird strikes (Tab NN-8). Operations above 500 feel AGL did not support mission requirements (Tab V-3.43 to V-3.46).
I can’t make sense of why the handbook would recommend that helicopters stay below 500 feet as a part of bird avoidance guidance. The area borders a Nature Reserve and thus bird hazards are expected during migration seasons. The mission was specifically about low-level flying and so they needed to fly lower than 500 feet above ground level, that bit is clear. But the bolded sentence from the handbook still makes no sense to me in the context of low-flying over a bird sanctuary. (The fact that “feet” is mistyped as “feel” does not add to my confidence that the text is correct).
Meanwhile, I really loved this video of the set up of a 120 foot (36 metre) light display on an Easyjet aircraft at London Luton. If you are reading in email, you will definitely need to click through to see it. Courtesy of London Luton
And with that, I’m going to get my Glühwein and a piece of Lebkuchen and enjoy a long weekend with family.
I hope that you all have a peaceful and comfortable holiday season and I’m looking forward to seeing you in 2024!