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Sam the Swiss

close encounter… how to avoid it next time?

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Hi everybody

 

This is going to be a little lengthy.

 

On my last flight, I had a close encounter with another aircraft coming in for an approach of the same airfield. Shortly before I did my call that I am at the designated approach sector (east) I heard another aircraft with the call that he is approaching the same sector, followed by a call of a third plane entering downwind of the active runway. I could not see either plane, so overhead the airfield I added to my call my high and my intention (descending to join righthand downwind RWY XY) and that I don't see the other traffic.

 

As the pilot of the other aircraft told me later on ground I just underflow him at that moment with a distance of around 20 m, way too close for me. Additionally I entered the downwind in front of another aircraft, in a better distance but not really in a distance big enough. Both pilots helped me out, the first by doing a 360 overhead and the second by extending his downwind. So in the end no harm was done.

 

But I don't want to let that happen again. What should I have done different? Making a 360 in the approach sector without seeing the other aircraft seems wrong to me, and overhead the close encounter was already fact. Moreover I did not know where from the other aircraft was approaching sector east.

 

Can the more experienced pilots comment on that? I would appreciate you sharing your experience.

 

 

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Hi everybody

 

This is going to be a little lengthy.

 

On my last flight, I had a close encounter with another aircraft coming in for an approach of the same airfield. Shortly before I did my call that I am at the designated approach sector (east) I heard another aircraft with the call that he is approaching the same sector, followed by a call of a third plane entering downwind of the active runway. I could not see either plane, so overhead the airfield I added to my call my high and my intention (descending to join righthand downwind RWY XY) and that I don't see the other traffic.

 

As the pilot of the other aircraft told me later on ground I just underflow him at that moment with a distance of around 20 m, way too close for me. Additionally I entered the downwind in front of another aircraft, in a better distance but not really in a distance big enough. Both pilots helped me out, the first by doing a 360 overhead and the second by extending his downwind. So in the end no harm was done.

 

But I don't want to let that happen again. What should I have done different? Making a 360 in the approach sector without seeing the other aircraft seems wrong to me, and overhead the close encounter was already fact. Moreover I did not know where from the other aircraft was approaching sector east.

 

Can the more experienced pilots comment on that? I would appreciate you sharing your experience.

 

 

 

Presumably this 'approach sector' is a 'collection point'? If so, shouldn't aircraft incoming to the approach sector be making radio calls before they get there, indicating their height, intentions and arrival time?

 

 

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I have had a number if times where I have heard lots of activity in the circuit etc prior to my arrival. 

 

Ive elected to stay right out of everybodies way and orbit somewhere distant and let them land and/or  depart 

 

and only come in when it’s clear again. 

 

Being patient if able takes a lot of the stress out. 

 

 

Presumably this 'approach sector' is a 'collection point'? If so, shouldn't aircraft incoming to the approach sector be making radio calls before they get there, indicating their height, intentions and arrival time?

 

 

 

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Arrange vertical separation until you’ve sighted the other aircraft.

 

 

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Arrange vertical separation until you’ve sighted the other aircraft.

Yes, staying at height over a field is a safe place to be I think.

You can look down and pick the aircraft in the circuit.

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Presumably this 'approach sector' is a 'collection point'? If so, shouldn't aircraft incoming to the approach sector be making radio calls before they get there, indicating their height, intentions and arrival time?

Yes, it is a collection point, but quite large. The incoming aircrafts make their calls, but often they are not very precise ("…approaching sector east…“) and as the area is quite large it is difficult to figure out, where exactly the other plane is. Normal call is position (imprecise here), hight and intension, no arrival time.

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I have had a number if times where I have heard lots of activity in the circuit etc prior to my arrival.

 

Ive elected to stay right out of everybodies way and orbit somewhere distant and let them land and/or depart

 

and only come in when it’s clear again.

 

Being patient if able takes a lot of the stress out.

Thank you, Jaba-who, this makes sense, even if there are some planes there doing t/g. Thinking back the situation got more close the further along we were on the approach and we did not see us. I guess now that - even if I don't see the traffic - the sooner I attempt to make a 360 for spacing, the more room I have and the less chance that the other aircraft uses the exact same spot of air at the same time.

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Arrange vertical separation until you’ve sighted the other aircraft.

Another yes and thank you: I will keep my hight until I know where the other aircraft is (or I hear that it is already final RWY XY).

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Everyone one goes quiet and doesn't reply. I think 1/2 wouldn't know what direction they are from the aerodrome. IF they get it wrong you are worse off than no reply so perhaps that's it. Nev

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My concern is with this call... (descending to join righthand downwind RWY XY)

 

You should not (in my opinion) descend into downwind! You should already be at circuit height before you enter the circuit. If you are overhead the field you should be one of two positions.... Either joining Midfield Crosswind, in which case you should be at circuit height coming from the dead side, or you should be above circuit height spotting a wind sock.

 

Descending into a circuit is dangerous, as you may not see craft below you, they may not see you above them.

 

If I have misread your post, I apologise.

 

Cheers

J

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What you say is correct, but ideally you would be level at the normal downwind height when you join it, however doing it on final has proven to be very dangerous as the tracking is more precisely defined then.

When you enter a turn you lose the ability to "sight" possible conflicting traffic also, most applicable to a highwing without clear panel roof.. Check Clear for traffic behind you before turning. The circuit is a dangerous place as is a common entry point . You are busy and there's a lot of aircraft in a small space .Nev

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I am with Nev. It's why I like to start on the dead side. It gives me time to hear where everyone is, but it also lets me see from the corner of Xwind, right through to the corner of Base for any aircraft entering downwind, in downwind, or turning onto base.

 

Also - Orbiting in a circuit (360) is a really bad idea. If things are not going to plan in the circuit, then leave the circuit. Don't orbit, as you will put yourself in places that other traffic are not expecting you to be.

 

When craft are in the circuit, other pilots will be building a mental image of where everyone is, and that image is a big rectangle. Once you start orbiting in the circuit, that goes out the window, and NEVER turn against the circuit.

 

Another 10 minutes in the air to reconfigure and properly rejoin the circuit is safer, and it's only 10 minutes. The bonus will be you get 10 more minutes in your logbook! :D

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Yes agree regarding the orbiting. The exceptions are when directed to do so by ATC and when you are out in the training area prior to an odd maneuver exercise or some aero's. .Looking behind involves a skidding manouever at a suitable (lower) speed (structural) so you get a view without the turn happening till it's safe. to do so. Nev

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This is turning out very interesting for me. I have learned flying on a ATC controlled airport (360 on downwind as standard routine for spacing, but of course controlled) and I am therefore not so used to uncontrolled airfields. Of course I have visited quite a few uncontrolled airfields, but most of the time I was either alone on the circuit, or the second plane. I learn a lot from your opinions.

 

So the approach sector or collecting point was opposite to the downwind in this case. I learned to fly overhead to get the proper RWY, if there is no-one at the radio of the airfield. Then make my call containing my intention, descend to circuit height and join downwind , that would be around midfield.

 

I see your point that it is better to come in at the proper altitude and form the outside. At least in the cases where neither noise sensitive areas (an issue in Switzerland) nor mountains prevent it. So you cross overhead, cross the downwind at least 500 ft above it, then turn in the direction of the circuit you want to join, descend and join the downwind 45° from the outside of the circuit. Do I get your idea correctly?

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There is a published procedure for joining the circuit and it does not include descending on downwind. You should be at circuit height whenever you are in the circuit. One advantage of any turns by aircraft in the area is that turning aircraft are easier to see as the are banked and have a larger vertical profile.

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The OP is flying in Switzerland, most of the replies relate to Australian procedures.

 

Without being familiar with Swiss procedures it is hard to provide advice. I'm not sure that there is much else that could have been done - it sounds like one of those close encounters that are very rare but hard to avoid.

 

Turning may or may not help - a turning aircraft is easier to see, but banking also creates a much larger profile for a collision.

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I think that all of the posts have been valuable with providing explanations for each comment.

The only point that I would like to add is that most of these conversations have been based on each aircraft having and correctly using a radio.

Whilst the radio is a great tool it is not compulsory at all airports in Australia, don’t rely on radio calls alone, see and avoid is the best tool that you can have.

If you are not comfortable with what is happening at the time make adjustments to your flight so that you are comfortable.

Better to arrive late than “dead on time”

Use time on the ground when you can’t be in the air to think about these scenarios so if you ever need it you have already thought about it.

Cheers

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The discussion is very interesting to me. Even if Swiss procedures may diverge from that of other countries, the reasons behind the procedures all lead to the same safety problems.

Maybe I can include two excerpts of VAC of two Swiss airfields, one where the close encounter happened (Triengen) and one which suggests – after my reading – to descend from overhead to downwind, because of a restricted area close by (could also be a noise sensitive ares, or high terrain in other cases).

Neuchatel.thumb.jpg.2f0aa0bb62a5420ee6748df5519825ee.jpg

Those picture are not from me, they are excerpts of Swisstopo and of Skyguide Switzerland, I use them here solely for safety reasons.

Triengen.thumb.jpg.8141808dbf6dfd44196ab81953545bd6.jpg

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