Helicopters need help

That headline may sound patronising, but it’s not intended to be. Flying helicopters is difficult. The tasks they are asked to perform are those which no other transport mode could carry out. Helicopters are so expensive to operate they are only called out when nothing else can do the job. The Morecambe Bay report is one of the […]

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Taking crew qualifications seriously

Sorry to go on about what Flybe has been doing recently, but actually it’s important to the UK airline industry, and other European carriers could learn a trick or two as well. Europe’s largest regional carrier has just finished training 21 cabin crew, and the airline has won recognition under the UK’s national vocational qualifications system […]

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Airport security: why it makes grown men cry

Glasses and driver.jpg

It was at Heathrow Airport that I had a screwdriver confiscated. Okay, you might reasonably say. Unless you knew it was one of those minute devices for tightening the tiny hinge screws in a pair of reading spectacles. It was exactly an inch (24mm) long, plastic-handled, and the metal part measured about a quarter of an inch. […]

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PIOs explained: what makes a test pilot nervous


I have just learned how to force a test pilot into that dreaded syndrome known as PIOs (pilot induced oscillations). In simple parlance, the results of persistent overcontrolling when flying. Apparently helicopters are just as – if not more – prone to PIOs than fixed wing aircraft, and it happened to be at a rotary wing forum […]

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Will FlyBe breathe life into the struggling MPL?


FlyBe’s brilliant. For the un-initiated it’s a UK based regional airline that is now Europe’s largest. It breaks all the rules and makes money doing it when no-one else seems to be able to. It’s increasing its profits when everyone else is seeing reductions or actual losses. Which rules does it break? Well, it flies lots of […]

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Stealth tax stalks UK airspace users

Mine is not intended to be a party-political blog but it’s sure going to sound that way this time. When a specific government decides on a course of action that is a fundamentally bad idea, and the proposed policy is also part of an established behaviour pattern that everyone associates with it, I suppose any opinion against the proposal is going to sound party-political. Here […]

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777 crash at Heathrow: what chance of another such accident?


From the start, the British Airways Boeing 777 crash at London Heathrow felt like a rare event – perhaps a one-off. But is it actually likely to happen again?       After all, like most big jets of its generation, the 777 has had a pretty trouble-free history since service entry in 1995, and aviation is […]

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Need to know at Madrid Barajas

Accident investigators have two tasks: one immediate, the other longer term. The immediate task, following an accident, is to determine whether there is – or even might be – useful advice that should be disseminated to the operators of the type of aircraft that crashed. It’s not necessary to be absolutely certain of facts before advising […]

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Air scares

So Qantas had a sudden decompression a few weeks ago, and now a Ryanair Boeing 737-800 has just suffered one. Sudden decompression is one of the two types of event that can occur on any passenger flight that are certain to scare the hell out of almost anybody on board, even though they normally contain little or […]

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TCAS can get confused and confusing

If TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system) resolution advisories (RA) should be followed slavishly by pilots – and that is the official advice – some people have argued that the RA manoeuvre should be automated. It seems their opinion – however logical it may seem – was premature. It has been known for some time that certain combinations […]

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