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National CAA policies around Europe on busting pilots who bust controlled airspace (and danger areas)

Graham wrote:

I don’t know whether there’s a difference between a warning letter and a no further action letter?

But if there were something like 1300 infringements in 2018, and 209 went on the course, assuming there were very few actual prosecutions or other courses of action then that does seem like approx 80% getting nothing serious?

A very good point.

Fuji_Abound wrote:

We probably should file a MOR every itme we hear those immortal words

There is even a specific form for it: FCS 1521

Nympsfield, United Kingdom

alioth wrote:

Given a lot of airspace seems to be designed around the requirements of a wheezy DC3 operating with one engine inoperative rather than modern jet performance

Not sure they’ll be in any hurry to widen the Manchester LLC. Modern jet transports can be pretty wheezy as well with one engine INOP, especially as derated take-offs are the norm, where thrust is reduced to meet the minimum performance requirements for the TOW.

EGCV, United Kingdom

Thank you for the link to the course content and I note that it covers the following

Navigation including use of GPS and Airspace Alerting Devices;
The use of Listening Squawks
What to do if you infringe airspace

Now if these topics are so important to reduce the risk of airspace infringement then why are they not covered in the PPL TK or part of the PPL skills test? Or even part of the RT Practical?

Its also not part of the CPL training or skills test either.

I wonder if this is the problem as the chap who is tasked with reducing infringements isn’t able to change the PPL TK. He isn’t able to change the PPL skills test and he also can’t change the RT Practical.

I suspect he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. With those above him (or in different departments) being on his back. Yet those in other departments not making the required changes.

7% of busts of my local CAS to me are due to the pilot being on the wrong pressure setting. So do we really need QFE, RPS and QNH? I don’t think so. I suspect the majority of people don’t think so either but can the chap tasked with reducing infringements change this? I doubt he can.

GilesM wrote:

Modern jet transports can be pretty wheezy as well with one engine INOP, especially as derated take-offs are the norm

Surely in the case of OEI, a jet transport will use the full thrust available rather than continuing on with the de-rated performance (which I understand is done to save fuel and engine maintenance, which is hardly a concern when you’ve just called mayday)

Andreas IOM

As I posted here 2 years ago, and posting this with a risk of repercussions, I spoke to the said chap on the phone (after approx 30 futile attemps to contact him by various means), politely requesting that, in accordance with normal CAA practice in the normal exams, would he credit the duff questions in the infringements exam (I failed it by 1 question). One of the questions was about flying under a CAS base defined as a flight level, and none of the answers given was the correct one of setting 1013 and simply flying under it! His reply was that lots of people attempt to fly under such CAS using some QNH and get the calculation wrong, so this is why that question was included!!!!!!! And No, nothing will be credited because had I got all the non-duff questions right I would have got a pass!

Hence I suspect the full picture is complex… I think the CAA has a sprinkling of people in it who come from a background where you court martial people, and zero tolerance is applied. Actually I am sure this is an issue in every national CAA in the world, because they are an ideal employment continuation for ex air force people who want to carry on their pension. I think the real challenge which some in the system struggle with is that enforcement in the civilian sphere needs to be done more proportionally.

Yes indeed the topics in the Gasco course are a good practical advice. However, from one account I have just read from one delegate, it addresses the wrong audience: most delegates were experienced pilots who busted due to (a) a moment’s inattention, not because they don’t have a GPS and know how to use it, and (b) because they fly a lot of hours so have more exposure. A 200hr pilot is 10x more likely to bust (due to a momentary lapse of attention) than a 20hr pilot. And of course they had Mode S which made tracing them trivially easy compared to a plain Mode C which needs potentially a lot of footwork based investigation and is probably impossible if the said plane is based at some airfield which doesn’t keep timed movement records. Mode S equippage will in any case correlate with experienced pilots because nobody installs Mode S unless they want to travel seriously. That account was however from soon after the course started (Q4 2017) and today it may well be that almost everybody is sent to it. There are indeed indications that the old infringements exam is no longer used, or no longer used much, and most go straight to Gasco.

On the wider topic, I think going after everybody aggressively is not going to work. It is equivalent to making CAS miles bigger all around, thousands of feet lower, and will just make a lot of people give up flying. The rest will turn off their transponder and who can blame them? The correct way to run this is a warning letter for all minor busts, which is what the rest of the civilised world seems to do. No wonder the CAA is resisting the release of this information.

I don’t know whether there’s a difference between a warning letter and a no further action letter?

That’s a good point, but I would be astonished if anybody got a NFA letter after any CAS bust, given that we know for a fact that even tiny busts go straight to Gasco.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I wonder if the course content matches the online test and the tutorial that precedes it?
Given reports that the tutorial bears no relation to the test, I would guess not.

I also wonder whether the course is notably different from GASCO’s excellent “Safety Evenings”.
If so, why? If not, well, I can think of an alternative to the course… :-)

Booker EGTB, White Waltham EGLM

Peter wrote:

That’s a good point, but I would be astonished if anybody got a NFA letter after any CAS bust

80%

given that we know for a fact that even tiny busts go straight to Gasco.

No you don’t.

EGKB Biggin Hill

I suggest a read of all previous posts, Timothy.

Given reports that the tutorial bears no relation to the test, I would guess not.

I can personally confirm that the online tutorial was in no way related to the 20-question test which followed it. It would be a real curveball for anyone doing the test.

However from recent info it looks like the CAA is no longer running the above, and is sending all previously “eligible” candidates directly to Gasco.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I can’t think tiny busts go straight to GASCo (given 80% of busts result in no more than a letter to the infringer). If only 20% are sent on the course, it’s reasonable to assume they are repeat offenders or have made a more serious bust.

However, I can’t see the level of busts going down any time soon (which is the real goal) because it’s a systemic problem, and just blaming pilots (after all, they are the ultimate link in the chain in an airspace bust) will not solve the problem, any more than just blaming the pilot in the early jet age crashes would have solved airline safety.

  • airspace in some areas so cluttered with odd shaped fillets that even one of the world’s best mapping agencies (the Ordnance Survey) struggle to produce a chart that’s clear in many parts of the country.
  • vast amounts of empty airspace that should really be class E resulting in pinch points where minor navigational errors or moments of inattention or a turn/climb to avoid traffic can result in a bust.
  • chaotic, piecemeal airspace where you have situations such as the one reported earlier, where Bournemouth and Solent abut for instance, where someone was literally set up to fail due to the absence of coordination.
  • too much fiddling with altimeters. QFE should be abolished. (I wonder how many busts have been caused because someone left their altimeter on QFE). Pilots in the United States manage to cope without QFE just fine, so should we. Flight levels should be increased to FL180 (I believe this is in the pipeline but I’ve not seen anything new on that), and all airspace floors/ceilings below that as QNH with it being clear on the chart/moving maps who’s QNH should be used.

This is always going to be a controversial subject, just as much as speed cameras are a controversial subject (especially if the infringement detection is set to a zero tolerance level, given the innate inaccuracies possible in Mode-C replies and altimeters).

Last Edited by alioth at 12 Jun 11:20
Andreas IOM
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