Hot-Air Balloon Awareness

The CAA have published Information Notice 2012/093 which intends to raise awareness of hot-air balloon operations. Included in the notice is information on their size, common locations and timings of flights as well as methods of...
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Impact of Space Weather

The Network Manager at Eurocontrol has identified space weather as a potential problem for European air traffic management, given that it is capable of disrupting aviation’s communications, navigation and surveillance systems.   Impact on space and ground-based technology Space weather – solar activity and solar wind in the magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere – can affect the performance and reliability of both space and ground-based technology. Satellites, radio communications and even electrical power grids can be damaged by space weather. Increased radiation as a result of space weather can potentially affect flight crews, especially at higher latitudes. Solar activity cycles Solar eruptions can affect the earth and are more likely to occur during or just after periods of high solar activity. Solar activity has cycles of roughly eleven years and we are in one right now. The current period started in 2011 and will end in 2017. Impact on satellites Satellites are, unsurprisingly, vulnerable to space weather. Solar energetic particles emitted by the sun can hit satellites and cause their electronic systems to fail. Geomagnetic storms and an increase in extreme ultraviolet radiation expand the earth’s atmosphere and increase drag on low orbit satellites, making them less reliable. Satellites have been lost – in 1989 and 2003 – because of space weather. If we have exceedingly bad space weather, experts have estimated that we could lose around half of our satellites. This would mean that we could no longer use satellite systems for navigation and surveillance. Magnetic and solar storms Magnetic storms can affect electrical power grids. They cause transformer saturation which reduces or distorts voltage. This can lead to transformer failure and power grid collapse. The loss of a transformer is serious: they take eighteen months to replace. In March 1989, this happened to the Quebec power grid: its long lines and static transformers made it particularly sensitive and it collapsed, leading to a nine-hour blackout and power supply problems which persisted for some time afterwards. Space weather can affect communications, too. Solar disruptions can affect radio, especially HF (high frequency). Power failure and induced current in telecommunications grids could knock out internet access and telephones. Solar storms can create unusually high levels of ionising radiation – up to a hundred times higher than usual. This can affect flight crews and passengers, but radiation can also impact on electronics and aircraft avionics. Keeping a close watch The Network Manager...
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Communications Failure?

Incidents continue to occur of pilots being reportedly unable to make R/T contact with an Air Traffic Service Unit when they make their initial call after engine start, or after changing frequency. Sometimes, the pilot has believed incorrectly that a lack of response means that the ATSU is closed. The reason for the lack of response may be that the selected frequency is incorrect. Pilots have misread published information, and on occasion have omitted to check published updates in NOTAMs and chart updates on the AIS web site www.ais.org.uk. Others have just made an error when selecting, and transmitting on ‘box2’ when the correct frequency is set only on ‘box1’ has also been known. However, another possibility, especially when a pilot is making the initial call on a radio which has not been successfully used during recent communications on other frequencies, is a volume control set too low. Most pilots’ headsets have volume controls. There is a variety of VHF radio selectors available for GA use, and many of these are integrated into communications integration devices which have their own volume and squelch controls. There are many possibilities for a volume or squelch selector being turned too far and the pilot unable to hear. Setting up the radios correctly is an important part of pre-flight preparation, and should avoid such a situation. Most instructors recommend setting all volume controls to the 1 o’clock position until established communications allow refinement. However, mistakes can easily be made, especially where communications pass through more than one communications device, so when we hear nothing after our initial call on a frequency we should seek out possible causes before assuming we can continue safely. If we can hear other transmissions, it could be our transmitter at fault, but if we hear nothing we should check the frequency set, then check all volume controls. If all is correctly set, after another attempt at an initial call we also ought to consider the possibility that our transmitter is stuck ON, and try listening on another frequency. These checks take time which we should be prepared to take. Initiate calls early, and remain in a safe place until the problem is resolved, or if it cannot be resolved, follow the communications failure procedure as published for the airspace or aerodrome, making blind calls in the correct places. CAA Safety Notice 2012/002 reminds us of where to finds...
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New Listening Squawks

Information below correct at time of publishing. For the latest information on listening squawks please visit www.flyontrack.co.uk New Codes For Leeds Bradford & East Midlands Frequency Monitoring Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) codes (often referred to as ‘listening out’ squawks) are soon to be allocated for use in the vicinity of Leeds Bradford and East Midlands airports, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced. The codes will become effective from 28 May 2012 for Leeds Bradford, and 30 June 2012 for East Midlands.  The two new codes will take the total number of frequency monitoring codes across the UK to nine. The code for Leeds Bradford will be 2677 and the radio frequency to monitor is 133.125 MHz, while for East Midlands the code will be 4572 and the radio frequency 134.175 MHz.  An Information Notice (2012/082) with more details has been published by the CAA. How To Use Listening Squawks Frequency monitoring codes have played a vital role in reducing infringements of controlled airspace (CAS) by enabling air traffic controllers to alert pilots if their aircraft appears to be going to infringe CAS. Any aircraft fitted with a Mode A/C or Mode S SSR transponder can use these codes. The listening squawks are designed to enable pilots flying near the boundary of controlled airspace, who are not in two-way communication with an ATSU, to listen out on the controlling frequency of the airspace. By entering the relevant four-digit SSR code into the transponder and listening to the published radio frequency, a pilot signifies to air traffic control that he/she is actively monitoring radio transmissions. If it looks likely an aircraft will infringe controlled airspace, ATC know that they can contact the pilot on the relevant frequency and pass further information as appropriate to the pilot. The Current List Belfast Aldergrove / 7045 / 128.500 MHz Leeds Bradford / 2672 / 133.125 MHz Doncaster Sheffield / 6170 / 126.225 MHz Manchester / 7366 / 118.575 MHz East Midlands / 4572 / 134.175 MHz Birmingham / 0010 / 118.050 MHz Luton & Stansted / 0013 / 129.550 MHz (LTN) & 120.635 MHz (STD) Gatwick & London City / 0012 / 126.825 MHz (LGW) & 132.700 MHz (LCY) Southampton & Bournemouth / 0011 / 120.225 MHz (SOU) & 119.475 MHz (BOH) Olympic Squawk For Farnborough The CAA also announced that a code is being introduced for use by Farnborough Airport for the duration of the London 2012 Olympics.  From...
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‘Centre of excellence’ at Cambridge.

The owners of Cambridge airport, the Marshall Group, are investing £20 million to expand the airport by developing on the green field site to the south side of the runway, aiming to transform the airport into a vibrant business hub.   Included in the plans are a construction of a new taxiway and major rehabilitation of the runway, in conjunction with improved drainage to deliver additional environmental benefits. The positioning of the airport is a key ingredient to its planned success. With Cambridgeshire and Suffolk both leading the UK research and development industry, there is demand for quick and easy access to key financial and industry cities in Europe. Archie Garden, airport director of Cambridge explains how he is keen to attract new businesses to the airport, “All our buildings are currently full but we’d like to entice new tenants to the airport which will support the on-going development of Cambridge Airport as a leading centre of excellence for aviation. We have the land available to the south side of the airport and this is driving the next phase of our strategy to develop new buildings in the area.” The large runway, complete with full ATC and airport services, makes it suitable for jets up to B757 and ACT/A320 size and therefore offers itself as an uncongested gateway for business and commercial aviation. From May, the airport also welcomes Saturday services to Jersey with ATR42 aircraft and from September, flights to Burgundy (France) are scheduled to operate twice-weekly. There are also high hopes for Cambridge during the Olympic period as it is one of only five regional airports in the UK capable of accepting business and passenger services with a 24/7 slot...
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