Safety Mat­ters

Safety Mat­ters and Safety Briefs are based on the AAIB Bul­letin and UK Air­prox Board re­ports, with ad­di­tional ma­te­rial from the US National Trans­porta­tion Safety Board

Pilot - - CONTENTS -

Un­ex­plained power losses, wind­s­hear ef­fect, and a fa­tal Mus­tang go-around

Mus­tang’s fa­tal go-around

Air­craft Type: North Amer­i­can P-51D Mus­tang Date & Time: 2 Oc­to­ber 2016 at 1434 Com­man­der’s Fly­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence: PPL, 1,965 hours, 760 on type Last 90 days: 21 hours Last 28 days: 6 hours The air­craft was re­turn­ing to its owner/pi­lot’s pri­vate strip at Topcroft Farm, Nor­folk after a 45-minute flight with a pas­sen­ger in its rear seat. A wit­ness on the air­field saw it with land­ing gear ex­tended and flaps fully down on a sta­ble fi­nal ap­proach to the 825m long grass Rwy 28 but with lit­tle, if any, at­tempt to com­pen­sate for the cross­wind by ei­ther sideslip­ping into wind or fly­ing with the into-wind (right) wing slightly down. At the time the air­field’s weather sta­tion recorded wind di­rec­tion as NNW, av­er­age speed 13kt, max­i­mum 22kt from the NW, which equated to a max­i­mum cross­wind com­po­nent at the strip of ap­prox­i­mately 18kt — not con­sid­ered ex­ces­sive for the pi­lot’s ex­pe­ri­ence on type.

The Mus­tang touched down in a three-point at­ti­tude, bounced back into the air and drifted left to­wards the run­way’s edge. A small amount of left roll was cor­rected with aileron. It then touched down again, bounced a sec­ond time, drifted in­creas­ingly to the left of the run­way, nar­rowly miss­ing a tree stand­ing in an ad­ja­cent field and re­main­ing at low level un­til it col­lided with an­other tree on the boundary be­tween the two fields and struck the ground.

One of its pro­pel­ler blades had been the first point of im­pact, slic­ing up­wards through the trunk and into a bough of the tree which then de­tached, leav­ing the blade’s tip deeply em­bed­ded in the trunk. The air­craft con­tin­ued on­ward, leav­ing a 57m long trail of de­bris lead­ing from the tree to the main wreck­age, rest­ing on its right main­wheel and tail wheel, in the field be­yond. The en­gine was par­tially de­tached from the fuse­lage and the pro­pel­ler and its drive gear had sep­a­rated from it.

Dam­age to the tree showed that the en­gine had been pro­duc­ing high power on im­pact. The left wing root then hit the tree caus­ing wing and flap to de­tach. The bend­ing and dis­tor­tion to struc­ture around the wing root and tailplane at­tach­ment sug­gested that, at im­pact, the Mus­tang was left wing low with a roll an­gle of ap­prox­i­mately 60°. As it con­tin­ued for­ward, the re­main­ing right wing would have pro­duced rapid left rolling mo­ment, at which point the nose dipped and the air­craft hit the ground on the up­per left side of its fuse­lage. Its canopy de­tached dur­ing im­pact and landed nearby, along with the re­mains of the left self-seal­ing fuel tank. The Mus­tang then bounced on to its nose at a near ver­ti­cal at­ti­tude whilst ro­tat­ing. In­er­tia and ro­ta­tion then caused it to carry on tail-first, fi­nally hit­ting the ground point­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to travel. The im­pact with the tree at the left wing root had re­leased the self-seal­ing fuel tank and its fuel ig­nited. The ma­jor­ity of fire dam­age oc­curred in the re­mains of the tree and the rup­tured tank, burn­ing fuel ap­pear­ing only to have flashed over the front po­si­tion of the cock­pit just be­fore or as the canopy de­tached. Pi­lot and pas­sen­ger re­mained se­curely strapped in their seats dur­ing the ac­ci­dent. The pi­lot sur­vived the im­pact but suf­fered a num­ber of se­ri­ous in­juries, par­tic­u­larly to his neck, and burns to his face and neck. The pas­sen­ger was fa­tally in­jured.

The pi­lot had no rec­ol­lec­tion of the ac­ci­dent but was able to de­scribe his usual tech­nique for land­ing the air­craft and go­ing around, which would be to land with full flap se­lected. He would not con­sider it nec­es­sary to re­duce the de­gree of flap se­lected when land­ing in a strong cross­wind. He would also open the canopy dur­ing ap­proach to fa­cil­i­tate evac­u­a­tion in case of an emer­gency. He re­ported that he had car­ried out a num­ber of go-arounds in the past, in­clud­ing some at Topcroft Farm, al­though it had been two or three years since he had last done so. He de­scribed his tech­nique as ap­ply­ing power to about 40in Hg, keep­ing the air­craft close to the ground, and rais­ing flap by 10° to re­duce drag. As speed in­creased he would then con­tinue to raise the flaps one stage at a time un­til at a suit­able speed he would climb away and raise the gear. The orig­i­nal USAAF P-51D Flight Hand­book pro­vides the fol­low­ing in­struc­tion for a go-around: Open throt­tle smoothly. Do not ex­ceed 61in Hg, 3,000 rpm Main­tain wings level and nose straight Land­ing gear han­dle up Raise flaps slowly when at least 200ft above ground. The AAIB com­ments: ‘The P-51D has a fast re­spond­ing en­gine mounted on the air­craft cen­tre­line giv­ing large torque in re­la­tion to air­craft weight. This makes it li­able to torque roll, an ef­fect where, should the throt­tle be opened quickly, it causes the air­craft to roll in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to pro­pel­ler ro­ta­tion. [In this case it] would re­sult in a roll to the left. An air­craft is par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to this dur­ing a go-around from an ap­proach when power is in­creased from, or close to, flight idle, and the air­craft is less con­trol­lable due to its low speed. Corkscrew ef­fect is the name given to the ef­fect of the pro­pel­ler slip­stream which spi­rals around the air­craft’s fuse­lage. At low air­speeds and high pro­pel­ler rpm this pro­duces com­pact spi­rals which can ex­ert a strong side­ways force on the air­craft’s ver­ti­cal tail sur­face. [On the P-51D], due to the di­rec­tion of its pro­pel­ler’s ro­ta­tion, this causes a yaw­ing mo­ment around the ver­ti­cal axis to the left. The ro­tat­ing pro­pel­ler has prop­er­ties sim­i­lar to that of a gyro. When a force is ap­plied to a gyro, the re­sul­tant force acts at 90º ahead of, and in the di­rec­tion of, ro­ta­tion. Any ac­tion on the air­craft caus­ing the pro­pel­ler to change its plane of ro­ta­tion also re­sults in a force cre­at­ing a pitch­ing mo­ment, a yaw­ing mo­ment, or a com­bi­na­tion of both de­pend­ing on the point at which the force was ap­plied. This ac­tion is more prom­i­nent in tail wheel air­craft and most of­ten oc­curs when the tail is be­ing raised dur­ing take­off, or a go-around. This change in pitch at­ti­tude has the same ef­fect as ap­ply­ing a force to the top of the pro­pel­ler’s plane of ro­ta­tion, cre­at­ing [in this case] a yaw­ing ef­fect to the left.

‘Dur­ing the ap­proach the air­craft was sub­ject to a cross­wind from the right for which the pi­lot did not ad­e­quately com­pen­sate. The sit­u­a­tion was com­pounded by the di­rec­tion of the cir­cuit, for noise abate­ment, which re­sulted in the air­craft be­ing on the up­wind side and there­fore ‘blown out’ of the cir­cuit as it joined the ap­proach. This cul­mi­nated in the air­craft land­ing to the left of the cen­tre­line. It touched down at the ap­pro­pri­ate speed and at­ti­tude but bounced, which fur­ther sub­jected it to the

ef­fects of the cross­wind. The small roll to the left, de­spite the pi­lot quickly ap­ply­ing cor­rec­tive aileron, ex­ac­er­bated this.

‘As a re­sult, the air­craft moved closer to the left edge of the airstrip be­fore bounc­ing again. It is highly likely that the con­tin­ued left sideslip would have meant that a sub­se­quent touch­down would have been off the grass sur­face, some­thing which would have been ev­i­dent to the pi­lot. This, to­gether with the length of the airstrip, would have pro­vided good cause to go around. The ap­pli­ca­tion of power and as­so­ci­ated torque, corkscrew, gy­ro­scopic and asym­met­ric ef­fects, would have fur­ther in­creased the ten­dency for the air­craft to travel to the left. The abil­ity to com­pen­sate with roll would have been lim­ited, as the air­craft was close to the ground and over a cul­ti­vated sur­face. The di­rec­tion of the wind would have led to the fuse­lage par­tially block­ing the wind af­fect­ing the left wing, re­duc­ing its lift. The wheel con­tact marks (left in the ground) demon­strated that the air­craft was not climb­ing.

‘The go-around pro­ce­dure calls for a com­pro­mise be­tween power ap­pli­ca­tion and con­trol­la­bil­ity. The pi­lot’s de­scribed tech­nique dif­fered from that in the air­craft man­ual. By leav­ing the gear down there would be an in­crease in drag, how­ever the air­craft was too close to the ground to raise it safely. Equally, there is ev­i­dence that the pi­lot raised the flaps dur­ing the at­tempted go-around by 20° in an ef­fort to re­duce drag, but this would have re­sulted in a re­duc­tion of lift. The sit­u­a­tion was com­pounded by the gear com­ing into con­tact with the cul­ti­vated ground which would have had a sig­nif­i­cant de­cel­er­at­ing ef­fect. The com­bined re­sult was that the air­craft strug­gled to ac­cel­er­ate and re­main air­borne, and it veered ap­prox­i­mately 30º to the left of the run­way di­rec­tion.’

Al­though both oc­cu­pants were strapped in, and the Mus­tang’s cock­pit re­mained largely in­tact, they were sub­ject to con­sid­er­able forces, suf­fi­cient to re­sult in se­ri­ous neck in­juries. The AAIB draws at­ten­tion to the fact that nei­ther oc­cu­pant was wear­ing ap­pro­pri­ate cloth­ing. The pi­lot was wear­ing cot­ton over­alls and a com­pos­ite hel­met; the pas­sen­ger was wear­ing nor­mal cloth­ing with no hel­met. The CAA’S CAP 632 Fly­ing Cloth­ing notes: ‘Fly­ing suits are the only prac­ti­cal gar­ment for fly­ing ex-mil­i­tary air­craft… [and] given the pos­si­ble close prox­im­ity be­tween fuel and the pi­lot, par­tic­u­larly in ex-mil­i­tary air­craft, wear­ing of fire-re­sis­tant fly­ing suits such as those made by Nomex is very de­sir­able and highly recommende­d.’ Nonethe­less, the AAIB says that the pas­sen­ger’s head in­juries, likely to have been caused by hit­ting the in­side of the canopy in the first ground im­pact prior to the canopy de­tach­ing, were se­vere and it is un­likely that the out­come would have been dif­fer­ent had he been wear­ing a hel­met. An­other Mus­tang in­ci­dent, but with a much hap­pier out­come, oc­curred near Dux­ford on 9 July 2017. The air­craft was part of a war­birds for­ma­tion that was at the end of its dis­play and they sep­a­rated to fly cross­wind legs. As the Mus­tang’s pi­lot ap­plied power, the en­gine stopped, restarted, ran at the se­lected power set­ting for a few sec­onds, then stopped again. The pi­lot trans­mit­ted a Pan call and pre­pared for a forced land­ing, dur­ing which the en­gine started and stopped sev­eral more times, al­low­ing a grad­ual de­scent, be­fore fi­nally stop­ping.

With the air­craft in a tight down­wind po­si­tion at ap­prox­i­mately 500ft and 150mph, the pi­lot se­lected 20° of flap, land­ing gear down, and started to turn onto base leg, but it be­came ev­i­dent that the air­craft had in­suf­fi­cient en­ergy and would not reach the run­way. He re­tracted the land­ing gear, low­ered 30° of flap and touched down in a corn­field at ap­prox­i­mately 120mph. The Mus­tang re­mained up­right and the pi­lot was un­in­jured. The cause of the en­gine stop­page was not es­tab­lished, but based upon the re­ported symptoms, its main­te­nance or­gan­i­sa­tion sus­pected it to be car­bu­ret­tor-re­lated. The air­craft has since been re­turned to an over­haul fa­cil­ity in the USA for investigat­ion and re­pair. ‘The pi­lot’s recog­ni­tion of the need to make a forced land­ing and con­fig­ur­ing the air­craft in time for the land­ing en­sured a suc­cess­ful out­come,’ com­ments the AAIB.

Ditched after un­ex­plained power loss

Air­craft Type: Piper Chero­kee 140 Date & Time: 30 March 2017 at 1450 Com­man­der’s Fly­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence: CPL, 8,303 hours, 4,000 on type Last 90 days: 8 hours Last 28 days: 5 hours The air­craft was be­ing used for a train­ing flight to con­vert a PPL(A) holder to type, and this was the first flight of the day. It had been re­fu­elled the pre­vi­ous day to 17 USG in each wing tank, suf­fi­cient for more than three hours of flight. The PPL(A), who was the han­dling pi­lot, se­lected the left tank for en­gine start and taxy­ing be­fore switch­ing to the right tank for en­gine run-up and pre-take­off checks, which were com­pleted sat­is­fac­to­rily. As part of these checks the elec­tric fuel pump was switched on and the fuel primer locked closed.

Take­off and ini­tial climb out were nor­mal, with the en­gine run­ning smoothly, but as the air­craft crossed the coast whilst climb­ing through 450ft the en­gine abruptly lost power, al­though the pro­pel­ler con­tin­ued to wind­mill. The PPL(A) passed con­trol to the com­man­der, who low­ered the nose to main­tain best glide speed and turned left to­wards the shore­line. Dur­ing the de­scent he con­firmed that the fuel was se­lected to the right tank, that the mag­neto switch was set to ‘Both’, the primer was locked closed and the elec­tric fuel pump switch was on, then pumped the throt­tle to ex­er­cise the car­bu­ret­tor ac­cel­er­a­tor pump, but the en­gine did not re­spond.

As the en­gine con­tin­ued to wind­mill with­out pro­duc­ing power, the com­man­der re­alised that a ditch­ing was in­evitable, so he turned the air­craft to track par­al­lel to the shore­line and made a May­day trans­mis­sion to Shore­ham ATC. He se­lected two stages of flap and opened the cabin door. The sea was calm and the air­craft ditched ten me­tres from the shore­line, re­main­ing up­right so that both oc­cu­pants were able to exit with­out dif­fi­culty and swim ashore. The air­craft sub­se­quently sank, but was later re­cov­ered with no sig­nif­i­cant dam­age other than from sea­wa­ter im­mer­sion.

After re­cov­ery the Chero­kee was ex­am­ined by the AAIB. There was no ev­i­dence of a fuel leak and no ob­struc­tions were found within the fuel sys­tem’s tanks, vents, fil­ters, fuel lines, gas­co­la­tor or elec­tric and me­chan­i­cal fuel pumps. The car­bu­ret­tor showed no de­fects, and the ac­cel­er­a­tor pump and me­chan­i­cal fuel pump func­tioned nor­mally. In­spec­tion of the dis­as­sem­bled en­gine re­vealed no fail­ures that would ac­count for an abrupt and com­plete loss of en­gine power, al­though three of its camshaft lobes and the bear­ing faces of their re­spec­tive tap­pet bod­ies were worn. How­ever, the AAIB noted that while worn camshaft lobes would cause a loss of en­gine power output due to re­duced in­let valve travel on all four cylin­ders and changes in valve tim­ing, the en­gine ran smoothly for take­off and climb prior to the loss of power.

The AAIB re­port con­cludes: ‘The ab­sence of any en­gine rough-run­ning im­me­di­ately be­fore the abrupt power loss in­di­cates that the cause was prob­a­bly not due to a fault with the dual-in­de­pen­dent ig­ni­tion sys­tems. The com­man­der de­scribed car­ry­ing out a car­bu­ret­tor ic­ing check as part of the en­gine run-up checks prior to de­par­ture, with no car­bu­ret­tor ice de­tected. Given the am­bi­ent weather con­di­tions (tem­per­a­ture 15ºc, dew point 10ºc) car­bu­ret­tor ic­ing was more likely to form at low power

set­tings rather than the wide-open throt­tle set­ting used for take­off. There­fore if car­bu­ret­tor ic­ing had oc­curred, it would prob­a­bly have been de­tected after the pe­riod of ground taxy­ing to the run­way hold­ing point rather than dur­ing take­off, which it­self oc­curred shortly after car­bu­ret­tor heat had been ap­plied as part of the car­bu­ret­tor ic­ing check.’

Whilst the AAIB said that the power loss might have been caused ei­ther by con­tam­i­nated fuel be­ing drawn into the en­gine from the se­lected right fuel tank, fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent the air­port op­er­a­tor con­firmed that the fuel sam­ple from the batch used to re­fuel the Chero­kee had passed the nor­mal fuel qual­ity ex­am­i­na­tion, and that no other air­craft re­ceiv­ing fuel from the same batch had re­ported any fuel-re­lated prob­lems. The PPL(A) who was fly­ing the air­craft had con­ducted the daily fuel drain check and found no con­tam­i­na­tion in the sam­ples drained from fuel tanks, but due to sea­wa­ter ingress into the fuel sys­tem after the air­craft had ditched it was not pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine whether any fuel con­tam­i­na­tion had oc­curred. The cause of the en­gine power loss was there­fore not es­tab­lished.

Co­manche am­bushed by wind­s­hear

Air­craft Type: Piper Co­manche 250 Date & Time: 21 July 2017 at 1055 Com­man­der’s Fly­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence: FAA PPL, 1,257 hours, 388 on type Last 90 days: 1 hour Last 28 days: 1 hour The Co­manche was on fi­nals to Rwy 21 at Ret­ford (Gam­ston) for a touch-and-go land­ing fol­low­ing a flight from Leeds. Fore­cast wind be­fore de­par­ture had been 180°/14kt. The pi­lot se­lected an in­ter­me­di­ate flap and in­creased air­speed slightly to al­low for the cross­wind. He re­ported that the ap­proach had ap­peared to be “fairly sta­ble”, with the land­ing gear down and flaps set, un­til at about 100ft agl he no­ticed that the air­speed had dropped by about 10kt. He re­called that the tur­bu­lence in­creased at this height and he felt the air­craft sink, but that he was able to cor­rect for this. Then, at 20ft agl, he ex­pe­ri­enced fur­ther sink which he at­tempted to cor­rect by in­creas­ing power, but the stall warner sounded and he re­sponded by push­ing for­wards on the con­trol col­umn. How­ever, he was un­able to es­cape the down draugh­t­ing air and the air­craft struck the run­way nose-first. The nose­wheel leg col­lapsed and the air­craft skid­ded along the run­way with the pro­pel­ler strik­ing the sur­face and stop­ping the en­gine. The main land­ing gear col­lapsed be­fore the air­craft slid to a halt. Nei­ther oc­cu­pant was in­jured.

The pi­lot re­ported that he had been land­ing at and tak­ing off from Ret­ford for 24 years and had pre­vi­ously ex­pe­ri­enced worse con­di­tions of wind­s­hear there than those en­coun­tered dur­ing the ac­ci­dent flight. He com­mented that be­cause the con­di­tions did not seem bad dur­ing the early stages of the ap­proach he was prob­a­bly not men­tally pre­pared for the down­draughts which af­fected the air­craft shortly be­fore touch­down. Re­view­ing the ac­ci­dent con­di­tions, he re­alised that when he ex­pe­ri­enced the down­draughts he had been in the lee of a long line of air­port build­ings and tall trees, so they might have cre­ated some ro­tor ef­fect. He also noted that when the re­ported wind was passed to him by ra­dio he was still some three miles from the air­field so, in hind­sight, it might wise to have re­quested a fur­ther wind re­port when he was closer. After the ac­ci­dent, the air­port’s res­cue ser­vice recorded the sur­face wind at 150º/17kt.

The AAIB com­ments: ‘The In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion has pub­lished a Man­ual on Low-level Wind­s­hear (ICAO Doc 9817) which states that build­ings such as hangars and fuel stor­age tanks com­monly cause low-level wind­s­hear, par­tic­u­larly at smaller aero­dromes. It notes that even when such build­ings are not es­pe­cially tall, they tend to have large lat­eral di­men­sions and to be grouped to­gether, thus pre­sent­ing a wide and solid bar­rier to the pre­vail­ing sur­face wind flow. The wind flow is di­verted around and over the build­ings caus­ing the sur­face wind to vary along the run­way. Such hor­i­zon­tal wind shear, which is nor­mally very lo­calised, shal­low and tur­bu­lent, is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern to light air­craft op­er­at­ing into smaller aero­dromes but has also been known to af­fect larger air­craft.’

En­gine not per­form­ing well?

Air­craft Type: Tay­lor Mono­plane Date & Time: 15 Au­gust 2016 at 1201 hrs Com­man­der’s Fly­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence: Not es­tab­lished Wit­nesses re­ported that the air­craft’s Volk­swa­gen en­gine seemed to lose power at about 100ft after take­off from Manch­ester-Bar­ton. The pi­lot tried to make a forced land­ing, turn­ing left from the run­way to avoid a built-up area, but the air­craft crashed in a wooded area just out­side the air­port’s perime­ter fence and be­came lodged in the trees, trap­ping the pi­lot, who was freed by fire­fight­ers. He had suf­fered se­ri­ous though not life-threat­en­ing in­juries, but his health sub­se­quently de­te­ri­o­rated after post­op­er­a­tive com­pli­ca­tions.

At the time of the ac­ci­dent the air­craft was un­der­go­ing an an­nual test flight for the re­newal of the Cer­tifi­cate of Va­lid­ity for its Per­mit to Fly. Prior to this flight the pi­lot had un­der­taken some main­te­nance on its en­gine which in­cluded re­moval of the four cylin­der heads. This work had been over­seen by a Light Air­craft As­so­ci­a­tion in­spec­tor and ground runs had been con­ducted be­fore he au­tho­rised the test flight.

The pi­lot had orig­i­nally planned to con­duct the test flight a few days prior to the ac­ci­dent, but had in­stead spent that day car­ry­ing out main­te­nance on the air­craft and con­duct­ing mul­ti­ple ground runs and fast taxi tests. Air­field staff were aware that the pi­lot had been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing en­gine prob­lems, but he had not in­formed, nor sought as­sis­tance from, his LAA in­spec­tor when it be­came ap­par­ent that the en­gine was not per­form­ing well.

‘It was not es­tab­lished what main­te­nance ac­tiv­ity had re­cently been per­formed on the en­gine by the pi­lot, how­ever there was some ev­i­dence that it might have in­volved ac­cess­ing the car­bu­ret­tor fuel in­let,’ says the AAIB’S re­port. ‘The pi­lot was not able to as­sist [with our] en­quiries. A post-ac­ci­dent ex­am­i­na­tion of the en­gine and fuel sys­tem by an LAA In­spec­tor did not re­veal any anom­alies which could have ac­counted for the loss of power dur­ing take­off. Car­bu­ret­tor ic­ing or fuel va­por­i­sa­tion, which can oc­cur when us­ing mo­gas [as the pi­lot was], could not be ruled out.’

Air­prox re­ports

At its Septem­ber meet­ing the Air­prox Board re­viewed six­teen air­craft-to-air­craft and eigh­teen air­craft-to-drone in­ci­dents. Five of the air­craft-to-air­craft in­ci­dents were as­sessed as hav­ing a def­i­nite risk of col­li­sion (one Cat­e­gory A, four Cat­e­gory B),

Drones con­tinue to fea­ture sig­nif­i­cantly, with ten such en­coun­ters in Cat­e­gories A and B. One Cat­e­gory A in­volved an Air­bus A319 on an ILS ap­proach to Gatwick’s Rwy 26 that was 6.3nm from touch­down when the first of­fi­cer no­ticed a small black ob­ject close to the right side of the air­craft’s path and on a con­verg­ing vec­tor. At first he thought it was a bird, but it be­came ap­par­ent that it was a drone. The star­tle fac­tor of the drone’s prox­im­ity nearly caused him to dis­con­nect the au­topi­lot for avoid­ing ac­tion. At its clos­est point the drone passed be­tween the Air­bus’s right wingtip and its fuse­lage. The crew re­ported the en­counter to ATC and Gatwick po­lice at­tended once the air­craft was on stand. The drone was de­scribed as “very large, cer­tainly not a toy”, with an es­ti­mated di­am­e­ter of about 1m, and with four ro­tors. The A320 cap­tain’s opin­ion was that a larger air­craft might not have missed it, and that it had put 130 lives at risk.

In an­other in­ci­dent a Cessna 177 in straight-and-level flight at 2,000ft had just re­ceived MATZ pen­e­tra­tion ap­proval from RAF Con­ingsby when a drone was seen pass­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion some 50-100ft be­low its left wing. No avoid­ance ac­tion could be taken, as it was not spot­ted un­til the pi­lot be­came aware of it in his pe­riph­eral vi­sion along­side his air­craft. It was close enough for him to make out four ro­tors en­cased in a black/white body. An Air­prox was im­me­di­ately re­ported on fre­quency to Con­ingsby. The drone ap­peared to be turn­ing left, so it is likely that its op­er­a­tor had seen the Cessna and was tak­ing avoid­ing ac­tion.

For full de­tails go to air­prox­


The ditched Chero­kee was re­cov­ered with no sig­nif­i­cant dam­age

The un­for­tu­nate Mus­tang fly­ing in hap­pier times

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