The US National Transportation Safety Board has issued a ‘Safety Alert’ to pilots with suggestions on what they can do to reduce their chances of being involved in a mid-air collision.
To illustrate the limitations of the ‘see and avoid’ concept of aircraft separation, the NTSB has created a series of animations depicting the pilots’ visual field of view from each of the four aircraft involved in two mid-air collisions that were investigated by the NTSB in 2015. The animations show how difficult it can be for pilots to spot converging aircraft that may present a mid-air collision risk in a dynamic visual environment.
Using 3-D laser equipment, investigators scanned the cockpit windows and surrounding airplane structure of four exemplar airplanes involved in the two mid-air collisions to create animations that, combined with radar data, provided an approximation of what each pilot likely saw before the crashes. Investigators also used radar data to reconstruct how in-cockpit technology that provides pilots with graphical and aural alerts of nearby traffic could have made the pilots aware of the approaching aircraft and possibly prevented the collisions.
“These accidents and the animations clearly demonstrate the safety benefit of augmenting pilots’ vision with technological safety nets,” said NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart. “Technologies in the cockpit that warn of traffic conflicts through displays or alerts can help pilots become aware of, and maintain separation from, nearby aircraft, even if they have difficulty seeing them.”