03/16/2011

An emergency for the Aéro-Club?

Late Tuesday morning a Diamond DA40 of the Aéro-Club of Geneva sent out an emergency broadcast. Perhaps not serious, but unusual.


About once every two weeks an aircraft somewhere within about 50 miles of Geneva is in a situation where its transponder sends out a message indicating some kind of emergency. Mostly, these are high-altitude aircraft which have not been seen in Geneva. However, yesterday (15 March) just before mid-day, one such broadcast came from a small aircraft belonging to the Aéro-Club of Geneva.

From the recordings of the GAME monitor, it looks as if this aircraft, a Diamond Industries DA40 with Swiss registration HB-SDH, was just doing circuits. We cannot be sure that these circuits were actually at Geneva airport, though this is the likeliest place for this: many small light aircraft do these circuits, in which they keep coming around as if to land, then go up and around again.

The Aéro-Club of Geneva has two such aircraft, which are also popular with other similar clubs in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. They are aircraft with a very open perspex cover to the cockpit, able to carry up to four people, and I assume that they are popular for giving lessons: the Geneva club advertises the availability of lessons. I have always been a little surprised to see a major airport with such a wide range of activities.

I would be curious to know what caused the emergency broadcast, which was emitted at 11h05 am and indicated that the aircraft was at an altitude of 4075 feet, i.e. fairly low. The nearest aircraft movements registered at this time were the takeoff of a FinnAir flight to Helsinki at 11h02 am and the landing of an easyJet flight from Madrid at 11h06 am.

However, there were other aircraft registered at around that time, but which did not definitely land or take off but were at a low altitude. These aircraft may not even have been anywhere near Geneva, since their transponder signals give no position. Certainly, Skyguide would have the possibility to make radar plots for all of these aircraft, but I have serious doubts as to whether they would make such plots available.

A list of such low-flying aircraft at around that time would include the following (not necessarily complete) list. Each aircraft is identified by its ICAO identifier and, where available, its registration number.

3B7BA7 F-ZBPD (a helicopter of the Sécurité Civile of France)
4B4315 HB-ZKN (a helicopter of Eagle Helicopter AG)

So was the emergency transmission related to a jet taking off or landing, to another helicopter or to a UFO?

Curious!

 

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