An easyJet pilot bends the rules

An easyJet pilot flying an empty aircraft to Toulouse was in so much of a hurry after taking off towards Lausanne that he turned left over Versoix much too soon.

Now that easyJet Switzerland has agreed with ARAG that a spare aircraft based in Geneva is required, it is quite often necessary to bail out easyJet UK when one of their aircraft is unavailable. Yesterday, August 9, it was necessary to lend the Airbus A319, registration HB-JZJ, to easyJet UK so that they could operate a flight from Toulouse to Geneva and back to Toulouse. HB-JZJ thus flew empty to Toulouse at about 10 am. After operating the Toulouse-Geneva-Toulouse flights it came back (empty again) to Geneva.

20120809_EZS9003_dec.jpgAfter taking off in an empty aircraft, the pilot was able to climb very rapidly at a gradient of around 18% (about 1900 feet rise every nautical mile). Wanting to do a left hand U-turn in order to head towards Toulouse, he waited until the aircraft altitude reached (nearly) 5000 feet, at which time he was between Genthod and Versoix, then made a tight 180° left turn even before reaching Versoix town hall. In doing so, he ignored the official Swiss flight regulation which states that he should not turn left until at least 2 Nautical Miles after the Passeiry radio beacon (2.3 Nautical Miles, or 4.25 kilometres after the end of the runway): I calculate that he was about a kilometre short of this.

To me, this suggests several problems. The rules for such departures in the direction of Lausanne have long specified a Procedure Design Gradient of 3.8%, which would mean not reaching 5000 feet until well over the lake. However, aircraft performance is now such that a much higher climb rate is possible, even with loaded aircraft. Thus, whereas most such left-hand U-turns used to be made only when well over the lake, thus minimising noise in the region of Coppet, now they are happening much sooner. As a result, there is more noise for the densely inhabited regions of Versoix, Mies, Tannay and Coppet. This would be lessened if the required distance before the turn would be increased (say to 4 Nautical Miles).

I cannot help also thinking that a more gentle climb rate until over the lake would surely result in a reduction of the noise over Bellevue, Genthod and Versoix. The regulations for the Standard Instrument Departure take-offs specifically state that they are "minimum noise routes". However, I can find no information on the exact interpretation of this particular regulation.

There are clearly conflicting requirements, including minimising flight time, fuel comsumption and the ground noise imprint. It is possible that in these times of financial instability, recession and climate problems, the importance of minimising ground noise is seen as relatively less important.

15:27 Posted in easyJet anecdotes | Permalink | Comments (5) | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook


It's not 2NM from PAS ...... but 2NM from GVA !!!!!!!!

Posted by: A380 | 08/13/2012

Correct ! For all SIDs from RWY 05 (Belus 5P or Depul 2P for instance) it is "not before D2 GVA" !!! This article is a nonsense.

Posted by: Beni Furgler | 08/14/2012

You are correct: I wrote PAS where I should have written GVA. However, if you think it is nonsense with this correction then please say why! It is a fact that whereas a few years ago aircraft taking off on runway 05 and following BELUS 4P, DEPUL 1P and PAS 3P (the names in my AIP Switzerland of June 2007: maybe these names have since changed!) turned much later (beyond Coppet), they now turn over Tannay, Mies, even Versoix). This pleases neither the Swiss in these communes nor the French (Sauverny). The same, but worse, is true for departures on runway 23 KONIL 4C and 2D turning 180° right when having climbed only about 600 feet: they used to come back between CERN and the Jura, then it became over CERN, then even between CERN and the lake, which strongly displeases the French living in St Genis, Prévessin and Ferney Voltaire (and the Swiss in Satigny). Care to find me another European airport, near a town, where aircraft can turn so soon after takeoff?

Posted by: Mike Gerard | 08/14/2012

"Care to find me another European airport, near a town, where aircraft can turn so soon after takeoff ?"
Brussels comes in my mind, RWY 25 Elsik 2C departure, at 700', right turn of more than 180º overhead Brussels suburb. And many more examples exist in Europe, especially when airports are located in a city (London city, Paris le Bourget) or close to geographical constraints (Milan, Geneva for instance).
I suggest you to read the volumes I and II of icao (available on the internet) dealing with the construction of a SID and you would maybe be surprised that everything is done to minimize noise. Geneva is not an exception and strictly complies with the rules.

Posted by: Beni Furgler | 08/14/2012

Thank you: I will investigate this (which might be one reason why the residents around the airport there are unhappy: they host the UECNA meeting each year, so I know that).
Although I have not yet got the actual specifications, the Boeing site for this airport
states the following
In order to minimize noise nuisance and to clear obstacles in the departure area, aircraft shall maintain a net climb gradient of 7% MNM until passing 3 200 ft QNH. If unable to comply, pilots shall advise ATS accordingly when requesting start-up clearance.
The easyJet aircraft climbed at a gradient of about 18%: if it had been only 7% it would have been well over the lake before turning.

Posted by: Mike Gerard | 08/14/2012

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