11/04/2012

Another pilot bends the rules!

It was certainly the strong bise wind which let a TAP flight to Lisbon climb very rapidly, but the pilot chose to turn before the specified point.


A few weeks ago I wrote about an easyJet pilot who, after taking off over the lake, appeared to have turned 180° left too soon (before reaching the Versoix Mairie). This elicited a furious response from the airport, who told me that I should withdraw the blog, since it was disrespectful to them and to easyJet. Instead of eating humble pie, I sent them the exact plot of the takeoff path of this aircraft and invited them to show their own trajectory plot. Effectively, therefore, I told them to "put up or shut up": they have not responded, which I take as admitting that I was right.

20121028_TAP947.jpgA week ago, on the first Sunday of the winter schedules, a different pilot, of a different airline, appears to have done the same thing. This time, the aircraft was not empty: instead, it was able to climb quickly (to the altitude of 5000 feet which is the minimum for this 180° turn) because there was a very strong bise wind. My trajectory calculation shows that the aircraft climbed at a slope gradient averaging 22.2 (which is very high!), so that it reached the 5000 feet altitude well before getting to Versoix Mairie. The data then indicate that the pilot started the left turn about 0.7 nautical miles (1.3 kilometres) too soon.

This time, it was a flight of TAP to Lisbon. The plot shown here includes the ground movement, so that we can see exactly where it was parked before leaving and how it went to the South West end of the runway to start the takeoff.

Now, I have an immense amount of sympathy for Portugal and its people in these difficult times: like their Spanish neighbours, they are in a financial mess. Maybe, like Greece, some Portuguese think that some of their richer citizens are hiding things out of their own government's reach. However, I cannot really think that the savings (in fuel costs) would merit the pilot's actions.

It is always tempting to say that this was not a dangerous manoeuvre, and probaly did not change by too much the amount of noise emitted. However, that misses the main point, which is that it is the duty of a pilot to obey the flight regulations and to follow the directions of Air Traffic Controllers (ATC). By doing thus, they reduce the risk of any accident. It also misses another point: once aircraft are seen to overfly new regions then the values of residences in these regions drops.

We will see if this blog again produces a reaction!

18:06 Posted in Special days and notable incidents | Permalink | Comments (0) | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

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