Av Hazard publicizes safety and operational concerns to help prevent accidents but it works only if we hear from you. Use the postage-free Av Hazard card to describe the hazard and return it to Pro Pilot. To obtain an official FAA review send NASA an ASRS form. For immediate action, call the airport, FBO, ATC, FSDO or the 24-hour FAA Safety Hotline at 800-255-1111. Note: Telephone numbers for all US Towers and ARTCCs are published in Ac-U-Kwik and Pilots Express Airport/Heliport/FBO directories. To report safety concerns outside the US, contact ICAO HQ at 514-954-8219 or via fax at 514-954-6077. ICAO has worldwide telephone and fax numbers to expedite Av Hazard reports to civil aviation authorities.
FAA reports spike in laser events on pilots
According to a recent FAA newsletter, the agency reported a spike in laser events with pilots being hit in the eye with hand laser pointers while flying—2836 in the US alone during 2010). According to FAA's FAAST Blast—a biweekly e-mail safety newsletter, pilots need to know how to stay safe when encountering laser attacks to the cockpit.
- Temporary blindness due to lasers on final approach is dangerous and knowing what to expect and also what immediate actions steps to take if a pilot's eyes are engaged with a laser is critical. The US Senate recently voted on legislation that makes it a federal crime to shine a laser at an aircraft. The House is working on a parallel piece of legislation called the Securing Aircraft Cockpits Against Lasers Act (HR 386) that would criminalize laser illumination of an aircraft. So what does FAA recommend if your cockpit is engaged with a laser?
• Control the aircraft always, aviate, navigate and communicate
• Communicate with other pilot (if available) and have him/her assume the controls
• Interrupt the light, using the hand, charts, clipboard or maneuver the aircraft to block the laser
• Turn up the cockpit lights if the laser continues
• Advise ATCO or broadcast on Unicum frequency if appropriate
• Resist the urge to rub your eyes, could cause more damage to the eyes
• Have eyes examined if you are concerned
Report the laser event to FAA as soon as possible. As stated above contact ATCO by radio immediately if possible to trigger a general warning. Follow up with a written report by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Items to report include pilot name and phone number, date, time, aircraft call sign, tail number and type. Also include location, altitude, heading, laser color, direction from the cockpit and distance if you know.
AFSS too busy
While attempting to issue an airborne Pirep to FSS over MDT (Intl, Harrisburg PA) I was told to "stand by number 2." Not a problem because the Pirep was benign (Scatter 4000 broken higher, scatter rain showers, freezing level and winds aloft) and there was no emergency. I discovered that number 1 with FSS was near DBQ (Dubuque IA) over 500 miles away. Later, the aircraft behind me was near AXN (Alexandria MN). This one specialist was answering radio calls for 3 rather large states. Again that day was not a particularly hazardous weather day. However, I hope this is not an indication of FSS staffing levels on hazardous weather days when the demand for weather information assistance grows exponentially.
_Comm, Cessna 208 Caravan
- Briefers are supposed to be trained to specific geographic areas to provide specialized knowledge of local weather phenomena so when a pilot calls in they would be connected to a briefer who is familiar with the area. It is difficult to comprehend though how a briefer providing weather information to a pilot near Dubuque could have knowledge of local weather phenomena in Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
That being said, the number of dial-in phone briefings has declined with the advent of online weather sources like DUATS, ADDS and other commercial flight planning services on the Internet. In the air, satellite weather services delivered straight to moving map displays with radar, turbulence, lightning, Airmet, Sigmet and other weather information greatly enhance the pilot's weather situational awareness. This information can be displayed on large installed MFDs or even in a portable handheld device for a reasonable amount of money. But with all the technology, we will never be able to go back to the local Flight Service Station briefer who has worked in a location for many years to bring you home after a long day of hard IFR with the best weather picture available.