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Home > Air Safety > Learning from the mistakes of others…
Learning from the mistakes of others…
Aviation - Air Safety
Thursday, 26 May 2011 13:24

Worst Mid Air Collision

Dear Captain,

Just like to confirm with you again about what you have stated in your reply to my recent questions.

"Does that mean pilots in the world or the commercial airline industry as a whole have learned from their mistakes and have changed accordingly for the better?"

Recently, I've asked you 3 questions (see here) but you had only replied to 2.

Please clarify this third question, "If planes do come close to each other, is there anyway that the two planes can talk or communicate with each other via radio etc, thus, without having to consult with the ATC on the ground first?

I like to thank you once again if you can reply to these two questions.

Ken


TCAS Alert

Hi Ken,

Yes, pilots of the world, just like anyone else, learn from their mistakes and change for the better. Below are two humorous aviation quotes about bad judgment and others mistakes:

a. Good judgment comes from experience. Good experience comes from someone else's bad judgment.

b. Learn from the mistakes of others... you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.


That said, here are the answers to your other questions.

Can the two planes talk or communicate with each other to avoid the collision?

Of course they can talk to each other if they are on the same frequency and communicating to the same air traffic controller. In addition, there is also an emergency frequency where all planes are supposed to be monitoring constantly.

Remember, if two planes are on a collision course, their closing speed is about 16 nautical miles per minute or 1620 feet per second – that is pretty fast!

TCAS solves all these problems by continuously sending out and receiving signals automatically to and from the other plane via the transponder (something like how radar works). It senses the closing speed and comes up with a warning for the pilot to take the necessary evasive action if they are on a collision course.

So, by the time the two planes have visual contact and can communicate with each other, it would be too late. Only the computer (TCAS) can react faster than human beings to avert the disaster.

That is why I mentioned earlier, the TCAS warnings prevail over the ATC warnings from the ground.  Pilot must take immediate evasive actions when the warning from the TCAS is heard. Do not follow conflicting ATC instructions!

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, please follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim


TCAS Alert

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