Luckily for my passengers, aircraft and me, the only times I’ve experienced a runway excursion have been during training. On each occasion, the results were predictable, even in the most sophisticated aircraft simulator. A loss of directional control sends the aircraft sliding across shamrock-green video scenery and careening harmlessly through runway lights and signs, trees and anything else in the way.
While the NTSB determined that “unnecessary and too aggressive” rudder inputs by the first officer broke the vertical stabilizer off American Airlines Flight 587, there was plenty of blame to spread among the airline, U.S. and French aviation regulators and Airbus Industrie, builder of the A300-605R that crashed into the community of Belle Harbor, N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2001.
The horizontal wake-turbulence avoidance distance currently required when a lighter aircraft is behind a heavier aircraft might have to be doubled when flying behind the new Airbus A380, according to preliminary recommendations by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Bombardier Canadair CL-600 Challenger, Aspen, Colo., Feb. 9, 2006–The NTSB said the cause of the accident was the Challenger’s encounter with wake turbulence.
The Airbus A380 Wake Vortex Steering Group recently issued new recommendations for A380 wake turbulence spacing. The group includes representatives from the FAA, JAA, Eurocontrol and Airbus. For a heavy aircraft following an A380 on approach and landing, add two nautical miles to the existing standard, for a total of six. Medium aircraft, add three, for a total of eight. And light aircraft, add four, for 10 total.
Because international aviation regulators and aerodynamic experts failed again last week to reach agreement about the extent of the safety hazards created by Airbus A380 wake turbulence, interim guidelines remain in effect. When the interim recommendations were adopted late last year the experts had expected to reach a consensus earlier this year on final guidelines.
Canada’s National Research Council, NRC Aerospace (Hall 4 Stand C17a), is gathering detailed wake turbulence data with a specially equipped aircraft. NRC’s CT-133, a former military trainer, has just completed instrument test flights. Researchers are focusing on en route wake turbulence behind commercial aircraft, which seem to be more dangerous than expected.
Airbus has issued a new “conservative and interim” recommendation for A380 separation minimums backed by 100 hours of flight testing performed in Toulouse, Istres and Frankfurt.
The Airbus A380 Wake Vortex Steering Group recently issued new recommendations for A380 wake turbulence spacing. The group includes representatives from the FAA, JAA, Eurocontrol and Airbus. Vertical, horizontal and holding spacing remains the same as for other aircraft; for these regimes the A380 was found to have wake characteristics similar to those of the Boeing 747.
Learjet 25, Amarillo, Texas, July 1, 2005–Landing at Amarillo International Airport with a 17-knot crosswind, the 7,300-hour captain was unable to maintain directional control of the Air America Jet Charter Learjet. The airplane struck a runway distance marker and ran off the runway to the left. The left wingtip tank fuel load was 200 to 300 pounds heavier than the load in the right wingtip.