Issue Number 262
June 2001
A Monthly Safety Bulletin from The Office of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System
P.O. Box 189, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0189

Pilot-Controller Communication Pointers

ASRS receives many communications-related incident reports that contain reporters' suggestions for improving the communications flow between cockpit and ground. A recent controller's report offers words of wisdom for pilots who monitor ATC frequencies en route, as well as a useful phraseology suggestion for controllers.

Night Flights Over City Lights

Nighttime approaches over the bright lights of large metropolitan areas offer visual orientation challenges that multiply if the area is unfamiliar, as discovered by this General Aviation pilot:

Rebreather Bag Oxygen MaskGot Oxygen?

There's the story about the little girl who misbehaved and was asked by her shocked mother, "Don't you have manners?!" "Yes m'am, I have ‘em," she replied, "I just don't use ‘em." That story came to mind when we read this First Officer's report to the ASRS:

According to the language of the FARs, oxygen masks should be "properly secured and sealed" – not held to the face with one hand. If you've got masks, use ‘em (properly).

Low Altitude Frights

A General Aviation pilot was taking a friend on a daytime sightseeing tour over a coastal harbor at 900 feet MSL. The area was well known for its high bird concentrations. The pilot had avoided hitting several birds early in the flight, according to his ASRS report, when luck suddenly ran out:

This pilot demonstrated skill, perseverance, and solid resource management techniques in getting the aircraft under control and landing safely. We were most gratified to hear that lessons learned from CALLBACK gave an assist. Chapter 7, Section 4 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) is also recommended reading for information on bird strike hazards and risk reduction techniques.

Go Fly a Kite (Carefully!)

It may be tempting to think that aviation is all about airborne experiences, but a large number of aviation enthusiasts enjoy ground-based hobbies that involve moored (tethered) devices such as balloons and kites. An instrument rated pilot who was hosting a "kite party" describes a near encounter between a sports kite and a helicopter:

  • We held a kite flying party at our farm. At one point we had probably a dozen kites flying, some at altitudes of 500 feet, perhaps even more. One kite in particular was notable because it is 4 feet by 5 feet and is normally flown on a 250# dacron line. Although this kite is legal under FAR Part 101, I'd Flying Kitehate to be the one to run in to it in any aircraft. At the time of the incident, this kite was flying at perhaps 350 feet AGL. With very little warning, a state police helicopter made a very low, high-speed pass over the field. As an instrument rated pilot myself, I'd say his altitude was less than 200 feet AGL. He must have seen it because after flying right past the kite, he suddenly reversed course and carefully circled the field. The pilot of this helicopter is fortunate. I was unable to read his tail number due to his high speed...

    While it's true the helicopter pilot bears the brunt of responsibility for this incident, I am not blameless either. I know that state helicopters often land behind...the elementary school to the east of my farm. I also am aware of extensive training activity from 500 feet AGL and up. As if that weren't enough, there is extensive ultralight activity in my area too. Part 101 does say that we, as kite fliers, should not present a hazard to other aviation activities. In that light, I intend to discuss this issue with my local FSS to see if they can put out a NOTAM concerning our activity...

It would be a good idea for our reporter to brush up on the applicable regulations, too. FAR 101 prohibits the flying of moored kites more than 500 AGL and within 5 miles of the boundary of any airport. It also requires that kites flown between sunrise and sunset have colored pennants or streamers attached to the mooring lines at not more than 50-foot intervals, beginning at 150 feet above the surface of the ground and visible for at least one mile.

ASRS Recently Issued Alerts On...
Opening of a B727 aft cargo door in flight
Partial deployment of a A320 thrust reverser in flight
Runway incursion incident involving two passenger jets
Taxiway capacity incident at a major West Coast airport
Maintenance-related B737 forward access panel incident
APRIL 2001 Report Intake
 Air Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots
 General Aviation Pilots