Aviation Safety Newsletter - Volume 1, No. 1

Submitted by on Tue, 01.04.2003 - 00:00

Welcome to the Inaugural Issue!

This newsletter is produced by the Rockcliffe Flying Club Safety Committee, a committee formed to promote safe flying practices at the RFC. The newsletter aims to inform you of safety issues in and around Rockcliffe, and to publicise the activities of the Safety Committee, including their investigations of incidents, their findings, and so on. The newsletter is aimed at both the ab initio pilot and the thousand-hour pilot.

‘Conflict Zone’ South of Rockcliffe Airport

While Gatineau Airport has its own Control Zone, it may interest you to know that Rockcliffe also has a CZ - but in our case, we’re talking about a Conflict Zone. (The proximity of Gatineau’s Control Zone could be said to almost be in conflict with Rockcliffe, but that’s another story.) We just made up that term, of course, but this article will list the reasons why this area is one to take note of, and what you should be aware of when approaching Rockcliffe.

The area we’re discussing is directly south of Rockcliffe Airport, roughly between the Aviation Museum and Highway 174, and is essentially the area where aircraft are getting ready to join the circuit via the overhead crosswind for Runway 09 or 27.

What Conflict?

Here are the ingredients of possible conflicts arising within this area:

  • Aircraft that have flown over the field at 1700 feet coming from the north doing their turn-arounds, descending to 1200 feet (Rockcliffe’s circuit altitude), and are on the UNICOM frequency;
  • Aircraft approaching the area who are not under ATC control and are also on UNICOM; and
  • Aircraft approaching the area who are under ATC control and are not on UNICOM

Stated simply, conflicts can arise when a mix of aircraft are approaching the area, with some under ATC control and thus not on the UNICOM frequency, and others on the UNICOM frequency.

Unless informed by ATC, those not on UNICOM probably do not know who is in the area or approaching it, and other aircraft on UNICOM frequency do not hear the aircraft under ATC control. While everyone is surely keeping an eye out for each other, announcing all approaches & intentions on the same frequency can be invaluable to safety.

Options to Consider When Approaching Rockcliffe

  1. If you are using Runway 27 and approaching from the practice area or the west, one option is a direct entry into the downwind - and of course, monitor the Rockcliffe UNICOM frequency. This avoids entering the ‘conflict zone.’
  2. If you are approaching Rockcliffe under ATC control and thus you are not on the Rockcliffe UNICOM frequency but you do have the airport in sight, advise ATC that you have "Rockcliffe in sight" they are usually more than happy to ‘release’ you from their frequency and you can then switch to UNICOM and announce your approach and listen for other traffic.

With respect to option 2, you should know that there is no regulation that forces you to stay on an ATC frequency until you are released; it’s just good form to let them know you want off their frequency instead of just switching without telling them. However, if they are particularly busy and you find you can’t break in to announce your intention to leave, or you feel you are getting quite close to Rockcliffe, it is a better idea to switch to UNICOM and announce your approach before losing any more time.

And as always, keep visually scanning for other traffic that may be doing the same approach as you are, and stay on that UNICOM frequency!

Gatineau’s Control Zone: Smile for the ‘Camera’

The Gatineau Airport (CYND) will shortly be installing a secondary surveillance radar on their site this coming spring. One of the side effects of this new piece of aviation hardware is that they will be able to determine that an aircraft crossed into their Control Zone without the mandatory radio call to Gatineau Radio (frequency 122.3) beforehand.

Gatineau’s Class E Control Zone (up to 2500’ ASL) is surprisingly close to Rockcliffe’s circuit, and if you’re not careful, you may find that your leisurely departure to the east from Runway 27’s downwind included an incursion into the zone with alarm bells going off at CYND. Pilots flying to and departing from Rockcliffe should be aware of it and aware of the flight regulations regarding mandatory frequency control zones. If you enter their zone without a radio call beforehand, you are breaking regulations and may affect the safety of the area.

Tips on Avoiding the Control Zone

If you are approaching from the east, the preferred procedure is to remain south of the river and join the overhead crosswind. This also keeps you clear of eastbound departing aircraft complying with the 20-degree turn-out to the north. If you are doing an approach from the north for either runway, you should pay close attention to the zone since you have the greatest chance of entering it as you manoeuvre toward the downwind. When departing from Runway 27’s downwind, staying over the river is also a good CZ-avoidance technique. Finally, study your charts of the area to be able to recognise the zone from the air - it isn’t painted on the ground yet.

Rockcliffe Winter Ops Reminder

Just a quick reminder to ‘help your fellow ramp person’ during the winter - moving and parking aircraft on the apron and near the fuel tanks is more difficult when the apron is a skating rink; if you see a ramp person or a fellow pilot trying to pull a plane, see if you can lend a hand! The RFC is looking into purchasing ‘spikes’ to be used by our ramp attendants on their boots. And don’t worry - summer is just around the corner...

Runway Incursions - Beware of Museum-transient Aircraft

As many of you are aware, some aircraft taxi from the Aviation Museum onto Rockcliffe’s runway, somewhat near the threshold of Runway 27. A complication of Rockcliffe’s airspace is that Runway 27 uses right-hand circuits. Pilots who are not familiar with this and are taxiing from the Museum and onto the runway have been known not to look for incoming aircraft on 27’s right-hand base leg; instead, they assume 27 has a left-hand circuit and thus look for aircraft on 27’s left-hand circuit’s base leg. Seeing no aircraft, they enter the runway, unaware that an incoming aircraft following a proper right-hand circuit for 27 may be now on final - and we have an unsafe runway incursion.

Pilots coming in to land at Rockcliffe (using either Runway 09 or 27) should therefore keep an extra eye on the taxiway to the Museum (a good pilot has at least six eyes), and always be mentally prepared to do an overshoot if an incursion occurs. If you expect an incursion, you’ll be able to handle it safely when it does happen.

Runway Excursions - Winter & Icy Runways

Allan Bowes, RFC pilot and board member, discussed an incident he witnessed during the winter. While on downwind at Lachute Airport he saw a C172 as it was landing on the 4000’ runway. The aircraft then angled away from the centreline and eventually left the runway and came to a stop in a snowbank. Due to the surface conditions of the runway, the C172 must have locked its wheels and skidded off to the side.

Winter ops is a difficult time for pilots, especially when your runway is quite icy. What would you do if your wheels locked and you started veering toward either side of your runway? One option you can consider is an overshoot, even if you’re already on the runway. Since you just landed, your speed should still be fairly high, so consider applying full power.

In Closing

When all is said and done, what a pilot does in the cockpit is the pilot’s responsibility - suggestions and advice presented in this newsletter are just that: suggestions and advice. As pilot, you still need to weigh all of your options and make your own decision!

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