The main purpose of the article, Airspace Blunders, is to identify the leading causes for airspace incursions, more commonly known as near-midair collisions, and to provide alternative courses of action to prevent them.
Prior to 9/11, the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) reported 10 clearly defined categories of causes; Unfamiliarity, Complex airspace, Overlying airspace, High workloads, Trusting technology too much, Confusion over landmarks, Problems getting clearances, Cutting it too Close, and finally, “I didn’t realize…”
Of the causes identified, one was pilots being unfamiliar with the airspace boundaries, not being able to pick out local landmarks based on a section chart, understanding urban settings, strict noise abatement procedures and identifying different airspace classes. When you add in rapid-fire communications, high traffic flows and the complexity of a new patch of airspace, the challenges become much greater. The article suggests pilots being better prepared may mitigate these obstacles. This entails making sure the charts have proper scaling to signify key landmarks. These charts must then be studied. Prior to the flight, pilots were recommended to contact local pilots and flight instructors to obtain a sound understanding on normal clearances and potential problems.
When flying in complex airspace, the potential for flying into restricted airspace increases. Filing IFR for flight operations is an easier and safer option.
Problems arise where adjacent airspace conflicts. Some military areas or restricted areas butt extremely close to an airport, even Class B, C, or D airports. In this case, the pilot should contact air traffic control before operating. Also, the local community can contact the FAA to establish convenient communication procedures, which would allow pilots to contact the controlling agency while on the runway to obtain a clearance. The article also suggests publishing the frequencies in the Airport/Facility Directory and also at the entrances and end of the runways.
As one would expect, high workloads are common in busy airspace. In addition to the multitude of air traffic communication you would be required to monitor and obey, you must also try to visually watch for traffic. The margin for error within busy airspace is extremely small, so you can’t let navigation tasks diminish. Though, preparation is the key to success, one recommendation is to study charts prior to your flight, write down the appropriate radio frequencies, folding charts in a methodical manner, and using a kneeboard. Cockpit organization is imperative.
With all the advanced technology installed in general aviation planes, pilots sometimes become way too reliant on such. If any of these systems are programmed incorrectly, you chance for failure increases...