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The Airbus safety magazine

July 2016


Safety first, #22 July, 2016. Safety first is
Safety first
The Airbus magazine contributing to the enhancement
published by Airbus S.A.S. - 1, rond point
Maurice Bellonte - 31707 Blagnac Cedex/France. of the safety of aircraft operations by increasing knowledge
Publisher and Editor: Yannick Malinge, and communication on safety related topics.
Chief Product Safety Officer.
Concept Design by Airbus Multi Media Support
20161577. Reference: GS 420.0045 Issue 22.
Photos by Airbus, Lindner Fotografie, T. Denson,
S. Ramadier, H. Gouss, P. Masclet, F. Lancelot,
M. Lindner, P. Pigeyre.
This brochure is printed on Stucco.
This paper is produced in factories that are
accredited EMAS and certified ISO 9001-14001,
PEFC and FSC CoC. It is produced using pulp
that has been whitened without either chlorine
or acid. The paper is entirely recyclable and is Safety first is published by the Product Safety department.
produced from trees grown in sustainable forest It is a source of specialist safety information for the use
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of airlines who fly and maintain Airbus aircraft. It is also
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Material for publication is obtained from multiple sources

and includes selected information from the Airbus Flight
Safety Confidential Reporting System, incident and accident
investigation reports, system tests and flight tests. Material
is also obtained from sources within the airline industry,
studies and reports from government agencies and other
aviation sources.
Airbus S.A.S. 2016 All rights reserved.
Proprietary documents. All articles in Safety first are presented for information
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guidelines: requirements or technical orders. The contents do not
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of such damages. 1, rond point Maurice Bellonte
31707 Blagnac Cedex - France
Fax: +33(0)5 61 93 44 29
Safety First #22 | July 2016 001

2015 is the safest year ever by number of fatal accidents:
this is the positive achievement that we highlighted in our last
Commercial Aviation Accidents Statistics brochure. But is
this the signal that our long and complex journey with safety
enhancement has reached an end? We believe that it is just
the beginning of something new.
There is no room for complacency in safety; instead good
SVP & Chief results should force us to become even more creative and
Product Safety Officer innovative. This ambition is what drove the introduction of our
new collaborative project Air Transport Safety: Destination
10x Together. We are hopeful that this initiative will bring a
new impetus to collaboration across our industry. It will first
aim to form a diagnosis of safety at the Air Transport System
level today, and then define together not only what the current
and emerging safety threats and challenges are, but also
opportunities to further reduce the accident rate.

In the frame of this project, a first survey was made during the
last Flight Safety conference and it highlighted areas and safety
threats that will need focus. Traffic and fleets growth implying
increased congestion and recruiting & training needs, security
and weather information were amongst the most cited.

We will continue to welcome your feedbacks and

suggestions, and we will make sure these are heard and
properly communicated to the benefit of all stakeholders
across our industry.

Together, we must perpetuate our commitment to safety

and strive to continue to improve collectively. The articles
published in this new issue of our magazine have been
written in this regard.

I hope that you will enjoy reading this new Safety first issue!
A statistical Analysis on Commercial
Aviation Accidents: check the 2016 edition!

The new edition of our yearly brochure on commercial aviation accidents sta-
tistics is now available.

This statistical analysis examines the evolution of hull-loss and fatal accidents
during revenue flights from 1958 to 2015. A particular focus is made on a
breakdown of statistics by generations of aircraft and main accident cate-
gories, namely Controlled Flight Into terrain (CFIT), Loss Of Control In-flight
(LOC-I) and Runway Excursion (RE).

Visit our website (keyword safety) or find it on our tablet application.



We are pleased to announce that the promotes flight safety across the fleets
23rd Flight Safety Conference will take of all our operators, we are unable to
place in Santiago, Republic of Chile, accept requests to attend from outside
from the 20th to the 23rd of March parties.
2017. A preliminary conference agenda
will be announced in September and We welcome presentations from
the formal invitations will be sent to our customers and encourage your
our customers in January 2017 to participation as a speaker to share
register. For any information regarding experiences and ideas and experience
invitations, please contact Mrs. Nuria for improving aviation safety.
Soler, email
If you believe there is a topic that will
The annual Airbus Flight Safety benefit other operators and/or Airbus,
Conference has proven to be an and you are interested in being a
excellent forum for the exchange speaker at this conference, please
of information between Airbus and send a brief abstract and a bio or
its customers. To ensure that we resume to
continue to have an open dialogue that
23rd Flight Safety
Santiago, Republic of Chile
20-23 March 2017
Safety First #18
#22 | July 2014
2016 005

first #22
Pitot Probe Performance Covered
On the Ground

180 turns on runway
Flight operations

Engineering P22
Optimum use of weather radar
Ground operations
Pitot Probe Performance Covered On the Ground

Pitot Probe
On the Ground
Pitot probes inlet obstruction will affect accuracy of the air data
parameters calculated from its measurements such as the aircraft
airspeed and Mach number. Pitot probes inlet obstruction on the
ground can be caused by unexpected sources such as sand, dirt,
dust or insect nesting activity. This is why it is important to think
about when to install Pitot probe covers for an aircraft on the
ground to protect its air data system performance.


Anemo/Inertial Systems Air Data and Inertial Accident/Incident
Product Leader System Engineer Investigator
Safety First #22 | July 2016 007



In-service experience: impacts of a blocked Pitot The cause of the

probe in a context of dispatch under MEL indicated airspeed
In a recent incident, the captain of an reverted from normal to alternate law discrepancy was
A330 rejected the take-off attempt and the autopilot became unavailable.
after noticing an airspeed indication The crew performed an immediate
due to a Pitot probe
failure. Troubleshooting conducted in-flight turn-back. After the uneventful partially blocked in
subsequently led to swap two of the Air
Data Inertial Reference Units (ADIRU)
landing, a detailed ground inspection
found conclusive evidence that the
less than two hours
and the aircraft was dispatched with cause of the indicated airspeed by nesting wasps.
ADIRU 2 inoperative as allowed by discrepancy was due to a Pitot probe
the Minimum Equipment List (MEL). A partially blocked in less than two hours
second take-off passed the critical V1 by nesting wasps.
speed when an airspeed discrepancy
was noticed again on the captains PFD. An investigation of another in-flight turn-
The take-off had to be continued but back (from a non-Airbus aircraft type) at
a wrong captain airspeed associated the same airport also showed that the
with ADIRU 2 inoperative caused the inlet of the captains Pitot probe was
A330s auto-thrust and flight directors partly obstructed by material consistent
to disengage, the flight controls mode with a mud-dauber wasp nest.

Main reasons for Pitot obstruction:

insects but not only
Insects can cause rejected take- issued by the Australian Civil Aviation
off or in-flight turn-back events Safety Authority (CASA) following an
The main
and there are other potential investigation of an in-service occurrence. cause of airspeed
sources of Pitot obstruction. But it is not only insect activity that can discrepancy below
be the cause of Pitot blockage. Pitot
A mud dauber wasp can build a probe inlet obstruction by insect, dust, FL250 was Pitot
significant nest capable of completely dirt or any materials (sand) is the main obstruction by
blocking a Pitot probe, vent, or drain root cause of rejected take-off or in-flight
in around 20 minutes according turn-back events due to airspeed
sand, dust, dirt
to a recent airworthiness bulletin discrepancy below FL 250. or insects.
Pitot Probe Performance Covered On the Ground

Pitot probe simplified schematic
(applicable for A320, A330
and A340 aircraft)


Probe 1 Probe 3 Probe 2

Normal Display


The Pitot probe consists of a tube pointing directly into the air flow (fig.2) and
measuring the stagnation pressure called total pressure or Pitot pressure.

This total pressure information and the static pressure delivered by static
ports on the fuselage are used to compute the indicated airspeed and Mach
number provided by the ADIRU (fig.3).

Like any precision instrument, Pitot probes need to be protected on ground to

provide correct airspeed and Mach number measurements in flight in order to fly
the aircraft safely.

Design principle of a Pitot
probe (applicable for A320,
A330 and A340 aircraft) 3

1 Drain hole
2 Water trap
3 Heater cable wound
around the pressure line
4 Total pressure line
5 Electrical connector 5

6 Pneumatic connector 6
(Quick disconnect)
Safety First #22 | July 2016 009

Static port
Static: Ps

Total pressure: Pt
Pitot probe


Pitot probe principle


Aircraft Maintenance Manual parking procedure

Parking procedures available in the devices, including Pitot probes (fig.4).
Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM But many operators will not apply the
section 10-11-00) will request that AMM parking procedure if the aircraft (fig.4)
approved protective covers are installed only has a short turn-around time or Pitot probe locations on an Airbus
on each of the air data probes or remains on the flight line. A330 or A340 aircraft


Pitot Probe Performance Covered On the Ground

The proper protection for Pitot probes

Using the approved Pitot probe Airbus A310, A320, A330, and A340
covers (fig.5) is important as the aircraft families. Airbus A380 and
covers for other manufacturers A350 aircraft have Multi-Function
aircraft may not be the correct fit or Probes (MFP) and a standby Pitot
Aircraft Pitot probe protective cover
(applicable for A320, A330 and A340 aircraft) offer complete protection for the Pitot probe that use two different covers.
probes of Airbus aircraft. The same Pitot probe and MFP covers are part
Pitot probe cover can be used on of the flight kit for each aircraft.

When is Pitot probe too hot to handle on ground?

Protective covers can be installed period of 15 minutes for the probe
30 minutes after engines shut down tip to cool to 70C, it can take an
as the probe heating is deactivated additional 15 minutes to reach
when engines are turned off. After a ambient temperature.


Is the Pitot probe protection a priority for ground

handlers and maintenance teams?
With the recent finding from the example For example, check if a wildlife
incident where a Pitot probe obstruction management plan is part of the
occurred in less than two hours, it is a i r p o r t s h a z a rd m a n a g e m e n t
important to know if Pitot probe protection strategy and what mitigations are
is a priority in local airport ground in place to detect or manage insect
handling or turn-around procedures. activity. Confirm how each airport will
The aircraft operator should collaborate alert airlines or operators where there
with the local airport authorities to assess is evidence that local conditions
the risk of Pitot probes being blocked by may contribute to an increased
sand, dust, dirt or insects activity at their risk of Pitot blockage to aircraft on
operational base or destination airports. the ground.
Safety First #22 | July 2016 011

Depending on the outcomes of this Airlines or operators should also Some airlines
risk assessment, the operator should report any in-service incidents of Pitot
consider implementing a specific policy probe obstruction to the local airport already have policies
on the use of Pitot covers even for a authority and to Airbus. This will help in place for certain
short turn-around time. Some airlines to determine root causes, prevent
already have policies in place for certain further occurrences and track any
airports that require
airports that require Pitot covers to trends of obstructions of Pitot probes Pitot covers to be
be used for all aircraft on the ground on ground. used for all aircraft
regardless of turn-around times.
on the ground
regardless of turn-
around times.

The airports can also implement alert aircraft operators and their ground
preventive actions following an handlers to consider applying additional
assessment of the locally occurring preventive measures to protect Pitot
risks such as regularly inspecting for probes with the approved covers, even
wasps or other insects at their sites. for short aircraft turn-around times. If
It is important to continuously monitor there is a persisting problem, it may be
and communicate with all airlines and necessary to issue a Notice to Airmen
aircraft operators about any seasonal (NOTAM) making the pilots aware of (fig.6)
increased insect activity, especially the risk (fig.6) and alert them to pay Example extract from NOTAM
by wasps, and where there are local particular attention when checking their with item [3.] warning of mud wasp
activity and the recommendation
conditions causing accumulations of aircrafts Pitot probes for any risk of to install Pitot tube covers - Courtesy
sand, dirt or fine particle dust. This will obstruction. of Brisbane Airport Corporation
Pitot Probe Performance Covered On the Ground



(fig.7) An example of where collaboration between Airlines

Mud wasp awareness poster - and Airports can enhance the operational safety of
Courtesy of Brisbane Airport Corporation

Like many other airports around the world, being located

in a sub-tropical environment means Brisbane Airport
(BNE) is ever vigilant about the presence of mud wasps
on site. While the airport has always maintained a
stringent monitoring and control regime for these pests,
following an incident whereby a mud wasp nest blocked
the air data instruments of an Airbus aircraft during a
standard turn-around at Brisbane Airport, the Brisbane
Airport Corporation (BAC) upped the ante by introducing
additional measures to mitigate the ongoing risk of Pitot
blockage on ground.

Airport to Airline Communication

BAC recommends the use of Pitot probe covers on

aircraft at BNE to prevent possible obstructions from
mud wasp activity. Results from pest inspections carried
out by pest management professionals are emailed out
(fig.8) weekly to all airlines and stakeholders. The notifications
Array of 3D printed Pitot probes of various include the location and number of nests found and
designs (A330, B737-400, B737-800, Dash-8, treated. Their Watch out for the Mud Wasp awareness
B747 and E190) used for monitoring wasp
activity and ecology study at Brisbane
poster (fig.7) is a quick reference guide to the conditions
airport. - Courtesy of Brisbane Airport to observe when the wasps are likely to be more active
Corporation at BNE and details what information to report to the BAC
wildlife coordinator via email or at the Brisbane Airport
Wildlife Working Group.

Preventative pest control

BAC initiated a wasp ecology study consisting of an

array of 3D printed Pitot probes of various designs (A330,
B737-400, B737-800, Dash-8, B747 and E190), which
are secured to sheets of metal to resemble the aircrafts
fuselage, and they are mounted in different parking
positions around the airfield (fig.8). Each location is
inspected regularly for evidence of mud wasp activity
and when there are nests found in any of the 3D printed
Pitot tube arrays the contents are hatched and examined
by an ecologist. Results from the study are expected
in February 2017. This will help BAC achieve a better
understanding of the species of mud wasp present at
Brisbane, the impacts that they can have on aircraft
operations and any further measures that can be taken
to mitigate the risk.
Safety First #22 | July 2016 013



Additional safety barriers, embedded in Airbus Standard Operating

Procedures (SOP), are available to flight crews in order to avoid taking-
off with obstructed Pitot probes.

SOP Exterior Walk Around

(FCOM section PRO-NOR-SOP-05)
Always look at the Pitot probes probe and that the general condition
carefully during the pre-flight exterior is good. This will give confidence that
inspection and check that all of the the correct airspeed readouts will be
covers are removed before flight. available on all of the instruments in
Ensure there is no damage to the Pitot all flight phases.

SOP Take-off
(FCOM section PRO-NOR-SOP-12)
During the take-off phase, a partially which should be detected when cross
or totally obstructed Pitot probe may checked with the other PFD. Standard
lead to an underestimated, fluctuating Operating Procedures for Airbus aircraft
or flagged airspeed information on require the flight crew to scan airspeeds
the Primary Flight Display (PFD) or shown on the PFD throughout the take-
standby instrument for the affected off and the Pilot Flying shall cross check
Pitot probe. In this case, there is likely and confirm the airspeed indicated on
to be an indicated airspeed discrepancy reaching 100 knots.

Pitot probe protection using the Airbus approved covers is the most
effective way to prevent Pitot obstruction on ground.
Airlines and operators should assess and monitor the risk of any
obstruction to their aircrafts Pitot probes at the airports where they are
based or operating to. Airports can also play an active role by collaborating
with their operators to manage airport hazards and communicate on any
of the mitigations in place.
Where there is an identified risk of Pitot obstruction due to sand, dirt,
dust or insect nesting activity, the operator should consider applying a
specific policy to use Pitot covers for aircraft on the ground regardless
of turn-around times.
Reporting any occurrences of Pitot probe obstruction to the local airport
authorities and Airbus will help to monitor for adverse trends, put specific
measures in place and communicate this information to the benefit of all
airlines and operators.
180 turns on runway

180 turns
on runway
Performing a 180 turn or U-turn on a runway may seem an
ordinary maneuver compared to other phases of the flight.
However, operational experience over the past 10 years shows
that unintentionally leaving the runway while completing a U-turn
can happen, even to experienced pilots, in any conditions, even
on dry runway, on any aircraft type including the A320 family
aircraft. A specific technique exists for such U-turns to avoid
runway excursions.

Flight Operations Director Flight Safety
Engineer Enhancement
Safety First #22 | July 2016 015


Who would naturally think about U-turns load and defuel the aircraft when it
on runways when referring to aviation has to be returned to the pavement,
accidents? Although not intuitive, this not to mention the impact on airport
relationship does exist. Indeed, operational operations with the potential closure of
experience shows that a number of the runway and its associated safety
runway excursions resulted from a failure implications. The airline involved is often
to manage such a maneuver correctly. In put in an embarrassing position from a
less than 10 years, more than 20 runway brand point of view due to the speed of
excursions with some incidents leading modern visual communications.
to an ICAO Annex 13 investigation have
been reported to Airbus. The number of recent events may be
growing due to a reporting bias, but
Beyond the potential for significant the issue has now drawn attention
aircraft damage or time for inspection from a safety vantage point.
and repairs, the consequences of
such events translate mainly into Thanks to the reported events, Airbus
operational disturbance. They lead was able to analyze and understand
to flight cancellation, the need to off- the conditions of occurrence.

Lessons from in-service events

Some possible preconceived ideas are experience or the type of aircraft. Lets
dismissed by facts especially concerning review the 21 events reported to Airbus
the runway contamination, the pilots over the past 10 years in figures:

Aircraft type A320 A330 A300/A310

A350 Total
Runway state family family family

Contaminated 5 4 0 1 10

Dry 2 6 0 0 8

No information 0 1 2 0 3

Total 7 11 2 1 21
180 turns on runway

Any runway Beyond these two dimensions, a As for the pilots background, it turns
thorough analysis of the events shows out that it was extremely variable
excursion, as smooth that the runway surface quality is also an from one event to the other. In other
as it may seem, important parameter. Indeed, a degraded words, a runway excursion when
or damaged runway surface may have performing a U-turn on a runway
requires the aircraft as much influence on the performance is not the preserve of the least
to be checked prior of a U-turn as a contaminated runway. experienced pilots
to the next flight.
Reporting: the most precious input to enhancing
In one surprising event, although As of today, the analysis of the events
the crew had experienced a runway made available to Airbus through
excursion, they realigned the aircraft reporting allowed us to dismiss possible
To ensure the and took off. Damage on the gear preconceived ideas, such as: it only
aircraft integrity for was observed at arrival. Even at
low speed, a runway excursion can
occurs to the least experienced pilots
or only on contaminated runways or with
the next flight, to damage the aircraft in a way that large aircraft. It also allows us to highlight
allow safety lessons can affect the safety of the following the key points or parameters that need
flights. Any runway excursion, as to be checked before initiating the turn
to be learnt and smooth as it may seem, requires the and executing the maneuver, as well as
to be able to take aircraft to be checked prior to the to emphasize the best technique and
next flight in accordance with the tips to perform such turns safely.
appropriate mitigation AMM guidelines.
measures from Eventually, thanks to airlines reporting,
analyzing all events Moreover, to ensure the aircraft integrity the technique available today in the
for the next flight, to allow safety lessons FCOM is going to be revisited and
of similar nature, all to be learnt and to be able to take improved as part of the FCTM. Key
runway excursion appropriate mitigation measures from values relating to the recommended
analyzing all events of similar nature, runway width will be kept in the FCOM.
events need to be all runway excursion events need to These updates will be available by the
reported. be reported. end of 2016.
Safety First #22 | July 2016 017



The analysis of in-service events allowed As far as possible, a U-turn on the runway Performing a
the technique for U-turns in the FCOM to needs to be prepared before arriving on
be revisited. The philosophy of the new the runway. The preparation includes a safe U-turn on a
revision will align with the existing content discussion on who will be PF and in which runway is not just a
and emphasize the key steps of the direction should the turn be performed in
technique for performing successful and accordance with the airline policy.
matter of managing
safe U-turns. The technique was initially the turn itself. It starts
developed for U-turns on a runway,
where there are standard markings at
Performing a safe U-turn on a runway is
not just a matter of managing the turn
before initiating the
the borders of the runway. itself. It starts before initiating the turn turn

Before initiating the turn

Initiating the turn in good conditions aspects beyond the ones mentioned
relies on a number of complementary before.

Suitability of runway width with the conditions of the day

Performing a safe U-turn on a runway

requires anticipating the space required
used. Therefore, it may be necessary to
add some margins if these conditions are
The minimum
for the safe completion of the maneuver. not met (e.g. contaminated runway). required runway
The minimum runway width for a given width to carry out
aircraft type is provided in the FCOM. In summary, before considering a
However, it is important to keep in mind U-turn on a runway, check that the a U-turn is based
that this value is based on the following runway width is sufficient with respect on the following
assumptions: the runway is dry, the
runway surface quality is good and the
to the minimum published in the FCOM
possibly adjusted to the anticipated
assumptions: a dry
technique recommended by Airbus is conditions of the day. runway, a good
runway surface and
Consider the actual runway surface quality
the application of the
As previously mentioned, the state of surface. In other instances, pieces correct technique.
the runway may require the margins of multiple layers of painted surface
provided by the FCOM to be adapted. became detached over time, thus
The maneuver is to be performed with generating depressions likely to retain
the maximum available steering of the rain water even though the remainder of
nose wheels and in such a configuration, the runway had already dried up.
a poor surface may make the wheels slip
and increase the turn radius. As a consequence, special care must be
taken when the trajectory requires taxiing
It is important to keep in mind that the aircraft over a painted surface. A good
painted areas such as runway threshold friction coefficient experienced while still
markings can be significantly more on the unpainted area is not necessarily
slippery than the rest of the runway. representative of the one when on the
Indeed, some investigations highlighted painted marks. The crew must be ready
that the repainting of the white strips to reassess the situation if any unexpected
tended to fill the runways textured skidding during the turn is experienced.
180 turns on runway

Control the ground speed and adapt it to the conditions of the day

Remaining on the runway while In order to optimize the turn initiation point
performing a U-turn requires control of and the distance required to complete
the trajectory at all times. This involves the turn, it is recommended to adopt a
before initiating the turn: divergence angle from the runway axis.
The advisable divergence angle varies
Stabilizing the trajectory depending on the aircraft type but it
Stabilizing the initial trajectory before typically ranges between 15 and 25.
the turn is key in many respects. It
allows for: As illustrated in Figure 1, increasing the
- optimization of the point of initiation divergence angle leads to an increase
of the turn in the turn radius. For example, adopt-
- compliancy with the assumptions ing a divergence angle of 40 instead of
used to determine the minimum the recommended 20 for an A330-300
runway width required, i.e. the leads to an increase of about 2 meters.
maneuver is properly performed (initial Decreasing the divergence angle by too
recommended divergence angle) large an amount would result in the main
- reduction of the number of parameters landing gear possibly exiting the runway
to be managed during the turn itself. at initiation of the turn.

Measure of Difference
A330-300 necessary width compared Measure of Difference
Nose Wheel with FCOM necessary width between 80 and
Steering Angle recommended NWSA 80% (m) 95% NWSA (m)
(NWSA) 95% (m) value of 20 (m)
10 56.2 -0.17 65.6 9.4
56.4 0 65.7 9.3
40 58.1 1.7 67.4 9.3

Stabilizing the ground speed As mentioned earlier, any degradation of

The recommended ground speed for the the runway state either due to runway
180 maneuver should be between 5 and surface condition or contamination
10 kt on most aircraft. If the speed is not requires additional precautions and
stabilized before the turn, larger thrust margins. In terms of speed, it is safer
adjustments may be needed during to target the lower boundary of the
the turn. However, these adjustments recommended speed window, namely
can lead to an increase beyond the 5 kt, to perform a U-turn on a degraded
recommended speed, and may be a runway.
contributor to a runway excursion.

On A300/A310, A330/A340 and A350 families, on dry runways, the use of
differential braking to stop one gear (Braked Pivot Turn technique) may induce
stress on this gear and could have fatigue effects over time on the gear. Such a
technique is therefore not recommended. However, on a wet or contaminated
runway, the lower friction coefficient reduces the induced stresses and differential
braking, whilst avoiding pivot braking, could help to manage the turn.
This recommendation does not apply to A320 family and A380 aircraft, for
which the Braked Pivot Turn technique is usually used without adverse effect
on the gears.
Safety First #22 | July 2016 019

-10 Turn radius evolution as a function
of the divergence angle

The the
MLG runway
leave +20

Left MLG Optimum angle Turn radius

close to exiting value (FCOM). increased.
the runway.

Actual main gear path

Actual nose gear path

Performing the turn

During the maneuver, the ground stop. To avoid stopping, applying some
speed is a key parameter to manage: additional thrust may be necessary.
the objective is to maintain a low (5 to However, gaining too much speed could
10 kt) but steady ground speed. If too increase the chances of the aircraft exiting
much speed is lost, turning the aircraft the runway. Maintaining a continuous
will become more difficult to manage and speed before and during the turn is
it may eventually come to a complete therefore of paramount importance.

Initiating the turn

For field of view reasons, the turn is member on the right hand side is PF.
recommended to be performed by the
crew member sitting on the seat opposite The visual reference to initiate the turn
to the direction of the U-turn. This means depends on the aircraft type. On most
that to turn right, the flight crew member Airbus aircraft, the turn is to be initiated
on the left hand side of the cockpit is PF; when the PF assesses that he/she is
respectively to turn left, the flight crew physically directly over the runway edge.
180 turns on runway

Once the PF reaches the appropriate progressively. This is why an aggressive

initiation point, he/she needs to application of full nose wheel steering
progressively use up to full tiller deflection should not be done.
to turn the aircraft.
The speed can be maintained by
During this initial maneuver, due to the applying small amounts of asymmetric
aircraft inertia the nose wheels are not thrust and keeping idle thrust on
fully aligned with the aircraft trajectory. the engine on the inside of the turn.
This misalignment reduces the grip of As explained before, maintaining a
the nose wheels onto the runway and continuous speed is key and after any
may lead the aircraft to skid if the nose adjustment to the thrust, the speed
wheels are not turned smoothly and must be carefully monitored.

During the turn

As shown in Figure 1, if the divergence The role of the PM is at all times to

angle affects the required turning monitor not only the aircraft trajectory
distance, then the steering value is a but also the aircraft ground speed
parameter even more significant. The and to call out any deviation. The
minimum distance published in the PM can monitor the heading, the
operation documentation considers ground speed indication as well as
a full steering order throughout the the ETACS when available. Indeed,
whole maneuver. by focusing on the outside, the
PF cannot closely monitor these
Throughout the turn, the PF is focused parameters and especially the
on the dynamics of the maneuver. He/ aircraft ground speed to detect any
she is looking outside in the direction excursion outside the recommended
of the expected aircraft trajectory, and speed range; therefore, the role of the
adjusting the aircraft speed accordingly. PM is essential.

Finishing the turn

In this phase of the turn, the main with the aircraft and therefore ready to
challenge is to get the aircraft aligned initiate the take-off roll in good conditions.
At any stage on the centre of the runway without
before or during jeopardizing the remaining runway At any stage before or during the
the maneuver, should length or the planned take-off distance maneuver, should any problem arise,
available. stop and call the tower to get support
any problem arise, from a tug. Keep in mind that it is most
stop and call the When the aircraft is aligned with the preferable to call a tractor to finish the
runway, the tiller is to be released maneuver, rather than to recover the
tower to get support smoothly before stopping the aircraft to aircraft with a landing gear off of the
from a tug. make sure that the nose wheel is aligned runway.
Safety First #22 | July 2016 021

Performing a U-turn on a runway is not an insignificant maneuver. Safely

performing it starts with good preparation and a precise initiation of the
turn as well as implementing the technique properly at the right speed.
Whether it has to be performed before taking-off or at the end of the flight,
some key aspects are to be kept in mind:
- Carefully check the minimum distance published in the operational
manual versus the available runway width, keeping in mind that the
minimum 180 turning distance published values correspond to a
dry runway
- Pay attention to the runway condition, both surface quality and
contamination, as they may induce skid and may increase the turn
width. Add reasonable margins accordingly
- Adapt the speed to the runway condition (within the recommended
speed range)
- In case of a problem at any stage of the overall maneuver, stop the
aircraft and call for support
- Should the crew become aware that the aircraft has left the runway
surface, even slightly, report the occurrence and inspect the aircraft
before taking-off
Some simple advice to avoid big problems!
Optimum use of weather radar

Optimum use
of weather radar
In recent years, there have been a number of flights
where passengers or crew suffered injuries due to severe
turbulence. In some other instances, the aircraft structure
was substantially damaged following a hailstorm encounter.
Clearly adverse weather can pose a threat to the safe
and comfortable completion of a flight, thus it needs to be
detected and avoided in a timely manner.


Flight Operations Director Flight Surveillance Systems
Support & Training Operations & Manager
Standards Safety Training Policy
Safety First #22 | July 2016 023

The airborne weather radar system is an essential tool for pilots to

assess the intensity of convective weather ahead of the aircraft.
In this respect, it enables the strategic and tactical planning of
a safe flight trajectory.
Weather radar technology has evolved significantly in the last few
years and a range of enhanced products is now available. If properly
used, they permit pilots workload to be significantly reduced while
substantially reducing encounters with adverse weather.
This article offers an overview of the existing weather radar
technologies, and provides information and tips on how to tune
the system and correctly interpret the available displays.



The weather radar system installed the crew to carefully optimize its Prevention
on-board aircraft provides the pilot with use. This relies primarily on a good
the necessary information to avoid - not meteorological knowledge of weather through anticipation
penetrate - adverse weather. phenomena, along with a good is essential.
To obtain the maximum benefit from understanding of the available radar
the weather radar system requires functions.

Flying in adverse weather: lessons learned

The aviation industry experience shows aircraft damage (fig.1).
that although aircraft are equipped with These events have led us to wonder
airborne weather radars, incursions why such encounters happen, and
into very active convective cells still clearly show that prevention through
occur, resulting in injuries or substantial anticipation is essential.
Radome and windshield after hail encounter

When it comes to understanding is the active monitoring of the overall radar is of help,
why aircraft fitted with technologically
advanced weather radars can end
meteorological situation by the crew,
in addition to the optimum use of the
but the crew overall
up flying in such unfavorable weather weather radar and correct understanding assessment
patterns, we have to consider that getting of the information displayed. We must of the weather
the best out of technology onboard is not forget that weather radar is of help,
just a part of the answer. A key element but the crew overall assessment of the
situation plays
of adverse weather avoidance strategies weather situation plays the central role. the central role.
Optimum use of weather radar


Three common threats to aircraft are turbulence (which Understanding how a cumulonimbus cloud is structured
is caused when two masses of air collide at different and evolves is key in dodging the associated weather
speeds), hail and windshear. All three of these are disturbances.
by-products of thunderstorms.

High concentration of Ice Crystals

FL 350 -40C

23 000 ft -15C

16 000 ft Freezing Level

liquid droplet
Ice crystals


Turbulence associated with a cumulonimbus is not it is necessary to apply recommendations for weather
limited to inside the cloud. Therefore, when flying in avoidance as summarized in this article.
an area where cumulonimbus clouds have developed,


The presence of hail within a Risk of encountering hail relative to cumulonimbus cloud position
cumulonimbus varies with altitude
and wind:

- Below FL 100, hail is equally likely to

be encountered under the storm, in
the cloud or around it (up to 2 NM).

B etween FL 100 and FL 200,
approximately 60 percent of hail is
encountered in the cumulonimbus
and 40 percent is encountered
outside the cloud, under the anvil.

- Above FL 200, hail is most likely to

be encountered inside the cloud.

When hail is encountered outside driven upward within the cloud by is less risk of hail in humid air than
the cloud, usually the threat of strong drafts. It then freezes and is in dry air. In fact, moisture in the air
hail is greater downwind of the transformed into hail before being behaves as a heat conductor, and
cumulonimbus because moisture is blown downwind. Paradoxically, there helps to melt the hail.
Safety First #22 | July 2016 025

Weather radar principle

A knowledge of the radar principle tune this system and interpret the On the Airbus
is paramount in order to accurately weather radar display correctly.
fleet, all weather
Reflectivity radars have full
Weather detection is based on the The weather radar echo returns vary
capability to allow
reflectivity of water droplets (fig.2). The in intensity as a function of the drop- wet turbulence
weather echo appears on the Naviga- let size, composition and quantity. For detection.
tion Display (ND) with a color scale that example, a water particle is five times
goes from red (high reflectivity) to green more reflective than an ice particle of
(low reflectivity). the same size.

High Reflectivity (fig.2)

Wet Hail Weather radar principle

Good Reflectivity

Liquid Rain

Wet Snow

Dry Hail

Dry Snow
Low Reflectivity
Low Reflectivity

Some weather radars are fitted of light rainfall, depicted in green in

with a turbulence display mode. normal mode, is shown in magenta
This function (the TURB function) is when there is high turbulence activity.
based on the Doppler effect and is The TURB function is on most weather
sensitive to precipitation movement. radars only active within a range of 40
Like the weather radar, the TURB NM (Doppler measurement capability)
function needs a minimum amount of and should only be used in wet
precipitation to be effective. An area turbulence. DID YOU
Weather radar operation
Each type of weather radar has its own
The flight crew uses four features to has an essential influence on the particularities. To get all the information on
operate the radar: optimum tilt setting. the characteristics, limitations and opera-
- Antenna tilt: this is the angle between -G
 ain control: this adjusts the tional recommendations of each weather
the centre of the beam and the sensitivity of the receiver. radar model, the user guide of the radar
horizon (fig.3). -R
 adar modes: weather (WX) or manufacturer needs to be studied.
- R ange control of the ND: this weather + turbulence (WX + T).

Definition of the TILT
Optimum use of weather radar

Weather radar limitations

Weather radar detection capability

Reflectivity One of the weather radar limitations is

that it indicates only the presence of
winds produce large scale uplifts of
dry air. The resulting weather cells have
is not directly liquid water. The consequence is that much less reflectivity than mid-latitude
proportional to a thunderstorm does not have the convective cells. However, turbulence
same reflectivity over its altitude range in or above such clouds may have a
the level of risk because the quantity of liquid water in higher intensity than indicated by the
that may be the atmosphere decreases with the image on the weather radar display.
encountered. altitude (fig.4). Yet, the convective
cloud and associated threats may
On the other hand, air close to the
sea can be very humid. In this case,
extend significantly above the upper thermal convection will produce clouds
detection limit of the weather radar that are full of water: these clouds will
(called radar top). This means that have a high reflectivity, but may not
reflectivity is not directly proportional to necessarily be a high threat.
the level of risk that may be encountered:
a convective cloud may be dangerous, Consequently, limitations of weather
even if the radar echo is weak. radars must be well understood and
complemented by basic meteorological
This is particularly true for equatorial knowledge of the crew and, where
overland regions where converging possible, visual observation.

Turbulence Area
Turbulent area, not detected
Reflectivity by the weather radar
Visible Top

Radar Top


Reflective image of a cumulonimbus

The weather radar detects: The weather radar does not detect:

- Rainfall - Ice crystals, dry hail* and snow

- Wet hail and wet turbulence - Clear air turbulence
- Windshear - Sandstorms (solid particles are almost
transparent to the radar beam)
- Lightning*

* The latest generations of weather radars

offer hail and lightning prediction functions
(see the following sections).
Safety First #22 | July 2016 027

The beam attenuation phenomenon

Another limitation of the weather radar and intensity of that weather may not be A black hole
is called shadowing or attenuation. accurately displayed to the pilot. What
The weather radar display depends appears to be a thin or inexistent band behind a red area
on signal returns: the more intense the of precipitation (fig.5) could in fact be on a weather radar
precipitation, the less distance the radar the leading edge of a much larger area
can see through. Therefore when the of precipitation. Secondly, any weather
display should always
radar echo is unable to make the two behind such strong shadowing cells be considered
way trip through heavy precipitation, a will not be detected. This can result in as a zone that is
shadowing effect occurs. unexpected weather unfolding only after
The result is twofold. First, the size, shape the cell has been circumnavigated. potentially very
active and shadows
weather further down
the scanned path.

Attenuation caused by moderate
to extreme precipitation



In cooperation with its suppliers, These continuous improvements have

Airbus has continuously and pro- allowed the crew to be provided with
actively supported weather radar optimized observation features and
technology evolution over the years. weather threat assessment functions.
Radars with manual controls
Early generation of full manual
Full manual control radars controlled radars without auto
tilt are: Rockwell Collins WXR-
Early generations of radars are not the expected weather on path and 701X family up to weather radar
equipped with an automatic tilt the ND range selection. Then the pilot transceiver Part Number 622-5132-
function; therefore the antenna tilt needs to analyze and understand the 624 and Honeywell RDR-4B family
needs to be manually adjusted up individual radar slices of weather up to weather radar transceiver Part
and down as the flight progresses displayed in order to get an overall Number 066-50008-0407.
according to the aircrafts altitude, picture.
Optimum use of weather radar

Autotilt radar (Honeywell RDR-4B family PN 066-50008-0409)

Honeywell introduced the first weather the EGPWS terrain database and
radar featuring an automatic tilt automatically adjusts the antenna tilt
computation named Autotilt. based on the aircraft position, altitude,
When in Autotilt mode, the radar uses and the selected ND range (fig.6).

Honeywell Autotilt

Fully automatic radars

Automatic The next generation of radars included - Offer independent pilot control and
automatic functions, which: display selection.
radars optimize - Scan airspace ahead of the aircraft
weather detection with multiple beams These new radars optimize weather
and decrease - F eature a three dimensional (3D)
buffer to store weather data
detection and decrease significantly
the pilots workload necessary to
significantly the - Automatically compute and adjust understand the complete picture of
pilots workload. the antenna tilt the weather ahead.

A320 & A330 families:

Multiscan radar (Rockwell Collins WXR-2100 family)

The WXR-2100 Multiscan weather antenna tilt settings. The image that is
radar is part of this new generation displayed on the ND is the result of the
of weather radars that offers an stored and combined information from
automatic computation of tilt and gain each beam.
control at all ranges, all altitudes and The radar automatically adjusts the gain
all times (fig.7). and tilt based on various parameters
This weather radar is designed to work in (aircraft altitude, geographical area,
Multiscan automatic mode. Pilots select season, time of the day) to obtain
only the desired range for the display the best weather display in each
and the radar alternatively scans at two geographic region.

Rockwell Collins Multiscan
Safety First #22 | July 2016 029

Upper Beam
Upper Beam
Beam Beam

Upper Upper and lower

Beam beams data merge
Upper Upper and lower
beams data merge
Lower +
Beam (GCS)
Lower Clutter
Beam (GCS)

A320 & A330 & A350 & A380 families: Honeywell RDR-4000

The Honeywell RDR-4000 model is part A380) to show the en route weather
of the new generation of weather radars picture, as well as automatically scan
including a 3D volumetric buffer. from the ground up to 60 000 feet to
provide information targeted at various
It can probe hundreds of miles ahead altitudes. The required display data
(up to 320 NM on A320 & A330 families are then accessed from the 3D buffer
and up to 640 NM on A350 and (fig.8 and 9).

Honeywell RDR-4000 control panel
on A320 & A330 families
Optimum use of weather radar

Honeywell RDR-4000 control panel
on A350 & A380

When it is activated in the automatic OFF PATH) depending on the flight

mode, the radar RDR-4000 takes into profile. Weather conditions along the
account a vertical trajectory envelope planes trajectory are displayed in solid
(nominally +/- 4000 ft) along the vertical colors, while more distant vertical
flight path of the aircraft based on the echoes are shown in striped pattern to
flight path angle. It then defines if the help pilots determine whether weather
weather echo is inside this envelope avoidance maneuver or rerouting is
(relevant ON PATH) or not (secondary necessary (fig.10).

Honeywell RDR-4000 display
Relevant ON PATH
weather displayed
in solid colors

Secondary OFF
PATH weather
displayed in striped

The RDR-4000 can also be used in - the ND, for views along the vertical
manual mode (elevation mode) as a flight path (in AUTO mode) or along
tool for analyzing weather at user- the selected altitude (in ELEVN
NOTE selected altitudes and thus, assess mode) or along the selected tilt angle
the vertical expansion and structure (in TILT mode)
These enhanced weather radars of convective clouds.
are provided at Entry Into Service This system is available on the A380 - as well as on the Vertical Display
for new programmes (A380, A350) and also on the A350 with an additional (VD) for views along the lateral flight
and as a retrofit option for A320 and weather ahead alerting function. On path (in AUTO mode) or along the
A330 families. these aircraft, the weather displayed is selected azimuth (in AZIM mode)
a computed image on: (fig.11).
Safety First #22 | July 2016 031

Weather information displayed
on the Vertical Display

Hail and lightning prediction: the new functions introduced by step 2

automatic radars

In continuity of RDR-4000 and AHEAD) to alert the crew when the

Multiscan WXR-2100, a new step of ND is not in weather mode
development recently introduced: - Hazard functions offering:
- Hail and lightning prediction Lightning and hail prediction
- Improved weather information. Rain Echo Attenuation Compen-
sation Technique (REACT): this
Honeywell RDR-4000 (V2) function indicates areas where
includes new features to improve the intensity of the radar echo has
weather hazard assessment by been attenuated by intervening
automatically providing the following weather.
additional information (fig.12): E xtended turbulence detection
-W eather alerting (WEATHER (up to 60 NM instead of 40).

Honeywell RDR-4000 V2 display


risk area
Hail risk
60 NM
Optimum use of weather radar

Rockwell Collins Multiscan the corresponding threat based on

WXR-2100 (V2) includes an automatic reflectivity characteristics (fig.13).
weather threat assessment (Track This new radar also provides hazard
While Scan function). In continuity of functions, namely:
the Multiscan, the aim of this version - Lightning and hail prediction
is to provide not only a depiction of - Predictive OverFlight (this function
the reflectivity of surrounding weather alerts the crew to growing cells
cells, but also a threat assessment for that are potentially on the aircraft
each cell detected. trajectory)
Weather cells are first tracked and - I mproved turbulence detection
then, additional vertical scans are able to display an additional level of
performed automatically to assess moderate turbulence.

Rockwell Collins Multiscan V2 threat Predictive OverFlight
detection and analysis (convective

Two levels of turbulence

(severe: plain magenta,
moderate: magenta

Associated threats
(area with hail and
lightning probability)

Honeywell RDR-4000 V2 and Rockwell Collins Multiscan WXR-2100 V2 weather
radars were certified in July 2015 for A320 and A330/A340 families and are
available as retrofit options.
Safety First #22 | July 2016 033

Coming next the future evolution

of weather information
Airbus in cooperation with weather on aircraft. The next generation of
radars suppliers, maintain their efforts weather radars is expected to benefit
in designing and producing new from this research work and enable
weather surveillance functions. Today, the detection of ice crystals to avoid
at a research level, a strong focus is convective weather linked to ice
placed on three main dimensions with crystal icing.
the aim to improve pilots awareness
of the weather ahead. 2. Weather display fusion to offer
a single display of weather data
1. High Altitude Ice Crystal (HAIC) covering all weather threats.
detection to avoid flying in ice The feasibility of collecting all weather
crystals areas. on board information together with
There are multiple threats attributed weather information collected by
to ice crystals; for example, engine the radar (reflectivity, turbulence and
vibrations, engine power loss, engine hazards) and merging them in a single
damage or icing of air data probes. display is currently being studied.
In fact, the formation of ice crystals
at high altitude and their effect on 3. 3D weather analysis: automatic
aircraft performance is recognized re-routing
as an industry wide issue. Airbus in Work is also being carried out to allow the
particular is leading the HAIC research automatic computation of an optimized
project with several partners. This deviation route based on: the actual
project aims to characterize and weather (weather on board and radar
identify the environmental conditions data), the ongoing traffic and the stored
of ice crystals, to improve aircraft flight plan. Such a function is expected
operations through the development to facilitate pilots decision making and
o f a p p ro p r i a t e d e t e c t i o n a n d re-routing planning if needed. Additionally
awareness technologies to be fitted it improves comfort.
Optimum use of weather radar



The weather radar is a tool for detecting, charts and online simulation) and during
analyzing and avoiding adverse weather flight (update on weather information)
and turbulence. As with any other - Adapted use of the weather radar,
tool, adequate skills and the crews with the crew regularly assessing
involvement are needed in order to use the range, gain and tilt, and making
it efficiently. In fact, the management use of weather threat assessment
of adverse weather still relies primarily functions when available in order to
on the crew to actively monitor the display an optimum weather radar
meteorological situation throughout the picture on the ND.
flight, and make a full use of the available - Regular manual vertical and horizontal
technology thanks to: scanning by the crew to increase
- Awareness of weather radar capabilities situation awareness.
and limitations, according to the - Correct understanding of the radar
specificities outlined in the FCOM and image displayed.
the manufacturers user guide. - Adequate strategic (mid-term) and
- Preflight briefing (knowledge of the route tactical (short term) decision making
climatology and weather forecast for trajectory planning.

How to optimally tune the weather radar

and manage flights in convective weather?
Flight planning: the importance of weather briefing and weather reports

Weather avoidance already starts in on both the weather briefing and their
the briefing room before commencing knowledge of local climatology. Changing
the flight, with a thorough assessment the flight route could be an option as well
of en-route weather and decisions on as taking additional fuel for enhanced
possible mitigation means. strategic and tactical options in flight.
Before boarding, a weather briefing Once airborne, the weather radar should
Once airborne, should reveal areas of predicted be used and tuned regularly in combination
the weather radar significant weather activity. Equally, this with all available information, e.g. pre-
should be used briefing should include the assessment of flight briefing, pilots knowledge and
typical weather patterns in the area. For experience of the areas typicality, reported
and tuned regularly example in the tropics, cumulonimbus turbulence, updated weather reports If
in combination with intensity and development is greater at possible, the weather information should
certain times of the day. The crew have be updated in flight regularly. Information
all available weather the opportunity at this stage to plan a sought by ATC of turbulence encounters
information. route to avoid active weather based are an additional means.

Safe operation in convective weather requires good theoretical knowledge of meteorol-
ogy, particularly on the formation, development and characteristics of convective clouds
in different regions of the world. This knowledge is usually provided in pilot licencing and
operational training and is not covered by aircraft documentation (FCOM and FCTM).
Safety First #22 | July 2016 035

Weather radar antenna tilt

Effective management of the antenna The flight crew needs to periodically The automatic
tilt along with an appropriate ND range scan:
selection, are key tools to obtaining an - Vertically, using the antenna tilt function mode should be
informative weather radar display on - Horizontally, using the range change. used as the default
the ND.
If available, the automatic mode
mode, for detection
The ND might not display cells at should be used as the default and initial evaluation
aircraft flight level, only cells that are mode (unless mentioned differently of displayed weather.
cut by the radar beam are shown in the FCOM), for detection and
(fig.14). For this reason, the antenna initial evaluation of displayed Then, manual
tilt needs to be adjusted up and down weather. Then, if adverse weather control should be
regularly to scan weather ahead, is suspected (e.g. according to
and it needs to be adjusted to the information gathered during the pre-
used periodically
ND range selection (except with the flight briefing), manual control should to analyze the
most recent radar models where this
adjustment is made automatically).
be used regularly and actively to
analyze the weather ahead.

Display along radar beam

Even when the tilt is adjusted automatically, pilots are advised to reverse to the
manual mode MAN regularly in order to scan the immediate weather ahead.
This action allows the crew to assess the vertical structure and expansion of
convective clouds.

Factors that can affect the relevancy of -T  he shape of thunderstorms

the ND display and that should trigger - A pilot report from another aircraft in
a tilt adjustment are: the vicinity.
- A heading change In the case of a change in heading
- An altitude change, or even a regular or altitude, leaving the antenna tilt on
flight profile change (e.g. from climb auto may induce a risk of overlooking
to cruise) weather or underestimating the
Optimum use of weather radar

severity of the weather. For example, convective cell because the tilt is
at take-off or in climb, the tilt should be set incorrectly (too high in this case)
set up if adverse weather is expected while in the auto-tilt mode. When the
above the aircraft. Figure 15 is an antenna is tilted down, the ND shows
example of radar overshooting a a much stronger activity.
Weather radar display at different tilt settings


Correct storm display

Presence of To analyze a convective cell, the flight then be used to scan the area verti-
crew should use the tilt knob to obtain cally. Presence of yellow or green areas
yellow or green areas a correct display and point the weather at high altitudes, above a red cell, may
at high altitudes, radar beam to the most reflective part indicate a very turbulent area.
of the cell. At high altitude, a thunder-
above a red cell, storm may contain ice particles that In most cases in flight, the adequate
may indicate a very have low reflectivity. If the tilt setting is antenna tilt setting shows some ground
turbulent area. not adapted, the ND may display only
the upper (less reflective) part of the
returns at the top edge of the ND, which
may be difficult to differentiate from
convective cloud (overscanning). As genuine weather echoes. A change in
a result, the flight crew may underes- antenna tilt rapidly changes the shape
timate or not detect a thunderstorm. In and color of ground returns and eventually
order to get accurate weather detec- causes them to disappear. This is not the
tion, the weather radar antenna should case for weather echoes. Some weather
also be pointed toward lower levels (i.e. radars are fitted with a Ground Clutter
below freezing level), where water can Suppress (GCS) function. When turned
still be found. If a red area is found at ON, it suppresses the ground return from
a lower level, the antenna tilt should the display.

Display range management

To maintain a comprehensive situation therefore, the following ranges should be

awareness, the flight crew needs to selected on the NDs:
monitor both the short-distance and - Pilot Monitoring (PM) adjusts ranges to
DID YOU long-distance weather. To this end, the plan the long-term weather avoidance
KNOW crew should select different ranges on
the Pilot Monitoring (PM) and Pilot Fly-
strategy (in cruise, typically 160 NM
and below).
The FCTM provides useful guidance ing (PF) ND. - Pilot Flying (PF) adjusts ranges to moni-
to correctly tune the weather radar in To avoid threatening convective weather, tor the severity of adverse weather, and
accordance with the flight phase. the flight crew should make deviation decide on avoidance tactics (in cruise,
decisions while still at least 40 NM away; typically 80 NM and below as required).
Safety First #22 | July 2016 037

Course changes to avoid adverse seem safe when using a low range ND
weather should be determined using display may reveal a blocked passage
both displays. This prevents the blind when observed at a higher range
alley effect: a course change that may (fig.16).

The crew
should select
different ranges on
the Pilot Monitoring
(PM) and Pilot Flying
(PF) ND.

Blind alley effect

Gain adjustment

The sensitivity of the receiver may significant positive ISA deviations in a

vary from one type of radar system to very humid atmosphere (typically the
another. In the CAL (AUTO) position, Indian monsoon). In these cases, slowly
the gain is in the optimum position to reducing the gain allows the detection
detect standard convective clouds. of threatening areas: most red areas
Manual settings are also available and slowly turn yellow, the yellow areas
can be used to analyze weather. turn green and the green areas slowly
disappear. The remaining red areas
At low altitudes, reducing the gain i.e. the red areas that are the last to turn
might be justified for proper weather yellow, - are the most active parts of
analysis. Due to increased humidity the cell and must be avoided (fig.17).
at lower levels, convective cells are
usually more reflective and the weather At high altitudes, water particles are
radar display may have a tendency to frozen and clouds are less reflective.
show a lot of red areas. This can also In this case, gain should be increased
be the case at higher altitude with for threat evaluation purposes.

Gain decreased

Effect of gain reduction
Optimum use of weather radar

Turbulence and weather threats detection

Turbulence can be difficult to predict, the radar standard) (fig.18). Remem-

but signs such as frequent and strong ber that the TURB function needs
lightning and/or the specific shape of humidity; therefore clear air turbulence
The TURB clouds (see the next section) can alert will not be displayed.
function needs the crew to the likely presence of severe
turbulence. If necessary and when In addition, the flight crew may be
humidity; therefore available (according to the standard alerted by visual cues provided by the
clear air turbulence of weather radar onboard), the TURB latest generations of weather radars
function can additionally be used to that offer weather threat assessment
will not be confirm the presence of wet turbulence functions, such as hail or lightning
displayed. up to 40 NM (or 60 NM depending on predictions.

Turbulence detection (in magenta)
Safety First #22 | July 2016 039


Study the weather radars

specificities and limitations through
Before flight
the FCOM, FCTM and weather
radar user guide.

Gather information about the

Before forecasted weather and update
and regularly during flight: weather
during flight briefing, route climatology
knowledge, reported turbulence

Set the antenna tilt to auto

as the default mode for detection
and initial evaluation of weather,
During flight
and periodically use the manual
modes to scan and analyze
the weather situation.

In cruise the combination of the

following ranges provides good
weather awareness and allows to
During flight
avoid the blind alley effect:
- 160 NM on the PM ND
- 80 NM on the PF ND.

Use gain in AUTO/CAL mode

by default, then regularly reduce
During flight
the gain for weather severity

Be attentive to the visual and oral

cues provided by the weather
During flight
threat and hazard assessment
functions (as installed).
Lithium batteries: safe to fly?

Weather radar data understanding: how to

decide on an effective avoidance strategy?

Before any avoidance maneuver is to conduct an in-depth analysis of the

initiated, the analysis the flight crew convective weather situation on-path
makes of the weather radar display is and off-path and eventually, initiate
essential. Doing so, the crew is able action if needed.

Correctly understanding the weather display is paramount

After the weather radar has been tuned conditions are too dangerous to fly in.
correctly, the data displayed should be
supplemented with the available weather Some ND displays contain specific
charts, reports and the meteorological cues that should alert the flight crew.
knowledge of the pilot. Altogether these Clouds shapes, in addition to colors,
data enable the flight crew to get a should be observed carefully in order
complete weather picture and establish to detect adverse weather conditions.
an area of threat. This area of threat Closely spaced areas of different colors
corresponds to the zone where the usually indicate highly turbulent zones
flight crew estimates that the weather (fig.19).

Indication of a threat: closely spaced
areas of different colors
Some shapes are good indicators of changing shapes, whatever the form
severe hail that also indicate strong they take, also indicate high weather
vertical drafts (fig.20). Finally, fast activity.

Finger Hook

Shapes indicative of adverse weather

U-Shape Scalloped Edges

Safety First #22 | July 2016 041

Avoidance strategy

The flight crew needs to remain vigilant been taken, flight crews need to bear in
Consider a
and active in using and tuning the mind the following advisory precautions minimum distance
weather radar in order to be able to and limits before actually deciding the tra- of 40 NM from
initiate an avoidance maneuver as early jectory of the avoidance maneuver.
as possible. Indeed, weather radar a threatening
information becomes more intense as If possible, it is preferable to perform convective cloud to
the aircraft gets nearer the convective
weather zone, thus making avoidance
lateral avoidance instead of vertical
avoidance. Indeed, vertical avoidance is
initiate the avoidance
decisions more difficult. For this reason, not always possible (particularly at high maneuver.
crews should consider a minimum altitude) due to the reduction of buffet
distance of 40 NM from the convective and performance margins. In addition,
cloud to initiate the avoidance maneuver. some convective clouds may have a
significant build-up speed, that extends
Once the decision to deviate course has far above the radar visible top.

Lateral avoidance

When possible, it is advisable to try (fig.21). An additional margin may be

to avoid a storm by flying on the applied in case the convective clouds
upwind side of a cumulonimbus. are very dynamic or have a significant
Usually, there is less turbulence and build-up speed.
hail upwind of a convective cloud.

I f the aircraft trajectory goes
The area of threat identified by the between several convective clouds,
flight crew (e.g. a cumulonimbus cloud) if possible maintain a margin of at
should be cleared by a minimum of least 40 NM with the identified area
20 NM laterally whenever possible of threat.

Vertical avoidance

D o not attempt to fly under a all indications (visual judgement,

convective cloud, even when you weather radar, weather report, pilots
can see through to the other side, report, etc) before they take the final
due to possible severe turbulence, decision.
windshear, microbursts and hail. If an
aircraft must fly below a convective If overflying a convective cloud cannot
cloud (e.g. during approach), then the be avoided, apply a vertical margin of
flight crew should take into account 5 000 feet (fig.21).
Optimum use of weather radar

5,000 feet
20 NM
If possible, it is
preferable to perform
lateral avoidance
instead of vertical

Lateral and vertical circumvention margins

Practical example: typical scenario of severe weather avoidance strategy

Figure 22 shows a typical weather Route C:

radar display indicating multiple areas of this route looks like a possible escape
severe weather. What route would look route because it goes around most of
like the preferable option? the storms by a wide safety margin.
However, while doing so, the flight
Route A: crew would need to keep a look at the
this is the most direct route to destination cell to the left of this route, and see
but it navigates right through the most whether it develops rapidly or not. In
severe and active zone; therefore it is the addition, this route leads away from the
path that carries the biggest risks and initial flight plan and therefore it could
should not be an option. have operational implications such as
fuel consumption or delays.
Route B:
this route could be tempting since it Route D:
requires little deviation to the mainstream this route would be the preferable
route and it looks like the most active option in terms of risks mitigation.
red areas are avoided. Nevertheless,
this trajectory leads downwind of the When faced with a situation where
convective area, thus increasing the weather ahead reveals an extensive
risk of encountering severe weather. storm system, several options are
Additionally, the convective cells beneath always possible. Before the flight crew
might be developing fast and upwards, makes a decision, it is prudent to ana-
thus closing off the gap in between the red lyze weather carefully by scanning the
zones. Before this option is considered, vertical expansion of the various cells,
the flight crew would need to tilt the radar and if possible, consider deviation to
antenna down to analyze weather and an alternate route.
see what is below the apparent gap.
Safety First #22 | July 2016 043

Route C

Route A
Route B

Route D

Available options to avoiding weather

Regardless of how you locate a severe weather area visual, by

radar, or from a report a key parameter to successful route planning
and avoidance strategy is time. The weather radar, and enhanced
models more particularly, can help you to analyze and understand
distant weather accurately and evaluate weather scenarios from a
distance. This system is a key tool to planning ahead to avoid last-
minute decisions, and making a decision on circumnavigating a
nasty convective cell with a comfortable safety margin. In addition
to technology, you need to stay active in maintaining situation
awareness throughout the flight. Regularly complement the radar
images displayed by a manual vertical scan of surrounding cells,
as well as gain and tilt adjustments as required. Last but not least,
adhere to your knowledge of meteorology basics, local climatology
and weather briefing to adopt the best course of actions, and navigate
safely, effectively and comfortably to destination.

Issue 21 Issue 20 Issue 19

January 2016 July 2015 January 2015

Control your speed... in cruise Control your speed... during climb Tidy cockpit for safe flight
Lithium batteries: safe to fly? Lateral runway excursions upon landing Landing on contaminated runways
Wake vortices Fuel monitoring on A320 Family aircraft Understanding weight & balance
A320 Family Aircraft configuration Hight-altitude manual flying Wind shear: an invisible enemy to pilots?

Issue 18 Issue 17 Issue 16

July 2014 January 2014 July 2013

Control your speed... at take-off Airbus Brake Testing Performance Based Navigation:
Safe operations with composite aircraft Hard Landing, a Case Study for Crews RNP and RNP AR Approaches
Learning from the evidence and Maintenance Personnel Atlantic Airways: Introduction
A320 Family cargo Containers/ pallets Aircraft Protection during Washing and of RNP AR 0.1 Operations
movement Painting Flight Crews and De-Icing Personnel
Parts Departing from Aircraft (PDA) Flight Data Analysis (FDA), a Predictive Working together in Temporary
Tool for Safety Management System Teamwork for safe Skies
(SMS) Low Speed Rejected Take-Off upon
Flying a Go-Around, Managing Energy Engine Failure
Late Changes before Departure

Issue 15 Issue 14 Issue 13

January 2013 July 2012 January 2012

The Golden Rules for Pilots moving Thrust Reverser Selection means A320 Family / A330 Prevention and
from PNF to PM Full-Stop Handling of Dual Bleed Loss
Airbus Crosswind Development and Transient Loss of Communication due The Fuel Penalty Factor
Certification to Jammed Push-To-Talk A320 and The Airbus TCAS Alert Prevention
Procedure A380: Development of the Flight A380: Development of the Flight
Post-Maintenance Foreign Objects Controls - Part 2 Controls - Part 1
Damage (FOD) Prevention Preventing Fan Cowl Door Loss Facing the Reality of everyday
Corrosion: Do not forget that you are not alone in Maintenance Operations
A Potential Safety Issue Maintenance
Safety First #22 | July 2016 045

Issue 12 Issue 11 Issue 10

July 2011 January 2011 August 2010

Airbus New Operational What is Stall? How a Pilot Should A380: Flutter Tests
Landing Distances React in Front of a Stall Situation Operational Landing Distances:
The Go Around Procedure Minimum Control Speed Tests A New Standard for In-flight Landing
The Circling Approach on A380 Distance Assessment
VMU Tests on A380 Radio Altimeter Erroneous Values Go Around Handling
Automatic Landings Automatic NAV Engagement at Go A320: Landing Gear Downlock
in Daily Operation Around Situation Awareness and Decision Making

Issue 9 Issue 8 Issue 7

February 2010 July 2009 February 2009

A320 Family: Evolution of Ground The Runway Overrun Prevention Airbus AP/FD TCAS Mode: A New
Spoiler Logic System Step Towards Safety Improvement
Incorrect Pitch Trim Setting at Take-Off The Take-Off Securing Function Braking System Cross Connections
Technical Flight Familiarization Computer Mixability: Upset Recovery Training Aid, Revision 2
Oxygen Safety An Important Function Fuel Pumps Left in OFF Position
Fuel Spills During Refueling Operations A320: Avoiding Dual Bleed Loss

Issue 6 Issue 5 Issue 4

July 2008 December 2007 June 2007

A320: Runway Overrun New CFIT Event During Non Precision Operations Engineering Bulletin
FCTL Check after EFCS Reset on Ground Approach Reminder Function
A320: Possible Consequence of VMO/ A320: Tail Strike at Take-Off? Avoiding High Speed Rejected Take-
MMO Exceedance Unreliable Speed Offs Due to EGT Limit Exceedance
A320: Prevention of Tailstrikes Compliance to Operational Procedures Do you Know your ATC/TCAS Panel?
Low Fuel Situation Awareness The Future Air Navigation Managing Hailstorms
Rudder Pedal Jam System FANS B Introducing the Maintenance Briefing
Why do Certain AMM Tasks Require Notes
Equipment Resets? A320: Dual hydraulic Loss
Slide/raft Improvement Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems
Cabin Attendant Falling through the Operations Based on GPS Data
Avionics Bay Access Panel in Cockpit

Issue 3 Issue 2 Issue 1

December 2006 September 2005 January 2005

Dual Side Stick Inputs Tailpipe or Engine Fire Go Arounds in Addis-Ababa due to VOR
Trimmable Horizontal Stabilizer Damage Managing Severe Turbulence Reception Problems
Pitot Probes Obstruction on Ground Airbus Pilot Transition (ATP) The Importance of the Pre-flight Flight
A340: Thrust Reverser Unlocked Runway Excursions at Take-Off Control Check
Residual Cabin Pressure A320: In-flight Thrust Reverser Deployment
Cabin Operations Briefing Notes Airbus Flight Safety Manager Handbook
Hypoxia: An Invisible Enemy Flight Operations Briefing Notes