Someone is always watching...

Airports are at the nexus of high visibility and idle time. We invite people to transit through our facilities. We  provide windows for them to watch the action. We make them wait (hopefully not too long).

And how do they reward us?

By watching us at work. And sometimes, if you're unlucky, filming us at work...

Well, actually, his behaviour isn't really defensible, is it? ;)

Airport Heavy Metal

I know plenty of airport people who really don't care about aircraft. For me, it's the thing that sets our sector of the industry apart from the rest. A large portion of the airport industry, in Australia, are not in the aviation industry by choice. They are a council providing civic services of which one is the airport or they operate a mine or tourist venture which requires the airport in a support role. They come with little or no aviation experience, skills or knowledge and many would sooner gush over CAT's latest front-end loader than the new ATR 72 flying around Queensland. For those engineers, works supervisors and general road-works warriors out there, here is a cool new video of trucks, asphalt, men and some more trucks as they overlay one of Melbourne Airport's runways. Enjoy :).


Guyana & Runway Safety

This week's news of a runway excursion in the South American country of Guyana got me thinking of the current focus on runway safety. So, I turned my mind to writing something on the subject. Unfortunately, I turned too slowly and Andy Pasztor at the Wall Street Journal beat me to it! Thats what I get for having a day job :(. There's a few good quotes but for me the take home message is:

"Nonetheless, the latest crash illustrates the persistent hazards of so-called runway excursions: accidents and serious incidents in which airliners careen off runways, often because pilots landed too fast, touched too far down the strip, or didn't recognize the difficulty of stopping on wet, slushy or snow-packed surfaces."

Check it out - Guyana Crash Adds to Runway-Safety Worries - and here's some visuals courtesy of youtube.


Spending time with our ATC cousins

I only occasionally get to spend time with the ATC community but last week offered one of those chances. My co-facilitator in Jakarta was Tim Abberton, a very experienced "airservices" ATC'er and safety guru and at least half the course were members of the Indonesian DGCA's Directorate of Air Navigation. The combined course was an excellent opportunity for the airport and air navigation worlds to work together as well as compare and contrast their approaches to similar problems. The Indonesian airport/ATC environment is somewhat different to Australia's. They have more towers, three Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) including the government and most importantly, at many of its larger airports, the airport operator and the local ANSP are the same organisation either PT Angkasa Pura I, PT Angkasa Pura II or the DGCA itself.

The fence between airport & ATC in Australia can be hard to scale - some locations appear to coordinate better than others. I often wonder what it would be like if airports had to operate their own tower. It would definitely create a tighter operation but I am fully aware of the economies of scale achievable with a single ANSP.

Anyway, thinking ATC reminded me of this hilarious youtube clip (its really only audio) of a New York Ground Controller having a pretty bad day.


St. Barth's Airport

On the face of it, no Australian airport should ever have obstacle problems. I mean, look at the space we have! But of course, we have the odd hill and good ol' urban encroachment means that some airports are struggling with obstacle control. Nothing like St Barth's airport though...

Check out some of the other videos of more successful approaches.

Topic of the Month: Runway Safety

The stories surrounding runway safety (i.e. runway incursions, excursions etc.) have been coming out steadily in the lead up to and following the global runway safety symposium. The stats formed the call to action and the responses have included the technological, the educational, the multi-disciplinary and the collaborative. I'm definitely not across all these initiatives (new or established) and I'm waiting for a debrief from CASA's symposium attendee (my boss). Becoming more familiar with these plans is, however, definitely on my to-do list.

In the meantime, here's a video of a real runway excursion (a run-off) flowing a rejected take-off - details found in the video's description on youtube.

Apron Rampage

This story, to me at least, falls well into the security sphere which I tend to consider somewhat separate from safety. The difference between the two would make for an interesting discussion (maybe one to revisit later) but I usually consider security to encompass events involving an agent from outside of the aviation system intent on causing harm to it or within it. Of course there are exceptions to aspects of my definition - for example the security threat may come from the inside and the issues surrounding such events may straddle the security/safety disciplines.

Anyway, this week's apron shenanigans in Cork make for interesting visuals and remind us that hazards/threats don't always come from the headlines.