Bird Strike 2

What makes a bird strike different is that it’s an unpredictable collision. If we talk about aircraft collisions with terrain the outcome is predicable bad. All that kinetic energy must go somewhere. So, a high-speed vehicle hitting something that is immovable is not going to end well.

Now, it must be said that some hunting birds can dive at incredible speeds. More typically, a large bird in flight between feeding sites isn’t going to be traveling fast. In fact, it may as well be viewed as a static object relative to an aircraft in flight. A bird in-flight is unlikely to be able to take avoiding action. For a pilot the action of “see and avoid” may work in respect of other aircraft but a bird ahead is no more than a pinprick in the sky.

These factors make aircraft bird strikes inevitable. That said, the range of outcome because of impacts are rarely at the severe end of the scale. One reason for this is the effort made at design certification to ensure an aircraft is sufficiently robust. Damage can occur but if the aircraft design and test processes have been rigorous everyone should get home safely.

I remember paying particular attention to the zonal analysis done by several major manufacturers. In my experience the most difficult designs are for those of business jets and large helicopters. One of the design challenges in both cases is the limited physical real estate within the aircraft structure. Weight is another big consideration. This leads to cramming essential avionics and electrical systems and their interconnections into confined spaces.

Zonal analysis is about ensuring there’s segregation between different systems. Afterall what’s the point of having two Attitude & Heading Reference Systems (AHRSs)[1] and putting them next to each other in the nose cone of an aircraft. That’s not a good design strategy. One damaging impact must not take out two essential independent aircraft systems.

These issues will need particular care in the new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that are on the drawing boards. Choosing a safe architecture, manufacturers must balance the use of creative design solutions, to produce a competitive product, with limited physical space.

A couple of key words in the certification requirements concern hazards that are anticipated. Bird Strike is hazardous and aircraft systems and equipment must “perform their intended function” should it occur. See EASA Special Condition for small-category VTOL aircraft, Subpart F[2].


[1] https://helicoptermaintenancemagazine.com/article/layman%E2%80%99s-guide-attitude-heading-reference-systems-ahrs

[2] https://www.easa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/dfu/SC-VTOL-01.pdf

Bird Strikes

I watched two rather aloof Branta canadensis in our local park the other day. They seemed oblivious to all the other birds on the priory pond. I’d certainly describe these two birds as being well fed. Given their stature and size, they looked formidable. These resident North American visitors are not to be messed with and are only eclipsed by the Swans on Reigate’s pond.

This species of bird has adapted well to living in urban and suburban areas and are frequently found on lakes, ponds, and rivers. I used to see large flocks of them gather on the river Thames. That was only a couple of miles from London Heathrow.

Even though they are numerous in the UK these birds are protected by law (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981[1]). Today, the population numbers may be as high as 62,000 breeding pairs[2]. Although these birds have the capability to fly great distances they tend to hang around where there’s a reliable source of food. Bird populations are changing their behaviours as a result of climate change.

Geese fly in the typical V-formation which is called a “wedge” or skein. From time to time, I see them fly over my house at a few hundred feet as they move between local lakes and ponds. They are easy to spot and often noisy as they elegantly traverse the sky.

Birds and aircraft share the same airspace. This is not a beneficial relationship for either. Strikes occur around the world every day. In the history of aviation, there have been hundreds of aircraft accidents and more than 47 fatal aircraft accidents caused by bird strikes[3].

It must be said that most bird strikes cause little damage to aircraft but that is highly dependent upon the size of the unfortunate bird and their habits. The story can be very different when an impact is with a Canada goose. Their large size and tendency to fly in flocks can have a devastating impact. On 15 January 2009, a US Airways Airbus A320 aircraft[4] ended up in Hudson River as the result of an encounter with such birds.

The risk of collision between birds and aircraft have always been part of aircraft operations. As a result, measures are taken to certify aircraft to be robust in the event of such collisions. Additionally, there’s a great deal of effort made at major airports to keep birds away from active runways.

Most of the bird threat to aviation safety exists when travelling at speed at relatively low altitudes. Bird strikes happen most often during take-off or landing. This makes me think that bird strikes are going to be a regular feature of the operations of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) / Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). The use of use highly automated aircraft may offer the opportunity to provide sophisticated bird avoidance features. However, so far, I’ve detected no talk of such features.

POST 1: A useful safety booklet Large Flocking Birds (skybrary.aero)

POST 2: A recent Boeing 737-800 serious incident LinkedIn

POST 3: An example of what can happen from 2019 Ural Airlines Flight 178 – Wikipedia

POST 4: Another useful safety booklet Bird strike, a European risk with local specificities, Edition 1 – Germany | SKYbrary Aviation Safety


[1] https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/69

[2] https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/birds/waterfowl/canada-goose

[3] https://www.skybrary.aero/sites/default/files/bookshelf/615.pdf

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Airways_Flight_1549

House of the past

Legacy. So, many of our problems are because we carry the millstone of the worst of the past. It would be nice if the best of the past guided us forward but that’s not the English way.

In 1990, we were treated to a television feast. A wonderful political thriller that echoes down the years. House of Cards[1] reflected and exaggerated the twists and turns of life in a fictional Westminster. It was the post Thatcher era. Surrounding succession, intrigue, and dastardly goings on filled the corridors of power and Parliament.

One of those sayings that keeps bouncing back in respect of politics is: “under a tall tree nothing grows” and variations on that theme. In essence it can mean that the aftereffects of having had a powerful leader, or a period of unchallenged power is inevitably a desert of ideas and imagination.

Ian Richardson’s portrayal of Francis Urquhart is masterful. House of Cards depicts the scrabbling for power, for the sake of power that consumes British politics from time to time. It shows how the greedy, incompetent, and foolish can be manipulated by a clever person with devilish intent.

32 years on it is surprising, although it shouldn’t be, how much of the series resonates with the political turbulence of 2022. The 1990s were different times. No social media. An infant digital world as mobile phones were just starting to impact daily life. That said, untrammelled ambition adapts to whatever technology is available.

What’s missing this year is any British politician that can be said to be charismatic. We are blighted by a cohort of dreary managers, automatons, and greasy pole climbing jobs worths. This adds to the reason that we need a General Election. Not for more turbulence and squabbling but for a clear out and to bring in new thinking.

What might happen on the other hand is that those who still have the potential to thrive outside Westminster will jump ship rather than suffer defeat. That means the good and the bad. Case in point being the former pensions secretary Chloe Smith Conservative MP for Norwich North, who will be standing down.

The shadow of the Thatcher era haunts the Parliament. It’s about time to open the curtains and let in the light in. There’s a stale mist hanging over the House of Commons. The remaining Eurosceptic vampires need to be consigned to the vaults.


[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0082dzs

Migration

Should we dismiss Sunak’s and Starmer’s recent statements as political posturing as they look towards the next UK General Election (GE)? There’s an effort to stand on a tight rope or draw nil – nil. Both by softening attitudes towards the European Union (EU) but at the same time throwing the occasional policy red meat to the entrenched Tory and Labour Eurosceptics.

It’s a strange game of chicken? Both major British political parties are fractured by Brexit. Both would wish to see that fracture grow in the other.To date the bigger fracture is in the Tory party. That should not be a surprise given the large number of UKIP and Brexit Party supporters it has integrated into its core. Old fashioned “one nation” Tories must feel lonely indeed. Then again, former Corbyn supporting Labour socialists must feel an equal loneliness.

It’s like, it can be said that all new cars look the same. The migration towards one political formula, that is believed to be mainstream, even if it isn’t, has become irresistible by Sunak and Starmer. It’s a 180-degree change in political strategy, putting the Truss debacle behind them both blue and red now want to occupy the same political space.

There’s no doubt we all want a more prosperous society. It’s how to get there given the perceived political constraints that becomes a great barrier. The power to make changes rests with businesses, industry, and those in political office. This week the CBI’s membership has invited both blue and red to make their pitch[1]. Two days of high-profile speeches are taking place in Birmingham. Both parties are aiming low.

Listening to Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy there’s little to choose between Labour and the Tories. Against freedom of movement. Both pandering to their Eurosceptics. Both peddling policies that look like variations on a theme. Playing as if the stands are empty. As if no one is watching.

Today, indications are that there will be a large anti-Tory vote at the next GE. They deserve to loose. However, if between now and then both blue and red make themselves look the same to the electorate, the winning gap may be smaller than expected.

There’s a crucial role for the Liberal Democrats and the Greens to offer a real choice of real change.


[1] https://www.cbi.org.uk/articles/cbi-annual-conference-2022-watch-the-keynote-speeches-live/

Walk the line

Aeronautical products must be certified before entering transport services. Is certification too complex? Is it too expensive and thus a barrier to innovation? Hasn’t deregulation delivered successes since the 1970s? More choice and more aviation services across the globe.

These are perfectly reasonable questions. They are asked frequently. Especially during economically tough times and when new products are pushing to get operational. In answering, it’s all too often a butting of heads that results. Industry puts its point. Authorities put theirs. Commercial reality and public interests settle at some point which leaves the debate on the table for next time.

Walking that line between satisfying the demand of the new and protecting the good safety performance of the aviation system is a perpetual challenge. It goes without saying that we all know what happens when the line is crossed. Textbooks will continue to chew over stories like that of the Boeing 737 MAX development. In fact, the stories of safety lapses are an important part of the learning process that led to aviation’s admirable safety record.

The counter argument is that we are in a new situation and that technology has significantly changed. This argument of the “new” is not new. Every major new step encountered significant hurdles to overcome. Pick-up the story of the development of the Boeing 747[1][2] and it’s a real dramatic page turner. However, the problem remains the same but as much innovative thinking needs to go into certification as the products that are certified. There’s a reason that’s difficult and its called legacy.

On the public’s behalf, how big is the risk appetite of the certification authorities? At the same time how far do the innovators want to push the envelope knowing that liability rest on their shoulders?

What I find inadequate is that when reading reports like “Funding Growth in Aerospace[3]” I find little, or no consideration is given to funding regulatory improvement. Arguments are for product development and little else. It’s as if certification activities are to be blamed for holding up innovations introduction to service but forget any thought of increasing the resources for certification activities.

It’s short-sighted. Believe it or not there is money to be made in testing and validation. There’s money to be made in education and training. These go hand in hand with efforts to exploit innovative products.


[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37231980

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/07/joe-sutter-obituary

[3] https://www.ati.org.uk/publications/

Betrayal

One word that sums up this UK Conservative Government is “betrayal”. Certainly, that’s what British farming is thinking as people hear a former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs rubbish a deal that he sold to the UK Parliament. The post-Brexit free trade deal between UK and Australia, which was much criticised when announced, is now described as a bad deal by the person who sold it. British farmers have been sold down the river.

It does say to the world that you are a complete mug if you believe anything a Conservative Cabinet Minister says. Breaking promises so blatantly has stirred up much disbelief and anger[1]. This case is especially shocking given that there was virtually no parliamentary scrutiny of the trade deal.

So, what’s Brexit advocate George Eustice’s[2] defence for such disgraceful behaviour. It’s to raise the flag of collective responsibility. In other words – I was only following orders.

Spearheading the trade deal, Liz Truss, under the leadership of Boris Johnson, it seems Eustice behaved more like a mouse than an honourable gentleman. If he truly believed that the deal between UK and Australia was a bad deal[3], he should have resigned and said so. To cling on to power these betrayers stand-up in parliament selling a deal that favours farmers in other countries.

Integrity is not just a word. Ministers should not stand-up and sell deals that they believe to be damaging[4]. Not only does it undermine trust in democratic politics but, in this case, it undermines the negotiating position for future trade deals.

Peddling an ill-conceived and appallingly enacted Brexit is immoral. Backing a party-line that is damaging to British interests criminal. Sadly, that’s where we are in 2022. This happened in the face of loud warnings being sounded. Dogma ment that Ministers activly ignored these warnings. Surely, it’s time to turn the tide on this dreadfully damaging behavour. We need a General Election – now.


[1] https://www.fwi.co.uk/news/eu-referendum/george-eustice-faces-farmer-backlash-over-trade-deal-comments

[2] Eustice stood unsuccessfully in the 1999 European Parliament Elections as a candidate for UKIP in the South West of England.

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-63627801

[4] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/george-eustice-australia-brexit-trade-deal-uk-b1039875.html

Change

It might be tempting for some politicians to thinks that the Conservatives have behaved so badly that the British public will not forgive their follies. In 2022, levels of incompetence and bad conduct have been astounding in the modern era.

The latest election polls for the next General Election (GE)[1] constructed with a uniform swing calculation of the polling averages (poor way to compute), shows a large winning Labour Party majority. That would be the political pendulum swinging hard from right to left, from blue to red.

There’s a problem with this analysis. Not least does it skate over the conditions that exist within the “swing seats”, that is those Parliamentary seats that are expected to change hands. It also takes for granted that the public mind will continue to be affected by the dreadful performance of the Conservatives in power. That famous political quote: a week is a long time in politics[2], surely needs to be read more than once.

It is often the cases that an incumbent party has an advantage in any political competition. Uprooting those clinging to power is never easy. Countering that, it is the case that a party is more likely to win by highlighting the deficiencies of their opponents. Eventually voters get fed up with a litany of failures and stupidities.

What’s missing is a positive construction of a vision for the future. Bringing about political transformation should not be a leap of faith brought on by sheer desperation. It’s understandable that voters may not wish to stomach more of the same. Wouldn’t it be so much better if they are drawn to a vision for a brighter future?

Today, I don’t see the articulation of that brighter future. What I do see is too much on specifics like how to fix this or that and how to pile more funds into this or that. A lot of what we hear is chasing the daily news cycle. The speed of news drives the political responses. Potential leaders are lagging the immediate cacophony.

My view is that a progressive political transformation can happen. What’s needed is that expression of, not so much how to change, but what will a changed country look like, and feel like. It is that vision of the promised land. Now, that sounds a bit grand. Maybe that’s what scares off opposition leaders from speaking of a better world.

Is it the case that modern-day British politicians fear raising the bar too high? Fear that raising expectation will result in ultimate disappointment. It could be so. What is needed is someone to cut through that fear. To frame words that communicate a vision.


[1] UK General Elections are scheduled to be held a max of 5-years from the first meeting of Parliament plus 25 working days, in accordance with the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022.

[2] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/a_week_is_a_long_time_in_politics

What next?

When I returned from German, in early 2016, I had no idea there would be a national referendum. Let alone that the referendum on European Union (EU) membership would be lost by a tiny margin and then send the UK into political and economic turmoil for years and years. It was a strange period.

As of me writing these words, the UK has had its fifth Prime Minister (PM) since the Brexit referendum. We’ve had a pandemic, the invasion of the Ukraine and the now an energy and economic crisis, not to mention an on-going climate crisis.

I don’t say it was, but if Brexit was a politically inevitability there couldn’t have been a stupider time to do it in the history of the country. There we were, having all but recovered, remarkably quickly from the banking crisis of 2008 and then we voluntarily threw asunder the UK’s most important trading relationship. There even seemed a time of relative national contentment as London hosted the most spectacular Olympic games in 2012. That was washed away like a flood of foolishness.

As idioms go: “here’s nowt so queer as folk[1]” about sums it up. That could be a political maxim for our times. It may be a particularly English trait. I absent my Scottish, Welsh, and Irish friends from this classification. It goes like this, I’d say, when all’s well it’s a time to do something daft. That feeling should be resisted as much as possible.

The result of 2016’s fantasy is that the relationship between the UK and EU is torn by tension, disputes, and disappointments. Instead of everyone benefiting from the excellent innovations of the Single Market and freedom of movement in Europe, the UK continues to pedal backwards.

There’s coming a moment when change might be possible. I am a great believer in disproportionate relationships. It’s like the statistical curiosity of buses arriving in threes. There are periods of time when things seem to be stuck on a tramline and nothing interesting changes. Then a moment of transition occurs and suddenly new possibility crop-up.

Why do I say this? Well, polls, such as they are, are showing a significant public willingness to reconsider what happened in June 2016[2]. Not only that but because of the “Truss debacle” the advocates of Brexit are on the back-foot. They did trash the economy with little care or concern.

With a UK General Election (GE) looming there’s a strong likelihood that anyone shouting for more Brexit will suffer the same fate as Trump’s red wave (or lack of it) in the United States (US). This will upset hard core Brexiters, but in all fairness, they have had plenty of time to show the benefits of their beloved project. They have shown none. In fact, we continue to go backwards under the yoke of blind Brexit dogma.

The UK and the EU can greatly improve their current relationship if they both choose. We have common problems, common challenges, and common threats. It would be of great benefit to all Europeans if we worked more closely together.

POST: The evidence points to one conclusion Why is the UK struggling more than other countries? – BBC News


[1] This phrase is typically used to emphasise someone’s particularly behaviour. (“Nowt” is a Northern English variation on “naught.”)

[2] https://bylinetimes.com/2022/11/02/brexit-polls-uk-public-want-to-rejoin-eu/

Wrong

Where the Conservatives went wrong, and other mistakes. It’s OK, I’m just channelling HHGTTG[1].

Where God Went Wrong is the first book in a trilogy by Oolon Colluphid . The other two parts of the trilogy are Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?

By allowing the “swivel eyed loons[2]” to take over the Conservatives have sealed their fate. Those 3-words were banned around back in 2013. It’s amazing how prophetic they have turned out to be.

These are the politicians and minor celebrities driven by a pathological hatred of the Continent. In fact, it goes further than that mindset. As we have seen from the Party’s membership vote on a leadership candidate, the tendancy for self-destruction is imbedded.

Recent attempts by senior Conservatives to revive the bogyman of Mr Corbyn, the Labour Party’s former leader are quite pathetic. People in glass houses should not throw stones. It’s nearing the end of 2022, so the campaigning nonsense of 2016 and 2019 is not going to play with the public. That narrative is dead.

We are in a deep hole. It’s more than financial. In recognising the banking crisis, and the need to do something about it, there was a degree of consensus in 2010. However much there’s regret at the mistakes made by the Coalition Government they didn’t match the incompetence and shear madness of what we have experienced this year. Sheer madness.

In 2008, the greed of bankers drove the Country into troubled times. In 2022, the obsessions and warped ideology of a rotten worn-out political party drove the Country into a deep hole.

So damaged is the reputation of the Conservative Party that their poll rating, floating just above 20% is a fair place for them to be at this time. If 1 in 5 people are prepared to forgive them for a cavalcade of ineptitude they need to think again. Rewarding such folly and madness will only result in more of the same.

As we move towards a General Election there’s a need for a monumental shift away from the sirens who have lured the country onto the rocks. The Conservative Party must be sent into distant opposition to reflect on the damage that it has done.


[1] https://hitchhikers.fandom.com/wiki/Where_God_Went_Wrong

[2] https://virtualstoa.net/2013/05/18/a-short-history-of-swivel-eyed-loons/

Practicable

I am in two minds. When I see the words: “in so far as practicable” I can think; great, a degree of flexibility. On another occasions when I see the self-same words I think; that’s too vague and indistinct. It can easily circumvent more strict language.

Practicable is a perfectly useful word. The idea that it’s practical to do something and likely to succeed can be a matter of reasoned judgement. However, there lies the crux of the problem. It’s the subjective of that judgement, as to what’s practical and will it succeed, that becomes the possible difficulty.

If there’s a clause in a group’s constitution or working arrangements that says: “in so far as practicable” then it can become open season for someone to avoid a commitment or go their own way. That can be to shoot a big hole in a set of agreed expectations.

A lot depends on where the burden of proof sits. In other words, I may assert that something is not practicable but is it then for someone else to prove me wrong? Or do I have to provide the necessary proof?

There are elements of degree here too. If the assumption is that a judgement can be a snap judgement that’s one thing. However, there may be an assumption that a judgment is based on a rigorous level of analysis and reasoning.

The term “in so far as practicable” is most useful when applied thoughtfully and with honest intent. That the person applying this caveat would work hard to undertake whatever obligation was written and only as a fall back, having been unable to meet an obligation, revert to the use of these words.

Context and circumstances weigh heavily on what is practicable. An easy task on a sunny day can be a nightmare in a thunderstorm. Some legal clauses go as far as “insofar as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances”.

I guess I’m coming around to the wish that the “ALARP” concept (short for “as low as reasonably practicable”) would be sparingly used. ALARP weighs risk mitigation, elimination or reduction against time, trouble, and money. That’s a balancing act where there’s no perfect answer.

ALARP is a basic concept in health and safety law, but it hasn’t caught on in aviation or at least safety of flight. It’s not that aviation is blind to the fact that flight safety can be a priority, but it will never receive infinite time, trouble, and money.

It’s more that with flight there’s always a choice. It’s a “go – no go” choice. If adequate risk mitigation, elimination or reduction is not available the reasonable choice is to stay on the ground.