The year 2015 has been a remarkable year for Indian domestic aviation. The growth in domestic passenger numbers, and the start of many new airlines, has undoubtedly led everyone to believe that 2015 is the third boom in Indian aviation.
But how did 2015 register a strong 20% growth in domestic passengers? Was it mere addition of capacity, or was it more? What triggered the growth? This and more, when you click here.
Till date, regional airlines in India have been looked upon in poor light, largely because of the past and the present. No regional airline in India has survived long, collapsing under the pressures of mismanagement and poor planning. Even today, the way in which regional airlines are both managed and run is disappointing.
The ministry’s proposal for Scheduled Commuter Airlines (SCAs), and the associated benefits, are huge. For one, SCAs will be able to enter into code shares with other airlines. This will be the starting point for capacity purchase agreements (CPAs) as seen in the US of A where mainline airlines contract commuter or regional airlines to offer last airport connectivity. It turns into a win-win for both mainline and the regional or commuter airline.
Yet, the paid up capital requirement, as stipulated by the ministry, reduces entry barriers. This will allow the “not-so-good” to enter the business, mismanage the business, ultimately leading to a collapse, non-payment of salaries, and the like. So how much does an airline require to run?
It depends on many factors. We look into market lease rates of popular aircraft, and the amount of money the airline is going to lose over a period of 2 years. The projections are based on statistical data derived from many airlines, and will make you appreciate how much an airline really needs. We also expand the aircraft set to include other, smaller, in production turboprops.
The Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG) was introduced in 1994 to provide air connectivity to Jammu & Kashmir, North East, Island territories, and Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, by way of internal cross-subsidy by airlines, using their profits on 12 trunk routes.
Nearly 20 years after its introduction, the ministry is revisiting the rules to keep the rule relevant in today’s domestic scenario.
The ministry, as you will learn, is forcing regular scheduled airlines to deploy more capacity on category (CAT) II and IIA and III routes, and as part of the regional connectivity scheme, airlines will have to contribute to the Ministry’s Viability Gap Fund (VGF) 2% of the fare of almost all tickets sold.
Under India’s Companies Act of 2013, companies that have a net worth of $80 million, a turnover of at least $160 million, or net profits of at least $800,000 must develop a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy and spend a minimum of at-least 2% of net profit.
In this case, the Ministry is imposing a 2% on ticket revenues, not profits, irrespective of the size or health of the airline. And is forcing airplanes to fly more onto ‘unprofitable’ routes, without any subsidy, which effectively increases the amount of CSR done in the Indian aviation industry, despite the thin margins and heavy losses.
Vistara, India’s newest pan-India airline, took the trouble to prepare a report on the aviation sector in India, highlighting the numerous areas in which India can and must improve. The report also concluded that Indian aviation is blessed with undeniably strong fundamentals such as:
A large and fast growing domestic market with potential for sustainability.
A strategic location (geographic) enabling hubs / transit points for key international routes.
An abundance of tourism potential.
A strong technical and skilled workforce that can support aviation in various functions.
A traditionally service-driven culture, which augurs well for the hospitality industry.
The report went on to state that India is not a global aviation power today despite many such favourable characteristics because of poor decisions that have actively hindered the country’s aviation sector’s growth and competitiveness.
Key Take-aways, as summarized by the Vistara communications team:
1. Criticality of Aviation Sector
Aviation contributes to around 5% of GDP in leading global markets
3 billion people or 40% of the global population fly vs. low 1-2% penetration in India
Annual per capita seats in India are a quarter of China, Indonesia, Thailand
Aviation drives 27% of UAE GDP; 5.4% of US GDP
Aviation is growing rapidly in India; incremental passengers this decade was 3 times in previous 50 years
2. Potential of Indian civil aviation sector
Annual contribution of USD 250 billion to Indian economy by 2025
Employment creation to multiply 10 times to 2.3 million by 2050
Number of domestic passengers to grow 17 times to 1.1 billion by 2050
Number of international passengers to grow 10 times to 500 million by 2050
Domestic freight to increase eighteen times , and International freight more than eight times by 2050
Number of aircraft to multiply by 14 times to about 5600 by 2050
3. Policy Measures Required
1. Cost of doing business
Duties make ATF, which can constitute 30-35% of operating costs, 45% more expensive in India
Removal of sales tax will reduce ATF costs by 20% thus reducing operating costs by 7%, and stimulating air travel by around 8-9%
High taxation on MROs makes it cheaper to send aircraft abroad for maintenance, going against “Make in India" vision
Aeronautical charges are amongst the highest in the world
2. Ease of doing business
4 months in US vs. 90 days in UAE vs. more than a year and 10 agencies in India for getting an AOP
Simplification of RDG
3. Liberal Aviation regime
5/20: discriminatory to Indian airlines; impacts airlines’ risk mitigation and operational efficiencies
Indian airlines only use 26% of their bilateral rights
4. Invest in airport infrastructure, airspace management and skill development
Airport capacity shortage looms in 5 years
Additional airport capacity of 90 million passengers will be required each year from 2030 i.e. equivalent of Delhi and Mumbai airports combined
5. Focus on Safety
Access to expert and trained, fit-for-purpose resources are critical for DGCA
We received our Blackbox store merchandise samples – a mug and a crew tag. These have been put to use over the last two weeks, when we’ve been travelling and testing the tag, and sipping away from the mug.
The Blackbox store sent across a personalised ‘Crew’ tag. The tag is made of plastic, and is secured to a handle via a transparent rubbery-plastic strap. This ensures that the strap dies not distract from the tag.
The tag sample we received has ‘Aviate Navigate Communicate’ on one side and ‘CREW’ on the other side, both set against a black background. Under the ‘CREW’ is my name, which I really enjoyed as the tag was personalised. The tag is attached to my travelling pull-along suitcase, and has survived any harshness with which the baggage may have been handled. It has helped with the quick identification of baggage on the belt. The tag seems to have sustained a bit of damage, but the impressive part is that the white surface underneath the black surface has not yet been exposed. Says something about the durability of the tag.
The mug I’ve been drinking off (beverages only) is made of white ceramic, and the exterior paint seems durable – it’s lived through washes. The best part is what’s on the mug – IATA airport codes of airfields in India. It is a nice feeling to be able to drink off a mug that has 20 airport codes on it.
The Blackbox store has even more eye catching designs – crew tags, mugs, tee-shirts, and pillow covers, but our luck stretched only so far in getting samples. If you really like my work, sponsor me a tee from their store! Each one of the designs profusely bleeds aviation.
Merchandise for aviation enthusiasts is usually the same offering, in different variations: Airplane models, Remove-Before-Flight key chains, and some apparel. Creativity is very limited, just to conform with the narrow range of acceptable designs that qualify one as ‘serious aviation enthusiast’.
This dogmatic approach to aviation enthusiasts has been challenged by The Blackbox store. And how? It has been founded by someone who is both in aviation and not in aviation. Specifically speaking, the founder, who is also a designer, is not really in aviation but supports aviation activities. The result? Numerous friends in operational aviation – pilots, cabin crew, engineers, ground support staff, and more. With many friends come many birthdays, and the want for differentiation drove the designer to unleash the creativity within to gift something that was both unique, yet evidently aviation.
What started with gifting friends has today evolved into a full time business. The Flying Engineer got in touch with the designer, and without unnecessarily overdoing it – fell in love with the range of merchandise targeted at the aviation enthusiast. It’s not another buy and resell store – it’s a store that sells in-house designs, all proprietary of the chief designer, who wants customers more than sales, satisfaction more than profits, because of the personal belief in ,”We’re here for the long run”. No diversions!
The best part of the designs are that they are simple and generic enough to be used / worn anywhere, and yet serve as a soft, classy voice that speaks on your behalf. To someone alien to aviation, most designs appeal as a good design. To someone right in aviation, the designs appeal as classy and fresh, strongly beckoning the avgeek inside. It’s not one of those merchandise and apparel that will want you to shy in a general party – it’s what you’d perhaps want to wear to not stand out as the odd one but mingle with the crowd and yet speak of where you come from.
I’ll be honest about this – the Blackbox store designs have appealed to us, and we’re getting a couple of samples for review – shipping takes a week! We’ll probably even buy the company out – that’s how much we’ve been impressed by what’s on show at the site (and hence we’ve decided to advertise them here). We just hope that what we get is close to or better than what’s been shown on the site. We’ll soon be in a position to decide, and we’ll let you decide for yourself, at www.theblackboxstore.com.
It’s been a long, tiring week, both in the offices and on twitter. The best way to unwind is to look at certain things from a light – very light angle. Wait, we’re taking something totally irrelevant.
CIA – Comical Indian Aviation – brainchilded by The Flying Engineer and encouraged, fed, and moulded by Dr. DSL, is an attempt to elicit a laugh at the end of a stressful week. We can’t promise you a frequency of CIA strips. Nor can we say if we’re dedicated to the CIA strip. Enjoy it as it comes.
Don’t mistake us, we’re not taking sides. We’re not stating facts. We’re not breaking news. We don’t know whom we’re talking about, and we are certain that any and all interpretations that you may arrive at are purely the figments of your imagination based on the creativity of our comic ‘strip’.
By the way, we had thought of FIA – Funny Indian Aviation, but dropped it knowing how nasty the FIA can be to some.
Everything – absolutely everything in the airline has a Singapore Airlines ‘stamp’.
On 25th September, TATA-Singapore Airlines, which will operate under the brand name Vistara, publicly announced the receipt of their first aircraft, an Airbus A320-232SL that arrived from Toulouse with a tech-stop (to refuel) in the middle east. The aircraft flew in all white – without the livery of the airline. The aircraft will eventually be either stickered or painted, and the aircraft’s delay in arrival will only push the start of operations to either end October or early November, after the airline can fly the aircraft on intended routes for a series of ‘proving’ flights to satisfy the DGCA’s Civil Aviation Policy CAP3100.
From Singapore Airlines
Vistara’s first aircraft – like the other 19 aircraft that are to be received over time, are leased from BOC Aviation. BOC Aviation is 100% owned by Bank of China, one of the largest banks in the world.
BOC aviation, headquartered in Singapore, was formerly SALE – Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise, when it started operations in November 1993. When formed, SALE was a 50:50 ownership between Singapore Airlines and Boullioun Aviation Services. In the December of 2006, SALE was acquired 100% by the Bank of China (BOC) for US$965 million. In the July of 2007, it was renamed to BOC aviation, to reflect the change in ownership. With the support of BOC, BOC aviation was able to expedite its growth, from 100 planes in 2009 – over the first 16 years – to 246 owned and managed aircraft operated by 56 airlines worldwide in 2014- just five years later. BOC Aviation has another 196 aircraft on firm order, as of date.
BOC Aviation is headquartered in Singapore, and has leased airplanes to SpiceJet, and Jet Airways. Interestingly, the first ever lease to a Singapore Airline subsidiary or affiliate, although the lessor had its roots in Singapore Airlines. The 20 aircraft lease to Vistara is reportedly the largest leasing agreement in BOC Aviation’s history.
Of Singapore Airlines
TATA-SIA Airlines is a 51:49 joint venture between TATA Sons and Singapore International Airlines (SIA). SIA has invested US$ 49 Million. The TATAs, although a majority stakeholder, have no recent experience in the airline business, and the airline is expected to be pretty much run and managed by Singapore Airlines, although substantial ownership and effective control will be vested in Indian nationals. Singapore Airlines is expected to dictate how the airline will be run (executed). Vistara, a full service carrier, is expected to reflect a strong Singapore Airlines influence – at all levels of operations and perhaps even decisions.
The airline’s first aircraft was ferried from Toulouse by pilots Gopal Subramaniam and Mandhesh Singh. Gopal is Chief Pilot Line Operations, Technical & Quality at Vistara, and has joined from Singapore Airlines, where he still considers to be employed. Mandesh was flying the Airbus A330s for Singapore Airlines, and previously the A320s for SilkAir, and was part of the crew that inaugurated the direct Singapore-Coimbatore flight in 2007.
Phee Teik Yeoh, CEO of Vistara, has been with Singapore Airlines for nearly 23 years, and started his career with the airline as a Network Planning Analyst. Considering the CEO being a Singapore Airlines’ guy, and that he has held a wide spectrum of portfolios at SIA, prepping him for the role as a CEO, all management decisions and recommendations will pretty much be the way Singapore Airlines wants it.
At AirAsia India, none of the technical or managerial positions are held by any former AirAsia employees.
For Singapore Airlines
Historically, airlines which Singapore Airlines either has a stake in, or is a parent company of, have filled gaps in services of SIA. For example, routes dropped by Singapore Airlines, and later SilkAir, have been taken up by Tiger Airways. Together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, Singapore Airlines has managed an extensive network, catering to both business travellers and budget travellers. An Indian network was missing, and with Vistara, Singapore Airlines can offer its customers a near seamless experience and service – connecting them from various parts of India to its hubs at Singapore or stations in India, from where passengers can be connected to the rest of the world. With Singapore gradually losing out as a preferred global hub to the strategically located and aggressive Middle-East Asian hubs, through which a significant number of Indian passengers transit, capturing the Indian market, both directly and indirectly, is key. The Vistara strategy gains prominence in the light of the Jet – Etihad deal, which is aiding in diverting international traffic from India to the West.
Singapore’s deep involvement in the airline will bode well for Vistara – in terms of network, service, safety, and operational service metrics of on-time performance, in-flight service, and in-flight experience. Together with brand new aircraft, Vistara as a full service carrier driven by Singapore Airlines is poised to conquer the full service market over Indian skies.
One of Air Costa’s two Embraer E170s developed a windshield crack when operating into Bangalore, today, forcing the airplane to stay on ground for a few days till the windshield is replaced. To prevent disruption in operations, one of the E190s will be pulled into commercial service. Air Costa’s E190s seat 112 passengers in a single class, 45 more than their dual-class E170s.
The E190, registered VT-LBR, operated the Air Costa LB649 Hyderabad (ICAO: VOHS, IATA: HYD) – Jaipur (ICAO: VIJP, IATA: JAI) flight, marking the first commercial flight in India involving an Embraer E190. The flight, scheduled to depart at 14:05hrs IST, departed at 15:24hrs IST, picking up a 01:19hr delay due to the unforeseen pull-out of the E190 from parking into line operations, and the pull-out of the E170 from line ops.
The E190s were expected to be inducted into commercial service on 5th April, 2014. This bittersweet incident marks another milestone in Indian regional aviation, while also serving to emphasize how at the start-up phase of an airline, when the fleet is small, the non-availability of one aircraft can have significant operational ramifications.
Air Costa plans to stand out from the competition with its fares, connectivity, and unmatched cabin seating convenience and comfort.
Very rarely do few lucky aircrew get to experience something off-beat. For India Aviation 2014, Air India’s second newest Boeing 787-837, MSN 36279, registered VT-ANB, had to be positioned at Hyderabad Begumpet (ICAO: VOHY) from Hyderabad Shamshabad (ICAO: VOHS) on 11th March 2014. Below is the short hop, described.
VT-ANB operated as Air India AI 555, a revenue flight from Delhi (VIDP) to Hyderabad (VOHS), with the Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh and the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the airline, Rohit Nandan on board. In total, 115 passengers and 11 crew flew on ANB to Hyderabad.
After landing, ANB was towed from bay 54 to 58, for “deep cleaning”. The aircraft was delivered to the airline on 31st January 2014, and the one month of use needed to be cleaned out.
After spending 01:35 (1hr 35 min) on ground, VT-ANB was ready to fly to VOHY with the same flight deck crew, but with just one cabin crew, raising the total persons on board to 3.
The aircraft had fuel from the previous sector in its tanks: a massive 12.2 tonnes. The aircraft had a take off weight of just 127 tonnes, against 227.9 tonnes maximum take off weight.
Taxi Out VOHS
The crew pushed back from bay 58 at 14:10UTC (19:40 local), and taxied to the runway in use: 09R. The CG (Centre of Gravity) of the aircraft was at 19.1% MAC (mean Aerodynamic Chord), and the trim was set to 4.75 units. Flaps were extended to 5 degrees, and for the purposes of setting thrust, an assumed temperature of 42 degrees C and a derate of 83% was applied. The FMS was left as a flight plan discontinuity, as radar vectors were expected to VOHY.
The crew lined up on 09R, and applied take off power. The FMA (Flight Mode Annunciators) read TOGA-TOGA, and no VNAV and LNAV. At 133 knots, which was the Vr (rotate speed), the pilot flying gently pulled back on the control column, and at 14:29 UTC (19:59 local), VT-ANB was airborne.
Flight Path, VOHS/VOHY
Autopilot was engaged at 300ft RA (Radio Altimeter), and the aircraft maintained runway heading for about 2NM (nautical miles), before receiving radar vectors. VOHS is at an elevation of 2,000ft, and VT-ANB was climbed to 4,600ft. The aircraft was further vectored left by ATC, and asked if the crew could accept an ILS runway 27 approach for VOHY. The original plan was for a VORDME 09 approach into VOHY, but the crew confirmed their ability to fly into runway 27.
VT-ANB was made to descend to 3,600ft, and at 10NM from touchdown, intercepted the localiser for runway 27 VOHY. Autopilot was disconnected at 1,100ft RA. Flaps were taken in steps to 30 degrees, the approach speed maintained at 133kts, and autobrakes set to level 3.
The Boeing 787 touched down at 14:40 UTC (20:10 local), and felt extremely light when flaring. Reversers were deployed, and the aircraft slowed down, making a 180 degree turn at the end of runway 27 to backtrack towards taxiway “A”, as directed by Begumpet tower.
VT-ANB took a graceful right turn at 3-4kts taxi speed onto taxiway A, where it was welcomed with a water canon salute. Continuing its taxi, the Dreamliner turned right onto the Apron, where she was marshaled to her parking stand,. Parking brakes were applied at 14:50 UTC (20:20 local), and the short hop had consumed 1.3 tonnes of aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
Airplanes on display; Modest display by the small number of international exhibitors; Civil Aviation Minister talks of robustness and reforms; Same ministry’s DGCA is responsible for the delay in Air Asia’s ferry flight.
The photo above shows you how many airplanes were present at the show. There are only two wide bodies, essentially representatives of Boeing and Airbus, and the business-jet-segment representatives of Bombardier and Embraer. Beechcraft, which abandoned the “Hawker” in its earlier name “Hawker-Beechcraft”, after deciding to abandon the jet segment and focus on turboprops, and which was recently bought over by Textron, the parent company of Cessna, had three turboprop representatives at the show, from the Kingair line: B250, B350, and C90. Cessna had its Citation 560XL, Gulfstream brought in its G150 and G650, Bombardier its Challenger 605, Piaggio Aero its Avanti, Embraer its Phenom 100, Legacy 650, and Lineage 1000, Dassault its Falcon 7X, Airbus and Emirates their A380, and Boeing its 787. GMR-APFT, the new Hyderabad based flight school, positioned their Diamond DA-40D fitted with a diesel engine, and the UK based Mark Jefferies Air Shows and Display Aerobatics’ two Extra 330SC and 300L aircraft.
Few aircraft, including helicopters, did not turn up after the exhibitors decided not to participate in the airshow.
In total? Just 17 civil aircraft present for a country with the world’s second largest population and in a region with phenomenal aviation growth, at the 4th International Exhibition & Conference on Civil Aviation- India Aviation 2014.
Just one order marked the highlight of the day: SpiceJet and Boeing, which had for long dragged the decision to announce the airline’s purchase of 42 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, finally went public with the US$4.4 Billion worth order, pegging the price of each 737 MAX 8 at US$ 104.7M. The 737 MAX’s first flight is scheduled in 2016 with deliveries to customers beginning in 2017. SpiceJet is to receive 17 Boeing 737-800s directly from Boeing, in addition to the order for 737 MAX 8s.
Jet Airways’ order for the Boeing 737 MAX has yet to be announced.
Ajit Singh, Minister for Civil Aviation, stated in his speech at the show, “….is happening at the time when Indian Aviation is witnessing several policy changes and reforms to provide a robust aviation sector.” It is unclear whether the robustness was in reference to protecting existing players (airlines) from competition, or referring to a system that simply does not exist, evidenced by the FAA’s downgrade of the Indian DGCA.
Air Asia India, which was to have ferried its first Airbus A320 to India, today, has postponed the flight by a few days due to certain issues with the DGCA, invalidating the claims of the aviation minister.
The minster also went on to say, ” Civil aviation in India has been scripting a major success story due to progressive policies of the Government”, and that, “commercial fleet size is expected to grow from 400 today to 1000 aircraft by 2020”. There was no reference made to general aviation.
The same progressive Civil Aviation department did not permit few composite airplanes from flying into the show.
Only 26 International Exhibitors are present at the show, most with extremely modest presences.
Edit: Boeing 737 Max unit price corrected; A380 operator corrected.
HAL Airport “went dark" for a few days; GAGAN system goes operational; Aviation Ministry holds “CEO Exchange" discussion with airline and airframe representatives.
HAL Airport (ICAO: VOBG) had slipped into darkness for a few days. The airport, which belongs to HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and formerly served as the domestic and international airport in addition to supporting HAL’s and other various DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation) arms’ test flights, did not support night operations.
A HAL official stated that there was an issue between Airport Authorities of India (AAI) and HAL, which resulted in the temporary “blackout" of night operations, for a “few days”. Runway lights, and apron lights were reportedly* not “available”. As a result, pilots, especially those operating charter and private jets, which usually use HAL airport as it is in the heart of the city, were forced to fly (and plan) to Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport (ICAO: VOBL, IATA: BLR) if their arrival or departure was after dusk or before dawn.
During that period, HAL airport was rendered a “Day IFR field" for a while. Had this HAL-AAI issue continued, it would have been a sad state of affairs (or the lack of it at night) for the airport that made Bangalore the “Aviation Capital of India".
Such a move, temporary or permanent, is viewed as retrograde, especially when the country is looking forward to progressing aviation.
A “CEO Exchange" discussion was held at the aviation Ministry (MoCA), today, bringing together high level representatives from IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air Costa, Air India, Go Air, Blue Dart, Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, and ATR, amongst others. The aim was to figure out ways to take aviation to the next level.
However, with the AAI taking actions that affect airfields such as HAL, and flight schools, such as Orient Flight School at Pondicherry, everyday aviation becomes more difficult for operators, and hoping for a step up to the next level is a challenge.
The more progressive face of AAI was seen when the GAGAN system, according to the General Manager, General Manager (CNS) heading the Ground Based Elements of the GAGAN Project at Bangalore, India, Mr. C R Sudhir, “has been put into operation on 14.02.14 at 1000 hrs IST to support RNP0.1 operations in en-route phase of flight over entire Indian Flight Information Region."
This opens up GPS as a primary navigation aid for enroute navigation, allowing for more direct or shorter routes to be introduced in the Indian airspace. This saves fuel, may help increase aircraft utilization, and support higher air traffic density, which can boost passenger traffic if the savings are passed on to passengers. It also can give a boost General Aviation by allowing airplanes to fly lower on airways, as there no longer is a need for higher altitudes to receive land based radio navigation signals.
Mr. Sudhir also stated, “work is on to achieve APV 1/1.5 certification by fourth quarter of this year."
This is a calendar you’d want. It’s classy. It’s an aviation calendar. And what better than one which marks the airshows? Click on the image above to download the calendar. Or simply click here. Courtesy, Dassault-Falcon.
Don’t forget to block your other calendars for India Aviation 2014! Dates? See the calendar!
A Flight Instructor entering the Piper Seneca IV, a twin engine.
I am at Chimes Aviation Academy, (Dhana, Madhya Pradesh; ICAO: VA1J) and the weather, skies, airplanes and people have made possible some very beautiful photographs. Here are a few shots, for your enjoyment!
Chimes Aviation Academy boasts off the largest G1000 equipped Cessna 172R fleet in the country (Fleet: 7 Cessna 172R + 1 Piper Seneca IV), as well as having the distinction of being the flight school where aerospace-major Honeywell sends its engineers for flying training, for a Private Pilot’s License.
The hangar, all lit!
A student taxiing into the apron just before sunset.
The Garmin GNS 530 on board the Piper Seneca IV
The two bird types that make the Academy fly.
A second to touchdown? Not really. She ballooned.
A Cessna 172 backtracking Runway 35.
Leaving terra firma…
A student cuts his engine after a solo.
A Cessna 172 longing for the skies.
Open fields, nice weather, and a nice airplane make a brilliant setting!
A 5 month sabbatical from my website (I continued to write for my print magazine, Airbuz) was well spent. I engaged myself in the design and development of a General Aviation Flight Simulator. Either click HERE to know more, or visit my section, “Projects”.
I must thank my readers who were both patient and concerned. I hope you like the simulator!
A green laser can be picked up at any place for around Rs 800 (less than US$ 20). The beam is powerful, and the laser loses very little intensity in its propagation through air. Infact, the beam is so powerful that it can damage your retina, blinding you for life.
Irresponsible use of the powerful green laser is most observed by aircrew. A low flying aircraft on approach gives a sadistic thrill to those with a laser on the approach path: to shine the beam right at the cockpit. While this gives the man or woman, boy or girl on the ground a good few seconds of fun, the effects on the other side, up in the air, are anything but funny.
Firstly, the beam diverges slightly as it propagates through air. What appears as a pencil beam for the prankster is actually a huge green light for the pilot at a distance of around 5 kilometers (2.7NM) on approach. What has also been reported is the way in which the light diffuses when it strikes the windshield, having the effect of illuminating the flight deck, and distracting the flight crew.
Secondly, the intensity of the beam can either temporarily or permanently blind the pilot, especially on approach at night. If the cockpit floods with the green light and the pilot’s eye receives scattered light, vision will be temporarily affected, with the immediate consequence of losing sight of the runway and approach lights. This may lead to the aircraft going below the flight path, and impacting either terrain or buildings on approach. In case the laser beam directly hits the eyes of the pilot, the intensity can blind him or her for life, with immediate and long term consequences. The immediate consequence is the potential loss of control of the aircraft, threatening the lives of the 150+ passengers he is responsible for. The long term effect, if the airplane manages to be landed by the other crew member, is his inability to ever fly again as a pilot.
While admittedly this act is an of fun, and usually by the ignorant, helping spread the word can remove an unsolicited growing threat to flight safety.