Re: Dangerous Aircraft lighting

Date:         20 Aug 97 02:38:35 
From:         k_ish <kenish@ix.netcom..com>
Organization: Netcom
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caribb wrote:

> The San Francisco Chronicle recently published an interesting article
> concerning the aircraft visability while taxing on airport tarmacs. In
> effect it talked about how airplanes have not got a standardised
> lighting system to clearly identify what type of plane they are and
> what they are doing. [snip]

IMHO, as a private pilot, this is journalistic sensationalism at its
best (worst?)!  A few points:

-Although I don't have data, ground collisions are pretty rare.  A
Korean DC-10 / commuter at ANC, a TW(?) / private plane, the Tenerife
accident, a ground near-miss NW DC-10 / NW 747 at MSP, and a TW / NW a
few years ago in the Midwest were all in broad daylight.  The USAir 737
/ Wings West accident at LAX was at night, but in an area not visible
from the control tower.  Seems to me daylight ground collisions are more
common.

-  Road vehicles don't have a lighting system to clearly identify what
type of car they are.  What would be the point?

-  Major airports have ground radar which aids ground ops especially at
night and low-visibility.

- Runways are marked with "hold bars", lighted signs, and alternating
flashing lights to clearly identify hold points.  You cannot proceed
past a hold point unless instructed to do so.

-  When taxiing, be assured the pilots are not blindly following the
ground controller's instructions.  They are also looking out the
windscreen for potential collisions.  I don't know any pilot who doesn't
double check before taxiing onto an active runway!

Hope this puts your concerns to rest.

Ken Ishiguro