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An Ounce of Prevention

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Close Calls is a column detailing the “close call” experiences of fellow pilots. Determining a close call can be quite subjective but for our purposes here a close call will be any situation where a pilot suddenly realizes the presence of a nearby aircraft that they were otherwise unaware of. Personally, I describe a close call as “closer than I’d prefer.” I invite you to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 1-888-PCAS-123 (GTA: 416-225-9266) to anonymously share your stories. I will collect the details and prepare the article for Close Calls. The experience shared and lessons learned will be of benefit to all readers. Confidentiality will be assured and I will not use your name or aircraft ident without your permission.

I recently attended an airspace seminar held jointly by Transport Canada and Nav Canada. Not surprisingly the seminar was excellently delivered, very informative, and very well attended with about 50 or 60 pilots participating.

Early in the seminar one of the presenters asked the capacity crowd how many of them have ever had to take an evasive action to avoid an aircraft. To my amazement almost every hand in the room went up. The question was intended as an introduction to a section on CADORS (Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System) citing 4 specific conflict incidents.

One thing I have learned in talking to pilots and writing their stories since beginning this column is that I really shouldn’t have been all that surprised by the number of hands I saw go up. After all, it seems that most have us have had a Close Call of some sort. And I’m willing to bet that relatively few of them result in CADORS. For the record, I encourage pilots to officially report incidents as this kind of reporting results in the analysis of trends and the implementation of improvements designed to make the skies safer for us all.

But back to the number of raised hands. The overwhelming number of largely unreported occurrences. The untold stories. What do we do about it? Some of you have shared your stories confidentially with me. And I in turn have shared them with our fellow pilots. So that we can understand each other. So that we can learn from one another. So that we can all be safer. But even more important than that is making every effort to prevent these situations from ever taking place to begin with.

Complacency kills. Pilots need to stay sharp and keep their head in the game. Missing a radio call, not fully understanding an ATC instruction, or flying incorrectly in the circuit aren’t things that occur intentionally but they DO occur, they ARE dangerous, and they CAN be avoided. It’s often difficult to anticipate some of the errant things that others do since there are countless ways something can be done wrong. But if we all do our best to operate as per published procedures predicting the actions of others becomes easier since those actions by their very nature become predictable.

If you’re not sure about a local procedure or an ATC instruction or need any kind of assistance… ask for it! You need not be afraid of being judged for being careful. Simply stated there’s no room in aviation for pilots willing trade pride for risk.

Finally, attend refresher seminars like this one. They are a valuable way for groups consisting of pilots, controllers, and regulators to get together and share information. This becomes a learning experience not only for the pilots but for everyone involved.

But between sessions we need to make sure that we remain diligent. Make those radio calls, talk to the nice folks at ATC and use flight following, keep looking out the window, follow procedures, and use any other tools that may be available to you.

Fly safe(r).

Anthony Nalli is the Director of Canadian Development, General Aviation Collision Avoidance and President of SciDac Corporation/PCAS.ca. PCAS.ca is dedicated to the implementation of affordable collision avoidance devices in General Aviation with a mission to eliminate mid-air collisions and dramatically reduce close calls. Anthony can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 1-888-PCAS-123 (GTA: 416-225-9266), and www.PCAS.ca

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