Feeds

China's 'Airpocalypse' forces pilots to learn BLIND landings in smog

Expensive training better than face planting hundred-million-dollar airliners

Intelligent flash storage arrays

China's air pollution is so bad, the country's Civil Aviation Administration has ordered all pilots of domestic flights to be trained in low-visibility landings.

It's hoped this will defeat the smog that has lowered the on-time flight performance at Beijing Capital International Airport to 18 per cent – the "the worst record for flight delays of any major international airport," the AP reports.

Airliner parked at Beijing Airport during the 'Airpocalypse' of January 2013

An airliner parked at Beijing Airport during the 'Airpocalypse' of January 2013

Beginning January first, the China Daily reports, flights from the 10 busiest Chinese airports into Beijing must be piloted by crews who have been certified to land their craft using instruments-only auto-landing systems on days when visibility is limited to 400 metres or less.

China's notoriously hideous air pollution increasingly causes flights to be delayed or cancelled at Capital International Airport when smog cuts visibility down to a few hundred metres – although, the AP reports, Chinese officials routinely blame such delays on weather conditions rather than smog.

In a sense, those officials are right – that is, if they're referring to the atmospheric inversion layers that trap pollution over Beijing, as was the case in the notorious "Airpocalypse" of lung-clogging crud that choked China's capital in January 2013. But blaming Capital International's 18 per cent on-time rate merely on the weather is disingenuous at best.

Certainly Beijing is plagued by such weather annoyances as fog, snow, and sandstorms, but it's air pollution that's forcing the CAA to require pilots to now acquire the low-visibility landing skills that had not previously been required because of the high training costs, China Academy of Civil Aviation Science and Technology dean of aviation safety Shu Ping told the AP.

"The training is very expensive, and the low visibility was not a normal condition," Shu said. "Now with more smoggy days, the probability of landing with low visibility is higher."

The Chinese domestic airline industry has aircraft with the necessary equipment for the auto-landing procedures, as do major airports in such major cities as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Shenzhen. Many foreign airlines, also so equipped, routinely use auto-landing when they deem it necessary when landing at Chinese airports that can accommodate the procedure, the AP reports.

And now Chinese domestic airlines will join their foreign counterparts in using auto-landing equipment to guide their craft to smoggy touchdowns – carefully supervised by their soon-to-be-expensively trained human pilots, of course.

Chalk that expense up as one more hidden cost of neglecting reasonable environmental controls. ®

Bootnote

Airline pilots aren't the only professionals being inconvenienced by China's ghastly pollution problems, as this photo of a recent fashion show in Shenzhen illustrates:

Fashion models in Shenzhen, forced to wear protective masks on the runway due to air pollution

A severe smog attack forced models to wear protective masks when strutting down the runway

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.