SpiceJet plans to use drones for delivering essentials & Ecommerce in Remote Areas

New Delhi: SpiceJet plans to use drones for faster delivery of medical, essential and e-commerce supplies in remote areas of the country. The budget airline has got Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) nod to conduct drone trials. A consortium led by SpiceJet’s freighter arm, SpiceXpress, had submitted a proposal to the regulator for conducting experimental “beyond visual line of sight” (BVLOS) operations of remotely piloted aircraft in response to a DGCA expression of interest.

SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said: “Testing of drone technology for last mile connectivity and cost-effective cargo deliveries are a big leap in the air transportation of essential and non-essential supplies in India. We are extremely optimistic about using this exciting new mode of delivery for products like perishables and medicines which have a smaller shelf-life and need urgent deliveries in the remotest parts of India.”

The consortium includes Throttle Aerospace, a drone manufacturing company, AeoLogic, an analytics and software solution firm and Involia, which is a provider of air traffic awareness and collision avoidance services.

“SpiceXpress will be looking at last-mile delivery from the warehouse and the prime focus will be on delivering medical emergency parcels and essential supplies in remote areas. Drones will ensure a faster delivery bringing down costs and would go a long way to augment our business to offer express delivery of medicines, perishable items and e-commerce shipments,” the airline said in a statement.

Explained: What we know of the largest electric powered flight expected today

In a breakthrough for electric flight technology, a 750-horsepower electric engine made by MagniX, an Australian electric motor manufacturer, will power a Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft to fly for an expected 20-30 minutes over Washington state. This will be the largest aircraft ever to fly on electric power.

In December last year, an engine from the same company powered a seaplane in Vancouver, Canada, in what was described as the “world’s first” 100 per cent electric flight.

The retrofitted Caravan plane, which can carry nine passengers, is expected to take off at 8 am Pacific time (8:30 pm in India) on May 28, and will fly at a speed of 183 kmph, as per a Guardian report. However, for its first journey, a test pilot will fly the plane alone.

The plane selected, a Cessna 208 Caravan, is a popular utility aircraft around the world since the 1980s, with over 2,600 currently being operated for commuter airlines, air cargo, VIP transport, flight training, and humanitarian missions. MagniX aims at commercial operations over a 100-mile range by 2021, and hopes retrofitting its engine to a Caravan would speed up regulatory approvals.

According to a CNBC report, such electric flights could require significantly less maintenance compared to fuel-based aircraft, and could lead to short-distance flights becoming cheaper, thus helping make it more viable for airlines to fly to remote locations.

Apart from MagniX, several companies are involved in making electric flights a reality. The ride-sharing company Uber has announced air taxis to fly as early as 2023. Major industry players such as Airbus and Rolls Royce, a number of startups, as well as the space agency NASA are involved in developing electric flight technologies.

Yet, despite the promise shown by short-range electric flights, several more years of development is expected for powering long-distance journeys. A major obstacle in this process is battery technology, with the weight of the battery being a major challenge.

The aviation sector is a fast-growing source of carbon emissions, and significantly contributes to climate change. According to the World Wildlife Federation, unregulated carbon pollution from aviation is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. If the entire sector is considered as a country, it would be among the 10 most polluting nations on the planet.

By 2050, the aviation industry is expected to cater to 16 billion passengers, up from 2.4 billion in 2010. If the sector solely relies on conventional technologies, emissions would triple by 2050.

Making the aviation sector eco-friendly is an important step for meeting the 2016 Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the increase in global temperatures to below 2 deg Celsius, and pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 deg Celsius.

Environmental activism has already impacted the popularity of air travel as a mode of transport. According to a UBS bank study from October last year, campaigns such as those by Greta Thunberg and the Swedish concept of “flygskam” or “flight shaming” are expected to cause people to cut down on their flying habits in the US and Europe.


Post the 60-day lockdown, as the Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri issued guidelines to commence domestic flight operation with 1/3rd capacity from May 25, 2020, Bangalore International Airport (BAIL) has also decided to resume their domestic travel operations with a contactless journey from pre-entry of the airport to security check to the boarding of the flight.

The BAIL press release has stated that “The technology will continue to enable a seamless airport journey, with greater emphasis on health and safety.” Starting from their pre-entry process, which includes e-boarding pass and thermal screening of people to facial recognition system at the check-in process and self-service kiosk, BAIL has been relying on new-age technologies to transform the whole process of travelling.

Alongside, Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport has also planned to resume its operations with contactless flying for their passengers. GHIAL has deployed thermal cameras for monitoring travellers along with Automatic Information Management System, a virtual help desk for guiding travellers with their problems, which in turn, omits any contact with travellers.

The COVID-19 created a halt for the aviation industry, with an 80% drop in the global flight activity at the end of April. Therefore, the aviation companies are strategizing differently to revamp their entire business process with digital technologies like AI, ML and RPA. In fact, from passenger identification and baggage screening to customer support and predictive maintenance, airports and airline companies can heavily rely on artificial intelligence to augment the industry work process.

How Can AI Be Beneficial For The Aviation Industry?

AI has been a critical technology in transforming the operations of the travel industry amid this crisis. Not only has the technology been used to automate the travellers’ checking processes with minimum contact but also collect flight data for optimising rout and weather forecasting. Alongside, artificial intelligence has also been used to create virtual assistants for customer queries, enhanced logistics operation, facial recognition system replacing biometrics for security checks and self-service kiosks equipped with augmented reality. Airline companies are also involving artificial intelligence to improve their air safety; read here, how.

In fact, according to a recent survey, 97.2% of the aviation companies are working towards deploying big data, and artificial intelligence, with 76.5% of the firms are leveraging the value of collected data and empowering AI for cognitive learning initiatives. These numbers alone show that amid the crisis, airline companies and airports are rethinking technology to keep up their relevance.

Futurist Rohit Talwar of Fast Future said to the media that the majority of the aviation firms would give more attention to digital transformation, “there could be radically different business models with a greater focus on technology and automation, designed for the era we are in.” These advancements are aiming towards minimising the impact of this pandemic on their traveller’s experience.

These firms are majorly utilising AI, ML and robotics to keep their finances stable amid this crisis. One of the main areas where airline service providers are implementing artificial intelligence is the customer service aspect, which provides great potential for leveraging new technologies. Along with AI-based chatbots, firms are also giving airport security and aircraft monitoring with artificial intelligence.

Apart from these, aircraft manufacturers like Airbus have been using cloud-based systems for data collection and storing, and analyse the same to enhance the reliability of aircraft maintenance. Also, airlines and airports have deployed robotics technology to onboard passengers. Case in point: Bangalore International Airport, similar to Incheon, has been planning to use a humanoid robot, developed by a Bangalore-based startup Sirena Technologies, for assisting travellers with their boarding. Also, AirIndia, the country’s leading airline, has been using Taxibot on their A320 aircraft — a robot-used aircraft tractor for their passenger boarding.

Many airlines and airport authorities are also partnering with the government to provide seamless travel for their passengers. In a recent development, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has also launched a connected application — DigiYatra, which will process information through facial recognition at checkpoints, provide digital guidance systems, offer interactive kiosks and augmented reality apps for travellers.

Globally, airports in Singapore and Hong Kong are relying on thermal screening for monitoring passengers and robots to sanitise the airport. Also, Airlines, like Etihad, has been working on developing interactive automated kiosks that are an all-in-one system to check travellers’ temperature and heart rate before issuing their tickets and can process the massive volume of biometric data. Jorg Oppermann, Vice President Hub and Midfield Operations, Etihad Airways stated to the media that, “We are testing this technology because we believe it will not only help in the current COVID-19 outbreak but also in future, with assessing a passenger’s suitability to travel, and thus minimising disruptions.” Even, Los Angeles airport has stated using an advanced biometric self-boarding solution to help passengers travel securely with no contact.

Some Of The Critical Applications Of AI In The Aviation Industry Are:

Identifying Traveller’s Information While Checking-In

Security is a prime concern for airports, and therefore it is imperative for the authorities to have a proper check of documents and identification of the passengers travelling. AI-enabled systems and tools equipped with facial recognition technology can help airport authorities identify passengers by using the data and matching the same with their passport photos. For instance, one of the American Airlines, Delta Airlines have installed cameras and deployed facial recognition technology to identify their passengers while checking in.

Alongside, airport authorities can also use the advanced technology in their security scanners to detect potential threats at significant and popular airports of the world. Many airlines have also deployed this technology in their mobile apps and automated the whole boarding process to provide a better travel experience to their customers amid their crisis. Technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning would also help in speeding up the process of attending customers, which in turn will help the officials in a longer run.

Luggage Screening For Passengers

Along with identifying travellers and checking their documents, it is also imperative for airport authorities to review and screen the luggage of the travellers in order to detect any potential threats. With traditional methods, the luggage screening process could be tedious. However, with AI-based systems, security officials can quickly identify threatful and illegal items in travellers’ luggage in a much-simplified manner. These systems help in automated screening, which can detect potential threats in the luggage through X-rays and computed tomography.

In recent news, in an effort to enhance security, Pune Airport, in India, has deployed a smart luggage screening system enabled with AI technology, designed to automatically detect dangerous objects and other potential threats in travellers’ luggage, and alert operators in real time. According to Ajay Kumar, the Director of Pune Airport, “This AI software technology can automatically detect various objects and other threats from the x-ray images produced during the screening of baggage and alert operatives.” By exploring the potential of AI in luggage screening, the aviation industry can enhance its operations.

Better Customer Support With AI-Powered Chatbots

One of the significant areas for the aviation industry to deploy artificial intelligence is to create a better travel customer experience for their passengers and customers. Not only it reduces employee costs but also speeds up the process with AI-powered chatbots as virtual assistants. According to a recent report, it is expected that by the end of this year, 4.72 billion passengers would be travelling via air, and that brings the necessity of having an efficient system that can handle such an increasing demand among travellers. Considering virtual assistants are cost-effective for airlines, it could be a preferred choice in the industry.

Companies are using AI-powered chatbots to provide flight-related information to their customers and customised attention to each traveller with their queries, which in turn help in saving several human hours doing mundane tasks. Many airlines also build their bots on popular social media apps — Icelandair, a flag carrier airline of Iceland, has created a Facebook Messenger bot to communicate with its customers 24/7. These chatbots provide enhanced customer experience to the airline companies, and therefore are massively on the rise. In fact, according to a SITA report, 68% of airline companies and 42% of airports have implemented AI-powered chatbots to provide necessary information to their customers.

Heavily sanitised airport and airplane’: How I finally travelled from Delhi to Bhopal battling COVID-19 scare

New Delhi: Strange are the ways of the world. Bhopal suddenly seemed far and distant since the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown was announced on 24th March 2020. An hour and a half’s flight or an overnight train away, a weekend hop to met folks, family and friends often, the 750 odd kilometres between Delhi and Bhopal seemed to carry the weight of distance now.

With state borders closed and lockdown extended to almost two months, I waited for this new normal to normalise with what was the known normal. So when the resumption of flights was announced, I booked a flight back home on day one.

I am at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on May 25, 2020, all geared to take the Air India flight from Delhi to Bhopal. I booked an Air India flight ticket for 5 pm departure on May 23 and the ticket price was a regular one under INR 4000. As a prep, read the SOP for travellers at the airport and saw some of the videos on Twitter shared by journalists.

While doing the web check-in on 24th May, the boarding pass issued was for 8 pm and seats previously chosen were different so there was a lot of confusion whether the flight was departing at 5 pm or 8 pm on May 25.

The helpline call numbers had a long waiting and so we waited with multiple screenshots on flights schedules saying that it will depart at 8 pm.

Finally, while news of multiple flights came through in the first half of 25th May, we got to know that the flight we had booked was cancelled but passengers on this flight would be shifted to another one that would be flying to Baroda via Bhopal from Delhi at 5 pm.

So we reached the airport- I and my childhood friend with her three-year-old kid.

All our bags were thoroughly sanitized – showered and sprayed at a point in the line to have our tickets/boarding passes on the phone checked. There are marking on the floor to maintain social distancing.

An airline kiosk asked us regarding our flight and reconfirmed that the original one was cancelled and that we would be accommodated in the Baroda bound flight AI 819.

The CISF officer at the gate checked the ticket and the identity card like pre-lockdown journeys but while standing behind a glass wall now. Even asking to lower the mask to crosscheck and match the face. Once inside, between the two entrance doors, the sanitizer-soaked carpet sanitised shoes. An official asked if the Arogya Setu app was on the phone and I showed it to him. The thermal scanner checked the temperature and I was inside the airport.

The check-in bags were scanned again and Air India and airport staff were there to help travellers take out a printout of the boarding pass at the kiosk.

The lines for the bag drop kiosks were also marked to maintain social distancing and everyone at the airport was seen wearing masks, a lot of people were also wearing gloves and some even wearing the face shield.

The check-in bag was dropped and I headed for security check line again marked with lines on the floor to indicate the place to stand and maintain social distancing.

The CISF officer in a PPE suit checked my boarding pass and I was at the security check counter as usual. Except the lady checking wore a double protective face shield.

The T3 airport seemed to be open to inch back to life. The shops and eateries were open but they were empty. No one was browsing or even window shopping for now. But having the shops open did give a sense of things inching back to normal.

A coffee at Starbucks was a takeaway with only one person allowed to order.

At the boarding gate, the seats in the waiting area had yellow strips marked to not sit on them to maintain social distancing.

Just before boarding, the Air India ground staff gave all the passengers a safety kit – a face shield, masks and pouches of sanitizers.

And before boarding the flight, at the boarding gate, thermal scanning of body temperature also done once again.

The airline crew is wearing Protective suits from head to toe. Announcing restriction of movement inside the aeroplane to passengers.

The middle seats in the flight haven’t been booked and are empty as of now. Everyone is adhering to wearing the face shields, wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing. Except for three-year-olds who are tough to convince for now, but still are being cajoled.

It’s a quieter airport on day one as flights resume in the new normal way of life as with learning to live with Covid19 for the time being. A heavily sanitized airport and aeroplane. And we collectively wait to take off in this flight due in a few minutes, while in our own little bubbles covered by face shields, masks, gloves and armed with sanitizers – as we resume what used to be normal in the new normal.

(Nanditta Chibber is an Author and a Media & Communication Professional based out of Delhi.)

Mountain Flying

Mountain Flying


  1. Met – As the site is likely to be remote from an airfield with the associated met facilities, the pilot will be required to interpolate the information provided in the synoptic charts, TAFs and METARS.
  2. However, it must be noted that hills and mountainous terrain can create their own micro climates in which the weather may deteriorate rapidly.
  3. Wind speed and direction is influenced by the terrain and special attention should be paid to identifying the local wind conditions, especially for any sign of up-draughts and down-draughts.
  4. Clouds can form quickly on both hill tops and valley bottoms and pilots must learn to recognize the clues to weather given by cloud formations such as lenticular and rotor clouds.
  5. Aircraft – Take-off mass, center of gravity (CG), and performance calculations will be required for the arrival and departure from a landing site (LS), especially if there is a difference in elevation and cargo or passengers are been picked up or dropped off.
  6. It is essential to calculate the density altitude (DA) at which the aircraft will be operating as this will have an effect on aircraft performance; higher density altitudes can reduce the power margin dramatically.
  7. The Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM) will indicate the relevant power margins, hover in ground effect and hover out of ground effect ceilings, minimum and maximum speed and pitch settings.
  8. Helicopters operating at a high DA will generally be flown at higher pitch settings and therefore higher angles of attack. This will result in reduced control response consequently flying with reduced margins with regards to the dangers of retreating blade stall, vortex ring and Loss of Tail rotor Effectiveness (LTE).
  9. ATC – Whilst any airfield information and NOTAMs for en-route/diversion/departure airfields will be available through the normal channels, information on LSs may need further research and landing permission.
  10. Radio communication in mountainous terrain may be difficult and/or intermittent and therefore consideration should be given to establishing a flight following system. Always file a flight plan whenever operating over inhospitable terrain or notify somebody of your intended route and operating area.
  11. Exercises – A flight (regardless of an intended landing) into hilly and mountainous terrain will require the pilot to be proficient at the skills associated with off-airfield landing techniques, advanced transitions, limited power and out of wind operations. Knowledge of the special techniques for operating / transiting / landing in valleys, bowls, ridges and pinnacles outlined in this document is essential.
  1. Duties – Although the flight can be conducted as a single pilot operation by a pilot experienced in hilly and mountainous terrain operations, it is strongly recommended for the inexperienced pilot to initially undertake dual training and wherever possible fly with a second crew member. This is especially important as the pilot may encounter negative physiological and psychological effects he has not encountered before, e.g.:
  2. Hypoxia – a lack of oxygen, which is difficult to identify in oneself and can lead to over confidence and a lack of judgment.
  3. Spatial Disorientation – being surrounded by high mountains and flying over deep valleys can disorientate a pilot.
  4. Visual Illusions – lack of horizon, false horizon, white out and grey out, lack of depth perception which can lead to disorientation.
  5. Apprehension – nervousness due to lack of experience in the environment can lead to nervousness indecision and over-controlling.
  6. Fatigue – mountain flying can be very mentally and physically tiring.

Note 1: Survival equipment and or emergency supplies should be carried when flying over inhospitable terrain in the event of a precautionary or forced landing. Consideration should be given to a means of communication, water, warm clothes, fire-making, a means of attracting a search aircraft. It should not be assumed that a stranded aircraft and crew will be quickly or easily located.

Note 2: Be aware that a GPS is merely an aid to and not a replacement for your navigation skills. A route indicated by the GPS might be inappropriate in hilly or mountainous terrain as the GPS does not recognise areas of turbulence or an appropriate flight path.


  1. An awareness of the wind speed and direction is critical in the hills and mountainous terrain because it follows the surface. If the ground rises, the wind flows upward on a slope and it is referred to as the ‘windward’ side.
  2. If the ground slopes away from the wind direction, the wind flows downwards and is referred to as the ‘leeward’ side.
  3. When wind flows over smooth hills and mountains it tends to flow smoothly. When it flows over a cliff it tends to tumble over the edge in a turbulent manner. When it is forced through a gap i.e. along a valley then the speed is increased due to the Venturi effect.
  4. On a windward slope turbulence rarely exists and the resulting up-draughts can be beneficial in producing lift and therefore requiring less power to manoeuvre. As a result the windward slope with up-draughts is preferable to operate in whenever possible.
  5. On a leeward slope there is generally turbulence and down-draughts that can make flight hazardous and should be avoided.
  6. The area where the up-draught turns to a down-draught is referred to as the ‘demarcation line’. The demarcation line between up-draughting and down-draughting air will, typically, become steeper and move towards the windward edge of the feature as wind speed increases.
  7. When flying along a valley it is preferable to fly closer to the windward slope to take advantage of the up-draughts, rather than down the centre of the valley. The leeward slope should be avoided because of down-draughts and potential loss of lift.
  8. The Venturi effect in valleys can cause a significant increase in wind speed possibly doubling the normal wind speed. This phenomenon is also accompanied by a decrease in pressure, which can cause the altimeter to over read the altitude at which the aircraft is flying.
  1. Estimating the local wind speed and direction in hilly and mountainous terrain is difficult, however is essential and can be achieved by using the following techniques:
  • Smoke
  • Wind farms
  • Wind lanes on lakes (smooth surface on the up-wind side of the lake and waves on the down-wind side)
  • Vegetation, long grass, tree movement
  • Cloud movement
  • Fly a 360° turn around a ground reference at a safe height whilst maintaining a constant angle of bank and speed. The resultant drift will indicate the wind direction and strength.
  • Comparing groundspeed to airspeed, visually over the ground or by use of GPS.
  1. Clouds and Mountain Wave

Mountain Waves are defined as oscillations to the lee side (downwind) of a mountain caused by the disturbance in the horizontal air flow caused by the high ground. The wavelength and amplitude of the oscillations depends on many factors including the height of the high ground above the surrounding terrain, the wind speed, and the instability of the atmosphere. Formation of mountain waves can occur in the following conditions:

  1. Wind direction within 30 degrees of the perpendicular to the ridge of high ground and no change in direction with height.
  2. Wind speeds at the crest of the ridge in excess of 15 kts, increasing with height.
  3. Stable air above the crest of the ridge with less stable air above and below that stable layer.

Vertical currents within the oscillations can reach 2,000 ft/min. The combination of these strong vertical currents and surface friction may cause ‘rotors’ to form beneath the mountain waves, resulting in severe turbulence.

  1. Mountain Waves are associated with severe turbulence, strong vertical currents, and icing. The vertical currents in the waves can cause significant fluctuations in airspeed potentially leading, in extremes, to loss of control.
  2. Loss of Control can also occur near to the ground prior to landing or after take-off with a risk of terrain contact or a hard landing if crew corrective response to a down-draught is not prompt.
  3. Severe icing can be experienced within the clouds associated with the wave peaks. Local knowledge of the conditions which tend to cause the formation of mountain waves enables forecasting of potential wave propagation.
  4. Lenticular Clouds (lens shaped clouds) can form in the crest of the mountain waves if the air is moist. Roll Clouds can also occur in the rotors below the waves if the air is moist. These clouds are a good indication of the presence of mountain waves but, if the air is dry, then there may not be any cloud to see.

Cloud formations

Föhn Effect


  1. Föhn Effect is a warm dry wind that blows down the lee side of a mountain. When a large air mass is forced up and over a mountain range (Orographic Lift), clouds and precipitation form as the air rises and cools adiabatically. When the air mass reaches the top of the mountain it has lost a significant amount of its water content and so has a much lower dew point. As the air then begins to descend down the lee slope of the mountain, and the air pressure increases, it warms adiabatically. The resultant wind is dry and warm giving clear conditions at airfields on the lee side of the mountain range. As well as creating a warmer climate, these dry winds can be a cause of wild fires during the summer months which may affect flying operations.
  2. Another effect is that a pilot approaching from the leeward side of a mountain can only see the silhouette of the top of a cloud, but he cannot see the full extent of the cloud on the windward side.

1 1. Air cools at 3ºC / 1000 ft until saturated, then cools at 1.5ºC / 1000 ft1 until the top of the mountain is reached

  1. Precipitation removes moisture from the air
  2. Air warms, quickly becoming unsaturated, at rate of 3ºC / 1000 ft
  3. Air on leeward of mountain is drier than the windward side and has a lower dew point +16ºC +13ºC +10ºC +7ºC +5.5ºC +7ºC +8.5ºC +13ºC

Cumulonimbus Cloud


Cumulonimbus clouds and other clouds of vertical development typically produce heavy rain and thunderstorms, especially when the air is forced up due to Orographic Lifting. The cumulonimbus convection currents produce strong and unpredictable winds particularly up-draughts and down-draughts which are extremely dangerous and aircraft should avoid flying in the vicinity of a cumulonimbus cloud.



  1. In mountainous areas turbulence is often encountered. This can either be mechanical turbulence (due to the friction of the air over uneven ground at low levels), or thermal turbulence (due an air temperature instability at mid-levels). Turbulence affects the behavior of the aircraft in flight and increases the threat of retreating blade stall, vortex ring and LTE as the ground and air speed fluctuates. For helicopters equipped with teetering rotor systems there is the additional danger of main rotor mast bumping and rotor / tail strike.

Severity of turbulence:

  • Light turbulence: is the least severe, with slight, erratic changes in attitude and/or altitude.
  • Moderate turbulence: is similar to light turbulence, but of greater intensity – variations in speed as well as altitude and attitude may occur but the aircraft remains in control all the time.
  • Severe turbulence: is characterised by large, abrupt changes in attitude and altitude with large variations in airspeed. There may be brief periods where effective control of the aircraft is impossible. Loose objects may move around the cabin and damage to aircraft structures may occur.
  • Extreme turbulence: is capable of causing structural damage and resulting directly in prolonged, possible terminal loss of control of the aircraft.

Turbulence can be experienced anywhere and without warning, therefore it should always be anticipated, especially in hilly and mountainous terrain. Pilots should always be prepared for turbulence by keeping a positive grip on the flying controls and reducing the airspeed to the recommended RFM ‘turbulent airspeed’.

Solar Heating, Anabatic and Katabatic Winds


  1. In days with no or little winds, orographic up-draughts or down-draughts are not very significant; therefore the effect of heating the ground by the sun can produce an inversion with associated up-draughts on the sun-side and down-draughts on the shadow-side of a mountain.
  2. The same effect can be experience by day and night. During the day, the air heated by the ground creates an ascending air mass (anabatic wind). This breeze can be apparent from about a half hour after sunrise. At night, the air close to ground cools creating a down-draught (katabatic wind). This night breeze can start an hour before sunset and can continue throughout the night.

Note: where there is rising air, there will also be descending air!


  1. Snow is particularly hazardous, especially when encountered in mountainous terrain. Flight in falling snow with the associated threat of icing and DVE shall be avoided. In snow covered areas it is advisable to wear appropriate eye protection as glare makes it difficult to assess speed, terrain, wind and height.
  2. Due to recirculation and ‘white out’ landing on snow in mountainous terrain is extremely hazardous. Therefore this should only be undertaken by pilots using the zero speed/zero rate of descent landing technique who have conducted appropriate training!



Speed Management

  1. Maintaining an appropriate airspeed can be very challenging in mountainous terrain. Pilots need to be aware of the speed limitations from the RFM especially in relation to turbulence speed and VNE. It is advisable to maintain Vy whenever possible, thereby allowing maximum power margin for maneuvering.

Attitude Management


  1. When operating in hills or mountains the ‘real’ horizon can be difficult to identify from the slopes of the surrounding terrain. When this happens, vertical and horizontal references can be lost and it is difficult to establish whether the aircraft is climbing, descending or is in straight and level flight. Frequent reference to the aircraft altimeter, ASI, VSI and attitude indicator should be made.

Height Management

  1. If the aircraft encounters a wind-shear or a severe down-draught and it is not possible to maintain height using power, the pilot should turn toward a clear area, adopt wings level, set maximum power and the pitch attitude for Vy in order to maintain or achieve a safe flight condition.

Transit Flying

  1. When flying through hilly or mountainous terrain, the route should be planned taking the local meteorological conditions into account avoiding adverse weather as described earlier. When crossing mountains, especially in strong winds, you should clear the top of the mountain by at least 500 ft. If you are unable to achieve a safe clearance, consider an alternative route or a diversion.
  2. When crossing a range of hills or mountains with cloud on the top, it is better to approach parallel to the top of the range in order to see the extent of the cloud. If the cloud cover appears to be extensive beyond the high ground, consider an alternative route or a diversion.
  3. If flying along a valley it is preferable to fly closer to the windward slope rather than along the center of the valley. The leeward slope should be avoided for transiting because of down-draughts and potential loss of lift. If it is necessary to fly on the leeward side, it is advisable to fly at Vy in order to optimise the power margin.
  4. Special consideration should be given to the threat of power/cable car wires, logging wires etc. which are often strung across valleys sometimes without any notice to pilots.
  5. The escape route when flying along a valley is normally to perform a 180° turn. Therefore if continued flight along the valley is deemed inappropriate, e.g. due to low clouds, DVE or obstacles, an early decision to turn back is essential to ensure a successful turn.

Landing Site Recce, Circuit and Approach

  1. Before landing at any remote site a recce has to take place to identify the wind speed and direction, obstacles, an approach/departure path, potential escape routes and to assess the elevation and suitability of the LS.

Approach to a Ridge or Pinnacle

46.The absence of obstacles and the opportunities for an ‘escape route’ make ridges and pinnacles a good choice for a landing site. However, as previously described, these sites are often affected by a turbulent rising and descending airflow over the top, the demarcation line has to be identified.

  1. A normal circuit should be flown above the elevation of the LS. For the final approach, if possible, rather than flying directly into wind towards the feature, the final approach may be flown at an offset angle (up to 45°) and out of wind to keep the aircraft out of the descending air and allow an escape route away from the feature. If there is little or no wind, the approach angle can be normal, however, it is essential to avoid reducing the speed too early and loose translational lift before gaining ground effect. If the wind is moderate or strong, an approach with a normal to steep angle can be flown as the wind will maintain translational lift until entering in ground effect (avoiding flight through turbulent areas upwind of the LS).
  2. To maintain a constant angle approach the ‘backdrop technique’ can be employed by choosing an additional reference beyond the LS. If on the final approach the reference point appears to go UP or DOWN, in relation to the LS it indicates an overshoot or undershoot situation and should be corrected (see below)
  3. The escape route for an approach to a ridge or a pinnacle should be a planned turn away from the feature, which should not require abrupt or excessive manoeuvring, into an obstacle free area previously identified during the recce phase.

Take-off from Ridge or Pinnacle

  1. The take-off from a ridge or pinnacle uses the same technique. Where possible the takeoff point should be an area closest to the windward edge of the feature to utilise the up-draught. In the hover and prior to transition, a power check should take place to ensure there is a sufficient power available for a transition away from the LS.
  2. Wherever possible a normal transition should be performed gaining forward speed whilst maintaining sufficient height to clear any obstacle until Vy is achieved. If obstacles are present, consideration should be given to performing either a vertical climb prior to transition, or using the appropriate aircraft elevated heli-pad technique.

52.On transition to the climb frequent reference should be made to instruments especially the ASI, VSI, altimeter and the power being used. It can be hazardous to attempt to ‘fly down the hill’ and this should not normally be considered as an appropriate take off path.

If it is not possible to land back on the feature, an escape route should be planned to fly the aircraft into a clear area.

Bowl Approaches and Departures

  1. A ‘bowl’ is where mountains surround a confined area (often formed by a small lake or stream) with an open access on one side of it into a valley. The surrounding ‘walls’ can be steep and high with limited escape options and therefore this technique requires a high degree of skill and should only be undertaken by a proficient pilot.
  2. An approach can normally be made by entering the bowl, flying around the sides of the bowl and then making a descending approach into wind to a flat area close to the exit to the bowl.
  3. An orbital recce is normally flown around the inside of the bowl, entering from the open area, initially as high as possible and as close as safely possible to the sides of the bowl.
  4. Vy is recommended to ensure maximum power margin and the power required to main level flight should be constantly monitored in order to identify areas of up-draughts and down-draughts.
  1. The aircraft may then depart the bowl through the open area flying over the proposed LS. If necessary, further lower recces can be conducted until a safe orbit can be achieved at which a final descending approach can be made.
  2. The landing is similar to that employed for the pinnacle and ridge. The take-off, ideally, is to exit into a clear area through the open access. However, it may be necessary to climb within the bowl in order to achieve the required obstacle clearance.
  3. The escape route once inside a bowl would normally to fly the aircraft away from the bowl walls, initially towards to center of the bowl and then exit through the open area. Once flying inside the bowl there are few outside references, it is therefore essential that frequent references are made to the relevant aircraft instruments.



  1. Before undertaking flight in hilly or mountainous terrain a risk analysis should be conducted in which the Threats, Errors and Undesired Aircraft States are identified and Managed with the appropriate mitigating actions.
  2. A Threat is defined as an, event or errors which occur beyond the influence of the flight crew, increase operational complexity and which have to be managed to maintain safety margins.
  3. Errors are defined as actions or inactions by the flight crew that lead to deviations from organisational or flight crew intentions or expectations.
  4. Undesired Aircraft States are defined as flight crew induced aircraft positions or speed deviations, misapplication of flight controls or incorrect system configuration, associated with a reduction in safety margins.


Threat: Turbulence, wind-shear, up- and down-draughts

Error: Flying at inappropriate speeds

Undesired aircraft state: Retreating blade stall, LTE, Vortex Ring, mast bumping, momentary loss of control

Mitigating Action: Fly at appropriate turbulence speed / Vy


  1. If you wish to ensure a safe and enjoyable flight in, around, or over hills or mountains, you must develop the skills, collect the knowledge and appreciate the factors involved. Above all, know your own limitations and those of the aircraft and stick to them.

When conducting operations in hilly or mountainous terrain consider the following:

  • Be aware of aircraft performance and limitations
  • File a flight plan or notify someone of your intentions.
  • Study the navigational charts carefully – do not rely on GPS
  • Get up to date weather information for a go no-go decision
  • Don’t go when winds are stronger than 25 knots.
  • Fly at a safe altitude
  • Be aware of the wind direction and speed
  • Monitor for sign of change in weather
  • Be aware of the psychological and physiological effects of mountain flying
  • Always plan an escape route
  • Be aware of wind-shear and recovery actions to be taken

Before undertaking flight in hilly or mountainous terrain receive appropriate training from a qualified flight instructor who is experienced in mountain flying techniques.

A Checklist for Circumstances Not Covered by Procedures

A Checklist for Circumstances Not Covered by Procedures

  • Remain calm and do not rush:
  • Fly the aircraft.
  • Maintain controlled flight — attitude, speed, altitude.
  • Avoid terrain.
  • Vacate bad weather.
  • Check fuel.
  • Talk with your crew and with ATC.
  • Manage the immediate threat.


  • D – Detect. Gather all facts and information about the event — what still works and what does not.
  • E- Estimate. Assess and form an understanding of the situation.
  • Have you seen something similar?
  • Consider possible solutions.
  • C –Choose– Choose the safest practical solution.
  • I- Identify -the actions necessary to carry out the safest option.
  • Have you done this before?
  • What are the expected outcomes?
  • D – Do. Act by carrying out the safest option.
  • E –Evaluate. Evaluate the changes due to the action.
  • Reassess the situation.
  • Revise the plan if necessary.
  • Review the situation.
  • Return to the emergency checklist.

DADA Model.

  • D- DETECT. See, hear or feel cues Instrument displays Pattern recognition.
  • A-ASSESS. Compare with something familiar. Form a mental model. Pattern match.
  • D –DECIDE. Evaluate the relative importance of the information.
  • Review patterns and mental models.
  • Identify suitable action — a pattern or mental model.
  • A -ACT -Monitor Review the situation. Plan ahead.

Golden Rules in Aviation 

Golden Rules in Aviation 

During an abnormal condition or an emergency condition PF/PM task sharing should be adapted to the situation (in accordance with the aircraft operating manual or quick reference handbook.

Golden Rule 1-Aviate.

The PF must fly the aircraft (pitch attitude, thrust sideslip, heading) to stabilize the aircraft’s pitch attitude, bank angle, vertical flight path and horizontal flight path.

The   PM must back up the PF (by monitoring and making call outs till aircraft stabilised).

Golden Rule 2-Navigate.

Upon the PF’s command, the PM should restore the desired mode for lateral navigation and/or vertical navigation (selected mode or FMS lateral navigation), being aware of terrain and altitude.

Know where you are.

Know where you should be.

Know where the terrain and obstacles are.

Golden Rule 3-Communicate.

After the aircraft is stabilized and the abnormal condition or emergency condition has been identified, the PF should inform air traffic control (ATC) of the situation and of his/her intentions.

Golden Rule 4-Manage.

The next priority is management of the aircraft systems and performance of the applicable abnormal procedures or emergency procedures.

FAA Needs Stronger Safety Process

FAA Needs Stronger Safety Process.

More than a year into the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX fleet, regulators — like the manufacturer — are still attempting to defend the indefensible.

The business and regulatory failures that led to the deaths of 346 people in two crashes continue to be papered over, including in a Federal Aviation Administration report released Tuesday.

The report shows how badly the FAA lost its way in ensuring safety. The agency needs a thorough overhaul of the safety review process that enabled the 737 MAX to take flight with full federal certification, yet the report maps out an opposite agenda. It says the FAA will continue to delegate to Boeing detailed safety reviews of new aircraft and mechanism “as an effective and efficient method to enhance safety.”

Extensive reporting by The Seattle Times and official investigations of the MAX crashes have shown that delegation of safety reviews to the company itself is too risky to continue in the same form. The flying public needs impartial expert analysis of air safety mechanisms. Allowing Boeing’s in-house engineers to conduct the majority of certification testing opens the door to shortcuts and manipulation.

This concern cuts deeper than a theoretical conflict of interest.

When Boeing was rushing to complete the 737 MAX safety approvals, engineers said they encountered extensive improper pressure from company managers to disregard safety concerns and meet production schedules on the cheap, according to Seattle Times reporting. FAA officials likewise reported feeling pressure to cede increased responsibility to Boeing.

That’s a textbook example of a broken system. The FAA has a foundational role in America’s — and the world’s — air safety. Its regulatory reach cannot be significantly reduced without potentially dire consequences.

Boeing has strayed far from its reign as the standard-bearer for safe, trustworthy airplanes. The company cannot be trusted with the heavy burdens of reviewing its own work as long as quick profits and boosting stock valuation are central to its ethos.

As the report notes, the FAA has delegated certain reviews to manufacturers including Boeing for decades. With proper limits and accountability, the procedure can create efficiencies with cutting-edge private-sector engineers dealing straight with regulators. That means curtailing interference from managers on either side.

But that’s not what the FAA has embraced. The agency’s 2017 blueprint for transforming certification calls for empowering companies to self-police — in that report’s phrasing, “relying less on the numerous, prescriptive interactions that can lead to project delays.”

This abdication is the wrong path for safety and stability in an essential sector of the economy. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and other Congressional leaders are right to push for stronger safety processes. The human and business costs of encouraging slipshod safety practices amount to disasters.

The long-term benefit to Boeing and the flying public of rigorous safety standards easily justifies the investment of time and resources. Boeing and the FAA each need to move toward that goal, instead of backing away.

 Latest Update Related to GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation System (GAGAN).

 Latest Update Related to GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation System (GAGAN).

The DGCA certificate issued to Airports Authority of India (AAI) for Indian Satellite-based navigation GAGAN system earlier on April 21, 2015, for a five-year period is about to lapse on April 21, 2020. Has the certificate been renewed by AAI yet or has Covid-19 delayed the same? Let’s understand why the DGCA certificate is important and what will happen if the certificate expires?

The Air Navigation Services provider certificate issued by the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to Airports Authority of India (AAI) certifying the GPS-Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system for a period of 60 months (five years) from the date of issue being April 21, 2015 is about to lapse soon.

The certificate authorizing the holder AAI, to provide the facility to operate as navigational aids to support air traffic services for all users on equal terms and conditions is on the verge of expiry. This certificate will be suspended, modified or withdrawn in case of any violations of the provisions of the Aircraft Act, 1934 and the Aircraft rules, 1937.

In 2019, the ministry of Civil aviation postponed the requirement for aircraft registered in India to be equipped with GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation system (GAGAN) compatible avionics from January 2019 mandated earlier to June 30, 2020. “All the aircraft being imported for registration on or after 30.06.2020 shall be required to be suitably equipped with GAGAN equipment,” the public notice published by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

What is GAGAN and how does it help?

GAGAN stands for GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation system. It is a system of satellites and ground stations that provides GPS signals to provide better position accuracy. GAGAN is a Space-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) jointly developed by ISRO and AAI to provide the best possible navigational services over Indian FIR (Flight Information Region) with the capability of expanding to neighbouring FIRs.

With the certification of GAGAN for approach and landing operations (APV 1) on 21st April 2015, India has become the third country in the world to have such capabilities. GAGAN is the first system in the world to have implemented in the equatorial Ionosphere region. The GAGAN system is designed to help pilots navigate successfully under all-weather conditions by the accuracy of up to three meters, this capability would enable aircraft landing even on tough terrain and extreme weather. It will allow an aircraft to reduce fuel burn by flying on a specific path on straight routes and between two three-dimensional defined points.

To provide better position accuracy, the GAGAN system corrects itself for GPS signal errors caused by ionosphere disturbances, timing and satellite orbit errors and also it provides vital information regarding the health of each satellite. The GAGAN system offers services to aviation, railways signalling, location-based services, scientific research for atmospheric studies, mobile and tourism.

As mentioned on the portal, currently two GEOs simultaneously transmit the GAGAN signal in space. The footprint of GAGAN GEO expands from Africa to Australia. The system has the capability to serve 45 reference stations for expansion to neighbouring countries.

GAGAN’s civil aeronautical navigation signal is consistent with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) as established by the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Panel.

What will happen if the DGCA certificate expires?

The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) formed a Technical Review Team (TRT) to examine specific safety-related artefacts and hazard records and to provide recommendations for resolving any observed issues. Initially, the DGCA certified GAGAN for en route operations (RNP 0.1) on December 30, 2013, and subsequently on April 21, 2015, for precision approach services (APV 1). APV1-certified GAGAN signals are being broadcast since May 19, 2015, according to the website.

If the DGCA certification expires, amid the coronavirus outbreak exemptions from the aviation controller can be availed by AAI. However, without accurate GPS signalling provided by GAGAN system, it will be difficult for pilots to take off flights on rough terrain and bad weather conditions.







Illusions occur when conditions modify the pilot’s perception of the environment relative to his or her expectations possibly resulting in spatial disorientation or landing errors.

Visual Landing at night presents greater risk because of fewer references and because of illusions or SD.

Factors Affecting Visual Illusions.

Runway environment

Runway dimensions.

Runway slope.

Terrain drop off at the approach end of runway.

Approach lighting and runway lighting.

Runway condition.

Weather Conditions

Cloud Ceiling.


Obstruction to vision.

Visual Illusions (VI).

VI most critical when transitioning from IMC and instrument reference to VMC and visual reference.

VI affect situational awareness (SA) particularly while on base leg and during final approach.

VI usually induce crew inputs that cause the ac to deviate from vertical or horizontal flight path.

VI can affect the decision process of when and how rapidly to descend from MDA/H.

  • Uphill slope of Runway or Helipad gives illusion of being too high.
  • Downhill slope of Runway or Helipad gives illusion of being too low.

©      A wide or short runway creates an impression of being

             too low.

  • A narrow or long RW creates an impression of too high.
  • Approach, RW including touch down zone lighting affect depth perception depending on light intensity, day or night conditions and weather conditions.
  • Bright lights create impression of being closer to the RW.
  • Low intensity Ltsfarther away from the RW.
  • Nonstandard lts modify the pilots perception.
  • If RW lighting partially visible-on base leg or circling approach, RW may appear farther away.
  • Flying in haze creates the impression that RW is farther away inducing a tendency to shallow glide path and land long.
  • In light rain, the RW may appear indistinct because of the rain halo effect increasing risk of misperception of vertical/horizontal deviation.
  • Heavy rain affects depth perception and distance perception.
  • Rain on wind shield creates refraction effect that causes crew to believe the ac too high.
  • Day light, rain reduces intensity of lights resulting in impression of being further away.
  • Night time rain increases the apparent brilliance of the ALS making RW appear close.
  • When breaking out at both min ceiling and visibility minimum, the slant Vis may not be sufficient for crew to see farther bars of VASI/PAPI thus reducing visual clues.
  • In cross wind, RW light and environment will appear at an angle to ac heading, resist the tendency to align with center line.
  • A wet RW, reflects very little light, affecting depth perceptions, impression of ac farther away, resulting late flare and hard landing.


  • Unconscious modification of ac trajectory to maintain a constant perception of visual reference.
  • Natural tendency to descend below glide slope or path, inability to judge the proper flare point because of restricted visual references (hard landings before reaching touch down point).
  • Inadequate reference to instruments to support visual segments.
  • Failure to detect the deterioration of visual references.
  • Failure to monitor the instruments and the flight path because both pilots are involved in the identification of visual references.


Guard Against Adverse Effects of Visual Illusions

  • Flight Crew should be aware of:-
  • Weather factors.
  • Surrounding Terrain and obstacles.
  • Assess the airport environment, airport and RW hazards.
  • Adhere to defined PF/PNF task sharing after transition to visual flying.
  • PF to monitor outside visual reference while referring to instrument references to support and monitor flt path.
  • Monitoring by PNF of head down references while PF Flies.