Formation flying

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eitai2001
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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby eitai2001 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:18 pm

happyskipper wrote:I think it's great that young (experience-wise) pilots want to get involved in more advanced flying, and formo will certainly teach you the finer points of flying an aircraft properly. However, I doubt that it would be safer for you to fly formo on a x-country than to do all the proper pre-flight and nav planning the day before, and get it checked by a buddy who is going the same way, the same day......(15 mins apart). You should be busy honing your nav and map-reading skills at this point, not concentrating on flying formo with your buddy. That comes later, once you are comfortable with doing your own thing, solo....... :wink:

Otherwise, give it stick, and continue to learn throughout your flying career........ =D>


Howzit HS.

I agree with you ... I plan on doing stuff like Nav comp's for that very skill ;)
But not every flight is a cross country, some are just general flips that are easy (For instance to the Vaal), and it's fun to fly together with someone.
I just want to make sure I'm as safe as can be when doing it.

And no, don't read that as I'm hopping in a plane tomorrow with my buddy in his aerie and we're off the the Vaal 1m apart ... but I'm sure you get what I mean :)

I'm also of the firm belief, the more I know the better ;)
(Again ... don't try read too much into that :P )

Regards

Itai
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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby eitai2001 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:19 pm

Formation flying in an F16:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKyTdhmPaH0[/youtube]
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Re: Formation flying, revisited

Unread postby Thys Bas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:14 pm

I managed to dig up this from years gone by. Perhaps it is relevant to bring it forward again, and perhaps have somebody to give a talk on the subject, perhaps as a title to a talk at a flight school or at a safety meeting?

An article in one of our glossy aviation magazines mentioned the fact that we have so many aerobatic capable NTC Aircraft on the register now and asked the question if we as pilots of such aircraft know the regulations regarding aerobatics in SA.

This led me to think that as owners of our little 'prides and joy' would love to have a picture of 'me and my aerie' shot in flight. The need to know a bit about flying in formation, the procedures, the briefings etc then becomes relevant. Suddenly we find we know nothing and we need to learn more to become safer pilots.

Am I correct that a special rating is not needed, except if flying in a formation as a display where one needs a display rating as well. What does CAA define as a formation flight? What does the insurance companies have to say about formation flying? Can a pilot do a coarse and have a signature in his logbook that he attended a lecture and partook in a training flight? (Much the same as volunteer jump-ship pilot)


This topic was discussed in 2012, here is one of the answers:

flysouth wrote:At 100m or even 50m apart it is not difficult to maintain formation. At such distances the changes in position relative to one another are far less noticeable and matter less in any case.

Personally I would say that you might simply go out with a buddy in separate aircraft after briefing - i.e. discussing exactly what you are trying to achieve and intending to do. Having briefed in detail all parties must adhere to that briefing throughout the exercise. The briefing must include actions to be taken in the event of unexpected events, not only the planned - for example what if engine troubles arise? - what if other traffic comes barging through your formation? What if someones radio fails? Know beforehand what procedures to adopt to avoid possible hazards posed by unexpected events.

Incidentally it is important before take off to ensure that everything in your aircraft is hunky-dory - no loose items lying on the seat or floor etc to distract you, when you notice them in flight and decide to stow them - in flight! Do all that before take off. I have seen this in real life where a formation member started wandering around in the formation - a call to him along the lines of 'WTF are you up to?" revealed that his fire extinguisher was rolling around on the floor and he was busy trying to clip it back into it's mounting!

Stay about 100 metres apart with the leader concentrating solely on flying his aircraft smoothly, not monitoring the wingman. The wingman should adopt an 'echelon right' position 100 metres behind and to the right of the leader at an angle between 20 and 45 degrees. This is a position which is fairly easy and comfortable to maintain.

Choose a fixed point on the lead aircraft and a fixed point on the windshield of the wingman aircraft - if necessary fix tape on the wing aircraft windshield as a reference point if there is no other available reference point.

Keeping those two points lined up laterally and vertically will help maintain formation - and as the wingman moves his aircraft around, laterally or vertically, it will be seen how those points change in relation to each other. Keeping those points static in relation to each other indicates that you are maintaining formation.

Obviously at a distance of 100 metres the points are less easy to see and to relate precisely to one another - there is a fudge factor, which will be seen to decrease as one moves in closer, until when quite close - say 10 mtrs and less - one needs to pay close and constant attention. Try moving in on the leader and back out from the leader, staying on the line adopted by keeping the points lined up laterally and vertically.

One major mistake I have noted is that the leader may take it upon himself to also 'fly formation'! In fact he needs to avoid trying to in any way maintain position - this is entirely the task of the wingman. When both leader and wingman are actively formating, there is chaos and danger.

The leader needs to fly his aircraft as smoothly as possible making gentle turns, climbs and descents etc, essentially ignoring the wingman. He will look out for other traffic, maintain necessary separation from other traffic in the sky and observe all airspace restrictions etc. He will handle all communications with other traffic, ASUs etc on behalf of the formation, It is legal and accepted practice to designate the formation with any name you choose and to use this in all communications after announcing to the ASU that you are leading a formation. The wingman does not handle any communications with entities outside the formation, except in an emergency, as discussed at briefing.

Internally mounted mirrors for the leader and indeed for others in a multi-aircraft formation are a very handy and useful accessory - these can be mounted conveniently in many aircraft to give some amount of reaward view. I have used small convex mirrors available from car parts shops - these can be adhesive mounted in some aircraft and later removed easily.

The wingman will focus all his attention on the leader at all times - the closer the formation the more critical this becomes of course. When stationed 100 metres apart this is less critical but at no time should the wingman's attention wander significantly from the leader. The closer the formation the less 'attention wandering' is permitted! In really close formation attention cannot wander even for a fraction of a second. In close formation you will find yourself working hard and being quite tired at the end of a session.

Getting used to loose formation in this way is a good way to self-train - holding station when wide apart and closer and noting and becoming accustomed to appreciating, controlling and adjusting closing speeds are key abilities which can only be gained through practice.

Have fun - fly safe!
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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby Thys Bas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:25 pm

And Jimdavis' very correct input is on the first page. That is exactly why I am asking for input from the Gurus. We need formal training, please.


jimdavis wrote:I am appalled at the tone of much of the advice offered on this thread.

Guys, formation flying is not something you pick up off a forum, or by reading a couple or articles, or by attending a briefing or two, or even by flying with your mate who is "quite good" at it. That's like attempting weekend brain surgery after a quiet chat with your doctor. Only it's a hell of a lot more dangerous. The attempted brain surgery is only likely to kill one person. With home brewed formo you are likely to kill everyone in both aircraft.

Yep, I know, bloody fun-police spoiling our enjoyment.

Remember that thread about the Caravan and the 206 (I think it was) that clobbered each other in Canada? And a couple of folks took shots at me for saying they were playing Snoopy and The Red Baron. I have absolutely no doubt that that is what happened - untrained formo. Home brewed brain surgery.

Folks if you want to do it then get hold of a formo-trained instructor - preferably an ex-military guy, because they are professionally trained, and have spent many hours practicing formo - and get proper training. On the ground briefings are essential - there is little more dangerous than impromptu formo.

Jim
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Re: Formation flying, revisited

Unread postby heisan » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:51 pm

Thys Bas wrote:Am I correct that a special rating is not needed, except if flying in a formation as a display where one needs a display rating as well. What does CAA define as a formation flight? What does the insurance companies have to say about formation flying? Can a pilot do a coarse and have a signature in his logbook that he attended a lecture and partook in a training flight? (Much the same as volunteer jump-ship pilot)


“formation flight” means two or more aircraft flying in the same general direction at a distance
not exceeding 1 km (0.5 NM) laterally and longitudinally and 30 m (100 ft) vertically from
each other;


Proximity and formation flights
91.06.6 (1) No person shall operate an aircraft in formation flight while carrying passengers
for commercial purposes or, except as provided in sub-regulation (2), –
(a) in such proximity to other aircraft so as to create a collision hazard;
(b) in formation flight, except by arrangement with the PIC of each aircraft in the formation;
or
(2)Formation flight in controlled airspace may be approved by an ATSU: Provided that –
(a) the formation operates as a single aircraft with regard to navigation and position
reporting;
(b) separation between aircraft in the flight shall be the responsibility of the flight leader
and the pilots-in-command of the other aircraft in the flight and shall include
periods of transition when aircraft are manoeuvring to attain their own separation
within the formation and during join-up and breakaway; and
(c) a distance not exceeding 1 km (0.5 NM) laterally and longitudinally and 30 m (100 ft)
vertically from the flight leader shall be maintained by each aircraft.
(3)Formation flight for display purposes may be approved by the Director.
Justin Schoeman

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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby Thys Bas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:39 pm

Dankie Heisan,

Exactly what we need for the start. The "envelope" is set.


Now we need somebody to offer training to make us safer pilots please.
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Re: Formation flying, revisited

Unread postby happyskipper » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:55 pm

heisan wrote:
Thys Bas wrote:
Proximity and formation flights
91.06.6 (1) No person shall operate an aircraft in formation flight while carrying passengers
for commercial purposes or, except as provided in sub-regulation (2), –
(a) in such proximity to other aircraft so as to create a collision hazard;
(b) in formation flight, except by arrangement with the PIC of each aircraft in the formation;
or
(2)Formation flight in controlled airspace may be approved by an ATSU: Provided that –
(a) the formation operates as a single aircraft with regard to navigation and position
reporting;
(b) separation between aircraft in the flight shall be the responsibility of the flight leader
and the pilots-in-command of the other aircraft in the flight and shall include
periods of transition when aircraft are manoeuvring to attain their own separation
within the formation and during join-up and breakaway; and
(c) a distance not exceeding 1 km (0.5 NM) laterally and longitudinally and 30 m (100 ft)
vertically from the flight leader shall be maintained by each aircraft.
(3)Formation flight for display purposes may be approved by the Director.


Thanks Heisan - I was trying to find this exact paragraph for Offshore_Rescue.
What surprises me is that the phrase "(b) in formation flight, except by arrangement with the PIC of each aircraft in the formation"
does not specify that this arrangement should be made on the ground, and that specific procedures and safety factors must be discussed and agreed upon.
I know that this wording does not convey the intention, leaving pilots free to say "Hello" over the radio, and formate on each other without any planning.
This is leaving a huge loophole for those who don't understand the safety implications - and can result in some very unintended consequences.

I have to apologize to both Offshore Rescue and Bearcat - I was quoting an outdated regulation, and they are, indeed correct in saying that aircraft can join up for a formation flight with just a quick radio call. It's legal, guys - go for it....... at your own risk, of course.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby Thys Bas » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:34 pm

Happyskipper says: "It's legal, guys - go for it....... at your own risk, of course." & "This is leaving a huge loophole for those who don't understand the safety implications - and can result in some very unintended consequences.

Exactly my point. Some of us are so scared we don't want to fly closer than 1Km to another aircraft and others are so brave they get too close for comfort. I have experienced both cases. Armed with the correct information and training we could fly 100m or even 50m apart for a short period to let the camera man do his thing in safety. Two ship, perhaps three ship formation, straight & level.

I agree with Jim, we can get the basics from paper or internet, but we must get someone to talk us through the whole procedure and to take us up to fly the procedure. Does it have to be an instructor, or a pilot who has had proper training in formo flying? Is it better to have a group of pilots attending the lectures or do you recommend each pilot on his own must find a "trainer" for one-on-one lessons?
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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby jimdavis » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:15 pm

No TB it doesn't need to be an instructor - in fact many instructors have never done any formo.

Find yourself a SAAF trained pilot - most of them have done plenty of formo.

It's best if all of you who want to do the formo get a long briefing together and then take turns at flying in different positions with this guy.

The leader is the easy bit so anyone can do that after the briefing.

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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby flysouth » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:26 pm

jimdavis wrote:No TB it doesn't need to be an instructor - in fact many instructors have never done any formo.

Find yourself a SAAF trained pilot - most of them have done plenty of formo.

It's best if all of you who want to do the formo get a long briefing together and then take turns at flying in different positions with this guy.

The leader is the easy bit so anyone can do that after the briefing.

jim


That is what we did - the late Jeff Birch, ex-SAAF and then SAA and member of the Winfield team of Pitts Specials led by Scully Levin advised and briefed our group of three at length, but I do not recollect that he ever actually flew with us. Scully also chipped in with lots of good gen from time to time.

The actual flight practice was carried out strictly in accordance with his briefings and ground tuition.We also had the benefit of debriefing with him which is equally important I think.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby Wildcat_003 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:11 am

Formation flying needs an instructor in each aircraft or an experienced ex-SAAF pilot with proper formation background that gives a thorough ground briefing and then proceeds to do the exercise in the air. Preferably the same day or if later, a thorough recap (briefing) will again have to be given.
Visibility from each aircraft needs to be very good. High wing makes things very interesting. Low wing aircraft are ‘easier’. Not that it’s easier!
Close formation is like under 3 meters apart. And then the ability to stay there....keeping station.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby Thys Bas » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:05 pm

Thank you all. That is what we expected and appreciate your very positive input.

Now we have the framework and need "teachers" and "students"

Can we have a show of hands of pilots who would like to attend such a training sortie at Wonderboom, Brits, Kitty Hawk, Aviators Paradise or Rhino Park?
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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby happyskipper » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:41 pm

Just a heads-up - "91.06.6 (1) No person shall operate an aircraft in formation flight [b]while carrying passengers
for commercial purposes" basically this is aimed at stopping airliners full of fare-paying passengers from being flown in formation.
However, if a photographer is paid to take air-to-air photos then that scenario falls under the term "carrying passengers for commercial purposes" so I would advise clarifying this with the powers that be, and getting permission in writing to carry out the formation flight......
Last edited by happyskipper on Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread postby Thys Bas » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:54 pm

Thank you Happyskipper, true and we take note.

Most of the time the flight is 1) just for fun, 2) sometimes for a picture of our own pride and joy, and 3) there might be an occasion where a real pro photographer wants to take a picture or two of another aircraft for a publication. He or she does not pay the aircraft owner or pilot
but they might work for a salary or commission which is paid to the photographer and not the pilot who is doing the flight for free and does not get anything more than just the joy of the flight, knowing that both the pilots flying in the formation have done the AVCOM Formo Program. (For lack of a better word).

If the pilot(s) get paid by the photographer (pax) the pilot has to be a Com pilot, the aircraft has to be TCA (or NTCA built and maintained by AMO etc) and the formo has to comply as Happyskipper pointed out.



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