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More GA wake turbulence reports neededMore GA wake turbulence reports needed

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a wake turbulence encounter.

Photo by Chris Rose.

Wasn’t much fun, was it? Hands up again if you reported the event at the time it happened to air traffic control, or later by filing a report with the NASA-administered Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS).

If you didn’t, the good news is that it’s not too late. AOPA is participating in an effort that the FAA is pursuing under the NextGen modernization of the ATC system to improve operational safety as aircraft separation standards are updated to adapt to new technologies. You can help us—and make your flights safer—by telling ATC and/or the ASRS (with full anonymity) how, where, and when your wake turbulence encounter unfolded.

“Our goal is to encourage better and more frequent reporting of adverse events involving GA,” said Rune Duke, AOPA’s senior director of government affairs and an expert on all things airspace-related.

For added perspective on why this outreach effort is so important, think of the issue from a researcher’s point of view: Light aircraft flown by general aviation pilots are most susceptible to loss of control when encountering the wake of a large aircraft. But only about 16 percent of the many kinds of ASRS reports filed annually come from GA.

Don’t hold back on details when you make a report. ASRS filings are narrative in nature, and when it comes to describing a wake turbulence encounter, the format is extremely effective.

The FAA has also highlighted the importance of hearing from GA about wake turbulence, as AOPA reported in May when we pointed out some changes to how aircraft are categorized for wake turbulence reporting.

Last summer the FAA hit the topic again in one of its own publications, sharing an appeal to GA pilots by one of its wake turbulence study consultants.

He said, “Tell us about your wake encounters and provide as much detail as possible. Let us know your perceived bank angle, pitch, details on the preceding aircraft, weather conditions, whether your auto-pilot disconnected, etc.”

For a ground-school-style refresher on wake turbulence, see the Aeronautical Information Manual’s section 7-3-8, and note a revision in paragraph (g) that gives some guidance on wake turbulence parameters to report.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Technique, Takeoffs and Landings

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