Home' Asian Aviation : AAV February 2019 Contents VIEWPOINT
Killing the goose, mad drones
and too much George?
AS WE HEAD INTO THE NEW YEAR it’s worth taking some time to
consider how Singapore may be killing the goose that is laying lots of
golden eggs (Seletar Airport), how drones are driving the aviation in-
dustry mad (see Heathrow and Gatwick) and how too much of George
(aka the autopilot) may be too much of a bad thing for today ’s pilots.
In Singapore’s case, the decision to impose a “noise abatement
night curfew” that went into effect in January is a mistake. The curfew
curtails flight operations from 1400-2300 UTC (10pm-7am local time)
and was put into place by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
(CAAS) in response to complaints from residential neighbours.
The curfew, and a dispute with Malaysia over a planned ILS imple-
mentation by Singapore, means operations at
Seletar may not be as convenient as previously
thought. Up until now, Singapore has really
made all the right moves when it comes to pro-
moting its aviation industry at Seletar. The move
to upgrade the airport and terminal may be for
naught if the night curfew remains in place and
Malaysia and Singapore continue to disagree
over the ILS. Already it’s being reported that
because the business aviation centre is shared
by all ground handlers, delays in customs and immigration can be
expected because the centre can only handle one aircraft movement
at a time. Aviation professionals also believe that Singapore may at
some point soon start requiring slots, which, some industry officials
said, could mean more congestion or “manipulation” where users
book slots that they do not need or more than what is required.
These same officials called the curfew “counterintuitive” to the
plans by CAAS to make Seletar a general and business aviation
hub. I call it short-sighted.
Much has been made in the last few years about the potential of
drones and pilot-less air taxis to remake the aviation industry. I take
a more contrarian view and don’t believe drones and pilot-less air
taxis are ready for prime-time.
Witness what happened in the UK in December and January
where drone sightings near Heathrow and Gatwick shut down both
airports for hours, disrupting flights for more than 140,000 travel-
lers and potentially endangering the lives of anyone on the planes
landing and taking off.
In the case of drones, don’t get me wrong, they have their place in
our modern world. The film industry, for example, makes great use of
drones to create stunning visuals you just can’t get with a helicopter
shot. Having said that, drones are a real threat to the aviation indus-
try and it’s only a matter of time before a drone brings down a plane.
Case in point: We’ve all been to industry conferences where the
hosts kick off the show with a dozen drones flashing colourful lights
zipping around the stage in synchronised formation. Now imagine a
terrorist who has a dozen similar drones. He or she no longer needs
to actually be on a plane like the ones who brought down the Twin
Towers. All he or she needs to do is check into an air-side hotel (like
the one I stayed at in Atlanta with a prime view
of the runway and a balcony). The terrorist uses
the GPS chips in the drones to programme their
flight path, steps on to the balcony, launches
them, and they take up position at the runway
just waiting for a plane to land or take off. Once
launched, the bad guy simply walks out of the
hotel and is gone before anyone can do any-
thing about it.
I’m usually not a huge fan of government
regulations, but in the case of drones, we need more to be done.
As for pilot-less air taxis, call me old-fashioned but I prefer some-
one, preferably with grey hair, who has been trained and flown
accident-free for years to be sitting in the cockpit and controlling
the technology. Having said that, while today ’s planes are marvels of
modern engineering, it’s way past time for the industry to consider
if there’s simply too much of George (the autopilot) flying the plane.
Case in point — the Lion Air crash last year which saw pilots fighting
the MCAS system that was a newer version that they may, or may
not, have been trained on depending upon whom you listen to.
Computers and software are great things and have allowed the
human race to make great strides in many areas that affect our daily
lives. They are not however, panaceas that will solve every problem.
Sometimes the human mind is the best tool.
Matt Driskill EDITOR
SE Asian neighbours
eye Singapore's business
Chinese carriers see green
in US route development
BIZ CLASS COMMS
Airlines are beefing up
offerings to fill Business Class
I’m usually not a huge
fan of government
regulations, but in the
case of drones, we need
more to be done.
4 AsianAviation | February 2019
Links Archive AAV November 2018 AAV March 2019 Navigation Previous Page Next Page