Mid-Air Collision of Glider and Jet near Reno: ASG-29 vs. Hawker XP800

ASG-29 Photo There's been a lot of buzz this week about two recent accidents in the western United States, both of which occurred on Monday of this week. Amazingly, neither accident killed anyone. This is about one of them.

Akihiro Hirao, a visiting pilot from Japan, towed out from the Minden-Tahoe airport in an ASG-29 (one of the hottest new German sailplanes, a similar one is pictured at the right). A few hours later, he collided with a Hawker XP800 (a fast business jet) around 15,000 feet (different reports have published numbers between 13,000 and 16,000) that was descending to land at the Reno after a brief flight up from San Diego.

The impact was dramatic. The Hawker was traveling at roughly 300 knots (well over 300 miles per hour) and it completely destroyed one wing of the glider as well as the nose cone of the jet. I've not seen any pictures posted of the glider wreckage yet (they'd look a lot worse since it eventually hit terrain at high speed). But here are shots of the jet, which managed to make a gear-up landing at the nearby Carson City airport (I was there not long ago myself).

Hawker Nose Hawker Nose Closeup Hawker Cockpit

In the close up you can see the glider's wing spar sticking out of the jet!

Wing Damage Another Nose Shot

As you might imagine, this has sparked a lot of discussion and debate in the soaring community--especially those of us who fly in the Reno area during the summer.


We won't really know everything that we can until the NTSB finishes their investigation. Based on the information I've read and heard this week, there's a good chance that the accident was preventable.

I'm led to believe that the ASG-29 had a working transponder on board but that it wasn't currently powered up. If that's the case, it means the glider was virtually invisible to the jet's pilot and co-pilot, not to mention Reno Air Traffic Control. Even if the jet pilots couldn't have visually detected the glider (which is pretty difficult going that fast), their TCAS would have picked up the transponder signal and suggested a safe diversion.

If the glider was not equipped with a transponder, that was a serious oversight. While they're not required (yet?), it's a very good idea to have one if you're flying in busy airspace.

There's a lot more I could say about this, but I'll hold off until the NTSB publishes their report a few months from now.


People are often surprised to find out that glider pilots routinely wear parachutes. An incident like this makes it clear. Having a parachute may be the difference between living and dying. The glider pilot parachuted to safety and was picked up a few hours later.

I was visiting my local parachute rigger (Silver Parachute Sales and Service in Hayward) today and we chatted about this. They heard the news pretty quickly, partly because this sort of news travels fast, and partly because they packed the parachute. This was, in fact, Darrin Silver's "first save."

Closing Thoughts

The pilots of the jet and the glider are to be commended for getting themselves and, in the case of the jet, their passengers safely on the ground. Looking at the pictures of the damaged jet cockpit, it must have been pretty chaotic in there.

You can read more coverage here:

Update: Pictures and more links added on the morning of 8/30/2006.

Update #2: I've posted NTSB Preliminary Report on the Glider and Hawker Collision as a follow-up to this article.

Posted by jzawodn at August 29, 2006 11:33 PM

Reader Comments
# Dan100 said:

Do we know what class of airspace they were in? Is it common for jetliners and gliders to operate in close proximity?

Both crews were extremely lucky and, as you say, the pilots of the jet have to be commended for getting it down. Good advert for Hawker :-).

on August 30, 2006 12:21 AM
# Rob Steele said:

I'm just guessing but wouldn't it require consummate skill on the part of both pilots to hit each other if they meant to?

on August 30, 2006 06:42 AM
# Kurt said:

I don't remember if it's actually an FAA requirement or not, but it seems to be standard for pilots of powered craft to wear a parachute during aerobatic flights. Does the FAA require parachutes for aerobatic glider flights?

on August 30, 2006 08:17 AM
# Kurt said:

"I'm just guessing but wouldn't it require consummate skill on the part of both pilots to hit each other if they meant to?"

Not with radios. ;)

Based on some of the people I've seen flying, it doesn't take much skill at all to run into another airplane.

on August 30, 2006 08:18 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Yes, the FAA doesn't distinguish between powered and non-powered aircraft for the parachute requirement.


The area over the Pine Nuts is class E.

on August 30, 2006 08:41 AM
# Bill said:

How the heck does one open the glider hatch after something like that? I have to imagine, due the lack of the wing, the thing is spinning like mad?

on August 30, 2006 09:27 AM
# hack said:

The problem with radios is that there are so many frequencies to choose from. Two aircraft are unlikely to be on the same frequency unless they're talking to the same control tower. Glider pilots spend most of their time monitoring glider-to-glider frequencies.

Is it standard for biz jets to have TCAS?

Minor curiosity: FAA records list the glider as an "ASW-27-18".

on August 30, 2006 09:37 AM
# hack said:

BTW, what was the other incident on Monday you were refering to?

on August 30, 2006 09:45 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Yeah, some people are syaing it's an ASG-29 and others are saying ASW-27. The 29 replaces the 27 and is very, very similar. So there's a chance that the registration data is wrong.

I know of one 29 owner that doesn't have an owner's manual yet. The factory gave him an ASW-27 manual!

on August 30, 2006 09:53 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Many business jets have TCAS, yes.

The other incident was the crash of a DG-300 at the Truckee Tahoe airport. I may write about that one later. It's more of a "classic" glider accident.

on August 30, 2006 09:54 AM
# hack said:

It appears the glider pilot was in violation of FARs, if he did not have his transponder turned on, even though he wasn't required to have a transponder (funny how that works). I hope the FAA doesn't go too hard on him.

Did Silver say how long ago the chute was packed? If it was 121 days or more then Hirao could be in real trouble.

on August 30, 2006 10:25 AM
# hack said:

Correction: now the rumor is that there was a transponder, but it had not yet been certified, so it would have been illegal for him to turn it on!

on August 30, 2006 10:42 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Yeah. Like I said:

"There's a lot more I could say about this, but I'll hold off until the NTSB publishes their report a few months from now."

on August 30, 2006 10:58 AM
# Tom said:

ASW-27-18 == ASG-29. THe '29 makes a lot of small improvements to the '27, but for certification reasons, it is called a 27-18, as the span increase to 18m is the most significant change.

on August 30, 2006 11:44 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


That explains a lot, thanks. I know that it uses the same airfoil as the 27, but it's interesting that they market it as the 29 even though it's certified as a 27-18.

on August 30, 2006 11:47 AM
# ab said:

Dramatic photos! Did you take them? How did you get access?

on August 30, 2006 12:57 PM
# Stephan said:

The damage to the jet's wing looks significant. The pilots should be commended for their ability to bring the plane down as safely as they did.

on August 30, 2006 12:59 PM
# Yuliy said:

It's amazing how everybody rushes to commend the Hawker pilots for their performance, while totally missing the fact that they run into glider in the first place! We can be nit-picking about whether the glider pilot should have used his transponder, but the jet appears to be in violation of FAR Part 91 Sec. 91.113 "Right-of-way rules" Para.(d)(2): "A glider has the right-of-way over an airship, airplane, or rotorcraft". Clear and simple. If so, I hope FAA will pull her license.

on August 30, 2006 09:03 PM
# Dan G said:

This happened on the last day of a consultation in the UK by the CAA on making transponders mandatory for gliders in all airspace (even VFR). Personally, I support the proposal, while the national gliding association (the BGA) has been going nuts over it. The BGA says that it's almost impossible to fit transponders to gliders (seemingly not the case if US gliders carry transponders already), that it will cost owners too much money (a silly statement considering the cost of gliders themselves), and that because there's never been a glider/airliner collision in the UK, therefore there never will be!

I think this incident proves that the CAA may have a point. I don't see that just because it happened in another country, the same could not happen here.

on August 31, 2006 02:20 AM
# Chris said:

Hey Yuliy,
Let them try pulling her certificate you fool. I do not think you want to open that can of worms. Nothing like have over 2500 pilots writting DC pushing for any object over 1000 feet to have a transponder. And I am sure we could find a few other pilot groups that would join in that fight. And a sympathetic public also.
You know how long it takes for a glider/small GA plane to go from speck to crash? Only a few seconds. Get a clue.

on August 31, 2006 07:07 AM
# Stephan said:

Yuliy, your comment amazes me... The pilot's may have been in violation of FAR but that's like saying F-16 pilots are responsible for watching for civil aircraft in air space where they both fly. A Hawker is going much faster than a glider and is much more visible, to me, the glider pilot should have been more observant and had his transponder on.

on August 31, 2006 07:53 AM
# kuas said:

Interesting factoid: You know how much it would cost to outfit every glider in the US with a transponder? About 40 million dollars installation included. That's about the cost of 4 Hawker business jets.

How about Larry and Sergey foot the bill and then they can feel secure tooling about in their 767.

on August 31, 2006 11:23 AM
# Adam said:

1.) It's interesting to consider the dollars involved here. The Hawker is probably worth $10M; I don't know much about gliders, but would guess that the ASG-29 is worth no more than $200K. The Hawker probably has $100M in liability coverage; the glider probably has $1M. The Hawker is close to being totaled; one could sell the engines and other parts for, perhaps, $4M. Somebody is responsible for roughly $6.2M in damages, not including bodily injury—I hope it’s not the glider pilot.

2.) As thin-silhouetted and as slow as gliders are, it might be wise to paint them with bold and bright paint schemes, yet I've never seen one painted as such.

on August 31, 2006 01:55 PM
# Chris said:

I agree with what Adam has said about paint schemes for Gliders.
I also agree that every glider should have an operating transponder, a Mode A transponder at the mininum.
What do the regs have to say about operating a glider at higher altitudes, and oxygen requirements while operating at the higher altitudes?
Does anyone know if Hirao was wearing or had supplemtal O2 on board? If not then Hypoxia will no dobut be a factor in the investigation boards finding.

on August 31, 2006 02:31 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Many glider manufacturers offer "visible" paint schemes. Check these out:


(scroll all the way down)

The regs for high altitiude operations in gliders are no different than powered flight. I don't know of any pilots who fly high in the great basin without O2.

on August 31, 2006 02:48 PM
# Rocky said:

Hey Yuliy,

You must be a typical democrat, you like to pick and choose the way you read rules, in particular FAR Part 91.113, if you keep reading down u absolute moroon, you will see that, in sub-set G. Landing, Aircraft, while on final approach have the right of way of other aircraft. If you are a pilot, please o please Lord do not let me fly with this moroon, if you are not a pilot thank God and have a nice day....

Thank You Jesus I am alive...

on August 31, 2006 03:34 PM
# chris said:

I was just wondering about the O2, I was pretty sure they were the same, and while you said you don't know of anyone in the Basin flying without a bag, does anyone know if Hirao was using it?
In reading the linked webpage, they are talking about they are using the white paint to keep the skin temp below 129 deg f for structural safety. They also talk about adding high visibility foils onto the planes. I think that anything to increase the visibility is a good thing.
Transponders also should be mandatory on anything that flies higher than 100' agl. Im not sure but arent baloons required to carry them?

on August 31, 2006 05:52 PM
# DON M said:

No I'm not a pilot but I love to go up with my bro. It's to bad that gliders are not required to have a transponder turned on . What is the max that a glider can go up? God watch over all flers!

on August 31, 2006 06:19 PM
# Paul said:

Just to clarify: Class E in VFR conditions is still under VFR flight rules REGARDLESS of if you're under an IFR flight plan or not. The controller was not obligated to point out every radar contact to the jet, EVEN if the glider had a transponder on. Just because you have a transponder working doesn't mean the radar isn't blocked by another aircraft closer in, etc. That's precisely why "see and avoid" FAR's are in effect for VFR OR IFR flight in VFR conditions through Class E airspace, all pilots have to have their eyes outside the airplane, not looking down at some approach checklist. A small jet like that, as far as I'm aware, was not even required to have TCAS, and most smaller light aircraft don't have it either.

The world record for glider altitude was approximately 49,000ft in the Owens Valley. That was recently broken in the Andes this month by Steve Fossett who got to 50,000+, but that record has not yet been certified to my knowledge.

A couple things to consider. Almost all gliders built after 1960 are composite... You have to do major alterations and get a special 337 form just to get the antenna properly and legally installed.

Then there's the weight problem: Even low power transponders available now still require a lot of juice. How long do you think a 7AH or 12AH lead acid battery lasts with that kind of current draw at 15,000 when it's below freezing? You can't add batteries because most gliders I'm familiar with have very limited useful loads, most in the 250lb range. How many 6'+ guys do you know under 250lbs? Add a parachute...Forgeddaboudit!

I'm a glider pilot and I had spent $4.5k on a transponder install and it took several weeks. My glider was worth $15,500 before the installation and I happen to be a light guy so I needed ballast anyway. Though I recommend it to anyone flying near high traffic areas, forcing aircraft that don't have engines to also carry transponders is not a panacea by any stretch of the imagination.

Perhaps when ADS-B is implemented, it would be fair to address this issue with regulatory action, but the current radar based ATC has too many flaws to force glider pilots to convert to transponders that will be obsolete in a few years.


on August 31, 2006 07:37 PM
# Charles said:

I'm curious about the money too. I figure the jet was owned (and heavily insured) by the chartered aircraft company, but who owned the glider? I don't expect that the pilot brought the glider with him from Japan, is that even possible (or practical)? Who's going to take the loss on the totaled glider and the jet (well, aside from the insurance companies if any)? And how much did the glider cost?

on August 31, 2006 10:42 PM
# Dan G said:

Re: the power consumption of transponders, is there a reason gliders seem to only use SLAs, and not something more energy-dense like NiMHs?

on September 1, 2006 01:17 AM
# MR said:

It's interesting how the different perspective changes the same facts that are there for everybody to see. Sometimes said perspectives look quite skewed (Rocky, you consider a guy at 16.000 to be "on final approach"???).
In the sky there's slow trafic and fast trafic. I'm perfectly aware that is not possible for the real fast to see and avoid the real slow and thin like a glider, I'm often having myself problems in seeing another glider closing in. The rules the way they are do not work, on my opinion, the whole VFR concept is more a declaration of principle than a real fact. But to oblige all the sl o, ioi p

on September 1, 2006 01:36 AM
# Nicky said:

Dan G - "that it will cost owners too much money (a silly statement considering the cost of gliders themselves)"

The issue with the money that transponders would cost is not really relevant to those who own expensive gliders, it is more pertinent to:
1) those with wooden gliders eg club training gliders, where the cost of the transponder and the installation would be more than the value of the plane itself
2) vintage models that only get flown rarely, so the cost outweighs the benefit

Obviously if you own an expensive glider then having a transponder on board is just like another form of "insurance" so is probably worthwhile.

on September 1, 2006 06:48 AM
# Captain K B J said:

Flew that route and letdown for Reno many times over the years in both bizjets and heavy's...always worried when I got below 12 or 14K but obviously should have worried much higher. Paint and foil may help but the Mode A transponder is a must for getting a heads up from ATC but shouldn't be required across the board. Cost is a real concern for lot's of glider guys but your life is worth more. Is a low cost portable transponder available or practical which an operator could rent out????
Problem is jet pilots are getting busy in that phase of flight and attention is necessarily divided among tasks and arrival planning. We all need to give a little so that we continue to have the freedom to do what we love without unnecessary restrictions being put in place by folks who have limited understanding.

on September 1, 2006 09:23 AM
# LB Rainey said:

Who will sue who in this incident - is it strictly up to the NTSB to determine the liable party? What should the Jet & Glider owners do to protect themselves from each other at this point? What are the precedents? How about the Jet passengers - what recourse do they have as to damages/liability?

on September 1, 2006 10:42 AM
# Stéphane Vander Veken said:

About transponders:

Mode A is next to useless nowadays, it gives no altitude information and only clutters the radar screen. I'm not sure what it does to TCAS, but I doubt it's efficient, I suspect it will give false alarms.

Mode C is also useless for gliders as soon as they are numerous: as they all use the same code and often fly close together, ATC can't follow them all, there are technical conflicts. So, ATC will usually filter them out. Plus, they are shortly being fased out and replaced by mode S (in Europe, it's useless to install a mode C transponder now).

Mode S transponders with relatively low consumpion are available (but much more costly than a used A/C set) and solve most of the above problems, but ATC is not yet able to use the selective function everywhere.

Most gliders, even recent ones, however, are not certified to carry a transponder.

on September 1, 2006 12:08 PM
# Steve said:


I'm a military C-5 pilot, skydiver, and I have also flown gliders a bit in the Truckee area. So I hope that I know a little bit about TCAS, Mid Air Collision Avoidance (MACA), and the local area conditions.

1) About visibility… Today we went on an air refueling mission with a KC-135 (Boeing 707) and at 4 miles away it is difficult to see the KC-135 even when it is turning and we know where to look for it. That is a big airplane. Most folks in business jets are probably doing in excess of 300KIAS above 10,000 feet. That is about 505 ft per second of closure. Even with those fancy vis recognition paint schemes, I think that it will still be hard for folks to see, recognize, and appropriately react to a glider... especially in the busy descent and approach phases.

2) About TCAS / transponders… Per the FAR 91.215, a transponder is not required to be installed if the aircraft was not equipped with an engine driven electrical system. When a TCAS equipped airplane receives a Traffic Advisory, the pilots start looking for the aircraft. When the pilots receive a Resolution Advisory (RA), they must follow the TCAS vertical speed commands (even if the target aircraft is acquired visually). If you don’t know, a TCAS RA will command a certain VSI or VVI down or up for you to fly. Its little brain basically computes when two aircraft are going to enter an area of probably collision. It uses vertical clearance to avoid a collision. A large G pull or push is not required for an RA. TCAS will only provide RAs for a Mode A/C or Mode S equipped target. Once again it is MANDATORY to follow RA commands (an RA ceases when you are below a certain altitude AGL so you don’t fly yourself into the ground).

3) My personal feelings are that yes, it is expensive to install a Mode A/C transponder into a glider and I don’t know what the certification (TSO) requirements are for any particular glider is, but from a glider pilot and a pilot who has flown with TCAS for 4 years, it is very nice to know that the big sky theory is being helped out by my friend TCAS. The eye balls that we have installed with us from birth will only help out so much. You don’t need a TSO for that. First they need to be outside of the cockpit and using a good scanning technique. We are all familiar with the fact that in VMC a pilot is always responsible for MACA, even IFR. The glider pilot is often busy flying a thermal and looking outside to make sure he isn’t going to hit another glider who is working the same thermal and looking at the ground to see what the thermal is doing and where he is going to core it out. So the glider pilot is busy in a turn or flying a ridge not looking out for other traffic.

The Europeans and the domestic companies have a lot of great new (read expensive) technology coming out that will greatly improve aviation safety for all involved. There exists better MACA tools and terrain avoidance technology than what we have now… Let’s hope that the FAA doesn’t stifle these great improvements with their slow legislation and approval.

Blue Skies,

PS – please don’t rush to conclusions on who is at fault or who will sue who. “Flying is a bunch of what ifs” to begin with.

on September 1, 2006 03:54 PM
# Bill said:

All the transponders in the world would not make any difference unless both aircraft were on what is called "Flight Following" where they are registered with the appropriate Air Traffic Control Center for that area. If that is the case, then they would both be showing on radar and Center would advise both appropriately to avoid collision. If both of them are not on Flight Following, then their transponder code would not be squawked to Center and would not show on radar. If one were on, then they would be assigned to a radio frequency to monitor for advisories. Apparently, in this case, neither of them were registered with Center.

on September 2, 2006 08:43 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


That's not true at all. Reno Approach sees gliders all the time (if they have transponders) and will often call out traffic for approaching aircraft. Glider and Jet pilots don't have to request flight following for this.

on September 3, 2006 07:58 AM
# Yuliy said:


"You know how long it takes for a glider/small GA plane to go from speck to crash? Only a few seconds. Get a clue."

May I suggest that somebody else gets a clue? If you can't see where you are going, SLOW DOWN. Going fast is not an excuse for a car to hit a bicycle.


"...that's like saying F-16 pilots are responsible for watching for civil aircraft in air space where they both fly."

And what's wrong with that?...

"A Hawker is going much faster than a glider and is much more visible"

Let's see... A six foot wide fuselage (white and MOTIONLESS in white sky) or a 60 foot wide wing (sharply banked in a thermal, white on darker ground and MOVING in a circle) -- which one is more visible?

"the glider pilot should have been more observant"

Yes, he should. Now if you only could tell him which way to run EVEN if he sees the jet in time to react... How do you avoid something coming at you at 300+ mph? Gliders are slow -- that's the reason they are given the right-of-way in the first place. Don't you think the regs make some sense?


"Aircraft, while on final approach have the right of way of other aircraft."

Did you notice that it says *final*? Really, if you think the Hawker was on final approach at that point, then the glider was in a landing pattern! And thus had the right-of-way as it was LOWER :) . (Oh, and check your spelling, if you insist on calling names.)


"The glider pilot is often busy flying a thermal and looking outside..."

Exactly -- at least he is looking OUTSIDE. Between the two pairs of eyes in the Hawker there was no excuse for not "clearing the path" in airspace as busy as that -- or anywhere, really.

on September 5, 2006 03:23 PM
# tbone said:

Doesn't regs require IFR above 14 or 14500 ft MSL? If so, mode C is manditory.

on September 5, 2006 08:08 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

No, IFR is above 17,999.

on September 5, 2006 08:21 PM
# Snarky Parsnip said:


the idea of a glider being in a well known glider area is silly.

the jet was on a published arrival. with the accuracy of FMS boxen, regardless of even RNP, that close to a terminal area even with only DME/DME, the probability of the hawker being within one mile of a very specific PUBLISHED route is 99.99% certain. also, given the expectation to cross a variety of intermediate fixen at ONE SIX THOUSAND, i wonder which pilot was more unprepared.

we all know nevada is huge for gliding. please. it goes without saying. that's like saying moonshine used to be big in kentucky. really!?

so, as pilots, no matter which aircraft we happen to be in, in this confrontation, if we've really and truly armed ourselves with all available information regarding this flight.. the jet is far more predictable in its position. especially given its requirement to conform with ATC instructions. given the recent scarcity of ATC individuals, and high workload for the controllers that are left, odds are most high-speed aircraft are going to be complying with a published arrival procedure.

consider the recent example witnessed by yours truly played out in the san francisco bay: a sailboat, possessing the right-of-way, manages to get itself in front of a very large, quite fast containership. sailboat: right of way, containership: mass, velocity, and lack of maneuverability. not to mention, the sailboat rather obnoxiously thrust its proboscis directly in front of the containership with rather little time to spare for either of their fates to not be intertwined. the sailboat moved.

i think we all see the writing on the wall there. the sailboat would've had the moral high ground, but at the bottom of the bay.

the san francisco bay is well-known for sailboat activity nearly year-round! yes, and as well known for its busy shipping lanes, very predictably year-round.

does this allegory hold strictly true? no. visual contact of one party by either was probably difficult, if not impossible. could the jet be armed with more knowledge as to better avoid midairs? probably not.

could the glider have more prepared? i think decidedly so.

i won't even mention the mode-C transponder that wasn't turned on.

Snarky Parsnip

on September 5, 2006 09:01 PM
# Mike Mayo said:

boat rules.....
"Snarky Parsnip", the boating rules are a little more complex than you said. You would be correct in open ocean, the sailboat would have right-of-way. But in the Bay the containership has restricted manoeverability so has right of way over the sailboat. If you sail in front of a ship in the bay and get sunk it is your fault, according to the rules.

flying rules....
All three pilots were, it seems, following the rules correctly as most of us aim to do. This accident has been waiting to happen for many years, and is just as likely to happen tomorrow as it was last year.

If I spend $4000 to put a transponder in my $16000 glider, I will certainly not be able to sell that glider for a penny over $16000. So don't let anybody argue that all of us buying transponders should be fine because a nice new glider costs >$100K and an extra $4K is a drop in the bucket. Most of us are ordinary folks who have a hard time making house payments, and can barely afford to fly a tired old ship.

politics and religion....
Please, God, save us from those that believe in Rush Limbaugh and Michael Wiener.

Regards to all,
(That's my real name, not some silly moniker)

on September 6, 2006 09:19 AM
# hack said:

Still waiting to hear about the DG300 at Truckee. Nothing on the FAA prelim accident reports.

on September 6, 2006 01:17 PM
# Jon said:

I heard about this event while takeing my flight review. After my flight review was completed, I went online to find more information about the accident. That led me to your site. I was impressed with the information and pictures. Aside from the immature insults by a few on your "comment" section, alot of very useful info was discused. Hopefully this will advance the safety of soaring pilots and aviation in general.

on September 6, 2006 04:22 PM
# David said:

Why are people saying that a transponder won't do any good without flight following?

TCAS will identify all transponders, even those squawking 1200.

TCAS will provide a Traffic Advisory for all transponders, even those only sending mode A replies.

TCAS will provide Resolution Advisories for all mode C and mode S transponders regardless of squawk code.

So if we take the worst-case (a mode A only aircraft) the jet crew would still get the directional point-out form their traffic display. They would not know if climbing or descending would best-resolve the situation, but at least they would know that SOME kind of action may be needed AND they will have their eyes outside at the critical moments.

on September 7, 2006 08:06 AM
# Mike Mayo said:

David, only one person (Bill) tied transponder usefulness to flight following, and he was promptly contradicted.
When I fly power I don't use flight following, but I do want that transponder to make sure that ATC and TCAS can see me. And it does that.

What would be really useful, and I think this applies also to paragliders, hang-gliders, balloons, small UAVs, etc., is a device with enough power to show up on a nearby TCAS, but without the cost power and complexity of a conventional transponder. There is not much need for gliders to show up on ATC radar, but if high speed aircraft could see us on TCAS within the appropriate range for giving warnings then this type of collision would be prevented. I'm sure such a device can be built and would be similar in size, cost, and power consumption to a cell phone. Getting it to happen is another matter. This collision might just be enough to get things moving. Or maybe not......

Qustion for MR.... what does "sl o, ioi p" mean?

Regards to all,

on September 7, 2006 02:48 PM
# Yuliy said:

Snarky Parsnip, is it more reasonable to expect:

A) VFR-only, IFR-less glider pilots to consult IFR charts and SID/STARs, or
B) IFR *and* VFR jet pilots to consult sectional charts?

There is not one, not two, not three, but SEVEN (7) Glider, Hang-Glider and Ultralight symbols on SFO sectional within 30 NM of RNO. Where exactly those PUBLISHED routes you are talking about are published?

on September 7, 2006 04:14 PM
# Desi said:

OMG thats horrible.. Thank God there were no causalities.

on September 7, 2006 04:28 PM
# Yuliy said:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes, it may not have been a popular suggestion to call for enforcement actions. But here is the thing: if no one is punished, then no one is guilty, then everything is fine, no need for changes and no lessons learned. Unless a deep, loud voice from above clearly tells somebody: "Don't Do That Again!", everyone will keep doing what they have been doing. You saw the attitudes.

My suggestion is not about punishing that one pilot -- it is about sending a very clear message to the others. For some reason we humans are very stupid in this strange way. We much better understand if somebody says "Do it, and we will pull your license" than if somebody says "Do it, and you will die". I guess we just assume the probability of the nature's ultimate punishment much more remote than the one that comes with certified mail.

on September 7, 2006 04:38 PM
# GVFlyer said:

Good post, Steve.

The local news reported that Akihiro saw the approaching Hawker and was trying to maneuver away from it when the jet struck him.

This mishap has 100% of my attention because it occurred at an altitude where most jet crews are running an "In Range" or "Arrival" checklist and are likely to have two sets of eyes in the cockpit.

I fly a Gulfstream G550 which essentially has the outward visibility of a nuclear submarine, so when descending into this airport, where gliders are a known issue, I slow down to somewhere around VA (Maneuvering Speed). This allows a full scale deflection of the flight controls, a smaller radius of turn and more time for the co-pilot and me to identify threats.

I've flown extensively in Europe where gliders are more of an issue than they are in the US and it's my experience that gliders are nearly invisable when tracking toward or away from you and you down't generally pick them up until they bank. It is therefore incumbent upon everyone using the airspace, regardless of right of way, to practice "See and Avoid."

Let's all be careful out there.

on September 8, 2006 09:13 AM
# Cliff said:


What I heard, 2nd-hand, is that the glider was flying in an airspace block provided by ATC, and ATC shouldn't have let any other aircraft in the block at that time. I also heard the glider had a transponder, but it wasn't on.

Basically, for a fast-mover to see a slow-moving target at the typical speeds they fly is almost impossible-the "see and avoid" rules are from the Wright Bros days and don't help.

There is/will be technology (like ADS-B?) that would allow all pilots in all aircraft to see each other electronically. Until we get this technology, there will be more mid-airs.

I think having a mode-c transponder in every aircraft above 10K is a good idea, at least until we get something better.

Fate is the Hunter.


PS-Good job to all involved to get down safely!!!

on September 9, 2006 02:23 PM
# Keith Thomas said:

As a Hawker mechanic and private pilot I commend all pilots in getting down safely, as for the glider having a transponder, yes he did according to ntsb but was not required to have it on below 18000ft. The glider had two batteries on board for, the pilot elected not to turn on his transponder to save battery power for communications as it was his second flight of the day and planned on being aloft for about 5 hours he didn't know how much power the batteries had left, Yes the gliders are well marked on charts, ATC had given clearance for the hawker to descend in that area which is a normal area for Reno but without the transponder the glider was virtually invisible to atc and the hawker until it was to late. As for the hawker it is a very well built aircraft the right front MAIN spar was severd at the wing root, at which point it lost all fuel in that wing, they are very lucky that they did not lose that wing. It appears that both pilots were well within regulations and appears to be being in the right place at the wrong time.

on September 13, 2006 04:28 PM
# MR said:

(For Mike Mayo: I've just found that for some reason my cut/copy for the previous post didn't work, so I ended up pasting only part of what I intended. Not a big loss for the community any case...)

I would note that the discussion about transponders is not only limited to gliders. I'm pretty sure that therea are more than few 150 or 170 out there without it, and I'm also sure they are as hard as a glider to hit.

In Europe it's now extremely popular within gliders to use a system called FLARM, which is practically a self-contained low-cost MACA. It consists in a small box with a GPS, a small radio transmitting the position on a specific frequence, a receiver for the same frequence, and a computer that calculates the relative positions. When it "hears" that another unit is approaching on a possible collision route it tells you the direction and the distance. The cost is around $700.

While not perfect, this system is in my opinion the demonstration that whe should take a bold move, and perhaps consider the problem from scratch. A similar box made by a real company like, say Garmin or Magellan (no need to disturb Avidyne) could be really a final solution with the least difficulty for everybody and what's more important with space to grow in the future.

on September 13, 2006 08:22 PM
# Harry said:

I have flown gliders in the Reno area both with and without transponders. Without a transponder the glider will still usually be picked up as a primary target by Reno Approach's radar, although it may depend on how close you are to their radar installation. But without a transponder, you won't show up on the jet's TCAS (aka the "fish finder").

If I was crossing known approach paths without a transponder, I would often give Reno Approach position reports on their frequency. They always seemed to appreciate that. This incident will scare me into doing that more often (and you already hear more gliders giving position reports on the Reno Approach frequency). But the best solution is a Mode C transponder, turned on whenever the glider is within 50 or 60 nm of Reno. Battery life is still an issue even with the newest transponders and a backup battery (some of my glider flights approach 8 hours in duration), so I may turn off the transponder when I get far away from Reno, just to be sure I have enough juice to power it up again when I get back in the Reno area.

Lots of those commenting seem to be trying to assign blame to one party or another. There is enough blame to go around. Glider pilots need to get transponders installed and use them, if they are going to fly in the Reno area. Pilots of fast movers need to look out the window more when they get below 18,000. Oakland Center and Reno Approach need to be carefull about vectoring fast movers right through areas that are known to have heavy glider traffic (gliders congregate over ridges because that is where the lift is, and the Pine Nut Mountains where this accident occured have some of the highest density of gliders in the country).

Besides gliders, I also fly a small, slow, brightly colored airplane, which has a Mode C transponder turned on all the time. I would say my risk of getting into a midair collision is much higher flying that airplane in the pattern at my home airport, than it is flying gliders over Nevada. You just need to browse the NTSB reports to see how often people find a way to tangle up two power planes in the pattern at an uncontrolled airport!

on September 13, 2006 11:04 PM
# said:

how much would it be for a real glider plane bacause i am thinking of buying one

on December 28, 2006 12:26 PM
# Desi said:

I know this is very late but I only saw the thread yesterday.

I have never flown in the US but international regulations govern even in the US.

The glider was certainly operating under VFR. I presume the jet under IFR.
So what the hell was the glider doing in controlled airspace?

Normally one must ask permission from the app. ATC to enter a control zone resp. controlled airspace.
In this case both aircraft should have been on the same frequency unless the jet had already been handed over.

If the glider was not fitted with a serviceable transponder then he certainly would never have been given permission to enter same.

I would like to read the finalized accident report so if anyone has this pls send.



on December 21, 2009 05:34 AM
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