A few weeks ago I wrote about the Mid-Air Collision of Glider and Jet near Reno: ASG-29 vs. Hawker XP800 and speculated about the glider's transponder.
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.
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.
Since then I've had the chance to hear from people who met with the NTSB investigators and learn a lot more about the incident. But I waited to say anything more until the NTSB released their preliminary findings, which they recently did.
Here's the relevant section from those findings:
The glider was equipped with a panel mounted communication radio, global positioning system (GPS) unit, and a transponder; however, the pilot did not turn on the GPS and transponder. The transponder's activation is not required for glider operations (for more details see 14 CFR Part 91.215). According to the glider pilot, he did not turn on the transponder because he was only intending on remaining in the local glider area, and because he wanted to reserve his batteries for radio use. The glider was equipped with two batteries (one main and one spare), however, due to the previous glider flights, the pilot was unsure of the remaining charge in the battery.
So there we have it.
It should come as no surprise that pilots in the Reno area have a renewed interest in battery life and keeping their transponders on as long as possible. Many are also looking at TPAS devices such as the Monoroy ATD-300 Traffic Watch
Posted by jzawodn at September 25, 2006 07:30 AM