Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/plugins/system/sourcerer/helper.php on line 785

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/plugins/system/sourcerer/helper.php on line 32

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/daniela1/public_html/plugins/system/sourcerer/helper.php:785) in /home/daniela1/public_html/templates/ja_purity/ja_templatetools.php on line 44
“Approaching Terrain, Approaching Terrain”
 

Daniel Adi Nugroho dot Net

...because a man can’t just sit around

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 56

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 198

“Approaching Terrain, Approaching Terrain”

E-mail Print PDF

Not all of LIDAR data acquisition flights are fun and fascinating. Never in my life was I gripped with the near-death experience as close as what I am about to tell you in this post. 

In August 2011, I was aboard the most luxurious and spacious survey aircraft I’ve ever seen, a shiny, well-furnished, air-conditioned, 9-year old Cessna 208 Caravan with a large hatch on its belly. It has a “toilet” too! All other aircrafts that I’ve ever flown on survey sorties are usually more than 30 years old, cramped, hot, smelly, and doesn’t look very safe. This particular machine is really a belle. The avionics looks quite modern, with weather radar, autopilot, and all. For the propulsion, it has a turbine engine driving its three-bladed propeller. I really love the whirring noise and the deep roar of the turbine engine during the starting up, compared to the less appealing thudding and cranky sound of piston engine startups.

Long story short, by 4:30 PM we have finished our LIDAR and photo survey job over Pelabuhan Ratu coastal area, south of West Java, and we were ready to fly back to Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta. We were flying at about 7000 feet, and there were four people on board, the two pilots, myself, and the security officer from the Air Force. Unfortunately, bad weather confronted us, and the pilot decided to take an alternative route. I saw the dark, menacing wall of clouds on the horizon in front of us. However, a few minutes after we took the alternate route, we found ourselves completely enveloped by thick clouds all over the place. No discernible horizon, no visible terrain, no blue sky, nothing, just dull, dark-gray colour outside, decorated with tiny streams of rainwater outside the windows. 

Since I was not comfortable with that situation, I kept watching my handheld GPS to see how far we were from our destination, and I was hoping that we could get out of the weather as soon as possible. Suddenly I noticed that the aircraft took the wrong turn, as it appears to me that the pilots were trying to fly towards the mountains. Are they being crazy? I dismissed my thoughts; since I assumed they would do some maneuver that I won’t understand. Moments later, the pilot took another adjustment of the course, this time the aircraft headed directly to the peak of Mount Gede. I spontaneously opened the squelch by telling the pilots “You are heading right to the peak of the mountain!” Then the co-pilot analyzed the terrain display on their on-board GPS. He said, “Look, that is 9000 feet.” Then, a discussion started between the pilot and the co-pilot about the surrounding terrain, which was completely obscured by the thick clouds. I didn’t follow the entire conversation, since my attention was fixed to my GPS display.

My heartbeat was racing, my breathing rate increased, my fingers as cold as iced water, and my eyes fixed on the display of my Garmin GPSMap 60CSx.

Seconds later, the terrain-avoidance warning system of the aircraft started to yell in automated male voice: “Approaching terrain, approaching terrain”, instantly stopping the conversation between the pilot and the co-pilot. I can’t remember how many times that alert sounded off, but what’s certain is that the already tense atmosphere in the cabin turned into a panicked situation. The co-pilot asked the pilot, “Right? Left? Where? Do you see it?” The pilot didn’t say anything, it looks to me that he was utterly incapacitated by the serious situation. I was thinking “This is it, I’m dead”. I looked out of the window, and I could not see any hint of terrain or anything, just dull grey colour all over the place. I glanced to the inaccurate shaded-relief terrain display which was poorly rendered on my handheld GPS, and quickly concluded “Left!” Yet the co-pilot took over the command and steered the aircraft towards the right side – this move will change the fate of everyone onboard. It all happened in the zero-visibility situation.

And all of the sudden, while we were banking to the right, the gray dullness cleared up completely and revealed the most breathtaking sight ahead of us. It was the peak of the mighty Mount Gede, right in front of us. No words can describe our shock and awe, only silence ensued in the following moments. 

Slowly but sure, the co-pilot steered the aircraft clear from that menacing sight of the peak, and gained some altitude. There was a silence in the cabin for quite a while. Were the co-pilot didn’t take over the steering towards the right, we would have flown directly to that looming peak. Were he steered the aircraft towards the left, we would face another series of peaks and ridges. I felt guilty of telling the co-pilot to go to the wrong direction, which fortunately he didn’t follow. 

The security officer was still sleeping on his seat, oblivious of the entire incident.

About 20 minutes later, during the approach to the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, the co-pilot transferred the control to the pilot after asking if he was okay. The pilot, already recovered from his shock, landed the aircraft smoothly at about 5:15 PM that day. On the ground, both the pilot and co-pilot didn’t say a thing about the incident. I apologized to the co-pilot for telling him the wrong direction in that critical moment, and expressed my gratitude that he didn’t follow that bad tip. He said that he only trust his main GPS display, which is much more informative and capable of providing detailed terrain display than my small handheld GPS.

The security officer looked happy after I told him that the job was done, and he was not aware of the incident at all. Ignorance is bliss. They quickly vanished from my sight, as I tried to relax and regain my sanity by lying down underneath the aircraft and had some light chat with the mechanic. 


This entire incident was recorded on my GPS track log, and a few days later I analyzed the track log file. The altitude above the ground was decreasing from 1500 to 1000 meters just in one minute before the fateful evasion maneuver, and that rate of decrease is getting higher as we approached the peak. The time when the co-pilot took control, we were just 4 kilometers away from the flanks of Mount Gede, at 950 meters above the sloping terrain. That was only 40 seconds before the plane hits the cloudy flanks Mount Gede if the aircraft continues in a controlled flight into terrain at cruising speed. 

We were saved, thanks to the timely response from the competent co-pilot, augmented by the advanced technology embedded in the aircraft, such as the TAWS (Terrain Awareness and Warning System), GPS, and weather radar. According to the specifications, Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft can be flown by only one pilot, but this case has proven that having two pilots on-board is much safer, especially in the difficult situations.

No matter how good and how modern the aircraft is, the safety is still heavily dependent on the pilots. Having one human pilot will put the entire burden into the mind and dexterity of one delicate human, having two human pilots reduces the risk of human error. More humans might do better decisions, but it will take more time to come up to a conclusion, and due to emotion, they might end up fighting each other instead, not to mention the space required and the cost involved. Everyone will agree that having five-pilot team flying a small aircraft such as Cessna 208 is quite absurd.

I am quite grateful that everyone onboard passed this incident unharmed. However, even until today, there’s an angry question lingers in my head, “Why didn’t they cruise at 12,000 feet instead, thus avoiding all the possible terrain obstruction on that area?!” 

Now that’s called emotion.




Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 117

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 245

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 249

Warning: strftime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 250
Last Updated on Monday, 07 May 2012 05:35
 

Random Photo Selection


Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_random_image/helper.php on line 85

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_random_image/helper.php on line 85

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_random_image/helper.php on line 85

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_random_image/helper.php on line 85

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_random_image/helper.php on line 85

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_random_image/helper.php on line 85

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_random_image/helper.php on line 85

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_random_image/helper.php on line 85

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_random_image/helper.php on line 85

Archive

Stats/Counters


Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 24

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 25

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 26

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 28

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 28

Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 28

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 28

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 31

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 31

Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 31

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 31

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 32

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 32

Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 32

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 32

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 33

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 33

Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 33

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 33

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 35

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 36

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/daniela1/public_html/modules/mod_jstats_counters/helper.php on line 37
Visits today:8
Visits yesterday:47
Visits in this month:234
Visits total:51396
Bots today:4

Who's Online

We have 28 guests online

Sponsored Links

Copyright Notice

This website and its content is copyright of Daniel Adi Nugroho - © 2009 - 2010. All rights reserved.
Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:
  • You may print or download to a local hard disk extracts for your personal and non-commercial use only.
  • You may copy the content to individual third parties for their personal use, but only if you acknowledge the website as the source of the material.
  • You may transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system, but only if you acknowledge the source of the material and provide link back to this website.
 You may not, except with my express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content.



Friends' Blogs/Sites

Please visit my friend's blogs/sites:


Favourite Links

Sponsored Links