Oct. 31, 2019

Research is a key component in the FAA’s ongoing effort to keep pace with wake turbulence and mitigate its impact on aviation safety. To help gather data, the agency recently added information in the Aeronautical Information Manual section about pilot responsibilities related to reporting wake turbulence, and encouraging operators to use the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) to report events.

When reporting wake turbulence encounters to either source, the agency urged pilots to be as descriptive as possible. Beyond the intensity and duration of the encounter, the FAA is seeking data on bank angles and altitude deviations. Also, pilots should describe the direction of roll and its estimated rate. Altitude deviations should indicate the altitude lost or gained and how rapidly it changed.

Pilots should also report changes in pitch or yaw as well as any buffeting or other aerodynamic indications such as a stick shaker. Other salient factors include: the engagement of applicable flight control systems, autopilots, autothrottle, and yaw dampers, the phase of flight, and meteorological conditions. Pilots should also report their awareness of other aircraft and their relative positions, and the source of this awareness, such as ATC traffic advisory, TCAS, ADS-B In or visual identification.

It is to every pilot’s benefit to report wake turbulence counters to both ATC and ASRS, said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure, because the data is captured by two complimentary sources. “The ASRS form captures the pilot’s side of the event and ATC data includes a bigger picture that includes others in the airspace,” she said. “This gives wake turbulence researchers more granular data that lead to refined procedures and separation distances.

Review the Aeronautical Information Manual.