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Lou Bakerer

Wake turbulence training?

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Hello gentlemen,


in the light of this newest tragedy, I thought that maybe some virtual training would be useful.

If BVA would agree to host this in their airspace (not necessarily inside the class Bravo) and if they would want to run the event to keep it organized, well structured and most importantly safe, it might actually benefit some.


I imagine setting up a big cargo jet at several thousand feet, vectoring it around and vectoring small GA aircraft to intercept the wake carefully to learn by experience.

Not something you want to actually experience but it might help to simulate it. (I have obviously trust in FSX's realism here)




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This type of event might prove difficult since wake turbulence isn't simulated in default FSX. Participants would need some sort of add-on weather program such as ActiveSky, and I'm not sure if 3rd party programs do a very good job of simulating it. I've never felt any wake turbulence when running Active Sky Evolution.

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Guest Lucas Kaelin

ActiveSky is the only program that really simulates wake turbulence. My first experience with this was during the very first Alaskan VFR Challenge, doing TnG's at PAAQ - Palmer. Most everyone was flying Cessnas and other small singles, while I was flying a Pilatus PC6 Porter. Anyone who ducked in behind me that had ActiveSky ended up with some uncommanded roll to correct! I was henceforth banned from flying that aircraft in the pattern, although I'm giving serious thought to it for the upcoming AK challenge.

But unless you have ActiveSky installed, attempting a deliberate encounter with wake turbulence is a non-event for the default FSX. Additionally the difference in speed between a small single and a heavy aircraft is quite great. I tried playing wingman with Evan one night while he was flying a 757/767 and I was in a Glasair. He had to throttle back to about 20KIAS above stall in order for me to keep up with him while I had the throttle to the panel. Obviously this was in cruise flight, and so wake was not nearly the factor that it would have been at lower altitude. Even at altitude there were several times while maneuvering for a screenshot where I had to abandon the attempt, regain control of my aircraft, and then approach from a different angle (slightly above usually worked very well).


More than you wanted to know about wake turbulence: Your tax dollars at work to train controllers.

Wake turbulence is the inefficiency of the wing at the tips, the area of higher pressure under the wing spilling around the edge of the wingtip to the area of lower pressure above the wing. Because this is a constant process as the aircraft moves through the area it creates a trailing vortex. Rotation from behind the aircraft will be counter-clockwise for the starboard wingtip and clockwise for the port wingtip. Vortexes are reduced in strength by the addition of winglets (vertical surfaces at the end of wingtips), gates (the upper and lower vertical surfaces common on airbus wingtips), tip tanks, and any other large device mounted at the end of the wing such as a weather radar pod.

An aircraft creates the most wake turbulence when Clean, Heavy, and Slow. That would be a clean, no flaps or gear configuration, heavy gross weight, and slow airspeed (near stall). While wake turbulence is still formed at other times, this is when it is greatest strength. Additionally according to the FAA training I've received, it does not exist more than 2500 feet either side of the aircraft, more than 9 miles behind the aircraft (An225/A380), or usually more than 1000 feet below the path of the aircraft. On a calm wind day, vortexes will move across ground level at approximately 3kts, outward and away from from the runway. However, light crosswinds (<6kts) can actually cause a vortex to move onto the runway and linger in place.


If you're still interested in more about it, check out this briefing sheet I found from the FAA. It's not the cheesy videos we have to watch for training, but it has all the same information. And yes there are diagrams (pictures) for those who need them.

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Alright, FSX does not do wake turbulence, gotcha. Too bad.

If we get enough positive feedback from ActiveSky users, we could still attempt to organize this.


Great picture, Jeremy! Now imagine your Cessna or Cherokee getting caught in that vortex. Yikes!

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Guest Lucas Kaelin

Nice picture, too bad it's a freaking Airbus....


There are quite a few of us who do have ActiveSky. Because it's the end user who has to have the add-on you can actually receive wake turbulence from anyone who is in the server, whether or not they have it. At the time of the PC6 Porter incident I didn't have ActiveSky, but when we figured out it was only those users who had it were feeling the effects, it sold me. I bought it the next week! Since it's also a weather program it does well with other things too. I've been caught in mountain rotors flying near ASE, caught vertical updrafts flying over a cliff face, and gotten down to minimums in fog at MVY. If you want a good place to test ActiveSky, try doing a few instrument approaches at TEX on a windy day. The approach overflies a canyon, in the lee of a mountain, going into a narrowing valley, with one way operations (land 9, depart 27). You're sure to find some windshear, and maybe a rotor!

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Guest Ben Eidem

I personally don't see any practical use in scheduling an event to intentionally experience wake turbulence, as one, only advanced payware weather engines simulate wake turbulence, and two, even though it's not real life, you'd be putting yourself, and your aircraft in danger (especially if you're flying A2A which simulates a/c maintenance)


However, I am in full support of incorporating a safety of flight event on the teamspeak server, which could either be a part of a pilot meetings, or a separate event within itself to promote real world safety considerations within the virtual world flight simulator, further blurring the line between simulation and reality.


What do you think about some sort of safety seminar?

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Zach is putting together ground school for BVA pilots, I suggest you talk to him about wake turbulence awareness, it would be good to mention it.


FWIW, the one advantage I see in putting myself and my aircraft in simulated danger is to learn from the encounter and gain some perspective and experience which could one day save my life (NOT that I am planning on intentionally flying into wake turbulence). As a real-world pilot, I tend to use the sim as a training aid for the possible, the unlikely and also the impossible.

But that is just my personal view on that topic.

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Zach is putting together ground school for BVA pilots, I suggest you talk to him about wake turbulence awareness, it would be good to mention it.


Not me, it is another member. Please stay tuned for more information in the July Logan Informer.

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