Sunday, September 15, 2013

PILOTS: What Not to Do if you Have a Near Encounter with an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (NARCAP)

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NARCAP urges pilot safety checklist

By Billy Cox
De Void

     Critics who claim the UFO phenomenon has no science to back it up have clearly never visited the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena website. Underfunded and underpublicized, eschewing the loaded three-letter acronym for the less radioactive UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena), NARCAP has been compiling and analyzing commercial, private and military flight data since 1999. Over the holiday weekend, it issued a four-page checklist of recommendations for pilots to review as a proactive measure in the event of a sudden UAP encounter.

“Given the low survival rate of aircrews involved in midair collisions and the reported radar transparency of many UAP,” reads a portion of the summary, which the nonprofit NARCAP ultimately hopes will be incorporated into the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aeronautical Information Manual, “it cannot be said with certainty that UAP have not been a primary factor in past catastrophic air crashes.”

Much of the weight behind these recommendations has been generated by pilots and air traffic controllers who, with guarantees of anonymity, have completed NARCAP’s detailed online questionnaires. The feedback has convinced NARCAP founder and former NASA senior research scientist Dr. Richard Haines — along with an international cast of multidisciplinary volunteer researchers — that sitting back and waiting for (perhaps another) calamity is not an option.

“We have already received positive feedback about this paper from pilots and others who have visited our website,” writes Haines, who tells De Void that NARCAP receives anywhere from 4 to 6 near-miss reports a year, “and we now want ... help in sharing these practical recommendations with an even wider group of pilots ... who might not yet know about our website.”

Although near-misses are obviously rare, NARCAP contends that accounts of “other traffic” logged in the FAA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System probably deserve more scrutiny. Indeed, in 2001, NARCAP issued a remarkable list of 1,305 reported UAP encounters from around the world dating back to 1916. But in Haines’ landmark 2000 analysis, Aviation Safety in America - A Previously Neglected Factor, the former chief of NASA-Ames Space Human Factors Office determined that UAP encounters alone aren’t the problem.

“Based upon a thorough review of pilot reports of UAP over the conterminous United States between 1950 and 2000 it is concluded that an immediate physical threat to aviation safety due to collision does not exist because of the reported high degree of maneuverability shown by the UAP. However,” Haines warned, “(a) should pilots make the wrong control input at the wrong time during an extremely close encounter the possibility of a mid-air collision with a UAP still exists, and (b) if pilots rely upon their instruments when anomalous electromagnetic effects are causing them to malfunction, the possibility of an incident or accident exists.”

That was 13 years ago. In an email to De Void, Haines reiterated that subsequent data has done little to alter those conclusions. To wit:
“1) Most UAP depart from the airplane by ascending upward (either vertically or at a steep angle) usually at a very high speed.

“2) Most UAP that appear relatively near an airplane (rather than at a great distance away) are described as having a metallic-appearing surface during daylight hours and are symmetrical in form (at least along one of the three orthogonal axes).

“3) When some electro-magnetic effect affects cockpit instruments when a UAP is flying nearby, that ‘anomaly’ almost always ceases (and the instrument[s] returns to its normal operation) as the UAP departs. Thus, there is no physical evidence of a malfunction to report.”

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the FAA to adopt NARCAP’s recommendations. But pilots who want to be prepared for even the most unusual contingencies would do well to explore this website.

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