Towing banners and the CAA

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12 years

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Its a pity that aircraft preservationists don't deal with the department of the CAA that allows the towing of banners by light aircraft, they must be a very laid back lot! I always thought that this activity was a potential for trouble and sure enough someone has come to grief this morning. At this very moment some idiot is flying around London in a helicopter towing a flag about the size of a football pitch. Has this flag been calibrated and checked out by the CAA and is acceptable for this design of aircraft? I think not, I can only think the CAA like most government departments pick on the easy targets. Graham
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19 years 9 months

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Graham - I am nearly forty and can only remember one incident in my life (this morning) involving an aircraft banner towing ! Bearing in mind that banner towing has been around for years and the aircraft that do it tend to be either historic or older than the museum prototype Eurofighters that grace this column -be prepared to move into the abysis of the GA section!
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19 years 9 months

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.., I can only think the CAA like most government departments pick on the easy targets.
Seems like you are the one picking an easy target (the CAA) The engine in the crashed aircraft is hardly cool and you have already determined the cause as being the banner towing activity as such? Based on ever-reliable (not!) media reports? What qualifies you to designate the London helicopter pilot an "idiot"? You thinkthat the flag is inappropriate for the aircraft, but you don't actually know? What exactly do you know about CAA regulations re banner towing? Have you considered the fact that the "idiot" just might be a highly qualified professional, not interested in risking his life in any way? All in all, very broad, sweeping and speculative statements which taint yourself rather than the CAA.... :rolleyes:

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12 years

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Please don't quote the entire post directly above - Mods The aircraft crashed because the cable caught around the tail! With the helicopter Its quite obvious to anyone that this is a dangerous activity with the size of it [ and this is just using common sense ] my point was that in the UK one has to jump through hoops to achieve safe flying, for example If you preserve a Hawker Sea Fury and want to use a Pratt and Whitney engine like they do and have done in the USA for years the CAA will not allow it unless it has the original engine because they consider it changing the design specification of the aircraft. If it is registered in Europe it can fly as a visiting aircraft. It doesn't take an Einstein to work out there are double standards going on Graham

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The aircraft crashed because the cable caught around the tail!
Who's said that? According to Sky News it got caught in the engine!
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I can only think the CAA like most government departments pick on the easy targets. Graham
Last time I looked the CAA wasnt a government department...

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10 years 8 months

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I did loads of banner towing with a Reims Rocket back in the 1990's. It was quite straightforward and safe as long as one used a bit of common sense. I only had one mishap, due to a muddle up with the customer and the map I ended up dragging the banner twenty miles in the wrong direction!!

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19 years 9 months

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What other airworthiness authorities do is their business ! It's nothing to do with double standards -it's entirely to do with keeping people alive whether that upsets aircraft enthusiasts or not!
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14 years 6 months

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GrahamF, have you flown a Wilga?? have you carried out banner towing with it or anything else?? Banner towing is regulated as any other activity, the pilot and A/C also. Maybe because of that regulation two people are in hospital recovering from what has been discribed as non life threatening injury's rather than lying in the morg! It sounds like you are making broad sweeping statements about things you have little knowledge of.

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16 years

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Accidents happen in all fields of life and aviation is no different, OK today the accident involved an aircraft towing a banner that does not make banner towing dangerous per se. I can not think of any other accident with a banner towing aircraft in recent times. I say let the investigators doing the reporting on this one and don't judge without evidence.
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10 years 8 months

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Before making comments about what happened to the plane just wait for the AAIB to release their report on the accident. How is flying a banner from a helicopter unsafe? If I remember correctly the banner towing with a helicopter is normally done with a Cabair helicopter and as cabair is a big Flight Training Organisation im sure they wouldnt do it if they thought it was ridiculously unsafe and im sure the pilot wouldnt either.

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12 years

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Thanks for all your comments, perhaps I got the wrong end of the stick, lashing on banners to aircraft is totally risk free. graham

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19 years 9 months

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Nothing in life is risk free - it would be a very boring world if it was!

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10 years 9 months

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How does one calibrate a flag?

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10 years 9 months

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It would be very useful if London was in the Carribean.;)
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there is quite a lot of un educated prosumptions going on here first off i believe little the press say unless i witness it with my own eyes !! for strarters the reports of it being wraped around the tail or going into the engine simply do not weigh up to me unless tangled at take off it seems highly unlikeley if it took off untangled for it to become tangled however there were reports of several low passes being done by request of the passenger the banner becomming tangled in a ground object seems a more likely scenario also we have to considder the fact helis are used for load lifting abilitys in scotland as 350's are used for fish transfers with large underslung fish tanks as far as i know this opperation type has only resulted in one accident ( ironicaly the cause was put down to the hook and cable being left extended with no load and low flying over water ) causing the hook to bounce off the water surface and smash the tail rotor if you compare a silk or light material banner with a lead hold down weight to a tank of water with fish the weight is poles apart so an easy lift for a heli too much is at stake if they do not do correct calculations and i'd imagine the biggest percentage of pilots are selected from ex millitary personell specialised in either target towing or load lifting !! course things can go wrong there always will be mechanical and human factors to add to the mix but any form of flying is complex and dangerous that's why as many failsafes as possible are looked into before you leave the ground !!
Graham - I am nearly forty and can only remember one incident in my life (this morning) involving an aircraft banner towing ! Bearing in mind that banner towing has been around for years and the aircraft that do it tend to be either historic or older than the museum prototype Eurofighters that grace this column -be prepared to move into the abysis of the GA section!
Not so. I forget the details, but I knew the pilot of a banner towing aircraft operating out of Goodwood. This was probably late 1980's or early 1990's. He crashed into the sea off the IOW as a result of issues with the banner-tow, I believe. He was luckily rescued by a nearby boat although quite badly hurt - to the extent that the poor chap died some years later as a result of complications arising later out of his injuries. I am pretty sure the aircraft was owned by Xtangomike who might be able to confirm that my memory is not at fault?

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Banner towing training courses are available in the UK, it is a skill, which of course applies to many variations of aircraft use. A shame that the last flying Wilga in the UK is no more and a relief that the crew escaped.

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10 years 9 months

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Any point in quoting Carribean regs when speculating on a UK incident?

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19 years 9 months

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Scotavia -there is a glider towing example based at Lyveden which is still airworthy.