Wake Turbulence Writes Off Challenger Bizjet

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The Aviation Herald is reporting that the European Aviation Safety Agency is about to issue a safety information bulletin about high-altitude wake turbulence after a Challenger 604 business jet was written off after flying 1,000 feet below an A380. According to the Aviation Herald, the incident happened Jan. 7 over the Arabian Sea. The vortices from the Emirates super jumbo jet reportedly caused the big business jet to roll three to five times as it went out of control and lost 10,000 feet before the pilots wrestled it under control and restarted the engines. The Challenger headed for an emergency landing in Oman and there were serious injuries to some of the nine people aboard. The G forces on the airframe damaged it beyond repair.

The Aviation Herald, which says it has had some trouble verifying some details, said German authorities are leading the investigation because the bizjet was registered there. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board is also taking part because the plane was built there by Canadair, which was taken over by Bombardier. EASA is preparing its safety bulletin because reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM) make 1,000-foot separations standard in most of the world and the airspace is getting more crowded. High-altitude wake turbulence lasts longer than the landing and takeoff variety and can affect aircraft up to 25 NM away. The advice to pilots hit by wake turbulence is also counterintuitive in that it says the best immediate reaction is none. “Be aware that it has been demonstrated during flight tests that if the pilot reacts at the first roll motion, when in the core of the vortex, the roll motion could be amplified by this initial piloting action,” EASA says in the draft. “The result can be a final bank angle greater than if the pilot would not have moved the controls.”

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