GFA Competition Safety Briefing Pack January 2018  Stuart Ferguson

SAR and survival planning are like buying insurance; it is an essential part of our planning that we hope we never have to use.
Gliding, while generally being a non-team sport, relies heavily on structured activities and mutual cooperation so that those taking part achieve the most of the activity. These structures are, or should be, provided by the GFA, our home club, a host club, and competition organisers. One of the responsibilities a club, and competition organisers is to ensure that all aircraft/pilots are accounted for at the end of each day’s flying.

This responsibility, and the action they are required to take when someone is not accounted for is clearly laid out in the GFA Manual of Standard Procedures (MOSP) Part 2, subparagraph 8.1.18. The time stipulated in the MOSP that action for overdue aircraft and crew be handed over to the Search and Rescue authorities (AusSAR) is one hour after last light. While the MOSP does not stipulate any action be taken prior to that time, common-sense, and good judgement would dictate that local action would have occurred prior to contacting AusSAR. SAR Watch.

As the pilot, and/or crew, you have a responsibility to yourself, the club, or competition organisers you are operating with to understand the local procedures in place for each gliding site you fly from. Details of all local procedures should be part of the initial briefing and may be presented as a verbal briefing or as part of a package of briefing notes. SAR alerting procedures should be part of this briefing. If in doubt, ask.

Having established what the local procedures are, you have to work these procedures into your daily routine. You will be expected to advise the organisers where you plan to go each day. Those pilots who are fortunate to have a crew can delegate some of these duties. For those pilots who are working solo,it is just one more thing you must attend to in what is already a busy schedule.
Upon return we then have a responsibility to cancel our SARWatch. Once again follow local procedures.

While outlandings are part of gliding, most of us depart expecting to return to our departure point or another declared landing point. If we outland our priorities change. We need to communicate with event organisers and our crew to arrange the retrieve. In many cases this is done via radio, followed by a confirmation phone call from the occupied property we land near. It is worthwhile trying your mobile phone, however most outlandings will occur out of the coverage area.
Sometimes outlandings are not as straight forward as we would like them to be. We may land on a property where the occupants are away or the property is no longer inhabited. Occasionally an outlanding goes very bad and the pilot is incapacitated in some way.

Communications are even more important in this case.

Having looked at established lines of communication, we should now consider some practical alternatives.
Assuming your VHF radio is still working or you are carrying a handheld radio, overflying Regular Public
Transport (RPT) aircraft can provide a relay platform. This can be done using the local Air Traffic Control (ATC) frequency. These frequencies can be found on the Enroute Charts (ERC) that are published in two formats; one for below FL200 known as the ERC LOW chart and the other for above FL200 known as the ERC HIGH chart.
It is worth remembering that a pilot in command must have access during flight to appropriate documents and charts. For VFR flights these would be selected from the ERSA, ERC, WAC, VNC and
VTC as appropriate for the route being flown (refer GFA Operational Regulations, subparagraph 4.5.1).
If you have no success contacting overflying aircraft, try the international distress frequency 121.5 MHz, which is monitored by most RPT crews in the cruise. Having made contact make arrangements to change to an alternative frequency to pass your information.

This information should include: -“Request relay via Air Traffic Control….”

• Who you are = Aircraft Callsign
• Where you are = (GPS position Latitude and Longitude)
• Situation = the usual items we pass in an outlanding report.
• Who you wish this information to be passed to = Phone Number etc. Any additional relevant information, such as short-term intentions (keep it brief).
While you will most likely be talking to a local crew, it is possible that you will be talking to a crew who’s English is very poor so you may have to repeat yourself several times.
To avoid your outlanding becoming one of the classic tales of poor communication, keep it simple. This information will then be passed back through the Air Traffic Control system to the number you have requested. Hopefully you will be able to stay in touch with the relay aircraft and receive confirmation that your message has been passed.

Search and Rescue.
As previously discussed, if the organising club has had no contact with you, one hour after last light they are required to hand the fact you are missing/overdue over to AusSAR. This could result in a wide area search for you.
You can also assist if you are carrying a beacon, and it is recommended that you do. Activate your beacon approximately one-hour after last light. The “Rescue Co-ordination Centre” (RCC) having received notification that you are overdue will also be receiving the signal from your beacon. This will indicate that you are OK but need assistance. If you deploy your beacon correctly (read the manufacturers manual) the satellite system will identify your position within several kilometres and assistance will be on its way.

 By following these simple procedures you will speed up your recovery and
avoid the need for an expensive search. It is also a good a practice to carry a portable strobe light or torch to assist crews find you in the dark.
If you have been injured, activate your beacon immediately. It is recommended that you carry your beacon on you so that, in the event of you having to bail out, the beacon is with you and not your aircraft.

Be mindful that a beacon is a distress signalling device and does not replace established or alternative means of communications mentioned earlier. The activation of a beacon sets the SAR machine into action. Used inappropriately it will bring discredit to the sport of gliding; used appropriately it may save your life.

Like insurance, with survival and SAR planning it is important you understand the fine print; it is too late after the event.
Tips – know the local procedures (carry a copy if you need to), know the local contact phone numbers, know the local frequencies and have a radio that can access them. Carry a distress beacon, surplus water, your usual outlanding kit, and a small survival kit.
It is hoped you will never have to use all of the information contained in this briefing. Fly further and faster with the confidence that you are well prepared.
Like insurance, with survival and SAR planning it is important you understand the fine print, it is too late after the event.

Tips – know the local procedures (carry a copy if you need to), know the local contact phone numbers, know the local frequencies and have a radio that can access them. Carry a distress beacon, surplus water, your usual outlanding kit, and a small survival kit.

I sincerely hope you will never have to use most of the information contained in this briefing, however fly further and faster, with the confidence you are well prepared.

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