F-16-piloot moet oefening afbreken – LUCHTBEWAKERS #02
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F-16-piloot moet oefening afbreken – LUCHTBEWAKERS #02

What weapons will you be using? Cannons, rockets, bombs? In Guardians of the Sky, we’re on a flight from Seville to Schiphol Airport. So what happens behind the scenes on one of these flights? To what extent do civilian aircraft and military aircraft get in each other’s way? We obviously have an extensive civil aviation system as well as a powerful air force. We’ve got very many users here with different wishes. Let’s see, waiting and queuing, that’s not an option for us. Transavia flight HV6730 left Seville San Pablo airport in Spain at ten past one. The aircraft entered the Netherlands from the south and is now flying above the province of Zeeland. Straight ahead of us is the port of Rotterdam. That’s also the River point. For us, that’s just a fictitious point, but it’s straight ahead of us. Transavia 97V direct RIVER then Schiphol. Today, Loes and a colleague are responsible for the airspace above the south of the Netherlands. For safety reasons, air traffic controllers must always work in pairs to prevent mistakes. Do you want to give a turbulence warning? Together, they make sure that aircraft fly at a safe distance from each other. In the South, where there are several regional airports, this can sometimes take some working out. On a busy day, there can be nearly 2,000 flights through our area during the day. These are mainly aircraft on their way to and from Schiphol Airport, but we also have many other flights passing through Like Rotterdam, Groningen and Eindhoven, for example. But civil aviation isn’t the only important user of Dutch airspace. *Air traffic controller talks into telephone* The Ministry of Defence also has several areas where F16s take part in military exercises. *Air traffic controller talks into telephone* Commercial and military aviation mainly tend to get in each other’s way in the south of the Netherlands, because a lot of holiday flights obviously fly to the Netherlands from the South. Today, an exercise with F16s is planned from airbase Volkel in Brabant. An exercise like this has a direct impact on the other flights and some calculations are required. We perform exercises every day. I always compare it with a football team, like PSV. They play football or train every day too. Why? To prepare for a match they’ll be playing next weekend. The same applies to us too. That means we can’t use it when they’re doing exercises. So, sometimes we only have a tiny piece of airspace for a vast number of aircraft. *Air traffic controller talks into microphone* When we’re doing exercises, it looks like something out of the film Top Gun. You might remember it, an iconic 1980s film. One plane is the aggressor, the other is trying to shake it off. That involves a lot of manoeuvres from the aircraft What weapons will you be using? Cannons, rockets, bombs? To make sure that these fighter jet exercises are completed safely, there’s constant consultation between the Air Force and Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland. That’s one of the reasons why since 2017 civilian and military air traffic controllers have been working together in the same room at Schiphol-Oost. However, it’s impossible to prevent civilian aircraft and F16s getting in each other’s way in our busy airspace. Because of all the air traffic around, you’re sometimes limited in certain attack tactics you want to carry out. Then you can’t do them because other aircraft are passing. This can be restricting and sometimes even problematic. It’s obviously not very efficient if a military exercise needs to be aborted. In fact, it’s a total waste of taxpayers’ money. For many years, aviation experts have been discussing how to redivide Dutch airspace. This has become increasingly urgent due to the controversial expansion of Lelystad Airport. The question is what this means for the airspace for air force training purposes. I don’t expect that the military will lose much more airspace. We’ve already lost quite a lot of space. If we lose any more, our pilot training and skills will certainly be affected. Exercises are essential and when you’re doing them, you don’t want any commercial aircraft passing by. A solution could be to separate the airspace. So, move the military to the North and keep the South of the Netherlands for commercial aviation. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re expecting some turbulence which is why the seatbelt sign has been turned on. The next time in Guardians of the Sky: the weather has a great impact on aviation. So what happens behind the scenes to monitor the weather at Schiphol? From here, we monitor and watch the weather on and around the airport. And what do you do when you’re landing in bad weather? That’s something we really focus on. Then you’ve really got the controls, often flying without the autopilot.


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