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False flight data and the CAA

We have mentioned this before to the CAA. On that occasion we had a long conversation with somebody about the fact this was happening. He claimed there was nothing he could do and suggested we contact the Director of the CAA We did and heard nothing back.

 

This time we intend to follow this through relentlessly and not allow the issue to be stonewalled.

This is, and should be treated as, a very serious safety issue. If flights are flying at vastly different altitudes to what they are broadcasting then this means that other flights could collide with them if they cross their path thinking they were much higher than they actually are. It’s pretty basic stuff. The conversation today revolved around 3 images of flights over London. Photographic images show clearly that these flights were traveling at below 20,000ft. This is clear by the size of the aircraft in the images, which were taken with a 35mm full frame camera (Canon 6D) and a 100-400mm lens. If the aircraft were at the stated altitudes of 30-35,000ft they would hardly be visible at all, especially with the naked eye.

Clearly there is something going on here. We have spoken to Flightradar24.com in the past about how their system operates and it seems impossible that there is a glitch or error in the displaying of the information by their system, It is purely reactive and displays information collected from many sources simultaneously, so it simply cannot display false information. Just to double-check we contacted them again today and this was their response:

Our system shows raw unprocessed data transmitted by the transponder. If you have any questions regarding the transmitted data please contact the airline transmitting the data.

 This leaves only one option, that the aircraft are broadcasting incorrect information.

 

Today, 03.01.2017, we had a lengthy conversation with Mark Bonnick, who described himself as an air worthiness expert. Despite explaining the situation very clearly he seemed to try to suggest that either there was an error or that we were was simply mistaken. He also seemed to imply that even if the evidence we submitted was indisputable, there was little chance that the matter would be investigated to verify that this did indeed happen. Sadly the recording  started several seconds after we started talking.

 


To suggest we are shocked by this response would be an understatement. one would expect such a serious issue to be dealt with in an appropriate way, or at least some interest being shown so as to verify the information. Mr Bonnick seems to act as though we had just suggested that we had seen aliens.

The evidence we sent them (above). Though the images of the aircraft are not the clearest, They do show the colours of the tail emblems and the time stamp and GPS data confirms that they do indeed represent the aircraft shown in the screen grabs from Flightradar24.com, so there can be no confusion about that. The only thing remaining which might be open to debate then is how/why the aircraft is displaying incorrect altitude data.

Our email to the CAA sent today.

Following a lengthy telephone conversation with Mark Bonnick today I hereby submit a report of a serious safety concern regarding transatlantic flights over London. I have witnessed on many occasions flights that pass very low over London. These flights are broadcasting data that suggests they are flying at altitudes far higher than they actually are. The date type is from ADS-B transponders and is being displayed on Flightradar24.com I have attached 6 images that show 3 flights which are clearly not flying at the altitude they are broadcasting. If they were they would not be visible at the scale they are. the images were taken with a 35mm Canon 6D with a 100-400m lens so this can be verified scientifically. An aircraft traveling at 30,000ft+ would not be visible to the naked eye and even with the lens used would not be that size, so this is not an issue which can be open to debate, this is a clearly demonstrated fact. My Bonnick seemed to suggest that some form of error is occurring, but i have spoken to flightradar24.com on previous occasions and they have stated that their system is purely reactive and cannot interpret or misrepresent information. Furthermore it relies on many difference receivers so the chance of one being faulty causing this error is not possible. Furthermore these flights’ data was consistently incorrect for as long as i could see them across an entire skyline so this suggest that there is no error involved here, but that the information being broadcast is actually incorrect. I must insist that this is investigated. I will be following up on this submission to ensure progress is made and that an explanation is forthcoming as to why this is happening.   Ian Simpson

 

We will be following this one up very soon and attempting to probe the CAA so as to discover why they seem unable or unwilling to investigate any of the very serious issues we have reported to them.

More soon…