Safety News December 2011-January 2012
New CAST Charter
Compiled and edited by Linda Werfelman
The U.S. Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) has a new charter and leadership with two “aggressive goals,” says Ken Hylander, one of the new industry co-chairmen and senior vice president, corporate safety, security and compliance, Delta Air Lines. “We’re looking at [achieving] another 50 percent reduction in commercial aviation fatality risk — basically between the 2010 numbers and [those in] 2025,” Hylander said. The other goal is to “expand CAST influence on international fatality risk.” He said the government-industry partnership also will follow through on 75 existing CAST safety enhancements.
Paul Morell, new industry co-chair of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) Executive Board, said analysts now can study 92 percent of commercial operations in the National Airspace System. Morell is a captain and vice president, safety and regulatory compliance, US Airways. Hylander and Morell replace Don Gunther, retiring Dec. 31 as vice president, safety, Continental Airlines.
A directed study under way, focusing on pilot deviations and other issues reported during “RNAV [area navigation] off the ground” instrument departures, exemplifies ASIAS influence on FAA decisions, said Peggy Gilligan, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety and government co-chair of CAST and ASIAS (see, “No Turning Back”).
ASIAS is analyzing data from airports with these standard instrument departures, which require selection of flight management system (FMS) navigation immediately after takeoff, to determine “if there may be a procedure-design issue, a training issue or [an FMS] issue [and] what the solution sets would be,” she said, noting that the departures have been stopped at a couple of airports.
Morell said the ASIAS network is expanding from 46 to 64 databases. From June 2010 to December 2011, ASIAS participation grew from 12 to 20 flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) programs and 7 million to 8.1 million FOQA flights; 30 to 37 aviation safety action programs (ASAPs) and 71,000 to 106,000 ASAP reports; and 12,000 to 29,000 reports in the FAA’s air traffic safety action program.
— Wayne Rosenkrans
Warnings on Single European Sky
Many European Union member states are in danger of missing 2012 “critical targets” for development and implementation of the Single European Sky — the ongoing effort to harmonize air traffic management (ATM) throughout Europe, the European Commission says.
“There is a genuine risk that we will lag behind and find ourselves unable to satisfy the rising demands of air travel, which is set to nearly double by 2030,” said Siim Kallas, European Commission vice president responsible for transport. “2012 is a make-or-break year for the Single European Sky, and there is a lot at stake.”
Kallas cited the findings presented in reports that assessed the progress of the 27 member states in establishing ATM performance targets and “functional airspace blocks” — blocks of airspace designed to eliminate the current fragmentation of European airspace. Only five member states were considered “on track” to meet cost and capacity goals with their ATM performance targets; only one was rated as being on track to meet goals on functional airspace blocks.
The European Commission’s criticisms were echoed by four airline associations — the Association of European Airlines, the European Low Fares Airline Association, the European Regions Airline Association and the International Air Carrier Association.
The member states must “stop procrastinating on the Single European Sky project and start finally delivering on their obligations,” the associations said.
However, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) extended its criticism to include not only the member states but also the European Commission.
Members of a CANSO committee that includes all leading air navigation service providers (ANSPs) “are calling on the European Commission and member states to play their part in order that ANSPs can move ahead with the modernization of the European ATM system,” CANSO said.
Committee Chairman Massimo Garbini added, “We are fully committed to deliver the changes necessary to further improve ATM performance, but currently we are still waiting for the commission to set a timeframe which is then to be endorsed by the member states relating to a number of crucial decisions.”
Gael Ltd., a developer of safety, quality and risk management systems, has developed a program using an Apple iPad-based system and its own Q-Pulse compliance management to create a mobile offline audit capability that the company says makes the audit process more effective and efficient.
Gael, working with the General Civil Aviation Authority of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), uses iPads “to regulate the safety performance of almost 800 operators and 600 registered aircraft operating in UAE airspace,” the company said.
New Rules for UAS
The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is reviewing rules governing operations of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in preparation for the development of new guidance material.
CASA plans to issue six advisory circulars discussing topics that include UAS training and licensing, operations, manufacturing and initial airworthiness, maintenance and continuing airworthiness, and safety management.
After the advisory circulars have been developed, CASA will review regulations dealing with UAS and look into “the long-term integration of unmanned aircraft operations into normal aviation operations in all classes of airspace.”
The current UAS rules were drawn up 10 years ago, when there were few civilian UAS operations.
“At the time, there was little … operational experience to draw on from around the world,” CASA said. “This meant the rules do not contain great detail in areas such as pilot qualifications, risk management and airworthiness. … With a rapid increase in activity in this sector, there is a risk that unsafe decisions could be made without comprehensive guidance material being available.”
Russian aviation safety specialists Valery Shelkovnikov and Sergey Melnichenko are celebrating the fifth year of publication of their monthly magazine, Indicator of International Flight Safety.
Shelkovnikov, former president of the Moscow-based Flight Safety Foundation International, and Melnichenko operate Aviation Safety: Consultancy and Analysis in Moscow. Issues of the magazine are available on their organization’s website at <aviasafety.ru>.
“The Indicator of International Flight Safety has filled a critical void in Russian aviation safety,” said Flight Safety Foundation President and CEO William R. Voss. “It has taken some of our best information and made it available to thousands of aviators in Eastern Europe. Through their hard work, they are proving that the language gap does not have to result in a safety gap.”
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a regulatory change to require the removal from service of the engine electronic control unit (ECU) on General Electric CF6-80C2B turbofan engines.
The FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) follows reports of in-flight engine flameouts that the FAA believes have been caused by exposure to ice crystals. A 2007 airworthiness directive (AD), which called for installation of new software for the ECU, has failed to correct the problem, the FAA said, noting that it has received additional reports of flameouts involving engines with the updated ECU software.
In the NPRM, published in November in the Federal Register, the FAA said the existing AD should be superseded by a new AD to require the affected ECUs to be removed from service. “These ECUs, if not corrected, could result in flameout or uncommanded [in-flight shutdown] of one or more engines, leading to an emergency or forced landing of the airplane,” the FAA said.
The agency accepted comments on the proposal through Jan. 13.
Tail Wind Training
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), citing a Dec. 22, 2009, accident in which an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 ran off the departure end of a runway after landing in Kingston, Jamaica, is calling for a review of pilot training in tail wind landings.
Accident investigators said that the 8,911-ft (2,718 m) landing runway was wet when the accident airplane touched down about 4,000 ft (1,220 m) beyond the threshold with a 14-kt tail wind; the airplane ran off the departure end and continued through a fence, across a road and onto a Caribbean Sea beach. Eighty-five people in the airplane were injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The Jamaican Civil Aviation Authority has not issued its final report on the accident.
The NTSB, which participated in the accident investigation, said that the flight crew told investigators that, although they had conducted landings in tail winds, they had not received training on how to land in tail wind conditions. Several line pilots said that the first time they landed a company aircraft in a tail wind was during line operations.
The NTSB said it “believes pilots should be knowledgeable about the effects of a tail wind on the landing performance of their aircraft and should be trained on specific procedures and techniques associated with conducting tail wind landings, with the aim of reducing the risk of a runway overrun.”
In a safety recommendation letter to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the NTSB noted several runway overrun studies conducted in recent years by Flight Safety Foundation and other organizations that have found that overrun risks increase when landings are conducted on contaminated runways in tail winds.
The NTSB cited the Foundation’s 2009 publication, Reducing the Risk of Runway Excursions, noting that it “provides prevention strategies for flight operations departments to implement as a means of addressing risk factors associated with runway overruns, including ensuring flight crews understand ‘that landing with a tail wind on a contaminated runway is not recommended.’”
The NTSB’s recommendations called on the FAA to “require principal operations inspectors to review flight crew training programs and manuals to ensure training in tail wind landings is provided during initial and recurrent simulator training.”
The training should, “to the extent possible, [be] conducted at the maximum tail wind component certified for the aircraft” and should emphasize “the importance of landing within the touchdown zone, being prepared to execute a go-around, with either pilot calling for it if at any point landing within the touchdown zone becomes unfeasible, and the related benefits of using maximum flap extension in tail wind conditions,” the NTSB said.
The European Commission (EC) has published a regulation to harmonize qualifications and medical requirements for pilots throughout the European Union (EU).
The changes, based on International Civil Aviation Organization safety standards, will take effect in April 2012 and will “enable pilots holding a license issued in one member state to fly throughout the European Union without needing to fulfill any additional technical or medical requirements,” the EC said.
Siim Kallas, EC vice president responsible for transport, added, “These new rules will simplify the lives of thousands of pilots across the EU while ensuring high levels of safety.”
The regulation also harmonizes and strengthens existing rules concerning the medical fitness of cabin crewmembers, the EC said.
The EC said that it plans to issue new, EU-wide requirements for aviation authorities, pilot training organizations, aeromedical centers and simulators.
In Other News …
The European Commission is planning a series of steps to boost capacity and reduce delays at European airports. … Christian Schleifer of Austria, a commissioner of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Air Navigation Commission since 2009, has been named to a one-year term as president of the commission. The commission is responsible for developing international aviation standards and recommended practices. … The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has announced its overhaul of flight, duty and rest scheduling rules for commercial passenger airline pilots. A detailed report will be published in the February issue of AeroSafety World.
Top of page