Mitigating Risks of Conflict Zones
The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO’s) Governing Council has adopted initiatives to mitigate conflict zone risks.
The initiatives call on ICAO to analyze current airspace management and guidance material concerning conflict zones and to forward results to the ICAO Council for review in June. A related provision calls for the prompt sharing of information detailing activities that present hazards to civil aviation, perhaps through Notices to Airmen.
ICAO developed these measures and related guidance material over the past five years with the support of experts from member states and “with special support provided by the Netherlands,” whose citizens were among the 298 passengers and crew killed in the July 17, 2014, downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The Dutch Safety Board concluded that the Boeing 777 was hit by a missile as it flew over an area where troops from Ukraine and Russia were fighting. The airplane had been en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The ICAO Governing Council also urged the government of Iran to complete, “in a timely manner,” its investigation of the downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, shot down Jan. 8, 2020, soon after departure from Tehran with 176 passengers and crew. Iran’s government has blamed human error for the launching of two missiles that struck the 737.
New Training Plans for U.S. Pilots
U.S. air carriers will be required to provide their pilots with additional training as part of a government-mandated effort to “mitigate incidents of unprofessional pilot behavior and reduce pilot errors that can lead to a catastrophic event,” the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says.
In a final rule published in February in the Federal Register, the FAA said that air carriers that conduct domestic, flag and supplemental operations will be required to “enhance the professional development” of their pilots by giving newly hired pilots opportunities to observe flight operations and learn about procedures before they assume pilot duties.
In addition, the rule calls for carriers to revise the curriculum for pilots who are upgrading and to provide all pilots-in-command with training in leadership and command, and in mentoring. Compliance dates are in 2022 and 2023 for all U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations Part 121 air carriers. Some commuter, on-demand and fractional operations conducted under Parts 135 and 91 also will be required to comply.
The FAA initially proposed the changes in October 2016 in the aftermath of a handful of crashes in which pilots did not comply with standard operating procedures (SOPs) such as the sterile flight deck rule, which prohibits “nonessential duties,” including nonessential conversation, during critical phases of flight.
The rule cited reports by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on two accidents that occurred years earlier and that prompted the U.S. Congress to pass legislation calling on the FAA to change pilot training rules.
The two accidents were the Oct. 14, 2004, crash of a Pinnacle Airlines Bombardier CRJ-200 in Jefferson City, Missouri, and the Feb. 12, 2009, crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier Q-400 near Buffalo, New York.
In the Pinnacle crash, both pilots — the only people in the airplane — were killed. The NTSB said the probable causes of the accident included the pilots’ “unprofessional behavior, deviation from SOP and poor airmanship, which resulted in an in-flight emergency from which the pilots were unable to recover, in part because of their inadequate training.”
In the Colgan crash, which killed all 49 passengers and crew along with one person on the ground, the NTSB cited, among other things, the pilots’ failure to monitor airspeed and their “failure to adhere to sterile flight deck procedures.”
Boeing Faces Proposed Penalty
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $19.68 million penalty against Boeing, which the agency says equipped nearly 800 Boeing 737 NG and MAX airplanes with equipment containing sensors not specifically approved for use in those airplanes.
In a statement issued in early March, the FAA said that Boeing had installed Rockwell Collins Head-Up Guidance Systems between June 2015 and April 2019 in 791 airplanes — 618 of the airplanes were 737 NGs and 173 were 737 MAX airplanes. The guidance systems included sensors that were not tested or approved as compatible with the guidance systems, the FAA said.
“Boeing violated Federal Aviation Regulations when it certified these aircraft as airworthy when they were not in conformance with their type certificate,” the FAA said.
Rockwell Collins has now conducted the required testing and risk analysis, the FAA said.
Boeing has 30 days to respond to an FAA enforcement letter that detailed the agency’s allegations.
New Fatigue Rules From CASA
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA) is calling on operators to begin preparing for the industry’s transition to new crew fatigue rules, which take effect beginning July 1.
CASA says that resources are available on its website to aid in the transition, including an explanation of options and key steps.
The three options for the transition include:
- Adopting prescriptive rules as outlined in Appendices 1 through 6 of Civil Aviation Orders (CAO) 48.1 Instrument 2019, with no changes. This option does not require separate approval from CASA.
- Adopting the prescriptive rules “with modification.” CASA says, “The minor variation process recognises that prescriptive rules cannot adequately accommodate all operational differences and differences among crewmembers for all operational situations but that an FRMS [fatigue risk management system] is only appropriate in the more complex cases.”
- Adopting an FRMS according to Appendix 7 of CAO 48.1 Instrument 2019. This option requires an assessment and approval by CASA. An FRMS is defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization as “a data-driven means of continuously monitoring and maintaining fatigue-related safety risks, based upon scientific principles and knowledge as well as operational experience that aims to ensure relevant personnel are performing at adequate levels of alertness.”
CASA says that the first option, the prescriptive approach with basic limits, is the simplest to implement but that it “may not provide sufficient flexibility for most operators.”
The second option, the more complex prescriptive approach, is more flexible and involves an increase in management overhead.
The third option, the FRMS, offers the most flexibility because it addresses an operator’s specific risks. However, CASA says this option involves additional requirements “to ensure an equivalent level of safety is achieved.”
CASA says that the new rules “align Australia with international standards, address known risks to improve aviation safety and provide flexibility.”
USOAP Marks 20th Anniversary
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) has observed its 20th anniversary with a March ceremony to note its completion of 450 safety audits and about an equal number of other safety-related activities over the past two decades.
USOAP is designed to provide “an aligned set of safety oversight activities for the aviation community to work with” and a metric to assess safety oversight performance, ICAO says.
ICAO Secretary General Fang Liu said the program will evolve in order to remain in line with ICAO’s evolving safety strategy “while also resulting in a more efficient programme supported by enhanced technologies, structures and management systems.”
In Other News …
The governments of the U.K. — which will end participation in the European Union Aviation Safety Agency as a result of the country’s departure from the European Union (EU) in December 2019 — and the EU say they will approve a bilateral aviation safety agreement to take effect at the end of the year. … A committee of the National Academy of Sciences is urging a study of how the increasing use of drones in security patrols, emergency response, cargo transport and other areas will test existing airspace monitoring systems and regulations. The research, which will examine the effects of drones on public perception of safety, noise and privacy, is also essential for safety.
Compiled and edited by Linda Werfelman.
Conflict zones: Susan Reed
Pilot training: Susan Reed
Penalty icon: Susan Reed
Sleeping pilot: © Chinga_11 | iStockphoto