Challenges of Growth, 2013 — Summary Report
Eurocontrol. June 2013. 36 pp. Annexes, figures, glossary.
This report is the summary volume of Eurocontrol’s fourth Challenges of Growth study, which consists of technical reports examining the effects of the economic downturn on air traffic in Europe and forecasting changes likely to be implemented in the industry by 2050 (ASW, 8/13, p. 11).
The report forecasts a resumption of economic growth and a corresponding increase in European air traffic, expected to expand to 14.4 million flights in 2035 — 50 percent more than were recorded in 2012. The report notes that the forecast represents slower growth than was forecast in the previous Challenges of Growth study, published in 2008, and that growth has been delayed for several years because of the economic downturn.
The summary report predicted that airport capacity will increase 17 percent by 2035, down from a 2008 projection of a 38 percent increase, and a number of airports will be operating at or near capacity. As a result of the near-capacity operations, the air traffic flow and capacity management delay would increase to five or six minutes per flight, compared with the European Union’s 2014 target of 0.5 minute per flight.
The report identified five primary challenges for European aviation in 2035 and later, including “the continuing difficulty of delivering airport capacity when, where and at the price it is needed. In the most likely scenario, the capacity gap is equivalent to nine fully used runways but impossibly spread around the 21 cities that lack airport capacity.”
The other challenges are:
- “The difficulty of delivering the required level of performance on a congested network, when airport delay increases on an average busy day by a factor of five or six to become a frequent, major contributor to overall delay”;
- “Keeping the industry financially viable in an era of slower growth”;
- “Even with slower growth, emissions from aviation are likely to increase. Therefore, for growth to be sustainable, more needs to be done, for example, to develop competitively priced low-carbon fuels”; and,
- “Building resilience to climate change. Current evidence points to the climate changing in the coming years in ways which will threaten aviation infrastructure, challenge day-to-day operations and shift patterns of demand within Europe.”
- The report includes observations from the technical reports, including one document, Mitigation of the Challenges, that examines “a number of ‘what-if’ scenarios or ‘mitigation methods,’” Eurocontrol said. “Each what-if scenario explores a way in which the impact of the challenges might be reduced.”
Other reports in the package examine in greater detail the challenges likely to face the European aviation industry in 2035 and 2050, the likely effects of airport congestion on delays in future air travel and aviation industry risks associated with climate change and methods of coping with those risks.
Pilot Experience and Performance in an Airline Environment
Todd, Melanie A.; Thomas, Matthew J.W. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia: Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). 2013. 37 pp. Figures, glossary, tables.
This is the second report by these authors on their studies to identify differences in competency and proficiency between low-hour airline pilots who begin their training in “cadet” — or ab initio — flight training programs and others who follow more traditional routes in the military or in general aviation.
“There is a level of unease within the wider aviation industry regarding the concept of low-hour pilots in general and cadets and MPL [those with multi-crew pilot licenses] in particular,” the report said. “Despite the prevalent existence of cadet training schemes for a number of airlines around the world for a number of years, there remains a level of opposition within Australia to such a concept.”
The opposition has lingered despite the findings of both this study and the authors’ previous review (ASW, 11/12, p. 43) that low-hour pilots are just as competent as “their direct-entry and high-hour peers.”
“All pilots within the cadet-entry and low-hours groups passed the simulator and line checks required of them, meaning they are proficient to be operating as second and first officers with the respective airlines, as rated by the airlines’ check and training staff,” the report said. “The differences in performance were between meeting the standard and exceeding it. … Given that the cadets met the standard and are therefore proficient, the evidence is demonstrating that the cadet pathway for low-hour pilots is a valid option for airlines.”
The study was based on a review of simulator proficiency checks at three airlines in which pilots from both groups were rated in a number of categories, including normal landing, engine-inoperative landing, terrain and traffic awareness, takeoff preflight planning and ground handling. Non-technical metrics such as leadership and situational awareness also were analyzed.
The report said that the review revealed some differences in performance “in non-normal scenarios” but noted that these differences were not significant enough to result in unsatisfactory ratings for the pilots. Nevertheless, the document suggested that regulators, airlines and aviation industry groups must “ensure that the underpinning training aids pilots by providing targeted training to prepare them for any non-normal events during flight.”
FAA Lacks a Reliable Model for Determining the Number of Flight Standards Safety Inspectors It Needs
U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (OIG). AV-2013-099. June 2013. 32 pp. Figures, tables. Available from OIG at <www.oig.dot.gov>.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with a staff of about 4,000 aviation safety inspectors, has not fully implemented a plan that was intended to help determine the actual number of inspectors needed and the locations where they should serve, according to this audit, requested by the U.S. Congress after the fatal 2009 crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier Q400.
“This is due in part to continued concerns with the model’s incomplete, inaccurate and outdated data,” the OIG audit said. The document noted that inspector staffing processes vary in different regions of the United States, and the variances can be associated with “subjective and inconsistent staffing decisions.”
The audit characterized a reliable staffing model as essential in continuing the FAA’s safety record and issued seven recommendations, calling on the FAA to “develop a plan with milestones to address the model’s shortcomings,” verify that safety inspectors are complying with existing guidance for updating databases and to provide training for managers and inspectors on the staffing model.
In response to the audit, H. Clayton Foushee, director of the Office of Audit and Evaluation, said that the FAA understands that its current staffing tool has limitations and that a new system is being developed to address them.
The system reviewed by the OIG was “only an initial effort and was intended to be refined as the project matured,” Foushee said. “The OIG’s identification of incomplete, inaccurate and outdated data aligned with the issues FAA identified prior to the OIG’s review. FAA had already initiated ongoing efforts to improve the accuracy of the pertinent FAA databases. FAA is continuing efforts to improve data quality, modify the databases for easier data collection and improve the guidance for keeping the databases as current and accurate as possible.”
Lessons Learned From Transport Airplane Accidents
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains this section of its website to discuss the lessons learned through the investigation of major aviation accidents since the 1950s.
“The objective is to populate the material with many more of the most historically significant, policy-shaping accidents, in order that the lessons that can be learned from their review may be available to all users of the library,” the FAA says in its introduction.
The site discusses more than 50 accidents, beginning with the in-flight breakups of three de Havilland DH-106 Comets in the early 1950s and concluding with the 2007 crash of a China Airlines Boeing 737-800 in Okinawa, Japan. In addition to an overview of each accident, the website discusses the findings of the associated accident investigations, key safety issues and resulting safety initiatives. Other features group accidents into specific threat categories, describe similar accidents and allow users to search the website or sort accidents according to airplane life cycles, threat categories or common accident themes.