The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), citing a fatal 2014 crash that it attributed largely to structural icing, is calling for development of a system to automatically alert pilots when ice-protection systems should be activated on certain turbofan airplanes.
In a safety recommendation letter to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the NTSB said that the agency should work with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) to develop the alerting system for use in turbofan airplanes that require a type rating and that are certified for single-pilot operations and flight in icing conditions.
The NTSB sent similar recommendations to GAMA and to the National Business Aviation Association.
The recommendations cited a Dec. 8, 2014, accident in which an Embraer EMB-500 (Phenom 100) crashed on approach to Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Maryland, U.S. The airplane struck three houses about 0.75 nm (1.4 km) from the runway, killing all three people in the airplane as well as three people in one of the houses.
The NTSB said the probable cause of the accident was “the pilot’s conduct of an approach in structural icing conditions without turning on the airplane’s wing and horizontal stabilizer deice system, leading to ice accumulation on those surfaces, and without using the appropriate landing performance speeds for the weather conditions and airplane weight, as indicated in the airplane’s standard operating procedures, which together resulted in an aerodynamic stall at an altitude at which a recovery was not possible.”
The number of controlled flights by European air transport aircraft, total flight distance and total flight hours all increased in 2015, with increases in average annual growth expected to continue over at least the next seven years, according to the annual Performance Review Report.
The report — issued in June by the independent Performance Review Commission (PRC), which was established in 1997 by the Permanent Commission of Eurocontrol — said that the highest rates of annual growth in 2015 were recorded by Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary, the United Kingdom and Spain.
An average annual growth rate of 2.2 percent is expected through 2022, the report said.
In many central European states, including Bulgaria and Hungary, the increased traffic was attributed to the rerouting of flights to avoid Ukrainian airspace, the report said. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777-200ER bound for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from Amsterdam, was shot down over Ukrainian airspace on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew.
The report noted that Europe has not yet developed a definition and guidance for “acceptable levels of safety performance” — actions recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Although there is an “urgent need to provide this type of support and guidance,” the report said, “it is still not clear how this concept will be introduced within the regulatory environment.”
A common approach to the measurement and management of safety performance “would ensure a harmonized implementation of state safety programmes … and facilitate the exchange of safety information in the future,” the report said.
The document also noted ongoing changes in the safety-reporting environment and said that a “transition phase” is likely over the next few years.
“During this time, in order to maintain and improve European reporting, it is important that actors responsible for the collection of safety data work together in order to create an optimum solution,” the report said. “Nevertheless, the PRC has to express its concern that during this transition phase, availability, completeness and quality of safety data may deteriorate due to the lack of arrangements between all parties involved in the process.”
Updated EU Blacklist
The European Commission (EC) has updated its Air Safety List — its so-called blacklist — of airlines banned from operating within the European Union (EU) because they do not meet international safety standards.
The revised list, issued in mid-June, names 216 airlines, including 214 that are based in 19 countries “due to a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities” and two individual airlines “based on safety concerns,” the EC said. In addition, six airlines are prohibited from operating except under specific conditions, including requirements that they use specific aircraft types.
The update removed from the blacklist all airlines certified in Zambia, along with three airlines certified in Indonesia and one in Madagascar; most aircraft flown by Iran Air also were permitted to resume EU operations.
The updated list was developed “based on the unanimous opinion of the safety experts from the member states” during a meeting in early June, the EC said.
The full list of banned airlines is available at <ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/air/safety/air-ban/index_en.htm>.
Benefits of Space-Based ADS-B
Space-based automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) networks will not only boost aircraft surveillance but also enable reduced oceanic separation, according to a study conducted for Flight Safety Foundation.
The study was designed to assess the ability of space-based ADS-B networks to meet anticipated safety challenges of air traffic growth over the next 20 years by introducing near-real-time flight surveillance capability with 100 percent global coverage.
“The integrity and accuracy of space-based ADS-B should introduce significant safety benefits to avoid positional errors for aircraft within adjacent flight information regions (FIRs),” the Foundation said. “In addition, handover between air traffic controllers at FIR boundaries should be more precise due to near-real-time situational awareness,” which will reduce the workload for both air traffic controllers and pilots.
Greg Marshall, Foundation vice president for global programs, added that “the many benefits of terrestrial-based ADS-B are now very well known, with many countries already having adopted the technology to the benefit of air carriers and air navigation service providers alike. Space-based ADS-B is one technology that promises to extend those benefits to airspace currently not covered by conventional surveillance technology.”
Flight trajectory monitoring currently is limited to about every 30 minutes in oceanic and remote airspace, but space-based ADS-B would provide data updates about once every eight seconds, the Foundation said.
Another benefit of space-based ADS-B would be its ability to provide time-critical flight data to assist in aircraft accident investigations, the Foundation said, noting that past accidents have shown that “locating black boxes can prove challenging to rescue teams and air accident investigators due to extensive search areas and inhospitable environments.”
The study also reviewed areas that are likely to present challenges to ADS-B use, including the need for some air navigation service providers to upgrade their air traffic control systems, as well as for avionics equipage mandates to be met.
The Canadian government has stepped up its efforts to inform Canadians of “the dangers and consequences of pointing a laser at aircraft.”
Pointing a laser beam at an aircraft can “distract pilots, cause glare that affects their vision, or worse, temporarily blind them,” Transport Canada (TC) said in launching its campaign in June.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau added, “Pointing a laser at an aircraft is not only a reckless act that puts people at unnecessary risk, it’s simply not a bright idea. … Canadians and their families deserve to feel safe while flying. We want people to know there are serious consequences, including $100,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.”
TC asked the public to report laser strikes on aircraft to local police or to a TC regional office.
Nearly 600 laser strike incidents were reported to TC in 2015, compared with 502 that were reported the previous year, TC said.
Eurocontrol and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE have implemented real-time flight data exchange, Eurocontrol representatives say.
The data exchange was implemented in early June as part of the Collaborative Global Air Traffic Flow Management Concept, which Eurocontrol described as supporting the seamless management of major air traffic flows required under the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Global Air Navigation plan.
“Real-time updates of departure times and other trajectory information is now being exchanged between the operational systems of Eurocontrol Network Manager and the UAE main air traffic control centre on the major traffic flows between Europe and the UAE,” said Eurocontrol Director General Frank Brenner.
About 400 flights are conducted each day between the two regions, as well as an additional 150 to 200 overflights, Eurocontrol said, noting that traffic is increasing 3.6 percent a year.
Joe Sultana, director of the Network Manager Directorate at Eurocontrol, said that full implementation of the agreement will aid air traffic management (ATM) by providing more accurate flight information and improving the predictability of traffic flow.
“ATM predictability is a major enabler of capacity, and the 64 air traffic control centers in Europe and the European airports will directly benefit from the receipt of … updated trajectory information.”
Safeguarding Walrus ‘Haul-Outs’
Pilots are being warned against low flights over the Alaska Peninsula that might alarm walruses, causing them to stampede, endangering both their young and humans on the ground.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in June that it was collaborating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to educate pilots about the locations of walrus “haul-outs” — areas of sea ice where walruses rest after foraging for food on the ocean floor. Changes in sea ice have prompted walruses to haul out on land, prompting concerns about their reaction to low-flying aircraft, the FAA said.
In Other News …
No immediate changes in U.K. civil aviation regulations are expected as a result of the June decision by U.K. voters to leave the European Union (EU), the U.K. Civil Aviation Agency (CAA) says. Future changes “will depend on the outcome of the U.K.’s negotiations on exiting the EU,” the CAA said. … The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not provided sufficient oversight of aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) services at U.S. airports, according to an audit by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General. The audit says that FAA inspectors have not consistently reviewed airports’ compliance with ARFF regulations and policy and have “not sufficiently investigated potentially serious violations of ARFF requirements or reported enforcement data to [their] own database.”
Compiled and edited by Linda Werfelman.