2013 Safety Report
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). April 2013. 28 pp. Appendixes, figures, tables. Available via the Internet at icao.int/safety/Documents/ICAO_2013-Safety-Report_FINAL.pdf.
“This new consolidated global accident figure reflects solid improvement and has been made possible largely as the result of the Global Safety Information Exchange (GSIE), a collaborative network established in 2010 between ICAO, IATA, the United States Department of Transportation and the European Commission,” said ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh González. “The GSIE’s primary purpose is to enable the multilateral exchange of safety information, delivering more comprehensive analysis capabilities and better coordination of related risk reduction initiatives.”
The report summarized the state of the air transport system, which carried about 2.9 billion passengers in 2012. Scheduled passenger traffic, measured in revenue passenger-kilometers, was 5.5 percent higher in 2012 than it had been in 2011.
“The marginal growth in traffic experienced in 2012 was coupled with a 21 percent decrease in the number of accidents [calculated separately from the GSIE accident rate and according to ICAO’s traditional methods], resulting in an accident rate of 3.2 per million departures — a 24 percent decrease compared to the previous year,” the report said.
The 3.2 per million rate is for scheduled commercial operations involving aircraft weighing more than 2,250 kg (4,960 lb). ICAO calls this its “primary indicator of aggregate safety in the global air transport sector. The rate is the lowest since ICAO began collecting the data in 2006.
The report also contains more detailed accident statistics, including a breakdown of statistics by world regions, an examination of accident trends and a discussion of high-risk accidents; an indication of the performance of individual ICAO member states on ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP), and discussions of ICAO safety initiatives, including medical and health safety and other flight operations issues.
Accident data are categorized according to United Nations regions showing the lowest 2012 accident rates in Oceania, with a rate of 0.0 accidents per million departures; Asia, with a rate of 2.7 per million departures; and Northern America, where the rate was 2.8 per million departures.
Each audit conducted under the USOAP includes a checklist covering all areas of a state’s safety oversight system that are subject to the audit process — legislation, organization, licensing, operations, airworthiness, accident investigation, air navigation services, and aerodromes — and a list of the approximately 100 states that have been found to have effective implementation better than the global average of 61 percent.
Among ICAO’s safety initiatives is the organization’s effort — in cooperation with the World Health Organization, the International Air Transport Association, Airports Council International and others — to develop a harmonized approach to dealing with public health events in civil aviation.
“Safety, security, operations and efficiency are potentially affected when large numbers of personnel are not available for work due to illness and the associated impacts of epidemics,” the report said. “Aircraft and airport operators are particularly affected.”
The report cited the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which reduced passenger travel to Hong Kong by 80 percent, and the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, which resulted in a 40 percent reduction in travel to Mexico.
Other operations issues included a focus on loss of control in flight (LOC-I), which rarely is cited as the cause of an accident. However, the report said, in the last eight years, LOC-I accidents have caused more fatalities than any other accident type. As a result, the report said, ICAO will implement strategies in 2013 to help the aviation community address the issues associated with LOC-I.
FAA Efforts Have Improved Safety, But Challenges Remain in Key Areas
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO-13-442T. April 2013. 17 pp. Available from GAO at gao.gov.
The GAO acknowledges the role of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as overseer of one of the safest airspace systems in the world — one that has gone more than four years without a fatal commercial aviation accident. The GAO says in this report, however, that, as the aviation industry evolves, the FAA must remain diligent to ensure its continued safety.
The aircraft certification process presents the FAA with challenges “in terms of resources and maintaining up-to-date knowledge of industry practices,” the report said, adding that both issues “may hinder FAA’s efforts to conduct certifications in an efficient and timely manner.”
The FAA is evaluating the certification process to identify ways it could be streamlined, the report said.
The report recommended improved data collection and analysis in several areas, including runway and ramp safety. “Additional information about surface incidents could help improve safety in the airport terminal area, as data collection is currently limited to certain types of incidents, notably runway incursions … and does not include runway overruns.”
Other areas that the report singled out as needing improved data collection included airborne operational errors, including losses of separation; general aviation, which currently includes potentially unreliable estimates of annual flight hours; and pilot training, which is lacking a comprehensive system for measuring performance in meeting annual pilot school inspection requirements.
“FAA has taken steps to address safety oversight issues and data challenges in many of these areas,” the report said. “For example, FAA is planning to develop a program to collect and analyze data on runway overruns, but it will be several years before FAA has obtained enough information about these incidents to assess risks. Sustained attention to these data collection and analysis issues will be necessary to ensure that FAA can more comprehensively and accurately manage risk.”
Fatigue Risk Management Systems for Aviation Safety
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular (AC) 120-103A. May 6, 2013. 34 pp. Appendixes, figures, references. Available from FAA via the Internet at <www.airweb.faa.gov>.
This AC describes fatigue risk management systems (FRMS), as prescribed in U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations Part 117, and discusses how they can be used to help workers in the aviation industry safely perform their duties. Compliance with the AC is not mandatory.
The document defines FRMS as a “management system for a certificate holder to use to mitigate the effects of fatigue in its particular operations. An FRMS is a data-driven system, based largely upon scientific principles and operational knowledge, that allows for continuous monitoring and management of safety risks associated with fatigue-related error. An FRMS is a fatigue-mitigation tool that minimizes the acute and chronic sources of fatigue and manages the potential risks associated with fatigue. The FRMS is part of a repetitive performance improvement process that leads to continuous safety enhancements by identifying and addressing fatigue factors across time and changing physiological and operational circumstances.”
The AC includes a discussion of FRMS as an operator-specific entity that should be developed according to each certificate holder’s specific needs.
Appendix 2 provides guidance on establishing an FRMS, including how to “prepare for the FRMS approval process, develop the required documentation, develop and apply fatigue risk management (FRM) and safety assurance (SA) processes, collect and analyze data, develop flight crew FRMS operations procedures and a step-by-step process required for … FAA evaluation and validation of the proposed FRMS application.”
The appendix also includes a diagram of the fatigue risk management process and a sample fatigue report, which requests crewmember responses to dozens of questions about specific episodes of fatigue.
This AC cancels its predecessor AC 120-103, issued Aug. 3, 2010.
EHEST Safety Management Toolkit: Version for Complex Operators
Second edition. European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST). May 10, 2013. Appendixes, figures, tables. Available via the Internet at easa.europa.eu/essi/ehest/main-page/ehest-safety-management-toolkit/.
Major components of the toolkit are the Safety Management Manual for Complex Operators, the EHEST Emergency Response Plan and the EHEST Safety Management Database User Guide.
Take a Closer Look: The Ageing Aircraft Resource
Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). 2013.
This compact disc is intended to aid aircraft operators, aviation business managers, maintenance personnel and others in understanding how age affects aircraft airworthiness and safety.
Topics — which are discussed in original presentations from CASA, as well as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other sources — include “Ageing 101 Awareness Seminar Presentation,” described as “the cornerstone of the CASA Ageing Aircraft Awareness seminars that have been held across Australia.” Other topics are aging wiring, aging aircraft structures and various policy approaches to problems associated with aging aircraft.
That presentation, as well as other articles; documents; and six case studies of work performed on aging aircraft, including a 1975 Piper Navajo Chieftain and a 1969 Cessna 402A, are linked to a master PDF publication.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) — Safety Audit Information