New Fatigue Rules in Canada
Transport Canada (TC) has given the country’s major airlines two years to implement new flight and duty time limits that reduce the number of hours that pilots may fly each year as well as the length of flight duty periods.
The new rules will limit pilots to 1,000 flight hours in any 365 consecutive days, compared with the 1,200-hour limit in current regulations. The new regulations will retain the existing 300-hour limit for 90 days and add a new requirement of no more than 112 flight hours in any 28 consecutive days. Currently, pilots may fly no more than 120 hours in any 30 consecutive days. The new regulations will eliminate the existing requirement of no more than 40 to 60 hours in any seven consecutive days.
Operators also will have the option of using fatigue risk management systems to enable them to identify sources of fatigue and manage related risks.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau said, in the December announcement of the overhaul of Canadian Aviation Regulations dealing with pilot fatigue, that the new regulations “align with today’s scientific data, international standards and best practices, and respond to concerns raised by communities, pilots and airlines.”
The regulations will apply to Canadian commercial transport services, including major Canadian airline operators and smaller and regional operators. Major operators have two years to implement the new requirements; smaller and regional operators have four years.
The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) said that it commends TC for the new flight and duty time regulations, which it characterized as “long overdue.” Capt. Tim Cannoll, ALPA president at the time of the December announcement, said the new regulations will “bring Canada in line with the rest of the world and … improve safety for passengers and flight crews alike.”
Fatigue management in rail, marine and air transportation is one of three multi-modal issues on the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s Watchlist 2018, which identifies key safety issues in the country’s transportation system.
The European Commission has issued a revised list of airlines banned from European Union (EU) operations because they do not comply with international safety standards.
The commission released the so-called blacklist in late November. It names 115 airlines that are banned from operating in the EU, including 109 airlines certified in 15 countries: Afghanistan, Angola (except for one airline that operates under restrictions), Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon (except for two airlines that operate under restrictions), the Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Libya, Nepal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone and Sudan. The EU says these airlines are banned because of a lack of safety oversight by their national aviation authorities.
Six additional airlines may fly into the EU only with specific aircraft types: Afrijet and Nouvelle Air Affaires SN2AG (Gabon), Air Koryo (North Korea), Air Service Comores (the Comoros), Iran Air and TAAG Angola Airlines.
The revision added two new air carriers registered in Angola and removed seven other Angolan air carriers that no longer hold valid air operator certificates from the Angolan civil aviation authority.
The EU says the list is intended to maintain high levels of safety in the EU and to help the airlines and countries that are named on the list to improve their safety levels “in order for them to eventually be taken off the list.” The list also is intended to serve as a preventive tool, motivating countries with aviation safety problems to correct them before they are included among the banned airlines.
Study: HEMS Flights Safer Than Expected
Helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations have achieved a better-than-expected safety record over the past decade, according to research by the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST).
The USHST said, in a report released in November, that, although HEMS flights accounted for 16 percent of flight hours recorded by helicopters in the United States from January 2009 through mid-November 2018 — and therefore would have been expected to be involved in 16 percent of accidents — data show they actually were involved in 7 percent. That means HEMS operations achieved a positive variance of nine points, the USHST said.
Similar calculations for fatal accidents showed that HEMS operations accounted for 13 percent of fatal accidents, for a positive variance of three points.
During the 10-year period, U.S. civil helicopters were flown more than 31 million hours and were involved in 1,298 accidents, including 209 fatal accidents.
Other sectors with better-than-expected performance records included aerial observation/police/news; air tour/sightseeing; and offshore/oil. The same sectors — and several others, including instructional and fire-fighting flights — also had fewer fatal accidents than would have been expected, considering their share of total flight hours, the USHST said.
At the other end of both scales, personal/private helicopter flights, which accounted for 3 percent of flight hours, were involved in 22 percent of total accidents and 25 percent of fatal accidents, the USHST said.
IATA Begins Program to Share Turbulence Data
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched a real-time turbulence data-sharing program to collect data from participating airlines and consolidate the information into a single-source database for easy access.
IATA said the Turbulence Aware program, announced in December, will provide “the first global, real-time, detailed and objective information for pilots and operations professionals to manage turbulence.”
IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac added that the data will allow for more precise forecasting of turbulence, which in turn will make flights safer and more comfortable for passengers.
Turbulence — the leading cause of injuries to airplane occupants in non-fatal accidents — is expected to become a more frequent problem as a result of climate change, IATA said, adding that the challenges of managing turbulence also are expected to grow.
CASA Probes Problems in Helicopters Used for Mustering
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA) says it is working with government agencies and the helicopter industry to determine why a number of Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters used in livestock mustering are experiencing premature exhaust valve and valve guide wear.
The problem, reported primarily in northern Australia in R22s with Lycoming O-360 engines and R44s with Lycoming O-540 engines, prompted the release in December of Airworthiness Bulletin (AWB) 85-025, which says authorities are looking into the way the helicopters are operated, possible fuel issues, carburetor set up and failure modes, CASA said.
“It has also been speculated that during extended ground operations at low manifold pressure and high rpm, the intake valve rocker arm oil is migrating down the valve stem and accumulating on the head/induction side of the valve, leading to coking and carbon buildup,” the AWB said. “The accumulated deposits are subsequently ignited with a flash-off event, causing valve and/or valve seat damage (erosion). This enables combustion to continue past the unsealed intake valve into the intake manifold with a percentage of the fuel-air mixture being consumed within the manifold, causing an induction backfire leading to power loss and airframe yaw.”
Laboratory analysis performed by Lycoming has shown that engine oil is the source of the carbon deposits, the AWB said, adding that Lycoming has said that although the problem has been reported around the world, “a higher proportion” of reports have come from Australia.
The helicopters are safe to operate if they are flown within operating limitations, CASA said, adding that this lowers peak combustion temperatures.
The AWB included several recommendations, including compliance with operating limitations and avoidance of hot loading — “extended ground operations of the engine above 70 to 75 percent rpm with collective at flat pitch/fully down.” Other recommendations called for “strict adherence to the aircraft and engine manufacturer’s maintenance schedule” and for conducting a cylinder borescope inspection along with the differential pressure test.
All instances of premature intake valve and valve seat degradation should be reported to CASA using the DRS system on the CASA website, the agency said.
In Other News …
European aviation leaders have endorsed a seven-point plan aimed at aiding European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) member states in implementing drone regulations and at developing an institutional framework for the operation of drones in the Single European Sky. The Amsterdam Declaration also calls for development of European product standards for drones, for supporting cities in their efforts “to provide a fertile ground for innovative multimodal solutions” and for developing communication and promotional materials for information campaigns involving drone users. … Repeated drone sightings above the airfield prompted a 33-hour closure of London’s Gatwick Airport in late December. Authorities said the drone flights were a “deliberate and serious” attempt to disrupt air traffic. Although two people were held by law enforcement authorities in connection with the flights, they were subsequently released; authorities said they were no longer suspects, and no additional arrests have been made.
Anthony J. “Tony” Broderick, a former top safety official at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has died at age 75 in Bealeton, Virginia, U.S., after a long illness. Broderick spent 20 years at the FAA, leaving the agency in 1996 as associate administrator of regulation and certification. He then worked as an aviation safety consultant until his retirement in 2014.
Compiled and edited by Linda Werfelman.