The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has stopped recommending that airports provide runway friction measurement values (Mu) to pilots when snow or ice is on the runways. The FAA’s action does not prohibit issuance of runway friction measurements, however.
“If an airport chooses to report friction measurement values, the FAA requires airports to report Mu values below 40 as actual values, or any values above 40 as 40,” the agency said in an email to Flight Safety Foundation. The email was written in answer to questions asked during the Air Line Pilots Association, International Air Safety Forum 2012, held in August.
“The FAA no longer recommends reporting for three reasons,” the email said. “First, friction measurements can vary significantly, even when reporting on the same contaminated surface conditions. Second, reported readings can differ depending on the measuring device being used. Finally, the friction measurements only apply to the portion of the runway where friction measurements are conducted. All these considerations led to the [FAA Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment (TALPA)] project to develop a consistent method of reporting.”
The FAA said it is exploring other methods of evaluating runway slipperiness.
“The FAA has a multi-year research program to evaluate the feasibility of determining runway slipperiness from data recorded by an airplane during landing in a time scale that would let that information be relayed to subsequent landing airplanes,” the agency said. “There are a number of technical, logistical and other issues that must be addressed before such a system can be implemented on a broad scale. … The safety and economic benefits to both airplane and airport operators could potentially be significant.”
The FAA also is monitoring several privately funded and directed efforts, each using a different method but with similar goals.
“Several [U.S.] airlines are participating in prototyping exercises to evaluate their accuracy, repeatability and usability,” the FAA said. “We hope to gain valuable experience and data over the [U.S. 2012–2013] winter by evaluating these systems in various environmental conditions. If this winter’s efforts are successful, it will likely be a number of years before we know if any of these systems can provide accurate and timely runway-slipperiness information that would be broadly applicable across airplane types — and usable by pilots, airport personnel and air traffic controllers without unacceptable changes in workload or procedures.”
The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has begun overhauling the nation’s Civil Aviation Safety Regulations in hopes of enhancing aviation safety.
“Modernised, logically organized, internationally aligned and technologically relevant rules will help everyone in aviation to operate to the highest possible safety standards,” Aviation Safety Director John McCormick said.
McCormick noted that many of the existing rules are more than 30 years old and “do not properly fit with a modern aviation system and latest technologies.
“To make them work, CASA has been issuing exemptions to allow the aviation industry to meet ongoing operational needs. Right now, there are more than 1,700 exemptions on the books, meaning the regulation of aviation activities is not necessarily a level playing field, and some of the rules are not fit for purpose.”
In addition, McCormick said, Australia’s regulations “have not kept pace with international developments in aviation safety.”
He added that the new regulations would be more understandable, better organized and easier to use than existing rules. They will also be easier to update, he said.
“CASA’s intention is for the rules to be part of a living set of aviation safety standards that evolve as the aviation industry further matures and grows,” he said. “Our goal is an aviation safety system that performs even better, with risks identified and managed to minimise accidents and incidents.”
Flight Test Guidelines
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and a key aviation industry organization should work together to develop flight test operating guidance for aircraft manufacturers, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says.
The NTSB — citing the April 2, 2011, crash of an experimental Gulfstream G650 on takeoff from Roswell, New Mexico, U.S. — issued 10 related safety recommendations, including the call for the FAA and the industry’s Flight Test Safety Committee to develop the flight test operating guidance. Five of the recommendations were issued to the FAA, three to the safety committee and two to Gulfstream Aerospace.
The two flight crewmembers and two technical crewmembers were killed and the airplane was substantially damaged in the crash, which the NTSB said followed an aerodynamic stall and uncommanded roll during a test flight that was conducted with one engine operating.
The NTSB said the probable cause of the accident was Gulfstream’s “failure to properly develop and validate takeoff speeds and recognize and correct errors in the takeoff safety speed that manifested during previous G650 tests, the flight test team’s persistent and aggressive attempts to achieve a takeoff speed that was erroneously low and Gulfstream’s inadequate investigation of uncommanded roll events that occurred during previous flight tests.”
As a result of its accident investigation, the NTSB recommended that the FAA tell domestic and foreign manufacturers of airplanes certified under Federal Aviation Regulations Part 23 and Part 25 about key elements of the accident and “advise them to consider, when estimating an airplane’s stall angle-of-attack in ground effect, the possibility that the airplane’s maximum lift coefficient in ground effect could be lower than its maximum lift coefficient in free air.”
The NTSB also called on the FAA and the Flight Test Safety Committee to develop flight test safety program guidelines “based on best practices in aviation safety management.”
The FAA should include those guidelines in its next revision of FAA Order 4040.26, Aircraft Certification Service Flight Test Risk Management Program, the NTSB said.
In addition, the NTSB recommended that the FAA tell Part 139 airports that are the scene of flight test activity to be aware of “the importance of advance coordination of high-risk flight tests with flight test operators to ensure that adequate aircraft rescue and fire fighting resources are available.”
A related recommendation to Gulfstream said the company should commission a safety audit of its flight test safety management system and should provide other manufacturers, flight test industry groups and others with information about the lessons learned from the implementation of that system.
“In all areas of aircraft manufacturing, and particularly in flight testing, where the risks are greater, leadership must require processes that are complete, clear and include well-defined criteria,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said.
Doubts About UAS
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are “not capable of replacing human capabilities in complex and safety-critical situations” and should not replace manned aircraft, the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) says.
In a position paper issued in October, IFALPA said that UAS must be required to comply with the same rules that apply to other aircraft.
“It is not acceptable for such rules and regulations to be changed for manned aviation in order to integrate UAS and their operations,” the position paper said.
UAS that do not comply with existing regulations will require “segregated airspace or mitigation by special authorizations,” the paper said.
IFALPA said UAS and manned aircraft should be subject to the same design standards and certification regulations and the same target levels of safety. The organization also called for regulatory authorities to establish criteria for the selection, licensing, instruction and training of UAS operators, as well as appropriate duty time limits for UAS pilots and crewmembers that are based on existing pilot regulations and scientific data.
In Other News …
The Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) has named as its next director general Jeff Poole, who has been the International Air Transport Association’s director of government and industry affairs since May 2011. Poole will take over in January from Interim Director General Samantha Sharif. … The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a $354,000 civil penalty against US Airways, which the agency says operated a Boeing 757 on 916 revenue flights while the airplane was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations. The airline did not conduct required tests before returning the airplane to revenue service after replacing a leaking engine fuel pump in August 2010, the FAA said. … The European Aviation Safety Agency has published new rules for air operations designed to harmonize requirements for commercial air transport operations throughout Europe.
Compiled and edited by Linda Werfelman.