New Recommendations Seek to Improve Safety And Reduce General Aviation Certification Costs

On 28/07/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

gaAn Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), convened by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), today recommended a broad range of policy and regulatory changes that it believes could significantly improve the safety of general aviation aircraft while simultaneously reducing certification and modification costs for those aircraft.

The committee, made up of international industry and government experts, was tasked with examining the existing standards for the design and certification of aircraft ranging from small piston-powered airplanes to high-performance business jets, that are contained in Part 23 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

“Streamlining the design and certification process could provide a cost-efficient way to build simple airplanes that still incorporate the latest in safety innovations,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These changes have the potential to save money and maintain our safety standing – a win-win situation for manufacturers, pilots and the general aviation community as a whole.”

The committee’s recommendations cover the areas of design, production, maintenance and safety. The ARC’s goal was to identify ways to streamline the certification process, making it cheaper and easier for manufacturers to incorporate safety improvements into their products, allow for upgrades to the existing fleet, and provide greater flexibility to incorporate future technological advancements.

“The committee’s goal was to increase safety while simultaneously decreasing the cost of certification” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “The FAA’s goal is to embrace innovation and create a regulation that will stand the test of time.”

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Reason to pause…

On 28/07/2013, in Picture stories, by steve

This beauty arrived over Brussels Airport Saturday morning. For a while, nobody flew…


FAA Proposes $2.75 Million Civil Penalty Against Boeing Co. for Quality Control Violations

On 28/07/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

penaltyThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $2.75 million civil penalty against Boeing Co.’s commercial airplanes unit for allegedly failing to maintain its quality control system in accordance with approved FAA procedures.

“Safety is our top priority and a robust quality control system is a vital part of maintaining the world’s safest air transportation system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Airplane manufacturers must take prompt and thorough steps to correct safety and compliance problems once they become aware of them.”

In September 2008, Boeing discovered that it had been installing nonconforming fasteners on its model 777 airplanes. On October 2008, the FAA sent Boeing a letter of investigation that requested a response within 20 working days. The FAA alleges that Boeing repeatedly submitted action plans that set deadlines for the accomplishment of certain corrective actions, but subsequently failed to implement those plans. The company implemented a plan to address the fastener issue on Nov. 10, 2010, more than two years after Boeing first learned of the problem

“Manufacturers must make it a priority to identify and correct quality problems in a timely manner,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Boeing stopped using the nonconforming fasteners after officials discovered the problem. However, some of the underlying manufacturing issues continued to exist until after the corrective action plan was in place.

Boeing has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.


Flight Object-ion

On 28/07/2013, in SESAR's Palace, by traj man

SESAR projects are defining their operational concepts based on a single shared flight object (FO). It is not doubted the benefits of data sharing but is it right to build a network of tightly–coupled servers hosted across multiple ANSPs just to share data?

For some, maintaining and sharing a single flight object to be used by all European stakeholders has been promoted as a good thing. However, this architecture introduces tight coupling between organisations, both at technical and organisational levels.


The interoperability objective should be to share data while maintaining loose coupling between ANSPs. Indeed, SOA, which is a set of principles intended to address this goal, has been proposed as a solution by some, SWIM has been defined as a service oriented architecture…however the talk is always of a single flight object instead of flight information services. Is it a good idea to create a single object based representation of a flight, to be used by all stakeholders and yet provided, managed, updated and shared by a one organisation on behalf of all others? This architecture puts new responsibilities on ANSPs and requires development of a new network of “flight object servers” using a bespoke middleware.

The alternative is to maintain the decoupling boundaries between ANSPs and to have consistent local flight data and trajectories achieved through data sharing (information services). Standard data sharing technologies could be employed without burdening ANSPs to consolidate and unify the data on a European scale. The focus should be on having consistency of data and not about a single source of data.

The selected European system-of-systems architecture for sharing flight data through a single flight object could prove a risk for SESAR and the RBT concept, and alternatives do not seem to be addressed, no R&D or evaluation of alternative architectures .

Now it is becoming clear that a single flight object cannot fulfil all needs. An ANSP cannot be expected to maintain the flight object with data on the behalf of others for which they have no interest themselves, or to be handcuffed to the data format or functionality of the lowest common denominator – It is impossible to think that all ANSPs will evolve their systems and concepts in parallel. SESAR Interoperability validation exercises will involve ANSPs who use systems from the same industrial partner, and therefore a common flight object implementation. Is this really interoperability??

One of the objectives of SESAR was to reduce ANSP costs, however it is difficult to see how the extra burden of consolidating and maintaining flight data & trajectory across the whole European area would not increase an ANSP’s costs. Maybe having this closed architecture tied to a bespoke ATM middleware is good for the big two European ATM system suppliers, but is this really a good thing for European interoperability, or for ANSPs? Isn’t this closed architecture killing innovation and competition? Other industries (banking, commerce, rail..) use open and off-the-shelf solutions, rather than developing bespoke solutions tied to a single supplier. Should European ATM do the same?


The day after…

On 11/07/2013, in Picture stories, by steve

Photo courtesy World's Best Aviation Photography

Photo courtesy World’s Best Aviation Photography


New Hungarian airline – What is all the buzz about?

On 11/07/2013, in Airline corner, by steve

Ever since the demise of Malev Hungarian Airlines, the people of this little Central European country have been mourning “their” airline and were hoping to get a new one soon. Hungary is in dire straights… three years of mismanagement by a far-right-leaning government has resulted in a stalled economy, poverty on a scale never before seen, rampant racism and a society split in the middle along political lines so one could understand why setting up a new airline was not on the agenda of investors at home or abroad. They do have a low-cost carrier, WizzAir which has taken advantage of the void left by Malev and which seems to enjoy government backing also. But most Hungarians seem to detest the low-cost formula and a “real” airline would be more to their taste.

It looks like they might get something… though it may be less than they bargained for.

This was an entry in an old Malev logo competition…

After the failed attempt to start an airline under the Hungarian World Airways name, here comes Solyom Hungarian Airways. It is not clear why the unpronounceable name of “falcon” was given to the airline, retaining the Hungarian word of the bird… but news talking about a red-white-green color scheme combined with keeping a Hungarian word in the name seem to hint at a bit of nationalism… not a good omen for an airline, old or new.

The founders claim that the company will be fully Hungarian owned but with investor money from the Gulf-states… They have big plans of starting with 5 aircraft and then growing to 50 in just a few years. Obviously, this sounds like music to the ears of old Malev employees and others who would of course be more than happy to see a Hungarian airline taking to the skies.
Are they finally getting what they want or is this going to be a big cock-up like so many things that have plagued the country recently?

Obviously, the world does not need a new airline. Certainly not in the premium category where Solyom is planning to operate. If anything, consolidation is the name of the game and with big names like Lufthansa and Air-France KLM in big trouble, how is Solyom going to survive? They are claiming to have developed an unorthodox business model that is sure to be a success. Well, we will see… may be they are indeed clever enough to one-up their competitors. Don’t hold your breath though.

Click here to read the full article


European Commission proposes new mandate for SESAR Joint Undertaking to support the Single European Sky

On 10/07/2013, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

kallasThe European Commission has proposed to prolong the mandate of the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking (JU) for a further 8 years, until 2024. This extension shows the Commission’s strong commitment to the Single European Sky project and recognises the importance of the results that the SESAR JU has already achieved to date. The EU’s share of the funding for the extension, amounting to a maximum of 600 million Euros, will come from the Horizon 2020 programme, as part of the EU’s new Multi-Annual Financial Framework. The members of the SJU have also confirmed their commitment to the SESAR 2020 Programme, which will result in an overall budget of around 1.6 billion euros.

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: “The benefits of a truly European air traffic management are clearer than ever. But without the technology developed by the SESAR JU, we would not be able to make the Single European Sky – with fewer delays and less pollution – a reality. And exporting the technology developed here will put us in a strong position in this major sector of global air transport.”


Single Sky: Commission acts to unblock congestion in Europe’s airspace

On 10/07/2013, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

ECOn 11 June 2013, the European Commission acted to speed up the reform of Europe’s air traffic control system. The Commission is looking to head off a capacity crunch as the number of flights is forecast to increase by 50% over the next 10-20 years.1 Inefficiencies in Europe’s fragmented airspace bring extra costs of close to 5 billion Euros each year to airlines and their customers. They add 42 kilometres to the distance of an average flight forcing aircraft to burn more fuel, generate more emissions, pay more in costly user charges and suffer greater delays. The United States controls the same amount of airspace, with more traffic, at almost half the cost.

EU Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas, said: “Our airlines and their passengers have had to endure more than 10 years of reduced services and missed deadlines on the route to a Single European Sky. We cannot afford to continue this way. Today we are strengthening the nuts and bolts of the system so it can withstand more pressure and deliver ambitious reforms even in difficult economic times. We need to boost the competitiveness of the European aviation sector and create more jobs in the airlines and at airports”.

The Commission is proposing to update the four regulations creating the Single European Sky (SES), and amend rules governing the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Key elements of the proposals known as SES2+ include:

Better safety and oversight

Safety remains the first priority for aviation. EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) audits have shown great deficiencies in the oversight of air traffic control organisations in the Member States. The Commission is proposing full organisational and budgetary separation of national supervisory authorities from the air traffic control organisations whom they oversee, while at the same time ensuring sufficient resources are given to the National Supervisory Authorities to do their tasks. This will have a very positive effect both on oversight and safety. Many supervisory authorities are currently under-resourced and dependent on the support of the entities they are supposed to oversee.

Click here to read the full article


FAA Boosts Aviation Safety with New Pilot Qualification Standards

On 10/07/2013, in Safety is no accident, by steve

In a final rule to be published soon, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that it is increasing the qualification requirements for first officers who fly for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines.

FOThe rule requires first officers – also known as co-pilots – to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring 1,500 hours total time as a pilot. Previously, first officers were required to have only a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours of flight time.

The rule also requires first officers to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly.

“Safety will be my overriding priority as Secretary, so I am especially pleased to mark my first week by announcing a rule that will help us maintain our unparalleled safety record,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We owe it to the traveling public to have only the most qualified and best trained pilots.”

The new regulations stem in part from the tragic crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009, and address a Congressional mandate in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 to ensure that both pilots and co-pilots receive the ATP certification. Today’s rule is one of several rulemakings required by the Act, including the new flight duty and rest requirements for pilots that were finalized in December 2011, and new training requirements expected this fall for air carrier training programs to ensure pilots know how to react properly in difficult operating environments.

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On 07/07/2013, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

husiNews of someone passing away is always a shock but hearing this about someone close to us is even worse. This is what I felt on the evening of 5 June when the phone rang and the always bright president of our Bowling Club announced, fighting back her tears, that our colleague and friend, Laci Szalai, also known as Beefy, has died unexpectedly. I had some difficulty in grasping the words, they were so unreal. The competition was coming up over the week-end and the week after we were supposed to go together to Brussels to the Go Around conference! We were also in the middle of a fairly serious incident investigation… and leaves us now? He dies on us? What has happened? I think I was mumbling incoherently by then… And that was the end of it. I passed an uneasy night and next day this was the main theme of discussion all over HungaroControl. No person was left untouched, or scared, by this terrible event. We all pondered the inescapable truth: is this what there is to a life, one day it is in full swing, the next it is snuffed out like if it was cut short by a knife. In a second being there is changed into nothingness.

I was particularly touched by this sad news because once again one of my age group was the one who left us. Beefy was born just a few month before me in 1960. I have known him for 32 years. He was in the Riga ATC group right behind ours. Back then he was already a bit.. well overweight, the nickname Beefy was no accident. He carried the nick with pride, I cannot recall anyone calling him by his real given name. We spent 18 months together in Riga, although we did not develop a closer friendship at that time as I was busy brushing up my Russian through the services of an obliging girl expert in the tongue. But Beefy was there at our farewell party when we left Riga for good. Years passed before we met again. When they returned to Budapest, they were all sent to the ACC (new blood was needed there)… they did not have the luxury of choice we had enjoyed on our return. In the intervening years we only saw each other briefly at official function or during the recreating leaves.

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