FAA Issues Final Rule to Improve Helicopter Safety

On 20/02/2014, in Safety is no accident, by steve

foxnewshelicopterThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued a final rule that requires helicopter operators, including air ambulances, to have stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications, training, and additional on-board safety equipment. The rule represents the most significant improvements to helicopter safety in decades and responds to government’s and industry’s concern over continued risk in helicopter operations.

“This is a landmark rule for helicopter safety,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These improvements will better prepare pilots and better equip helicopters, ensuring a higher level of safety for passengers and crew.”

All U.S. helicopter operators, including air ambulances, are required to use stricter flying procedures in bad weather. This will provide a greater margin of safety by reducing the probability of collisions with terrain, obstacles or other aircraft.

Within 60 days, all operators will be required to use enhanced procedures for flying in challenging weather, at night, and when landing in remote locations. Within three years, helicopter air ambulances must use the latest on-board technology and equipment to avoid terrain and obstacles, and within four years, they must be equipped with flight data monitoring systems.

“This rule is a significant advancement in helicopter safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This rule will help reduce risk and help pilots make good safety decisions through the use of better training, procedures, and equipment.”

Under the new rule, all Part 135 helicopter operators are required to:

Click here to read the full article


Reverse technology flow

On 10/02/2014, in Safety is no accident, by steve

mapNot so long ago I punched an address into the navigation software of my smartphone and after pondering the information for a few seconds, the well-known female voice announced: Caution, your destination is in a restricted area. Mind you, the address was in a quiet, relatively new area of Budapest so her knowledge of such details was really impressive. In short order our 20 thousand Euro rental car with 4 people on board was led to the address… Compare this to what happened on 22 December 2013 at Johannesburg’s Tambo International Airport when a 350 million bucks 747 with 185 passengers punched a hole with its right wing in a building after the crew, using paper charts to navigate, failed to heed a warning printed on the chart about the presence of a narrow taxilane which they entered by mistake.

The taxi lane versus the taxiway...

The taxi lane versus the taxiway…

In 2011 an Airbus 380 struck a building while taxiing in broad daylight… during the Paris airshow of all places!

In May 2012, an Eva Air 747’s wing sliced through an American Eagle regional jet in Chicago…


But there is more.

Moving map ground navigation displays have been available in cars for several years when they first appeared in airliner cockpits but initially they carried a sticker, saying that the display was not be used for operational purposes. The reason? Most existing airport maps were so inaccurate, the plane would have been shown taxiing anywhere except on the taxiways. When I saw this, I was wondering: would I ever buy a car with a sticker like that?

Still more?

According to some statistics, on average there are 2 noteworthy runway incursion incidents per day… A runway incursion is an event when an aircraft or ground vehicle enters the runway and gets in the way of another aircraft. The problem has been long recognized and efforts are underway to reduce the incidence of such events. One system will generate a warning when an incursion is about to happen. The warning rings the bell… in the Tower!!!! Just think about it. A 747 is about to become a problem and someone thought the best place to start the shouting is in the tower… by the time the controller reacts and passes the warning to the pilots, it is probably all over… except for the shouting (sorry, no pun intended).


According to Flight Safety Foundation data, there are some 27 thousand ramp accidents per year world-wide resulting in a cool 10 billion bucks of damage.

Clearly, there is something very wrong here. How is it possible that multimillion dollar jets with hundreds of passengers on board are still lumbering around airports using technologies that date back to 30-40 years ago?

Click here to read the full article


Minimizing the risk of midair collisions

On 13/11/2012, in Safety is no accident, by steve

FAA and industry partners have come up with a possible solution to minimize the risk of midair collisions where low-level commercial airliners, general aviation aircraft, military jets, and helicopters all fly together in the same complex airspace.

What do you think about the new prototype VFR navigational chart for the LA Basin? Learn more in the Nov/Dec issue of the FAA Safety Briefing magazine here.


Cracks in the Wings of the A380 – What Next?

On 08/01/2012, in Safety is no accident, by steve

Poor A380.

She had a difficult birth caused in no small measure by the rather peculiar corporate structure of Airbus and the consequent mismatch of the design software used in different parts of the company… Wire harnesses turned out to be too short, then the redesigned version did not fit either. After long delays she finally took to the air only to have an engine explode mid-flight. Now come the news that Qantas and Singapore airlines have reassured their passengers that there was no risk to safety from the cracks found on the wings of several A380s.

Well, what else did you expect them to say?

Airbus calls the cracks “minor” and confirmed that they were not a cause for concern. They also published a recommended way to repair them.

The cracking, about one centimeter long and almost invisible to the naked eye, was found while the Qantas aircraft on which the engine blew up was being repaired. The investigators say that the cracking was unrelated to the engine incident.

Singapore airlines have announced that they have also found cracks on the wings of two of their 380s.

Click here to read the full article


EASA Annual Safety Review – 2010

On 03/08/2011, in Safety is no accident, by steve

2010 was special for air safety. For the first time ever, no fatal accident occured in Europe in aeroplane and helicopter operations. Nevertheless, the Annual Safety Review from by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA),  published to inform the public of the general safety level in the field of civil aviation, is interesting reading. Non-fatal accidents are also the source of important information about where improvements are still necessary and possible.

You can download a copy here.

To access the on-line version, click here.


Quote of February 2011

On 01/02/2011, in Quote of the month, by steve

Aviation, to an even greater extent than the sea, is unforgiving of any incapacity, carelessness or neglect.

Air safety slogan.


Great potential in addressing the quality of the runways

On 28/01/2011, in Life around runways, by steve

Armann Norheim, Rapporteur of the ICAO Friction Task Force speaks to Bryan
Camoens on the issues facing airfields around the globe, wet weather conditions and how
maintainence and planning schedules should be set.

Bryan Camoens:
What are some of the issues that airfields are facing across the globe?

Armann Norheim:
Increased focus on safety areas (RESA). There has been a growing awareness among regulators of the fact that operations on wet and contaminated runways do not have the desired safety level and this has brought the quality of safety areas into sharp focus.

Bryan Camoens:
Could you please elaborate on some of the challenges and solutions for airfield expansion and renewal projects?

Armann Norheim:
Airports built before today’s safety standards and recommendations came into effect might find themselves in situation with no room available to expand. The reason for this can be topographic or built in by expanding urban areas. An emerging solution to this problem related to safety areas is the new technology of Engineered Materials Arresting Systems (EMAS) for aircraft overruns.

Bryan Camoens:
What key issues need to be taken into account when attempting to maximise safety and efficiency for airports?

Armann Norheim:
Appropriate safety areas dimensioned and free for obstacles to meet the operational requirements of the aeroplanes for which the runway is intended. With appropriate safety areas the airliners can utilise the full potential payload of their aircrafts. (Reduced/lack of safety areas should result in reduced published declared distances, TORA, LDA).

Click here to read the full article


Goodies for the fight against runway incursions

On 24/01/2011, in Life around runways, by steve

Although we hear the word runway excursion more often these days than runway incursion, these latter remain a problem and constant efforts are required to maintain the awareness of the dangers involved in stumbling on an active runway without clearance.

Training of pilots, air traffic controllers and vehicle drivers is essential of course. Additionally, posters in the crew room as well as folders and flyers on desks a great help for any runway incursion prevention campaign.

A while ago we created designs for bumper stickers you can put on airport vehicles, making the dangers of runway incursion visible in yet another powerful way.

We would like to share these designs with you. Feel free to use them at your airport. You can also read more about runway incursions here.

Even the bull stops at a red stop bar...

No question...

  Click here to read the full article


Fatigue manifestations

On 29/11/2010, in SKYbrary News, by steve

News from EUROCONTROL’s aviation safety knowledge base SKYbrary.

The Operators Guide to Human Factors in Aviation (OGHFA) is a project of the Flight Safety Foundation European Advisory Committee. OGHFA is an extensive compendium of human factors information focused on further advancing commercial aviation safety.

The Briefing Note (BN) “Fatigue Manifestations” explores some of the causes, manifestations and consequences of pilot fatigue. It also outlines the basics of fatigue management and discusses how fatigue management is important to flight safety during both long-range flight (LRF) and short-range flight (SRF).

Read more about this important subject here.


EASA Safety Review 2009 published

On 24/08/2010, in SKYbrary News, by steve

News from EUROCONTROL’s aviation safety knowledge base SKYbrary.

EASA has published its annual safety review for 2009. The report includes an analysis of accident data for light aircraft; although the data is incomplete, because several member states did not report, it gives further insight into the safety challenges facing general aviation. “Loss of control In-flight” continues to be the most frequent accident category for general aviation and aerial work operations.

Download the report here.


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