Cool receptoin greets NTSB proposal

 - January 30, 2007, 5:34 AM

An NTSB proposal to add to the list of events that must be reported as an accident or incident is getting little support from the industry.

New occurrences that would be added to the list include failure of any internal turbine engine component that results in the escape of debris other than out the exhaust; structural failure of a propeller resulting in the separation of all or a portion of a propeller blade from the aircraft, excluding release caused solely by ground contact; loss of information from a majority of electronic primary displays, excluding momentary inaccuracy or flickering; ground damage to a helicopter’s main- or tail-rotor blades; and any airborne collision avoidance system resolution advisories issued when an aircraft is being operated on an IFR flight plan.

AOPA and the National Air Transportation Association object to the proposal, alleging that it’s too broad and doesn’t contain an economic-impact statement. “The increases in reporting for accidents and loss of aircraft electronic displays, coupled with the addition of in-flight resolution advisories, will add a significant paperwork burden to an already rigorous regulatory-compliance process, and in some cases could limit an operator’s aircraft use,” claimed NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.
“We believe that the NTSB has yet to fully explain to the public the benefit of increasing the reporting burden on business aircraft operators.”

Helicopter operators are also unhappy with the proposal. Comments submitted by the Helicopter Association International (HAI) included this: “The rotor-blade strike reclassification causes a helicopter operator to have more accidents on his record. His safety record (least number of accidents and so on) is valuable to him, especially in the highly competitive environment of today. The effect on his insurance cost is unknown but is likely to be higher because he has more accidents under the NPRM. When the operator goes to sell the helicopter, the inflated accident history (including ground rotor-blade strikes with no other damage) will decrease the value of his aircraft.”

HAI said, “It is difficult to find any benefit in changing ground rotor-blade strikes (with no other damage) to be called ‘accidents.’ There is no benefit to the pilot. There is no benefit to the operator. There is no benefit to the helicopter industry. There is no benefit to the helicopter manufacturer. The only possible benefit is to the NTSB, which can claim it’s investigating a larger number of accidents. To make reasonable operational rule recommendations from ground rotor-blade strikes will require that the NTSB actually [conduct] field accident investigations on these occurrences, which is unlikely due to the agency’s severe manpower limitations.”

The relatively short comment period, originally scheduled to close on February 25, was extended to March 11 by a request from HAI. The NTSB is currently evaluating all the responses.