The last few months have been difficult for a number of aviation players. First, there were several whistleblower complaints from FAA aviation safety inspectors who risked their futures to make serious allegations against their management in the southwest region. These allegations had been under investigation for some time when the U.S. Congress decided to hold hearings and have FAA senior management respond to them in a public forum.
News and information on safety procedures and concerns.
Eurocopter’s “fleet safety directorate,” officially formed last July, continues to study human factors in helicopter operations, with the statistical backdrop that pilot errors cause an estimated 75 percent of helicopter accidents, and maintenance errors account for another 10 percent.
The president of a helicopter supply company whose actions were determined by the NTSB to be a contributing factor in the January 2006 crash of a Eurocopter AS 350D has claimed that the Safety Board left out pertinent information in the probable cause report. Furthermore, the NTSB acknowledges that it never investigated the complete ownership history of the engine.
“Pilots in handcuffs is what we’re talking about,” said lawyer Kenneth Quinn at the Flight Safety Foundation European Aviation Safety Seminar held recently in Bucharest, Romania. Quinn moderated a two-hour discussion of criminalization and aviation safety, an apropos discussion as the industry becomes ever more vulnerable to attack in an increasingly litigious society.
General aviation fatalities dropped 30 percent last year, to 491 from 703 in 2006, according to the NTSB. But the total number of general aviation accidents was higher, climbing to 1,631 in 2007 from 1,518 in 2006. The total number of accidents includes 20 U.S.-registered aircraft mishaps that occurred outside the U.S., its territories or possessions.
The FAA has criticized the airlines for failing to equip their aircraft with the latest on-board weather technology, thereby limiting the amount of relevant data pilots receive. The agency commended general aviation, however, for embracing new technologies that will be an integral part of the NextGen air transportation system.
“Safety management systems aren’t just the latest fad for corporate flight departments,” Daedalus Aviation Services president David Bjellos told the nearly 450 attendees yesterday at the 53rd Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar (CASS), held this year in Palm Harbor, Fla. In fact, SMSs could be a requirement for entry into some foreign countries starting in 2010, per ICAO Annex 6 section 3.2.4, noted FAA SMS program coordinator Rick Krens.
Seven years after the chaos of 9/11, air travel has again reached record levels in the U.S, Europe and Asia. Despite increasing fears of a near-term recession in the U.S. caused in part by a dramatic surge in the U.S. dollar price of crude oil, international business aviation travel is also on the rise.
The FAA on April 14 issued an Airworthiness Directive for all Bombardier Challengers, as well as the derivative CRJ100 and 440 regional jets, that requires revising the aircraft flight manuals to modify the cold-weather operations limitations and include additional limitations and procedures.
Two high-profile violations of the capital’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) have prompted the AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF) to send bright orange warning posters and information on ADIZ requirements and operating procedures to more than 1,300 flight schools and FBOs within 400 miles of Washington, D.C. The posters, which are heavily laminated, can be displayed on desks, doors and the sides of fuel trucks.