In the unending efforts to improve flight safety, there are increasingly useful resources available to pilots online. For instance, NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) site allows a pilot, controller, mechanic or cabin crewmember to admit an operational mistake and avoid FAA prosecution, assuming the incident was not intentional. ASRS produces a monthly newsletter, Callback, with snippets of the best safety reports reviewed during the previous month, minus the names. The site also offers a searchable incident database.
Controlled flight into terrain
It could have happened to any two professional pilots flying a nonprecision approach, in darkness, into weather that turned out to be worse than they expected after a night of back-side-of-the-clock flying. But the NTSB’s September 9 hearing into the Aug. 14, 2013 crash of UPS Flight 1354, an Airbus A300-600, on approach to Birmingham, Ala. (BHM), proved that even crews flying heavy jets can lose situational awareness and get just as far behind on nonprecision approach as King Air crews, especially when a handful of other factors also come into play.
UPS is making a series of safety enhancements in the aftermath of the September 9 NTSB hearing into the crash of UPS Flight 1354 at Birmingham, Ala., in August last year.
The crew of a Beech 1900C and the handling controller were both responsible for a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accident, according to the NTSB’s recently released final report. The twin turboprop was on an IFR Part 135 cargo flight in IMC on March 8, 2013, and was 10 miles east of Aleknagik, Alaska, when the accident happened. Both pilots were killed.
“Humans are not naturally good at monitoring highly reliable automated cockpit systems for extended periods of time,” said NTSB member Robert Sumwalt. “And what do we have in our airplanes today…highly reliable, highly automated systems.”
Don Bateman, corporate fellow and chief engineer technologist for flight safety systems and technology at Honeywell Aerospace, was recognized March 4 with the 2013 Elmer A. Sperry Award for Enhancing the Art of Transportation. Bateman was honored for his development of Honeywell’s ground proximity warning system (GPWS).
Honeywell chief engineer technologist for flight safety systems and technology Don Bateman received the 2013 Elmer A. Sperry Award for Enhancing the Art of Transportation yesterday. The award recognizes Bateman for his development of Honeywell’s ground-proximity warning system (GPWS), a terrain awareness and warning system that has helped reduced controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accidents.
Bell Helicopter has announced that it has delivered the first 407GX aircraft into India. The customer is SpanAir, a leading air charter company that has operated the Bell 407 since 1996, and later added a Model 429. The company provides customized travel options and offers a modern, well-equipped fleet.
The FAA has certified a new functionality on the Sikorsky S-92: an automated rig approach for offshore operators intended to decrease workload when the crew is in a critical flight phase. Sikorsky intends eventually to bring the same capability to the smaller S-76D.
The S-92’s autopilot already had a search-and-rescue (SAR) mode that could fly the rotorcraft to a point in space. Sikorsky design engineers, collaborating with operator PHI, built on this mode to create the new functionality. In addition, the weather radar ensures the flight path is free from obstacles.
Aircraft synthetic-vision systems (SVS), when combined with GPS, gyros, accelerometers and terrain and obstacle databases, provide pilots with a colorful, animated depiction of the world outside the cockpit, matching what they would see looking through the windshield on a clear day. But to really see what is outside in dark or low-visibility conditions, you need an infrared (IR) camera. When you add forward-looking IR to SVS, you get a heat-referenced, real-world view along with a 3-D, database-derived and geo-referenced virtual view. Together they are called enhanced or combined SVS.
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