The Aireon Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (Aireon Alert) network, a free service expected to be rolled out in 2017, will allow rescue agencies to request the location and last flight track of any 1090 MHz ADS-B-equipped aircraft anywhere in the world, including remote or oceanic regions not covered by ATC surveillance.
The U.S. Department of Interior announced via the Federal Register on September 23 that it is considering new rules to reduce the risk of injury or property damage at offshore oil-platform helidecks. The rules, which will be issued by the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement, focus on new safety standards for the design, construction and maintenance of helidecks, as well as the storage and handling of aviation fuel. The public can comment until November 24.
The Step Change in Safety organization, which represents a number of players in the North Sea oil-and-gas industry, is reporting progress in the implementation of the safety improvement measures required by the UK CAA in its CAP 1145 review. To improve survivability in the event of a ditching, helicopters are being equipped with a better emergency breathing system (EBS) and more attention is being focused on the shape and size of passengers in relation to the size of emergency escape windows.
Sikorsky celebrated the 10th anniversary this month of the delivery of the first production S-92 medium-twin helicopter to offshore oil/gas operator PHI. Since then, Sikorsky has delivered more than 200 of the type. The fleet has accumulated more than 750,000 flight hours, nearly 90 percent of which were logged in offshore oil/gas operations. Sikorsky is now looking forward to fattening the roster of countries that fly head-of-state S-92s: the U.S.’s Marine One Presidential fleet will be based on the 19-seat design.
A fire, thought to have been started by an arsonist, early in the morning on September 26 immediately closed the Chicago En Route ATC Center (ZAU) in Aurora, Ill., shutting down air traffic at Chicago O’Hare and Midway International airports, as well as at a half dozen business aviation airports in the area. A Chicago flight services briefer told AIN on September 27 that ZAU will remain closed until September 30.
The Professional Airways Safety Specialists union described the damage to the center’s equipment as “substantial.”
An advance notice of proposed rulemaking from the Bureau of Safety and Environment (BSEE) seeks to improve safety for operations related to helicopters and helidecks on fixed offshore facilities. The BSEE invites comments on whether to incorporate in its regulations industry standards for design, construction and maintenance of helidecks, as well as standards for aviation fuel storage and handling.
Aireon, a joint venture involving Iridium Communications and Nav Canada, the country’s private-sector civil air navigation service provider, has announced a plan to provide free real-time global emergency flight tracking for any ADS-B equipped aircraft. The Aireon Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking service will be available to authorized search-and-rescue operations, soon after the completion of the Iridium Next satellite constellation in 2017.
The Australian-led Joint Agency Coordination Center at the heart of the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 said last week that 58 objects “inconsistent with the Indian Ocean seabed” had been located in an area not previously explored. The Malaysian government is bringing an underwater vehicle to the area at the end of September to aid in identifying the objects. MH370, a Boeing 777, disappeared March 8 with 239 people aboard.
Australian company One Atmosphere was recently named this year’s winner of the Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization’s Eureka prize. The company received the honor for creating Pegasus, an emergency helicopter buoyancy system to prevent aircraft from sinking after ditching at sea. One Atmosphere said the lightweight Pegasus will quickly raise a 22,000-pound helicopter from a depth of 33 feet and keep it afloat for four hours.
The European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA)–which operates and maintains Egnos, Europe’s Waas equivalent–and Eurocontrol signed a new cooperation agreement yesterday under which they will jointly implement European satellite navigation policies in the aviation sector. The move will set the stage for the EU to evolve its air traffic management infrastructure from one based primarily on ground-based systems to a more satellite-based system, improving accessibility, efficiency and safety for European operators, pilots and airports.