How much would it be worth to be able to reliably predict the structural failure of any part or component of an aircraft long before any flaw becomes visible? To be able to discover that there would be a structural failure in the top of a fuselage, in a vertical stabilizer or even in a landing gear before there was any visible indication such as a crack?
McDonnell Douglas MD-369D, Volcano, Hawaii, June 15, 2003 – The commercial pilot and three passengers were killed when the MD-369D lost power and crashed onto a rugged hardened lava flow in the Volcanoes National Park. The NTSB determined that the loss of power, and the accident, was caused by the fatigue fracture and separation of the compressor coupling adapter.
The FAA is accepting comments until August 16 on a proposed Airworthiness Directive that would affect as many as 3,572 TFE731-2 and -3 turbofans on U.S.-registered aircraft. If the measure is enacted, the engines’ low-pressure turbine stage 1 disks would have to be repetitively checked for fatigue cracks. An estimated 1,900 of those engines would require disk replacement under the proposed AD.
Bombardier is to hold its first Safety Standdown event in Europe at the end of this week’s European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition here in Geneva. The gathering will consist of a full day of seminars at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (next to the Palexpo convention center) on Friday, May 25, preceded by a reception on Thursday evening.
An April 10 safety recommendation issued by the NTSB calls for the FAA to revise its policies related to air traffic controller work schedules to account for disruptive sleep patterns and the accumulation of so-called sleep debt. It also recommends the institution of a training program to educate controllers and schedulers about the incidence and effect of fatigue on performance.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) is placing the burden of the NTSB’s recommendations squarely on the FAA. “Controller schedules were imposed on the controller workforce last September with little to no input [from controllers], let alone negotiations,” said a Natca spokesman. He dismissed FAA statements that controller schedules are “negotiated” with the union and that schedule changes require approval from employees.
The NTSB issued a series of recommendations this week asking the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association to tighten regulations and procedures pertaining to controller vigilance, training and fatigue.
“War on Error” is the theme of the 2005 Safety Standdown seminar being held by Bombardier Learjet from October 25 through 27 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Wichita. The objective of this annual three-day conference is to improve corporate aviation safety, and the topics covered are applicable to all business jets regardless of manufacturer.
The Air Line Pilots Association welcomed the NTSB’s findings of pilot fatigue and color blindness as factors in the crash of the FedEx 727, but didn’t believe the Safety Board went far enough in its investigation.
Of some 3,572 TFE731-2 and -3 engines on U.S.-registered business jets that would have to get their low-pressure turbine stage 1 disks repetitively checked for fatigue cracks, it is estimated that about 1,900 would need to replace the disks, if the FAA adopts a proposed AD. The directive would essentially mandate compliance with a two-year-old Honeywell Service Bulletin that addresses possible fatigue cracking in the disks.