The U.S. helicopter safety team (USHST) has begun a recruitment drive to convince more helicopter safety experts to join its efforts to reduce accidents and fatalities in the industry. The USHST comprises members from both industry and government focused on safety management, training, maintenance and safety technology.
Federal Aviation Administration
The FAA on August 14 released its final solicitation for a new Center of Excellence (COE) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) tasked with identifying current and future issues critical to the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace. These issues include detect-and-avoid technology, control and communications, low-altitude operations safety, compatibility with ATC operations and training and certification of UAS pilots and other crewmembers. The agency will support this new COE with at least $500,000 per year over the next 10 years.
The FAA announced it will formally re-examine the certification standards for helicopters under FAR Parts 27 and 29. Currently Part 27 helicopters must weigh 7,000 pounds or less and have no more than nine passenger seats. Helicopters that weigh more than 7,000 pounds and have 10 or more seats fall under the more stringent Part 29.
The FAA announced that the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site Virginia Polytechnic Institute will manage is cleared to start flying aircraft.
The FAA has issued amended repair station regulations that allow the agency to deny an application for a new repair station certificate if the applicant or certain associated key individuals had materially contributed to the circumstances that caused a previous repair station certificate revocation action. The rule also adds a new section prohibiting fraudulent or intentionally false entries or omissions of material facts in any application, record or report made under the repair station rules.
The FAA is reviewing a response from Norwood (Mass.) Airport officials to allegations they violated federal obligations requirements and discriminated against Boston Executive Helicopters. In a complaint filed in May under the provisions of FAR Part 13, Boston Executive Helicopters said the airport’s actions “were clearly done to prevent” it from building an FBO.
The FAA’s Airports Office and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca) have jointly created a new safety system called Airport Voluntary Reporting System (AVRS) to allow the agency’s employees to report safety hazards more easily without fear of retaliation. The FAA and Natca signed a memorandum of understanding for the 18-month pilot program covering 338 of the 550 Airports Office employees.
The U.S. Air Force said Friday it had initiated an investigation at Grand Forks AFB into allegations of cheating on proficiency exams by a number of air traffic controllers attached to the 319th Operations Support Squadron. One airman was caught with images of test material the Air Force alleges were shared with other controllers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general (IG) last month issued recommendations related to the FAA plan to integrate two runway safety systems with airport surface detection equipment (ASDE-X). The two systems are the runway status lights (RWSL) system, which gives pilots a visible warning when runways are occupied; and the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system that generates simultaneous alerts to controllers and pilots of potential runway incursions and ground collisions.
The FAA on August 8 banned all U.S. airlines and commercial operators, as well as anyone flying with an FAA-issued pilot certificate, from operating within Iraqi airspace at any altitude in response to ground fighting between Iraqi security forces and militants. The ban remains in force until further notice.