The U.S. government shutdown could have “grave repercussions on the [ATC] system,” Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca), told an October 10 rally. “The furlough of thousands of aviation safety professionals is eliminating critical layers of redundancy and safety that keep the system operating safely and efficiently. The shutdown has also interrupted the flow of hiring, training and innovation,” he said.
U.S.-registered business jets experienced a notable drop in nonfatal accidents in the first nine months versus the same time frame last year, according to preliminary figures compiled by AIN. The number of fatal accidents remained the same, but the number of fatalities fell slightly during the most recent nine-month period.
The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) hosted its air medical safety summit last month in Washington, D.C. Topics covered at the event included enhancing professionalism, data collection, coordinated communications, technology and developing a low-altitude infrastructure that supports the helicopter EMS community.
Longtime FAA watchers will remember the FAA’s advanced automation system (AAS), which was contracted in 1990 to replace the agency’s venerable Host ATC system, which had entered service 20 years earlier. AAS was to be the answer to the controllers’ every prayer, until it started to run into technical trouble. In fact, it encountered so much trouble that the FAA cancelled its development in 1994–reportedly at the strong urging of Congress–after expenditures had reached $2.6 billion, without clear indications of when it would achieve operational readiness or its final cost.
In an effort to align its standards with much of the world, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued changes in the way it will require the labeling of hazardous materials in the future. These changes will conform to the U.N. standard or globally harmonized systems of classification and labeling of chemicals (GHS) and will affect all U.S. aircraft operators and service providers. They involve a series of new pictograms on the labels of potentially hazardous chemicals as well as a new format for safety data sheets that must accompany all hazardous chemicals.
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) yesterday that would regulate “air charter brokers.” The agency says it is undertaking this action “to protect consumers, ensuring that consumers of single-entity charter air transportation have adequate information about the operator of chartered aircraft and enumerating certain prohibited unfair and deceptive practices by air taxis and commuter air carriers.”
The FAA issued an airworthiness directive–2013-18-09–on September 18 affecting some Honeywell ASCa emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) installed on transport-category aircraft.
The International Civil Aviation Organization’s 2013 annual safety report on commercial aviation concludes that although Africa accounts for only 5 percent of accidents recorded last year, that region’s accidents account for 45 percent of the fatalities, more than any other area ICAO reviewed.
In 2012, five accidents in Africa claimed 167 lives. In Asia, also a focal point for safety concerns, 23 accidents claimed 161 lives.
The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General has identified the agency’s seven biggest challenges for the 12-month period beginning October 1, two of which apply to aviation. The IG said it will focus on improving FAA oversight of the aviation industry and the operations of the national airspace system, as well as on identifying and addressing root causes of problems with NextGen and setting program priorities.
New work rules governing occupational safety and health conditions for cabin crew will become effective September 26. The new rules will apply to anyone working aboard any aircraft that legally requires a cabin crewmember, whether operating under Part 121, 135 or 91 rules.