For the second time in less than a month, a major Internet-related company has acquired a firm developing a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which could serve as a node to provide Internet connectivity from the stratosphere.
Fourteen years of accident data from the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) reveal that U.S. civil helicopter accidents have decreased by approximately 25 percent since the IHST was established in 2006, with an average annual drop in accidents of around 2 percent.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has described the results of its 2013 annual safety report as “very positive for global aviation safety outcomes.” The report, released on April 10, showed the 2013 global accident rate to have declined to 2.8 per million departures last year versus 3.2 per million in 2012. The number of fatal accidents among scheduled air carriers, however, remained steady at nine last year. Fatalities plummeted 55 percent from 2012, to 173 from 388. Compared with a 2010 baseline, fatalities are down 74 percent.
The total combined number of fixed-wing aircraft accidents, incidents and fatalities declined for the U.S.-registered and non-U.S.-registered turbine business aircraft fleet in the first three months of this year versus the same period last year, according to data compiled by AIN. Some individual segments were inconsistent with the overall results, however. Specifically, accidents involving U.S.-registered business jets and propjets resulted in 15 fatalities in the first quarter compared with 22 in the same period last year.
The European Commission proposed new guidelines last week designed to harmonize rules and regulations that dictate the operation of unmanned aerial systems, which the EC designates as remotely piloted aircraft systems. Potential European operators are eager to put unmanned vehicles into service as soon as possible. The proposed new European guidelines will look at safety, security, privacy, data protection and insurance liability issues.
Dallas Addison Airport (ADS) recently became part of a five-year, $10 million radar network demonstration project to learn how X-band sensors can improve hazardous weather forecasts, warnings and responses in dense urban environments.
An Airbus Helicopters AS350 emergency medical aircraft crashed on the roof of the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque seconds after liftoff on April 9. The helicopter, operated by Petroleum Helicopters International, had just dropped off a patient. It failed to clear the hospital’s roof as it attempted to lift off. A fire broke out shortly after the helicopter rolled over, but was quickly extinguished by the hospital’s roof sprinkler system. Of the three people aboard, only the pilot sustained minor injuries.
The FAA announced on April 9 that the aviation safety rating of the Philippines has been upgraded to category one from category two after the agency completed an international safety assessment last month. The Philippines’ safety rating was set to category two in 2008 for unspecified safety deficiencies.
A Hageland Aviation Cessna 208B Grand Caravan crashed in the Three Steps Mountain region near Bethel, Alaska, on April 8. Both people aboard the training flight were killed in the accident and the fire that followed. The flight departed Bethel at 3:42 p.m. local time. The last recorded data hit on the airplane via Flightradar24 at 4:02 p.m. showed it level at 3,700 feet and 160 knots. Weather in the local Bethel area was reported as clear skies, 10 miles visibility and light wind from the north.
Kanata, Canada-based First Air said it fired two Boeing 737 pilots last week after an incident in which the crew allowed the aircraft to stray from its programmed flight plan on a March 31 trip between Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, and Iqaluit. Initial reports claim the pilots might not have followed the company’s standard operating procedures and mis-programmed the aircraft’s flight management system. The aircraft, carrying 19 passengers and four crewmembers, arrived safely at its destination, 20 minutes late.