Video Cameras in the Cockpit. Another Lost Battle?

The debate over video cameras in airplane cockpits has just begun and is heating up, after a list of high profile aviation disasters raised authorities concerns over available information to accident investigators.

According to the Wall Street Journal, ICAO is planning a big push this year to install video cameras in airliner cockpits, although the discussion over the additional technology will likely take years; the regulation will ultimately fall into the hands of individual countries.

Airline pilots and unions have long opposed cockpit video cameras, arguing that images or footage may be used not only with the purpose of an accident investigation. Pilots fundament that the information provided by the CVR – Cockpit Voice Recorder and the FDR – Flight Data Recorder — neither of which collect visual information — is enough to carry on an investigation. Other concerns are that the cameras may be also used for routine monitoring of pilots.

Last week, Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, stated in front of a Senate panel that in the crashes of SilkAir Flight 185 and EgyptAir Flight 990 in 1997 and 1999, respectively, information from cockpit cameras would have been able to confirm the suspected pilot suicides. Instead, both investigations turned up inconclusive despite strong evidence of a deliberate crash.

Capt. Ivan

FAA Issues a New Icing Certification Rule

The Federal Aviation Administration issued last Wesnesday a new rule amending the airworthiness standards aplicable to certain transport category aircraft certified for flight into known icing conditions.

The FAA adopted this rule to improve the safety standards of those transport category airplanes operating in areas where supercooled large droplets – SLD are present. The new rule requires to achieve certain flying characteristics and performance during an icing encounter, also expand the engine installation certification and some component certification regulations like, angle of attack, airspeed indication, etc.

See the new rule here

A350 XWB at One Step to Win Certification

 

The Airbus A350 XWB is expecting to win European certification next Tuesday, according to the manufacturer.

The Airbus A350XWB expecting to win certification next Tuesday.

The Airbus A350XWB expecting to win certification next Tuesday.

This approval will allow Airbus newest wide-body jetliner to enter service once the first production model has been tested and delivered to launch customer Qatar Airways, which the companies expect to happen in the fourth quarter.
The competitor of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was developed at an estimated cost of $15 billion.

In a larger version to be developed, the A350 is also expected to compete with Boeing’s larger 777.

After more than year of flight trials, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration are expected to give their approvals simultaneously, but without the glitzy celebrations which marked the certification of the A380 superjumbo in 2006.

Airbus officials said last week the certification could take place in coming days. The company declined further comment. EASA was not immediately available for comment.
Airbus had set a September target for the first flight of its upgraded A320neo, which took place on Thursday, and for the certification of the A350.

Source: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

FAA – Mitigating the Risks of a Runway Overrun.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released last Thursday an advisory circular directed to point the necessity of focused training of flight crews to prevent runway overrun events.

Information gathered by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reveals that runway overruns during the landing phase of flight account for approximately 10 incidents or accidents every year with varying degrees of severity, with many accidents resulting in fatalities. The NTSB also concludes that because of the dynamics of a tailwind approach and landing, particularly on wet or contaminated runways, the FAA should provide current and comprehensive guidance regarding the risks associated with tailwind landings and raise awareness of the reduced margins of safety during tailwind landing operations.

The agency recommends the elaboration of strategies focused on training and testing of flightcrews, combined with training based scenarios as tools to prevent runway overrun events. Emphasis on training and checking during initial pilot certification, recurrent training and checking events must not merely be an academic event, but must be practical in order to increase a pilot’s recognition of a higher risk landing operation.

Operators are responsible for developing training programs, SOPs, and complying with all of the regulatory requirements for the flight. All pilots are responsible for knowing the operational conditions they will be encountering and being able to assess the impact of environmental situations on the airplane’s landing distance. This responsibility includes following company SOPs and/or industry best practices and exercising the highest level of aeronautical decision making (ADM) to ensure the safety of the flight.

– FAA Advisory Circular AC91-79A – Mitigating the Risks of a Runway Overrun Upon Landing.

Capt. Ivan

Related Post:
– The Stabilized Approach.

 

 

FAA – UPS Crash, as Usual the Pilots are To Blame.

FAA accident investigators determined that a series of pilot’s errors and violations of safety procedures as the primary cause of the UPS Airbus A300-600 crash at Birmingham, AL (USA) on Aug 14th 2013. Both pilots died in the pre-dawn accident when the aircraft crashed a short distance from the Birmingham runway.

“Yes, the pilots flew the airplane into the ground, there’s no question,” said National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt, a former airline pilot.
Although the NTSB did not blame UPS on its report, Sumwalt said the cargo operator also failed to take actions that could have prevented the crash.

The NTSB mentioned a series of pilot’s errors on its report:
– The captain failed to correctly program an aircraft computer, failed to monitor the plane’s altitude, didn’t relay important information to his co-pilot, and failed to abort the landing when it became apparent the plane was in trouble.
– The captain did not have a stabilized approach — meaning the plane’s speed, direction and descent were not within established standards
– The first officer, meanwhile, failed to communicate altitudes to the pilot as the plane approached Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. In a conversation captured on the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, the co-pilot also confessed to being fatigued, evidently after failing to use her off-duty time to get appropriate rest.

Sumwalt also blamed the global cargo operator for not updating a software on a ground proximity warning system, which could have given the crew an earlier indication they were too close to the ground, he said.
“Based on the rate of descent of this particular aircraft, it would be impossible to determine whether a software upgrade would have made a difference,” Capt. Houston Mills, UPS director of airline safety, noted that the NTSB does not cite the software in its official finding.

Sumwalt said the cargo carrier also did not provide all of the available weather information to the pilots. As a result, the pilots likely expected to see the airport after descending below clouds at 1,000 feet, but didn’t clear the clouds until 350 feet.

“Everything UPS does is about efficiency. They have guys running around with clipboards and stopwatches to make sure if an airplane is a minute late, someone will be held accountable for it. But the sad thing here — this (technology) could have possibly prevented this accident.”
“If you’re interested in efficiency, I can guarantee you on August 14 of last year, those packages on the airplanes did not get delivered by 10:30 in the morning,” Sumwalt said.
UPS’ Mills acknowleged that known information about the cloud ceiling was not relayed to the pilots. But, he said, the pilots had been given a forecast that included a variable cloud ceiling, giving the pilots enough to plan and execute their approach.

The U.S. aviation industry has closely watched the UPS crash investigation largely because it highlights different FAA standards for commercial and cargo aircraft. In January of this year, the FAA required additional rest hours for commercial pilots, but it exempted cargo pilots.

Cargo pilots say rest rules should be uniform, regardless of the type of aircraft flown.
Wednesday, the NTSB concluded the pilots of Flight 1354 had been given an adequate opportunity to rest, even under the rule that applies to commercial pilots. The rule did not make a difference in this case, the board said.
UPS pilots complained of fatigue before fatal crash

Asked if the UPS culture encourages pilots to call in fatigued when they are tired, 91% “strongly disagreed” or “somewhat disagreed,” according to a survey conducted in March by the Independent Pilots Association, a union that represents UPS pilots.

“You probably have some bias in here as it was issued by a (union),” Sumwalt said. “But when you have 2,202 people responding to that, they are trying to tell you something.”
UPS spokesman Malcolm Berkley said the union was “politicizing” the investigation in an effort to change pilot work hours. UPS pilots typically work 70 hours a month — 30 in the air, Berkley said, less than the 55 hours the typical commercial pilot flies.

The safety board approved more than 20 recommendations, including one that board member Mark Rosekind called “ground-breaking” that would require warnings about flying fatigued during pre-flight briefings on overnight flights.

Capt. Ivan

FAA Bans US Based Carriers to Stop Flying over Syria

The FAA – Federal Aviation Administration, has ordered airlines based in the United States to stop flying over Syria, citing a “serious potential threat” to civil planes.

The FAA ordered last Monday to all airlines based in the United States to stop flying over Syria, citing a “serious potential threat” to civil planes, including armed groups with anti-aircraft weapons.

“Based on an updated assessment of the risk associated with such operations and the lack of any requests from operators wishing to fly in this airspace, we believe it prudent to prohibit US operators from flying into, out of and over Syria,” the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement. The FAA’s previous so-called Notice to Airmen had strongly advised US operators against flying over Syria.

“The ongoing armed conflict and volatile security environment in Syria poses a serious potential threat to civil aviation,” the new notice said. “Armed extremist groups in Syria are known to be equipped with a variety of anti-aircraft weapons which have the capability to threaten civilian aircraft.” It noted that opposition groups have already shot down Syrian military aircraft over the conflict that began nearly three and a half years ago.

The ban affects all US companies and commercial operators. The FAA has also imposed a ban on US planes over Iraq, effective Aug 8.

Syria, like Iraq, is on a path that carriers can take when traveling between Europe and the Middle East or Asia.

Source:  AFP

FAA and Drones – Incident Case Study.

An US Airways Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft almost collided with a drone above Florida earlier this year, a near-accident that rise concerns about the growing risk from increased use of unmanned aircraft, said Jim Williams, head of the unmanned-aircraft office at the Federal Aviation Administration. Mr. Williams revealed the incident publicly at a conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

US Airways Flight 4650 from Charlotte, N.C., was approaching Tallahassee airport descending through 2,300 feet and about five miles from the airport when it encountered the drone, which the pilot described “as a camouflaged F-4 fixed-wing aircraft that was quite small.” The remote controlled jet was more similar to a model aircraft flown by hobbyists rather than a so-called quadcopter that many see as the type of unmanned aircraft with commercial potential.

“The airplane pilot said that the drone was so close to his jet that he was sure he had collided with it,”
The CRJ did not appear to be damaged when it was inspected after the March 22 incident, Williams said.
But the incident served to highlight the risk of remote-control aircraft, he said.

“The risk for a small UAS to be ingested into a passenger airline engine is very real,” Williams said. “The results could be catastrophic.”

The FAA currently bans the commercial use of drones in the United States and is under growing pressure to set rules that would permit their broader use. Hobby and many law-enforcement uses are permitted.
Last year, the agency began establishing test sites where businesses can try out commercial uses. Two of the centers have started working ahead of schedule.

“The FAA is working aggressively to ensure the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace,” the agency said in a statement.

The March incident was reported to the Tallahassee control tower by the pilot for Bluestreak Airlines, a US Airways commuter carrier. US Airways is part of American Airlines.

The FAA investigated but could not identify the pilot of the drone.
During the conference at the Small Unmanned Systems Business Expo in San Francisco, Williams also showed videos of several drone accidents, including one in which a drone crashed into a crowd during the running of the bulls in Richmond, Virginia, last fall.

Capt. Ivan

Photo: File – Wikipedia

 

FAA Softens Considerably their Apnea Policy

The FAA – Federal Aviation Administration went backward considerably on its sleep apnea proposal. The controversial plan to require sleep clinic testing based on body mass index appears to be dead. Last year, Federal Air Surgeon Fred Tilton announced, without consultation with aviation groups or the doctors that do flight medicals, that any pilot with a BMI greater than 40 would have his/her certificate suspended and be automatically required to be assessed by an accredited sleep specialist to prove that he or she did not have obstructive sleep apnea.

Under the proposed new rules, assessment may still be required, but the certificate will remain valid until it’s completed, this represents an important step in the right direction over the policy announced last year,”

Under the new policy AMEs have been asking questions about sleep apnea since 2009 and under the new policy if they think a pilot needs further assessment, it can be done by a regular doctor and not a sleep specialist as previously required. It will be up to the second-opinion doctor whether an expensive sleep test ($3,000 or more) is required. The issue prompted bills in both the House and Senate to require the FAA to go through the rulemaking process to enact its previous proposal.

Capt. Ivan

Photo:  AOPA

FAA Orders Boeing to Fix a Software Glitch on the 747-8 Fleet with GE Engines

747-8 GE Engines

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday ordered an immediate fix to the latest version of Boeing Co’s 747-8 plane, saying a software glitch could cause it to lose thrust when close to landing and fly into the ground.

The FAA’s so-called airworthiness directive covers Boeing’s 747-8 and 747-8F planes with certain General Electric engines. It calls for replacing defective software with a new, improved version.

The rule, the fourth such directive involving the 747-8, directly affects seven airplanes in the United States, the FAA said.

If adopted internationally, the rule would cover a larger number. Boeing’s website said it had delivered 66 of the four-engine jets, the company’s largest, to customers worldwide since the model was introduced in October 2011.

The problem never caused a problem in flight, Boeing said.

Because of the seriousness of the safety issues, the directive takes effect April 9, skipping the usual comment period, although comments can still be submitted, the FAA said.

Boeing said data analysis indicated a potential problem, and it advised customers last year to update the software. It said it believed the majority of operators had already done so.

The risk of failure was “extremely remote,” Boeing said.

GE said it owned the software and jointly analyzed it with Boeing, but plane maker decided to recommend the software change to customers.

According to the FAA, the risk arises when a plane is changing back into “air mode” while performing a “rejected or bounced landing.” That change halts hydraulic pressure used to stow the engine thrust reversers, which slow the plane on landing, the agency said.

Without hydraulic pressure, the reversers may not stow fully and might redeploy, which “could result in inadequate climb performance at an altitude insufficient for recovery, and consequent uncontrolled flight into terrain,” the FAA said.

Unidentified business jet/VIP customers own the eight passenger models of the aircraft in the United States, according to Boeing’s website. Air cargo company Atlas Air is the largest U.S. commercial owner of the jet, with a fleet of eight 747-8F freighters.

Among passenger carriers, Lufthansa is the largest operator, with 11. It said its planes were unaffected by the directive.

“GE has confirmed that all our engines already have the software update that is required by the FAA,” a spokesman said on Wednesday.

China’s Cathay Pacific has 13 freighters and Cargolux, based in Luxembourg, has nine.

Korean Airlines Co, Nippon Cargo Airlines Co Ltd and Volga-Dnepr UK Ltd also own 787-8F freighters, according to Boeing’s website.

Source:  Reuters.

Photo:  Reuters

 

FAA Predicts a Continuous Declination on GA Aircraft

The FAA predicts that turbines will surpass the piston fleet in terms of hours flown for the first time within a decade.

The agency released on March 13 its annual forecast of aviation activity, predicting a significant increase in demand for scheduled service (both passenger and cargo) in the coming 20 years, while hours flown by the general aviation fleet are expected to increase only on the strength of turbine-powered aircraft.

The agency predicts average annual airline travel growth of 2.8 percent over the coming two decades, with revenue passenger miles expected to be 76 percent higher in 2034 than the 2013 levels (still estimates). The airline industry carried 745.5 million passengers in 2013, expected to increase in 2014 by just under 1 percent, and to top 1.15 billion passengers flown by 2034.

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General aviation, meanwhile, is predicted to continue a long-running decline on the piston side. The FAA predicts slight but steady increases in overall general aviation activity (including air taxi service), driven by increases in jet and turboprop activity. Total fixed-wing piston hours flown accounted for 73 percent of general aviation activity in 2000, while fixed-wing turbine aircraft accounted for 21 percent of the total hours flown that year. In 2013 (based on estimates), the piston fleet accounted for 56 percent of the nearly 24 million GA hours flown, with fixed-wing jet and turboprop aircraft representing 37 percent of the GA total. By 2034, the FAA predicts, the piston fleet will represent less than half of all GA activity (38 percent), and turbine activity will account for 53 percent. If the FAA predictions hold true, turbine activity will surpass piston activity within the GA sector for the first time in 2023, and the trend will continue.

Predicted changes in the total pilot population are less dramatic, with an expected 9 percent increase in total pilots by 2034 compared to 2013 (and a 4 percent increase in total pilots compared to 2000). Private pilot certificate holders, however, will account for a sharply declining percentage of the total pilot population, down from 40 percent of all pilots in 2000 to 30 percent in 2013, and 28 percent in 2034. Commercial and airline transport pilots will represent a steadily increasing share of the total pilot population.

Government officials, in a news release, focused their attention entirely on predicted increases in revenue-producing aviation.

“The aviation forecast is strong and we predict the use of our airports and airplanes will only rise, which is why we are committed to investing in aviation and taking the steps necessary to maintain improvement in the industry,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in the news release.

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Source:  AOPA

Photo Credits:  AOPA

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