The Houston Metroplex project took a step forward toward full NextGen usage on May 29 with the implementation of a number of new performance-based navigation procedures (PBN). The local controlling body, Houston Center, eventually plans to bring 60 new procedures online for George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston Hobby and a number of satellite airports in the area.
Accidents, Safety, Security and Training
News about significant aircraft accidents and information from accident reports; information on safety procedures and concerns; crew, passenger, aircraft and airport security issues; and news about simulators and training procedures.
The European Operators Flight Data Monitoring Working Group B–part of the European commercial aviation safety team (ECast)–last week released its study into the precursors of runway excursions. The objectives of the working study were to create best practices for addressing runway excursion problems, as well as to provide guidelines for implementing flight data monitoring (FDM) software tools to identify relevant data.
The FAA’s updated Advisory Circular AC 120-61B provides information to help air carriers augment–but not alter or amend–existing programs to inform crew members about radiation exposure. The AC explains the differences between the natural sources of radiation in the atmosphere as well as the average annual exposure a human experiences from those sources.
The FAA announced on June 2 that seven aerial photo and video production companies are seeking regulatory exemptions that would allow the film and television industry to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for the first time. If the requests, which are supported by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), are granted, there could be useful economic benefits as the agency begins to address the demand for commercial UAS operations and how to balance them with safety concerns.
Later this month, the FAA plans to begin testing a new lighting system at Boston Logan Airport that will warn arriving pilots when their runway is occupied by another aircraft. Called the enhanced final approach runway occupancy signal (eFaros), the new system flashes the existing precision approach path indicator lights to indicate the runway is not safe for landing long before the aircraft is committed to touchdown.
The UK and Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding last week to cooperate in improving Nepal’s aviation safety record. All Nepalese airlines have been banned from operating within European Union airspace since last December. UK authorities will provide support in areas such as pilot training. A 2012 Sita Air accident claimed the lives of seven British citizens. A report by the European Commission on the state of Nepalese aviation safety is not expected before November this year.
For the second year in a row, the aviation unit of Florida’s Marion County Sheriff’s Office hosted a safety training session for law enforcement, emergency medical, firefighting and electronic newsgathering operations from around the state. The May 21 event drew more than 70 attendees from 23 different organizations and focused on the United States National Grid, combatting complacency and formation flying. During the training session attendees practiced joint search-and-rescue efforts by identifying coordinates using the national grid.
UK manufacturer Aveillant last week unveiled a 3-D radar system capable of watching aircraft continuously to distances of 40 nm from the antenna. Since the new system’s antenna does not rotate it is capable of direct contact with the aircraft at all times. It then measures distance and altitude by tracking the target’s Doppler shift and reports back with speed, altitude and direction-of-flight information. The first demonstration of the system is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.
The FAA has reminded operators that continued operations within reduced vertical separation minimum airspace require aircraft maintenance in accordance with RVSM maintenance guidelines. The agency is concerned that many operators bring aircraft in for maintenance and fail to adequately document compliance with RVSM standards.
Foodborne illness is a growing concern in the U.S., and one that flight departments and FBOs should take seriously. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 48 million cases each year in the U.S., 128,000 of them severe enough to require hospitalization, 3,000 of them fatal. Travel medical services provider MedAire notes that gastrointestinal illness accounts for the largest percentage of calls from its private aviation customers, with 77 percent of them regarding passengers.