The FAA will begin formal rulemaking to consider whether to allow private pilots to use a driver’s license in lieu of an FAA medical certificate in some circumstances, the agency announced yesterday. The announcement follows a joint petition by AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association to the FAA to expand the third-class medical exemption, as well as proposed legislation, the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA), that is currently making its way through both the House and Senate.
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.
While Asiana Airlines acknowledged the culpability of its pilots in the loss of airspeed that ultimately caused the July 6 crash of one of the carrier’s Boeing 777-200ERs on approach to San Francisco International Airport, it also blamed the design of the airplane itself, describing as “inadequate” the warning system to alert the flight crew that the autothrottle had stopped maintaining airspeed.
During a recent conference in London the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Flight Operations Group (FOG) solicited the views of a select group of speakers representing pilots, airlines, manufacturers and regulators about the various scenarios that might have led to the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. At least one contradictory statement accompanied each of the plausible explanations, however, suggesting more than one causal event occurred simultaneously, according to one expert. “If it was hypoxia, then who turned the aircraft?” he asked. “If it was a fire, then how did it continue flying? If it was the flight crew, then why did the cabin crew not intervene?”
“I’m telling you, our plane was like a pharmacy with wings.”
Never renowned for its ability to fast-track rulemaking, the FAA might be gunning for a new record.
It has been nearly a decade since the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) introduced an amendment to its aviation rulemaking to require member states to have certified international airports establish a safety management system (SMS). The FAA has said it supports harmonization of international standards and has worked to make U.S. aviation safety regulations consistent with ICAO standards and recommended practices.
The UK CAA has unveiled a series of dramatic measures stemming from the review it launched last September to improve the safety of offshore helicopter operations in the North Sea. Its primary goal is to improve the odds of passengers and crew surviving a ditching, but the exhaustive 293-page report also addresses pilot training, helidecks and a host of other safety topics.
The NTSB’s recent safety alert #033 reminds pilots that without adequate preparation, robust monitoring and position cross-checking using all available resources, flight crews may misidentify a nearby airport that they see during the approach to their destination.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on March 26 released a comprehensive review of the November 2013 shooting incident at Los Angeles International airport in which a TSA employee was killed. Immediately following the November attack, the TSA stepped up local and state law enforcement patrols at major airports. The TSA report said new agency protocols should enhance the safety and security of its employees, as well as airline passengers.
A preliminary NTSB accident report released last week provided details of the March 18 crash of a Eurocopter AS350 in Seattle. The pilot and the photographer aboard the helicopter were killed when it spun out of control shortly after lifting off from a TV station’s helipad near the downtown Space Needle tower. One person on the ground was seriously burned after the crash set his vehicle on fire near the crash site.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said an additional go-around might have prevented a January 23 wet-runway excursion involving a chartered Fairchild SA-226 turboprop at Archerfield in Queensland.