The recent FAA rule on cockpit use of personal electronic devices applies only to Part 121 carriers, although the NTSB would like to see the rule extended to cover Part 135 and Part 91K operators. AIN recently surveyed readers for insight into the distractions that challenge them and received 112 responses to our four questions. Nearly 70 percent of respondents told us cockpit and or cabin distractions are definitely an issue.
AINsafety » March 3, 2014
UK ATC provider NATS said last week that the first practical trial of the TopFlight air traffic management system (ATM) successfully delivered the expected level of flight efficiencies. TopFlight is a key element in Europe’s Sesar next-generation ATM system, similar to the U.S. NextGen program. A NATS official reported at the Air Traffic Management.net website that gate-to-gate travel times measured for 100 British Airways flights across the North Atlantic using the new system saved up to half a ton of fuel per flight.
The DOT’s office of inspector general (IG) wants to know whether the FAA has established adequate regulations governing the use of flight-deck automation. Some current and former ranking members of the U.S. House of Representatives transportation and infrastructure committee and its subcommittee on aviation who are concerned about the growing reliance of flight crews on flight-deck automation approached the IG about conducting an audit, which the IG confirmed it would launch early this month.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) report on the August 2012 runway overrun at St. John’s, Newfoundland, involving a Russian Ilyushin Il-76TD found a number of actions that culminated with the 140-ton aircraft rolling off the end of the airport’s 8,500-foot Runway 11. Despite the use of maximum reverse thrust, the aircraft departed the hard surface at approximately 40 knots and came to a stop 640 feet beyond the end of the runway. No injuries were reported to any of the 10 people on board.
Officials from Etihad Airlines and the United Arab Emirates, where the carrier is based, are still investigating last week’s arson incidents aboard a Boeing 777 that departed Melbourne, Australia, for Abu Dhabi in which a number of smoke alarms were activated in toilets. Although no one was injured, Flight EY416 did make a precautionary landing in Jakarta, Indonesia, after smoke was detected pouring from two toilets aboard the aircraft. No one was arrested in Jakarta and the flight departed after a complete search of the aircraft, all passengers and all carry-on luggage.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) granted Norwegian Air International an air operator certificate (AOC) on February 13 for its long-haul carrier, Norwegian Air Shuttle, for routes between Europe, Asia and the U.S. The European Cockpit Association said it is worried the IAA will not be able to provide adequate oversight of what it calls a “complex new” airline structure.
The NTSB announced two helicopter safety alerts during last week’s Heli-Expo show in Anaheim, Calif. Each alert was supplemented by a short video production. One alert focuses on improving helicopter safety through the use of advanced flight simulators, while the other considers the critical role of maintenance technicians in the overall safety of flight operations.
The FAA issued an airworthiness directive [AD 2014-03-11] on February 19 for Bell 204B helicopters requiring an inspection of the tail-rotor cable assembly for an incorrectly machined body. This AD was prompted by a report from Bell that a defective body on the cable prevents the barrel assembly from fully engaging in the body cavity. The AD, which becomes effective on March 26, is intended to prevent disengagement of the cable from the barrel, failure of the tail-rotor pitch control and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.
The Southern California Safety Institute (SCSI) is running a cabin accident investigation class focused on the safety and survivability aspects of major transport aircraft cabins. Participants in the April 14-18 course in Long Beach will learn the requirements for interviewing survivors and documenting the cabin for deficiencies, injuries sustained during the aircraft accident, escape from the aircraft and survivability in the post-crash environment.
Rufino Sanchez, a former FAA assistant controller at New York Center, was sentenced in a New York District Court on February 14 to four years probation and six months of home detention for theft of union funds and falsification of records. Sanchez, a 36-year FAA employee, once served as president for the Local R-310 branch of the National Association of Government Employees, a position that gave him unfettered access to union funds. Sanchez used union money to cover personal expenses and also filed false reports to the U.S. Labor Department about the union’s finances.