Flight crew unions have opposed last week’s policy change by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) that will allow some knives in U.S. airliner cabins. Under its revised prohibited items list effective April 25, TSA will begin allowing knives with blades up to 2.36 inches in length and 0.5 inches in width to be carried aboard, as well as some wooden and metal clubs, all of which have been prohibited since the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
The FAA says recent evaluations of error reports occurring over oceanic airspace show that deviations, especially vertical large height deviations (LHD), have increased in numbers to the point where they exceed the agency’s safety target levels. That means increased risk for both private and commercial operators. An LHD occurs when an aircraft strays more than 300 feet from its assigned altitude.
Helicopter pilots unexpectedly straying into IFR conditions and losing control of their aircraft has been identified as the cause of the greatest number of rotorcraft fatalities, according to the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST). The group, which is focused on greatly reducing helicopter accidents by 2016, has reported that NTSB figures from 2011 indicate that 45 of 52 such accidents proved fatal to occupants. “That means the chances of surviving an inadvertent encounter with IFR are just 14 percent,” according to IHST.
The U.S. Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, have asked the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General to look into the rise in the number of losses of ATC separation that began emerging after the FAA’s 2009 update of its operational error reporting protocols. The IG has received a similar request from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, in partnership with the Schiphol Group, Delta Air Lines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey christened the first in a series of biofuel-powered flights between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on March 8.
Elbit Systems announced new orders from home and abroad for its top-of-the-line Hermes 900-series UAV system. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) placed a follow-on order on December 31 last year, having first bought the system in 2010. The IDF has also funded some new features, including quick reconfiguration of payloads, in a separate contract placed in January worth $35 million. The company also sold a Hermes 900 system comprising multiple UAVs and ground stations to “a customer in the Americas.“
With delivery of the first A400M airlifters nearing, Airbus Military has concluded an initial support deal with the French air force and a long-term training contract with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). Meanwhile, Airbus Military is equipping its international training center in Seville with A400M computer-based trainers and a full-motion simulator.
As China reaches an agreement with Russia to buy Sukhoi Su-35 fighters, the domestic J-20 fighter program might have developed problems that China cannot solve on its own anytime soon.
Saudi Arabia and Great Britain have still not agreed to terms for a resumption of Eurofighter Typhoon deliveries. Twenty-four aircraft are operational in the Middle East kingdom, out of the total 72 agreed in the Al-Salam deal. Construction of numbers 25 upward began in 2009, but instead of proceeding to the final assembly line, the subassemblies were placed in storage at BAE’s Warton factory. When they were eventually moved into final assembly last year, it seemed that an agreement was close.
An all-Spanish drone has made its first flight and is claimed to be “the first tactical UAS capable of carrying out civil and military missions.” The Atlante UAS development is led by EADS Cassidian Spain and involves more than 140 subcontractors. The venture capital partners are Indra, GMV and Aries.