U.S.-registered business jets and turboprops experienced fewer nonfatal accidents in 2012 versus 2011, but N-numbered business jets incurred significantly more fatal accidents and fatalities last year than in 2011, recording the highest totals since 2008. Conversely, U.S.-registered turboprops incurred considerably fewer accidents and fatalities in the year-over-year comparison.
National Transportation Safety Board
With the start of a new year comes time for reflection on the old year and my hopes for the new one. In aviation, the past year held many memorable moments; for a former NTSB member like myself who has been on site after many fatal crashes the best part was the continuing accident-free record for U.S. airline flights.
The damaged lithium-ion APU battery from the Japan Air Lines Boeing 787 that caught fire on January 7 while parked at Boston’s Logan Airport experienced an uncontrolled chemical reaction known as a “thermal runway” and short circuiting, but the cause and sequence of these events are still unknown, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
In a report released Thursday, the NTSB reported that no lives were lost in U.S. airline accidents in 2011. The total number of deaths in aviation did rise, however, with most of those occurring in general aviation, where the number grew to 491 in 2011 from 476 the year before.
Aviation alphabet groups praised the appointment of Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) to serve as the new chairman of the aviation subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure during the 113th Congress. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over civil aviation in the U.S., including most aspects of the FAA, TSA and NTSB.
Clearwater, Fla.-based fractional provider Avantair restarted operations on November 9, following a nearly three-week voluntary grounding of its approximately 60 Piaggio Avantis. The voluntary grounding was precipitated by a July 28 incident in which an Avantair-operated Avanti shed an elevator in flight and flew two subsequent legs before the crew noticed that the control surface was missing. “The Piaggio continued to fly normally for a few reasons, including its dual elevators, forward canards and high wings,” according to Avantair CEO Steve Santo.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s chairman Deborah Hersman and her fellow board members released the 2013 Most Wanted List of safety recommendations November 14 because, according to Hersman, “Transportation will be a big topic in the 113th Congress…We want to highlight our priorities and help assure safety has a seat at the table.” This year’s list includes an increased focus on improving airport surface safety, better detection of fires in all transportation modes and a continued look at the stubbornly st
The NTSB released its annual “Most Wanted” list of safety improvements yesterday, with only one change from last year. Fatigue was removed and replaced with “preserving the integrity of transportation infrastructure.” NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said that changes to the list represent progress made, or acknowledge that there are other areas “ripe for change” in a given year. “We’re releasing the list now so it is available to policymakers at the state and federal levels, as well as industry groups, as they craft their priorities for 2013,” she explained.
The FAA, airlines and aviation labor unions have launched a partnership with the NTSB to share summarized safety information to help prevent accidents. The information to be shared through the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (Asias) will help the NTSB determine if an accident is unique or an indication of systemic risks.
The NTSB issued a number of recommendations on November 1–A12-64 and A12-65–in an attempt to prevent aircraft accident first responders from being injured by ejection seats or ballistic parachute recovery devices at crash scenes. The Board wants the FAA to identify the devices aboard an aircraft during every tri-year registration and also determine a method of making that information readily accessible to emergency crews. Recommendation A12-66 will also require STC-modified aircraft to report any new on-board devices.