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.
NBAA has warned the FAA of the “specter of additional oversight and regulation of business aircraft operations” stemming from the agency’s proposal to allow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversight of aircraft cabin workplace safety issues.
The Walk Out for Safety protest organized by the European Cockpit Association (ECA) was supported by 2,500 to 3,000 pilots and cabin crew across 26 different countries on January 22. The event was intended to express opposition to changes to commercial flight- and duty-time rules proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Investigations of separate incidents involving Boeing 787s in the U.S. and Japan appear to concur that the batteries that burned in each case did not overcharge. But investigators continue to seek causes for the two incidents that led to the grounding of the worldwide 787 fleet. The probes remain focused on the eight-cell lithium-ion batteries manufactured by Japan’s GS Yuasa for Thales, which supplies the 787’s electrical power conversion system.
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).
Since October last year there have been 132 incidents involving battery overheats or fires aboard aircraft, according to the FAA. Until the recent series of Boeing 787 incidents, most fires occurred in cargo containers or personal electronic devices carried in the cabin.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (IG) issued a self-initiated report on Dec. 19, 2012, about the FAA’s en route automation modernization (Eram) program’s (flight) information security controls. Unfortunately, the IG did not make the report public online due to security requirements to protect the information crews might care about.
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.
TAG Aviation has introduced a new measure to manage noise at the UK’s Farnborough Airport. Since January 1, jet aircraft that do not meet the ICAO Chapter/Stage IV standard have been banned from using the airport. This noise standard is ICAO’s most stringent and quietest classification for jet aircraft. To ensure compliance, TAG requires approved noise certificates before permission can be granted to land or take off at the airport. Approximately 300 movements last year would not meet the new standard, it said.
According to the European Cockpit Association (ECA), pilots in the region are pleased about the European Commission’s December 19 announcement of a new accident/incident occurrence reporting system.