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 on April 2. The announcement comes two years after the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) filed a joint petition asking the FAA to expand the third-class medical exemption to cover more recreational pilots.
The FAA last week proposed a $547,500 civil penalty against Hawaiian Airlines for operating a Boeing 767-300 “more than 5,000 times” when the aircraft was not in compliance with a July 2000 airworthiness directive (AD). The AD required inspections of certain engine thrust reverser components to prevent a portion of the device from separating in flight and causing a rapid decompression of the aircraft. It also mandated initial and repetitive inspections of the components to detect damage and wear, and to take corrective actions if necessary.
Lufthansa Technik (LHT) is studying ways to reduce the loads imposed on a bizliner’s interior walls and their structural attachments by a sudden drop in cabin pressure. The solution appears to lie in installing large cutouts in the walls and floor.
Ever since two pilots fell asleep in the cockpit of a Bombardier CRJ operating as Go! Flight 1002 during a February 2008 flight from Honolulu to Hilo, Hawaii, the NTSB has urged the FAA to tackle the issue of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among pilots. The captain of that aircraft was diagnosed with severe OSA after the flight.
By the time hypoxia is detected, it’s often too late, and the higher the cabin altitude, the less time pilots have to realize that they need to don oxygen masks.
The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive for the Boeing 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, and -900 series. The AD was prompted by a report of cracks found in the skin at body station 540 just below stringer S-22L on a 737-700.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded that the improper installation of a fuselage crown skin panel during the manufacturing process was the probable cause of substantial damage to a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 during a rapid decompression incident in April 2011.
While the U.S. government is on a Congress-created enforced shutdown, the aviation industry might be tempted to wonder what the FAA actually accomplishes. What we are learning is that a lot of what the FAA does is process paperwork. And when the paperwork stops flowing, we can be forced to stop flying.
Student pilot Michael Graham pleaded guilty in a North Carolina U.S. District Court on May 6 to falsifying statements in connection with his submission of an FAA medical form to obtain his student pilot certificate. According to an FAA statement, Graham did not disclose his criminal or medical history or current medications on his application for an airman medical certificate, which an aviation medical examiner subsequently approved. The FAA was notified after his flight instructor became concerned about Graham’s behavior.
LouElla Hollingsworth, a veteran air traffic controller with 29 years’ experience, saved the pilot of a Piaggio Avanti when she recognized signs of hypoxia in his radio transmissions on November 16 last year. Thanks to Hollingsworth’s quick thinking as a Fort Worth Center controller in Texas, she convinced the pilot to descend to a lower altitude where the oxygen level was suitable for breathing.
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