This month marks a milestone for NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), the 35th anniversary of its monthly safety bulletin, Callback. Capt. Rex Hardy, a decorated U.S. naval aviator and test pilot, created the publication in 1979. His vision of a short, readable and informal format to present “lessons learned” (selected from the thousands of anonymous ASRS submissions by flight crews, air traffic controllers, mechanics and others) was an immediate success. Yesterday, current editor Don Purdy published Callback issue number 414.
Malaysian Airlines has confirmed that one of its Boeing 777s has crashed in eastern Ukraine, about 31 miles from the border with Russia. Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 280 passengers and 15 crew on board. According to Ukrainian air traffic controllers, they lost contact with the aircraft at around 14.15 UTC almost 20 miles from the waypoint at Tamak.
DRS Technologies, part of the Finmeccanica group (Outside Exhibit 1), is promoting a flight data recorder that deploys upon impact in the event of a crash. The system has been used for many years in military aircraft and helicopters operating in the offshore industry, and has been put to the test many times. The need for a system for commercial aircraft that can be easily and quickly recovered has been brought into sharp focus following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in March.
Israel’s Elbit Systems (Hall 1 Stand C14) and Nicarnica Aviation of Norway signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the Farnborough International Airshow yesterday to implement Nicarnica’s volcanic ash detection technology into Elbit’s enhanced vision system (EVS) cameras on commercial aircraft. The combination will help pilots avoid flying into contaminated areas while still maintaining safe operation in areas affected by volcanic eruptions.
The UK Parliament’s transport committee has released a report on offshore helicopter safety that indicates passenger culture can be intimidating and crash survivors feel uncomfortable about their relationship with investigators. The report touches on “troubling evidence about a macho bullying culture,” with reports that offshore workers concerned about helicopter safety were told they should leave the industry.
The NTSB says the probable cause of a Beechjet 400 overrun accident in September 2012 at Macon, Ga., was the pilot’s failure to maintain proper airspeed on final approach. Two of the three people on board received minor injuries. The aircraft touched down on a wet runway “at a speed 15 to 19 knots above the calculated Vref speed (based on radar data) of 108 knots with inadequate runway remaining to stop,” the final report said.
The Dutch government’s safety board wants to publicize the existence of false glideslope indications that could cause the aircraft, when coupled to the autopilot, to pitch up rather than down. The insights were gathered during an investigation into a pitch-up incident on a Boeing 737 in which the incident “digressed” until the aircraft’s stick shaker activated.
The board wants pilots to understand the dangerous information these false glideslope signals can send to an aircraft’s autopilot that might cause the system to operate in a manner opposite to what the cockpit crew expects.
The FAA published notice of proposed rulemaking 2014-0391 in the Federal Register last week to amend qualifications standards for some flight simulation training devices (FSTDs), specifically those capable of reproducing extended flight envelope and adverse weather event training.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) reported last month that with 5.5 million flight hours recorded on turbofan engines between 2008 and 2012, only 280 powerplant incidents were recorded, or about one every 20,000 flight hours. Of those 280 occurrences, 98 percent could be classified as low risk; four were classified as medium risk, two as high risk and one as a very high risk. None, however, resulted in any injuries to passengers or crew.
The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) says it strongly supports the use of deployable flight data recorders or triggered flight data transmission capabilities in addition to the standard cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder already installed on transport aircraft. The FSF believes a deployable flight data recorder should also include an emergency locator transmitter. The International Civil Aviation Organization is considering this option in a proposed amendment to Annex 6.17–Emergency location locator transmitter.