The FAA this month will issue a rule requiring a new approach to stall training for airline pilots that runs counter to previous guidance. According to Dr Jeff Schroeder, the agency’s chief scientific and technical officer, the new approach will, “take a lot of work to undo previous training because some pilots are ‘spring-loaded’ to the previous technique.”
Aviation accidents and incidents
Some opponents of Nigeria’s aviation minister, Stella Oduah, have called for her resignation after her comments following the October 3 crash of an Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia in Lagos (see story below). Oduah is reported to have referred to the crash as an “act of God,” adding, “We do not pray for accidents but it is inevitable…We do everything to ensure that we do not have accidents.”
Spatial disorientation is the likely reason the pilot of a privately owned Robinson R44 helicopter lost control of the aircraft and crashed near southern Quebec’s Saint-Ferdinand Aerodrome in August 2011, according to the accident report issued by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). The private pilot and the three passengers aboard, all members of the pilot’s family, were killed in the nighttime accident.
The fatal crash of a CHC Scotia-operated Eurocopter AS332L2 Super Puma on August 23 off the Shetland Islands in the UK has created an outcry among passengers and is puzzling experts. Investigators have found no evidence of technical failure so far, nor have they hinted at human factors. Meanwhile, a pilot based in the North Sea noted that the helicopter seriously deviated from the expected course, two nautical miles from its destination, Sumburgh Airport.
According to the FAA, a Cessna 525A Citation CJ2 veered off the right side of Runway 21 after landing at Santa Monica (Calif.) Airport at 6:20 p.m. PDT last night. The twinjet struck a hangar and was destroyed by fire. At press time, the FAA and NTSB did not “have information on the number of people aboard or their conditions,” though local news has reported that the sole-occupant pilot perished in the crash.
Ellen Saracini, widow of 9/11 United Airlines Flight 175 captain Victor Saracini, told AIN she does not believe that the airline her late husband flew for is doing all it can to prevent another 9/11-like cockpit takeover. Saracini was invited to Chicago on September 4 to discuss (with United vice president of corporate safety Michael Quiello) the company’s use of secondary cockpit barriers to prevent a potential breach. United Airlines currently maintains the largest fleet of aircraft already equipped with secondary barriers.
While the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch is still probing the Eurocopter Super Puma fatal accident that killed four in August, the country’s CAA, its Norwegian counterpart and the European Aviation Safety Agency have launched a wider safety review of North Sea helicopter operations.
The International Civil Aviation Organization’s 2013 annual safety report on commercial aviation concludes that although Africa accounts for only 5 percent of accidents recorded last year, that region’s accidents account for 45 percent of the fatalities, more than any other area ICAO reviewed.
In 2012, five accidents in Africa claimed 167 lives. In Asia, also a focal point for safety concerns, 23 accidents claimed 161 lives.
The pilots of the UPS Airbus A300-600F that crashed on approach to Runway 18 at Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport (KBHM) in Alabama on August 14 received a cockpit warning that they were descending too fast. The “sink rate, sink rate” warning, which was captured on the cockpit voice recorder recovered on August 15, was given 16 seconds before impact. Three seconds later one of the pilots was heard telling the other that the runway was in sight, according to NTSB member Robert Sumwalt.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada will conduct an independent external review of the investigation processes used by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and publish a report of the results. The review, to begin with an initial visit by the TSB team this month, is intended to provide an independent and objective assessment of the ATSB’s investigation methodology and processes.