From the editors of Aviation International News
May 5, 2014
This issue is sponsored by Baldwin Aviation.
Sumwalt Looks at Safety Leadership
Business aviation’s strong accident record is no reason for operators to rest on their laurels, NTSB member Robert Sumwalt reminded attendees at the recent FSF business aviation safety summit (BASS). Sumwalt, former manager of aviation for Scana and a retired US Airways pilot, is a man obsessed with the pursuit of improving aviation safety. He reminded the audience that leadership is about influencing others. “Your job as leaders in business aviation is to make sure accidents don’t happen on your watch. You must also be constantly trying to improve. You need a leadership obsession.” According to Sumwalt, a real danger to continued safe operations is that some people interpret the absence of an accident to mean everyone is doing everything right. “If you are on the right track, with a good safety record, pat yourself on the back, but don’t get too smug, too complacent,” he said. He asked the audience: “Is safety the top priority at your company? Priorities come and go, but your [company’s] values are the heart of the organization. Those should not change. So do you want safety to be a priority or a value? That chronic unease [about all things safety] is what keeps us on our toes.”
Citation Experiences Dual Fadec Failure
The pilots of a Cessna Citation CJ2+ on the last leg of an international ferry flight on April 29 from Zurich, Switzerland, to Harrisburg, Pa., initially experienced a single engine control system fault on the number-two Williams FJ44 turbofan as they were descending through 15,000 feet. The 2009 CJ was being vectored for an ILS approach to Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), where the cloud base was about 500 feet. The PIC, Eric Norber of ELJ Aviation, told AIN the indication meant one of the Fadec channels had failed and the unit had switched to a backup. At this point, the CJ was approximately 50 nm from Harrisburg. After running the appropriate checklists and being unable to bring the faulty Fadec back online, Norber, who is a designated pilot examiner in the Hawker 125 series, elected to continue the approach to MDT rather than divert to another airport. As the aircraft was approaching minimums in the bumpy, ice-laden clouds, the second Fadec apparently failed and “the right engine shut itself down,” Norber said. The aircraft broke out of the clouds at about the same time and Norber continued to a safe touchdown at Harrisburg. The engine data was uploaded to Williams, and the faults clearly appeared in the time line, although the engine manufacturer has no idea yet what caused the uncommanded engine shutdown. According to Norber, the Williams technicians told him this is the first such dual Fadec failure in eight million flight hours on the FJ44.The FJ44’s system redundancy at the time the engine was certified was considered robust enough that the engine was certified without a manual method of controlling the engine in the event of this kind of failure.
MH370 Preliminary Report Short on Details
Malaysia’s transport ministry released a five-page preliminary report on May 1 into the disappearance of MH370, the Boeing 777 that has not been seen since it departed Kuala Lumpur March 8 for Beijing. The aircraft carried 227 passengers and a crew of 12. The new report adds little, if any, new information about the disappearance. In one section on air traffic control, the report said the handoff between ATC facilities–Kuala Lumpur Center and Ho Chi Minh Center–was completed without incident. The radar tag for MH370 disappeared shortly after the aircraft reached the igari coordination fix. The Malaysian controller apparently did not notice the change and became aware of the missing aircraft only when the Vietnamese Center controller called to say MH370 had never checked in on that frequency. Malaysian ATC began querying other nearby facilities without success. It took another four hours before the Rescue Coordination Center was activated and the search began in the South China Sea. The report then mentions that military radar saw a target that it thought might be MH370 headed west toward the Malaysian peninsula, although its identification was never verified. The report says this prompted officials to move the search area farther west. Not included in the report are details to correlate and explain events, such as when the Malaysian government learned of the military radar data and why searchers spent many days searching in the wrong area of the South China Sea. The report ends with the brief note that search-and-rescue efforts are ongoing.
Pilot’s Widow Pushes for Secondary Security Barriers
Ellen Saracini, widow of United Airlines Flight 175 captain Victor Saracini, has not relented in her attempts to see secondary security barriers installed on all airliners while also trying to ensure the barrier equipment already installed on some transport aircraft is not removed. Saracini attempted to meet with Congressman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) on April 30 to present the legislator with a number of letters of support for HR1775, a bill that calls for more secondary barrier installations. Saracini, a Pennsylvania resident, was joined in the meeting by two United Airlines pilots. According to Saracini, congressional staffers indicated that the bill has not left committee because a number of steps, including a risk assessment, need to be taken. However, she believes the proposed legislation has been carefully considered from this perspective. She also complained that Congressman Shuster’s team mistakenly believed that the proposed barrier installation falls under the remit of the Transportation Security Administration, when in fact this is an FAA responsibility. In a press release about the meeting, Saracini expressed concern that lawmakers do not understand the facts and are complacent about the security concerns her campaign raises. Capt. Victor Saracini was the PIC of UA175 when it was commandeered shortly after takeoff from Boston on Sept. 11, 2001, and flown by its hijackers into the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Child Safety Seat Information Rule Proposed Safety Spotlights...
The FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) last month to obligate air carriers to provide childcare givers better information about the width of aircraft cabin seats so they can determine which child restraint systems (CRS) will fit properly aboard different aircraft. Under provisions of Part 121, no certificate holder may prohibit a child from using an approved child restraint system when the caregiver purchases a ticket for the child. In fact, the FAA strongly encourages–but does not require–the use of an FAA-approved CRS on aircraft. The agency has issued guidance to facilitate the use of a CRS on aircraft in situations in which a caregiver purchased a ticket for the child but the approved CRS that the caregiver wishes to use does not fit in a particular seat. Although the FAA has provided guidance to air carriers regarding how to accommodate a CRS, this proposed rule would provide caregivers with more information about whether an FAA-approved CRS will fit on the airplane on which they expect to travel. Comments should be sent to the Office of Management and Budget by June 30.
NTSB Issues Urgent Safety Recommendations Against Alaskan Air Operator
The NTSB issued a number of recommendations on May 1–one urgent–to address the compliance and safety programs in place at and FAA oversight of operators owned by HoTH, including Hageland Aviation Services; Frontier Flying Service; and Era Aviation, which may do business as Ravn Alaska, Ravn Connect and Corvus Airlines. The Safety Board took the action in light of six recent accidents and one incident involving the carriers.
Beech 1900 Airstair Opens 90 Degrees in Flight
A Beech 1900 operated by Wasaya Airways was grounded at Sachigo in northern Ontario after a door opened shortly after takeoff and dropped completely down to a nearly 90-degree angle from the aircraft’s fuselage. No one aboard the aircraft was injured in the April 24 incident and the aircraft returned for a safe landing at Sachigo. A Transport Canada report last year questioned the effectiveness of Wasaya Airways’ safety management system and hence the safety of the company’s aircraft.
CJ Goes for a Swim
A Cessna Citation CJ3, unable to stop on 4,000-foot Runway 23 at Florida’s Spruce Creek Airport, ended up partially submerged in a pond just off the departure end of the runway. None of the three people aboard was injured in the accident. Spruce Creek is a residential airpark of aircraft hangars and homes.
Was U-2 Behind L.A. Center Computer Glitch?
Unconfirmed reports have surfaced that claim a military U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operating far above civilian airways might have been responsible for an April 30 computer failure at the FAA’s Los Angeles Center. Both the center’s primary and backup radar computer systems failed at the same time, causing nationwide air-traffic backups into and out of Southern California. Some believe the U-2’s ultra-high altitude might have confused the ATC computers.
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