Flight Safety Pty Ltd
August 2010
Safety Alert
News from Flight Safety Pty Ltd
In This Issue
Audit Finding Analyses
US Aviation Safety Bill
Jetstar Pilot Rules
Kokoda lessons
Jumble of Air Safety Rules
Black Box inventor
Minimum Fuel vs Emergency Fuel
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Dear Colleague,

This month we are continuing our theme from the previous Newsletter on the worrying issue of reduced standards of pilot licensing, due to a number of recent developments, both in the US and Australia.

There is also an update on the Kokoda crash lessons (or lack thereof) one year on; a tribute to the Australian inventor of the Black Box, and another interesting NASA Callback issue.


Colin Weir

Colin Weir, Managing Director
Flight Safety Pty Ltd
Audit Finding Analyses - Air Crew Licencing II

Finding 5 - Coincidental sequel to last month's Newsletter

With reference to last month's July Newsletter covering I.C.A.O. approved reductions in aircrew minimum experience levels, brought about by commercially biased pressures from the aviation industry, a further significant development in support of the need to revise these minimum levels and address this alarming deficiency in aviation safety oversight, has warranted this follow-up report.

Legislative changes resulting from the Colgan air accident report have been made law, effectively eliminating this irresponsible reduction in safety margins from the American aviation arena.  

It is hoped that logic will prevail for these changes to be adopted globally.

The article titled -
"Obama signs aviation safety bill into law
Presidential action elates Families of Continental Flight 3407"

can be found at:


(or see article summary below).

An extract from the previous Newsletter covering the legislative mechanism that allowed this to happen is included below:

Increased industry pressure has created the current acceptance of reduced air crew, minimum experience levels and this is cause for concern.  There is little logic in the highlighted section of the extract as seen below.

The reduction in minimum experience levels to below the norm as previously ratified, has been sanctioned by I.C.A.O. (International Civil Aviation Organisation) and accepted and mandated by regulatory systems globally.  The I.C.A.O. Amendment 167 to Annex 1 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation and supporting Procedures for Air Navigation Services - Training (PANS-TRG)  established a new flight crew licence called the Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL), which has now been promulgated.

Practical audit results globally have uncovered that this legislative change has undermined aviation safety.  The following has relevance:
  • An audit conducted internationally revealed that First Officers on multi-engine RPT (Regular Public Transport) operations were coming straight out of an aviation academy with zero practical flying time.
  • Audits conducted generally have also shown that First Officers can be cleared to line with less than 5 hours, actual solo multi-engine time logged.
The question that has to be asked is - can these low-time First Officers handle a full-blown asymmetric emergency in IMC (Instrument Meteorolgical Conditions) if the Captain is incapacitated?

The answer supported by these legislative changes is now clearly 'NO'.
Obama signs aviation safety bill into law

Aviation Safety Bill US - President Obama on Sunday  1st August signed the aviation safety bill that the Families of Continental Flight 3407 have been pushing for more than a year, and the families could not be happier about it.

"At last it is official!" said Susan Bourque of East Aurora, who lost her sister, 9/11 activist Beverly Eckert, in the crash. "Today is my granddaughter Adriana's birthday. What a present -- not just for her but everyone who flies."

To try to prevent similar accidents in the future, the bill vastly increases the number of flight hours pilots will need before they can be hired to be copilots at a passenger airline. The current 250-hour minimum will be multiplied sixfold, to 1,500 hours.

That's important because, while pilots at major airlines typically have far more than 1,500 hours of experience, those hired by regional airlines -- such as Colgan Air, which operated Flight 3407 for Continental -- frequently don't.

Read on at The Buffalo News >>
Jetstar pilot program 'puts savings before safety'

Jetstar (AFP photo) Pilots are afraid that a Jetstar training program will put cadets with "substantially less" experience in charge of aircraft.

About 400 pilots from all Australian airlines met in Sydney yesterday over Jetstar's plan to move jobs offshore.

But the pilots also aired their concerns over Jetstar's cadetship training program, saying pilot "experience levels have dropped substantially".

The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) says pilots traditionally require a minimum of 1,000 to 1,500 hours' flying experience before getting in the pilot's seat.

But Jetstar's cadetship program would see potential pilots with no flying experience in the cockpit of a Jetstar plane after 18 months of accelerated training, or about 200 hours of in-the-air training.

AIPA president Barry Jackson says pilots in this program will not have enough experience to fly commercial planes.

"We're introducing a lower level of experienced pilot in an aircraft," he said.
"Cadets have a lot less hours ... and with the expansion that is likely to go on around the Asia-Pacific region, we will see a lot less experienced pilots entering flight decks."

Read full article at ABC News >>
Hopes fade for the lessons of Kokoda crash

Kokoda crash PNG authorities and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are working on their final report and are expected to make recommendations to prevent such an incident recurring.

But PNG authorities must sign off on the report before it can be released, and last week the country's senior accident investigator, a tough Australian expatriate and former pilot, Sid O'Toole, was told his contract had expired and would not be renewed. O'Toole has said he believes this is payback for him warning (a year before the Kokoda disaster) that a major accident was likely because no resources were being allocated for crash investigation.

The crash of CG4684 is just one of more than a dozen full reports O'Toole is trying to complete, but his investigations have been handicapped by the department's failure to provide funding which would permit him to visit crash sites, to have engines shipped back to their manufacturers for analysis, and enable him to interview witnesses.

Read full article at The Australian >>
Jumble of Air Safety Rules

Mexico air map Aviation officials often cite the industry's low accident rate after a plane crash, and statistics back up their assertions: last year, there were about 2.5 accidents for every one million commercial flights worldwide.

But that is still about 90 accidents, 18 of them involving nearly 700 fatalities, and safety standards can vary widely among airlines. Yet passengers and companies responsible for employee travel have little information to evaluate a carrier's safety standards, or judge a particular country's commitment to safety, given the patchwork of organizations monitoring safety and the limits on what details are made public.

That issue has been in the spotlight ever since the Federal Aviation Administration downgraded Mexico from a category 1 rating to category 2 on July 30, meaning it does not comply with safety standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency that the United States and other countries rely on for guidelines.

Those standards evaluate whether a country has adequate laws to oversee air carriers and a civil aviation authority with the expertise, personnel and procedures to enforce safety regulations. The F.A.A. typically does not disclose why a country's rating has been downgraded, leaving travelers - and some industry officials - in the dark about how to interpret the change.

Read on at New York Times >>
Lifesaver's black box continues to soar

Warren with a prototype of a black box
Dave Warren
20-3-1925 - 19-7-2010

DAVID Warren, one of Australia's greatest inventors, whose ''black box'' flight data recorder installed on airliners and military aircraft around the world has helped save countless lives for more than half a century, has died at a nursing home in Brighton. He was 85.

Such has been the success of the concept of recording critical flight data from an aircraft and conversations between flight crew as well as with air traffic controllers that similar devices have been installed in trains, ships, trucks and even cars.

The ability to recover this data emitted in the lead-up to crashes has played a key role in helping aircraft manufacturers and aviation safety authorities determine the cause of crashes and correct oversights and design flaws, as well as uncover incorrect actions by pilots. This prevents similar accidents from occurring, thus saving lives.

Read full obituary at The Age >>
A Delicate Balance: "Minimum Fuel" vs. "Emergency Fuel" Declarations
From NASA's ASRS Calback Issue 367

Fuel Gauge US: In a number of recent ASRS reports, Part 121 pilots bemoan the fact that they declared "minimum fuel" and were disappointed (irate in some cases) that they weren't afforded priority handling by ATC. It's evident that some pilots in today's cost-conscious airline industry are unaware of the need to declare a fuel emergency if they need to have their arrival expedited. The emergency declaration is a tool they need to have in their flight bags when appropriate.

This month Callback provides a quick review of "fuel emergency" and "minimum fuel" declarations, as well as incident reports illustrating situations in which pilots declared "minimum fuel" only to discover that subsequent events deteriorated into near, or actual, fuel emergencies.

Read full July Callback >>