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, 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|
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.
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.
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 --
Read on at The Buffalo News >>
Jetstar pilot program 'puts savings before safety'|
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
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 aircraf
t," 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
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
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
Read full article at The Australian >>
Jumble of Air Safety Rules|
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
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
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
DAVID RONALD de MEY WARREN, AO
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
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 >>