Flight Safety Pty Ltd
July 2010
Safety Alert
News from Flight Safety Pty Ltd
In This Issue
Audit Finding Analyses
Pilot Error to Blame
Multi-Crew Pilot Licence
Keeping Pilots Longer
Global Airline Safety
Air NZ Crash
European Airspace Bans
June Callback
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Dear Colleague,

This month's theme and audit finding analysis covers Pilot Training, with a discussion on Multi-Crew Pilot Licences (MPL) and some highly relevant news articles.

We trust that you find this newsletter useful, not only for the safety-related news  items, but also to build on your list of useful online resources.


Colin Weir

Colin Weir, Managing Director
Flight Safety Pty Ltd
Audit Finding Analyses

Finding 5: Air Crew Licencing

Finding 4 in this Newsletter series raised an issue addressing the critical balance between Safety and Profit - we also covered fatique as one of the high priority audit findings.  

Disturbingly within the revolving economic cycles that beset us, lies an ominous cocktail of ingredients that mixed together can and has led to disaster.  The combination of an economic downturn coupled with the inevitable conflict between cost and safety results in a Newton - 'third law of physics' parallel scenario, where for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The rebound back into an economic upturn increases the demand for air crew - this in turn places pressure on the Operator to provide the increasing manning levels necessary to meet demand.  When the supply and demand chain breaks down as we have found in recent times, then the only alternative is to reduce the number of flights, or increase the numbers of available air crew - again we see the critical balance between cost and safety resurfacing.  In reality, the reduction of revenue-generating flights is a last resort and only happens when it is impossible to stay within the regulatory framework.  

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?

Pilot Error to Blame in Deadly Flight Accident Last February

Flight 3407 (US) Pilot error was one of the chief causes that led to the deadly crash of Colgan Air flight, operating as Continental Connection Flight 3407, last February, federal investigators said today.

The National Transportation Safety Board met on 2 Feb 2010 to discuss the findings from the report on the crash, which killed all 49 people on board and one person on the ground when the plane slammed into a house as it approached the airport near Buffalo, N.Y.

NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said it was the pilots' "complacency and confusion that resulted in catastrophe," and more importantly, the safety issues involved in the crash still have not been fixed.

Read full article at ABC News (US) >>

Watch the Colgan Air Crash Video Simulation on YouTube >>

Download the official report from NTSB >>
IFALPA Position Statement: Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL)

Copilot A new pilot qualification was established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) specifically for airline co-pilots in 2006.

The new Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL), if applied correctly, could produce a highly qualified new hire first officer for the airlines. However, applied incorrectly in response to cost or time pressures to respond to the current pilot shortage, it could have a detrimental impact on flight safety.

Improper application could also erode current, proven training standards. IFALPA has yet to be convinced that the new MPL scheme will provide sufficient guarantees for safeguarding the highest safety and training quality standards currently in place. Any downgrading of these standards cannot and must not be accepted in an industry that has the goal of maintaining a continuous improvement of safety standards in the face of ever growing challenges.

Read on at Belgian Cockpit Association website >>
Keeping pilots longer lands Garuda in court case

Garuda While Indonesia's airline industry is expected to grow 10 percent this year, many airlines are struggling to find professional pilots, due to the limited output of available flight training centers.

The situation has forced airlines to resort to unconventional measures that have at times yielded negative side effects, such as what is currently being faced by the flag carrier Garuda Indonesia. Recently, Garuda's pilot association (APG), which caters to more than 500 pilots, pursued a case against the management of the company for implementing an allegedly unfair policy on retirement age and pension funds.

APG chairman Stephanus Geraldus said Garuda employed pilots longer than the official period of servitude (25 years) before a pilot was eligible to receive a pension. Garuda had employed pilots for more than 25 years because of the scarcity of qualified pilots available, Stephanus said.

Read on at the Jakarta Post >>
Global airline safety still failing to improve

Global safety graphAccording to David Learmount of Flight Glocal, a snapshot of global airline fatal accident figures for the first half of 2010 confirms that airline safety performance has levelled off at 2003 levels. This is significant because, until then, airline accident rates had declined steadily since airline flying began.

From January to June this year the airlines suffered nine fatal accidents in which 415 people died. This compares favourably with the first six months of 2009, for which the figures were respectively 13 and 499, but comparing the numbers for the same period each year over the last decade, the trend for the period is more or less flat.

For more details and to see the graph go to Flight Global >>
Pilot error, tubes caused Air NZ crash

A combination of pilot error and faulty sensors caused an Air New Zealand Airbus to crash into the Mediterranean killing all seven people aboard, a French judicial inquiry says.

The plane crashed into the sea off Canet-en-Roussillon on November 27, 2008, killing five New Zealanders and two Germans.

An interim report issued last year by the Paris-based Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA) said cockpit flight and data recorder readings had showed that the plane stalled during a low-speed, low-altitude test manoeuvre as it was coming in to land at Perpignan airport.

Read full article at Stuff.co.nz >>
Nearly 300 Airlines Banned From European Airspace

Ariana Afghan Airlines A total of 278 air carriers are banned from using European airspace under strict European air safety regulations. On Tuesday one additional air carrier was added to the list alongside greater restrictions on Iran Air.

Airlines such as Ariana Afghan Airlines, Siem Reap Airways International from Cambodia, and all Philippine air carriers are excluded from using European airspace.

"We cannot afford to compromise on air safety. Where we have evidence that air carriers are not performing safe operations, or where regulators fail in their obligation to enforce safety standards," said Siim Kallas, vice president of the European Commission, responsible for transport said in a news release on Tuesday.

Read full article at Epoch Times >>

Read the European Commission Press Release >>

Full List of EC Banned Airlines >>
NASA ASRS Callback: What Would You Have Done?

Callback All of this month's reports involve the same type of incident - a real or apparent equipment problem that occurs in IMC or other adverse weather conditions.

On the front page you will find "the first half of the story," report excerpts followed by several plausible action choices. On the back page, you will find "the rest of the story," the actions actually taken by reporters to resolve their situations.

Each incident will give you a chance to draw on your aviation decision-making experience to anticipate what you would have done in the same situation.

Go to ASRS Callback June 2010 >>