Flight Safety Pty Ltd
September 2010
Safety Alert
News from Flight Safety Pty Ltd
In This Issue
Helideck Inspection Finding Analyses
Cougar chopper crash report
Improving Airline Safety
Pilot grounded
Air carrier alliances
Pilot scheduling changes
Tweeters for bird control
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Dear Colleague,

In our Finding Analysis series this issue is a discussion of helideck inspection against the globally accepted CAP 437 standard. Other news includes an update on the fatal Cougar S-92 crash in Canada; safety versus On Time Performance in India; and welcome changes to pilot scheduling to address fatigue in the USA.


Colin Weir

Colin Weir, Managing Director
Flight Safety Pty Ltd
Helideck Inspection Finding Analyses

Finding 3: Helideck Inspection Standards - UK CAP 437

The UK CAP 437 Offshore Helicopter Landing Areas - Guidance on Standards has been accepted globally as the industry norm and is recognised by most major oil and gas companies operating offshore as a prerequisite to Helideck approvals, providing not only the necessary safety outcomes but also optimising on legal and insurance coverage.

CAP 437 Helideck inspection processes are one of the most demanding and complex inspection/auditing regimes undertaken and as such require not only formal inspector awareness training but also access to the global network that covers the CAP 437 validation and continual update process.  This network is managed by the HCA (Helideck Certification Agency) in Aberdeen, with sub-contracted agencies in Norway and Flight Safety Helideck Certification Pty Ltd based in Australia.  

Multiple repeat Helideck inspection activities conducted globally have revealed that many individuals and organisations are ostensibly carrying out CAP 437 inspections and issuing approvals without the appropriate training.  

This Finding identifies the need for formal awareness training to be carried out before inspecting or approving Helidecks against CAP 437.
Draft TSB report into deadly Cougar chopper crash circulating for final input

S-92 Cougar Wreck The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says its report into a deadly helicopter crash off Newfoundland is in the final stages.

A confidential draft of the report is circulating among experts chosen by the board for technical input.

Board spokesman John Cottreau says each reviewer has at least 30 days to make comments that will each be answered in writing. The process is time consuming and Cottreau would not speculate on when the final report will be made public.

Cougar Flight 491 crashed into the North Atlantic on March 12, 2009, killing 17 of 18 people onboard. Cougar is suing Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., claiming it misrepresented how long the helicopter could fly without oil in its main gearbox. The claim has not been proven in court and statements of defence have not been filed.

Two weeks after Flight 491 went down, the Transportation Safety Board said two of three titanium studs that secure the oil filter bowl assembly to the helicopter's main gearbox broke in flight. The snapped studs resulted in a loss of oil pressure in the S-92 helicopter's main gearbox. Eleven minutes after the pilots reported the problem and headed for the nearest landfall, the chopper pitched into the sea.

"By promoting and advertising the S-92 as having a '30-minute run-dry' capacity, Sikorsky fraudulently misrepresented to buyers and operators the airworthiness and flight safety of the S-92," says the statement of claim filed by Cougar and eight insurance companies in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Read on at The Telegram >>
The difficulty in improving airline safety now

Blue Skies Graph This year may end up being the worst of the past five years for airline crashes worldwide, and that doesn't count some high-profile military and private-plane fatal accidents that killed major political figures.

So far, there have been 13 fatal crashes of passenger-airline flights, according to Ascend Worldwide Ltd., a London-based aviation consulting company. That's through eight months. Last year there were only 10 fatal airline crashes of flights carrying passengers, and 13 total in 2008.

"It's an average sort of year, but the problem is we still have four months to go," said Paul Hayes, Ascend's director of safety.

Read full article at The Wall Street Journal >>
Air India grounds pilot for 'pointing out defect'

Air India
NEW DELHI: Pointing out that three of the four main wheels of an aircraft were too worn out for the flight to be operated safely in adverse monsoon conditions has cost a senior commander dear.

Miffed that changing the tyres after the alleged defect was pointed out meant a delay of two hours for the flight, his employer, Air India (domestic), has grounded the pilot.

The airline's contention is that the tyres were not in such a bad condition that the flight should have been delayed, especially in the current environment where on time performance (OTP) is being monitored very closely by aviation authorities.

This safety-versus-OTP debate was sparked exactly a month back on August 4 when the senior commander was doing pre-flight inspection of an Airbus A-320 to operate it as IC 217 on the Kolkata-Hyderabad-Kolkata route.

Read more at the Times of India >>
Safety board to take a closer look at air carrier alliances

Airline Code-Sharing US: The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a symposium next month on how the alliances between major and regional airlines may affect aviation safety.

The safety implications of so-called code-sharing arrangements, under which you buy a ticket on one airline but discover at the gate that you actually are on a different and usually smaller carrier, have been a major focus of the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration for the past couple of decades.

The two-day symposium will examine how code-sharing arrangements are structured, how safety information is shared between airlines and their partners, and the role a major airline should play in responding to families' needs after an accident involving a partner airline.

Read on at the Kentucky Courier Journal >>
New rules would be big change for pilots' scheduling

WASHINGTON, US - Airline pilot schedules would undergo the most sweeping changes in more than 50 years under a proposal intended to prevent fatigue from undermining safety.

Pilots would work shorter schedules and get longer rest periods, the Department of Transportation said in proposed rules announced Friday [10th September].

The plan would for the first time set stricter limits on how long pilots can work in fatigue-inducing environments such as overnight. Because the pilot workday would be shorter, the government is proposing greater freedom for airlines to let pilots fly slightly longer legs in the middle of the day if they are not under the stress of numerous takeoffs and landings.

Read full article at USA Today >>
Hi-tech tweeters to ward off birds

Flock of Birds India: Faced with the perpetual problem of bird activity around airbases, which poses a serious hazard to flight safety, the IAF is introducing several new measures to check the menace.

Prominent among them are installing special tweeters, which have been specially designed to cater to the ornithology pattern of a particular geographical area. This follows a detailed survey conducted by a cell specially set up at IAF Headquarters and anti-bird measures formulated recently by it.

"The tweeter is different for each station and imitates distress sounds specific for birds species inhabitating around the station to ward them off," an IAF officer said. "These are undergoing trials at various stations and four such machines would be installed at each flying station," he added. These are solar powered and a Bangalore-based firm has been contracted for the project.

Read more at The Tribune >>
Aviation Safety Reporting System "Callback"
From NASA's ASRS Calback Issue 368

ASRS US: ASRS's award winning publication CALLBACK is a monthly safety bulletin, which includes de-identified ASRS report excerpts with supporting commentary in a popular "lessons learned" format. In addition, CALLBACK may contain features on ASRS research studies and related aviation safety information.

The complete archive and is a valuable resource that goes back to 1994; it can be accessed as HTML or PDF format via the ASRS Callback Web Archive >>

This month Callback illustrates the PAVE checklist concept using several recent ASRS incidents involving General Aviation operations. "PAVE-ing the Way to Good Decisions"

Read full August Callback >>