Aviation Safety News Roundup | April 2021

Aviation Safety News Roundup | April 2021
Claire Ealding
Apr 30, 2021

Does Fear Of Losing Medical Inhibit Pilots From Seeking Medical Advice? FAA and TC Release An Anonymous Survey To Find Out

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada (TC) have unified to determine if pilots are not seeking the help they need over the fear of losing their pilot medicals.
  • A voluntary and anonymous survey aims to gather data on pilot perceptions. Dr. Hoffman of the Brooke Army Medical Centre is the principal investigator.
  • “Pilots may be receiving less than the standard of care because they aren’t able to share pertinent medical information openly,” the survey authors said.
  • “This study will help expand the current scientific knowledge regarding pilot health and aeromedical standards.”
  • If you’re interested in participating, the link below contains a redirect to the survey.


Security | Escalating Tensions Between Russia, Crimea, And Ukraine Could Expose Air Traffic To Anti-Aircraft Weaponry

  • Tensions escalate after an influx of Russian forces enter Crimea and spread along the Russia-Ukraine border.
  • France, theUnited Kingdom (UK), Canada, and the United States (US) have all issued alerts or recommendations to their operators about transiting through or near this airspace.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration released a note stating that: “Conditions in the region remain unpredictable and highly fluid. In the event of a skirmish or renewed conflict, the airspace on both sides of the line of contact or the Russia-Ukraine border could be exposed to potential weapons activity posing an associated risk to civil aircraft from misidentification or misperception.”
  • In July 2014, Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine mistakenly shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) with a surface-to-air missile under a similar political situation. Of the 298 passengers and crew aboard, there were no survivors.
  • The US has banned its operators from flying in the region. “Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 113 prohibits U.S. civil aviation operations in specified regions of the Dnipropetrovsk (UKDV) Flight Information Region (FIR) from surface to unlimited.”
  • The UK and Canada advise operators not to enter the Dnipropetrovsk (UKDV) and Simferopol (UKFV) FIRs and to exercise caution across the rest of Ukraine’s airspace.

Federal Aviation Administration


NTSB Calls For Cockpit Video Recorders But Met With Resistance

  • The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has renewed its long-running crusade to have video cameras installed in aircraft cockpits.
  • The safety investigation agency made the recommendation in its 2021-2022 list of “most-wanted” transportation safety improvements, released on 6 April.
  • “Such video would have been extremely helpful in determining flight crew actions in recent crashes in Texas, Indonesia, and Ethiopia,” says the NTSB.
  • The FAA disagrees, stating that “video image recorders in cockpits raise significant privacy and security concerns that to date have not been adequately addressed.”
  • Pilot unions also remain concerned about how video recordings may be misused and argued that the only way forward is to protect video-recorded information.


IATA 2020 Safety Report | Human Factors And Manual Handling Are Areas Of Concern

  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has published the 2020 Safety Report (Edition 57, April 2020). While this is specific to IATA member airlines, it bears some valuable insights for aviation safety in general.
  • For 2020, there were 38 aircraft accidents (vs. 52 in 2019) and 132 fatalities (vs. 240 in 2019).
  • The report notes: "When we look at the contributing factors present in 2020 accidents, manual handling is at the top of the contributing factors associated with flight crew errors. Other areas of concern are deficient safety management systems, regulatory oversight, and selection systems, all of them latent conditions present in the system before the accident happened. These latent conditions have been present consistently year after year, highlighting the need for improvement in these areas."
  • The report highlights ten human factors that, despite our efforts, are still evident in 2020 accidents (page 205).
  • In terms of the USA, data for the region showed loss of control in-flight (LOC-I) as slightly above the world average, while controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and Runway/Taxiway Excursion were below the world three-year average.
  • IATA recommends that operators use real-world data from their Safety Management System (SMS) to develop crew resource management (CRM)/ threat and error (TEM) ground training, line-oriented flight training (LOFT), and updated simulator scenarios.

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Use Caution Overflying Albanian Airspace | Albanian Controllers Unfit For Duty Due To Immense Stress. Have Been Forced To Return To Work Or Face Jail

  • Earlier this month, Albcontrol cut controller salaries by up to 70%. The stress caused by these pay cuts led to around 60-70% of controllers declaring themselves unfit to work.
  • Many of these workers have returned to duty under duress and forced to sign a fit for work declaration or face job loss and jail. Albcontrol has been recruiting foreign air traffic controllers to fill in temporarily during this time.
  • IFALPA condemns the actions of Albcontrol and the Albanian government, as well as warning operators to exercise extreme caution when operating through this airspace, in which controllers are foreign with little experience of the area, or Albanian controllers forced back to work under duress.
  • “Albanian authorities have taken an irresponsible gamble on safety and stability of the air traffic services over their territory and the Network by attempting to continue operations with unlicensed and unqualified staff to operate, masquerading as a safe and functional service.” - IFALPA
  • “It is considered unsafe to have a person perform air traffic control that is physically or mentally impaired in any way, or unqualified and untrained for the position.” - IFALPA


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