Aviation Safety News Roundup | April 2022

Aviation Safety News Roundup | April 2022
Claire Ealding
May 2, 2022

Emissions | New Fuel Policy Allows EASA Operators To Carry Less Fuel

  • The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published a regulatory change that will allow EASA operators to reduce the amount of fuel carried for diversions and delays.
  • The change will take effect as of October 30th and align European Union (EU) rules more closely with ICAO guidance about fuel planning and management.
  • There are three schemes - basic, basic with variations, and individual. Basic is the default (and simplest) scheme, but the operator may opt to abide by one of the other two schemes voluntarily.
  • The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 3 million tons annually, representing approximately 1% of European flight emissions.

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)

Medical Transparency | Study Finds That Pilots And Controllers Underreport Their Medical Issues

  • A Norweigan study has revealed that higher than expected numbers of pilots and air traffic controllers have lied about medical conditions.
  • According to the report, 12% of pilots and controllers admitted to underreporting their medical conditions, and 50% reported knowing someone who lied about a condition during a medical.
  • “Medical factors are the root cause of about 4.7 percent of all accidents,” and medical conditions “jeopardize flight safety at a rate of one accident per two million flight hours,” the report said.
  • Underreporting health conditions is not a new phenomenon. “In a 2006 study, according to post-mortem examinations of 4,143 pilots killed in aircraft accidents, psychotropic drugs (i.e., antidepressants) were present in 223 pilots, but their use had been reported by only 14. Sixty-nine pilots had reported taking cardiovascular drugs, but tests determined that 149 pilots had been taking those medications, and one pilot reported taking a neurological medication, although testing showed that 15 pilots had taken the drugs.”
  • Factors that reduce the likelihood of underreporting include having a supportive AME, an authoritative AME, or not being a commercial pilot. A greater percentage of commercial pilots (15.9 percent) than air traffic controllers admitted to underreporting.
  • The study did not elaborate on cultural causes that might have led to underreporting or what could be done to improve reporting.

Flight Safety Foundation

Breach Of Procedure | Laptop Causes Fatal Helicopter Crash

  • An accident report has cited the “un-secure positioning” of the flight engineer’s 17-in, 8-lb laptop computer as a major contributing factor in the fatal crash of a Bell 206B helicopter in Arizona in 2019.
  • The engineer held the laptop in his left hand above the cyclic control stick while using his right hand to take notes. Investigators believe that fatigue from holding the laptop and awkwardness in taking notes led the laptop to slip from his hand and strike the cyclic.
  • The sudden displacement of the cyclic stick caused the separation of the main rotor head from “mast-bumping” – contact between an inner part of the main rotor blade or a rotor hub and the main rotor drive shaft (the mast).
  • “According to company procedures, the cyclic should not have been installed at the engineer’s position during the test flight, and the report called the installation a deviation from company procedures by both the pilot and the flight test engineer.”

Flight Safety Foundation

The Continuing Debate | A Decade Of Research Deems Single Pilot Commercial Operations To Be Too High Risk

  • A whitepaper by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has provided evidence that shows that the risks of single-pilot operations (SPO) currently far outweigh the benefits.
  • The evidence comes from decades of research by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Risks cited include increased workload of the sole operating pilot, loss of a second pair of eyes for monitoring, loss of redundancy, and the challenges associated with emergencies.
  • However, in January of this year, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) stated that they would consider relaxing rules prohibiting single-pilot operations in commercial aircraft. Cathay Pacific and Airbus are also working on “Connect,” which aims to reduce crew on long-haul flights so that one person is in the cockpit for most of the low workload phases.
  • One argument for single-pilot operations by Airbus is the economic case - that fewer bodies in the flight deck will result in fuel savings. But an array of other costs would offset most of those savings, according to ALPA. These costs include outfitting or retrofitting aircraft with the necessary automation and communications systems; ground infrastructure costs; salaries and benefits for remote ground-based pilots who would be needed to support single-pilot operations; and certification costs.

Air Line Pilots Association
Airways Magazine

Drug Bust | Canadian Crew Detained in the Dominican Republic After Cocaine Found On Board

  • A Pivot Airlines crew who were about to operate a flight from the Dominican Republic (DR) to Ottawa found 200 packages of cocaine hidden in various compartments during their pre-flight inspection.
  • Despite reporting the contraband to authorities, “the five Pivot crew members were immediately detained in the Dominican Republic, where they have been subject to unsafe and inhumane treatment within Dominican detention facilities.”
  • Pivot Airlines is now discouraging Canadians from traveling to the DR after the detained crew received threats from inside and outside of jail.
    Authorities have agreed to release the crew on bail; however, they must remain in the DR until a full investigation is complete.
  • Three airline unions, the embassy, and legal counsel are trying to secure their expatriation.

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