Aviation Safety News Roundup | March 2021

Aviation Safety News Roundup | March 2021
Claire Ealding
Apr 1, 2021

“Not Accurate For Weeks” | Automated Weather Reporting At Uncontrolled Airports Is In Question After A Crash Prompts an NTSB Investigation

  • Two years ago, a light aircraft crashed near Ely, Nevada, after impacting terrain in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). The flight had attempted to divert there after the automated surface observing system (ASOS) reported the weather conditions to be 10SM and broken at 5000ft. In actuality, there was a snowstorm passing through, with heavy snow, causing the visibility to be between ½ and ¼ miles.
  • An investigation determined that the automated weather station’s information had “at times… not been accurate for weeks”.
  • In a recent safety recommendation report, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is urging the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take action and “address various concerns with malfunctioning automated surface observing systems (ASOS) and automated weather observing systems (AWOS)... which can result in erroneous weather information being provided to the transportation community.”
  • The NTSB recommended that the NWS grants forecast offices the authority to take unattended ASOS sensors offline if they believe the information is erroneous.
  • They also recommended the FAA make NOTAMs regarding ASOS reliability more consistent.

Flight Safety Foundation

New Tech Powered By Artificial Intelligence Addresses A Pervasive Safety Issue In Helicopter Operations

  • An Australian tech company, SkyNet Aviation, has developed an early warning system that can detect aircraft approaching to land on the wrong runway or helipad.
  • The system is called LASAW - Landing Approach Surveillance and Warning - and uses a combination of artificial intelligence, algorithms, and twice-per-second position updates.
  • Landing on the wrong landing site is not unusual as one might imagine. SkyNet founder, Jon Davis, said, “During the development of this product, we spoke to pilots, landing site operators, and safety organizations around the world, all of whom had personal or anecdotal evidence of just how often pilots, for many different reasons, can approach the wrong landing site.”
  • LASAW brings particular value to remote or uncontrolled landing areas, such as in oil rig operations. “Previously, those working on offshore platforms were reduced to spotting approaching aircraft with the naked eye or using satellite tracking that updates only every 15 seconds”.
  • SkyNet Aviation has LASAW for both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

Australia Aviation

A Cautionary Tale | Charter Firm To Be Fined Over $100,000 For Airworthiness Non-Compliance, Not Following Aircraft Maintenance Manual

  • Fenix Air Charter of South Carolina reportedly operated 18 charter flights in an aircraft that was not legally airworthy.
  • The aircraft in question was a Cessna 402B “Businessliner.” The company had allegedly re-painted the aircraft but then failed to rebalance the flight controls, per the maintenance manual.
  • They face up to $115,500 civil penalty from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for not complying with published maintenance procedures.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Recreating The Horizon | Naval Study Reveals New Information On Why We Experience The Black Hole Effect

  • The researchers believe that pilots unconsciously estimate the horizon’s position based on runway edge lights’ projected convergence point. “The human perceptual system attempts to “recreate” the horizon when a pilot cannot see it.” However, runway edge lines, and the end of the runway, stops far short of their intersection at the horizon.
  • "The misjudgment is more pronounced earlier in the approach and further from the runway, which could cause a pilot to adopt a low flight path."
  • The study used images on a computer to emulate the appearance of a lighted runway at night. The researchers want to better simulate the aviation environment in a future study by re-creating the research in flight simulators.


Ready Or Not |Safety Management System (SMS) Could Soon Become Mandatory For Revenue Passenger-Carrying Operations Under Part 91, Per Recent NTSB Recommendations

  • The recommendation to make SMS mandatory for Part 91 revenue passenger carrying operations comes after several Part 91 crashes in the last 5 years.
  • Historically the FAA has made allowances for certain revenue passenger-carrying operations to be governed by general aviation regulations (Part 91), which have less stringent safety requirements.
  • NTSB Chairman, Robert Sumwalt, said “The NTSB remains concerned with the inadequate safety standards the FAA allows for some revenue passenger-carrying general aviation operations... this exposes customers to unnecessary risks.”
  • The NTSB made six new recommendations to the FAA, including “developing national safety standards... identifying shortcomings in current regulations allowing some operators to exploit loopholes... and requiring safety management systems for all revenue passenger-carrying operations currently conducted under Part 91.”

National Transportation Safety Board

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