Aviation Today :: FAA Issues Final Rule on Aircraft Icing Standards

Airplane Ice[Avionics Today 11-05-2014] The FAA has issued a final rule that broadens the coverage of its icing certification standards. The updated standards require U.S. manufacturers to show that transport airplanes can operate safely in freezing drizzle or freezing rain — conditions that constitute the icing environment known as Supercooled Large Drops (SLD). The standard also includes ice crystal weather conditions.

SLD is less common than standard small droplet icing and can form ice on the airplane that exceeds the capability of current ice protection systems. The SLD could also severely impact the airplane’s performance and handling characteristics. Pilots usually encounter ice crystals, which can clog external air data sensors or lead to ice buildup in an engine, while they are flying around thunderstorms. Continue reading

Update on the location of flight MH370

atsb-path-analysis-update-coverAt the EASA Committee on the 8 and 9 October 2014, the Member States voted positively for the three years extension of the applicability date for the Aircrew Regulation. Included in the changes were many other proposals from the General Aviation (GA) community for the amendment to the Aircrew Regulation. The Agency in cooperation with the Commission, Member States and the GA community worked together for presenting alleviations that will ensure a more proportionate approach and will enable the GA activity in Europe in the future.
Amongst the measures proposed are:

  • Deferment of ‘training organisation’ (ATO) requirements for non-professional licenses to 2018, allowing the development of a complementary solution for pilot training outside ATO, for example flying clubs;
  • Reduces the audit frequency up to one every 4 years for ‘training organisations’ ATOs involved in non-professional licenses;
  • Acceptance of third country ‘non-professional’ licenses for competition and display flights;
  • Examination of student-pilots by the examiner even when he/she has acted as their instructor.
Source: http://www.airsafenews.com/2014/10/update-on-location-of-flight-mh370.html

U.S., Europe Differ on Real-Time Aircraft-Tracking Rules

Airbus to Put New Type of Floating ‘Black Boxes’ on Future Models
cvrU.S., European and international air-safety authorities appear to be heading in different directions when it comes to requiring real-time tracking of airliners or mandating installation of video recorders in their cockpits.

The splits, which emerged during a public forum Tuesday by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, suggest that global agreement on standards and regulations affecting such key safety enhancements is likely to be difficult-and most likely will take years.

The Federal Aviation Administration, for example, isn’t currently drafting rules that would mandate enhanced tracking of planes or putting video devices inside cockpits to help investigators reconstruct the actions of pilots following a dangerous incident or accident.

Peggy Gilligan, the FAA’s top safety official, indicated these and some other long-discussed changes would be hard to justify under current federal cost-benefit trade-offs. She added that the agency already is working on dozens of other, higher-priority safety rules that offer more readily quantifiable benefits. It isn’t clear, she added, “when and if” the agency can fit real-time tracking requirements into its agenda.

A top European Aviation Safety Agency official, by contrast, said his agency is months away from proposing rules that would call for practically universal, real-time tracking of aircraft. European lawmakers could take action on the rules as soon as early next year.

And a senior safety investigator for the International Civil Aviation Organization, an arm of the United Nations, told the hearing that ICAO is committed to eventually issuing recommendations for cockpit video recorders even though the process could take years.
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Stuck camera causes loss of control in flight


On 9 February 2014, a RAF Voyager ZZ333 (Voyager being the UK military designation of the Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport), a derivative of the Airbus A330-200) on a passenger flight from RAF Brize Norton to the airfield at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan and in the cruise in day VMC at FL 330 over Turkey suddenly and very rapidly lost over 4000 feet of altitude. Almost all those of the 198 occupants who were unrestrained at the time were “thrown towards the ceiling” with “a number of minor injuries resulting”. After recovery to controlled flight, a diversion was made to the Turkish airbase at Incirlik.


An Investigation by a Service Inquiry Panel using the guidance and support of the UK Military AAIB (MilAAIB) has been initiated based on crew reports and the downloaded aircraft FDRand CVR data.

The Inquiry found that there was no evidence of system failure causation. FDR data showed that “the Captain’s side-stick moved at one minute and 44 seconds prior to the event” and introduced a “sustained, small pitch-down command of 0.8 degrees” and then moved again at the onset of the event when it introduced “a sustained, fully-forward pitch-down command”. It was also found from the recorded data that the Captain’s seat had moved at exactly the same time as both these side stick movements. Evidence linking the concurrent seat and side stick movements was found “in the form of a Digital SLR camera obstruction which was in-front of the Captain’s left arm rest and behind the base of the Captain’s side-stick at the time of the event”.

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NTSB report on July 2013 crash of an Asiana Airlines 777 in San Francisco

On 24 June 2014, NTSB Board members met to determine the probable cause of the July 2013 crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 in San Francisco, CA, which resulted in the deaths of there passengers. The Board concluded that there were a number of probable and contributory causes for the accident, with many of them revolving around the crew’s understanding of the aircraft’s automated systems.

On July 6, 2013, about 11:28 am local time, a Asiana Airlines flight 214, a Boeing 777-200ER (HL7742), struck a seawall while attempting to land on runway 28L at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Three of the 291 passengers were killed, and 40 passengers were serious injured. All 16 crew members survived, but nine were seriously injured.

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New search area for MH370 announced; aircraft believed to be on autopilot before crash

mh370searchareamapThe new search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that vanished in March has been announced and Australian officials have said the aircraft was “highly likely” to have been on autopilot before it crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

A 64-page report on the search for flight MH370 was published Thursday by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Australia has been coordinating search efforts since satellite information indicated the aircraft, which vanished from radar during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing March 8, diverted a long way from its flight path and likely ended upon the ocean floor off the coast of Perth.

There were 239 people on board.

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Malaysia Ministry of Transport releases preliminary report on flight MH370

malaysia-mh370-artwork-march-18-2The Malaysia Ministry of Transport released a preliminary report on the Malaysia Airlines 777 that went missing on 8 March 2014. As of the release date (report dated 9 April 2014 but released 1 May 2014), the aircraft is still missing, and no part of the aircraft has been recovered. The highlights of the report include the following:

  • At about 1:38 am Kuala Lumpur time on 8 March 2014, Vietnamese air traffic control authorities contacted Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control Centre about the whereabouts of flight MH370.
  • After all effort to communicate and locate the aircraft failed, Malaysian authorities activated the Kuala Lumpur Rescue Coordination Centre. This activation occurred at 5:30 am, almost four hours after the Vietnamese authorities contacted the Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control Centre about the flight.
  • A total 82 aircraft and 84 vessels representing 26 countries participated in search and rescue efforts.
  • In accordance with international agreements, specifically ICAO Annex 13, countries with official representatives in the investigation include the US, UK, China, Australia, and Malaysia.
  • Organizations providing technical advisors include Boeing, FAA, and NTSB from the US; Inmarsat and AAIB from the UK; as well as Malaysian Airlines.
  • Citing the experience of flight MH370 and of Air France flight 447, both of which went missing over remote stretches of ocean, The Ministry of Transport recommended that ICAO examine the safety benefits of introducing a standard for real time tracking of commercial air transport aircraft.

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France recommends ground ice detection system following fatal takeoff accident of Premier 1A jet

VPCAZ-550x370The French accident investigation bureau, BEA, recommends EASA to study the possibilities of ground ice detection systems following the fatal accident involving a Premier 1A corporate jet in March 2013.

The Hawker Beechcraft 390 Premier IA jet, registered VP-CAZ,  was parked overnight on the platform at Annemasse Airport in France. The temperature was -2°C and humidity was 98% with fog or low clouds as the pilot prepared for a 5-minute VFR flight to Genève-Cointrin Airport (GVA). One passenger was seated in the cockpit, another passenger was seated in the passenger cabin.

The pilot started the takeoff from runway 12 at 08:38. Rotation occurred 19 seconds later. Several witnesses reported seeing the airplane with a high nose-up pitch attitude, with a low rate of climb. Three seconds after the rotation the “Bank Angle” warning, indicating excessive bank, and then the stall warning, was recorded several times on the cockpit voice recorder. Several witnesses saw the airplane turn sharply to the right and then to the left.
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Making Autopilot Systems Safer

Woodrow Bellamy III

[Avionics Today April 10, 2014] Would you believe that just 30 lines of computer code might have saved Air France flight 447 from crashing into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009? Carlos Varela, an experienced pilot and associate professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, believes so. Through funding from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Varela and his research group developed a computer system that detects and corrects faulty airspeed readings, such as those that contributed to the Air France crash.

Analysis of the AF447’s recovered flight data recorder box revealed that a chain of events beginning with erroneous readings from the pitot tubes — instruments that use air pressure to calculate airspeed, according to Varela. The pitot tubes, which the group believes were blocked by ice, reported a drop in airspeed from 461 to 182 knots. The autopilot, unaware of the error, lowered the nose of the airplane in an attempt to increase airspeed. Unable to maintain altitude, the autopilot disengaged, at which point three human pilots were unable to correct for the error.
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) research group concluded that there was a failure in the airspeed sensors, which Varela as a pilot says is a commonality. To correct this, they’ve developed a programming language called the “Programming Language for spatiO-Temporal data Streaming applications,” or “PILOTS,” which treats air speed, ground speed and wind speed as data streams that sometimes exhibit errors that can be automatically corrected and reproduced so that the pilot receives the correct readings and can adjust accordingly.
Pitot tube from an Airbus A380. Copyright © 2007 David Monniaux.
“We actually put all the data from the flight recorder in Air France 447 into our models and our computer software and we were able to recover the [correct] airspeed in 5 seconds,” said Varela. “We know in aviation you have to learn from accidents to prevent future tragedies. If the software were to be included in future flight systems, we would avoid this kind of accident, I think,” said Varela.
Eventually, Varela wants to “scale up” the prototype software to be able to read the hundreds of data streams that actually occur within a commercial flight.
In May, Varela will demonstrate his research on enhancing the safety of autopilot systems to the aerospace community during a presentation at MIT. The pilot/scientist hopes that avionics manufacturers will use his prototype to build safer flight systems in the future.

“I would love it if avionics manufacturers, aviation companies can take this type of work and make our flights safer,” said Varela. “I haven’t honestly explored commercial applications myself, but this paper is out in the public domain so people can take use of them and hopefully build safer flight systems.”

Source: http://www.aviationtoday.com/av/topstories/Making-Autopilot-Systems-Safer_81860.html#.U0rNTfl_s-9