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FAA warns airlines of safety concerns regarding Weight and Balance Programs
17 March 2017

FAA warns airlines of safety concerns regarding Weight and Balance Programs

The U.S. FAA issued a Safety Alerts for Operators (SAFO), warning Part 121 Air Carriers of safety concerns and operational compliance issues regarding Weight and Balance Programs (WBP). 

A fatal Boeing 747-400F accident at Bagram, Afghanistan in 2013 brought issues to light regarding the loading of aircraft, particularly with restraining non standard cargo.
The FAA’s Cargo Focus Team (CFT) was created as a result of the findings in this accident investigation. The Cargo Focus Team identified safety concerns and operational compliance issues during its review of Part 121 air carrier’s Weight and Balance Program (WBPs).
It appeared that some airlines had developed their own WBP, which allowed for restraint methods that are not approved. These unapproved restraint methods are contrary to the aircraft’s FAA-approved flight manual limitations. Air carriers are not permitted to use any cargo restraint methods that are not specifically approved in the WBM or WBM supplement.
Other issues of concern identified by the CFT during its review included a lack of documentation of the aircraft’s current cargo loading system (CLS). Due to the installation and removal of multiple Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) over time, the cargo configuration of some aircraft could not be determined. In some isolated cases, air carriers had developed procedures for aircraft loading that exceeded the structural design capability of the aircraft. Exceeding this capability can lead to catastrophic failure of the aircraft.

The SAFO Bulletin recommends that air carriers should review their WBM and cargo loading documents to validate adherence to the manufacturer’s FAA-approved WBM or STC WBM supplement for each aircraft on their Operations Specifications.

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U.K. CAA suspends flights of Van Air Europe on safety grounds

Van Air L-410 OK-LAZ at Belfast City Airport (Nov. 2015) (photo Albert Bridge / CC:by-sa)

The U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended local operations by Van Air Europe following a recent incident, according to local media.

Van Air Europe is a Czech airline that operated flights on behalf of Citywing, an Isle of Man-based virtual airline. Citywing sells seats on scheduled flights which were operated under charter from Van Air.

On February 23, 2017, Storm Doris was causing disruptions to air travel in the U.K. During the storm flight V9502 took off from Ronaldsway Airport, Isle of Man at 08:24 UTC on a scheduled service to Belfast City Airport. The flight was operated by a Van Air Europe Let L-410, registration OK-LAZ.
The approach to Belfast City Airport was aborted due to strong winds, whereupon the flight crew decided to divert back to Ronaldsway. The aircraft landed at Ronaldsway Airport about 09:25 hrs UTC during very strong winds. After roll out the aircraft was escorted by fire and emergency services off runway 26. Unconfirmed reports say this was due to the difficulty encountered when attempting to taxi back to the ramp in strong winds. Metar weather data at the time show winds at 42 knots with gusts at 56 knots.

This occurrence was apparently cause for concern, leading the CAA to the decision to suspend the airline’s operations in the United Kingdom.

The incident aircraft, OK-LAZ, was ferried back to the Czech Republic on February 26, followed by another aircraft three days later.

Weather at Ronaldsway:
EGNS 230620Z 23032G45KT 7000 -RA FEW012 SCT022 BKN030 07/04 Q0977 BECMG 31017KT
EGNS 230720Z 25033G47KT 220V290 3000 RA FEW005 BKN008 OVC015 06/05 Q0973 NOSIG
EGNS 230820Z 29029G42KT 5000 -RA FEW006 BKN009 BKN022 07/05 Q0975 TEMPO 3000 RA BKN007 [approx departure time]
EGNS 230920Z 30042G56KT 4000 RA FEW005 BKN011 BKN033 05/03 Q0979 TEMPO 3000 BKN006 [approx landing time]
EGNS 231020Z 30042G58KT 9999 -RA FEW009 BKN015 OVC025 05/02 Q0984 TEMPO 5000 RA BKN006
EGNS 231120Z 30043G56KT 9000 -RA FEW012 SCT016 BKN028 06/03 Q0986 TEMPO 5000 BKN006

Weather at Belfast City Airport:
EGAC 230820Z 31029G46KT 9999 -SHRA FEW009 BKN012 03/01 Q0981
EGAC 230920Z 31023G40KT 9999 -RADZ FEW010 BKN014 04/02 Q0986
EGAC 231020Z 31021G34KT 9999 VCSH FEW010 BKN014 05/03 Q0989

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FAA announces aviation safety rating for Kenya

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that Kenya complies with international safety standards and has been granted a Category 1 rating under the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.

A Category 1 rating means Kenya’s civil aviation authority meets International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.  With the Category 1 rating, Kenyan air carriers that are able to secure the requisite FAA and DOT authority can establish service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers.

The FAA had not previously assessed Kenya’s civil aviation authority for compliance with ICAO standards. The Category 1 status announced today is based on a February, 2017 FAA assessment of the safety oversight provided by Kenya’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

As part of the FAA’s IASA program, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States, or participate in code sharing arrangements with U.S. partner airlines, and makes that information available to the public.  The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

An audit under ICAO’s own Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) in 2013 showed that Kenya had an Effective Implementation of  safety-related ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices and other guidance material that was above world average on all area’s, except accident investigation.

Pakistan grounds ATR fleet for inspections


The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority: PCAA ordered the grounding of all ATR aircraft in the country for inspections, following a recent accident and incident.

On December 7, an ATR 42 crashed after impacting terrain near Havelian, killing all 47 on board. The investigation is ongoing. On December 11 an ATR 72 suffered ‘technical problems’ relating to an engine prior to departure from Mulat Airport.

The CAA decided on December 11 to ground all of PIA’s ATR aircraft for inspections. The airline operaters five ATR 42-500 aircraft (average age 10 years) and five ATR 72-500 aircraft (average age 4.5 years).


EU adds Iran Aseman Airlines to black list; removes airlines from Kazakhstan

File photo of an ATR-72 operated by Iran Aseman (photo: Aeroprints.com / CC:by-sa)

File photo of an ATR-72 operated by Iran Aseman (photo: Aeroprints.com / CC:by-sa)

The European Commission updated the EU Air Safety List, removing all air carriers from Kazakhstan and adding Iran Aseman Airlines.

The EU Air Safety List is a list of airlines that do not meet international safety standards, and are therefore subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union.
All airlines certified in Kazakhstan are now cleared from the list, following further improvements to the aviation safety situation in that country. On the other hand, Iran Aseman Airlines was added to the list due to unaddressed deficiencies.
Following the update, a total of 193 airlines are banned from EU skies:

  • 190 airlines certified in 18 states, due to a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities from these states.
  • Three individual airlines, based on safety concerns: Iran Aseman Airlines (Iran), Iraqi Airways (Iraq) and Blue Wing Airlines (Suriname)

An additional six airlines are subject to operational restrictions and can only fly to the EU with specific aircraft types: Afrijet and Nouvelle Air Affaires SN2AG (Gabon), Air Koryo (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Air Service Comores (the Comoros), Iran Air (Iran) and TAAG Angola Airlines (Angola).

More information:


Audit says FAA lacks risk-based oversight process for civil unmanned aircraft systems

Typical small drone with camera (photo: Don McCullough / CC:by)

Typical small drone with camera (photo: Don McCullough / CC:by)

The U.S. Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded, following an audit, that the FAA does not verify that drone operators actually meet or understand the conditions and limitations of their exemptions either before or after the application is approved.
The growing demand for civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations presented new safety oversight challenges for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), causing the OIG to initiate an audit in August 2015.
Using an authority granted by Congress, FAA has approved over 5,500 commercial UAS to operate by exempting them from regulatory requirements, and recently issued a final rule governing operations of small UAS.
The OIG found that FAA streamlined its process in 2015 for exempting civil UAS from regulatory requirements in response to increasing requests for exemptions and concerns over lengthy approval times. However, FAA’s process does not verify that operators actually meet or understand the conditions and limitations of their exemptions either before or after the application is approved. Furthermore, while FAA has taken some steps to advance UAS technology, the Agency has not established a risk-based safety oversight process for civil UAS operations—a key tool for focusing resources on a range of emerging risks. Despite an increase in reported UAS events, FAA lacks a robust data reporting and tracking system for UAS activity. As a result, FAA is currently taking a reactive approach to UAS oversight.
FAA concurred with all six of recommendations:
  1. Establish specific milestones to update and maintain UAS guidance to keep pace with technological developments and incorporate inspector feedback.
  2. Develop comprehensive and updated training for safety inspectors on UAS technologies and Agency rules and guidance related to UAS oversight.
  3. Initiate a periodic process to perform inspections of commercial UAS operators based on operational factors (e.g., location, number of operations, and type of activity) to verify knowledge of and compliance with FAA requirements and to inform the development of a risk-based oversight plan.
  4. Design and implement a risk-based and prioritized oversight plan for UAS to help ensure safe operations of UAS.
  5. Develop and implement a process to coordinate existing disparate UAS databases within FAA to facilitate data mining and safety analysis.
  6. Implement a process to share UAS data with field oversight offices to assist inspectors in risk-based and proactive oversight of civil UAS operations.

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Dutch authorities ban Sky High Aviation Beech 1900 from Bonaire

The Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate banned a Beech 1900D of Sky High Aviation from operating commercial flights to Bonaire Airport and other Dutch airports in the Caribbean.

Sky High Aviation, a small commuter and charter airline from the Dominican Republic, had commenced scheduled passenger flights from Santo Domingo Airport to Bonaire Airport on October 30, 2016 using a recently acquired Beechcraft 1900D, registered HI1007. During the second flight to Bonaire, authorities found that the aircraft was not equipped with a mandatory terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS).

The aircraft was allowed to leave Bonaire for a ferry flight without passengers back to Santo Domingo. HI1007 was manufactured in 1996 and operated as N87551 on behalf of Continental Express.


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FAA warns passengers not to use Samsung Galaxy Note 7 over lithium battery safety issues

Lithium battery fire on a laptop (CAA)

Lithium battery fire on a laptop (CAA)

The U.S. FAA issued a statement not to use Samsung Galaxy Note 7 electronic devices on board aircraft over fears about the safety of the device’s lithium battery.

The FAA stated:

In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note 7 devices, the Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage.

The move stems from Samsung‘s decision to  recall the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. Due to an undisclosed manufacturing defect, the lithium ion battery cell can overheat when charging, leading in some instances to the battery catching fire or exploding.


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FAA upgrades aviation safety rating for Indonesia

Garuda Indonesia is now allowed to operate flights to the U.S. (photo H.Ranter/ASN)

Garuda Indonesia is now allowed to operate flights to the U.S. (photo H.Ranter/ASN)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that Indonesia complies with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards and has been granted a Category 1 rating.

The FAA first assessed Indonesia’s civil aviation authority in September 1997 and found it in compliance with ICAO standards and then lowered the rating from Category 1 to Category 2 in April 2007. While under a Category 2 rating, the country either lacked laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or its civil aviation authority – a body equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – was deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, or inspection procedures.

 The Category 1 status announced on August 15, 2016 is based on a March 2016 FAA assessment of the safety oversight provided by Indonesia’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation. A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards.  With the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating, Indonesian air carriers that are able to secure the requisite FAA and DOT authority, can establish service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers.

At the same time the EU is not yet fully satisfied with the level of safety oversight in Indonesia. Following an initial ban of all Indonesian carriers to fly to the EU in July 2007, airlines that have shown to be able to operate safely were taken off the list in recent years. The bans for a.o. Garuda, Lion Air Indonesia AirAsia and Batik Air have been lifted.

An ICAO audit of Indonesia in 2016 though, showed the level of implementation of ICAO standards that was still below the world average.

FAA proposes $500,000 civil penalty against SeaPort Airlines

A SeaPort Airlines Cessna 208B Grand Caravan (file photo)

A SeaPort Airlines Cessna 208B Grand Caravan (file photo)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $500,000 civil penalty against SeaPort Airlines, Inc. for allegedly operating three single-engine Cessna Caravans when they were not airworthy.

 The FAA alleges SeaPort failed to perform initial and recurring borescope inspections of the planes’ turbine compressor blades. The inspections are required by an Airworthiness Directive that is intended to prevent compressor turbine blade failures, which could cause an engine to lose power.

The FAA alleges the company operated the three aircraft on a total of 583 flights when the inspections were overdue. The agency alleges the aircraft therefore were not airworthy.

Additionally, the FAA alleges SeaPort failed to record the method of compliance with the Airworthiness Directive and when the next recurring inspections were required for those three aircraft as well as another Cessna Caravan.

SeaPort has 30 days from receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.