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EASA updates medical requirements for pilots following Germanwings 9525
16 August 2016

EASA updates medical requirements for pilots following Germanwings 9525

EASA published a set of proposals to the European Commission for an update of the rules concerning pilots’ medical fitness, as part of its Action Plan following the Germanwings Flight 9525 accident. These rules are contained in so-called Part-MED, which covers aviation safety rules related to the medical aspect and fitness of aircrews.

Released in a document known as an Opinion, these proposals introduce the following new requirements, among others:

  • strengthening the initial and recurrent medical examination of pilots, by including drugs and alcohol screening, comprehensive mental health assessment, as well as improved follow-up in case of medical history of psychiatric conditions;
  • increasing the quality of aero-medical examinations, by improving the training, oversight and assessment of aero-medical examiners;
  • preventing fraud attempts, by requiring aero-medical centres and AMEs to report all incomplete medical assessments to the competent authority.

These proposals have been subject to consultation with all concerned stakeholders. They address relevant safety recommendations made after the Flight 9525 accident by the EASA-led Task Force, as well as by the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA).

The EASA Opinion (Opinion 09/2016) also includes a broader update of Part-MED, aimed at keeping the rules up-to-date with latest developments in the field of medicine and filling any gaps identified through the operational experience.

Next steps:
The EASA Opinion will serve as the basis for a legislative proposal by the European Commission towards the end of 2016. To support the implementation of the new rules, EASA has prepared draft guidance material (so-called Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material – AMC/GM), annexed to the Opinion. The final AMC/GM will be published when the new rules have been adopted by the Commission. A further set of regulatory proposals in the area of Air Operations will follow before the end of the year

IATA and lithium battery industry call for stricter enforcement

A DC-8 cargo fire in 2006 was likely caused by lithium batteries

A DC-8 cargo fire in 2006 was likely caused by lithium batteries

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) partnered with the lithium battery industry to demand stricter enforcement of international regulations regarding the transport of lithium batteries.

In a joint letter to Ministers of Trade, Industry and Transport, and Directors of Civil Aviation in the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturing and export countries, the organisations call for lithium battery safety regulations to be enforced at the point of origin including the initial shipper and the battery manufacturer.

The letter also called for implementation of cooperative enforcement initiatives between jurisdictions to address situations, where lithium batteries manufactured in one state are driven over a border to be flown from another state. The global associations also called for significant fines and custodial sentences to be imposed on those who circumvent the regulations.

The transportation of lithium batteries is a growing concern in the aviation industry after several accidents involving cargo aircraft in which (suspected) shipments of lithium batteries caught fire on board. To avoid this, regulations are in place regarding the safe packaging and shipping of lithium batteries.

IATA and the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) have called upon governments to address the danger posed by the wilful disregard of these international regulations by rogue manufacturers and shippers and to close existing legal loopholes that prevent prosecutions of serial offenders.

IATA and the lithium battery industry fear that the lack of enforcement is increasing pressure on airlines and regulators to unilaterally ban all forms of lithium battery shipments from aircraft. This would add to the cost of global supply chains and consumer goods, and encourage those who flout the law to increase mislabelling of batteries, further increasing safety and security risks, IATA claims.

The organisations that signed the letters are: IATA, PRBA, the US Rechargeable Battery Association, RECHARGE, the European Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Battery Association, the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA)

More information:

 

EASA publishes updated guidance on minimum cockpit occupancy after Germanwings 9525

A320 cockpit door lock

A320 cockpit door lock

EASA is offering airlines and regulators more guidance to assess the safety and security risks associated with a flight crew member remaining alone on the flight deck.

Recent accidents involving Germanwings flight 9525 and LAM Mozambique Airlines Flight 470 highlighted the risk associated with a flight crew member remaining alone in a flight crew compartment equipped with a secure door and being able to deliberately lock out the other crew member(s).

On 27 March 2015, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published a Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) addressing this risk. Feedback from airlines led EASA to publish an updated SIB.

CAT.OP.MPA.210 of Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 stipulates that flight crew members required to be on duty in the flight crew compartment shall remain at the assigned station, unless absence is necessary for the performance of duties in connection with the operations or for physiological needs, provided at least one suitably qualified pilot remains at the controls of the aircraft at all times.
In such cases, EASA recommends operators to assess the safety and security risks associated with a flight crew member remaining alone in the flight crew compartment.
This assessment should take the following elements into account:

  1. the operator’s psychological and security screening policy of flight crews;
  2. employment stability and turnover rate of flight crews;
  3. access to a support programme, providing psychological support and relief to flight crew when needed; and
  4. ability of the operator’s management system to mitigate psychological and social risks.

If the assessment leads the operator to require two authorised persons in accordance with CAT.GEN.MPA.135 to be in the flight crew compartment at all times, operators should ensure that:
(a) the role of the authorised person, other than the operating pilot, in the flight crew compartment is clearly defined, considering that his/her main task should be to open the secure door when the flight crew member who left the compartment returns;
(b) only suitably qualified flight crew members are allowed to sit at the controls;
(c) safety and security procedures are established for his/her presence in the flight crew compartment (e.g. operation of the flight deck, specific procedure for entry, use of observer seat and oxygen masks, avoidance of distractions etc.);
(d) training needs are addressed and identified as appropriate;
(e) safety risks stemming from the authorised person leaving the passenger cabin are assessed and mitigated, if necessary; and
(f) resulting procedures are detailed in the Operations Manual and, when relevant, the related security reference documents.

 

 

U.S. adopts new standards to assess runway conditions during inclement weather

The Southwest 737 runway excursion accident at Chicago-Midway in 2005 (NTSB)

The Southwest 737 runway excursion accident at Chicago-Midway in 2005 (NTSB)

In order to reduce the risk of runway overrun accidents and incidents due to runway contamination caused by weather and other factors, the U.S. aviation community will start using new standards to assesses runway conditions during inclement weather.

The FAA developed the standards based on the work of the Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment (TALPA) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which was formed after the December 2005 overrun accident at Chicago Midway Airport.  In that accident, Southwest Flight 1248 ran off the end of the runway and into a city street after landing during a snowstorm.

These standards will be used by U.S. airports, airline flight crews, dispatchers, general aviation pilots, and air traffic controllers, starting October 1, 2016, to communicate actual runway conditions to the pilots in terms that directly relate to the way a particular aircraft is expected to perform.

Airport operators will use the Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM) to categorize runway conditions and pilots will use it to interpret reported runway conditions. The RCAM is presented in a standardized format, based on airplane performance data supplied by airplane manufacturers, for each of the stated contaminant types and depths. The RCAM replaces subjective judgments of runway conditions with objective assessments tied directly to contaminant type and depth categories.

AOC of SA Express suspended due to safety concerns

One of SA Express' CRJ-200's (photo: Bob Adams / CC:by-sa)

One of SA Express’ CRJ-200’s (photo: Bob Adams / CC:by-sa)

Following failure to comply with the applicable civil aviation regulations, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) briefly suspended SA Express’ air operator certificate (AOC). The suspension was effective as of  Saturday, 30 April 2016 and was reinstated on May 1.

CAA personnel conducted an audit on the South African Express operation on 19 and 20 April 2016, during which a series of non-compliances with safety regulations were found. The airline submitted corrective action plan on 29 April. According to a CAA statement,  this was judged inadequate by the CAA.

SA Express stated on May 1 that it met with CAA representatives and submitted required paperwork to the CAA. The same day the suspension was lifted.

SA Express is a regional airline, founded in 1994. It is currently operating ten Canadair CRJ-200ER jets, two CRJ-701ER’s and ten de Havilland Canada DHC-8-402Q Dash 8 turboprops. The airline passed IATA’s IOSA safety audit.

 

 

 

ICAO updates Annex 6 with requirements to help avoid recurrence of MH370-type disappearances

The ICAO Council adopted new provisions aimed at preventing the loss of commercial aircraft experiencing distress in remote locations.

ICAO announced new amendments to Annex 6 to the Chicago Convention (Operation of Aircraft) which will take effect between now and 2021. They relate primarily to:

  • The requirement for aircraft to carry autonomous distress tracking devices which can autonomously transmit location information at least once every minute in distress circumstances.
  • The requirement for aircraft to be equipped with a means to have flight recorder data recovered and made available in a timely manner.
  • Extending the duration of cockpit voice recordings to 25 hours so that they cover all phases of flight for all types of operations.

The provisions relating to one-minute distress tracking are performance-based, meaning that airlines and aircraft manufacturers may consider all available and emerging technologies which can deliver the one-minute location tracking requirement specified.

The new flight recorder data recovery provisions are also performance-based, meaning that related technology solutions may or may not entail the need for deployable flight recorders.

 

On March 8, 2014 Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing over the Indian Ocean, triggering an industry-wide effort for a.o. better flight-following in remote areas.

U.S. to require registration of drones over safety concerns

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the creation of a task force to develop recommendations for a registration process for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

Every day, the U.S. FAA receives reports of potentially unsafe drone operations.  Pilot sightings of UAS doubled between 2014 and 2015.  The reports ranged from incidents at major sporting events and flights near manned aircraft, to interference with wildfire operations.

The regulatir expects that registering unmanned aircraft will help build a culture of accountability and responsibility.

The task force will be composed of 25 to 30 diverse representatives from the UAS and manned aviation industries, the federal government, and other stakeholders.  The group will advise the Department on which aircraft should be exempt from registration due to a low safety risk, including toys and certain other small UAS.  The task force also will explore options for a streamlined system that would make registration less burdensome for commercial UAS operators.

The task force may make additional safety recommendations as it deems appropriate.  DoT Secretary Foxx directed the group to deliver its report by Nov. 20.

 

 

ICAO starts aircraft tracking information web page

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) started a new aircraft tracking information web page, providing a detailed timeline and all supporting reports and documentation relating to the call for and realization of the world’s first global aircraft tracking requirements.

ICAO Member States recommended the adoption of a new 15-minute aircraft tracking Standard during discussions amongst the over 850 participants to the UN specialized agency’s 2015 High-Level Safety Conference (HLSC) in February of this year.

The new information area aggregating the documentation and developments on aircraft tracking responds to calls from the HLSC to lead the conduct of a Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation Initiative (NATII) using existing technologies. A NATII Steering Committee, with global participation, was formed and the Asia/Pacific Region was selected as a representative area of operations for the initiative.

The recommended Standard is expected to be adopted at the end of 2015.

EASA publishes new training requirements for upset prevention and recovery

Upset prevention and recovery training (photo: ICATEE)

Upset prevention and recovery training (photo: ICATEE)

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the publication of new training requirements for airline pilots to prevent loss of control situations.

The so called “upset prevention and recovery training” (UPRT) requirements aim to better train pilots in order to face unexpected events, potentially leading to a loss of control. The requirements are based on International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices and have been developed by EASA in consultation with leading industry experts. All European Airlines and commercial business jet operators are required to implement these provisions by May 2016.

IATA through its Pilot Training Task Force is developing detailed guidance material in support of the implementation of the provisions by its European members.

More information:

 

Thai government to address the dangers of sky lanterns for aircraft

Thousands of Khom Loi (sky lanterns) launched during a Buddhist ceremony near Chiang Mai, Thailand (Photo: Takeaway)

Thousands of Khom Loi (sky lanterns) launched during a Buddhist ceremony near Chiang Mai, Thailand (Photo: Takeaway)

The recent New Year celebrations in Thailand resulted in reports of dangerous situations for aircraft in Thai airspace.

This was reason for the Thai government to start a cooperation to limit these threats. Representatives of the Transport Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Culture Ministry, the Royal Thai Police Office, the Public Relations Department, the National Office of Buddhism and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration signed a memorandum to cooperate.

They agreed to cooperate to control the launching of sky lanterns and bang fai rockets (a competitive firings of home-made rockets during a traditional festival). Almost 48,000 rocket launches were reported in advance but many rockets were even reported at altitudes of 20,000 feet. Also many rockets were fired without prior notice and outside the festival season.

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