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EASA warns airports after incidents: dark coloured aircraft may not be recognised by parking systems
17 May 2018

EASA warns airports after incidents: dark coloured aircraft may not be recognised by parking systems

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a bulletin, recommending airport operators to determine if the docking systems may encounter problems in identifying aircraft due to their colour.

This recommendation was issued in the light of an incident in Lisbon, Portugal in May 2015. An Airbus A320 operated by Brussels Airlines arrived at the parking stand at Lisbon Airport but was not identified by the automatic guidance system. The Aircraft Positioning and Information System (APIS) is a laser-based technology, which identifies and guides the aircraft to stop at the correct point corresponding to the aircraft type. The APIS system did not identify the aircraft and failed to give information to the pilot to stop at the position corresponding to the type of aircraft (A320).
The aircraft stopped a few meters ahead having struck the jetbridge with the nacelle of engine # 1.

An investigation showed that the APIS system did not recognize the aircraft because of the dark color of its painting. The aircraft carried a special Tintin colour scheme.

EASA states that Brussels Airlines after this occurrence, found that similar occurrences have happened around the world.



FAA issues safety alert on procedures for addressing odors, smoke and/or fumes in flight

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) bulletin on procedures for addressing odors, smoke and/or fumes in flight.

The SAFO highlights the need to enhance flight crew procedures that mitigate the risk to passengers and crew in the event of odors, smoke and/or fumes.

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EASA issues recommendations to operators on carriage of large Personal Electronic Devices

FAA fire test of laptop battery thermal runaway with aerosol can in suitcase.

On 5 April 2017, EASA published SIB 2017-04 to alert operators on the risks associated with the carriage of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) in the checked baggage, and to recommend mitigating actions when the carriage of large PEDs in the cabin is prohibited. PEDs containing lithium batteries carried by passengers should be carried in the passenger cabin, to enable the crew to react expeditiously in case an incident involving such a PED occurs.

Recent testing performed by the FAA showed that if a thermal runaway event occurs to a large PED carried in a checked baggage together with flammable materials, such as hair spray, there is a poor chance that a Class D cargo compartment could contain the resulting fire, and a fair to poor chance that a Class C cargo compartment could contain it.

Based on this, EASA now recommends operators to:

  • Inform passengers that large PEDs should be carried in the passenger cabin whenever possible;
  • Request passengers to ensure that any large PED that cannot be carried in the passenger cabin (e.g. due to its size), and therefore has to be carried in checked baggage, is:
    – Completely switched off and effectively protected from accidental activation. To ensure the device is never powered on during its transport, any application, alarm or pre-set configuration that may activate it shall be disabled or deactivated;
    – Protected from the risk of accidental damage by applying suitable packaging or casing or by being placed in a rigid bag protected by adequate cushioning (e.g. clothing);
    – Not carried in the same baggage together with flammable material (e.g. perfumes, aerosols, etc.);
  • Make the carriage of large PEDs in checked baggage in Class D cargo compartments subject to measures effectively mitigating the associated risks.

Furthermore, where carry-on bags are put in the hold (e.g. due to the lack of space) operators are reminded to ensure that passengers are requested to remove from the bag any spare batteries or e-cigarettes.

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Busy phone lines, poor coordination factors in Aeroflot A321 serious airprox incident, Venice, Italy

Loss of situational awareness after intrument failure cited in fatal Swedish CRJ-200 accident

Italian safety agency issues safety recommendations for drones

The Italian National Agency for Flight Safety (ANSV)  issued five safety recommendations to reduced the safety risks of the operation of drones in Italian airspace.

Over the year 2015 the ANSV received 18 reports of unmanned vehicles interfering with flight operations in civil airspace, a sharp increase compared to previous years.

As a result of further investigation of these cases and meetings with aviation industry stakeholders, ANSV published five safety recommendations:

  1. The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) should create a register for all small unmanned aircraft, comparable to the register recently initiated by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration,
  2. ENAC should start an information campaign, aimed at encouraging the development of an aeronautical culture among drone users,
  3. The Interior Ministry and Italian Municipalities should raise awareness among local police forces to sanction in an effective, fair and prompt way those drone operators who violate existing legislation.
  4. ENAC should, in coordination with the Ministry of Economic Development, consider the installation of geofencing software on drones, which automatically limits in areas where the use of drones is not allowed.
  5. ENAC should, in coordination with the Ministry of Economic Development, and the Aero Club of Italy, evaluate the possibility of identifying specific frequency bands to be allocated for professional drone use.

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EASA recommends MD-11 operators to install system to prevent bounced landings

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommends MD-11 operators to install a landing gear Struts Extended Annunciation System (SEAS) to prevent bounced landing accidents.

In the light of several bounced landing accidents involving MD-11 aircraft, Boeing developed a system which gives additional information about the aeroplane’s air/ground status to pilots during landing. The so called landing gear Struts Extended Annunciation System (SEAS) illuminates dedicated lights on the glare shield in front of both pilots when the main landing gear struts are close to, or are at full extension. In this way, pilots are more aware if a bounce has occurred, and control inputs can be made which will avoid the bounce developing into a more serious event.

EASA recommends operators to install the Landing Gear SEAS per Boeing SB MD11-32-093 (or its equivalent which matches the specific aeroplane cockpit) as mitigation for the risk of inappropriate control inputs after bounced landings. This should be combined with enhanced training using amended FCOM procedures and special maintenance tasks provided by the Boeing Company.

A system to show the landing/strut gear touchdown status was first recommended by the Japanese TSB in April 2013. This recommendation followed the investigation into a fatal MD-11F accident at Tokyo-Narita Airport, Japan, in March 2009. Both pilots died when the left wing fractured following a bounced landing. The airplane rolled over and a fire erupted.

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MD-11F accident sequence at Tokyo-Narita, 2009 (JTSB)

MD-11F accident sequence at Tokyo-Narita, 2009 (JTSB)

FAA urges airlines to assess lithium battery risks

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 U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a safety alert to U.S. and foreign commercial passenger and cargo airlines, urging them to conduct a safety risk assessment to manage the risks associated with transporting lithium batteries as cargo.

The FAA also is issuing guidance to its own inspectors to help them determine whether the airlines have adequately assessed the risk of handling and carrying lithium batteries as cargo.

FAA battery fire testing has highlighted the potential risk of a catastrophic aircraft loss due to damage resulting from a lithium battery fire or explosion. Current cargo fire suppression systems cannot effectively control a lithium battery fire. As a result of those tests, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus have advised airlines about the dangers associated with carrying lithium batteries as cargo and also have encouraged them to conduct safety risk assessments.

Hazardous materials rules currently ban passenger airlines from carrying lithium-metal batteries as cargo. In addition, a number of large commercial passenger airlines have decided voluntarily not to carry rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries. The safety risk assessment process is designed to identify and mitigate risks for the airlines that still carry lithium batteries and to help those that don’t carry them from inadvertently accepting them for transport.

The SAFO  encourages airlines that previously conducted safety assessments to reevaluate them in light of new evidence from the agency’s recent lithium battery fire tests.

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EASA recommends airports to make sure runway-holding points do not interfere with ILS signals

Hamburg Airport map with critical zone (BEA)

Hamburg Airport map with critical zone (BEA)

Following a serious incident in 2012, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommends airports to make sure runway-holding points do not interfere with ILS signals.

The serious incident happened at Hamburg, Germany on March 28, 2012. An Airbus A320 was on final approach when the Primary Flight Display (PFD) began displaying erroneous glidepath information. The aircraft descended below the glideslope while the PFD showed the airplane to be on the glideslope. The A320 descended even further below the glideslope, yet the PFD showed it to be almost one dot above the glideslope. A go around was initiated after which the aircraft landed safely. An investigation published early 2015 by the French BEA revealed that a Boeing 737 that was holding short on the taxiway was positioned in an area that was considered a critical zone near the glideslope antenna. The aircraft caused a disturbance in the glideslope signal, leading to erroneous information being displayed on the PFD of the approaching aircraft.

EASA recommends that:
(a) Aerodrome operators review the locations of established runway-holding positions, particularly at locations where runway-holding positions are established within critical areas of ILS signals, and ensure that they comply with the applicable provisions, and that relevant procedures for the protection of the ILS signals are contained in the aerodrome manual;
(b) ANS providers review their procedures for ILS approaches in order to ensure that they contain the unconditional requirement that ILS critical areas are kept clear during ILS approaches to avoid permanent infringements of these areas;
(c) NAAs take into account, during their safety oversight activities, the recommendations in (a) and (b) above.

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EASA recommends airlines to conduct a safety risk assessment for lithium batteries

Lithium battery fire on a laptop (CAA)

Lithium battery fire on a laptop (CAA)

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommends airlines to conduct a safety risk assessment when transporting lithium batteries.

Lithium batteries may have been the cause of, or contributed to, uncontrolled fires in cargo that lead to the loss of 3 freighter aircraft between 2006 and 2011:

  1. 8 February 2006, UPS, DC-8-71F at Philadelphia International Airport, U.S.A.
  2. 3 October 2010, UPS, Boeing 747-400F, near Dubai, U.A.E.
  3. 28 July 2011, Asiana Airlines, Boeing 747-400F, off Jeju, South Korea

Subsequently, the FAA performed tests that led to the decision of the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel to prohibit the carriage of lithium metal batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft. This prohibition does not include lithium metal batteries contained in, or packed with equipment. Lithium metal batteries can continue to be transported in freighter aircraft, and lithium ion batteries can be transported as cargo both in freighter and passenger aircraft under certain provisions.

Since high density shipments of lithium batteries is still considered a possible risk, ICAO continues working to find a suitable solution to appropriately address these risks with the aim of improving the packaging and shipping provisions contained in the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.

EASA meanwhile issued the following recommendation:

“Operators are responsible for the acceptance, loading, and actual transport of dangerous goods in accordance with the Technical Instructions.
Until safer methods of packaging and transporting are established and implemented, EASA strongly recommends that operators, before engaging in the transport of lithium batteries/cells as cargo in passenger or freighter aircraft, conduct a safety risk assessment in order to establish whether the risk is manageable.
Such an assessment should contain information on the types and quantities of lithium batteries/cells being transported, as well as on their state of charge, and consider the very limited capability of aeroplanes cargo compartment fire protection systems to control a lithium battery fire. In performing the assessment, the possibility that lithium batteries/cells may be affected by fires originating from other sources shall be considered.
EASA also recommends National Aviation Authorities to include this element in their oversight programme.”

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