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TransAsia Airways fined for disclosing confidential information during accident investigation
28 November 2016

TransAsia Airways fined for disclosing confidential information during accident investigation

Wreckage of GE235 in the Keelung River

Wreckage of GE235 in the Keelung River

TransAsia Airways was given a penalty for their interference with the official investigation into the fatal accident involving an ATR-72 at Taipei, Taiwan.

In February 2015 TransAsia Airways Flight 235 crashed into the Keelung River, killing 43 of the 58 occupants. An investigation by the Aviation Safety Council (ASC) of Taiwan concluded in June 2016 that the flight crew shut down the working no. 1 engine following the uncommanded autofeather of engine number 2 during climbout from Taipei-Sung Shan Airport.

During the investigation TransAsia Airways arranged to disclose confidential information to the “Next Magazine”, with the intention to stir up public opinion and press through media reports in an attempt to influence the accident investigation conclusion, the ASC claims. This constituted a breach of Article 21 of the Air Traffic Accident Investigation Law, leading to a fine of $3 million New Taiwan dollars (about US $94400).
ASC states that Next Magazine published contents of the draft final report on May 11, 2016 that it claims were obtained from TransAsia Airways. The airline had received a copy of the confidential draft report as it was a party in the investigation.

On the day the fine was announced, the airline’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC) was revoked by the Taiwanese authorities. TransAsia  had previously announced that it was shutting down. The airline continuously lost money, with shares sliding since two fatal accidents in 2014 and 2015.

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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 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.

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.




FAA proposes $917,000 civil penalty against Puerto Rican airports for ARFF violations

Antonio Rivera Rodríguez Airport, Vieques (photo Jaro Nemčok / CC:by-sa)

Antonio Rivera Rodríguez Airport, Vieques (photo Jaro Nemčok / CC:by-sa)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $917,000 civil penalty against the Puerto Rico Ports Authority for alleged aircraft rescue and firefighting violations at three of its commercial airports.

The allegations are as follows.

Aguadilla-Rafael Hernández Airport

  • The airport is required to have two aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) vehicles based on the type of aircraft it serves.  On March 25, 2015, one of the vehicles was unable to perform its required functions because it failed to correctly mix firefighting foam and water.  As a result, the airport did not provide the required ARFF capability.
  • During a demonstration the same day, ARFF personnel failed to begin applying extinguishing agent within the required three minutes of an alarm sounding.  Moreover, the airport’s ARFF vehicles did not have two-way voice communications to maintain contact with other emergency vehicles and with the airport fire station.  And one firefighter had a damaged fire suit so was therefore not equipped to perform his duties.
  • The airport failed to ensure that 13 firefighters received recurrent aircraft familiarization training.
  • The airport did not inspect its tenant fueling facilities between July 2014 and March 26, 2015.
  • The airport on 14 dates conducted daily self-inspections at night rather than at sunrise, as required by its Airport Certification Manual.
  • On Sept. 26, 2015, one of the airport’s two ARFF vehicles was not operational because the roof turret did not work and duct tape was used to seal cracks in a waterline to the roof turret.

 The FAA also alleges the airport’s air carrier runway had a larger than permitted hole in it on March 25, 2015.

Ponce-Mercedita Airport

  • On nine dates in March 2015, the airport conducted daily self-inspections in the afternoon or at night rather than at sunrise, as required by its Airport Certification Manual.

Vieques-Antonio Rivera Rodríguez Airport

  • The airport’s ARFF vehicles did not have required two-way radio communications with the airport fire station on March 24, 2015.

The Puerto Rico Ports Authority has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

FAA proposes $275,000 civil penalty against Atlas Airlines

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $275,000 civil penalty against Atlas Airlines for allegedly operating a Boeing 747 after performing improper maintenance on the aircraft.

The FAA alleges that Atlas maintenance workers improperly repaired the plane’s landing gear after it would not retract on departure from Sydney, Australia. Atlas repaired the gear using the wrong part, and maintenance workers had to install the component upside down to get it to fit, the FAA alleges.

Atlas operated the aircraft on 24 cargo flights over a 10-day period after improperly repairing the landing gear, the FAA alleges. The aircraft was not in an airworthy condition during those flights, the agency alleges.

Atlas has been in communication with the FAA about the case.

Atlas Air is a US cargo carrier that operates 50 aircraft, among which 21 Boeing 747-400F and 10 Boeing 747-8F aircraft.

FAA proposes $417,500 civil penalty against FedEx

FedEx Boeing 727 tail section (photo: Valder137)

FedEx Boeing 727 tail section (photo: Valder137)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $417,500 civil penalty against FedEx for allegedly operating an aircraft that was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations.

The FAA alleges that FedEx failed to rebalance a horizontal stabilizer tab control surface on the Boeing 727 after repainting the part. The Boeing 727 Structural Repair Manual identifies the work as a major repair and requires rebalancing the control surface after the work is done.

The FAA alleges that FedEx’s failure to perform the rebalancing requirements rendered the aircraft unairworthy and that the company operated the aircraft on at least 133 flights when it was in that condition.

FedEx has asked to meet with the FAA to discuss the case.

Drone manufacturer DJI to block flights near airports

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

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

Drone manufacturer DJI announced it will add a geofencing system to it’s products to ban operation of a drone into airport zones.

The operation of drones around airports and other areas with safety concerns is a growing problem. Numerous airprox events have been reported with these unmanned aircraft systems and aircraft.

The new DJI firmware and app update will provide DJI drone users with up-to-date guidance on locations where flight may be restricted by regulation or raise safety concerns.  The drone will by default not fly into or take off in, locations that raise safety or security concerns.  However, in order to accommodate the vast variety of authorized applications, the new system will also allow users who have verified DJI accounts to temporarily unlock or self-authorize flights in some of those locations. The unlock function will not be available for sensitive national-security locations such as Washington, D.C. or other prohibited areas.

Unlocking will require a DJI user account verified with a credit card, debit card or mobile phone number.  The verified account, required only if and when a user chooses to fly in a location that might raise an aviation safety or security concern, provides a measure of accountability in the event that the flight is later investigated by authorities.

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FAA fines drone operator $1.9 million for unauthorized operations in congested airspace

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the largest civil penalty the FAA has proposed against a UAS operator for endangering the safety of our airspace.

The FAA proposes a $1.9 million civil penalty against SkyPan International, Inc. of Chicago. Between March 21, 2012, and Dec. 15, 2014, SkyPan conducted 65 unauthorized operations in some of our most congested airspace and heavily populated cities, violating airspace regulations and various operating rules, the FAA alleges. These operations were illegal and not without risk.

The FAA alleges that the company conducted 65 unauthorized commercial UAS flights over various locations in New York City and Chicago between March 21, 2012 and Dec. 15, 2014. The flights involved aerial photography. Of those, 43 flew in the highly restricted New York Class B airspace.

SkyPan operated the 43 flights in the New York Class B airspace without receiving an air traffic control clearance to access it, the FAA alleges. Additionally, the agency alleges the aircraft was not equipped with a two-way radio, transponder, and altitude-reporting equipment.

The FAA further alleges that on all 65 flights, the aircraft lacked an airworthiness certificate and effective registration, and SkyPan did not have a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for the operations.

SkyPan has 30 days after receiving the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

FAA proposes $735,000 fine for Cleveland Airport’s lack of snow and ice removal

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed civil penalties totaling $735,000 against the City of Cleveland for failing to meet FAA requirements for maintaining a safe airport during winter weather.

The FAA alleges that over a 15-month period ending in March 2015, managers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport failed on numerous occasions to keep the airport’s runways and taxiways safe and clear of snow and ice.  Federal Aviation Regulations require airports with commercial service to have sufficient and qualified personnel to carry out their snow and ice control plans during severe weather.

Between Dec. 30, 2013 and Feb. 25, 2014, the FAA began three separate investigations into the airport’s alleged failure to comply with regulations:

  • Early in the morning of Dec. 30, 2013, two commercial aircraft were disabled on taxiways because of unsafe braking conditions.  Regulations require airport personnel to monitor conditions and close any pavement areas that are unsafe.  Freezing rain and drizzle had been falling for more than two hours when the airport allegedly dismissed its maintenance staff at 11 p.m. the previous evening.  No airport personnel were on duty to operate snow-removal and de-icing equipment after the two passenger flights landed.
  • On Jan. 18, 2014, an Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting vehicle slid on ice during a training exercise and was unable to stop before crossing a line that marked the entrance to a runway.  An aircraft had just begun its takeoff roll on that runway, resulting in a runway incursion.  The aircraft departed safely.
  • On Feb. 25, 2014, airport management allegedly failed to follow the approved snow and ice control plan, resulting in unsafe conditions on the airfield.  The airport was closed after one pilot reported poor to non-existent braking conditions.

After initiating those investigations, the FAA worked with airport management to update Cleveland’s snow and ice control plan.  This included establishing new procedures and adjusting schedules to ensure that sufficient personnel were available to respond to inclement weather.

On March 1, 2015, icy conditions prevented an air carrier from quickly exiting the runway.  Controllers subsequently canceled the takeoff clearance for one flight and told the captain of another flight on final approach to go around.  During this investigation, the FAA found that, even under the updated policy, airport management allegedly had failed on 19 separate days between Jan. 5 and March 1 to have the required number of maintenance and airport operations personnel on duty.

The city has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond.