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BEA France reports on methods used to locate debris following A380 engine failure over Greenland
9 May 2019

BEA France reports on methods used to locate debris following A380 engine failure over Greenland

BEA France released a technical report, detailing their search efforts to locate parts engine parts relating to an uncontained engine failure on an Airbus A380 over Greenland in September 2017.

The Airbus A380-800, operated by Air France, was performing a flight from Paris (France) to Los Angeles (United States of America). Following a failure on the N° 4 engine while the plane was climbing to FL370, the flight crew diverted to Goose Bay Airport (Canada). The accident occurred over Greenland, but the Danish Accident Investigation Board delegated the safety investigation to the BEA.

Initially, some large engine parts were located and recovered from the snow. Quite early in the investigation, it was established that the recovery of the missing parts, especially of the fan hub fragments, was the key to supporting the investigation of the cause of the engine failure.

Search and recovery operations of the fallen parts were very challenging. The area is remote and weather conditions are extreme most of the year. Soon after the first parts were visually spotted and recovered, snowfalls prevented further helicopter flights to the site again. Snow finally covered all the parts that were still lying on the ground, preventing any new visual detection.

After a capabilities prospection phase, BEA decided to setup two consecutive operations:
– an aerial campaign, consisting in the use of synthetic aperture radars operated from an airplane, to try to detect and locate the missing parts on the ice sheet under the snow layer;
– a ground campaign, consisting in recovering the parts previously located during the aerial campaign, or in performing a systematic search with help of ground penetrating radars in case the aerial phase was unsuccessful.

The technical report details all the work carried out on these search operations. Despite the amount of work and efforts deployed, the fan hub fragments were not reliably detected at the end of June 2018. A new search operation will be launched in 2019.

 

ATSB issues report on Australian aviation wildlife strike occurrences 2008-2017

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued a report on Australian aviation wildlife strike occurrences 2008-2017. 

The ATSB states that, between 2008 and 2017, there were 16,626 confirmed birdstrikes reported to the bureau. The number of reported birdstrikes increased in recent years, with 2017 having the highest on record with 1,921. Despite being a high-frequency occurrence, birdstrikes rarely result in aircraft damage or injuries. Of the 16,626 birdstrikes in this reporting period, 99.8 percent were classified as incidents, while 19 (~0.1 percent) were classified as accidents and another five (~0.03 percent) as serious incidents. Nine birdstrikes, or approximately 0.05 percent of the birdstrikes in the ten years, resulted in minor injuries to pilots or passengers. There were no reported serious injuries or fatalities associated with a birdstrike occurrence in the ten-year period.

Domestic high capacity aircraft were those most often involved in birdstrikes, and the birdstrike rate per aircraft movement for these aircraft was significantly higher than all other categories. Both the number and rate of birdstrikes per 10,000 movements in high capacity operations have increased in the past two years 2016 – 2017. In contrast, the number of birdstrikes in low capacity operations and general aviation has remained relatively consistent in the most recent two years.

The number of birdstrikes involving a bird ingested into an engine in high capacity air transport operations has risen in recent years with about one in ten birdstrikes for turbofan aircraft involving a bird ingested into an engine. Additionally, over the ten-year reporting period, there have been 11 occurrences involving one or more birds ingested into two engines of turbofan-powered aircraft.

The five most commonly struck flying animals in the 2016 to 2017 period were flying foxes, galahs, magpies, and ‘bats’ (many of which were likely to be flying foxes) and plovers.

Compared to birdstrikes, non-flying animal strikes are relatively rare, with 396 animal strikes reported to the ATSB between 2008 and 2017. The most common animals involved were hares, rabbits, kangaroos, wallabies, and foxes. Damaging animal strikes mostly involved kangaroos and wallabies

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Dutch Safety Board: better handling of overflying conflict zones by airline industry since MH17

Worldwide, airlines are handling the risks associated with overflying conflict zones more deliberately, according to a report published by the Dutch Safety Board. The Board investigated the level of implementation of their recommendations on the MH17 crash investigation.

Since the crash of MH17, the issue has been incorporated into the international Standards and Recommended Practices, manuals and management systems of aviation organisations, including ICAO and IATA, the Safety Board states. Manuals have been published that devote specific attention to overflying conflict zones. In addition, more and more accurate information on conflict zones is now available for States and airlines to incorporate into their risk assessment operations.

Aviation safety
The investigation shows that a range of measures has been implemented. However, the effect on flight safety is difficult to measure. States and airlines around the world are aware of the issue at stake and devote more attention to it. Stakeholders no longer assume that open airspace over a conflict zone actually guarantees safe passage. Airlines are taking a more structured approach to analysing the risks and uncertainties, scaling up to a higher risk level at an earlier stage. Some airlines state that they now decide more quickly to refrain from overflying specific areas if no clear information relating to such areas is available.

Information on conflict zones
Progress has also been made on sharing threat-related information. For instance, the European Commission now organises meetings with representatives of EU member states and relevant EU bodies to analyse, on the basis of consolidated information from the intelligence services, the risk levels for overflying specific areas. Areas classified as ‘high-risk zones’ during the meeting are listed in a ‘Conflict Zone Information Bulletin’ that is published by EASA and made available to airlines and passengers worldwide. ‘Rapid Alerts’ can be deployed to instantly share information about suddenly escalating situations. This is how the EU member states collaborate to provide more adequate insight into the risks on a global scale.

In the Netherlands, a special agreement has been established that ensures the exchange of threat information between the Dutch government and Dutch airlines. There are meetings to discuss non-public threat information. These activities have resulted in a network, which ensures that information can be exchanged quickly in urgent cases, too. Moreover, Dutch airlines can turn to a dedicated information desk established by the Dutch intelligence services if they have specific questions.

Risk assessment
Airlines around the world have stated that they have become more aware of the risks of overflying conflict zones since the crash of flight MH17. Many airlines now make a more active effort to gather accurate information and are more willing to share it with other airlines. There are States, such as the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany, that provide information and/or advice to national airlines, or even impose a ban on overflying specific conflict zones. That information is published to make it accessible to other airlines as well. In combination with the EASA bulletins and any information provided by (commercial) agencies, airlines now have access to more and generally more accurate information for their risk assessment operations.

Areas of concern
The follow-up investigation shows that important steps have been taken in recent years to control the risks associated with flying over conflict zones more effectively. It is essential for changes already implemented to be consolidated and for stakeholders to carry through with the subsequent steps they have announced. However, there are still issues that need to be addressed by nations and airlines. The investigators found that very few changes relating to airspace management by nations dealing with armed conflict within their territories have been made. Also, airlines require more detailed and complex information to perform adequate risk assessments. Information on suddenly escalating and/or new conflicts is another area of continued concern. In this context, the willingness and trust to actively inform other parties about (potential) threats are vital, something that does not come naturally in every region of the world.

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Study: Analysis of wake turbulence occurrences at Sydney Airport

The ATSB advises flight crews of the increased likelihood of encountering wake turbulence when on approach to Sydney Airport.

An ATSB analysis has concluded there is a disproportionate rate of pilot reported wake turbulence occurrences for aircraft arriving at Sydney Airport compared to other major Australian airports.

Sydney Airport is the only major Australian airport currently with parallel runways. The distance between these runways is such that they are treated as individual runways and do not require the application of the wake turbulence separation standard by air traffic control for aircraft operating to a single runway. None of the wake turbulence occurrences involved a breach of the separation standard.

More than half of the wake turbulence occurrences during arrival at Sydney Airport were associated with one or more of three factors: high arrival densities across the parallel runway; wind blowing across the parallel runways from the longer to the shorter runway, especially when a heavy or super heavy aircraft was arriving on longer runway; and arrivals following an Airbus A380. The ATSB advises flight crews of the increased likelihood of encountering wake turbulence when on approach to Sydney Airport, particularly in peak periods, when operating on Runway 34 Right with the wind coming from the west or north-west, and/or when following an Airbus A380.

The ATSB has issued a Safety Recommendation to Airservices Australia to introduce measures to reduce the frequency of wake turbulence occurrence at the airport.

Sydney Airport runway 34L and 34R

ATSB released its annual statistical review of Australian aviation safety occurrences over 2017

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released its annual statistical review of Australian aviation safety occurrences over 2017.

In 2017, nearly 200 aircraft were involved in accidents in Australia, with 203 involved in a serious incident (an incident with a high probability of an accident). There were 40 fatalities in the aviation sector in 2017, which was a significant increase from the 21 fatalities in 2016. There were no fatalities in either high or low capacity regular public transport (RPT) operations, which has been the case since 1975 and 2010 respectively.

Almost half of all fatalities that occurred in commercial air transport operations during the study period occurred in 2017. During 2017, there were 14 fatalities from 21 accidents in commercial air transport operations, 21 fatalities from 93 accidents in general aviation operations, and five fatalities from 53 accidents in recreational aviation operations.

Terrain collisions were the most common accidents or serious incidents for aircraft involved in general aviation, recreational aviation and remotely piloted aircraft in 2017. Aircraft control, followed by terrain collisions, were the most common occurrence type associated with an accident or serious incident for aircraft involved in air transport operations.

Wildlife strikes, including birdstrikes, were again the most common type of incident involving both commercial air transport and general aviation operations.

The accident and fatal accident rates for general and recreational aviation reflect their higher‑risk operational activity when compared to commercial air transport operations. They also reflect the significant growth in recreational aviation activity over the last ten years and this sector’s increased reporting culture. The total accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are nine times more likely to have an accident than commercial air transport operations, with recreational operations around twice as likely to experience an accident than general aviation operations.

The fatal accident rate, per hours flown, indicates general aviation operations are around fifteen times more likely to experience a fatal accident than commercial air transport operations, and recreational operations are almost 30 times more likely to experience a fatal accident than commercial air transport operations.

Since 2016, the increased availability and use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) saw them match helicopters as the second highest aircraft type for reported accidents. However, there were no collisions with other aircraft, fatalities or serious injuries relating to RPA reported to the ATSB. While the consequences of an accident involving an RPA have been low to date, their increased use, and possible interactions with traditional aviation, is an emerging trend in transport safety that will continue to be monitored closely by the ATSB.

Australian Air Transport accidents and (serious) incidents 2008-2017

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Study: Evaluating Small UAS Near Midair Collision Risk

In a recent study, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University researchers revealed results from a small drone (sUAS) detection study performed near Daytona Beach International Airport in Florida, USA.

To gather their data, the research team secured a DJI AeroScope – a passive radio-frequency sensor designed to detect, track, and record UAS activity.  During the 13-day sampling period, researchers detected 73 different DJI-manufactured drones that made 192 separate flights.

Researchers also collected valuable operator behavior data, including common sUAS flight locations, times, and altitudes.

It was found that 12 percent of all detected drones were flying near unimproved land and parks. More than three-fourths were flying in residential neighborhoods or near single-family homes. Another 21.5 percent hovered above commercial, industrial or public properties, the researchers reported.

The researchers compared detected sUAS activity with locations and altitudes prescribed by the FAA’s UAS Facility Maps.  According to the FAA, “UAS Facility Maps shows the maximum altitudes around airports where the FAA may authorize Part 107 operations without additional safety analysis.”  More than one-fifth of the 177 flights were flying higher than the safe altitude prescribed for their operating area.  Moreover, researchers compared detected UAS operations to historical manned aircraft flight data, revealing several near encounters.

The researchers suggested that drone manufacturers should more frequently incorporate a technology called “geofencing,” which would prevent sUAS from accidentally entering restricted areas. The authors also proposed that the FAA could consider making more information on sUAS activity available to aircraft pilots.

EASA releases Annual Safety Review 2018

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) released the Annual Safety Review 2018.

Audit: FAA faces challenges in implementing runway incursion mitigation initiatives

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Transportation published the findings of their audit into the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) runway safety efforts. 

Due to the increase in runway incursions, in June 2015 FAA initiated a Call to Action forum that focused on developing short-, mid-, and long-term initiatives to mitigate runway incursions and improve safety. In November 2015, FAA published 22 initiatives developed at the forum.
In December 2016 the OIG initiated an audit with the objective to evaluate FAA’s progress in implementing these initiatives.

OIG found that as of November 2017, FAA had completed 10 of the 22 initiatives, including initiatives aimed at educating pilots on signs, markings, and other visual aids at high-risk airports and updating a best practices list for airport surface and movement areas. Ten initiatives are still in progress while two initiatives were canceled. However, the Agency faces challenges in fully implementing the initiatives still in progress. These include dedicating funding to complete four initiatives and fully implementing new technologies for seven initiatives, which could take years to complete. In addition, while FAA has implemented a monitoring plan to track the status of the initiatives, the plan does not tie the initiatives to quantifiable goals or other metrics that would measure their effectiveness in reducing runway incursions.

OIG made three recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administrator regarding revisions to the 2015 Call to Action monitoring plan. FAA concurred with all three recommendations:

  1. Update the target delivery dates for initiatives that are still in progress, including those without target delivery dates, and implement procedures for continually updating delivery dates and descriptions of initiatives as changes are made.
  2. Develop and include in the monitoring plan quantifiable metrics or other indicators that can measure the effectiveness of the initiatives.
  3. Consolidate duplicate initiatives within the monitoring plan.

 

ANSV Italy reports 46 drone incidents over 2017

The Italian accident investigation board ANSV published it’s Annual Report over 2017, drawing attention to 46 drone incidents over the past year in Italy.

ANSV notes that it continued to monitor interferences recorded in the Italian airspace between unmanned aircraft and manned aircraft. The number of incidents (46) is in line with that of the previous year (51).
Of the 46 incidents reported last year, 42 were conflicts with manned aircraft. Four incidents pertained to single drone operations, for example a bird strike to a tethered drone, and drones observed near airports by ground personnel.
The examination of the airprox reports received by ANSV also shows that a common factor is non-compliance with the national legislation in force. Drones are often operated in areas that are prohibited, e.g. close to airports.

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IATA publishes Safety Report 2017

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) published their Safety Report 2017.

In 2017:

  • The global accident rate was 1.08 per million sectors, compared to 0.50 for IATA members.
  • The all-accident rate for airlines on the IOSA registry was nearly four times better than that of non-IOSA airlines (0.56 vs. 2.17).
  • 48.8% of the world’s accidents in 2017 occurred in the Africa (AFI) and Asia-Pacific (ASPAC) regions.
  • 24.4% of the world’s accidents in 2017 involved ASPACbased operators.
  • There were 11 accidents in the AFI region, nine involving AFI based operators, including six Runway Excursions.
  • The largest number of accidents occurred in Generation 2 turboprops and Generation 3 jets.1
  • There were no fatal accidents in Generation 4 jets or Generation 3 turboprops.1
  • 44% of the world’s accidents involved turboprops, while the global turboprop fleet is one fifth the size of the jet fleet.
  • Four of the six fatal accidents in 2017 were in cargo operations.

Download the full report: Safety Report 2017