Home » ASN News
Aircraft birdstrikes are on the rise in Australia, according to an ATSB report
1 February 2017

Aircraft birdstrikes are on the rise in Australia, according to an ATSB report

Birdstrike rate for fixed-wing aircraft (per 10,000 movements) per year by
operation type, 2006 to 2015

Wildlife strikes in Australian aviation have increased significantly over the past two years and continue to pose a safety risk to aircraft operators, according to a new report released by the ATSB.

The report, which provides aviation birdstrike and animal strike occurrence data over ten years, shows that there were 1,977 birdstrikes and 53 ground-based animal strikes in 2015. Most of these occurrences involved high capacity air transport aircraft.

The wildlife strike rate for six of the ten major airports increased markedly in the past two years, relative to the ten-year average. The largest increase in the rate of birdstrikes was at Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast and Sydney.

Bats and flying foxes, swallows and martins, kites, and lapwings and plovers were the most commonly struck type of flying animal.

Ground-based animal strikes were relatively rare. The most common ground animals struck by aircraft were hares and rabbits, kangaroos, wallabies, and dogs and foxes. Damaging animal strikes mostly involved kangaroos, wallabies and livestock.

The report also estimates that 766 kg of flying animals were struck per year by aircraft in Australia. Additionally, for every 1 kg increase in animal mass, the likelihood of a birdstrike causing damage increases by approximately 12.5%.

Although the vast majority of wildlife strikes do not result in any damage or operational consequence, they still pose a serious safety risk to aircraft.

 

 

Preliminary ASN data show 2016 to be one of the safest years in aviation history

The Aviation Safety Network today released the preliminary 2016 airliner accident statistics showing a very low total of 19 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 325 fatalities. 

Despite several high profile accidents, the year 2016 turned out to be a very safe year for commercial aviation, Aviation Safety Network data show.

Over the year 2016 the Aviation Safety Network recorded a total of 19 fatal airliner accidents [1], resulting in 325 fatalities. This makes 2016 the second safest year ever, both by number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities. In 2015 ASN recorded 16 accidents while in 2013 a total of 265 lives were lost.

Most accidents involved passenger flights (11) . Given the expected worldwide air traffic of about 35,000,000 flights, the accident rate is one fatal passenger flight accident per 3,200,000 flights.

The low number of accidents comes as no surprise, according to ASN President Harro Ranter: “Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organisations such as ICAO, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry.”

The worst accident last year happened on November 28 when a LaMia Bolivia Avro RJ85 crashed near Medellin, Colombia as a result of fuel exhaustion, killing 71.

The number of accidents include two likely cases of terrorism. While investigation is still ongoing, the Egyptian authorities stated that they found traces of explosives after the accident of an EgyptAir Airbus A320 that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea in May. Earlier, in February, one passenger was killed when a bomb detonated in the cabin of an Airbus A321 that had just departed from Mogadishu, Somalia.

Trends

Five-year-average trends show a serious decrease in accidents occurring during the approach and landing phases of flight. The five year average for those accidents is at it’s lowest point in 45 years. Over the last five years about one in three accidents occurred during the approach or landing phase.
On the other hand, the cruise and descent phase accident trend show a marked increase to 45% of all accidents in the past five years. This is the highest number in 50 years.

 

Two out of 19 accident airplanes were operated by airlines on the E.U. “black list”.

 

[1] Statistics are based on all worldwide fatal accidents involving civil aircraft with a minimum capacity of 14 passengers, as published in the ASN Safety Database. Consequently the December accident involving a Russian Air Force Tu-154 is not included.

 

The Aviation Safety Network is an independent organisation located in the Netherlands. Founded in 1996. It has the aim to provide everyone with a (professional) interest in aviation with up-to-date, complete and reliable authoritative information on airliner accidents and safety issues. ASN is an exclusive service of the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF). The figures have been compiled using the airliner accident database of the Aviation Safety Network, the Internet leader in aviation safety information. The Aviation Safety Network uses information from authoritative and official sources.

More information:

 

Harro Ranter
the Aviation Safety Network
e-mail: hr@aviation-safety.net
twitter: @AviationSafety

ATSB report shows ‘high probability’ of finding missing MH370 in new search area

Remaining prospective area to find the wreckage of MH370 (ATSB)

Based on recent research the ATSB now states that there the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, flight MH370, could be found in an unsearched area between latitudes 33°S and 36°S along the 7th arc of approximately 25,000 km².

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released its report MH370 – First Principles Review and a supporting report by the  Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO): The search for MH370 and ocean surface drift.

The First Principles Review report summarises the outcomes of a meeting conducted in November and attended by Australian and international experts in data processing, satellite communications, accident investigation, aircraft performance, flight operations, sonar data, acoustic data and oceanography.

The purpose of the First Principles Review was to reassess and validate existing evidence and to consider any new analysis that may assist in identifying the location of MH370. The CSIRO report was commissioned by the ATSB earlier in 2016 and was considered by the experts attending the First Principles Review.

The experts confirmed their agreement that the analysis of the last two SATCOM transmissions, the likely housed position of the main flaps at impact, and results from the recent flight simulations indicate with high probability that the aircraft lies within 25 NM of the 7th arc that had been derived from analysis of the last satellite communications with the aircraft.

Given the high confidence in the search undertaken to date, the experts agreed that the previously defined indicative underwater area is unlikely to contain the missing aircraft between latitudes 36°S and 39.3°S along the 7th arc.

The experts also agreed that CSIRO’s debris drift modelling results present strong evidence that the aircraft is most likely to be located to the north of the current indicative underwater search area. When considered together with updated flight path modelling, the experts concluded that an unsearched area between latitudes 33°S and 36°S along the 7th arc of approximately 25,000 km², has the highest probability of containing the wreckage of the aircraft.

Given the international protocols for aircraft recovery scenarios such as this, Malaysia will continue to take the central role in the determination of any future course of action in the search for MH370.

More information:

 

Study finds hundreds of pilots suffering from depression

A study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows hundreds of pilots are suffering from depression.

The study, pubished in  Environmental Health, found 233 (12.6%) of the 1848 responding airline pilots met criteria for likely depression. Of the 1430 pilots who reported working as an airline pilot in the last seven days at time of survey, 193 (13.5%) met these criteria. Seventy-five participants (4.1%) reported having thoughts of better being off dead or self-harm within the past two weeks.

A significant trend in proportions of depression was found at higher levels of use of sleep-aid medication and among those experiencing sexual harassment or verbal harassment.

The authors warn that the results have limited generalizability, but state that this study shows that there are a significant number of active pilots suffering from depressive symptoms. Future studies will evaluate additional predictors such as sleep and circadian rhythm disturbances.

The study was conducted in the wake of the accident of Germanwings flight 9525 which was caused by intentional actions by the aircraft’s first officer who was suffering from depression.

The authors made an international anonymous web-based survey, that was administered between April and December 2015. Pilots were recruited from unions, airline companies, and airports via convenience sampling. The objective of the study was to provide a more accurate description of mental health among commercial airline pilots underscoring symptoms related to depression using an anonymous survey to guard against fears of stigma and job discrimination. This study did not conduct clinical interviews of survey respondents to confirm diagnosis of depression, nor did it have access to medical records, according to the authors.

Survey: European pilots praise safety culture, concerns over fatigue

A survey among European pilots show a generally positive perception of safety culture, but pilots also voice concerns over fatigue.

The survey was conducted by The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Eurocontrol among  7,239 pilots from across European nations; approximately 14 per cent of Europe’s total commercial pilot population,

The results show among others that perceptions of safety culture are generally positive amongst pilots. A total of 82% felt SOPs were appropriate for supporting safe operations, and 81% did not feel they had to take risks that made them feel uncomfortable about safety.

The vast majority did not feel they had to take risks that made them feel uncomfortable about safety, and they indicated a high degree of confidence in their colleagues.

Concerns were voiced over fatigue.  Over half of respondents thought that pilots in their company are often tired at work. Just over 60% reported comfortable to complete a fatigue report

More information:

surveygraphs

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.

More information:

EASA publishes Annual Safety Review over 2015

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published the Annual Safety Review 2016, covering a review of aviation safety in Europe for 2015. 

The only fatal accident with a Commercial Air Transport aeroplane involving an EASA member state operator in 2015 was the Germanwings accident on 24 March 2015. It also can be observed that there was a higher number of non‑fatal accidents involving EASA member state operators in 2015 than the 10-year average, with 24 compared to the average of 21.8 over the previous 10 years. At the same time, there was a 24% reduction in the number of serious incidents over the same period with a total of 58 serious incidents compared with the average of 75.8. In terms of fatalities, the single fatal accident resulted in 150 fatalities, which is higher than the 10 year average. There was also a slight increase in serious injuries with 11 compared with 9.2 over the previous 10 years.

Source: EASA

Source: EASA

U.S. commercial aviation community targets pilot mental fitness

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working with commercial airlines and pilots’ unions to improve mental health evaluations, and encourage voluntary reporting of pilot mental health issues.

The Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), comprised of aviation and medical experts, was established in May 2015 to provide recommendations about pilot medical fitness in the wake of the the Malaysia Flight 370 and Germanwings Flight 9525 tragedies.

The FAA, airlines and pilots’ unions considered the ARC’s recommendations and agreed to these actions:

  • In January 2016, the FAA began enhanced training for Aviation Medical Examiners so they can increase their knowledge on mental health and enhance their ability to identify warning signs.
  • Airlines and unions will expand the use of pilot assistance programs. The FAA will support the development of these programs over the next year. These programs will be incorporated in the airline’s Safety Management Systems for identifying risk.
  • The FAA will work with airlines over the next year as they develop programs to reduce the stigma around mental health issues by increasing awareness and promoting resources to help resolve mental health problems.
  • The FAA will issue guidance to airlines to promote best practices about pilot support programs for mental health issues.
  • The FAA will ask the Aerospace Medical Association to consider addressing the issue of professional reporting responsibilities on a national basis and to present a resolution to the American Medical Association. Reporting requirements currently vary by state and by licensing and specialty boards.

The ARC’s experts did not recommend routine psychological testing because there was no convincing evidence that it would improve safety, which the Aerospace Medical Association also concluded in a letter to Administrator Huerta in September 2015, stating that in-depth psychological testing of pilots as part of routine periodic care is neither productive nor cost effective. Instead, the FAA and the aviation community is embracing a holistic approach that includes education, outreach, training, and encourages reporting and treatment of mental health issues. The FAA will reconvene the ARC’s medical working group in 2016 to determine if specific U.S. psychological research projects should be sponsored to better understand general pilot mental health. The FAA will also collaborate with the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority which is studying the psychological testing of pilots who underwent personality testing several decades ago, to include medical and psychiatric outcomes, as well as exploring early recognition of personality and behavioral issues that could pose issues in the future for pilots.

More information:

FAA tests FBI drone detection system at New York-JFK Airport

The U.S. FAA and its government partners are expanding research on ways to detect “rogue” drones around airports that could pose a threat to aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its government, industry and academia partners have joined forces to evaluate drone detection technology at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York.
Beginning May 2, the FAA conducted evaluations at JFK to study the effectiveness of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) UAS detection system in a commercial airport environment. Five different rotorcraft and fixed wing UAS participated in the evaluations, and about 40 separate tests took place.

More information:

 

FAA to test drone sensor detection systems around airports

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that it signed three companies in an effort do develop a system to detect illegal operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flying too close to airports.

The FAA signed  Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRDAs) with Gryphon Sensors, Liteye Systems Inc. and Sensofusion.

The companies’ prototype drone sensor detection systems will be evaluated at airports selected by the FAA. The agency and its federal government partners – particularly the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – will work with the companies to study how effective their respective technologies are, while ensuring they do not interfere with the safety and security of normal airport operations.

The CRDAs with Gryphon, Liteye and Sensofusion expand upon collaborative efforts with industry to develop system standards to identify unauthorized UAS flights near airports, which could pose a hazard to manned aircraft. The agency has seen a steep increase in reports of small UAS close to airports over the last two years.

The FAA has also partnered with DHS and CACI International on similar research to explore how that company’s prototype detection technology may help detect UAS.