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U.K. Parliament launches drone inquiry
4 April 2017

U.K. Parliament launches drone inquiry

The U.K. Parliament Transport Committee launched an inquiry into civilian drones, to consider how the benefits of drone technology can be maximised within a robust safety framework.

The Transport Committee notes that the increasing use of drones in the United Kingdom raises a number of regulatory and operational issues. This includes risk to other aircraft.

The Committee calls for written submissions addressing drone related issues, which include the safety and security risks posed by drones, particularly to manned aircraft;
the role of technology in enabling safe and sustainable growth in the civilian drones sector; and the current enforcement arrangements for misuse of drones in the UK

In addition to the evidence sought on drones, the Committee says it is also interested in evidence on the likely effects of the measures in the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill on the dangers posed by the use of laser pens to distract the pilots of aircraft.  Written submissions must be sent by Friday 26 May 2017.

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NBAA releases 2017 top safety focus areas

The U.S. National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) released its annual list of Top Safety Focus Areas, topics identified by the NBAA Safety Committee as primary risk-mitigation targets for all business aircraft operators.

Each year the NBAA Safety Committee reviews safety survey results, risk-based safety data, and qualitative input from industry and regulatory partners, other NBAA committees and association members. Following this data-driven review, the committee members deliberate and develop a list of safety focus areas for the year. The committee goal is to promote and stimulate safety-focused discussion and advocacy throughout the business aviation industry, as well as to help NBAA prioritize how it should focus its safety-improvement resources.

The 2017 NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas are:

  • Loss of control inflight (LOC-I)
  • Runway excursions
  • Single-pilot accident rate
  • Procedural non-compliance
  • Ground handling collisions
  • Distractions
  • Scenario- and risk-based training and checking
  • Airspace complexities

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EASA reviews effectiveness of new flight time limitations

The European Commission together with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have set up a research study to review the effectiveness of the new flight and duty time limitations and rest requirements applicable since 18 February 2016.
The objective is to determine whether these rules provide sufficient protection from potential consequences of aircrew fatigue and, if necessary, to make recommendations for changes to the rules.

EASA states that the starting point of the FTL research study is to determine the scope of a planned data gathering campaign in which aircrews will be followed and asked to collect data on alertness and fatigue. Before this campaign can start, the envelope of operations that will be the focus of the exercise needs to be determined based on expected level of fatigue risk.
EASA pre-defined six flight duty periods that are to be investigated; two of which will be investigated in the current research study. In view of the large scope of the task encompassed by the review, it was decided to breakdown the review work into three phases – with each individual phase focusing onto two out of the six duty periods.

EASA calls for aircrew members to fill in an online survey to define this envelope of operations. Aircrew members are considerd flight and cabin crew in all type of Commercial Air Transport (CAT) operations. In addition to this group of aircrews, the survey can also be spread amongst scheduling and safety experts working for European CAT operators and subject matter experts in fatigue management working for European aviation authorities or as consultants.

This FTL review is being performed by a research consortium with the Netherlands Aerospace Centre NLR, Stockholm University, German Aerospace Centre DLR, and Jeppesen.

To prevent airprox events BFU Germany recommends all gliders to allways use a transponder

The German aircraft accident investigation board, BFU, made two safety recommendations to the German government to prevent mid-air collisions and airprox events.

The recommendations were made as a result of a study of all German mid-air collisions and airprox events in the period 2010-2015.  During this period a total of 490 events were reported to the BFU. Of those 15 were classified as accidents, 31 serious incidents and eight incidents with a total of 19 fatalities. The remaining events were less serious and did not warrant further investigation.

Number of occurrences in Germany 2010-2015

The accidents occurred during VFR flights (en route) and VFR traffic patterns as a result of the failure of the ‘See and avoid’ principle.

Following a review of all cases, the BFU issued two recommendations to the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI):

  1. BMVI should abolish the existing exemption that gliders above 5000 feet AMSL or 3500 feet AGL would not have to use their transponder.
  2. BMVI should ensure that commercial air transport flights, carried out according to instrument flight rules with aircraft larger than 5,7 t take-off mass or more than 19 seats, are only carried out in airspaces where the air traffic control is always able to provide traffic information and issue avoidance instructions to all other aircraft operating in the same airspace, as well as to enable warnings of airborne and ground-based anti-collision systems (ACAS and STCA) against imminent collisions.

Most recent serious airprox incidents involving airliners in Germany (investigations completed):

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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.


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

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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.

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