28 Feb 09 Data Recorder in Spotlight for Helicopter Safety

A Fargo company that makes flight data recorders hopes a new, smaller model will help the company land an even bigger role in a national push to improve helicopter safety.
By: **Mike Nowatzki**, INFORUM
David Batcheller holds a mockup of Appareo’s newest flight data recorder for use in helicopters. The “blackbox” weighs 10 ounces, is water-resistant and records audio and four pictures per second for hours as well as roughly a month of flight data. The company’s new building, behind him, is located in the NDSU Research and Technology Park.
A Fargo company that makes flight data recorders hopes a new, smaller model will help the company land an even bigger role in a national push to improve helicopter safety.
David Batcheller of Appareo Systems Inc. recently testified in front of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is exploring ways to boost safety after nine medical helicopter crashes killed 35 people during a 12-month period in 2007 and 2008.
While so-called “black boxes” are standard in commercial airliners, the federal government doesn’t require them in all helicopters, although some owners voluntarily install them. Appareo launched its new recorder weighing less than 300 grams, or about 10 ounces, at the international Heli-Expo last weekend in Anaheim, Calif. In addition to recording flight data, it records ambient sound and features a camera that takes still photos of the cockpit. The recorder was developed with major helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter, which will begin installing it on models in 2010, said Batcheller, who appeared in a CNN news story about Fargo’s economy this week.
The European counterpart to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release standards for light aircraft data acquisition systems such as Appareo’s later this year, Batcheller said. The FAA may adopt those standards or create its own, and the NTSB will likely make recommendations based on the hearings in early February, he said.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure on the industry to do something to increase safety, so I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said.
Full Article: Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

Kent's Comments: As usual, technology is outpacing FOIA legislation. Actually, FOIA legislation has been left way behind in this area. With rapidly emerging technologies, we can collect data in many innovative ways but are not advanced enough as a society to use it responsibly. How long before we see the first cockpit images on the "news" of a crew's last seconds alive, or those images shown in a courtroom in a lawyer's inappropriate passionate appeal to a jury? It is human nature to try to make sense of misaps, and our system is currently mandated "to determine cause or probable cause". That usually leaves the pilots to be assigned the blame for an entire system, and in many cases they are no longer with us to defend their knowledge, skills, resources and experience.

What I am concerned about is protection of this data from inappropriate use by criminal courts, civil courts, companies and the regulatory agencies. If there is to be "a lot of pressure on the industry to do something to increase safety", then there should be even more pressure on government agencies to increase protection of "voluntarily" provided safety data. At a minimum the data recorded on these devices should have the same protections as CVR audio, and ideally legislation would protect all data from any source (text, electronic data, audio, image) that is provided to increase safety.

If this technology holds a promise, let's install it first in our Nation's automobiles, especially in vehicles being driven by our high risk groups of teens, seniors and the high reiability hazmat CDL community. Imagine the data that could be collected there? Operating and exam rooms next. From there we can move to Congressional offices and the Boardrooms, because that is first and foremost where decision making, judgment and situational awareness must be scrutinized. Use of recorders here might even shape decisions that PREVENT mishaps, vs trying to put shattered lives and property back together. If it is good for our communities I must assume it is good for all.

Given the usage scenarios above, we need to decide the societal responsibilities and implications of use this data before we start widepsread collection.

Fly Smart and smile for the camera!

26 Feb 09 Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) Incorporates, Schedules Inaugural Meeting

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external image TBO-NAFI-SAFE-logo-0209a_tn.jpg
The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), has announced the incorporation of the organization in the state of Connecticut. SAFE is a new organization formed to represent the nation's professional aviation educators,
SAFE has scheduled its inaugural meeting during the upcoming Women in Aviation International conference. The meeting will take place on Thursday, February 26th at 1715 in the Centennial IV room of the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia.
According to SAFE spokesperson Doug Stewart, "Incorporation is a big step in establishing SAFE in the aviation community and in creating a member driven organization that will be responsive to the needs of the nation's aviation instructors. We plan to hear from various committee chairpersons regarding the current status of initiatives and to discuss the charter memberships which will be offered as soon as all the filings are complete." Following the committee reports, a question and answer session will be held to allow interested participants and media to learn more about the future plans for the organization.
"Securing non profit (501c3) status for SAFE is the next big step in our efforts to create an organization that will represent the nation's aviation educators and Certified Flight Instructors with professionalism, transparency, fairness and accountability." continues Stewart.
"We are moving forward on many fronts to put programs in place, to elect an initial Board of Directors and to begin offering memberships to aviation educators, flight instructors and industry partners. We are excited about the opportunity to debut our new organization at the 20th annual WAI conference. Everyone is invited to stop by and meet us."
FMI: www.TBO-NAFI.org

We wish SAFE Fair skies and tailwinds, unless they're in a helo trying to land...
Fly Smart and train with a dedicated CFI,

25 Feb 09 Turkish Airlines 737 crashes while landing at Schipol

A Turkish Airlines 737 has crashed while landing at Schipol. The aircraft was completing a scheduled flight from Istanbul and had about 136 on board.
Local reports say that the 737 crashed short of the runway and broke into three sections but that there was no fire.
FMI: International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations www,ifalpa.org

Update: (CNN) -- A Turkish passenger jet crashed as it tried to land at Amsterdam's main airport Wednesday, killing at least nine people and injuring more than 50 -- 25 seriously -- Dutch airport authorities have said.
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external image art.schiphol.crash.engine.gi.jpg

Rescuers attend the fuselage of the Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 following Wednesday's crash. The Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800, which had 127 passengers and seven crew members according to the airline, broke into three pieces on impact in a field near Schiphol Airport.
The injured included both crew and passengers, said Assistant Local Mayor Michel Bezuijen. It is too early to determine the cause of the crash, Bezuijen said.
FMI: CNN.com/Europe

IFALPA has a really good Daily News email that I get. I recommend signing up for it.
Fly Smart

25 Feb 09 Piece of Aviation History for February 25

1965 – Maiden flight of the DC9.Douglas designed the DC-9 as a short-range companion to their larger four engined DC-8. Unlike the competing but slightly larger Boeing 727, which used as many 707 components as possible, the DC-9 was an all-new design. Delta became the launch customer when it entered service with them in December 1965.
The DC-9 was followed in subsequent modified forms by the MD-80, MD-90 and Boeing 717. Production of the DC-9 aircraft family ceased after 41 years in May 2006 with 976 airframes built.

FMI: www.ifalpa.org

Fly Smart,

23 Feb 09 Threat and Error Management in Flight Operations

more great info from SKYbrary


Note: This article is based on Threat And Error Management (TEM) paper presented by Capt. Dan Maurino, Coordinator of ICAO Flight Safety and Human Factors Programme, at the Canadian Aviation Safety Seminar (CASS) in Vancouver, Canada, 18-20 April 2005.
There are three basic components in the Threat and Error Management (TEM) model, from the perspective of flight crews: threats, errors and undesired aircraft states (UAS). The model proposes that threats and errors are part of everyday aviation operations that must be managed by flight crews, since both threats and errors carry the potential to generate undesired aircraft states. Flight crews must also manage undesired aircraft states, since they carry the potential for unsafe outcomes. Undesired state management is an essential component of the TEM model, as important as threat and error management. Undesired aircraft state management largely represents the last opportunity to avoid an unsafe outcome and thus maintain safety margins in flight operations.
Read more:

Fly Smart and use your team

12 Feb 09 Control of the Mission Versus Control of the System

by Matt "Pug" Boyne

Thursday, February 12, 2009

As flight deck technology gains greater sophistication, flight deck designers will continue to create additional information sources and control measures. It is an observation that aircraft accidents have a greater chance to occur when pilots cede control of the aircraft to automated systems rather than keeping control of the aircraft themselves. This may be referred to as a choice to use mission level automation (Rogers, Schutte & Latorella, 1996.) At this point pilots have moved from a controlling function to a monitoring one and if not properly engaged may lose situational awareness.

A classic example for lessons learned in this area is the American Airlines 757 crash on approach to Cali, Columbia in December of 1995 (Aeronautica Civil of the Republic of Columbia, 1996.) While rushing to prepare for a new approach to the airport the pilots loaded an incorrect navigational point into their flight management computer and then trusted that the autopilot system would bring them to the correct position. At this point they abrogated their control authority and moved to a monitoring position. Due to further distractions with navigational charts, both pilots allowed their monitoring duties to suffer as well. Unfortunately, due to confusion as to their location and the high terrain surrounding the airport, the flight management system directed the autopilot onto a path that resulted in collision with the mountains, loss of life and aircraft.

This example is used to describe the real risks to cockpit automation. As long as pilots retain control over the mission of the aircraft, they will maintain a higher level of situational awareness than when they move to a monitoring position. If the automated systems are used, they should be employed as a work load mitigator and not a placed in a decision making role. For tasks that are not mission critical, that may be thought of as aircraft or system specific, such as cabin temperature or fuel balancing, delegation to the automated system will not result into a significant safety hazard. Monitoring can be thought of in a time versus risk assessment. If sufficient time exists for human intervention before given a critical situation, delegation to automation will reduce workload, improve effectiveness and minimize fatigue.

This does not imply that pilots must at all time maintain physical control of the aircraft, as in manually flying. Rather the control must be in a dynamic sense. This means that the aircraft will not change profiles without pilot input, which may be through the flight controls manually or by engaging an autopilot mode control


Aeronautica Civil of the Republic of Columbia (1996). Aircraft accident report: Controlled flight into terrain, American Airlines Flight 965, Boeing 757-223, N651AA, near Cali, Columbia, December 20, 1995. Santafe de Bogota, D.C., Columbia: Author.

Rogers, W.H., Schutte, P.C. & Latorella, K.A. (1996). Fault management in aviation systems. In P. Parasuraman & M. Mouloua (Eds.), Automation and Human Performance: Theory and Applications. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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external image 767400-k60557.jpg

10 Feb 09 Miracle Flight Crew Honored; Sully's Recommended Reading; Just Culture by Sidney Dekker

I think this is a resounding endorsement for Sidney's book Just Culture. Balancing Safety and Accountability.

CNN Video on Mayor Bloomberg Honoring US Airways Flight Crew

Fly Smart,

5 Feb 09 Risk Assessment Matrix for HEMS Teams

In the Helicopter EMS world, there has been a lot of discussion about using a "Risk Assessment Matrix" to optimize a mission launch decision. This matrix is used WELL BEFORE the emergency call comes in to allow the HEMS Team of Dispatcher, Pilot(s), Flight Nurse, Paramedic, Dispatcher, Mechanic, Director of Ops, Director of Safety, Company owners and Flight Service personnel make Risk Decisions . It is about the HEMS Team communicating before hand, and developing a tactical plan to fly smart.

In the Marine Corps, you train and plan missions before any battle; the HEMS environment carries many of the same challenges of High Intensity Operations and Tactical Decision Making. And even in the military, there was no mission in peactime that warranted loss of life to complete. If you make these decision early, that leaves more room in the brain bucket for the necessary last minute details. It is the details that are often overlooked and take the most cognitive attention in a time constrained environment

Here is a sample, each hazard generates points and totals are considered at the end. Think of a sample scenario and see how you would proceed at the end. And one thing to keep in mind, ? Anyone can stop the mission, and The Pilot In Command always makes the final decision to launch:

At every crew change, each base exercises an Enhanced Operational Control Matrix and reports the results to the local EOCC. The matrix is scored as follows:

One point is assigned for each of the following:
1. Less than three months on current job/base
2. Less than six months in PHI EMS
3. Less than 200 hours in type
4. Last flight greater than 30 days
5. Navigation or Radios on MEL
6. New or Unfamiliar equipment
7. Less than six NVG operations in the last 60 days

Two points are assigned for each of the following:
1. Last night flight greater than 30 days (night requests only)
2. Greater than 90 days since the last practice instrument approach
3. Back-up/Spare aircraft (if different from regular aircraft)

One point is deducted for each of the following:
1. Greater than 500 hours in type
2. IFR capable aircraft
3. At least one of the medical crew has more than one year of experience
4. PHI pilot and at least one crewmember are PHI AMRM trained

4 pilots; 2 motors; IFR Certified; 10,000 lb fuel reserve; EGPWS; PWS; TCAS; FMS; Autopilot; Autothrottle; Autoland down to 300 RVR; and 2 clipboards (map and flight plan)

4 pilots; 2 motors; IFR Certified; 10,000 lb fuel reserve; EGPWS; PWS; TCAS; FMS; Autopilot; Autothrottle; Autoland down to 300 RVR; and 2 clipboards (map and flight plan)
Two points are deducted if the aircraft and crew are NVG equipped, current, and used. Four points are deducted if the entire flight will be conducted under instrument flight rules. A total of zero to ten points results in a green status, eleven to 15 in a yellow status, and 16 or greater in a red status. If the base is in a yellow status, EOC concurrence with flight dispatch is required. If the base is in a red status, flights will not be dispatched.

Prior to every flight, each pilot exercises the Dynamic Risk Matrix and reports the results to the local EOCC prior to dispatch. The matrix is scored as follows:

One point is assigned for each of the following:
1. High wind or gust spread (greater than 30 knots or greater than 15 knots spread)
2. Moderate turbulence
3. Mountainous or hostile terrain
4. Class B or C airspace

Two points are assigned for each of the following:
1. Ceiling within 500 feet of program minimums
2. Visibility within two miles of program minimums
3. Precipitation with convective activity within five miles of course
4. Unaided night flight

Three points are added for low ground reference or visible moisture during flight in freezing conditions. Four points are added for deteriorating weather that will be "yellow" during flight duration. Five points are added for a temperature/dewpoint spread within 2 degrees C with less than five knots of wind. One point is subtracted for favorable weather being reported at the destination and high ground reference.

A grand total of the dynamic score falls within three categories. A normal category, scored from zero to ten, allows pilot approval of the flight. An EOC manager level, scored from eleven to 15, requires the pilot to refuse the flight or an EOC manager to approve the flight. An unacceptable level, scored at 16 or greater requires an automatic cancellation of the flight.

We dedicate an enormous amount of time and talent to investigate mishaps, a reactive Team approach. Wouldn't it be better to dedicate a portion of that time to mission planning. No one wants to lose members of the team, hard working and dedicated individuals who have brightened our lives daily. We should do all we can to learn and carry forward with their guiding spirit at our side. Here is a case study on the factors that contribute to fatal mishaps...

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Night Systems SAR Instructor