24 May 09 Takeoff and Landing Mishaps On the Rise

Photo by Flight Global

Photo by Flight Global
Vayalar, Manju. Times of India. 24 May 2009. "In the last year, four flights, two of SpiceJet, one of Jetlite, and one of GoAir, landed on runways that were closed for repairs. As the aircraft touched down on the wrong runway, the workers doign repairs ran away in alarm, and each time, a generous stroke of luck ensured that the plane came to a halt safely. Also, in the last one year, four flights--two of Air India, one of SpiceJet and one of Kingfisher Airlines--made turbulent landings. In some cases, the wing of the jet speeding at about 230-240 kmph grazed the ground, at other times the empennage or the tail-end of the aircraft thumped into the runway during touchdown. Last month, a Kingfisher Airlines flight veered off the runway, damaging ten runway-edge lights while landing in Bangalore amid rain and heavy winds. The 2007 monsoon saw seven such incidents, two of which were so serious that the aircraft were damaged beyond repair.

For the last three years, the number of accidents/incidents taking place during a landing or a take-off-- involving Indian carriers at Indian airports--has been on a steady rise. The reasons include a range of factors like cockpit crew fatigue, relaxed aircraft maintenance norms in India, dearth of DGCA flight safety inspectors, pilots put under pressure by airlines to operate flights even in difficult conditions, poor training and inaction by the DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation).

FMI: Takeoff and Landing Mishaps On the Rise

The Flight Safety Foundation and Commercial Air Safety Team task force worked to gether to create a Takeoff and Landing Accident Reduction toolkit that would be helpful in reducing the number of these mishaps. We have an unacceptable number of hull losses every year, and an increase is certainly not a welcome sign. "The task force issued many recommendations for the reduction of ALAs, based on the following conclusions:
  • Establishing and adhering to adequate standard operating procedures and flight-crew decision-making processes improves approach-and-landing safety;
  • Failure to recognize the need for and to execute a missed approach when appropriate is a major cause of ALAs;
  • Unstabilized and rushed approaches contribute to ALAs;
  • Improving communication and mutual understanding between air traffic control services and flight crews of each other’s operational environments will improve approach-and-landing safety;
  • The risk of ALAs is higher in operations conducted in low light and poor visibility, on wet or otherwise contaminated runways, and with the presence of optical illusions or physiological illusions;
  • Using the radio altimeter as an effective tool will help prevent ALAs;
  • Collection and analysis of in-flight parameters (for example, flight operational quality assurance programs) identify performance trends that can be used to improve approach-and-landing safety; and,
  • Global sharing of aviation information decreases the risk of ALAs."

FMI: FSF Approach and Landing Accident Reduction

Fly Smart (that includes takeoffs and landings. It's best to keep those numbers equal in the logbook)

18 May 09 System Safety Development Guide

As part of the development of a Safety Management System for a small organization or for a GA pilot, I suggest utilizing the FAA Industry Training Standard (FITS) Safety System Development Guide. This guide includes a basic description of what a Safety Management System is, definitions, a Risk Assessment Matrix and a sample scenario. It is a good, simple document that is easy to use.

System Safety Course Development Guide

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16 May 09 Learn About Human Error

I have a favorite book on aviation safety, written by Dr Key Dismukes. Dr Dismukes and his pals took a look at 19 accidents from 1991-2001. They looked beyond pilot error for situational factors and found some common, cross cutting themes. Sure, there were errors made, but this book challenges us to rethink how we look at cause of mishaps and error.

You can look at the book online for free at google books, and I highly recommend getting your own personal copy. You can order from Ashgate or Amazon. Here's the link to google books.

I was able to spend some time with him in DC this week, he was called as an expert witness by the NTSB for the Colgan Public Hearing. And interestingly enough, his wife will be testifying at the Public Hearing for US Airways in a few weeks.

Fly Smart