As Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technology has developed, drones have become more accessible than ever. More and more people are using drones for personal enjoyment and professional use and the laws regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft are changing to reflect this. As of August 29, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration has put into effect its most up-to-date regulations, specifically regarding "small unmanned aircraft."
The aviation industry faces many hazards that must be overcome to prevent accidents. Most of those hazards can be addressed with proper training and equipment. One hazard has proven more difficult to control, however. The proliferation of cheap, handheld lasers has created a problem that the Federal Aviation Administration and pilot associations have been unable to resolve. When someone points one of these $5 lasers at a flying aircraft, the tiny beam of light can expand into a blinding flash that is multiple feet wide in the cockpit. While the government and safety officials have struggled to find answers, there may now be a technological solution. Airbus has worked with Lamda Guard to create a treatment for cockpit windows intended to protect pilots from laser lights.
A growing number of safety incidents involving remote-controlled aircraft has led the Department of Transportation to push for mandatory registration of the devices. Drones have grown rapidly in popularity and are expected to become even more common in the near future. This growth has led to an increase in the number of recreational drones impinging on national airspace. In addition, drones have caused injury and created a nuisance when operated improperly. According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, registration of drones would aid in education efforts and make it easier to match drones with their owners in situations where safety became an issue.
When a pilot loses control of an aircraft in flight, the results can be catastrophic. Preventing loss of control in flight in general aviation is on the 2015 Most Wanted List of safety improvements for the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB recently released the agenda for its upcoming general aviation safety forum, to be held on October 14 in Washington D.C. The forum is titled, Humans and Hardware: Preventing General Aviation In Flight Loss of Control. The NTSB is specifically requesting that pilots and others in the aviation community submit questions related to in flight loss of control for consideration at the forum.
Fatigue can have a substantial impact on your ability to complete a task successfully. In the aviation industry, studies on fatigue have often focused on pilots. Fatigue is also a potential safety hazard for others in the aviation industry, including air traffic controllers. A study of controllers completed in 2011 shows that the typical work schedules used in the industry can lead to chronic fatigue.
For many reasons, a certain percentage of travelers choose to bring their pets with them on airline flights. While traveling with a pet can be soothing, a new phenomenon has taken the practice further. Flight attendants are noticing an increase in the number of passengers bringing emotional support animals onto flights. The flight attendants worry that the practice could become a danger, particularly if the plane needed to be evacuated in an emergency.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada recently concluded an investigation into a 2012 plane crash in which a 6-month-old child was killed. The investigation led the TSB to recommend that specially designed seat belts be made mandatory for children and babies on commercial flights. That recommendation is in line with a number of groups concerned with child welfare, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Flight Attendants and the National Transportation Safety Board in the U.S. All of these groups oppose the infant seat exception that allows children under 2 to sit on their parents laps during flights.
In a unanimous vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Christopher Hart as the new chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Mr. Hart has been acting chairman of the NTSB since April, when Deborah A.P. Hersman left to become the president and CEO of the National Safety Council. The confirmation allows Christopher Hart to officially begin his two-year term as the thirteenth chairman of the NTSB.
The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary data concerning 2013 transportation fatalities. According to NTSB figures, 34,678 people were killed across all modes of transportation in 2013. That represents a slight decrease from 2012, during which 35,796 died in transportation accidents. The data groups all deaths from highway accidents, aviation accidents, marine, rail and pipeline transportation accidents. The acting chairman of the NTSB called the total "very troubling" while acknowledging that it represented a slight improvement.
The sleep disorder known as sleep apnea has safety implications in the transportation industry. People who suffer from sleep apnea suffer from interruptions in their breathing during sleep. These interruptions can occur frequently throughout the night, causing a victim to experience significant fatigue even after a normal-length sleep period. In addition to drowsiness, victims may suffer from headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, depression, forgetfulness and other side effects. The impact of sleep apnea on pilots, truck drivers and others in terms of safety is difficult to pinpoint.