A pilot working for Ameriflight PR Incorporated repeatedly raised concerns about the way fuel calculations were made for planes flown out of the airline's Puerto Rico base. Fearing a potential plane crash, he took further steps including refusing to pilot a flight, emailing management and fellow pilots, and finally raising the issue with the Federal Aviation Administration. According to an investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the pilot's termination from the company was in retaliation for those activities.
In 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded killing more than 200 people. The aviation accident was the result of a fuel tank explosion that occurred shortly after the Boeing 747 took from John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens. In response to the tragedy, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board developed regulations that required airlines to retrofit the fuel tanks of many older planes. Boeing was tasked with providing the airlines with instructions on what needed to be done to avoid another fuel tank explosion. Boeing's failure to deliver those instructions according to the timeline set forth in the regulations has led the FAA to propose a $13.5 million fine. The fine is the second largest proposed in the history of the FAA.
Dana Air, based in Lagos, Nigeria, first began operating in 2008. On June 3, Dana Air flight 0992 crashed, killing 153 passengers and crew as well as at least 10 individuals on the ground. In response, Nigerian aviation officials have suspended the airline's operating license. A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority in Nigeria indicated that the license will be reinstated if the airline is capable of completing the recertification process.
On December 8, we blogged about a tragic helicopter crash that claimed the lives of four passengers and the pilot who were on route to the Hoover Dam. The National Transportation Safety Board has now opened the public docket concerning this tragic aviation accident. While the docket does not contain the NTSB analysis of the crash, it does contain numerous photographs and documents that shed further light on the events surrounding the deadly incident.
The National Transportation Safety Board made recommendations this week based on its findings concerning aviation accidents. The recommendations are directed toward the group with the highest rate of aviation accidents and fatalities in the flying community-the pilots of small, homemade aircraft. These pilots suffer an accident rate that is twice the general aviation average, and suffer three times as many fatalities as other flyers. The data concerning homemade aircraft prompted the NTSB to make recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as the Experimental Aircraft Association. The goal is to improve safety while maintaining the benefits enjoyed by the flying enthusiast.
The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report regarding aviation accidents in 2011. The report showed a mild increase in the total number of general aviation accidents when compared to 2010. Due to an increase in the total flight hours, however, the rate of accidents actually decreased last year. In addition to showing fewer accidents per flight hour, the report showed that, for the second year in a row, there were zero fatal accidents involving U.S. airlines or commuter air traffic.
The Federal Aviation Administration is expecting substantial changes in the industry over the next 20 years. The task of preventing aviation accidents is likely to get more complicated if the FAA projections about air travel are accurate. The FAA projects that air traffic will nearly double by 2032. This increase in traffic will put additional pressure on the air traffic controllers. To combat this, the FAA is pushing its new, satellite based air traffic control system known as NextGen. This system would replace the land based radar system currently used by air traffic controllers.
The National Sleep Foundation released the results for the 2012 Sleep in America poll this month. The results may be alarming for safety advocates and those looking to reduce aviation accidents and other transportation industry mistakes. Of the 202 pilots who responded, roughly one in five acknowledged that they made a serious error while working because they were tired. Roughly 25 percent admitted that sleepiness has a negative impact on their work at least once every week. The problem seems to extend beyond the total sleep time available to pilots and others in the transportation industry.
In an effort to encourage air traffic controllers and employees in charge of maintaining radar installations and other airport systems to speak up when mistakes occur, the Federal Aviation Administration has made several changes. The FAA says it will reduce aviation accidents and make air travel safer for everyone by expanding a non-punitive reporting system currently in place only for air traffic controllers. By focusing on gathering the information, and not on punishing an employee for making a mistake, the FAA says it will generate more information and be in a better position to discover dangers before they impact passengers and crew.
The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed the first increase in flight hours required to become a co-pilot for a commercial air carrier since 1973. The previous increase raised the minimum from 200 to 250. The latest proposal raises the 250 hour threshold to 1,500 hours, which would match the requirements for pilots. The new threshold was made necessary by a safety law passed after a Buffalo, New York, aviation accident killed 50 people in February 2009. That crash created significant pressure to review the safety measures taken at regional airlines, as well as the hiring, training and working conditions of pilots.