‘High-risk piloting’ caused fatal JU-52 accident, Switzerland

‘High-risk piloting’ caused fatal JU-52 accident, Switzerland

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UK CAA clears Boeing 737 MAX for return to service

UK CAA clears Boeing 737 MAX for return to service

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced on January 27 and with immediate effect that it will allow UK airlines to operate passenger flights with the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, subject to close oversight. The ban on the aircraft operating in UK airspace will also be removed.  

The decision follows the approval of design modifications to the aircraft itself, how it is flown, and to pilot training.  This has included modification to the aircraft’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and other key safety changes aimed at preventing further accidents.

The CAA is in close contact with TUI, currently the only UK operator of the aircraft, as it returns its aircraft to service.

The removal of the airspace ban will allow foreign operators to fly the Boeing 737 MAX in UK airspace. All airlines, however, will need to go through the necessary steps to return the aircraft to service, including pilot training, so this may result in flights of the type into the UK not being seen immediately.

The main modifications to the aircraft that allow a safe return to service are:

  • Flight Control Computer (FCC) software changes, so that both of the aircraft’s Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor inputs are used by the aircraft systems (rather than previously one)
  • safeguards against MCAS activating unnecessarily, due to a failed or erroneous AoA sensor
  • removal of the MCAS repeat command
  • revised limits on the MCAS command authority
  • revisions to flight crew procedures and training requirements
  • implementation of an AoA ‘disagree’ alert indication that would appear on the pilots’ primary flight displays
  • cross FCC trim monitoring, to detect and shutdown erroneous pitch trim commands

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EASA declares Boeing 737 MAX safe to return to service in Europe

EASA declares Boeing 737 MAX safe to return to service in Europe

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) allows return to service of a modified version of the Boeing 737 MAX, mandating a package of software upgrades, electrical working rework, maintenance checks, operations manual updates and crew training.

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following the second of two accidents within just six months, which together claimed 346 lives. The root cause of these tragic accidents was traced to software known as the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), intended to make the plane easier to handle. However, the MCAS, guided by only one Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor, kicked in repeatedly if that sensor malfunctioned, pushing the nose of the aircraft downward multiple times. In both accidents, pilots finally lost control of their plane, resulting in a crash with total loss of aircraft.

In the days after the grounding, EASA set four conditions for the return to service of the aircraft:  
  • The two accidents (JT610 and ET302) are deemed sufficiently understood
  • Design changes proposed by Boeing to address the issues highlighted by the accidents are EASA approved and their embodiment is mandated
  • An  independent extended design review has been completed by EASA 
  • Boeing 737 MAX flight crews have been adequately trained
Resumption of flights in Europe

The Airworthiness Directive, which details the aircraft and operational suitability changes, including crew training requirements, must be carried out before each individual plane returns to service, gives the green light from the EASA side for a return to service of the aircraft. 

However, scheduling of these mandated actions is a matter for the aircraft operators, under the oversight of Member States’ national aviation authorities, meaning that the actual return to service may take some time. COVID-19 may also have an influence on the pace of return to commercial operations.

In conjunction with the Airworthiness Directive, EASA also issued a Safety Directive (SD) requiring non-European airlines which are holders of EASA third country operator (TCO) authorisation to implement equivalent requirements, including aircrew training. This will allow for the return to service of the 737 MAX when the aircraft concerned are operated under an EASA TCO authorisation into, within or out of the territory of the EASA Member States. 

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Zambian Air Force Y-12 suffers runway excursion

Zambian Air Force Y-12 suffers runway excursion

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Report: USAF Global Express crew shut down wrong engine after failure

Report: USAF Global Express crew shut down wrong engine after failure

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Distraction factor in ATR 72’s attempted takeoff from runway edge, Cologne

Distraction factor in ATR 72’s attempted takeoff from runway edge, Cologne

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West Atlantic Boeing 737-400 cargo plane damaged in hard landing at Exeter, U.K.

West Atlantic Boeing 737-400 cargo plane damaged in hard landing at Exeter, U.K.

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Canada introduces additional requirements to allow return to service of Boeing 737 MAX

Canada introduces additional requirements to allow return to service of Boeing 737 MAX

On January 18, 2021, Transport Canada issued an Airworthiness Directive for the Boeing 737 MAX which outlines the required modifications to be made to the aircraft prior to a return to service in Canadian airspace. This concludes the department’s review of the aircraft.

In addition to all reviews, and to provide additional assurances that all measures are in place, an Interim Order that indicates Transport Canada’s expectations and requirements for additional training for crew members was also issued for operators. It is complementary to the design and maintenance requirements of the Airworthiness Directive.

As a final step in this process, Transport Canada will lift the existing Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) which prohibits the commercial operation of the aircraft in Canadian airspace on January 20, 2021. This will allow for the return to service of the aircraft in Canada.

U.S. – Canadian differences
The Canadian design changes for the Boeing 737 MAX, compared to the U.S., will include an enhanced flight deck procedure that provides the option for a pilot-in-command to disable the “stick shaker” when the system has been erroneously activated by a failure in the angle of attack sensor system. This feature will effectively reduce pilot workload given what has been learned from the two tragic accidents, and has been fully evaluated by Transport Canada’s flight test pilots.
There will also be differences in training including that associated with the enhanced flight deck procedure.

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EASA publishes European Plan for Aviation Safety 2021-2025

EASA publishes European Plan for Aviation Safety 2021-2025

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published the 10th edition of the European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS) covering 2021 – 2025.

EPAS sets out the strategic priorities and enablers, and the main risks affecting the European aviation system, while also defining actions to mitigate the risks.

EPAS is a key component of the Commission’s European Aviation Safety Programme (EASP), supporting the goals and objectives of the ICAO Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) for all 55 in the ICAO EUR Region. 

More information:
European Plan for Aviation Safety 2021-2025

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Misinterpretation of ATC communication factor in August 2019 runway incursion at Toronto

Misinterpretation of ATC communication factor in August 2019 runway incursion at Toronto

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its investigation report into the August 2019 runway incursion between two aircraft at the Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Canada.

On 9 August 2019 at 12:40 local time, an Air Canada Boeing 777-300 landed on runway 33L. Three minutes later, an Air Georgian CRJ-200 was instructed to line up on parallel runway 33R. In accordance with air traffic control (ATC) instructions, the Boeing 777 was crossing runway 33R. Simultaneously, the flight crew of the CRJ-200 began its take-off roll on the same runway without a take-off clearance from ATC. When the CRJ-200 flight crew saw the Boeing 777 over the crest of the runway, they rejected the takeoff and exited via a taxiway.

The investigation found that while completing the pre-departure checks, the flight crew of the CRJ-

200 was informed of a change in departure instructions. The first officer received and read back the line-up instruction with the departure amendment, but misinterpreted that ATC communication as a clearance for takeoff.

It was determined that the number of pre-departure tasks the flight crew was required to complete within a short amount of time increased their workload, and that the workload was further increased by the additional tasks brought by the change in instructions. Thus, it was found that the increased workload, the expectation to receive a take-off clearance without delay, and the misinterpretation of the line-up instructions led the CRJ-200 flight crew to initiate take-off roll without a take-off clearance. Also, because of the grade profile of runway 33R, the fuselage of the Boeing 777 would not have been visible to the CRJ-200 flight crew at the start of the take-off roll, therefore they had no visual indication that it was unsafe to begin the takeoff.

Following the occurrence, NAV CANADA issued a directive reminding air traffic controllers to cancel the take-off clearance or issue an instruction to abort takeoff when runway incursion monitoring and conflict alert system stage 2 alerts are activated by a departing aircraft.

Air Georgian Limited conducted an internal safety investigation as per the company’s safety management system. It amended its standard operating procedures to mandate an ATC query if one of the two crew members was unaware of the content of an ATC clearance or instruction.

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