NTSB Recommends Several Revisions On Bird Strike, Operations Regs

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reforms Suggested For Airports, Flight Plans, Maintenance.

The NTSB Tuesday issued a list of recommendations for changes in FAR's that it says will enhance bird strike prevention, and beef up safety for charter operators.

For preventing and reporting bird strikes, NTSB said that the FAA should revise the bird-strike certification requirements for 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 25 airplanes so that protection from in-flight impact with birds is consistent across all airframe structures. Consider the most current military and civilian bird-strike database information and trends in bird populations in drafting this revision.

NTSB says the FAA should also verify that all federally obligated general aviation airports that are located near woodlands, water, wetlands, or other wildlife attractants are complying with the requirements to perform wildlife hazard assessments as specified in Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular 150/5200-33B, Hazardous Wildlife Attractants On or Near Airports, and require aircraft manufacturers to develop aircraft-specific guidance information that will assist pilots in devising precautionary aircraft operational strategies for minimizing the severity of aircraft damage sustained during a bird strike, should one occur, when operating in areas of known bird activity. This guidance information can include, but is not limited to, airspeed charts that depict minimum safe airspeeds for various aircraft gross weights, flap configurations, and power settings; and maximum airspeeds, defined as a function of bird masses, that are based on the aircraft's demonstrated bird-strike energy.

Finally, NTSB recommends the FAA require all 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 139 airports and 14 CFR Part 121, Part 135, and Part 91 Subpart K aircraft operators to report all wildlife strikes, including, if possible, species identification, to the Federal Aviation Administration National Wildlife Strike Database.

For charter operators, NTSB recommends the FAA revise 14 Code of Federal Regulations 91.23 truth-in-leasing regulations to include all turbine-powered airplanes. Further, FAA should require that flight plans include a block for the pilot to identify the operator and a block to specify the operating rules under which the flight is being conducted.

FAA should also require 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on-demand operators to provide their customers with a written document, correspondence, or ticket that expressly describes the terms of carriage, including the regulatory part under which the flight is operated, update and keep current the aircraft charter guide on the Federal Aviation Administration's website to include reliable information on the certification status of on-demand commercial operators and the aircraft that they are authorized to operate, and explore and implement strategies to improve on-site inspector surveillance activities at airports and of flight operations to detect and deter improper charter operations.
 
Finally, NTSB says FAA should assess why its existing policies, procedures, and practices resulted in a failure to detect the noncompliant actions of Interstate Helicopters and develop additional methods, measures, or procedures for performing inspections of and following up on complaints about 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on-demand operators that can successfully detect noncompliant charter operations.

In addition, NTSB reiterated that all operators of aircraft equipped with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) should be required to (1) test the functionality of the CVR before the first flight of each day as part of an approved aircraft checklist and (2) perform a periodic maintenance check of the CVR as part of an approved maintenance check of the aircraft. The CVR preflight test should be performed according to procedures provided by the CVR manufacturer and should include listening to the recorded signals on each channel to verify that the audio is being recorded properly, is intelligible, and is free from electrical noise or other interference. The periodic maintenance check of the CVR should include an audio test followed by a download and review of each channel of recorded audio. The downloaded recording should be checked for overall audio quality, CVR functionality, and intelligibility.

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