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Monday, March 29, 2010

Safety & Technology Trends

Carry-On Bags Endangers

The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has released the results of a recent membership survey in which one out of two flight attendants witnessed carry-on items falling from overhead bins in the previous 60 days. The union says the survey validates anecdotal reports that carry-on baggage is "out of control" and mostly the result of new fees on check luggage.

"We now have compelling evidence that flight attendants and passengers are being injured by excess amounts of oversized carry-on items," said Patricia Friend, AFA president. "AFA has been urging Congress, government agencies, and carriers to establish reasonable carry-on limitations that will improve the overall safety, health and security of crew and passengers inside the aircraft cabin. These limits will reduce injuries and distractions caused by carry-ons and allow flight attendants to devote more attention to the critical task of ensuring the safest and most secure flight possible."

According to the survey, over 80 percent of flight attendants sustained injuries over the past year due to dealing with carry-ons in overhead bins. The most common injury being strained and pulled muscles in the neck, arms and upper back. The survey was compiled from a representative sample of the 50,000 AFA members at 22 U.S. airlines.

Currently, there is a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that offers to set one standard for all bags carried on board U.S. commercial aircraft. The Securing Carry-On Baggage Act, H.R. 2870, would create a universal size for carry-on bags, instead of allowing each carrier to determine its own size requirements and requires the Transportation Security Administration to enforce the rules.

Kudos for Hans Almer

The Flight Safety Foundation awarded the President's Citation for Outstanding Service to Hans Almer, who is the outgoing chair of the Foundation's European Advisory Committee (EAC), in Lisbon at the European Aviation Safety Seminar (EASS). "The FSF is very pleased to recognize Hans for all the hard work he has done, not only as EAC Chairman, but also for his efforts during his years as president of SAAB Aircraft and his time with the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority's Flight Safety Department," stated FSF President and CEO William R. Voss. "The Foundation is immensely proud of the Operator's Guide to Human Factors in Aviation. This body of work, available to all at EUROCONTROL's Skybrary, is a first rate collection of information that will help to improve aviation safety worldwide." The President's Citation is given each year to a recipient or recipients as determined by the President and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation. The award recognizes exceptional service advancing the cause of aviation safety.

Goodrich Delivers 2,000th Chopper HUMS

Goodrich's Sensors and Integrated Systems business in Vergennes, VT marked the delivery of its 2,000th helicopter health and usage management system (HUMS) in March attended by employees and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The firm has won $100 million in contracts to develop and deploy the HUMS systems for a number of helicopter platforms for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. Goodrich Sensors and Integrated Systems Vice President Gary Loftus said HUMS finds problems while helicopters are either on the ground or in time to get the choppers to the ground safely. Goodrich's Health and Usage Management Systems (HUMS) give mechanics feedback on a helicopter's engine performance, structural performance and rotor performance - allowing a helicopter to be serviced before major system failures. Before the use of HUMS units, helicopters were routinely taken out of service for unnecessary preventative maintenance. The units are onboard a variety of military and commercial helicopters including the US Army's UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook, the US Marine Corps' CH-53E Super Stallion, and Sikorsky's commercial S-76D and S-92 aircraft.

Fractional Chopper Operator Gets Top Safety Rating

HeliFlite has received the Platinum rating by ARGUS International, a specialist in performing on-site safety audits for corporate flight departments, charter operators, and commercial airlines. Joe Moeggenberg, Argus president and CEO, said "The prestigious Platinum rating is ARGUS' highest level of safety ratings, and is awarded only to those air charter operators who have demonstrated successful implementation of industry best safety practices relative to their operations and maintenance. Charter operators like HeliFlite who are dedicated to running an efficient and safe operationdeserve the recognition that a Platinum rating bestows and should be commended for their leadership within the helicopter community." Bruce Rogoff, CEO of HeliFlite, said "HeliFlite has consistently demonstrated a commitment to safety and exceptional personalized service. Receiving the Platinum rating from ARGUS is a reflection on our company's efforts to ensure the highest aviation standards and practices. We are proud to be accepted into this elite group who share the same vision and dedication to safety." HeliFlite is a full service helicopter operator offering fractional ownership, aircraft management, a 25-hour Helicard, and on- demand charter services. Based in Newark, New Jersey, its fleet includes the Bell 430 and Sikorsky S-76, both dual engine, dual pilot aircrafts.

Night Landings OKed for Canadian Hospital

The Elk Valley Hospital's helipad has been certified by Transport Canada for night landings with the use of night vision goggles (NVG); the helipad is the first day time helipad in Canada to receive this certification. This means that pilots from the STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) air ambulance are now able to land at the Elk Valley Hospital, weather permitting. It took two years to get the helipad certified as there was no existing documentation specifically dealing with night vision goggles and the requirements for flight paths, obstacle identification, and lighting. Stantec Consulting Red Deer, Alberta, was hired to handle the needed site plans, flight paths and operating manuals. The cost to achieve this certification was $40,000. Mike Potter, aviation manager for the STARS Calgary Base, said "being certified to land at the Elk Valley heliport using night vision goggles means our crews are able to land at the hospital in Fernie at any time, which means patients are getting the care they need quicker." Elk Valley Health Services Administrator Karyn Morash said "with night time landings we have now increased our ability to get patients the care they need faster." In 2009, STARS flew nine missions to the Elk Valley Hospital and 10 missions in 2008.

REFS for USAF

Northrop Grumman has successfully installed a demonstration Real-Time Electronic Flight Data System (REFS) for the USAF that will create a more efficient flight information system for air traffic controllers. REFS is a Terminal Flight Data Management (TFDM) system comprising several modules including the electronic flight strip module that automates the production, distribution and administrative management of flight plan information and other air traffic control data. This is the first operational TFDM system installed in the U.S. at Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, TX. The system facilitates inter- and intra-facility coordination within and between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) En Route Air Traffic Control Center in Fort Worth, Texas, and various facilities at Sheppard AFB, including radar approach, control, air traffic control tower, base operations and emergency response services. "With REFS, controllers will no longer have to rely on a labor-intensive paper flight strip system," said the firm's Catherine Kuenzel. The FAA certified REFS for operation in the National Airspace System on June 24, 2009. The Air Force is currently testing and validating the technology as an alternative to the paper- based system. Northrop Grumman's teammates on the project include NavCanada, Ottawa, Canada; and Sunhillo, West Berlin, NJ.

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