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Monday, September 29, 2008

Safety Watch – SkyWest, Mesa, go!, ASA

SkyWest to Install Runway Incursion Equipment
The FAA is awarding SkyWest, US Airways and Southwest Airlines $600,000 each to install cockpit equipment to help them avoid runway incursions, something the National Transportation Safety Board has long wanted. The funding is part of a $5 million program to equip aircraft serving major airports with runway safety issues, such as Los Angeles, with new technology and the three airlines will be testing the systems for the agency.
The 60 aircraft in the program will be fully equipped by May 15 with each airline will equipping 20 aircraft. The program is centered on LAX, the site of the worst runway accident in U.S. history which involved both SkyWest and US Airways.
FAA said the electronic flight bags, including moving map displays and an alerting system would have eliminated 44 percent of serious runway incursions nationwide resulting from pilot error in the last four years. The agency is especially interested in its use in night operations, poor weather conditions and with flight crews unfamiliar with airport layouts.

Mesa in Runway Incursion at Allentown
Despite all the work being done to stem runway incursions, a near accident at Allentown, Pa. proves that pilot error is the hardest to solve. A Cessna failed to make its exit after landing, putting Mesa’s United Express Flight 7138 in jeopardy. The Bombardier CRJ-700 was bound for Chicago on the evening of September 19 when it aborted takeoff to avoid the private aircraft.
The Mesa pilots had to brake and swerve at 140 mph, according to the Associated Press, in the incident being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. There were 60 passengers aboard the regional jet but no injuries were reported, according to the board. However, the flight was cancelled to inspect the plane for damage and rescheduled for Saturday morning.
Runway incursions are a major concern to regional airlines Related Story
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association charged that the tower was staffed by only two trainee controllers. A Cessna R172K (N736GV) was on a landing roll on runway 6 at the Lehigh Valley International Airport when the pilot was instructed to exit the runway at taxiway A4. The Mesa Airlines flight, already been instructed to position and hold on the same runway, was then given clearance by the same controller to take off. During the takeoff roll, the Mesa crew heard the Cessna pilot say that he'd missed the taxiway turnoff and ask to exit at taxiway B. The Mesa crew swerved around the Cessna missing it by no more than 10 feet. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed.
The board has also cited regional pilots in several accidents, some of which involved runway problems. Related Story

Two go! Pilots End Suspension
The two go! pilots that fell asleep on the inter-island CRJ-200 hop last winter, completed their FAA-imposed suspensions on September 9. However, they have long since been fired by go! parent Mesa Air Group. The flight, Honolulu-Hilo, flew beyond Hilo while ATC tried to raise them. Captain Scott Oltman, who was later diagnosed with sleep apnea which prevents restful sleep, and First Officer Dillon Shepley had twice the required rest before embarking on the flight last February, clearing Mesa of any wrongdoing. The FAA cited Oltman for careless and reckless operation of an aircraft and failing to maintain radio contact in its 60-day suspension order, according to the Pacific Business News. Shepley was suspended for 45 days for careless and reckless operation of an aircraft.

Flap Problems Cause Emergency Landing
An Atlantic Southeast Airlines Delta Connection flight, with 46 on board, from Atlanta to South Bend, Ind. was preparing for landing when the flaps malfunctioned according to the pilot. The Bombardier CRJ 200’s pilot did not declare an emergency but controllers treated the flight as such. The CRJ 200 has had flap problems in the past leading to an airworthiness directive. Related Story ASA indicated that the flap failure that occurred last Monday was not related to the earlier AD.
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