GATINEAU, QC, May 14, 2013 /CNW/ - The Transportation Safety Board of
Canada (TSB) is calling on Canada's small aircraft operators to equip
their fleets with lightweight recorders to monitor flight data, and is
pressing Transport Canada to work with industry to make it happen. This
TSB recommendation is part of an investigation report (A11W0048)
released today in which investigators could not conclusively determine
why a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter lost control and broke up in
flight in the Yukon in March 2011.
"This was yet another accident involving a small commercial operator,"
said Wendy Tadros, Chair of the TSB. "In Canada, 91% of commercial
aircraft accidents in the last 10 years involved these operators, and
together, these accidents accounted for 93% of commercial aviation
fatalities. We need to look at new ways of bringing these numbers
"For decades, recorded flight data has been instrumental in advancing
safety for our larger operators," added Tadros. "We think flight data
monitoring should be an important tool for Canada's smaller carriers
too - a tool to help them manage safety in their operations."
The turbine-powered DHC-3 Otter, operated by Black Sheep Aviation and
Cattle Co. Ltd, was flying from Mayo to the Rackla Airstrip in the
Yukon, a 94-mile flight. Approximately 19 minutes after departure, an
emergency locator transmitter signal was received and a search and
rescue helicopter was dispatched. A few hours later the wreckage was
located on a hillside 38 nm northeast of Mayo. The aircraft broke up in
flight and the pilot, who was the sole occupant died.
"Without recorded information, we were not able to determine why this
aircraft broke up in-flight," added Tadros. "Data from lightweight
flight recorders will certainly help the TSB investigate after an
accident, but more than that, it will give Canada's smaller carriers
information they can use to prevent accidents. We see it as a win-win
and ask Transport Canada to get the ball rolling as soon as possible."
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline,
railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the
advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the
Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
BACKGROUNDER BACKGROUDER BACKGROUNDER BACKGROUNDER
LIGHTWEIGHT FLIGHT RECORDERS
For decades, operators of large passenger aircraft have benefitted from
onboard flight data recorders (FDR) and cockpit voice recorders (CVR)
to advance safety. They have used FDR information for internal flight
data monitoring and flight operations quality assurance programs -
programs that help airlines to manage safety in a proactive manner
before accidents happen. Furthermore, FDR and CVR data are used during
Transportation Safety Board (TSB) accident investigations to piece
together what the aircraft was doing as well as crew actions in the
minutes leading up to the occurrence.
Small Canadian commercial aircraft are involved in 91 per cent of all
commercial air accidents. Companies operating smaller aircraft in
Canada perform aerial work and air taxi operations and are not
currently required to have FDRs and CVRs installed. The Black Sheep
Aviation accident and many others have demonstrated that without flight
recording systems, critical information that can ultimately help
prevent accidents is not captured and available for analysis.
In large passenger aircraft, a FDR and CVR that record large amounts of
data are easily incorporated into the design. In smaller aircraft, such
is not the case as weight and the integration of new equipment can
often be a limiting factor. However, lightweight flight recorder
technology is now available for installation in smaller aircraft. These
systems can record aircraft performance data, cockpit audio and image
data and are increasingly being adopted by operators around the world.
Benefits of lightweight flight recording systems
The TSB recommends that Transport Canada work with the industry to
remove obstacles and develop recommended practices for the
implementation of flight data monitoring and the installation of
lightweight flight recording systems for commercial operators not
required to carry these systems. With these systems, operators will
gain an opportunity to review objective data and to reduce risks before
an accident occurs.
Investigative bodies will have a better understanding of the aircraft's
performance and the crew's actions before the accident. With a much
more detailed understanding of how aerial work and air taxi flights are
conducted, operators and regulators can take concrete steps to reduce
accident rates in this sector of the aviation industry.
Concerns and solutions
A long-standing concern has been the misuse of CVR information for
punitive or litigation purposes. Voice and video recordings are
currently strictly protected in law. The TSB may look at ways in which
this information could be used to make aviation safer—without being
used to discipline employees or to take legal actions against them. In
the meantime, there are no restrictions on the use of data for flight
data monitoring to improve safety.
Some lightweight recording systems can have restrictions built in so
that voice and video recordings can only be accessed by authorized
company officials, leaving open access to aircraft performance and
flight data for monitoring or quality assurance staff.
It is time that the aerial work and air taxi industries install
lightweight flight recorders and implement flight data monitoring
programs. Obstacles that stand in the way of this change must be
eliminated to allow operators to access flight data recorders for
legitimate safety purposes.
SOURCE: Transportation Safety Board of Canada
For further information:
TSB Media Relations
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