Managing airworthiness in a complex world

By Simon Place
March 27, 2018

Airworthiness is a key aspect of aviation safety and requires constant attention in order to retain the designed-in levels of safety and reliability. Although the worldwide accident rate for transport aircraft has reduced steadily over the years, the fraction of losses due to airworthiness issues has remained the same. The UK CAA study of aircraft accidents for 2002 - 2011 [1] shows the proportion of fatal accidents where aircraft design, engine and systems were a primary causal factor was...

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Aircraft accident investigation: what does good look like?

By Jim Nixon
March 13, 2018

Most of us want to come into work and do a good job and the stakes are high when it comes to aircraft accident investigation. Any sensible recruitment process matches a person to a job and a job to a person. If I found myself being asked to prepare a meal for 400, I would be deeply worried. The source of my worry could derive from a number of different places. I have never been trained to cook. My own efforts are pleasing enough at home but in a professional context? I have no experience of...

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What is the future of remote tower operations?

By Wen-Chin Li
February 27, 2018

The initial concept of remote tower operations was started by a research proposal of a virtual control tower over 20 years ago. The paradigm will allow air traffic services (ATS) to be delivered remotely without direct observation from a local tower. Remote tower operations developed slowly during the early stages but, in recent times, have taken a leap forward with some single airport virtual tower operations.

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How long do pilots really spend on autopilot?

By David Barry
February 13, 2018

It’s 70 years since Captain Thomas J. Wells of the US Air Force and his crew made the first transatlantic automatic flight. Captain Wells taxied the Douglas C-54 Skymaster to the end of the runway at Ernest Harmon Air Force Base, Newfoundland, and pressed the master switch button to initiate take-off. No further human input was made until after the aircraft landed at Brize Norton airfield in the UK.

Fast forward to 2018 and you’ll find that a typical airliner will be flown manually during...

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10 helpful tips for the most effective accident witness interviewing

By Graham Braithwaite
January 30, 2018

As an accident investigator, interviewing accident witnesses is one of the key ways of gathering vital information, which will allow you to piece together what happened and why in the aftermath of an incident.

Accident witness interviewing can be complex at the best of times. So, here are 10 helpful tips to guide you.

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Learning through doing: human factors and how teams can fail

By Rebecca Charles
January 16, 2018

On 28 March 1979, a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station led to radioactive gases being released into the environment, in what is cited as being the most significant nuclear accident in US history. In the middle of the night, on 26 April 1986, 31 immediate deaths were caused when the number 4 reactor exploded at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. These two incidents were partially caused by issues with the teamwork and response of the control room...

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How to knit fog and herd cats at an aircraft accident site

By Alan Parmenter
January 2, 2018

Effective management of an aircraft accident site is fundamental to a successful safety investigation and a well-managed accident site will maximise the quantity and quality of critical evidence harvested. Get it wrong, however, and the potential for fatally compromising your safety investigation and physically or mentally harming people is all too real.

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