Flight Safety

Danger in Distracted Flying

distractionSafety Standdown is an aviation safety training program that promotes pilot safety through personal discipline and responsibility. One of the most critical principles that inspired this program is the fact that human error is responsible for 80% of mistakes in aviation.

The program started in Wichita, Kansas in 1996 with just eight people. In 1999, it was opened to all pilots. The objective is to improve aviation safety standards through seminars, safety training programs, online resources, and tools to fight human error in aviation. The program is free of charge and catered specifically to pilots, crew, maintenance technicians, and managers across the aviation industry.

The 19th annual event, set by Bombardier Business Aircraft, is focused on attention-control techniques. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), four collisions involving Piper and Cessna aircraft have occurred over the past four years. Three of those incidents proved fatal. In one accident, two planes collided about 900 feet above ground when the pilots were monitoring different radio frequencies and failed to see each other.

After the four plane collisions caused eight deaths, the NTSB issued an official safety alert advising pilots of planes of all sizes to use fundamental see-and-avoid vigilance techniques throughout the flight and avoid head-down flying.

In another example of distracted flying that killed a pilot and passenger in Colorado in May, investigators recovered an intact GoPro video camera in the wreckage. Review of the content showed the pilot using his cell phone to take “selfie” photos of himself with several passengers the day before. When investigators found nothing apparently wrong with the aircraft, it was surmised that the pilot likely used a cellphone during the fatal flight.

Handheld mobile devices aren’t the only cause for distraction either. A distracted pilot in California was apparently focused on an electrical issue and failed to notice that his landing gear was not deployed. In that incident, the pilot and passenger were lucky to escape injury.

This year’s Safety Standdown event includes several thought-provoking topics:

  • Inattentive? Are you talking to me?
  • When all else fails, are you prepared?
  • Emergency firefighting training

See the full agenda of workshops for the October event.

Commercial airline pilots increasingly use tablets, smartphones, and handheld GPS units in place of paper flight plans and navigation charts. Unfortunately, potential for distracted flying is growing as well. It turns out that distracted flying is likely to be hazardous, much like distracted driving.

Contact L & L International if you need assistance in purchasing or selling a private jet. You can reach our sales specialists today at sales@L-Lint.com, call us any time at 305-754-3313, or visit us online.

SMS Certification Ensures a Culture of Safety

ThinkstockPhotos-82632575In February 2015, Gulfstream’s Aerospace Corporation became one of the first original equipment manufacturers to earn International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) Stage 2 certification. The voluntary, but arduous, process was developed by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and its members associations such as the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) as a standard code of best practices designed to enhance flight department safety. At the core of the certification is a scalable Safety Management System (SMS) tool for business aircraft operators.

While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet issued SMS regulations to U.S. registered flight operators, some civil aviation authorities in other countries are in the process of developing their own SMS regulation mandates. It is still unclear whether the FAA will require IS-BAO and SMS certification for U.S. flight operators, and it is further unclear whether flight operators currently exempt from the certification requirements in the U.S. will need to meet certification requirements while operating in SMS-required countries.

Dan Nale, Senior Vice President of Programs, Engineering, and Test with Gulfstream, clearly felt the voluntary certification would validate the safety management processes for the company. The certification was achieved prior to the start of two flight test programs for the all-new Gulfstream G500 and G600.

The certification arms the organization with:

  • A structured decision-making process
  • Improved risk controls and safety assurance processes
  • A framework to promote safety culture

But the primary purpose behind an SMS certification is to identify and manage flight risks before accidents occur. Gulfstream Flight Operations Test had to work with IBAC auditors to implement IS-BAO protocols into their operational practices to effectively evaluate their flight test procedures.

Flight tests inherently involve flights that are significantly different from the standard business aircraft operator; experimental test flights are designed to demonstrate that design goals have been met and to earn type-certification from government entities. The IBAC auditors evaluated Gulfstream’s operating, scheduling, and dispatch processes and how those coordinate with the company’s production and service facilities — more than 16 worldwide!

If you, or your organization, are interested in learning more about the certification process, the NBAA website’s Safety Management System (SMS) information is a great place to start. The best way to stop accidents is to ensure they don’t happen, and SMS certifications can help you develop organizational processes that keep aircraft operations safe.

Contact L & L International if you need assistance in purchasing or selling a private jet. 
You can reach our sales specialists today at sales@L-Lint.com, call us any time at +1.305.754.3313, or visit us online.

What’s Your Flight Weather?

Jet in a dark stormy skyAs the seasons change, we are reminded that weather can have a big impact on air travel. Commercial and even charter air travel are prone to costly disruptions that cause significant problems for passengers. However, private jets have a few advantages when it comes to weather changes.

How weather affects air travel

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ve probably experienced some interesting weather conditions. Here are the main ways weather affects air travel:

  • Fog — Heavy, moisture-laden, and low-lying clouds ensure poor visibility and pose a risk for runway landings and takeoffs. When fog limits visibility, a private jet pilot can divert to an alternative nearby airport with better conditions.
  • Snow/Ice — When snow and slush aren’t plowed off runways, more distance is required to safely take off and land. The formation of ice on a plane can also be problematic, as it can change the aircraft’s shape and disrupt air flows. While commercial flights are typically forced to wait for better conditions, private jets have the ability to take off and land at alternative airports that have not been affected, or access hangar facilities to deice their aircraft.
  • Tropical storms — Hurricanes, cyclones, and tropical depressions can combine  a wide range of conditions such as strong wind, rain, hail, and lighting, and cause poor visibility. Private jet pilots have more alternatives, such as the ability to gain clearance to fly around storms or even depart ahead of schedule to avoid a storm all together.

Why flying private in bad weather wins

The demand for flights on private aircraft usually increases during times of bad weather for a reason. Obviously, extreme weather will impact private aviation but not to the same extent as commercial aviation. In fact, the big “wins” for flying private include these:

  • More airport choices — A slight change in location can make a big difference in weather conditions and temperature, and private jets can take advantage of alternative airports easily.
  • Schedule flexibility — Travelers can wait out poor conditions or leave a location early to get ahead of bad weather. You can’t get that flexibility with commercial flights.

Of course, the advantages of flying private mean it’s important to plan flexibility into your travel schedule when changing weather conditions could cause you delays. Luckily, you can easily move your business meeting onto the plane, if necessary, and conduct it in privacy and comfort.

Contact L & L International if you need assistance in purchasing or selling a private jet. 
You can reach our sales specialists today at sales@L-Lint.com, call us any time at +1.305.754.3313, or visit us online.

Handle In-flight Emergencies the Right Way

First aid kit

Preparation and technology are the keys to handling in-flight medical emergencies, which can happen at any time. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all Part 91 flight crew members to be trained in emergency procedures, including handling medical emergencies and the use of first-aid medical equipment. After all, in a real medical emergency, time is the most important factor.

Even though the number of passengers traveling on a charter jet is far fewer than on the typical commercial flight, passengers who experience an in-flight medical emergency are just as frightened, and there are fewer crewmembers to handle the emergency.

Short of putting a physician on board every flight, some technology solutions like the Tempus IC telemedicine device, standard on all NetJet’s Signature Series aircraft, is a pretty close compromise. Remote Diagnostic Technologies, Ltd. (RDT) has designed a telemedicine solution that transmits vital signs and other patient data via the aircraft’s onboard satellite communications capability to physicians on the ground who can direct the crew to handle the emergency.

“This kind of control over a medical emergency is paramount when you may only have minutes to act,” says RDT Chief Executive, Graham Murphy.

MedAire is credited with providing the world’s first global emergency response center for aviators and offers medical kits for business and general aviation crews. Through MedAir services, crewmembers can quickly connect with an emergency room doctor for advice and assistance when a medical situation arises.

Private aviation operators and corporate air departments should also make 100% certain they keep their aircraft crew’s training up to date and offer emergency medical training to help them learn how to operate the onboard medical equipment in an in-flight medical emergency.

Contact L & L International for assistance with your private jet sales or purchase. You can reach our sales specialists today at sales@L-Lint.com, call us any time at +1.305.754.3313, or visit us online.

Proposed BizAv TSA Regulation Changes Met with Backlash

Some of the latest news from Washington is about recently revised security guidelines for private aircraft weighing more than 12,500 lbs (roughly the size of a Beechcraft King Air 250 turboprop): The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has proposed requiring all aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight above 12,500 pounds adopt a large aircraft security program based on the current protocols that apply to operators providing scheduled or charter services.

The reasons beyond the TSA proposed changes include the fact that even a plane of smaller weight could do a lot of damage if hijacked — especially if packed with explosives or other dangerous materials. According to Michal Morgan, the TSA head of general aviation security, “It’s the evolution of security into a new operating environment.”

The proposal is set to take effect next year and be phased in over the two following years with 85% of the costs being paid by jet owners. The changes are expected to affect approximately 15,000 corporate jets and 315 small airports across the country.

As may have been expected, the jet-owning community has responded with some backlash. When the TSA published Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports in 2004, the general aviation trade associations willingly adapted to many of the recommendations and developed security programs for their members. Many private jet owners have spoken out, stating that not only does the TSA not understand their industry (with restrictions on carry-on items like golf clubs and tools) but also that they fail to recognize the self-policing efforts (including strict recordkeeping) already implemented.

In response to the backlash, the TSA has restarted the Aviation Security Advisory Committee it inherited from the FAA and members will vet policy changes. Indications are that the community can expect a decision soon.

In the meantime, it is important to pay close attention to security mandates, including researching your destination carefully, ensuring that passengers and crew have emergency numbers to call and that they check in at home regularly, and ensuring that security regulations regarding international travel are strictly adhered to.

Whether security regulations end up being adjusted or not, the aviation industry has the opportunity right now to demonstrate excellent security through our current systems.

The Safest Way to Fly with Your Pets

For many pet owners, furry companions are family. This makes travel challenging, especially when faced with the danger and uncertainty of commercial airlines’ pet regulations.

Although you think of your pets as family, they are cargo to commercial airlines operators. As such, larger animals are often placed in the cargo hold, where temperatures can fluctuate drastically, the noise level is very high, and pressure levels can drop significantly. These conditions can be stressful and unsafe for even the healthiest pets.

Although two million animals travel on commercial flights each year, the statistics about the animals’ safety are scary: In 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 35 pets died, nine animals were injured, and two were lost entirely while traveling on commercial flights with U.S. airline companies. In 2012, 29 pets died, 26 were injured, and one was lost.

Faced with these numbers, the benefits of traveling by private jet are considerable. First, travel time is much shorter and less stressful for private aircraft travelers of all species. In addition, animals that can stay in the pressure-controlled, temperature-regulated cabin with you nearby will be better able to cope with the general stress of travelling.

To be sure your pets have the best possible experience traveling by private aircraft, take these considerations into account before your trip:

  • Flying, even in the comfort of a private jet, can still be hard on pets. Talk to your vet about making the trip as stress-free as possible before you go airborne. Also make sure that you have a copy of your pets’ vaccination records.
  • Make your pets comfortable on board. Don’t overfeed them before the trip, and bring toys or other comfort objects from home.
  • Make sure you’re considerate of other passengers by keeping pet etiquette in mind. If you’re chartering a flight, ask your broker to alert the staff that your furry family will also be along for the ride.

If you’re truly interested in providing an easy travel experience for your pets, consider a service like Sit ‘n Stay Global. This company provides corporate pet flight attendants whose focus is getting your pet to and from your destination safely and comfortably.

When your pets fly private, you can stop worrying about their safety and enjoy the trip!

Tower Closures a Setback for General Aviation Safety

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a list of federal contract towers that will be shut down due to budget constraints caused by sequestration. These towers typically operate in smaller airports, providing air traffic control to private sector flights at vision flight rule (VFR) airports. These systems save the FAA money while significantly improving the safety at the VFR airports.

Considering how busy VFR airports are, it seems inconceivable that the FAA would ever consider closing these towers, but the closures were announced March 22. They will be phased in, starting this week. Here’s a complete list of affected towers.

Tower closures by the numbers:

  • 226 — Airports in federal contract tower program
  • 25 — Percentage of air traffic controlled by federal contract towers
  • 149 — Number of air traffic control towers being shutdown
  • 4/7 — Date the closures will begin
  • 750-1,100 — Number of controllers and supervisors expected to lose jobs
  • $600 million — Amount FAA has to trim from budget due to sequestration

Some of these towers control traffic for cargo airplanes, and others serve as overflow airports for regional hubs. It will be a setback for general aviation to lose this many towers in such a short period of time.

What are your thoughts about this situation?

Safe in the Sky

Note: This article contains statistics that are several years old, but the point is still a good one: private jets are a safe way to fly!

It’s common knowledge that you’re more likely to be in an accident in an automobile than a plane. But if you’re in a business jet, you’re even less likely to be in an accident or sustain an injury.

A report in the October issue of Business Jet Traveler (BJT) (BJTonline.com) says corporate/executive business jets had been involved in only one fatal accident since 2007, citing statistics on U.S.-registered aircraft from Robert E. Breiling Associates, an aviation-safety research firm. It also noted that corporate/executive turboprops don’t have quite the stellar record, with one fatal accident in 2007, two in 2008 and three in 2009, but none in the first half of 2010.

The lowest fatality rates per 100,000 flight hours belong to corporate/executive aviation and airlines, followed by business aviation (generally owner-flown aircraft) and then the charter industry (which covers everything from single-engine visual flights skirting weather in Alaska to aeromedical operations to jets), BJT reports.

And fractional-share operations have the highest safety rate in recent years, with no fatal accidents from 2007 through the first half of 2010, according to BJT.

However, accidents not involving a fatality do occur among aircraft, and Breiling statistics showed 17 incidents occurred in the first six months of 2010 compared with 11 in the same period in 2009 in the corporate/executive jet segment, BJT reports. For all of 2009, that segment saw 17 incidents, while corporate/executive turboprop operations’ incident rate was four in the first half of 2010 compared with one in the first half of 2009.

A history of safety improvements

Before Congress established the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) in 1958 (changed to the Federal Aviation Administration in 1967) and began implementing regulations to make flying safer, aircraft incidents and fatalities were fairly common, according to a 2009 BJT article. One former FAA inspector was quoted as saying 3,214 people — about eight people a day — died in aviation-related incidents in 1972; by 2008, that number had dropped to 876.

FAA regulations, as well as steps the aviation industry has recently taken to mitigate the risk of flying, have helped to make flying safer, BJT reports. Under the new Safety Management System (SMS), the operator of an aircraft establishes a formal process to evaluate, minimize and prevent risk exposure, essentially creating a feedback loop to prevent small risk-taking actions from turning into incidents and accidents. Many airlines, flight departments, charter and fractional-share operations have already adopted SMS programs. The FAA is planning to make SMS mandatory in the United States, and it is already required in many other countries, according to BJT.

Business jet owners and operators can also help to ensure safety for themselves and their passengers and minimize their exposure to risk with two simple moves: Clearly communicate that safety is the first priority by telling their flight crews that they’d rather arrive late than take undue risks; and implement an SMS in your flight department or fly with charter operators that have implemented one.

Get High Quality Air at High Altitudes

Flying always raises questions about air quality. And as flu season reaches its height, many people start thinking more about the quality of the air they breathe and the spread of infection.

What are the concerns of cabin air? In addition to the airborne bacteria and viruses floating around, chemicals such as de-icing compounds, engine fumes, and pesticides can enter through the ventilation system.

As if pollutants and pathogens weren’t enough, another concern is pressurization and its effect on the body. In most planes, the pressure is similar to that of 6,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level. The resulting low availability of oxygen can cause drowsiness and fatigue, and can be even more dangerous to travelers with cardio or pulmonary ailments. Dry cabin air that is a product of fresh and recirculated air can also cause dehydration.

But all of these potential drawbacks don’t mean you should steer clear of the skies! There is a new technology available that will allow aircraft passengers to breathe a sigh of relief: AIRMANAGER, from BAE Systems and Quest International, is a cutting-edge system that can kill 99.999% of airborne bio-hazards, such as SARS and the flu, in a single pass. This system destroys chemical contaminants and pollutants in cabin air. In addition, the AIRMANAGER system can potentially offer fuel cost savings by providing improved cabin air recirculation. And as a bonus, the system removes unpleasant odors.

AIRMANAGER is just one of the many air filtration systems available. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it’s up to the task of providing you with quality air at high altitudes!

Airbags: A Valuable Safety Upgrade

Unless you’re into old, classic cars, every car you own or buy has airbags. In fact, not only are they status quo on the modern vehicle, many people won’t ride in a car unless it has airbags.

But these same people might fly without them.

Considering the level of serious injuries crews and passengers might sustain in an aircraft incident, that doesn’t make much sense.

According to Dr. Guohua Li, director of research in the emergency medicine department at Johns Hopkins University, quoted in Business Jet Traveler (BJT), “The lap belt is insufficient in protecting passengers from decelerative injuries in aviation crashes.”

According to Li’s study, as reported by BJT, 42 percent of aircraft crash fatalities resulted from multiple injuries, 22 percent of deaths were caused by head injuries and 12 percent resulted from internal injuries of the thorax, abdomen or pelvis. Head injuries are the most common cause of death among children involved in an aircraft incident.

Phoenix-based AmSafe Aviation, quoting the Aircraft and Pilots Association (AOPA) 2004 Nall Report, says more than 50 percent of all general aviation accidents occur during taxi, takeoff or landing — and most are survivable. One primary factor in surviving an aircraft accident is avoiding a debilitating injury to the head or neck that prevents you from getting out of the aircraft.

Which makes installing airbags as the next upgrade to your business jet common sense — and highly plausible with AmSafe Aviation Inflatable Restraint (AAIR), an airbag designed for aircraft.

“It fills the space in front of the passenger to control upper torso flail,” BJT reported Bill Hagan, AmSafe Aviation president, as saying. “The bag is also designed to leak at a specific rate, allowing it to collapse so the passenger articulates forward slowly. All this happens in the blink of an eye. When [this process has] completed, the entire bag has deflated and presents no egress issues. The condition of the deflated bag could be described as like having a pillowcase on your lap.”

To see a video of the AAIR system at work, visit this Popular Mechanics article page.

The AAIR, which went into service in 2001, is now installed in more than 20,000 airline seats worldwide, and AmSafe began receiving requests for the device from general aviation aircraft manufacturers about three years ago. It is now installed as standard equipment on 80 percent of all new aircraft delivered worldwide, Hagan tells BJT.

One of the main ways the AAIR saves lives is by preventing head injuries. If a person is rendered unconscious by a blow to the head, he might not escape from a survivable accident. AmSafe explains that the AAIR meets strict head injury criteria (HIC) and provides protection comparable to standard automobile airbags.

AmSafe is betting on the business jet industry getting in on the airbag action, by choice or through the Federal Aviation Administration, which may eventually require airbags. However, installing the AAIR System in private aircraft is somewhat complicated because seats are often not lined up one behind the other. They may face forward, backward and even sideways, making deploying airbags in front of the passengers impractical in some situations.

To solve these problems, AmSafe offers AAIR systems that can be mounted anywhere on the seatbelt, including multiple places in two- to five-point restraint systems. AmSafe also offers airbag systems for side-facing divans in private aircraft cabins.