Safety Agency Warns of Tail Strikes, Off-Course Flying by Near-Empty Airplanes

One nearly empty passenger jet “climbed like a rocket,” prompting the pilots to exceed their assigned altitude. Others have scraped their tails on takeoff, gone off course or strayed close enough to other aircraft to prompt mid-air collision alerts.

The common thread: the massive disruptions to the U.S. airline industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the plunge in travel has in many ways eased pressure on roads and the aviation system, it has at times had the opposite effect on safety. The rate of highway deaths has actually risen as motorists speed on empty roads. And the drop in airline passengers has triggered an unusual spate of incidents that are challenging flight safety, according to publicly available reports as well as government, industry and union officials.


WEB EXCLUSIVE: Next-Generation Ejection Seats to Include New Safety Features

The Air Force has tapped Collins Aerospace to provide more than 3,000 new ejection seats for its aircraft fleet. The equipment includes a number of safety improvements to prevent pilot injury, according to a company executive.

The Next-Generation Ejection Seat program will upgrade the existing systems on the F-15, F-16, F-22, B-1 and A-10. In October, the Air Force issued a pre-solicitation Justification and Approval notice for a sole-source contract to Collins Aerospace. Final negotiations and a contract have yet to be completed, a company spokesman told National Defense Nov. 12.

Collins Aerospace is offering its ACES 5 ejection seats to replace the legacy ACES II, a Collins Aerospace product which has been in service since the 1970s. The new equipment will be a significant step up, said Don Borchelt, the company?s director of ACES 5 business development.


Commission zeroes in on military aviation safety

Army aviation safety and readiness were the focus of a round table discussion Aug. 27 between Redstone Arsenal aviation leaders and members of a national commission charged with reviewing the effects of 17 years of war on the military aviation fleet.

Members of the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety participated in the discussion, which took place at Army Materiel Command headquarters and included a safety briefing by Aviation and Missile Command leaders. The two-day, fact-gathering visit also included in-depth focus group discussions with leaders at AMCOM, the Futures Command?s Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation Engineering Directorate and the Program Executive Office for Aviation.


Congress Should Fully Fund The Air Force’s Long-Overdue Competition For A Safer Ejection Seat

When a fighter pilot?s plane is hit by enemy fire, he or she may have only seconds to escape the doomed craft. Similar situations can arise in peacetime because fighters are designed to operate at extremes of speed and maneuverability, so training accidents are a hazard of the profession.

Ejection seats are designed to get the pilot clear from the plane fast. Using rockets or explosive charges, they expel the pilot and the protective seat from the cockpit of the plane, and then deploy parachutes to safely reach the ground. The U.S. Air Force has been equipping its combat aircraft with ejection seats since the 1960s.


NTSB: Recent crashes involving tour aircraft underscore need for FAA to tighten safety regulations

When tourists climb onto a sightseeing plane to fly over Alaskan glaciers, or hop on a helicopter to tour the Grand Canyon, they have no reason to wonder whether the aircraft is held to different safety standards than the commercial plane they took to reach their vacation destination.

The National Transportation Safety Board says that perhaps they should.

Such tourist jaunts, some small airline commuter flights, virtually all helicopter travel and ?on-demand? flights, such as those taken by the rich and famous who have a plane at their beck and call, are governed by different ? and what some say are less stringent ? Federal Aviation Administration regulations than commercial aircraft.


Is military aviation getting any safer? New mishap data shows mixed results.

Last spring Military Times reported that the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force?s aircraft were in deep trouble. Manned aviation accidents had spiked almost 40 percent over the past five years, killing 133 service members since 2013.

More catastrophic crashes followed and Congress got laser-focused on the problem. After multiple hearings, lawmakers injected $39.4 billion into this year?s budget ?to begin to overcome the crisis in military aviation by getting more aircraft in the air.? Capitol Hill also passed legislation creating a National Commission on Military Aviation Safety.


US Army Safety Chief: No Link Between Flight Hours, Fatal Mishaps

There is no direct correlation between how much time U.S. Army pilots get in the cockpit and the recent spike in catastrophic non-combat mishaps, according to the service?s safety director.

?Our data do not indicate a correlation between the execution of flight hours and mishaps,? Brig. Gen. David Francis, commander of the Army combat readiness center and director of Army safety, said at a June 13 House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces hearing. ?We just cannot correlate that data, one to the other.?

After fatal accident, senators ask FAA to speed up aviation safety directives

In the wake of a fatal accident onboard a Southwest Airlines flight, four Democratic senators are demanding to know why it took the FAA two nearly two years to mandate additional inspections of a suspect engine part.

A fatigued engine blade on an April flight from Laguardia to Dallas led to an engine failure while the Boeing 737 cruised at 32,000 feet.

Pilots performed an emergency landing in Philadelphia, but a woman died when debris broke the window and she was partially sucked out. Other passengers managed to pull her back in, but the medical examiner said she died from blunt force trauma of the head, neck and torso.