The flight attendant was preparing the cabin for landing when an area of severe air turbulence was encountered, causing the flight attendant to strike his head on the cabin roof. He received minor injuries, and was relieved from further duty that day. The flight attendant has since returned to flight duties.
During the investigation, it was revealed that after striking his head, the flight attendant was unable to occupy a nearby spare aisle seat during the turbulence encounter, as another passenger's hand luggage had been secured to the seat with the seat belt. The flight attendant returned to his seat at the front of the aircraft. It was further revealed that it was common company practice to secure passenger cabin baggage on spare passenger seats due to the problem of stowage on smaller aircraft types.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations required cabin baggage to be stowed securely so that movement of cabin baggage would not cause injury to any person or damage to the aircraft, during turbulence or unusual aircraft accelerations or manoeuvres. The regulations also required that cabin baggage be stowed whenever the seat belt sign was on, and specified that luggage be stowed under a passenger seat with approved forward-movement restraint, or in an approved overhead locker or rack (Civil Aviation Order 20.16.3, subsection 9).
Following the occurrence, the operator sought clarification of the regulation regarding the stowage of cabin baggage from CASA. CASA had initially agreed with the operator that soft bags could be stowed with a seat belt through the straps, on a window seat that was not an emergency exit.
The Bureau conveyed its concerns to CASA that seat belts were designed primarily to restrain the human form and that bag handles were not stressed to take loads that could occur under turbulent conditions or impact forces. Bags so secured on a passenger seat by a seat belt might become loose during turbulence or impact, or could swing about the seat belt, presenting injury or evacuation obstruction hazards.
As a result of the Regional Airlines Safety Study, the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation issued the following Interim Recommendation to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority on 6 July 1998.
"The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority develop standards and implement regulations which:
- require Australian airlines to develop industry-consistent cabin baggage control programs that will prevent passengers from bringing inappropriate cabin baggage onto aircraft; and
- ensure correct on-board stowage of approved cabin baggage. Such programs should be approved and monitored by CASA".
The following response was received from CASA on 6 August 1998:
"As acknowledged in the BASI document, the recommendation made by the Cabin Safety and Carriage of Persons project team to adopt the Canadian rule 705.42 for carry-on baggage is intended to be implemented by CASA
A Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) is currently being prepared in CASA's Regulatory Framework program office for publication by September 1998. The proposed new rule for carry-on baggage expands CAO 20.16.3, subsection 9, adopts Canadian rule 705.42 and similarly covers the requirements for FAR121/589, and responds directly to the safety deficiency identified by BASI".
CASA Notice of Proposed Rule Making 9809RP, was subsequently issued in November 1998. The NPRM proposal requires that every operator establish a carry-on baggage program, acceptable to CASA, that will ensure that baggage that cannot be correctly stowed is prevented from carriage in the cabin, and once accepted as cabin baggage, is correctly stowed (NPRM. 121.AK). The CASA NPRM process is currently in progress.
Following discussions within CASA, and between CASA and the operator, the operator has subsequently issued a company requirement prohibiting the practice of securing cabin baggage on passenger seats.
|Date:||28 March 1999||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||1600 hours EST|
|State:||New South Wales||Occurrence type:||Flight crew incapacitation|
|Release date:||26 October 1999||Occurrence category:||Incident|
|Report status:||Final||Highest injury level:||Minor|
|Aircraft manufacturer||S.A.A.B. Aircraft Co|
|Type of operation||Air Transport Low Capacity|
|Damage to aircraft||Nil|
|Departure point||Canberra, ACT|