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Recommendation issued to: y Authority

Recommendation details
Output No: R19980095
Date issued: 24 June 1998
Safety action status:
Background:

SUBJECT - CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE WITHIN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY


OCCURRENCE SUMMARY

The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff at night, following a simulated engine failure. The check-and-training pilot had simulated the failure of the engine by moving the power lever to the flight-idle position.

During the investigation, the procedure for simulating the failure of an engine was discussed with operators and pilots of Fairchild Metro (Metro) aircraft. In addition, Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) flying operations inspectors were consulted. It became apparent that there was a poor and inconsistent understanding of the effects of flight-idle torque on aircraft performance and of the techniques for establishing a power setting equivalent to that required to simulate zero thrust. This resulted in a variety of methods being used across the industry for simulating engine failures in Metro aircraft.


SAFETY DEFICIENCY

There are currently no "centres of excellence", either within or overseen by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, where operators can source reliable and consistent operational information for various aircraft types.


ANALYSIS

For many operators of turbo-propellor (turbo-prop) aircraft, the Metro is their first experience of turbo-prop operations. It is also the initial turbo-prop type flown by many pilots. As a result these operators and pilots have limited knowledge when making operational decisions, such as the methods to use when simulating an engine failure during training exercises. The unfortunate outcome of the occurrence described in this recommendation clearly indicates that operators and pilots need to have reliable and consistent knowledge of the operation of their aircraft.

Information provided in aircaft manufacturers' operating handbooks is not consistent. Some handbooks make specific reference to the power setting to be used when simulating the failure of an engine using the power lever. Other handbooks include warnings to flight crew not to use flight-idle as the simulated engine power setting because the aerodynamic performance loss differs from that on which the aircraft was certificated.

In Australia, CASA flying operations inspectors usually complete type specific aircraft training with the operator they are assigned to carry out scheduled and ad-hoc surveillance on. This surveillance is conducted using the guidelines in CASA's Aviation Safety Surveillance Program. In some cases, the inspector may have no experience on the aircraft type. This could perpetuate any deficiencies in aircraft knowledge, operating techniques or procedures. The flying operations inspector with surveillance responsibilities may not be in a position to offer the best advice to either operators or to CASA.

There are a number of operators within Australia that have been using the Metro aircraft for a considerable period of time and have accumulated a considerable amount of operating knowledge. However, there is no current method of consolidating this knowledge and then disseminating it to the industry. This underutilised resource for the Metro aircraft type represents a wider problem applicable to many of the major aircraft types flown within Australia, particularly within the regional airlines.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recognised the need for consistent information to be available to operators and has introduced the concept of "centres of excellence". These centres address such issues as aircraft certification, maintenance and new technologies, as well as aircraft operations. Within each centre, there are a number of "national resource specialists". These specialists are drawn from industry and are considered to be experts in their fields. They are used to provide "best-practice" information to the FAA as well as to the industry.

The definition of a "centre of excellence" is contained in the "Challenge 2000" final report, produced by the FAA. Within this report, "centre" is defined, among other things, as the "repository of expertise...broadly recognised as authority in field or subject... operationalized for organisation to draw on this expertise at will".

Information obtained during the regional airlines safety study conducted by the Bureau again highlighted a need for this type of "centre" to be established. The study revealed that informal arrangements exist in some local areas among operators of similar types; however, there is neither a national group nor formal arrangements to cover all operators. The operators of Metro aircraft, for example, meet with their New Zealand counterparts to discuss issues pertaining to their operations. Some sections of the industry suggested to the Bureau that this type of group would provide benefits to both the industry and CASA.

A group consisting of both operators and flying operations inspectors could become a focal point for the dissemination of operational information.

Whilst this recommendation focuses on the Metro aircraft, the principles involved could be applied to any aircraft types.

Output text

The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority evaluate the safety benefits likely to be realised from the formation of "centres of excellence" for different aircraft types, in order to provide consistent and reliable operational information to the industry.

Initial response
Date issued: 28 July 1998
Response from: y Authority
Action status: Closed - Accepted
Response text:

Thank you for your letter of 24 June 1998 enclosing recommendation R980095 "centres of excellence within the aviation industry".

You will be aware that the Authority is presently undergoing a substantial organisational restructuring. Associated with this process, the Authority will be exploring avenues which provide the optimum means of carrying out its statutory responsibilities.

In this regard, the concept of "centres of excellence" as indicated in the BASI recommendation is one of the avenues which is of interest to the Authority. There are of course resource implications in establishing and maintaining such schemes which the Authority will need to consider carefully as part of the evaluation process.

Thank you for your input and I undertake to write to you again on this matter in due course.

 
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Last update 01 April 2011