There were a total of 16 engine malfunction events globally over a 4-year period attributed to modification of the Advantage 70™ engine. The modification increased the engine outer duct gas path temperature, which led to distortion and liberation of the outer transition duct segments.
The Civil Aviation Advisory Publication for Aeroplane Landing Areas (92-1(1)) did not have guidance for the inclusion of a safe runway overrun area.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s procedures and guidance for scoping a surveillance event included several important aspects, but it did not formally include the nature of the operator’s activities, the inherent threats or hazards associated with those activities, and the risk controls that were important for managing those threats or hazards.
There was no requirement for operators of passenger transport flights in aircraft with six or less seats to provide passengers with a verbal briefing, or written briefing material, on the brace position for an emergency landing or ditching, even for aircraft without upper torso restraints fitted to all passenger seats.
Upper torso restraints (UTRs) were not required for all passenger seats for small aeroplanes manufactured before December 1986 and helicopters manufactured before September 1992, including for passenger transport operations. Although options for retrofitting UTRs are available for many models of small aircraft, many of these aircraft manufactured before the applicable dates that are being used for passenger transport have not yet been retrofitted.
There were a significant number and variety of problems associated with the operator’s activities that increased safety risk, and the operator’s chief pilot held all the key positions within the operator’s organisation and conducted most of the operator’s flights. Overall, there were no effective mechanisms in place to regularly and independently review the suitability of the operator’s activities, which enabled flight operations to deviate from relevant standards.
The operator’s pilots routinely conducted near-aerobatic manoeuvres during passenger charter flights. However, procedures for these manoeuvres were not specified in the operator’s Operations Manual, and there were limited controls in place to manage the risk of these manoeuvres.
Although the operator’s procedures required that baggage and cargo be secured during flight, this procedure was routinely not followed, and the aircraft were not equipped with cargo nets or other means for securing loads in the baggage compartment.
Although the operator’s procedures required that actual weights be used for passengers, baggage and other cargo, this procedure was routinely not followed, and pilots relied on estimated weights when calculating an aircraft’s weight and balance.
The operator normally conducted airborne inspections of the Middle Island aeroplane landing area at about 50–100 ft while flying at normal cruise speed towards an area of water, and its procedures did not ensure the effective management of the risk of an engine failure or power loss when at a low height.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority did not have a system to differentiate between community service flights and other private operations, which limited its ability to identify risks. This hindered the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's ability to manage risks associated with community service flights.
There were limited opportunities for Angel Flight to be made aware of any safety related information involving flights conducted on its behalf.
Angel Flight had insufficient controls in place, and provided inadequate guidance to pilots to address the additional operational risks associated with community service flights.
Angel Flight did not consider the safety benefits of commercial passenger flights when suitable flights were available.
As a legacy of there being no inspection specific to an in-flight pitch disconnect, there is potential for other ATR aircraft to have sustained an in-flight pitch disconnect in the past and be operating with undetected horizontal stabiliser damage.
The aircraft manufacturer, ATR, did not provide a maintenance inspection to specifically assess the effect of an in-flight pitch disconnect on the structural integrity of the horizontal stabilisers. As a result, if an in-flight pitch disconnect occurred, the aircraft may not be inspected at a level commensurate with the criticality of the event.
Although the design standard for the aircraft (JAR-25) required the control system to be of sufficient strength to withstand dual control inputs, it did not require consideration of the effect that dual control inputs may have on control of the aircraft. Similarly, the current design standard (CS-25) does not address this issue.
Response from EASA
In September 2018, EASA advised the ATSB that:
The design standard for large transport aircraft, Joint Aviation Requirements - Part 25 (JAR-25), did not require that the demonstrated potential for flexibility in the control system to develop transient dynamic loads, be considered during certification. Similarly, the current certification standard for Large Aeroplanes (CS-25) does not address this issue.
Flexibility in the ATR 72’s pitch control system between the control columns results in a change in the aircraft’s longitudinal handling qualities and control dynamics when dual control inputs are made. This could result in an aircraft-pilot coupling event where flight crew may find it difficult to control the aircraft.
The design of the ATR 72 pitch control system resulted in limited tactile feedback between the left and right control columns, reducing the ability of one pilot to detect that the other pilot is making control inputs. In addition, there were no visual or auditory systems to indicate dual control inputs.