Safety and Security:
Meeting the Challenge

ALPA line pilot safety volunteers host representatives of government and industry in a forum to discuss ongoing aviation safety and security issues.

Air Line Pilot, November/December 2002, page 15
By Jan W. Steenblik, Technical Editor

"Last year we celebrated ’70 Years of Safety,’" Capt. John Cox, ALPA’s Executive Air Safety Chairman, began as he opened the 2002 ALPA Air Safety Forum. "Now, in addition to the safety concerns of September 10 [2001], we must concentrate our efforts on enhancing aviation security on all fronts…. Our work in all of these areas, and more, has only increased."

Welcoming more than 500 line pilot air safety volunteers, representatives of airline managements, government agencies, and other guests to ALPA’s 48th annual Air Safety Forum, held August 19-22 in Washington, D.C., Capt. Cox reminded Forum attendees, "ALPA felt the anguish of September 11 just as deeply as the rest of America and the world…. But… we had little time to ponder the cruelty or wallow in sorrow."

The theme of this year’s Forum was "Safety and Security: Meeting the Challenge." ALPA’s president, Capt. Duane Woerth, declared, "Together, the strides we—ALPA, airline managements, government agencies, and manufacturers—have made are truly remarkable. But we still have work to do.

"The presence of our FedEx pilots reminds us that we still have some unfinished business," he continued. "We need One Level of Safety—not one level for cargo, one for supplementals, one for express carriers."

Marion Blakey, then chairman of the NTSB but already selected by the Bush Administration to head the FAA, thanked ALPA for "a lot of kind and generous support from ALPA" during her several months as a Safety Board member. She added, "I am looking forward to continuing and strengthening these relationships."

Blakey acknowledged, "Your views from the flight deck can help us identify problems or trends before they result in tragedy…. With the strains on the airline industry right now, your leadership and voice will be even more critical…."

Terrorism/aviation security

The Forum panels began with several presentations on terrorism and aviation security. Air Line Pilot will report on those, along with an update on security issues, in the January issue of the magazine.


Capt. Gene Couvillion (United), chairman of ALPA’s FOQA/ASAP Project Team (see page 20), provided a detailed update on FOQA. In summary, he assured Forum attendees that FAR Part 13.401 provides adequate protection from FAA enforcement action for flight crews. For the time being, air carrier managements will continue to make FOQA briefings to FAA carrier management offices. Airline industry aggregate information- sharing will continue on a quarterly basis until the FOQA Aviation Rulemaking Committee Data Share Subcommittee, which includes an ALPA representative, develops the final information-sharing process, which will be forwarded to the FAA for approval.

Capt. John Buchan (Continental), a member of ALPA’s FOQA/ASAP Project Team, described new changes to FAA enforcement policy—all favorable to flight crew members—regarding Aviation Safety Action Programs. The policy changes will be incorporated into a revised ASAP advisory circular, AC-120-66B. The generic FAA ASAP memorandum of understanding, he advised, will be changed to include the policy and language changes in the AC.

Canada safety issues

John Maxwell, director of Transport Canada’s Aerodrome Safety Branch, talked about

• Transport Canada’s "regular liaison with FAA to ensure harmonization" on such issues as LAHSO, runway incursion plans of action, and any planned changes to major standards;

• the Canadian Airports Emergency Response System, which requires airport rescue and firefighting services at the 28 largest airports, AEIS at the next 25, and emergency response plans for all;

• Joint Winter Runway Friction Testing, a multiyear international effort under way;

• the government/industry Incursion Prevention Action Team; and

• new regulations and standards, including prescriptive standards for winter maintenance; wildlife management; and an NPA to not exceed 250 KIAS below 10,000 feet.

Capt. Michel Gaudreau, director of commercial and business aviation for Transport Canada, spoke about the introduction of Safety Management Systems, which will be mandatory for CAR 705 operators in the spring of 2004. Similar mandatory requirements are being introduced for Canadian airports, NAV CANADA, and maintenance companies and manufacturers.

Two senior NAV CANADA representatives—Sidney Koslow, vice-president, engineering, and Kathy Fox, assistant vice-president, air traffic services, explained activities of the private, nonshare capital corporation that owns and operates Canada’s civil air navigation system.

NAV CANADA’s air traffic services initiatives include the Converging Runway Display Aid for air traffic controllers. CRDA increases intersecting runway arrival rates at major airports through the use of target ghosting, thus allowing the controller to retain responsibility for separation at the intersection.

The corporation also has embarked on a Northern Radar Expansion Program, to improve radar coverage at higher latitudes, and in April implemented the first phase of an ambitious plan to extend reduced vertical separation minimums airspace over most of Canada.

NAV CANADA is developing more RNAV STARS to supplement the 37 already published. RNAV SIDS are being tested in Ottawa, and are being developed for Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary.

Among the key projects NAV CANADA is working on are these:

• RIMCAS, a subsystem of the Airport Surface Detection Equipment installed in Toronto, which has been operational since January;

• Airspace Warning Functionality built into controllers’ primary operational display to give advanced warnings when aircraft are predicted to enter monitored airspace;

• Gander Automated Air Traffic System, simulated radar for oceanic airspace that combines flight and radar data; and

• Datalink, including FANS 1/A (automatic dependent surveillance and controller-pilot datalink communications), and ADS waypoint position reporting.

Two-way talk with the FAA

Nick Sabatini, FAA associate administrator for regulation and certification, talked about government/industry cooperation in moving the U.S. national airspace system (NAS) from land-based navigation to a safer, more efficient system using navigation aids on land, in space, and aboard aircraft.

He also discussed the progress the FAA, the airworthiness authorities of other nations, and other parties have made in harmonizing aircraft certification and other regulations. He reviewed recently published FAA advisory circulars and regulation revisions.

The questions Sabatini fielded from the floor were typical of the vital dialogue between regulators and the regulated that has long characterized the Safety Forum.

Asked if "the disconnects between the TSA and the FAA will be fixed," Sabatini replied, "I have meetings scheduled at the highest levels to iron out differences."

Capt. Rocky Stone (United) was direct: "Must the FAA continue its punitive enforcement policies?" Sabatini said he was "trying for a more cooperative stance to fix problems," and working on getting more FOQA and ASAP programs to achieve that.

Capt. Larry Newman (Delta), chairman of ALPA’s Air Traffic Services Group, queried, "When will the FAA answer ALPA’s letter concerning the interpretive rule [that places all responsibility for ATC communications errors on pilots]?" Sabatini promised to investigate and respond.

Similarly, a FedEx pilot asked about differences between FAR Part 121 and Part 125 flight crew duty regulations. Sabatini confessed that he was "not up to speed" on this issue and agreed to check on it.

Capt. Mike Adams, managing technical director for Alaska Airlines, spoke about area navigation (RNAV) and required navigation performance (RNP). The FAA and the airline industry, with ALPA input, are making good progress—but cautiously, he emphasized—in expanding RNP/RNAV and LNAV/VNAV approaches to airports outside of those in Alaska where the airline has pioneered RNP approaches. ALPA has been working with the FAA and other industry representatives to develop RNP procedure criteria, with Washington [D.C.] Reagan National Airport and San Francisco International Airport having high priority. Capt. Adams said he expected air carrier training for RNP approaches to involve one day of special training plus two days of initial operating experience and observed approaches.

Bill Davis, director of the FAA’s Office of Runway Safety, briefed Forum attendees on the status of runway incursions in the United States and efforts being made to prevent them. He stressed that, from 1998 through 2001, 17 percent of reported runway incursions were Category B ("significant potential for collision") or A ("participants take extreme action to narrowly avoid a collision"). In 2001, 48 fewer incursions were reported than in 2000. In FY 2002 up through Aug. 13, 2002, the Category A and B incursions made up 12 percent of the total, including 2 collisions but no deaths.

Davis noted "no strong correlation between the total number of operations and the total number/rate of runway incursions" for the period 1997–2000, but airport complexity greatly influences the number and rate of incursions.

Pilot deviations as a cause of runway incursions were down slightly—from 57 percent in FY 1998–2001 to 55 percent in FY 2002 to date. The principal causes of pilot deviations for the earlier period were entering or crossing a runway after acknowledging hold-short instructions, and taking off without a clearance after acknowledging a position-and-hold clearance.

Night VMC prevailed during more runway collisions than did day VMC or day IMC.

The FAA has commissioned 18 Aircraft Movement Area Safety System units, with another 6 undergoing demonstrations of their operational suitability, and another 13 remaining in the installation pipeline. The agency also is studying LED lighting to enhance hold position markings at runway/taxiway intersections; one such system was activated at Omaha, Neb., in July.

Richard Healing, director of transportation safety and security for the Battelle Corporation, talked about Battelle’s many ongoing aviation projects for government agencies and private industry, including

• Aircraft wiring—with government/industry cooperation, Battelle is conducting several programs focusing on reducing wiring-related threats, and developing methods for mitigating these threats.

• Fire detection and suppression —Battelle is involved in ongoing research, including realistic testing of inservice aircraft at altitude.

• Aviation security—Battelle has several areas of focus, including reducing weight and increasing speed of explosive detection systems, a confidential system similar to ASRS for reporting security problems, nonlethal weapons that could be used in aircraft, and an agreement with Port Columbus (Ohio) Airport to use a holistic approach to develop a "smart" airport providing required security with minimal effect on operations.

ALPA-Only Session

ALPA kicked off its 2002 Air Safety Week on Monday, August 19, with more than 250 pilots and guests from 35 airlines attending the ALPA-only session of the 4-day program. Highlights of the Grand Opening Assembly included

• Capt. Terry Lutz (Northwest), director of ALPA’s Aircraft Development and Evaluation Programs, described the Association’s continuing role in ensuring that post-9/11 cockpit door enhancements and new cockpit doors are designed with all safety and security considerations properly addressed. Unfortunately, however, new design standards for Phase II doors do not deal with bulkheads, floors, and visual identification behind the door. ALPA is actively pursuing solutions for these shortcomings.

• Capt. Larry Newman (Delta), chairman of ALPA’s Air Traffic Services Group, provided an update on several ongoing ATS projects:

—LAHSO: The FAA and airlines want to regain capacity lost to land-and-hold-short operations. Discussions are centering on a new dependent procedural concept, which ALPA will scrutinize closely. ALPA still opposes LAHSO in Canada, but individual MECs representing Canadian ALPA pilot groups will approach their managements to try to work out acceptable procedures for LAHSO in Canada.

—Domestic reduced vertical separation minima (DRVSM): ALPA "nonconcurred" with the FAA’s current proposal for domestic RVSM because of several unresolved safety issues—all of which ALPA believes will be resolved satisfactorily.

—Houston high-speed departures: ALPA continues to oppose these because of unresolved safety concerns with no demonstrated benefits.

—PRM: Precision runway monitoring is being used at Minneapolis and Philadelphia. The FAA continues research into simulator training, based upon ALPA’s belief that initial research was inadequate. ALPA is still pursuing resolution of this safety issue.

—SOIA: Simultaneous offset instrument approaches are instrument approaches with a visual segment, designed to be safer than the current "expanded visuals" used at San Francisco and St. Louis. Capt. Newman noted that "ALPA’s requirements for SOIA have been met."

—Interpretative rule: The FAA has not yet acceptably answered a letter that ALPA and other aviation organizations sent to the agency in April, asking the FAA to reconsider its interpretation regarding hearback-readback responsibilities.

• Capt. Robert Sumwalt (US Airways), chairman of ALPA’s Human Factors/Training Group, discussed his group’s many ongoing issues and projects, including the following ones:

—By 2004, Transport Canada will require all CAR 705 operators to have and use a safety management system (SMS); ALPA is developing a prototype system safety workshop to be given as an ALPA training course.

—The ALPA Training Council has identified the "Top 10" training issues.

—Areas "ripe for work" include upset recovery training; threat and error management; improving crew monitoring skills; and airport surface operations training.

• Capt. Steve Luckey (Northwest, Ret.), chairman of ALPA’s National Security Committee, declared that airport security currently is "a train wreck that needs to be put back on track." He discussed ALPA’s involvement with the Office of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, and other agencies and organizations to effect appropriate changes in aviation security.

• Capt. Mack Moore (United), chairman of ALPA’s Airport/Ground Environment (AGE) Group, discussed his group’s activities, including the following items:

—The government/industry Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), in which ALPA has been very active, has adopted 11 of 22 intervention strategies to prevent runway incursions, including SOPs for aircraft ground movement, for tug operators, and for vehicle operators.

—ICAO’s Visual Aids Panel will meet in December to discuss a number of proposals to protect active runways.

—Capt. Moore met in March in Munich with all but one of the manufacturers of visual docking guidance systems to review and modify standards for such guidance systems.

• Capt. Todd Gunther (Comair), chairman of ALPA’s Accident Investigation Board (AIB), said the AIB continues to work on several active accident investigations, plus several significant issues. The latter include cockpit image recorders, CVRs, criminalization of aviation accidents, and lack of uniformity in NTSB field investigations.

• First Officer Mark Rogers (United), director of ALPA’s Dangerous Goods Program, described the activities of the Dangerous Goods Group. A primary area of focus has been DOT rulemaking regarding hazardous materials. Principal among those have been

—Availability of Hazardous Materials Information, drafted in response to the FedEx Flight 1406 accident at Newburgh, N.Y., when the first responders could not obtain information about the hazmat aboard the airplane;

—Revision to Incident-Reporting Requirements (ALPA supported the NPRM); and

—Lithium Battery Safety, a response to an incident at Northwest’s Los Angeles cargo facility in which two pallets of lithium batteries burned, and firefighters encountered difficulty in extinguishing the fire.—JWS