All posts tagged 'Safety'

What To Do If You Have a Bird Strike

Last month I gave some tips on how to conquer summertime flying. It's hot outside, performance is decreased, the weather isn't always the best, etc. 

Well, there's one topic we didn't really discuss, and that's...

BIRDS.

Cue the dramatic music. Because they're EVERYWHERE.

Since the last post, within the past two weeks, I've had two bird strikes while instructing. Neither were catastrophic, but each one cut our flight short (so more just inconvenient).

Here's what happened each time:

Pictured above is from the first bird strike incident. A student and I were doing some laps in the pattern and were all too familiar with dodging birds from earlier lessons. So when we saw a small bird coming at us we didn't panic, just tried to curve to the side and avoid it. 

At first, it seemed we were in the clear until we heard a "ding" sound from the left side. We looked at each other then looked back at the strut and gear to see where it hit but couldn't see anything. BUT, we heard it, and even though we weren't 100% sure where it hit we decided to just make a full stop. 

After shutting down on the ramp we saw where it hit the strut. Mechanics verified our inspection and no damage was done!

Now bird strike number 2: this one was a little more dramatic (and kind of funny if you have terrible humor like me). 

Instead of a Cessna, a different student and I were in our SR20 who we named "Sherman." Don't judge, it's a great plane and therefore needed a great name! Anywho, Sherman, myself, and the student were just cleared for takeoff and started bringing the power in. As the engine instruments and airspeed were being checked we saw a black shadow hit our windshield and roll off. So, power was brought back and as we kept positive control of the plane we notified tower we had a possible bird strike and needed to taxi off to shutdown. Once approved we taxied off and shutdown as soon as possible. That's where we found some blood on the cowling...it didn't just hit the windshield.

So, I called tower back and said we'd need a tow back to the hangars. While we waited we obviously had to document the incident with a selfie! I knew this would be going on the blog too after the second time, so I wanted to capture the proof. After we got our tow back mechanics checked the engine and verified yet again no structural damage, and Sherman was back on the flight line. 

So, I know one thing you might be thinking: why did they shutdown for a bird strike? 

In both incidents, I wasn't 100% sure where the bird hit. And even then, I can't see just from the cockpit what possible damage the hit caused. Bird strikes can be kind of funny like in our selfie moment, but they can also be as serious as the famous Sully on the Hudson River case. I know another instructor who had a bird strike and kept flying because "it was fine" and later landed to find a huge dent in the flap. Even in terms of structural damage, what if it strikes the wing and ruptures a fuel tank? It's okay to be too safe and cautious in these cases. 

In the case of a bird strike, here's what to do:

  • - Try to pinpoint where the bird hit so you can estimate what kind of structural damage may have been caused, and have a game plan set to counteract any problems that could have come from it.
  • - Land as soon as possible. You can't see everything from the cockpit and there may be damage unseen to you. 
  • - Be cautious, but never panic. I can't stress this enough, don't stress!! This is when your flying will be negatively affected. 
  • - Report the bird strike. You won't get in trouble, birds can be impossible to avoid in many cases so it's likely not your fault. Report it to a controller if you're in controlled airspace or other pilots if you're at an uncontrolled field. 
  • - Do a thorough inspection after landing and shutdown, but also have a mechanic verify it before releasing it back to fly. 
  • - After landing, report it to the FAA on the FAA Wildlife Strike Database. This is used for collecting statistics and understanding how we can mitigate further incidents. 

Bird strikes usually have a minuscule impact on the flight, but imagine other cases where they come through the windshield and have even hit the pilot(s). That's a scary thought, but at the end of the day, you just have to FLY THE PLANE. Never panic, maintain control, and fly like you were taught too.

In other news, don't forget about the annual Globalair.com Scholarship! Applications close this month on August 15th. We'll be picking two recipients to help further their flight training towards a professional pilot career. 

Questions or comments to add to this article? Post below!

How to Give Passengers a Proper Safety Brief

So here you are, a pilot rated to carry passengers, and it's time to start taxiing the aircraft. Your passengers are excited to go fly, maybe a little nervous-so it makes you nervous. You're ready to get off the ground and up in the air for the fun to begin. But wait, you can't go up just yet! You need to give the passengers a quick safety briefing for, of course, their safety. So here's a good method to help you develop a good flow for one:

Use the acronym SAFETY to make sure you cover each item you need to as outlined in 14 CFR 91.519

is for seatbelts (including shoulder harnesses) and smoking. Show them how to buckle and unbuckle their seatbelts, and ensure if there are shoulder harnesses that they're being worn and tightened properly.

As for smoking, discuss as to when, where, and under what conditions smoking is not allowed. 

After all, this isn't the "Golden Age of Travel" anymore so regulations are more strict!

is for air vents/oxygen. Especially if you're in something like a small Cessna 172 then you want to show where the air vents are for fresh air and how to adjust them. This is more for comfort but can also help if they feel sick or uneasy. If you're on a high altitude plane, like a citation, then show where the oxygen equipment is and how to use it in an emergency. The regulation here simply states "normal and emergency use of oxygen equipment installed on the airplane."

F is fire, where a fire extinguisher is located on board as well as other survival equipment. This includes if you're flying over water where the flotation equipment is and how to exit in an emergency, bringing you to the next item on the list. 

is exiting during emergencies. You've showed them how to fasten and unfasten seatbelts, now demonstrate how to exit the plane if you're unable to help them in an emergency (ex. you're unconscious). 

T=Traffic. This one is more commonly used in small planes, like back to the Cessna 172. Simply tell the passengers that if you see traffic (another aircraft) nearby and you don't think the pilot has eyes on it yet, to point out where it is using clock terms like 12 or 1 o'clock. 

Y is "your questions." Ask the passengers if they have any questions pertaining to the flight. Maybe they didn't fully understand how to open the door/canopy in an emergency. This is their chance to ask and will make both them and you feel more comfortable. After all, flying is supposed to be fun, but it can't be done if someone feels uneasy the entire time. 

Remember, safety is always the goal of every flight! Brief your passengers, stick to the checklists, and go have some fun in the air. For any other help in making sure your flight is safe and well-planned be sure to head over to Globalair.com and check out the airport resources & aviation directory. 

Have any tips to add for a proper safety briefing? Be sure to comment below and stay tuned for more blog posts!

Transitioning from Day to Sunset Flights

Have you ever flown during the daytime and watched the sky transition into sunset, then nighttime? 

If you haven't, add it to your to-do list. It's a fun and beautiful experience. 

I did several sunset flights during my commercial training and loved it every time. Below is my favorite photo from my best sunset flight experience:

While it's not the best photo, the sunset was transitioning into nighttime. The clouds were also overcast, so we were IMC coming back into our home airport.

So, what's the best way to prepare for sunset flights? Here's some tips:

1) Bring a flashlight

In fact, I bring two in case the battery on one dies. Specifically, your flashlight needs to have a red light. To prepare your eyes for night flying you should avoid bright white lights 30 minutes before, which if you're flying it includes that time you're flying in the sunset while the sky slowly darkens.

2) Unless your route of flight is forecasted to be "sky clear" or you've done some thorough weather planning using the Globalair.com Weather Tool then prepare for any possible IFR scenarios.

After I finished commercial, I continued to fly with another student on instrument flights so we could both gain IFR experience. We learned that weather changes quickly, and although we planned several times for VFR flight it ended up being best to file IFR in-flight. Flying in the clouds can be a lot of fun, but especially during nighttime it can be dangerous. Be careful, and make sure you're comfortable with the flight. 

3) This one isn't necessarily a safety tip, but bring your phone or a good camera to take pictures!

You'll thank me later.

Above is another favorite flight of mine, and as you can see from the background we were in and out of the clouds during sunset. I'm sure if we had taken more time, some beautiful pictures would have came out of it.

Especially if you don't have the opportunity to do sunset flights often, make each one worthwhile and take pictures! It gives you something to look back on, and maybe even a new profile picture for Facebook ;)

4) Back to safety, because sunset/night flights are at the end of the day you need to ensure you're hydrated and well-fed before jumping in the air. Being hungry or dehydrated can have a real impact on your flying whether or not you realize it. I learned this the hard way by not drinking water before a day flight (in summer in Texas if I may add) and started to feel dizzy, so I made the best decision and cut the flight short. Don't wait until it's too late, because your decisions now can impact you later. Things like reaction time, decision making, and ability to fly the plane will start to deteriorate.

Use the PAVE and IM SAFE checklist from the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge before each flight, it's there to keep you safe. 

Remember that in aviation, safety should ALWAYS be the number one priority. Nothing else. 

Aside from sunset flying, Globalair.com got a makeover so head to our main page to check it out! We still offer all of the same resources and services, but with a new and more efficient look.

Have any tips or fun stories from sunset flights? Share them with us! We'd love to hear from you.

FOD on Your Ramp

Who is responsible for FOD detection at your facility? Do they really pay attention to the usually brief training given to them? Why should FOD awareness go all the way to the top of your organization?

Well, let’s take the last question first. If there is an incident as a result of FOD on your ramp the investigation will go all the way to the post holders/managers/CEO. Any such incident will result in expense, probably considerable being aviation related, maybe even go to court. And then there’s the inevitable increase in insurance premium to be paid. And that pretty much answers the first question too, “Who is responsible for FOD detection”. The second question “do they really pay attention” has several answers. During safety training most, but not all, will listen and some will learn. Few will put their training into practice for an extended period of time, especially if they do not see ownership of the FOD problem at all levels of an organization.

Ask yourself this question, is the marshaller expected to be the only person to carry out FOD checks? No, every single person using the ramp should be eagle eyed to the danger! Even when FOD is included in training, people tend to become more relaxed about FOD awareness as time goes by. To keep the ever present danger of FOD to the forefront of every staff members mind there needs to be visible and continuous leadership from all levels of management. Some FBOs, MROs and airports do this via a variety of methods, safety posters (move around often so they get noticed), weekly FOD sweeps by all staff lead by senior manager, circulating FOD reports, provision of FOD bins, to name a few.

So what is FOD, Foreign Object Debris or Foreign Object Damage?

You can’t have Foreign Object Damage without Foreign Object Debris!

FOD is taken to mean the debris itself and the resulting damage is referred to as FOD Damage.

FOD is an acronym used in aviation to describe both the damage done to aircraft by foreign objects, and the foreign objects themselves.

Foreign Object Debris (FOD) is a substance, debris or article alien to an aircraft or system which would potentially cause damage. Foreign Object Damage is any damage attributed to a foreign object (i.e. any object that is not part of the aircraft) that can be expressed in physical or economic terms and may or may not degrade the product's required safety or performance characteristics.

Some common and not-so-common examples of FOD I have come across:

  • Engineers tools
  • Screws, Locking Wire, Electrical Wire, Tape, Aircraft Parts
  • GSE and GSE Parts
  • Clothing, Uniform Items
  • Shotgun Cartridge
  • Trash Bags, Catering
  • Loose pavement & tarmac (especially after severe WX)

 

Airborne debris including: Bubble Wrap, Bailing Wire and Plastic Wrapping

 

Live FOD including: Rabbits, Hares, Dogs, Snakes and even a Cow

What damage can these do to an aircraft? Well, an Air France Concorde crashed in July 2000 following a tyre striking a thin strip of metal from a preceding DC-10 aircraft leading to a tyre blow out with sections of that tyre puncturing a fuel tank leading to the loss of all 109 souls onboard and four on the ground. In March of this year an EasyJet flight returned to the gate after a passenger alerted cabin crew to a spanner on the wing. This tool could have dropped onto the runway or become wedged in the flaps or ailerons. An explosion which grounded the last remaining airworthy Vulcan Bomber just prior to take off destroying two of the aircraft’s engine was due to ingestion of silica gel desiccant bags into the one of the engines on the port side of the aircraft. Debris was then sucked into a second engine. The silica gel bags are used to reduce moisture and were apparently left inside the engine by mistake.

So, even small items in the wrong place can cause death, injury or serious damage. All FOD comes from somewhere. People can take it directly onto the ramp, it can come in on the wind, blown from one area to another by jet blast or helicopter downwash, fall from an aircraft and can even be left there by aircrew. And then there is GSE left in the wrong place or not secured during high winds or the ever present menace, black chocks on black tarmac, in the rain, at night just waiting to trip up a marshaller or for an aircraft to taxi over them!

Let us not forget wandering aircraft. On shared ramps, if tying down aircraft in your charge in anticipation of high winds, do you check if the other FBOs plan to do the same? I witnessed on a ramp I work a few years back, a ramp agent securing aircraft ahead of an approaching storm. Running out of chocks he took a set from an impounded aircraft (not his FBOs responsibility), thereby leaving that aircraft free to wander the ramp once the storm got up, like a canon ball on the deck of one of the old sailing frigates! Needless to say myself and a colleague sources chocks for the aircraft elsewhere.

In conclusion, FOD is such an ever present danger and so often overlooked or ignored that specialist equipment has been developed to help control the problem. We will all have seen large vacuum sweeper truck patrolling ramps sucking up surface FOD, mostly these are basic road sweepers. Purpose built equipment for the aviation industry offer faster and more efficient methods of FOD detection and collection as they are specifically designed to collect all kinds of debris with airport ramps in mind. However, the best method of detection is still the Mk. 1 Eyeball. Back it up with mechanical equipment by all means, but every FBO or airport needs an all stakeholders FOD prevention and detection policy combined with a robust, ongoing reporting and accountability system.

 


Chocks with reflective bands are less of a ramp hazard but should be kept in a chock cage.

 


Signage is very important

 


FOD Bins should be plentiful

The Importance of Accident Investigation

This semester I am taking a class that is required for my major called "Aviation Safety Programs." I did not know much about this class before the first day, besides that we would be learning how to be safer and more cautious pilots in our flight operations. Now that the first week of classes has come and gone, I am looking forward to this class more than most of my others. The basic setup of this class is that we will be reading and watching videos about aircraft accidents and analyzing what went wrong. We then write 250-500 words a week about a factor of the accident that stuck out to us. A large percentage of our final grade is calculated from a presentation that we each give about an accident that is randomly assigned to us.

This may sound grim, but it is so important to sit down and work through exactly what caused a deadly accident to happen so that you can avoid the same mistakes in the future. Whether it is pilot error, instrument malfunction, or an accident caused by ATC, knowing how to understand and avoid the same fate is paramount to creating safer skies.

For example, the first accident that we investigated was Colgan Air flight 3407. As 40+ aviation students anxiously watched the projector screen, we were shown a video that recreated the accident with a 3D model of the aircraft and instruments visualizing what the black box had recorded. Additionally, this video had real audio from ATC communicating with the copilot shortly before the accident. It was disturbing to hear, as it made the accident seem so much more real.

After watching the video, we opened discussion to what we believed went wrong. Was it icing? Was it the captain who had previously failed stall awareness training? Was it the first officer who had been working so much between flying and being a waitress that she was deliriously tired? It is important to consider all of these factors and logically work through why this was a bad decision/scenario. We then read the NTSB report and discussed how they came to their conclusions.

This is the infamous accident that lead to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introducing the "Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009." Many things changed in the world of professional aviation after this law was passed. Regulations governing pilot training became much more strict. Additionally, the hour requirements for a pilot to earn their ATP rating changed from 250 to 1500. Although both pilots had several thousands of hours of training, the distraught families of the victims who pushed for these updates to regulations simply wanted to try and ensure something like this never happened again.

As you can see, the aftermath of this accident was colossal. It had a huge impact on the aviation industry as a whole, the effects of which aviation students will witness firsthand for years to come. Had the NTSB reported that the cause of the accident was icing with minimal other factors, perhaps the outcome would have been different. However, we cannot be sure of this. The important thing to gather from this is that the entire accident could have been avoided if the pilots had stopped the sequence of bad events from early on.

The "Decide" model is often used to evaluate in-flight emergencies. Having a prior knowledge of events that have lead to accidents can assist with logical thinking when evaluating impeding danger.

Each accident starts as a chain of events. Imagine dominos in a line. When you knock down one, others start following after quite quickly. One of the things we will be doing in my class is identifying which moments leading up to the accidents are dominos. We will analyze where it starts, what makes it worse, and what the ultimate result is. I think that this is fascinating, and it is extremely important for all pilots to examine aircraft accident reports to become better informed and prepared in case they recognize something that could be a domino.

I want to encourage every pilot out there, whether it is their profession or they fly for fun, to begin paying attention to accident reports. It can be difficult, as most pilots have an "it won’t happen to me," attitude, but doing so will help make flying safer for yourself and everyone around you.

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