Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Air safety plagued by old issues

Crashes into trees, mountains and man-made structures and runway overruns are two types of accidents that continue to occur despite TSB recommendations on how to avoid them.

"We find safety issues where we've made recommendations in the past," Tadros said. "So we know from very hard experience that if those safety issues aren't addressed, there will be another accident. It's as simple as that."

The TSB reiterated the life-jacket recommendation in a report just over a year ago, the result of its investigation into the Nov. 29, 2009 crash of a Seair Seaplanes Beaver float plane in which six passengers died in Lyall Harbour off Saturna Island.

(Canadian aviation regulations require that float planes carry some kind of life preserver for each person on board, but do not require that the passengers wear them.)

The TSB report on the Lyall Harbour float plane crash also recommended that such aircraft be fitted with easily opened emergency exits such as pop-out windows that allow passengers to escape quickly after a crash in water.

Some B.C. airlines voluntarily followed the TSB recommendations after an investigation into the deaths by The Vancouver Sun. But Transport Canada has still not made the recommendations mandatory.

Asked Tuesday about the implementation of the TSB's recommendations on float plane safety, Trans-port Canada said in a statement that it "is committed to investigating safety improvement, such as the operation of emergency exits, push out windows, wearing of life vests by passengers and emergency evacuation from sub-merged aircraft training for commercial crews.

"The department assesses each application to install push out windows on a case-by-case basis because the design approved on one aircraft may not provide the same level of safety on another model."

The auditor-general also found that Transport Canada failed to con-duct planned inspections of about 500 airlines and other aviation companies that could be "higher risk" operations.

Auditors found that only 67 per cent of the air carriers, maintenance organizations and large airports earmarked for an annual inspection received one in 2010-11.

According to a TSB report on a 2005 helicopter accident in Duncan that killed two people, the crash could have been prevented by a Transport Canada inspection.

The immediate cause of the crash was an engine-driven fuel-pump failure that resulted in a loss of engine control and an inflight fire, but the defect was never detected because the helicopter was not serviced or maintained in accordance with regulations, the TSB found.

The company that owned the helicopter was in a regulatory class that Transport Canada required be inspected every three years, but no inspection of the company was per-formed between Dec. 22, 1999 and Nov. 16, 2005, the TSB report said.

It also pointed out that a March 2001 helicopter accident attributed to improper maintenance by the same company should have prompted Transport Canada to conduct an inspection, but this did not happen, "resulting in a missed opportunity to learn that maintenance had not been performed in accordance with Canadian regulations," the report said.

Calling the audit a "valuable review of our oversight program," Transport Minister Denis Lebel said he takes the recommendations "very seriously" and has instructed the department to implement them by the end of 2013.

Lebel also pointed out that the auditor-general confirmed Canada "has one of the safest aviation systems in the world."

No comments:

Post a Comment