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General Aviation Safety
This report addresses the accident involving the August 8, 2009, accident involving a Piper PA-32R-300 airplane, N71MC, and a Eurocopter AS350BA helicopter, N401LH, operated by Liberty Helicopters, which collided over the Hudson River near Hoboken, New Jersey. The pilot and two passengers aboard the airplane and the pilot and five passengers aboard the helicopter were killed, and both aircraft received substantial damage from the impact. The airplane flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and the helicopter flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Parts 135 and 136. No flight plans were filed or were required for either flight, and visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The safety issues discussed in this report address changes within the recently designated special flight rules area (SFRA) surrounding the Hudson River corridor, vertical separation among aircraft operating in the Hudson River SFRA, the see-and-avoid concept, and helicopter electronic traffic advisory systems.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Once standards for helicopter electronic traffic advisory systems are developed, as requested in Safety Recommendation A-10-127, require electronic news gathering operators, air tour operators, and other operators of helicopters used for passenger revenue flight to install this equipment on their aircraft. (Supersedes Safety Recommendation A-09-005)
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Hoboken, NJ, United States
Midair Collision Over Hudson River, Piper PA-32R-300, N71MC, and Eurocopter AS350BA, N401LH
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Safety Recommendation History
On September 29, 2014, you published Technical Standard Order (TSO) C195b, Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) Aircraft Surveillance Applications. The TSO contains standards for an ADS-B-based traffic advisory application, called the ADS-B Traffic Awareness System, which is a low-cost traffic advisory system for general aviation that can be installed on both fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft. The TSO includes the standards recommended in Safety Recommendation A-10-127, which was classified “Closed—Acceptable Action” on April 16, 2015. We note that AC 91-88, “Electronic News Gathering Operations,” promotes the use of electronic traffic advisory systems and provides information regarding ADS B equipage. We also note that, by January 1, 2020, in designated airspace, aircraft must be equipped with ADS-B “out” avionics, which enable properly equipped aircraft to broadcast their identification, position, altitude, and velocity to other aircraft and to air traffic control. Although aircraft would also need to be equipped with ADS-B “in” avionics to receive the information being broadcast, we believe that, taken together, the requirement for ADS-B “out,” the TSO, and the guidance in the AC constitute an acceptable alternate response to Safety Recommendation A-10-128, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is developing the new Electronic News Gathering Operations Advisory Circular (AC) which will address these four recommendations when it is likely published in 2016. The AC will include best practices and guidelines for ENG pilots and aircraft operators and sample risk assessment tools for use in enhancing overall safety during operations. The AC will also promote the use of electronic traffic advisory systems and provide information regarding the equipage of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment both voluntarily (ADS-B IN) and required (ADS-BOUT). The AC will also address pilot-reporter responsibilities and provide recommendations related to task management and delegation of assignments to ensure duties and responsibilities are safely accomplished during ENG operations. For ENG operators, the AC will highlight the advantages of utilizing high-visibility rotor blade paint schemes and high-visibility anti-collision lighting on their aircraft to aid in collision avoidance. Finally, this AC will incorporate pertinent information from the Helicopter Association International's ENG Aviation Safety Manual detailing best practices for ENG operations and other helicopter operations. The manual is available at the following Web site: https://www.rotor.org/portals/I/ENG_Safety_Manual.pdf The FAA will provide an immediate notification once the referenced AC has been published.
CC#201100040: The NTSB notes that, once the FAA has developed standards for the electronic traffic advisory systems recommended in A-10-127, it plans to review the types of operators listed in the recommendation to determine whether a requirement to install such equipment is justified for the operators recommended. Accordingly, pending completion of the recommended action, Safety Recommendation A-10-128 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
CC# 01100040: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: Pending the development of standards for the electronic traffic advisory systems recommended by the Board, the FAA will conduct a review of the types of operators listed in the safety recommendation to determine if mandating installation of this equipment is appropriate in all cases. The FAA recently announced that ADS-B Out capability will be required by the year 2020 in much of the airspace where high traffic volumes exist. Additional installation of ADS-B In capability will offer these operators enhanced capabilities to see and avoid traffic, even at very close range. As this new technology emerges, the FAA will review the appropriateness of requiring this technology in lieu of existing transponder-based traffic advisory systems. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress and provide an updated response to this safety recommendation by December 2011.
From NTSB Safety Recommendation Letter concerning the August 8, 2009 midair collision between a private plane and a helicopter near Hoboken, New Jersey. This letter is dated October 18, 2010. On April 17, 2009, the FAA stated that it would review existing certification standards for electronic traffic advisory systems and determine if additional standards for electronic traffic advisory systems installed on helicopters needed to be developed. The FAA also stated that, if additional standards were needed, they would be developed, and the agency would recommend that all ENG operators install electronic traffic advisory systems on their helicopters. On August 27, 2009, the NTSB stated that the FAA’s plan was responsive to Safety Recommendation A-09-04 but that, to meet the intent of Safety Recommendation A-09-05, the FAA must require electronic traffic advisory systems for ENG helicopters. Safety Recommendations A-09-04 and -05 were classified “Open—Acceptable Response,” pending the development of standards that address helicopter electronic traffic advisory systems and the establishment of a requirement for all ENG operators to install this equipment on their aircraft. On May 20, 2010, the FAA responded to Safety Recommendation A-09-04 and stated that it reviewed the current certification standards for electronic traffic advisory systems and determined that technical standard orders (TSO) already existed for these systems.22 The FAA also stated that the TSOs referenced several RTCA (formerly Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics) documents that provided minimum operational performance standards and guidance for implementing various traffic advisory systems and displaying traffic information in the cockpit. The FAA further stated that the existing certification standards adequately addressed the issues identified in Safety Recommendation A-09-04 and that no further actions regarding the recommendation were planned. The NTSB’s review of the TSOs found that they described only the minimum standards that all electronic traffic advisory systems must meet to be certified. The TSOs do not address specific standards for helicopter traffic advisory systems, as requested in Safety Recommendation A-09-04, or consider the different types of operations conducted by helicopters. Also, the current standards do not consider the limitations of those helicopter traffic advisory systems that depend on radar systems (such as TIS) to resolve distances that are less than 1/8 nm between aircraft. In addition, the current certification standards for electronic traffic advisory systems do not consider the potential for nuisance alerts during close-in operations, which can desensitize pilots to system warnings and thus decrease the effectiveness of the systems. When pilots fly closely enough to other aircraft to trigger the traffic alerting function of current traffic advisory systems, the traffic alerts may be disregarded by a pilot if such alerts occur frequently and the pilot is already aware of other aircraft operating in the area. Traffic alerts are triggered based on the assumption that certain parameters (ground track, ground speed, and rate of climb) would be maintained long enough for a traffic advisory system to estimate future positions of the aircraft. This assumption works well for those aircraft that are in stable flight with minimal maneuvering (for example, during en route flight). However, this assumption may not be appropriate when numerous aircraft are maneuvering in a congested VFR corridor (such as the Hudson River Class B exclusion area)23 or ENG aircraft are maneuvering within a relatively small area. The NTSB concludes that, because the FAA’s current TSOs for electronic traffic advisory systems do not distinguish between the different flight characteristics of helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes, the effectiveness of these systems aboard helicopters is limited. The NTSB further concludes that the traffic alerting function of helicopter electronic traffic advisory systems is limited because the parameters used to trigger alerts do not consider frequent maneuvering in congested areas, resulting in nuisance alerts. Therefore, the NTSB recommends that the FAA develop standards for helicopter cockpit electronic traffic advisory systems that (1) address, among other flight characteristics, the capability of helicopters to hover and to fly near other aircraft at lower altitudes, slower airspeeds, and different attitudes than fixed-wing airplanes; (2) reduce nuisance alerts when nearby aircraft enter the systems’ alerting envelope; and (3) consider the different types of operations conducted by helicopters, including those in congested airspace. Further, Safety Recommendation A-09-04 is reclassified “Closed—Unacceptable Action/Superseded,” and Safety Recommendation A-10-127 is classified “Open—Unacceptable Response.” In addition, Safety Recommendation A-09-05 focuses solely on helicopter ENG operations, but the use of helicopter electronic traffic advisory systems should be expanded beyond ENG operators to provide passenger revenue operations with the same safety benefit.24 The NTSB concludes that electronic traffic advisory systems installed on helicopters operated for passenger revenue flight would enhance a pilot’s capability to detect other aircraft operating in the same area by providing aural annunciations and visual displays of the traffic. Therefore, the NTSB recommends that, once standards for helicopter electronic traffic advisory systems are developed, as requested in Safety Recommendation A-10-127, the FAA require ENG operators, air tour operators, and other operators of helicopters used for passenger revenue flight to install this equipment on their aircraft. As a result of this new recommendation, Safety Recommendation A-09-05 is reclassified “Closed—Acceptable Action/Superseded."
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