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Thread: Safety Study on E-AB - summary results & recommendations

  1. #1
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
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    Safety Study on E-AB - summary results & recommendations

    Here are the summary results & recommendations.

    http://go.usa.gov/pQt

    My comment: they start off by saying that E-AB's are 10% of the GA fleet, but contributed 15% of total accidents and 21% of fatals (2011 data). However, I believe that when the FAA's "roll off the registrations" effort completes in the next couple of years, that E-AB's will be a MUCH LARGER portion of the CURRENTLY REGISTERED fleet, as thousands, if not dozens of thousands of abandoned, derilict, or simply too-expensive-to-maintain production certified aircraft are dropped from the registration list. Sure, some E-AB's will drop off as well, but we're building those and adding them to the fleet much faster than production aircraft are being delivered...

    So, I hope the powers-that-be will wait before implementing the more costly and involved of the recommendations until they can have a better picture of what the E-AB contribution to various rates really is. I applaud the effort that went into collecting the mass of information for this study, but before we jump to a bunch more regulations, inspections, paperwork, and fees, let's be sure the situation really warrants such changes.

    One recommendation that wouldn't cost anything that I could see EASILY being of benefit is the recommendation to allow a second person aboard during Phase I for a multitude of purposes - to fly the airplane while you collect the data; to help with keeping your flight tests on track (what's the next point to hit, what's next in the plan); to help with recording data; to watch for traffic, etc. Perhaps this could be implemented after some ballast testing was done to show the aircraft is controllable at the increased weight.

    Another recommendation that wouldn't cost much that would seem to address two of the leading categories of accidents/fatalities (first flight of the airplane & first flight by a new owner) would be the standardization and promotion of the LODA to help get more E-AB's available for transition training.
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

    http://www.spoonworld.com

  2. #2

    NSTB’s Solution to Improve Experimental Aircraft Safety Record is Wrong

    The NSTB and EAA should be applauded for their efforts to improve the safety record of amateur built aircraft. I have yet to meet a pilot of an experimental aircraft that wants to become the next aviation statistic. Nor do these pilots want to put their family, friends or subsequent aircraft owners at unnecessary risk. This “self preservation rule” should be readily apparent to everyone in the industry, including the public.

    We have existing regulations for amateur built aircraft that ensure that these aircraft are thoroughly tested before passengers are carried. These same regulations require that the airplane’s performance is documented in the logbook and also requires that no unsafe handling characteristics exist when flown within it’s operating limitations. The person making these required logbook statements certifies that these entries are true. If, in some rare instances these existing regulations are not followed, then that person making those representations should be taken to task. There is no need for additional regulations for those that follow the rules.

    The NSTB also asserts that onboard electronics can help improve the safety record of amateur built aircraft. This recommendation ignores the fact that aircraft have flown safely for decades, and continue to be flown safely, without costly or complicated electronics onboard. In fact it has been often argued that operating electronic gizmos can be a distraction and actually represent a safety hazard (think texting while driving). The existing regulations already require that certain instruments be installed to ensure that the pilot can safely operate the aircraft in accordance with its operating limitations.

    EAA has a superior approach toward improving the amateur built safety record and that’s through education and training. This education and training approach leverages upon the “self preservation rule” and can provide a meaningful increase in safety.

    One suggestion that may be offered is an on-line transition training course for those about to fly an amateur built aircraft. This could familiarize a pilot with the “hot spots” related to non-certified aircraft. The course might also suggest how a new owner of an existing amateur built aircraft can complete his/her own performance testing to, not only become familiar with the aircraft, but to verify the aircraft’s performance as documented in the logbook. The completion of such a course and aircraft performance verification could either be voluntary, or mandatory, but the “self preservation rule” would suggest that most pilots would want to participate. The insurance industry may feel the same and offer additional encouragement to pilots.

    More people should feel passionate about preserving the freedom we have in building and flying experimental aircraft. Experimental aviation is the one bright spot in an otherwise declining industry. But this beacon can be quickly extinguished with burdensome new regulations. None of us, or those that will follow, will benefit from new requirements that are costly, time intensive to implement and do little or nothing to improve experimental aircraft safety. Please support EAA’s effort in tempering the NSTB’s experimental aircraft safety recommendations to the FAA.

    The NSTB’s full recommendations to the FAA can be located by clicking on the link below:
    http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2012...udy/index.html


    Mike Hongisto
    President – EAA Chapter 1221
    HongistoMichael@aol.com

  3. #3
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    The main problem with any study of the causation/factors of EAB crashes (and GA in general) is that the NTSB does a pretty superficial job of investigating a lot of them. I can count on one hand the number of fatal EAB crashes in the past decade that could be described as "thoroughly investigated".

    One recommendation that wouldn't cost anything that I could see EASILY being of benefit is the recommendation to allow a second person aboard during Phase I for a multitude of purposes
    Yeah, the idea is to bring the number of fatalities down and increasing the number of folks on board during testing isn't the best way to do that. As far as recording data, that's pretty easily accomplished with a video camera or two if you don't have a glass cockpit:
    Data obtained from glass cockpit avionics, electronic flight instruments, or other recording devices can significantly enhance the efficient accomplishment of flight test objectives, as well as the monitoring of parameters important to the continuing airworthiness of the E-AB aircraft, provided that they are demonstrated to be precise and reliable, record at sufficiently high sampling rates, and are easily downloaded by the aircraft owner.

    Unless you're trying to qualify the aircraft to be flown dual pilot, there's little reason for a second person to be up there especially given the rather "marginal" nature of the way many of us test fly our aircraft. It seems like a lot of the folks I know get so geeked out that their plane is finally in the air that they forget what that 40+ hour test period is supposed to be about. That is why Point #1 on that study is Point #1 and why #4 is on there. People act like the 40 hour test period is just a countdown to be muddled through rather than the time they should be learning their airplane's ins and outs.

    to help with keeping your flight tests on track (what's the next point to hit, what's next in the plan);
    You can get the same effect with someone on the ground with a radio. That's my plan for my LSA test flights. The turboprop will have a second person on board but that's because it is being designed to be flown that way. The local FSDO has no problem with it (I asked) but they did point out that I would have to go back and amend the paperwork at a later date if I wanted to fly it single pilot after that.

    Another recommendation that wouldn't cost much that would seem to address two of the leading categories of accidents/fatalities (first flight of the airplane & first flight by a new owner) would be the standardization and promotion of the LODA to help get more E-AB's available for transition training.
    Agreed, although if you're building a kit or something where there are tons of them out there, the best approach is to buddy up with someone who has one and has a lot of time in them and ask them to go on a trip somewhere nice for lunch or something.

    The bigger problem isn't necessarily "transition training" but the fact that so many homebuilders are low hour pilots to begin with and then they go and sit more or less idle from a flying perspective while building their aircraft. Then they go out and hop in the new bird and some mechanical glitch comes up on initial climbout and they freeze up.


    My abbreviated "wishlist" for keeping the NTSB and FAA off our butts:
    1. Follow the recommendations in the study (saying that makes this list a heck of a lot shorter).
    2. Work with designers and builders to improve safety of designs both for the purposes of preventing and surviving crashes. If you don't give the FAA the blood to write the regulations in, it becomes much less likely that those regulations will be written at all.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



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    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Someone already posted it.....

    Thank you though for your thoughts. The mods will probably combine the two threads into one....

    Oh and it's NTSB, not NSTB. You keep typing it incorrectly.
    Last edited by steveinindy; 05-23-2012 at 12:31 PM.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  5. #5
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Please support EAA’s effort in tempering the NSTB’s experimental aircraft safety recommendations to the FAA
    What exactly needs to be 'tempered'? That was a very mild document to be honest. The strongest thing they suggest is more or less a requirement to show the FSDO your paperwork proving you did more than buzz around for forty hours before getting the OK to start doing more or less as you please. That's not necessarily a bad thing given how many of us are not actually flight testing our aircraft in any real sense of the word.

    The NSTB also asserts that onboard electronics can help improve the safety record of amateur built aircraft. This recommendation ignores the fact that aircraft have flown safely for decades, and continue to be flown safely, without costly or complicated electronics onboard. In fact it has been often argued that operating electronic gizmos can be a distraction and actually represent a safety hazard (think texting while driving). The existing regulations already require that certain instruments be installed to ensure that the pilot can safely operate the aircraft in accordance with its operating limitations.
    The suggestion (at least in the executive summary) was to use electronics for data recording so the pilot doesn't have to write things down, etc while trying to learn to control the aircraft. As for other applications of them, in some settings, they actually do improve safety and situational awareness over the steam gauges.
    Last edited by steveinindy; 05-23-2012 at 12:35 PM.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Witherspoon View Post
    Here are the summary results & recommendations.
    One recommendation that wouldn't cost anything that I could see EASILY being of benefit is the recommendation to allow a second person aboard during Phase I for a multitude of purposes - to fly the airplane while you collect the data; to help with keeping your flight tests on track (what's the next point to hit, what's next in the plan); to help with recording data; to watch for traffic, etc. Perhaps this could be implemented after some ballast testing was done to show the aircraft is controllable at the increased weight.
    My $0.02 on this:

    There is no need to risk a second person test flying a single pilot aircraft. You can buy a $20 spy-cam off of e-bay that'll record an hour or more of video from the panel. You'll have engine data, airspeed, altitude, etc., it'll be perfectly recorded and a second person won't be at risk. Download it to your computer after each flight and you'll have the data forever.

    Having test flown my airplane and carried out a pretty thorough flight test regime, I found that it broke down into two phases, neither of which was overwhelming. The initial phase was ~10 hours of making sure the aircraft had good basic flight characteristics, breaking in the engine, and making sure the systems worked properly. I collected minimal performance data during that period. The remainder of my flight test period was spent establishing hard data for the airplane - fuel burn, climb rates, speeds at various altitudes and power settings, validating the CG and W/B envelope, aerobatics, maximum performance takeoffs and landings, etc. Again, keeping up with things was no trouble, and certainly didn't require a second person.

  7. #7
    Eric Page's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Hongisto View Post
    The NSTB also asserts that onboard electronics can help improve the safety record of amateur built aircraft. This recommendation ignores the fact that aircraft have flown safely for decades, and continue to be flown safely, without costly or complicated electronics onboard. In fact it has been often argued that operating electronic gizmos can be a distraction and actually represent a safety hazard (think texting while driving). The existing regulations already require that certain instruments be installed to ensure that the pilot can safely operate the aircraft in accordance with its operating limitations.
    For VFR recreational flying, I completely agree that lots of electronics are an unnecessary distraction. Apart from the financial advantages that accrue from operating a piston engine using a digital monitor, I see little value in a fancy panel for purely pleasure flying.

    IFR is a different story. I've flown simple aircraft with steam gauge panels and advanced aircraft with FMS, EFIS, EICAS, TCAS, EGPWS, etc., and the difference in situational awareness -- and workload -- is startling. In the simple aircraft, you spend an inordinate amount of time tuning nav radios, turning OBS knobs and finger-plotting on charts to keep a fix on your position (or blindly trusting ATC not to vector you into something hard). Advanced aircraft show your position constantly on a moving map, plus display and warn of approaching traffic and terrain (and give verbal instructions to remedy the conflict), automatically tune nav radios and set approach courses, and alert you instantly to aircraft system malfunctions.

    The problem with all that technology, and the point Mike makes that "...electronic gizmos can be a distraction and actually represent a safety hazard" is that some aircraft owners/pilots buy advanced electronics but either don't train enough with them to become proficient, or don't fly often enough and in enough kinds of conditions to stay proficient. That's the key to taking electronics from distracting nuisance to safety advantage: training and proficiency.
    Eric Page
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    ATP: MEL / Comm: SEL, Glider / ATCS: CTO
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    Some of the document is just odd - it goes on about how flight testing for the first 40 is completely without any guidance and then references the very good EAA document on how to test one's aircraft for the first 40 (which is what I'll be using).

    The recommendation number 7 where it reads to me like requiring a full set of electronic monitoring equipment for an aircraft scares the hell out of me....the gizmos will cost more than the aircraft itself. It's a good way to completely remove us beer budget aviators right out of building and flying. And I most likely won't have an electrical system that will give enough juice to it.

    Adding a huge amount of weight (my whole aircraft will weigh around 600 pounds loaded) for testing is silly, as once it all gets removed the W&B has changed.

    The reality is that the largest commonality in Experimental wrecks is transitional aircraft. Once one gets past the first forty, the wrecks happen with the second and third owners....and while I don't have the numbers, I'll wager a lot of those pilots are buying a light aircraft to use SP medical rules and too big headed to realize they need professional transition training before going into a light aircraft.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  9. #9
    Here’s a follow up to my original post:

    The NTSB's Conclusions and Recommendations contain considerable obstacles toward completing an experimental aircraft and threaten its continued operation once completed. Some are of NSTB’s suggestions may be helpful (some fall short), but those identified below are definitely not.

    Let me first describe the Red Herring. A Red Herring is item thrown into the discussion that has virtually no chance of implementation but is used to make the other proposed solutions appear more palatable and then offers a false sense of compromise when it is taken off the table.

    The Red Herring in the NTSB’s recommendations is the data logging (black box) proposal. Are we to equip our Airknocker 2000’s with flight deck similar to an Airbus? If not, then what type of equipment and what level of precision, reliability or sampling rates apply? Who decides? Will a “Experimental TSO” be issued? Will manufacturers be required to comply? What will this require from the manufacturer? Does the data logging requirement apply to engine operation, recording flight conditions, or flight control positions? Once the data is obtained what standards must the data be compared against? What are the tolerances? Who decides? How often must the data be reviewed? Just during the initial flight testing or an ongoing basis? The issues surrounding this proposal just go on and on. But more importantly, what additional safety measure would be gained relative those instruments already required? None.

    Another alarming issue is the blanket authority to return experimental “aircraft to Phase I flight testing, as necessary, to address identified safety concerns or to correct deficiencies in the aircraft flight manual or equivalent documents”. If a safety concern exists, who decides and how is that determined? Can an out of state ramp check put you back into to Phase I? The same goes for determining if there’s an AFM “deficiency”.

    The NTSB also recommends that the Phase II operating limitations be withheld until the FAA reviews “the completed test plan documents and aircraft flight manual…”. I read this as, “Although you determined your airplane to be safe, park your airplane until we can get back with you. It’s June you know, and we’ve got a backlog of approvals to get to”.

    The fuel system test review is a similar “don’t event think about flying your plane until we get back with you” issue.

    As amateur builders, we’re not building or flying certified aircraft. There will be risks inherent in our aircraft that are in addition to those found in a Cessna. As a result of that added risk the safety record will not be identical to a certified aircraft nor should this be expected. Additional training and education can improve upon the safety record and should be used to emphasise those areas that are identified as “hot spots”.

    Finally, transition training seems especially important for pilots and there seems to be no good reason to create any obstacles for this to occur during the Phase I test period, the exact time a transitioning pilot needs the most help.


    Mike Hongisto
    President – EAA Chapter 1221
    HongistoMichael@aol.com
    Last edited by Mike Hongisto; 05-24-2012 at 11:30 AM.

  10. #10
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Giger View Post
    The recommendation number 7 where it reads to me like requiring a full set of electronic monitoring equipment for an aircraft scares the hell out of me....the gizmos will cost more than the aircraft itself. It's a good way to completely remove us beer budget aviators right out of building and flying...
    I think you mean #2, but I did not read it as a requirement (though that may be someone's intent). I saw it as, perhaps we should develop some training materials _based on the use of_ any avionics that you may have chosen to install that do have recording capabilities. My current airplane - it's steam gauges. The GPS does have some track recording capability, but I haven't ever used it.

    I'm considering possibly one of the lower-level Dynon or Dynon-like products for the next airplane. This has a built-in GPS, though it doesn't have an airspace or terrain database. But even without the databases, it can provide 3-d track and speed, in addition to recording I don't even know what other data with respect to all of the parameters it picks up. Sure, the big problem will be calibration - until you DO some testing that compares knowns to unknowns, you don't KNOW how good the data is.

    But I could easily see a Sportair weekend workshop for "getting the most out of your (favorite brand here) EFIS data recording in flight test". Show us the menus. Show us how to connect what with what and what to do with files that are downloaded. You paid big bucks for that million-parameter flat-screen in the panel, and it's RECORDING all that stuff. Sure, some people out there dig in and figure out not only how to download the recordings, but also how to turn them into valuable analytical products that can tell us a whole lot about how the aircraft is performning. But I'd guess many of us get it to a screen that pretty much shows most of what we want to see and leave it there.

    Additionally, there could be other training / education products related to getting the most out of a couple of steam gauges, a stopwatch, a gps, and a spreadsheet.
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

    http://www.spoonworld.com

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