At the recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing into the crash of an ATR-42 cargo plane, not all the news was bad. (See Aviation Safety Journal, “Crash Investigation Reveals Inconsistent Oversight”)
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman revealed that feeder operator Empire Airlines and Federal Express have already taken steps recommended by the safety board:
“In addition to both pilots surviving this accident, there is additional good news to report. In April 2009, three months after the accident, FedEx held a safety summit with its feeder operators to examine the circumstances of this accident. The summit resulted, among other things, in modifications to the ATR [-42 and -72 series airplanes] training curriculum taught at FlightSafety International, Inc. Additional simulator training sessions were also added.
“Perhaps one of the best changes is that all of the FedEx feeder operators developed ‘no-go’ weather guidance – similar to the recommendations proposed in [the NTSB’s accident] report – that prohibits takeoff or landing operations in known or reported freezing rain or freezing drizzle. The operators took these actions, even though they are not required by the FAA. We commend Empire Airlines and the other FedEx feeder operators for this voluntary step and hope that other operators will similarly adopt such safety measures.”
The ‘no-go’ criteria involve a prohibition on flight in freezing drizzle, which the FAA currently allows despite the fact that the airplane is not certified to safely conduct such operations.