In 2005, Aerospatiale AS350BA, N355NT, was involved in an accident. The accident occurred on 23 September. The approximate time of the accident was 1415 (Hawaiian standard time). The plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean after encountering adverse weather conditions. The crash happened a few hundred feet off the Kailiu Point coast near Haena on Hawaii’s Kauai Island. The accident resulted in the loss of three passengers’ lives. Two passengers sustained minor injuries alongside one commercial pilot (National Transportation Safety Board, 2007). The plane departed Lihue Airport for a 45-minute flight.
Upon departure, the pilot stated that the visibility was good, as well as the weather. The first part of the flight lacked any showers. Showers were encountered as the plane approached the northern part of Kauai Island. When the flight was at Kailiu Point, the pilot saw a McDonnell Douglas 500 helicopter approaching his plane. He dodged the crash by turning left. This turn led the plane into the storm, where there was heavy rain. According to two passengers on the flight, a helicopter flew in the opposite direction. However, it was below them. According to a different passenger, the helicopter was low enough that it looked like a bird (National Transportation Safety Board, 2007). These passengers noted that the pilot did not manoeuvre to evade the other helicopter.
The pilot described his lack of clear vision in the rain. However, the pilot could see the right of the coastline as well as below. Still, he reduced the speed of the aircraft and began a descent to retain the beach’s visual. However, one of the passengers noted that visibility was poor in the rain. The pilot announced that he would turn the plane back. However, when he made the right turn, the speed was reduced to zero, and the plane made a fast descent. The controls were no longer effective, and the pilot had to apply full power to reduce the speed of descent. The plane stabilized shortly in the air, but a left-hand spin took the flight above the water. Immediately, the pilot alerted passengers to prepare for water impact. He attempted to call the control panel as the helicopter continued to spin on the water’s surface before it sunk rapidly once the spinning stopped (National Transportation Safety Board, 2007).
Based on the investigation conducted by the NTSB, the pilot was required to wear glasses for close and intermediate visual. This limitation was found in his medical certificate dated 2004. When he flew on the day of the accident, the plane crashed when the pilot tried to reverse his course and return to base. The lack of enforcement consequences of the FAA-approved action when flying in such weather was found to be a probable cause of the accident. The FAA required pilots to cancel tours that required them to fly below SFAR 71. This minimum flying altitude is recommended due to visibility in storms. Part 135 rules provide a detailed requirement to return to base and avoid flying in such weather conditions. The NTSB concluded that the pilot’s decision to continue flying in the storm contributed to the loss of control and, subsequently, the accident. The three passengers lost their lives due to the lack of flotation equipment on the helicopter, which would have reduced the rate of sinking, thus enabling the passengers to safely evacuate in less stressful environments (National Transportation Safety Board, 2007).
Role of NTSB and SMS
NTSB is responsible for carrying out objective investigations in the case of an accident in the aviation sector. The aviation law guides the investigation. The investigation process should lead to a recommendation of interventions that improve the safety of passengers. Victims, as well as their families, should also receive guidance on the available assistance. Most importantly, the teams conducting an investigation should identify the most probable cause for the accident. This information is important for victims seeking legal assistance for compensation (Pezold, 1976). Thus, NTSB creates an understanding of the accident and details ways that could have prevented its occurrence.
The Safety Management System (SMS) is important in ensuring that aviation is safe. Just like any other business, the aviation industry is set to lose profits and clients if the safety of passengers and cargo derails (Air Safety Support International, 2018). Thus, its adoption ensures that an airline has support from customers due to stability. Failure to adopt SMS is costly when compared to the loss of avoiding proactivity. SMS principles recommend that airlines analyze the present hazards that could lead to accidents (Sudarshan, 2011). This can be done in various ways to suit the unique environments and aircraft. However, airlines must observe the aviation standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In this case, the pilot failed to observe the FAA’s rules, as detailed in part 135. This clearly indicated repeated defiance, as the witness pilots demonstrated. It seemed like the observation of these rules was optional. The pilot who crashed the helicopter also claimed that he had flown through the beach in similar conditions. These aspects demonstrated a lack of adherence to the rules that were created to increase the safety of passengers, staff, and planes.
Air Safety Support International. (2018). Safety Information and Reporting.
National Transportation Safety Board. (2007). Aviation Accident Brief. Washington D.C. Retrieved from https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/AAB0701.pdf
Pezold, R. K. (1976). National Transportation Safety Board – A Critical Review of Information Availability. Journal of Air Law and Commerce, 42(2), 363-384.
Sudarshan, H. V. (2011). Safety Management principles. Retrieved from https://www.icao.int/APAC/Meetings/2011sip/WP.19%20-%20Safety.pdf
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Improving Aviation Safety
For this assignment, conduct research and argue the importance of SMS and the NTSB in accident prevention. Access NTSB’s Aviation Accident Database & Synopses (Links to an external site.) to identify an aircraft accident investigation that has been completed. You may choose any type of aircraft and accident that you wish. Then, write a 2-3 page paper, not including the title page and reference page, that explains the accident, the findings, and considers the role of the NTSB, coupled with effective SMS principles, in preventing a similar accident from occurring.
Your paper must be supported by a minimum of three scholarly references, should be grammatically sound, and free of spelling errors. You must include a properly formatted title page, in-text citations where appropriate, and a reference page formatted according to current APA guidelines. If you have any questions regarding APA requirements, please refer to the current APA manual or ask your instructor.
Please refer to the rubric to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the expectations and grading scale for this activity.
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