FAA orders B787 operators to reboot the aircraft within every 51 days.

Boeing 787s must be turned off and on every 51 days to prevent ‘misleading data’ being shown to pilots
US air safety personnel call it ‘potentially catastrophic’ if the reboot directive not implemented

The FAA has ordered Boeing 787 operators to switch their aircraft off and on every 51 days to prevent what it called “several potentially catastrophic failure scenarios” – including the crashing of onboard network switches.

The airworthiness directive, due to be enforced from later this month, orders airlines to power-cycle their B787s before the aircraft reaches the specified days of continuous power-on operation.

The power cycling is needed to prevent stale data from populating the aircraft’s systems, a problem that has occurred on different 787 systems in the past.

According to the directive itself, if the aircraft is powered on for more than 51 days this can lead to “display of misleading data” to the pilots, with that data including airspeed, attitude, altitude and engine operating indications. On top of all that, the stall warning horn and overspeed horn also stop working.

This alarming-sounding situation comes about because, for reasons the directive did not go into, the 787’s common core system (CCS) – a Wind River VxWorks real-time OS product, at heart – stops filtering out stale data from key flight control displays. That stale data-monitoring function going down in turn “could lead to undetected or unannunciated loss of common data network (CDN) message age validation, combined with a CDN switch failure”.

Solving the problem is simple: power the aircraft down completely before reaching 51 days. It is usual for commercial airliners to spend weeks or more continuously powered on as crews change at airports, or ground power is plugged in overnight while cleaners and maintainers do their thing.

The CDN is a Boeing avionics term for the 787’s internal Ethernet-based network. It is built to a slightly more stringent aviation-specific standard than common-or-garden Ethernet, that standard being called ARINC 664. 
A previous software bug forced airlines to power down their 787s every 248 days for fear that electrical generators could shut down in flight.

Airbus suffers from similar issues with its A350, with a relatively recent but since-patched bug forcing power cycles every 149 hours.

A 787 stale data problem in years gone by saw superseded backup flight plans persisting in standby navigation computers, and activating occasionally. Activation caused the autopilot to wrongly decide it was halfway through flying a previous journey – and manoeuvre to regain the “correct” flight path. Another symptom was for the flight management system to simply go blank and freeze, triggered by selection of a standard arrival path (STAR) with exactly 14 waypoints – such as the BIMPA 4U approach to Poland’s rather busy Warsaw Airport. The Polish air safety regulator published this mildly alarming finding in 2016 [2-page PDF, in Polish].

This was fixed through a software update, as the US Federal Aviation Administration reiterated last year. In addition, Warsaw’s BIMPA 4U approach has since been superseded.


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Safety alert over biocides – engine thrust issues

European and US safety regulators are cautioning operators over the potential effects of misapplying biocides to aircraft fuel, including multi-engine loss of thrust control.

The manufacturer of one type of biocide, however, has ordered a suspension to using the product after an incident which appeared not to have resulted specifically from misapplication.

Biocides are used to counter the spread of waterborne micro-organisms which, if water accumulates in fuel tanks, feed off hydrocarbons in the fuel.

While the European Union Aviation Safety Agency says that “good housekeeping” to prevent water accumulation is the primary defence, it acknowledges that biocides are necessary if contamination is detected and states that personnel must follow correct procedures regarding method and dosage.

Biocides are added to fuel to prevent waterborne organism contamination

EASA says that “several” recent events have been recorded involving “adverse engine effects”, both in flight and on the ground, after biocide treatment.

While two of these resulted from overdose of the fuel system, one incident – involving the use of DuPont’s Kathon FP 1.5 biocide – has revealed “no evidence” of misapplication.

DuPont has instructed operators and distributors to cease using the product immediately for aviation fuel treatment, says EASA, while investigators probe a possible “higher susceptibility” of some engine fuel-control systems to the biocide.

The US FAA states that General Electric is following up the DuPont instruction by taking measures to remove Kathon FP 1.5 from its list of approved fuel additives across all its engines, pending further testing.

Neither EASA nor the FAA has yet resorted to issuing a specific airworthiness directive, limiting their responses to safety bulletins, but the FAA says that “some individual [directive] action” might be necessary on certain aircraft-engine combinations.

The FAA notes that Kathon FP 1.5 is one of the two most common biocides in operation, the other being Biobor JF.

It says that concentrations of these additives in uplifted fuel should be respectively limited to 0.135ml and 0.269ml per litre.

Both EASA and the FAA are recommending that relevant parties should ensure they have adequate procedures in place for biocide treatment and, after Kathon FP 1.5 discontinuance, measures are taken to prevent biological risks – including non-use of contaminated fuel.


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CRM Trainers & Covid-19

On-line Refresher Training

We are currently in extreme circumstances, which are likely to continue for an extended period. 

Airlines are suffering major problems, not the least of which will be maintaining the validity of their various instructors in order to be in a position to ramp up training once the crisis has passed. 

At ITS Academy, in order to maintain validity for CRM Trainers, we can deliver EASA compliant, on-line CRM Trainer Refresher courses (CRMT-R), for a limited period only, to support our clients at this time.

We realise this might seem an unusual suggestion, and of course we recognise that classroom training is the best possible solution; however, to put this into context: 

Whilst there may be an implicit expectation for classroom CRMT-R training within AMC3 ORO.FC.115, there is no specific requirement for it.

The only specific requirement for a CRMT-R in AMC3 ORO.FC.115 is that ‘the refresher training of flight crew CRM trainers should include new methodologies, procedures and lessons learned.’ These are items that can be readily discussed in a conference video call.

CRMT-R courses involve working with experienced CRM Trainers who are required to refresh and update their knowledge and skills on a tri-annual basis. They therefore already have a fundamental understanding and knowledge of the subject matter, and the means/skills of delivering training in the classroom.

You may be interested to hear that the Regulator for one of our European clients has approved on-line recurrent CRM Crew Training for a limited period. We have very successfully delivered the first courses, using sophisticated software which incorporates:

  • The inclusion of multiple participants from either a single venue, or from multiple international venues.
  • Our instructor can, for example:
    • Deliver a standard PowerPoint presentation to all participants
    • Run videos
    • Run case studies, having previously emailed content and details to all participants
    • Run exercises
    • Include a whiteboard facility whereby the instructor can make contemporaneous notes available to all participants, or on which any one participant can make notes available for the instructor and other participants
    • Send questions or text to any one individual without them being available to others
    • Interact with a single participant, groups, or the entire ‘class’

For an on-line CRMT-R course we will ask all participants to submit, in advance of the course, any/all of the following (all of which for a normal ground-based CRMT-R we ask participants to bring to the classroom):

  • Any issues, topics or subjects on which they may feel additional support, assistance, or further information would be beneficial. 
  • Any new ideas, exercises, tasks or supporting resources they feel the other participants might benefit from.
  • For our clients when, for any reason, we are unable to make a research visit before preparing courseware for any type of CRM course, we already use an on-line platform to submit questionnaires to the company, and to the participants, in order that we can gain the best possible information about their operation. These questionnaires will be adapted and used for an on-line CRMT-R.

At ITS Academy, we remain committed to supporting our clients in any way possible.

If you would like to receive additional information about our online CRM Trainer refresher courses, or if you would like to make a reservation for yourself or your company, please contact us.

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How can Human Factors affect the profitability of your company?

Human factors will have a significant impact on the efficiency, customer retention, and profitability of your business.

For almost 30 years ITS Academy has been working with some of the world’s largest airlines (and some of the smallest!). In fact, we have around 400 clients in more than 70 countries. We have also worked within the rail and medical environments.

The single focus over this period has been to minimise incidents and accidents in clients’ operations by improving safety through reducing human error. Of course, an added bonus is that by reducing error, efficiency and profitability can be improved.

So how can this be achieved?

Well, aviation is a high-risk business and there are many elements within an operation which can go wrong, with potentially devastating consequences. Having said that, in fact most airlines are risk-averse and there are, for example, very many systems, procedures, training courses, checklists and mandatory requirements which are all designed to minimise risk.

However, humans are ultimately responsible for the manufacture, maintenance and operation of aircraft, and for the overall management of the operation; and the one thing we know about humans is that unfortunately we can, and we will, make mistakes.

So, working from the premise that we want to minimise aviation incidents or accidents, it is clear that we need to address the possibility of human error. This leads us to Human Factors, and the concept of Threat and Error Management (TEM).

Then what is a threat?  

A threat is anything from within the operation, or external to it, which can have a negative impact upon the operation. Threats may be known/anticipated or unknown/unexpected. Threats therefore are generally not ‘clear and present’ but are future-based.

The two key aspects to managing threats are: 

  1. the need to understand, and to prepare, for threats which can be anticipated in the normal run of the operation.
  2. the ability to project ahead and to consider the possibility of unexpected threats which may impact the operation.

What about error management?

Given that error is ubiquitous, we can expect them to occur at any time, and at any phase, of the operation.

The two key aspects of managing error are:

  1. recognising the incipient onset of an error and preventing it from occurring or from further developing.
  2. at the point at which the error has actually occurred, either correcting it or mitigating the consequences of the error.

Human Factors

Having briefly outlined TEM we should now consider the implementation of the concept, and this is where the Human Factor comes into play. We have a number of ‘tools’ at our disposal and, within aviation, mandatory annual training (known as crew resource management) is required regarding these ‘tools’. Typically, the training will include subjects such as:

Communication                    Decision Making                   Teamwork

Leadership                             Stress                                      Fatigue

Information Processing       Human Error                         Personality

Attitudes & Behaviours        Company Culture                 Situation Awareness

Standard Procedures            Assertiveness                       Briefing

Training is interactive, discussion-based, company-specific, and case-based. To achieve this, we spend some time with a client to understand their needs, their issues and their objectives. The aim is for personnel, through self-assessment and critique, to modify their behaviour where beneficial, and to reinforce their existing desirable behaviours.

The understanding, and application, of these ‘tools’ can have a significant impact upon the safety and/or profitability of an airline.

But you may not be an airline, so what is the relevance for your company?

Well, you may be a high-risk business, and so you will be concerned about causing damage or injury to your clients’, or to your own property or personnel. In which case, you will be considering similar risks to an airline; although of course such risks will be of a different nature and context. 

If your business is not of a type which creates such risks, then your primary concerns will be for efficiency and profitability.

In either case the Human Factor will have a direct impact upon your company, its safety where relevant, and its efficiency and profitability.

Mistakes can be very costly; they can reduce profitability and lead to the loss of customers.

So, your primary concerns, for example, should be to:

  1. Minimise expensive mistakes
  2. Ensure first class communication and decision making
  3. Create high performance teams
  4. Ensure your different teams interact effectively. Cross-functional teamworking
  5. Oversee compliance with your standard rules and procedures
  6. Reinforce an effective company culture

In other words, you need to manage all the Human Factors mentioned above!

There are a number of training interventions which will fulfil this requirement or, if time is at a premium, there are a number of short workshops which can be utilised.

To discuss your specific requirements, with no obligation, please enquire here.

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Etihad A380 Pilots Criticised For Crosswind Landing

There have been many crosswind landings as a result of the recent strong winds in the UK. One of the most difficult could have been the Etihad A380 landing at Heathrow Airport.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect was the angle at which the plane touches down, and the extent to which it makes adjustments after landing.

Some may have praised the pilots for this landing, but it seems Etihad commented internally that ‘this is not what we want to see’

Here is the video link: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=https%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2F2_OSUjcxDgw

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CRM course design and training for Flight Calibration Services

In October 2019 ITS was asked by Flight Calibration Services Limited (Flight-Cal), based at Shoreham in the UK, to provide support for CRM training. Flight-Cal specialise in flight inspections at airports worldwide.

Whenever possible, with any new client, ITS like to undertake a full Training Needs Analysis (TNA) before preparing, and commencing, any training programme. ITS consultants spent three days with Flight-Cal working with all departments, management and flight crew, building a clear understanding of the operation.

When the TNA was completed, the next phase was to design a 2-day initial CRM course that precisely matched the needs and particular issues for the Flight-Cal operation. Once the course was signed-off a training programme was established.

ITS delivered two initial CRM courses at the end of 2019, with more to follow on early in 2020.

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Train the Trainer for Tui Fly

At the beginning of October 2019, ITS returned to Amsterdam to run a train the trainer course for Tui Fly. The course was 3-day duration and was attended by six crew members who were preparing to become ground instructors

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Thailand – Instructor Refresher Training

In early September 2019, ITS returned to Songkhla, Thailand to deliver a series of recurrent training courses to SFS Aviation instructors. SFS is a rotary wing operation serving mainly the offshore oil industry.

Having delivered initial instructor training courses in 2016, ITS now ran the following recurrent courses:

CRM Trainer Refresher

CRM Trainer Examiner Refresher

Assessment Skills for NOTECHS Refresher

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Human Performance & Limitations Instructor training for Tui Fly

During the week of August 5h 2019 ITS ran an HPL Instructor course in Amsterdam for Tui Fly instructors. The course follows the EASA ATPL syllabus and delivers the skills required for instructors to deliver HPL training to pilots and flight attendants. In particular, it enables flight attendant CRM trainers to meet the EASA requirement that they have attended such a course.

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Accident: Caspian MD83 at Mahshahr on Jan 27th 2020, overran runway on landing

 A Caspian Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-83, registration EP-CPZ performing flight IV-6936 from Tehran Mehrabad to Mahshahr (Iran) with 144 people on board, landed on Mahshar’s runway 13 (landing distance available 2695 meters/8840 feet) at about 07:50L (04:20Z) but overran the end of the runway, broke through the airport perimeter fence and came to a stop on the Mahshahr-Sarbandar Expressway (96) about 170 meters past the end of the runway with all gear collapsed.

The aircraft was evacuated while emergency services began to respond. There were no injuries, the aircraft received substantial damage.

Aviation Herald
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