Part 135 Under The Microscope In NTSB’s Most Wanted List

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The National Transportation Safety Board released its 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements and, among the broad recommendations of eliminating distractions, reducing fatigue-related accidents and full implementation of positive train control is this: Improve the safety of Part 135 flight operations.

According to the board, “Most of the organizations that conduct Part 135 operations do not have—and are not required to have—a safety management system (SMS), flight data monitoring (FDM) or controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)-avoidance training program. We don’t know how many operators have SMS or FDM programs because the FAA doesn’t require operators to implement and report on them.”

The NTSB is calling on operators to “Install an SMS and FDM, appropriately scaled to the size of your operation, to detect and correct unsafe deviations from company procedures before an accident occurs … Use analysis tools provided by associations and the FAA’s InfoShare to identify safety trends ... Incorporate a CFIT-avoidance training program that addresses current TAWS technologies relevant to your operational environment.” Turning its attention to the FAA, the NTSB is calling for regulators to “Require all Part 135 operators to install flight data recording devices capable of supporting an FDM program and to establish SMS programs,” and to “Work with Part 135 operators to improve voluntarily implemented training programs aimed at reducing the risk of CFIT accidents involving continuing flight under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions, paying special attention to human factors issues.”

In the 2017-2018 Most Wanted list, both the fatigue-related and distraction-based accidents were highlighted—clearly there’s more work to be done—while GA was tasked with reducing accidents resulting from loss of control.