Query the NTSB aviation accident and incident data system for a weather-related accident that occurred within the past two-years
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Choose one accident to research. It must be IN THE PAST TWO YEARS . In 5-7 pages in APA format, examine the accident’s causal factors. Explain the importance of completely gathering and accurately interpreting weather information for aviation operations. Identify the particular weather hazard(s) that impacted the accident you chose and include any applicable weather phenomena unique to the region in which the accident occurred. Analyze lessons that can be learned from the accident regarding weather information, aeronautical decision-making and hazardous attitudes.
How can the lessons learned be applied to your own work, life, and Christian walk?
Weather-Related Flight Accidents
Air transport is undoubtedly the fastest mode of transportation in the contemporary world. Indeed, air transport presents travellers with several benefits, increased comfort levels, and high speed being the most significant. However, despite the apparent benefits, air travel comes with its fair share of challenges. In particular, poor weather conditions can occasion massive delays or postponement of flights hence inconveniencing people in significant ways. The challenges posed by poor weather conditions to the aviation sector are inevitable as nature takes its cause. Flying in poor climatic conditions thus requires pilots and other flight operators to have an in-depth knowledge of the prevailing weather conditions in order to predict the specific challenges to anticipate and enact the appropriate measures in advance. Failure to conduct proper weather risk analysis can result in costly accidents hence endangering passengers and flight crew. The January 29, 2019 helicopter air ambulance accident in Zaleski, Ohio, demonstrates how inadequate weather analysis can cause an accident.
Bell 407 Helicopter Air Ambulance Accident
According to the federal aviation administration’s (FAA) accident and incident data system, the bell 407 helicopter air ambulance (HAA) accident occurred on January 29, 2019. The aircraft registered as N1981SF and recorded as an HAA crashed by colliding with a forested terrain in northeast Zaleski, Ohio (NTSB, 2020). Onboard the helicopter was the commercial pilot and two passengers, a flight nurse, and a paramedic. None of the three survived the crash. When the accident occurred, the pilot and her team were headed to the Holzer Meigs emergency department in Pomeroy to pick a patient (NTSB, 2020). According to the NTSB, the night visual meteorological report recorded the night before the accident indicated snow showers and other Instruments of meteorological conditions (IMC) along the flight path (NTSB, 2020). In general, the NTSB report shows that the Bell 407 Helicopter Air Ambulance flew in unfavourable weather conditions.
Safety Issues That Led to The Accident
Lack of Adequate Flight Risk Assessment
The failure to conduct a proper flight risk assessment and failure to adopt the appropriate risk management procedures were some of the costly mistakes that led to the accident. According to the NTSB, the pre-flight risk assessment procedure deployed in the flight did not indicate background information such as refusal by other pilots to fly due to the extreme weather conditions. For example, the procedure did not identify the weather forecasts made before the flight or the need to conduct a risk assessment before and during the flight (NTSB, 2020). This meant that the pilot operated the flight without advance knowledge of the involved risk. Besides, failure to use the right risk assessment procedure led to a distortion of information hence predisposing the flight operators to misjudgement. For example, while the risk assessment worksheet score indicated that flight risk as two levels higher than the ideal score, this information was not relayed to the flight operators (NTSB, 2020). Consequently, the pilot flew oblivious of the danger and risk involved. In general, failure to conduct adequate risk assessment and misjudgement regarding the associated risks contributed significantly to the accident.
Lack of A Comprehensive Safety Management System
Investigations by the NTSB revealed significant safety management failures. In particular, the regulator noted that the parent company operating the Bell 407 Helicopter Air Ambulance Accident lacked a positive culture concerning survival flight management. For example, despite the legal requirements, the company did not maintain accurate duty records of survival flights, hence making it challenging to provide flight operators with the right information in case a need for an emergency flight presented (NTSB, 2020). NTSB noted that failure to record duty times was a gross violation of the FAA’s regulations and procedures (NTSB, 2020). In sum, the lack of an appropriate safety management system created room for operators to deviate from the required procedures, denying the pilot and her crew the opportunity to acclimate with the risks involved in flying under bad weather.
Lack of A Flight Date Monitoring (FDM) Program.
The lack of an FDM program in the Bell 407 Helicopter Air Ambulance was one of the significant causal factors. Ordinarily, the law obligates HAA operators to ensure all survival flight aircraft are fitted with FDM equipment. Although the Bell 407 Helicopter had such a kit, the lack of the necessary supporting program undermined its efficacy (NTSB, 2020). The lack of such a program meant that the pilot would neither conduct a practical flight evaluation nor identify other instruments of metrological conditions (IMCs) that were likely to pose challenges to the flight (NTSB, 2020). In conclusion, the lack of an FDM program in the Bell 407 Helicopter made it challenging to conduct sufficient flight evaluation, hence denying the opportunity to identify weather and climatic elements that would pose a danger to the flight.
Lessons from The Accident
The Importance of Gathering and Accurately Interpreting Weather Information
The Bell 407 Helicopter Air Ambulance Accident provides valuable insight, especially on the importance of collecting and interpreting weather information during aviation operations. In particular, the analysis highlights the consequences of failing to abide by the established weather safety protocol. Also, the incident brings to the fore, the benefits of gathering and interpreting weather information to make appropriate choices regarding flight planning and operation. Benefits in this context include ensuring airline safety, flight planning, and enhancing airport management.
Enhancing Weather Services and Flight Safety. Conducting weather analysis is an essential process in efforts to ensure airline safety. Generally, weather hazards such as fog, thunderstorms, mountain wave turbulence, poor visibility, and air turbulence cause significant challenges to the aviation sector (Anaman, Quaye, & Owusu-Brown, 2017; Williams, 2014). In worse circumstances, such hazards can result in significant accidents (Sauer et al., 2016). Accordingly, gathering information on such elements helps stakeholders in the aviation sector make critical safety decisions that ensure the safety of the airlines and passengers and crew (Anaman, Quaye, & Owusu-Brown, 2017). In general, collecting weather information enables flight operators to identify weather hazards and formulate the appropriate interventions for enhancing flight safety.
Flight Planning. Obtaining the right weather information is essential for flight planning. Ordinarily, weather information availability determines such crucial aspects as the flight route, number of crew, altitude, and aircraft speed (Anaman, Quaye, & Owusu-Brown, 2017). The right weather information can also help make fuel usage projections, therefore enabling flight operators to estimate the amount of fuel that an aircraft should carry. The availability of such information is essential in reducing overflight costs, fuel costs, and time-based costs (Anaman, Quaye, & Owusu-Brown, 2017). On the whole, obtaining the right weather information plays an essential role in flight planning, ultimately enabling flight operators to save significant resources.
Airport Management. Accurate weather information is essential for effective airport and airspace management. In particular, credible weather information enables air traffic controllers and airport managers to plan on airplanes’ capacity to allow within the airspace (Anaman, Quaye, & Owusu-Brown, 2017). Usually, unfavourable weather conditions restrict flight landing, hence resulting in many on-air flights within the sky. Accordingly, with accurate data, airport managers and air traffic controllers can decide on the number of flights to take off or land in a particular airport, hence preventing congestion and related challenges (Anaman, Quaye, & Owusu-Brown, 2017). In conclusion, accurate weather information plays an instrumental role in facilitating efficient airport and airspace planning.
Application of The Lessons in Life.
The lessons gained from the Bell 407 Helicopter Air Ambulance Accident have high relevance to my life. In particular, the information on the circumstances that led to the accident, particularly the failure to conduct a weather risk assessment, raises the importance of evaluating the consequences of every decision. For example, I am now aware that the inability to assess my actions and decisions can result in costly mistakes that can undermine my safety and reputation. The accident also provides valuable lessons to my Christian life. In particular, it raises the importance of ensuring due diligence in all my undertakings as any slight mistakes can either result in physical harm or bad reputation.
Generally, the aviation industry faces significant weather challenges that can undermine operations and safety if not addressed adequately. To ensure smooth operations, flight operators need to conduct sufficient weather risk analysis to identify the possible risks and enact the right intervention measures. The Bell 407 Helicopter Air Ambulance Accident demonstrates the negative consequences of insufficient weather analysis and failure to deploy the appropriate safety measures in flight planning and operations. The incident provides critical lessons, especially on the need to gather and accurately interpret weather information in the aviation sector.
Anaman, K. A., Quaye, R., & Owusu-Brown, B. (2017). Benefits of Aviation Weather Services: A Review of International Literature. Research in World Economy, 8(1), 45-58.
Henry, M. (2017). Assembling the Weather: Expertise, Authority and the Negotiation of trans-Tasman Aviation Forecasts. History of Meteorology, 8, 179-201.
National Transport and Safety Board (NTSB), (2020). Helicopter Air Ambulance Collision with Terrain, Survival Flight Inc., Bell 407 Helicopter, N191SFnear Zaleski, Ohio January 29, 2019 NTSB/AAR-20/01, Retrieved from www.ntsb.gov/news/events/Documents/2020-CEN19FA072-BMG-abstract.pdf
Sauer, M., Steiner, M., Sharman, R. D., Pinto, J. O., & Adriaansen, D. R. (2016). Flight Planning and Execution with Multiple Weather Hazards. Journal of Air Traffic Control.
Williams, J. K. (2014). Using random forests to diagnose aviation turbulence. Machine learning, 95(1), 51-70.