David Learmount/DUBAI

THE FLIGHT SAFETY Foundation (FSF) is this week launching the final phase of its attack on the airline industry's worst killer-accident category, controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), insisting that it intends to halve the annual number of CFIT accidents by 1998.

Over the last decade, for commercial-jet operators worldwide, there have been an average of four CFIT crashes a year, causing between 400 and 500 fatalities, according to Allied Signal Aerospace's CFIT expert, Don Bateman, who adds that the number for all turbine-powered aircraft is closer to 90 a year. The installation of an enhanced ground-proximity warning system (EGPWS) is one of the CFIT-package recommendations.

This final stage of the FSF's CFIT programme, which has been under development for six years, involves the distribution to airlines and corporate operators of some 6,000 packages containing video, CD-ROM and printed material which sets out strategies for reducing CFIT risk.

The package, each of which cost about $70 each to produce and have been sponsored by aerospace manufacturers, will mostly be distributed free of charge.

Boeing customers are due to receive it by the end of November. Other manufacturers will customise the material for their aircraft before sending it out to operators within the next few weeks.

FSF chief Stuart Matthews, speaking at the FSF's annual seminar in Dubai on 12-14 November, says that the package will also be distributed to national aviation authorities and to training schools, which may in turn distribute the material as part of training programmes. He is concerned, however, that distribution to airlines whose entire fleets are made up of secondhand aircraft will take up to two years.

Meanwhile the EGPWS, the vital piece of equipment for the campaign to counter CFIT accidents, has now been certificated in the USA on a second aircraft type, with the approval of the AlliedSignal Aerospace EGPWS on American Airlines' Boeing 757 fleet. This approval follows United's clearance to use the system on its Airbus A320s. American plans to retrofit its entire fleet by mid-1999.

The US Federal Aviation Administration granted American a supplemental type certificate (STC) for the installations following a 24-month analysis, simulator evaluation and actual flight testing.

It is believed that the December 1995 CFIT loss of an American 757 near Cali, Colombia, that killed 159 people could have been avoided had an EGPWS been aboard the aircraft.

The EGPWS works by comparing a digital database of the world's terrain with the aircraft's location and altitude, to generate a map-like display of surrounding terrain. The normal GPWS offers a 15s alert, but the new enhanced version provides a 1 min warning.

The US National Transportation Safety Board is urging the FAA to establish the need for EGPWS and, if found effective, to require all transport-category aircraft to be equipped with the improved safety device.


Source: Flight International