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AOPA And ALEA Take Action On NTSB Safety Recommendations
By Shane Nolan

February 3, 2013 - National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman praised two organizations for their response to NTSB safety recommendations.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association took action that exceeded the NTSBs recommendations following the investigation into the August 9, 2010 airplane accident in Alaska that killed former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

The NTSB recommended that AOPA educate pilots about the benefits of notifying passengers about the location and operation of survival and emergency communication equipment aboard the airplane.


In response, AOPA produced a video to educate pilots about briefing passengers on emergency equipment such as basic VHF radio operation, the cockpit emergency locator transmitter switch and the location of emergency gear. The video also included a sample passenger safety briefing. AOPA also developed a printable checklist for use in the aircraft.  

"This is a perfect example of an organization embracing not only the letter, but the spirit of our recommendation," said Hersman, chairman of the NTSB. "This will result in a higher level of safety for general aviation passengers, who often are friends and family."

Hersman also praised the action of the Airborne Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission in implementing multiple NTSB recommendations as a result of its investigation into the June 9, 2009 crash of a helicopter operated by the New Mexico State Police.

The NTSB recommended rest standards to prevent pilot fatigue, training in encountering instrument meteorological conditions and encouraged the installation of flight-tracking equipment and 406-megahertz emergency locator transmitters on their aircraft.



"The fact that the Airborne Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission implemented all of the NTSB's recommendations in just six months is to be highly commended," Hersman said. On June 9, 2009, about 2135 mountain daylight time, an Agusta S.p.A. A-109E helicopter, N606SP, crashed following visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The commercial pilot and one passenger were killed, a highway patrol officer who was acting as a spotter during the accident flight was seriously injured.  

The entire aircraft was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety and operated by the New Mexico State Police (NMSP) on a public search and rescue. The helicopter departed its home base at Santa Fe Municipal Airport, Santa Fe, New Mexico, in visual meteorological conditions, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed when the helicopter departed the remote landing site about 2132.  

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of this accident to be: - The pilot's decision to take off from a remote, mountainous landing site in dark (moonless) night, windy, instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident were an organizational culture that prioritized mission execution over aviation safety and the pilot's fatigue, self-imposed pressure to conduct the flight, and situational stress. Also contributing to the accident were deficiencies in the NMSP aviation section's safety-related policies, including lack of a requirement for a risk assessment at any point during the mission; inadequate pilot staffing; lack of an effective fatigue management program for pilots; and inadequate procedures and equipment to ensure effective communication between airborne and ground personnel during search and rescue missions.

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