The Key to Eliminating CFIT/ALAR Risks 1999-01-5586
What is the challenge? A series of products to eliminate both controlled flight into terrain and approach and landing accidents has been developed. Several different working groups, who were focused on elimination of the threat, developed these products. Now the challenge is how to get the information into the hands of all aviators and aviation organizations worldwide. Your first impulse might be to just send everyone a copy and be done with it. That although expensive sounds relatively simple. That is the challenge that faces the Flight Safety Foundation today and one that I will address in this paper. I will review the effort made to date, the problems encountered and where we are currently headed. CFIT and ALAR are global problems and we will need a lot of assistance if we are to eliminate these maladies.
How significant is the problem? By reviewing Figure 2, one can easily determine where the effort needed to be focused. Aviation resources are limited and we need to focus our efforts where we receive the greatest return on investment. In 1992, the aviation safety data indicated that 80% of all the deaths in transport category aircraft were occurring in controlled flight into terrain and approach and landing accidents. The top bar represented controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and the second bar represented approach and landing accidents (ALA). The acronym for approach and landing accident reduction (ALAR) has become fairly well recognized and is used interchangeably with ALA in discussions of this type of accident.
The CFIT/ALAR initiative began in early 1993 with the chartering of the effort by the Flight Safety Foundation and the formation of the steering committee. (See Figure 3) This committee began by focusing on CFIT. The first task was to develop the overall structure for the CFIT effort. The premise was that one would need a set of solutions that were easily implemented, inexpensive and based on currently available technology to defeat CFIT and ALAR. If it were possible to determine better ways of both flying the aircraft and of using equipment available on today’s fleet of aircraft, we would have a set of solutions applicable to the both the CFIT and ALAR problems. In addition to looking at the aircrews and their equipment, the steering committee felt it would be necessary to study air traffic control and the infrastructure to see if we could improve current methods in the support structure. By eliminating additional expense and the need to await development, testing, and implementation of new technology, our hope was to field a set of interventions that could be implemented by any airline or operator.
We organized so that we could study all the relevant facets of aviation and support our recommendations with solid data. (See Figure 4) We wanted to have a solid data library to review as we studied the various aspects of the problem and also to be able to base our decisions and recommendations on facts. It was recognized that arguments based on facts are far more successful in the boardrooms than ones based on emotion.
The Flight Safety Foundation believed that we could gather a list of best practices that had been developed by different airlines and operators around the globe and coalesced them into a single document. It was felt that these best could be compiled, refined into a workable listing and distributed to assist all aircraft operators. We also felt that there was equipment on the airplane today that could be either better utilized or utilized in a different manner to improve the crews’ situational awareness and thereby reduce both CFIT and ALAR. As with any system, these best practices would have be capable of being utilized within all infrastructures in order to be of value.
We organized, populated and chartered working groups in the following four disciplines: operations and training; aircraft equipment; data acquisition and analysis; and ATC training, procedures and ground equipment. The work of the various teams took almost 5 years when one considers both the CFIT and the ALAR efforts.
Realizing the magnitude of simultaneously tackling both CFIT and ALAR, the steering committee made the decision to focus on CFIT first. Following the CFIT effort, we could use what had learned from those CFIT experiences and apply it to the ALAR program. (See Figure 5) During the CFIT phase of the project, there were a number of products developed. (See Figure 6) The first product was a worldwide safety alert, which highlighted the CFIT threat and suggested procedures for operator who had not developed procedure for crews encountering a GPWS alert. Also developed was a CFIT checklist that has been translated into all six ICAO languages. An awareness video was produced which outlined the CFIT threat to all aviation audiences. The final product was an education and training aid that was produced under the guidance of the operations and training working group with funding provided by Boeing. Later Airbus adapted the training aid to address the unique features of their fly-by- wire aircraft.
The implementation effort was recognized early on as the single most difficult part of the entire program. (See Figure 7) Late in 1996 a CFIT implementation team was chartered. The concept at that time was to have an implementation team populated with a broad spectrum of members who had name recognition and could effectively open the office doors of the most influential leaders in aviation. By opening the doors this team could take the CFIT products to those decision-makers. This process ran into difficulties and the overall success of the implementation process was not what was expected.