Kobe Bryant: when flight safety comes in second
By Cel. Quartermaster Carlos Marcelo Cardoso Fernandes
It is too early to pinpoint the causes of the accident that sadly claimed the lives of nine people as a result of the crash of the helicopter carrying NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.
According to information reported by the press, preliminary investigations indicate that, before the crash, the pilot had requested authorization to fly operating by instruments, due to heavy fog. As this helicopter model does not have a black box, investigations into the causes of the accident can take up to a year, as is customary, according to statements by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB ).
Here in Brazil, the entity that investigates the causes of air accidents is CENIPA – Center for Investigation and Prevention of Aeronautical Accidents, an organ linked to COMAER – Air Force Command. According to CENIPA, 67% of air accidents have three types of causes: 33% is the loss of control of the aircraft on the ground or in the air; 24% engine failure 24%; and 10% in-flight collision with other aircraft or obstacles.
The work of these investigative bodies usually takes at least one year because they collect all the debris found on the aircraft and evaluate the traces to try to reconstruct what actually happened, and, at the end of the work, issue a conclusive report of the causes of the accident.
In this context, it must be considered that, in general, the causes of an accident may be due to unpredictable and irresistible events or events that could have been avoided. Unpredictable and irresistible events occur when all good practices, licensing, registration with the competent authorities and flight safety rules have been strictly followed, especially the preventive and corrective maintenance of the aircraft.
Events that can be avoided are due to the fault of those involved, which may be the pilot, the traffic control, the aircraft owner (who did not perform maintenance according to the manufacturer’s standards), the company responsible for maintenance (if the maintenance book is not available) up-to-date) or the aircraft manufacturer (if the defect has been found in several accidents).
Guilt, in turn, can occur through negligence, recklessness or malpractice. Negligence occurs due to the omission of an act that should have been performed in a certain time period and was not. For example, perform preventive and corrective maintenance as determined by the manufacturer. Imprudence stems from an action or inaction in the practice of an act contrary to the security rules or determination of flight control.
Malpractice, on the other hand, is an error of assessment of the authority on board, in this case, the pilot who, for example, assesses that a certain weather condition will not be a risk conditioning factor to the flight, when it is. In Brazil, we have the penal type of eventual fraud, in which the agent takes the risk. He knows or should know that he is taking a risk, but he minimizes or does not care about the consequences.
With the advent of UAVs – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or simply drones, as they are popularly called, air traffic tends to increase exponentially around the world, being that it will be common in a few years for manned and unmanned aircraft to share the same airspace.
Thus, the issue of flight safety must be seen as a priority, aiming to preserve the lives of those who are flying and those on the ground. For this to happen, there must be awareness of all those involved: manufacturers, maintenance companies, aircraft owners (yes, drones are considered aircraft!), Operators and in the case of legal entities that use the drones for commercial purposes, managers and entity administrators.
It is worth highlighting the important role of the Public Power in the sense of disseminating and supervising the service in question, dialoguing with society in order to raise the level of citizenship of citizens in general, making them aware of their obligations and rights. Here in Brazil, three federal agencies regulate the theme: Anatel – National Telecommunications Agency, Decea – Air Traffic and Control Department and ANAC – National Aviation Agency. Every care is needed to preserve lives like Kobe’s, sadly interrupted by an aerial tragedy.
Cel. Quartermaster Carlos Marcelo Cardoso Fernandes is Aviation Director at Grupo Avanzi and Reservist officer at the Ministry of Aeronautics, former flight controller and co-author of the book “Operation of Drones: responsibilities, duties and precautions of individual and business operators”.