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March 27, 2015  -  No. 060

In This Issue
Police make potentially 'significant' discovery at co-pilot Lubitz's home
Investigators Pursue Motive in Germanwings Crash
Germanwings pilot ordered jet down to 100 feet, trackers say
Pilot Screening Process Comes Under Scrutiny After Germanwings Plane Crash
Airlines Adopt Two-in-the-Cockpit Rule After Germanwings Crash
Australia reviews aviation safety rules
FAA issues blanket approval for commercial drone use below 200 feet
Government halts enrollment of veterans in helicopter flight program
How poison dart frogs could de-ice airplane wings
AAIB Centenary Conference...'100 Years of Accident Investigation - What's Next?'
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Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC - Services
Police make potentially 'significant' discovery at co-pilot Lubitz's home

German police investigating the apparent role of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz in the crash of Germanwings flight 4U9525 in the French Alps said they made a potentially "significant" discovery while searching his home near Dusseldorf, reports said.

The development comes amid reports in the German media that Lubitz, 27, may have suffered from depression.

"We have found something which will now be taken for tests. We cannot say what it is at the moment but it may be very significant clue to what has happened," Markus Niesczery, a spokesman for Dusseldorf Police, told the Daily Mail late Thursday.

It previously emerged from the French prosecutor's office that information on the plane's voice recorder indicated that Lubitz deliberately locked the pilot out of the cockpit and then initiated a descent that led to the deaths of all 150 people on board the plane bound from Barcelona to Dusseldorf on Tuesday.

Investigators searched Lubitz's apartment in Dusseldorf and the home of his parents in Montabaur, about 40 miles from Bonn. They were seen removing boxes and large blue bags from both residences. The discovery was not a suicide note, police said. No other information was provided on what this discovery may be.

However, unconfirmed reports circulating in the German media suggested that Lubitz, by all official accounts a skilled pilot with a distinguished training record, and who was not being monitored by security services, may have been suffering from depression.

Bild reported that on several occasions his training at Lufthansa's flight school in Phoenix, Arizona, was interrupted for mental health reasons after he had a "serious depressive episode." Lufthansa is Germanwings' parent company.

The German tabloid reported that Lubitz may even have undergone treatment after being what it called "demoted" several times during his training in the United States. The newspaper referred to him as a mass murderer.

It said the "episode" was noted on his medical records held by the aviation authorities. Der Spiegel also separately reported the findings that have not been confirmed. Germany's Federal Aviation Office would not confirm the report.

Thomas Winkelmann, the low-cost carrier's chief executive, released a statement on Friday saying that the airline has begun setting up a family assistance center in Marseille, France, and that briefings with family members will start there on Saturday.

"The suffering and pain this catastrophe has caused is immeasurable," he said in the statement. "No words can express it and no amount of consolation is sufficient but we want to be there for visiting family members and friends if our support is desired."


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Investigators Pursue Motive in Germanwings Crash

PARIS - Investigators were scouring for clues on Friday to help solve the mystery of why Andreas Lubitz, a 27-year-old German co-pilot, apparently slammed Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountainside in the French Alps on purpose, killing all 150 on board. Prosecutors are examining several theories, including that the crash was a suicide or a mass murder.

On Thursday, the French prosecutor leading the investigation into the crash, citing the voice recordings on one of the plane's so-called black boxes, said the evidence gleaned so far appeared to suggest that Mr. Lubitz, an unassuming former flight attendant with a passion for flying, had locked the plane's pilot out of the cockpit and deliberately set the plane on its lethal descent.

The crash claimed victims from more than a dozen countries, including Germany, Spain and the United States.

Brice Robin, the chief Marseille prosecutor, said on Thursday the co-pilot of the Germanwings Airbus A320 deliberately crashed the plane that killed himself and 149 others aboard in the French Alps. Video by Associated Press on Publish Date March 26, 2015. Photo by Franck Pennant/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images.

Investigators in the German city of Düsseldorf were sifting through the contents of two large moving boxes and two plastic bags of possible evidence removed from Mr. Lubitz's apartment late Thursday, said Markus Niesczery, a police spokesman. He denied reports that significant clues had already been found, saying that investigators were still evaluating the items.

"The items need to be evaluated to determine whether they can give any indication of a possible motive," Mr. Niesczery said.

Prosecutors in Düsseldorf planned to hold a news conference around 12 p.m. to provide an update on their investigation.

Carsten Spohr, the chief executive of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, said on Thursday that Mr. Lubitz had passed the company's health checks with "flying colors."

"He was 100 percent flightworthy without any limitations," Mr. Spohr said.

But he said there had been an instance six years ago when Mr. Lubitz took a break from his training for several months. He said that if the reason was medical, German rules on privacy prevented the sharing of such information. Mr. Spohr said the revelation of Mr. Lubitz's actions had left him stunned.

Some international airlines responded to the crash by introducing new rules requiring that two crew members always be present in the cockpit, after the French prosecutor revealed that Mr. Lubitz had locked the plane's pilot out of the cockpit before starting the deadly descent. The airlines that said they were instituting a two-person rule in the cockpit included Air Canada, easyJet and Norwegian Air Shuttle.

All German airlines will introduce that requirement, the German aviation association said on Friday.

Thomas Winkelmann, the head of Germanwings, however, expressed doubt that such a rule would have prevented Tuesday's crash.

"I ask myself, when a person is so bent on committing a criminal act, whether that is preventable if for example a stewardess or steward is in the cockpit," Mr. Winkelmann told the German public broadcaster ZDF on Thursday.

Investigators are still trying to understand why the pilot left the cockpit, although most airlines allow it during noncritical phases of flight. There are no regulations requiring that a second crew member be present in the cockpit when one pilot leaves, usually for physiological reasons. The French prosecutor, Brice Robin, said it was reasonable to assume the pilot left the cockpit to use the toilet.

Members of a flight crew would typically use a fail-safe code to open the door if someone in the cockpit could not or would not let them in. The pilot would have known the code, Mr. Spohr said. However, the co-pilot could have activated a switch that prevents the door from opening for five minutes, or he could have found some other way to block the door, Mr. Spohr said.

Mr. Robin said that the Germanwings flight had begun prosaically, with polite exchanges between the two pilots as the flight began its course to Düsseldorf from Barcelona, Spain.

However, about a half-hour into the flight, he said that Mr. Lubitz appeared to have locked out the pilot of the plane and did not let him back in, prompting the pilot to demand access. Investigators, citing the plane's voice recorder, said they could hear the sound of someone trying to break down the door.

Mr. Robin said the plane's voice recorder showed that Mr. Lubitz was breathing normally in the moments leading up to the crash, indicating that he had deliberately crashed the plane.


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Germanwings pilot ordered jet down to 100 feet, trackers say

PARIS (Reuters) - The autopilot on the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday was switched to descend to 100 feet, its lowest possible setting, before it began its fatal plunge, according to data from a specialist aviation tracking service.

French prosecutors say 28-year-old German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked himself in the cockpit and adjusted the altitude setting on the Airbus A320, sending it plunging from its cruise altitude of 38,000 feet at a rate of 3,000 feet a minute.

Online web tracking service FlightRadar24 said its analysis of satellite tracking data had found that someone had changed the altitude to the minimum setting possible of 100 feet: well below the crash site lying at about 6,000 feet.

"Between 09:30:52 and 09:30:55 you can see that the autopilot was manually changed from 38,000 feet to 100 feet and 9 seconds later the aircraft started to descend, probably with the 'open descent' autopilot setting," Fredrik Lindahl, chief executive of the Swedish tracking service said by email.

He said FlightRadar24 had shared its data with French crash investigators at their request. The French BEA crash investigation agency was not available for comment.


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Pilot Screening Process Comes Under Scrutiny After Germanwings Plane Crash


When it comes to screening pilots, wide disparities exist among countries and carriers, and the crash this week of Germanwings Flight 9525 is already prompting regulators and industry leaders to reassess the effectiveness of existing protocols.

The crash is likely to fuel calls for more-robust background checks and mental health screenings of both new and experienced aviators, even if that means "more intrusive checks of psychological history" than labor groups have historically accepted, said Ken Quinn, a former senior U.S. regulator.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the parent company of Germanwings, has been widely viewed by safety experts as one of the industry's leaders in vetting prospective cockpit hires. Still, authorities said the co-pilot of Flight 9525 likely deliberately flew himself and 149 others to their deaths in the French Alps this week.

Lufthansa has said it relies on in-depth interviews and extensive aptitude and psychological testing to clear candidates before they can even begin the carrier's two-year training program. Multiple screening steps, company officials have said, were a major reason for low attrition rates during training and relatively few resignations.

Less than 7% of applicants make it through the initial screening, according to Lufthansa, which uses identical procedures to pick and train Germanwings pilots. EasyJet PLC, another big European carrier, also has been in the forefront of psychological screening, according to industry officials and international safety experts.

The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 appears to have deliberately crashed the plane, leaving 150 people dead. What happened in the flight's last ten minutes? WSJ's Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.
In the U.S., management and union leaders continue to cooperate on long-standing confidential counseling programs aimed at helping licensed pilots who may be battling problems with alcohol, prescription drugs, depression and other mental health issues, as well as financial and family stresses. Typically run by pilot volunteers or pilot-union officials, such efforts aim to help pilots with informal counseling and, if necessary, professional help, without jeopardizing their jobs.

For nearly all commercial pilots world-wide, periodic mental health checks typically are rolled into mandatory recurrent medical exams. Such screenings, however, vary greatly depending where and for whom they fly, according to safety experts. In addition, many pilots tend to be reluctant to discuss psychological issues.

In the U.S., unless a pilot previously was diagnosed with a serious physical or psychological ailment, medical examiners are often unwilling to delve into mental health matters because of limited time or expertise.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, the air-safety arm of the United Nation, has issued scant guidance in this area, compared with reams of standards regarding the substance of pilot training curricula. None of the standards, though, are binding on national regulatory authorities.

ICAO's "Manual of Civil Aviation Medicine," published in 2012, indicates that medical reviews routinely should include questions pertaining to "psychiatric disorders or inappropriate use of psychoactive substances." Noting the lack of detailed guidance to assess psychological matters, the document says that "experienced medical examiners have often informally and spontaneously included them in their evaluation."

The manual lays out questions for medical examiners to ask on subjects including depression, anxiety and use of alcohol and drugs.

In some cases, according to one veteran safety expert, psychological screening tends to be more "about identifying a good employee rather than a potentially unsafe pilot; this discussion will get really touchy."

On Thursday, Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said he would discuss upgrades to the airline's pilot training programs with regulators and labor groups, even as he expressed "full confidence" in selection and training practices dating back six decades.

The airline said it has a three-step screening process for would-be pilots, including a two-day aptitude and psychological assessment that examines motivation and reaction to stress. A final medical and psychological evaluation also must be approved by government authorities, before the start of a two-year training course.

Despite Lufthansa's "stellar world record" over the years for extensive screening of prospective hires, Flight 9525's tragic end will prompt "a close re-examination" of the entire topic, according to Mr. Quinn, who now helps run the aviation practice of the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

Regardless of regulatory requirements, other airlines around the globe also have internal safeguards intended to identify problematic pilots. Those can include random drug tests; confidential reporting systems for all types of safety violations; and in-flight assessments of flying and decision-making skills by specially trained observers.

The German pilot union said "airlines and regulators should work together to develop procedures to prevent a repeat of such an event." The largest pilot union in North America said its members undergo "rigorous screening and evaluation before being hired, including an assessment of the pilot's mental and emotional state."

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration requires all airline pilots to have a detailed medical checkup at least once a year, and twice annually for those over 40.

The last high-profile U.S. incident stemming from a pilot's troubled mental state occurred in March 2012, when a JetBlue Airways Corp. flight was diverted after the captain was locked out of the cockpit due to his erratic behavior. An off-duty JetBlue pilot who was on the flight teamed up with the co-pilot to land the jet in Amarillo, Texas, where the captain was taken to a medical facility.

The Germanwings crash also is likely to put the spotlight on the specific type of training long relied on by Lufthansa and authorized in at least 35 other countries. Approved by ICAO in 2006, so-called multicrew pilot licenses are seen as alternatives to traditional training and are tailored for students without any prior flight experience. Such training regimes rely on enhanced pilot aptitude testing, greater use of high-fidelity flight simulators, targeted practice countering in-flight upsets and stepped-up instruction about communicating with air-traffic controllers.

Other carriers that use the training system include Qatar Airways, Tiger Air, Ethiopian Airlines, several Chinese airlines and Japan's All Nippon Airways.

Graduates of these courses typically end up flying passengers with a fraction of the actual flight hours required under traditional licensing standards. Investigators said the Germanwings co-pilot had logged 630 flight hours during his two-year stint with the carrier, compared with a minimum of 1,500 hours U.S. aviators must have before they can sit behind the controls of a scheduled airliner.


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Airlines Adopt Two-in-the-Cockpit Rule After Germanwings Crash

German Transport Minister Backs Cockpit Reforms

Numerous airlines hastily changed their policies Thursday to require that two crew members be in the cockpit at all times, after the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight apparently deliberately crashed a plane, killing 150 people, after having locked out the captain.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for many years has required that at least two qualified crew members be in the cockpit throughout every flight. But that's not the case in other parts of the world.

John Cox, chief executive of Safety Operating Systems, a Washington-based aviation safety consultant, said Tuesday's crash in the French Alps would likely lead most airlines and national aviation authorities to follow suit.

"I'm sure, without question, that those security protocols are going to be reviewed, and the exact protocol that was in place at Germanwings is going to be scrutinized very carefully," Cox told CNBC.

Some began doing so Thursday. Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced that airlines would immediately enforce the so-called "rule of two" after Air Canada, WestJet Airlines and Air Transat voluntarily adopted the practice Thursday.

The German Aviation Association will consider changing its rules Friday for implementation "as soon as possible," a spokeswoman said. Germanwings' parent company, Lufthansa, and Air Berlin voluntarily adopted the policy Thursday, the airlines said.

Britain's largest airline, easyJet, said it would put the rule into practice Friday. Another major British airline, Virgin Air, also said it would change its rules.

Other airlines that announced new rules Thursday include Norwegian Air Shuttle and Icelandair.


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Australia reviews aviation safety rules

Australia is reviewing its aviation safety procedures after revelations the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight deliberately caused it to crash.

The federal government has sought a briefing from domestic airlines about their cockpit procedures.

'Whenever there is a major aviation incident, everyone reviews their safety procedures,' Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Tasmania on Friday, adding aviation was the safest form of transport and 'we want to keep it that way.


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FAA issues blanket approval for commercial drone use below 200 feet

The catch: The relaxed rules only apply to companies that already have permission to fly.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday released a new interim policy governing the use of certain small drones for commercial purposes, issuing a blanket authorization for unmanned aircraft flights below 200 feet. But the new rules won't benefit everyone equally. The new policy only applies to the roughly 45 companies that have already obtained permission to fly through the FAA's slow and stringent "Section 333" process.

Under existing FAA rules, there are two ways to gain clearance for unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations. One can apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), which typically grant government agencies or research institutions permission to use drones under fairly restrictive circumstances, usually for research. Businesses can also apply for permission to use drones through what's known as Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, under which the FAA can grant companies approval to fly drones commercially under certain defined parameters.

The FAA has approved only 53 Section 333 applications for roughly 45 companies thus far. Some 600 applications are still pending, stuck in a slow-moving approval pipeline. The FAA's new policy grants any company or entity that has already cleared the Section 333 approval process a blanket COA to fly below 200 feet. In other words, those companies that are already approved to fly under Section 333 now have blanket approval to fly below 200 feet.

If all that sounds a bit confusing, here's what it really means: If you weren't authorized to fly before, you still can't. But for those with Section 333 exemptions, the FAA just slashed through a whole lot of red tape. Section 333 exemptions come with a lot of bureaucratic baggage. For instance, users that simply want to test a new flight software patch or use a drone to inspect something no higher than a power line have to file flight plans with the FAA. The blanket COA essentially allows those same companies to operate much more flexibly and without so much government oversight provided they're willing to keep their aircraft below 200 feet.

"Previously, companies that hold exemptions from the FAA still have to obtain additional air traffic control authorization for each operation," says Brendan Schulman, head of the UAS practice group at the NYC office of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel. "That approval takes on average about three weeks, which for many business applications is just not fast enough. This new policy will allow those companies to skip that step if they are operating at or below 200 feet altitude, and at certain distances from airports."

That's a significant improvement over the current rules, Schulman says, removing a burden from both businesses and the FAA itself, which has to process all those flight plan applications. It's a welcome development for the companies that already have Section 333 exemptions, says Lisa Ellman, chair of the UAS practice group in the D.C. office of McKenna, Long, & Aldridge and a former drone policy advisor to the Obama administration. But for the hundreds of companies still in FAA-approval limbo, the new rules do little to bolster their businesses.

The FAA is sensitive to the needs of business and the slow approval process, Ellman says, but with just 10 full-time staff available to process the Section 333 applications-each of which is quite complex-the going will likely remain slow. "I know from the FAA side that they feel constrained," she says. "They feel like as a legal matter-and this is coming from their chief counsel's office-that they have to review each exemption one by one."

The hope is that with more commercial drones in the air as a result of the new blanket COA policy that increased FAA confidence in specific drone platforms and use cases will help speed along the approval process, at least until a final set of commercial drone rules is put in place sometime in the next couple of years. Says Ellman: "The hope is now that these different safety cases have been established-for industrial inspection, real estate, precision agriculture, and so on-that the process will start to move more quickly and they'll be able to grant these approvals in a more timely way."



Government halts enrollment of veterans in helicopter flight program


Marine Corps veteran Ryan Smith trains in a helicopter flight simulator at Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz., under a government-funded program. The Department of Veterans Affairs has barred new enrollees in that program. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Two scrutinized helicopter flight programs for veterans cost U.S. government $40 million last year
VA cites Arizona college for failing to enroll 15% nonveterans in GI-funded flight program
At Utah college, government paid average of $230,916 for veterans in flight programs in 2014
The federal government, concerned about violations that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, has barred new enrollment of military veterans in an Arizona flight program and is reviewing the conduct of a second, Utah-based school.

The actions by the Department of Veterans Affairs came less than two weeks after a Times investigation disclosed that helicopter flight companies, aided by public colleges and universities, had exploited a loophole in the latest GI Bill to collect high fees for training - more than $500,000 for a single veteran in some cases - and that the VA enabled some of the spending by not enforcing its own rules.

The two programs cost the government at least $40 million last year, based on enrollments and average cost data.

Most of that money goes to the flight training companies, which rely heavily on the GI Bill because few nonveterans can afford to pay for the training themselves.

In a letter Tuesday, the VA cited Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz., for failing to comply with a regulation mandating that nonveterans account for at least 15% of students in any education program funded by the GI Bill.

The rule is designed to ensure that programs are affordable enough and of sufficient quality that at least some students are willing to invest their own money.

At Yavapai, which contracts with Guidance Aviation, all 90 helicopter students currently enrolled are veterans, according to the letter.

Yavapai officials did not respond to email or phone messages seeking comment.

The VA is also reviewing enrollments in the flight program at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, the university's president said Thursday.

The Times reported this week that the school, which contracts with Upper Limit Aviation, has just 10 nonveterans in its helicopter program. But the VA is currently paying for the training of 194 veterans - 137 more than should have been allowed under the rule.

VA officials declined to answer questions Thursday about how the programs were allowed to drift so far out of compliance. In general, when the agency suspends a program, students already enrolled are allowed to finish the current term and return only if the school comes back into compliance.

Given the difficulty of finding nonveterans able to afford the training, both schools have long struggled to meet the 15% requirement.

Until now, however, the VA has not strictly held them to the requirement.

In June 2011, more than a year after Yavapai started its helicopter program and contracted with Guidance, the VA ordered the college to stop enrolling more veterans in flight training until it complied with the 15% rule, federal documents show.

We designed the program based on advice from the VA. We followed the directions exactly, and now we have a black eye.
- Scott Wyatt, president, Southern Utah University

Two months later, the VA lifted the ban. According to a whistle-blower lawsuit, Yavapai had started enrolling Guidance employees in ground school classes toward aviation degrees.

John Stonecipher, the owner of Guidance, said classes at Yavapai were a benefit for his employees. Yavapai has declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In 2013, the college created a degree called aviation technology, which included the helicopter and airplane students but also many nonveterans studying airport management or other aspects of aviation that don't require flight training.

By calculating the ratio based on all the students in that degree program - not just those seeking to become pilots - the college could meet the 15% threshold, John Morgan, who oversees the program at the college, said in an interview last month. He said the VA endorsed that approach.

Similarly, in its calculations, Southern Utah University includes many nonveterans who are not learning to fly but are pursuing the same formal degrees - general studies and interdisciplinary studies - as the helicopter students.

He said he was consulting the Utah state attorney general for help interpreting the 15% rule and how student ratios should be calculated. Really? If this owner can't figure out what 15% enrollment is, he shouldn't own anything.

In response to questions from The Times this week, the VA said it was reviewing the methodology its compliance officers have been using. Federal law requires each emphasis within a specific major to meet the 15% threshold on its own, the agency said.

Scott Wyatt, the president of Southern Utah University, said that interpretation was an about-face for the VA.

"We designed the program based on advice from the VA," Wyatt said. "We followed the directions exactly, and now we have a black eye."

He said he was consulting the Utah state attorney general for help interpreting the 15% rule and how student ratios should be calculated.

If only students training to become helicopter pilots are counted, the program has been out of compliance since it started in the fall of 2013, according to data the university provided to The Times. During that first semester, 62 veterans and only two nonveterans were enrolled.

By the following summer the veteran count was up to 119. In January, 76 new veterans started the program, while the nonveteran total dropped by one.

Most of the revenue from the program goes to Upper Limit, which is more expensive than other helicopter training companies tapping into the GI Bill.

Veterans there usually train on sophisticated helicopters that are far costlier to operate than basic models most other students fly. Based on its 2014 prices, typical flight fees for one veteran can top $550,000.

Upper Limit and other contractors avoid spending caps by working as contractors for public colleges and universities, where degree programs are not subject to limits under the latest GI Bill. Without those contracts, the companies would be allowed to collect no more than $11,563 a year for each veteran.

At least 15 helicopter training businesses in 10 states receive GI Bill funding through contracts with public institutions.

The programs at Southern Utah University and Yavapai are two of the biggest and most expensive.

At Southern Utah, the government paid an average of $230,916 in tuition and fees for veterans in flight programs in 2014, according to data provided this week by the VA in response to records requests The Times made in February.

Two dozen students cost the government more than $300,000 each for the year, with the most expensive at $468,853.

At Yavapai the average was $96,176 for one year of training, with four students costing between $205,189 and $232,474.

The training at both schools normally takes two years.

The average costs include unspecified numbers of students who were not enrolled the entire year as well as veterans learning to fly airplanes, a much less expensive - and less popular - track.

At all schools with flight programs, the data show 84 flight students cost the government more than $200,000 each for the year, including 41 who cost over $300,000.

The most costly flight students are those who fail and repeat helicopter courses or go on to also earn a license to fly airplanes.



How poison dart frogs could de-ice airplane wings


 Poison dart frogs can kill predators with super-toxic venom released through their skin. They can also inspire a system to keep airplane wings ice free.

After seeing a poison dart frog like this one on vacation in Panama, an engineer devised a new way to de-ice planes.

Poison dart frogs are one of the most toxic species on Earth. So who would have thought these tiny, brilliantly colored amphibians could help save lives? Konrad Rykaczewski, that's who.

Rykaczewski, an assistant professor of engineering at Arizona State University, was inspired by the bad-ass dart frog to devise a new type of artificial anti-ice "skin" for airplane wings. His research, which was conducted with several colleagues, was included in the latest issue of Advanced Materials Interfaces, published this week.

In the same way that dart frogs hold their venom beneath their outer skin and release it when they're in trouble, Rykaczewski's skin has two layers. The bottom layer contains an antifreeze liquid, and the outer layer is made from a superhydrophobic material, which means it is crazy good at repelling water. The outer layer also has a series of pores in it through which the antifreeze can be released.

"When the surface starts icing over, e.g. due to frost, the pores fill up with condensate or ice and make contact with the antifreeze," Rykaczewski told CBS News. "Due to the contact, the antifreeze starts melting ice and diffusing. This is quite nice since in a way it is passive -- the release of antifreeze happens by itself and does not require any external input from an operator." Rykaczewski told CBS that for long flights, a syringe with a pump could feed the antifreeze layer as the liquid is used up.

In tests, the skin was able to delay the accumulation of freezing rain 60 times longer than a superhydrophobic coating alone, according to the YouTube video below posted by Rykaczewski. He also notes that the coating can resist ice buildup for an hour, while typical hydrophobic coatings can do so only for one minute.

Rykaczewski said it might be awhile before he can try his ice-resistant layers on an actual plane, but he hopes to give it a go an smaller structures like the blades of wind turbines in areas where they might ice up. 

Comparison of freezing rain dynamics on bioinspired anti-icing coatings
Comparison of freezing rain dynamics on bioinspired anti-icing coatings




AAIB Centenary Conference

'100 Years of Accident Investigation - What's Next?'

Royal Aeronautical Society, London - 14 October 2015



In 1915 the first UK 'Inspector of Accidents', Captain G B Cockburn, was appointed to investigate the underlying causes of aircraft accidents in the Royal Flying Corps.  George Cockburn had learned to fly as a civilian, had competed in the Grande Semaine at Rheims in 1909 and was a founder member of the Royal Aero Club's 'Accidents Investigation Committee' in 1912.  His appointment, as a professional air safety investigator, led directly to the formation after the war of the Accidents Investigation Branch as a civilian government organisation - now the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), part of the UK Department for Transport, and based at Farnborough, Hampshire.






AAIB Centenary Conference

To celebrate the centenary of the appointment of the UK's first professional air safety investigator, the AAIB is planning a one-day conference on 14 October 2015, entitled '100 Years of Accident Investigation - What's Next?'.The conference will be hosted and administered by the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) at 4 Hamilton Place, London. 


The exciting technical programme will be supported by speakers from a number of UK and overseas organisations, including the AAIB, major aircraft/engine manufacturers, operators and government regulators.  Should you wish to present at the conference, please submit a presentation proposal in keeping with the conference theme, no later than 25th April 2015, to: enquiries@aaib.gov.uk


Registration will open soon, via the RAeS website, but in the meantime please save the date!


Upcoming Events:


Fundamentals of IS-BAH

March 31, 2015

Houston, TX  USA




IS-BAH Auditing

April 1, 2015

Houston, TX  USA




Fundamentals of IS-BAH

June 15, 2015

St. Hubert, Quebec  Canada




IS-BAH Auditing

June 16, 2015

St. Hubert, Quebec  Canada




Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF)

NTSB Training Center, Ashburn, VA

March 10-11, 2015



ERAU NextGen 101 Seminar
April 21-22, 2015.
Washington D.C.



FAA Helicopter Safety Effort

three-day safety forum 

April 21-23, 2015 

Hurst, Texas



ERAU OSHA & Aviation Ground Safety Seminar

Daytona Beach, FL

Apr.13-17, 2015



ERAU Aviation Safety Program Management Seminar

Daytona Beach, FL

Apr.20-24, 2015



Fundamentals of IS-BAO

April 23, 2015

PCAT Safety Smackdown, San Antonio TX  USA



IS-BAO Auditing

April 24, 2015

PCAT Safety Smackdown, San Antonio TX  USA




Safety Smackdown
Partnership for Corporate Aviation Training
San Antonio, TX
April 20-22, 2015


WATS 2015
21-23 April
Orlando, Florida, USA


ERAU Aircraft Accident Investigation Seminar

Daytona Beach, FL

Apr. 27-May 1, 2015



GWBAA Safety Standdown
April 30th
NTSB Academy


ERAU Advanced Aircraft Accident Investigation Seminar

Prescott Campus, AZ

May 4-8, 2015



IATA Cabin Operations Safety Conference
May 5-7, 2015
Paris, France


ERAU Aviation SMS Seminar

Daytona Beach, FL

May 12-14, 2015






Manager E-Learning and Training Support
Menzies Aviation

AOD Safety Specialist

Fedex Express

Safety Management System (SMS) Analyst
Piedmont Airlines



General Atomics Aeronautical Systems


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems



Manager Airport Operations Safety in Portland Oregon

Alaska Airlines 



Safety Risk Manager
Air Astana


Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC - Services



Curt Lewis, PhD, CSP, FRAeS


PH:    1-817-845-3983

Web:  www.curt-lewis.com


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"Flight Safety Information" is a free service of:   

Curt Lewis, PhD, CSP, FRAeS
(Targeting Safety & Risk Management)  

PH:  817-845-3983

Fax: 682-292-0835

Twitter:  curtllewis01

Skype:  curt.lewis2


Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC is an international, multi-discipline technical and scientific consulting firm specializing in aviation and industrial safety. Our specialties are aviation litigation support, aviation/airport safety programs, accident investigation and reconstruction, safety & quality assessments/audits, system safety (PRA), human factors, Safety Management Systems (SMS) assessment/implementation & training, safety/quality training & risk management, aviation manual development, IS-BAO Auditing, airfield/heliport lighting products, patent infringement/invalidity expert testimony and Technical Support.