|Image courtesy Belfast Telegraph|
"Ireland's Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) released its preliminary report on the crash which stated that the helicopter's Honeywell Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), which alerts pilots to imminent danger from terrain and obstacles, does not include either the terrain of Blackrock island or the lighthouse on the island."
That single statement points towards a human-factors accident. A human failure to act that resulted in needless deaths.
We can never rely completely on a sole-source of information as to our position, safe-altitude, or hazards ahead. In the interest of true situational-awareness we must continually verify one source of information with another. Heading, altitude, destination, route to be flown... As well we must never put our complete faith in an onboard system. These systems are "aids," but the human at the pilot's station is the final defense should a system fail to operate as intended. If ANY system suddenly begins to malfunction - for instance if an autopilot suddenly commands an unexpected hard turn at the end of a coupled-approach - the pilot must be ready for this. He or she must be instantly ready to override the system and take manual control.
We cannot get so focused on the task, the mission, or outside distractions that we place responsibility for our safety on technology. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has warned that we are "addicted" to technology. The worry is that our basic airmanship skills have degraded, that we are becoming "direct-to-and-go pilots."
Tomorrow, 4.26.17 marks 13 months without a fatal HEMS crash in America.
We can never let our guard down.
Image courtesy Belfast Telegraph.
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