024/14

Status
Open
Recommendation Date
Recipient Name
RNZAF
Text
There was a low likelihood of the weather conditions at Pegasus Field aerodrome deteriorating below minima after an aeroplane passed the point of safe return. However, the potential consequences of that happening were elevated for the Boeing 757 aircraft because of the lack of alternative approach paths and aerodromes suitable for this aircraft type.

There are five factors that were not considered, or only partly considered, but should have been when assessing the risk of using the Boeing 757 aircraft for Antarctica operations:

- the weather criteria for an aeroplane passing the point of safe return should consider the presence of low cloud and fog below the main cloud base as a limiting factor
- there is an increased likelihood of weather conditions deteriorating below minima early in the summer season
- the accuracy of instrument approaches should be treated with caution prior to calibration flights being conducted early in the summer season
- the RNZAF aircraft is capable of completing one type of instrument approach only in Antarctica - a GPS approach
- the lack of suitable diversion airfields and the consequences of a whiteout landing.

The Commission recommends that the Chief of Air Force review the risk assessment for using the Boeing 757 aircraft for Antarctic flight operations, taking into account these matters and any other matters not considered during the initial risk assessment.
Reply Text
The RNZAF accepts and will implement the Commission's final recommendations from Inquiry AO-2013-009 as follows.

- Effective 11 November 2014 the weather criteria for Antarctic operations for all RNZF aircraft were amended by temporary order to take in to account visible moisture below weather minima. This temporary order will be enshrined in General Orders for New Zealand Defence Force Military Aviation Operations on the next amendment cycle (02 March 2015).
- The Risk Management Plan (RMP) for Antarctic operations will be updated to include detailed recognition of the other four factors no later than 09
February 2015, which is before the next scheduled flight to Antarctica. I will write to you again with a copy of the updated RMP in due course.
- The RNZAF aviation operational risk management system is currently befing refined. In due course standard mission risk profiles capturing risks inherent to that mission will be published. These profiles will support the development of activity based RMPs. Once the risk management system is finalised, the risk factors you recommend will be captured in the Antarctic operations mission risk profile for each aircraft type. I do not have a completion date for this activity, but I will inform you when it is resolved.
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