First, everything looked like a normal process. At 13.36 clock the Boeing 737 on this Wednesday afternoon at the beginning of October from the airport Münster / Osnabrück. On board 118 passengers, destination: Malaga. Normally the flight time to the Spanish coastal town is about three hours. After only about 45 minutes in the air, the machine returned to its departure airport. The captain had smoked smoke in the cockpit.
The safety landing – according to the operator airline Germania a pure precaution. In a later investigation it was found that a clogged filter in the air conditioning system was responsible for the smell, a spokeswoman said on request. Passengers should never be in danger. Nevertheless, both the Luftfahrtbundesamt (LBA) and the Federal Office for Air Accident Investigation (BFU) were informed of the incident.
When are incidents required?
While the German Aerospace Center (LBA) is primarily responsible for licensing and supervisory functions in civil aviation in Germany, the BFU is responsible for investigating accidents and serious disturbances – and for identifying the causes. The debt question does not matter. The Braunschweiger accident inspectors are responsible for all aircraft registered or manufactured in Germany and also determine if German citizens are killed in an aircraft abroad. It is not always a matter of huge crashes with numerous deaths, such as the intentionally aborted crash of the Germanwings machine in the French Alps or the launching of MH17 over the East Ukraine.
The BFU is also responsible for accidents involving gliders or helicopters. And: the authority also comes into play when a passenger or a crew member breaks an arm on board a passenger machine. But when are incidents actually reportable?
23 serious disorders until September “When it comes to smell smoke or a smoke development, this is always reportable,” says BFU accident inspector Jens Friedemann. A possible “inflight fire”, ie a fire in the aircraft, is one of the most serious disturbances. “In the worst case, the whole aircraft burns down,” explains the expert. So far it has not come in the case of the Germania machine. The BFU subsequently classified the event only as a disturbance. It is even more serious, because they are considered to be near-misses, caused by problems with take-off and landing, the failure of relevant systems or the failure of crew on board. This year the BFU counted a total of 23 serious disturbances with aircraft registered in Germany at home and abroad. The number of accidents was much higher. 25 of these are reported as accidents with fatal injuries – 36 people were killed. In the category “Accidents”, however, not only serious or fatal injuries are caused by persons with a fl
With a view to flight safety, the failure of a pilot is considered particularly serious. The rules on the reporting obligation are correspondingly strict. As soon as an aircraft is in operation – already when the pilots in the cockpit prepare the departure – the BFU itself should be informed about the sudden nausea of a pilot, explains accident inspector Jens Friedemann. A corresponding case, for example, reported the Eurowings airline to the competent authorities at the end of September. The co-pilot had become bad on a related flight from Cologne to Berlin-Tegel shortly before the landing for no apparent reason. He was given medical attention on the ground. Because he could not compete the subsequent return flight to Cologne, the connection was canceled – so in the short term no substitute was ready.The BFU subsequently classified the event as a serious disruption. If a pilot is so physically impaired that he can no longer do his job, the authority always assesses this as a “restriction of safety reserves”. Even if there was or was no acute threat to flight safety.”Fume Events” can lead to health impairmentsIn principle, every reported case, during which a pilot could not perform his service during the flight operation, is also investigated, explains Jens Friedemann. In the case of sudden nausea, for example, a possible connection to contaminated cabin air can sometimes not be ruled out.In a study, the BFU investigated 663 cases from 2006 to 2013 in connection with air in the cabins and found that so-called “fume events” could lead to health impairments.
ight plan, eg by aircraft parts – if an aircraft has suffered damage or is even missing, this also applies as an accident. Failure of the pilot is considered to be particularly serious Whether an airport operator, airline, crew member or passenger – all parties involved are always obliged to report any accidents or serious disturbances to the BFU without delay and to the LBA within 72 hours. The extent to which the Federal Office for Aircraft Accident Investigations determines this depends on the individual case. Fatal accidents are always analyzed exactly. Depending on whether problems are new, the BFU finally endorses safety recommendations – in order to avoid similar events in the future.
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