Citing the lack of injuries or deaths from wingtip collisions studied and a minuscule safety benefit, the FAA has rejected the NTSB’s recommendation to mandate additional anti-collision aids onboard aircraft.
Pointing to 12 low-speed taxi collisions over a 10-year period, the NTSB in September called for pilots of larger aircraft to have a visual aid, such as a camera, to help them verify wingtip clearances. The board issued similar recommendations to both FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommending mandates for in-service and new-design aircraft.
The FAA, however, responded that while it will continue to study “other” ground safety improvement technologies, onboard cameras do not pass a cost/benefit analysis. “A camera system may provide a small benefit at very low speeds, but the two-dimensional image and limited field-of-view make it unlikely that wing tip cameras would provide a measurable reduction in wingtip collision incidents at normal taxi speeds,” the FAA says in its response to the NTSB.
“From a safety risk management perspective, the limited safety benefit of a taxi anti-collision system, such as wingtip cameras, does not justify the cost burden of an FAA mandate for their installation on the transport airplane fleet,” the FAA adds.
The agency also notes that the accidents cited by the NTSB “did not result in any passenger, flight, or ground personnel injuries.”
Of the 12 accidents noted by the NTSB, 10 involved two aircraft. In three of the incidents both aircraft were widebodies.
The NTSB’s recommendations were based on its conclusion that “pilots of the large airplanes were either unable to determine or had difficulty determining the separation between the airplane’s wingtips and the other airplane or object while taxiing.” The NTSB did not specify what aircraft types should have the systems, but the letter suggested that all widebodies and Boeing 757s could benefit from taxi assistance.