Re: Dangerous Aircraft lighting

Date:         05 Sep 97 17:27:25 
From: (Alan Radecki)
Organization: PSI Public Usenet Link
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In article <airliners.1997.1922@ohare.Chicago.COM>, says...
>A few years ago, after the USAir 737 / Wings West collision there was an
>article on one of the national news magazines, Dateline, or one of those.
>They had a guy who claimed the accident was caused by substandard lighting
>on one of the planes, and what is meant by that is that the lights were not
>as bright as regulations mandate.  They showed him measuring the brightness
>of the marker lights on various aircraft at an airport, and it turns out
>that many of the planes, including those of major airlines, had marker
>lights that were not as bright as regulations require.

This was a fiasco. A certain company was attempting to develop an
alternate to TCAS based on strobe sensing, then discovered that most
strobes deteriorate over time, and don't necessarily maintain the new
design brightness criteria listed in Part 25. Then these folks developed
testing equipment and offered a VERY expensive testing program, then
lobbied the FAA to make testing mandatory (serious conflict of
interest). The FAA tried to issue a handbook bulletin (their latest way
of doing business is regulation by bulletin, instead of the more proper
regulation by regulatory process) and received a lot of flak. They
finally got it out, applicable to Part 25 aircraft operated by Part 21
folks. The USAir/Skywest incident was cited. The irony? Even had the
program been in place, it wouldn't have made any difference: the Skywest
plane, an SA227, is a Part 23/SFAR 41 plane, and is exempt from the more
stringent Part 25 strobe requirements. And in the end: a number of
companies came out with low cost, portable test sets and the company
that started it all lost out on their hoped-for windfall. Such is life!

Alan Radecki
Chief Inspector
Ameriflight, Inc