U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074


January 2002 




Thought for the month.....
If some is good, more must be better.

It's that time when we should be thinking about all those things that we want to do in the upcoming year. I know that there are all kinds of things that I need to do, or just want to do. Then there are those things that my significant other would like to add to that list. However, because this is an aviation-oriented newsletter, I think that I can legitimately put her desires aside and address something that is related to the main theme - surviving an accident.

If you haven't given too much thought to a New Year's resolution how about this, if your airplane has shoulder harnesses, use them. If it is not equipped with them, get them installed as soon as possible.

The FAA Administrator has declared that a high priority topic in the Aviation Safety Program is to promote accident survivability. Statistics have shown that about one-third of all fatal GA accidents are survivable! Of particular note are accidents that occur during take-off or landing. We can often survive the crash forces in these types of accidents however it is the abrupt impact of our body with either the control column or instrument panel that contributes to the fatality. Time and time again it has been proven that the proper and judicious use of a lap belt and shoulder harness can reduce or even eliminate serious injury and make the difference in a survivable vs. an unsurvived accident.

I have been to accidents where there were survivors because they used a lap belt and shoulder harness, and I have investigated accidents where there were no survivors, but should have been. I much prefer the first type. I would rather express my relief and concern to a survivor than to extend my condolences to family members of a fatal aircraft accident.

In the spirit of the holiday season I am offering a gift. That is, if you do not have shoulder harnesses installed in your airplane and want to get them installed, I will show you the way to do it. By this I mean that I will help anyone get past the regulatory hurdles that accompany modifying and installing new equipment in your airplane.

What often discourages people from accomplishing these installations is the bureaucratic red tape required by the regulations. We know that owners who add items to their aircraft must obtain approval from the FAA if that installation is considered to be a major alteration. Not all shoulder harness installations are considered major alterations though. Some fall under the scope of a minor alteration and only require a logbook entry in the maintenance record by the certified mechanic or repair station that does the installation. In this case "FAA Approved" data for the installation isn't even required. But, the installation data will need to be at least acceptable to the FAA. In other words there will need to be something in the form of written installation instructions.

If data is FAA approved, it will state that somewhere on the document. Instructions for installation provided by the manufacturer MIGHT be considered acceptable if they are specific to the airplane. If the information comes from an FAA Advisory Circular you can be sure that it is at least acceptable data. A call to this, or any other FAA Flight Standards District office, should get you the answer. If the installation requires drilling or cutting into any of the airplane structure the installation will probably need to be approved. If your data isn't approved, I can help. The FAA gives airworthiness inspectors the authority to field approve data they feel to be adequate under the certification regulations of airworthiness. Some times this may necessitate submitting the installation instructions to the FAA's engineering people. Fortunately, the certification directorate for small aircraft is located in the Central Region in Kansas City, MO.

To get you started in the quest for your New Years resolution there is Internet based information available for the installation of shoulder harnesses. Begin with the FAA's web site at <www.faa.gov>. After accessing the FAA site select the "FAA Safety Program" link then select the Shoulder Harness Kits link. When it comes to personal restraint to increase survivability, if some is good, more is better. Seasons Greetings.

Upcoming Events

January 12
Balloon Instructor Clinic
Spectrum Balloon Port
Chesterfield, MO
8AM to 4PM

January 19
27th Super Safety Seminar
St Louis University
Anheuser-Busch Auditorium
Lower level Cook Hall
(Click Me for Schedule & Directions)

February 9
Gateway Aerostatic Association Safety Seminar
Dave & Buster's Restaurant

February 21
Aviation Safety - Education Seminar
Ryan's Steak House
West Plains, MO

February 23-24
Greater St Louis Flight Instructors Flight Instructor Renewal Clinic - FIRC

Steven Long
Airworthiness Safety Program Manager
1-800-322-8876 extension 4830