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New US TRB report highlights emerging safety issues facing new airspace entrants

Commercial aviation safety in the United States has improved more than 40-fold over the last several decades, according to Boeing. But new materials and construction methods, many of which featured in urban air mobility vehicles, may require new standards for construction and maintenance, reports a new study Emerging Hazards in Commercial Aviation – Report 1: Initial Assessment of Safety Data and Analysis Processes, from the US Transportation Research Board, National Academies of Sciences.

The biggest risks include managing safety in the face of climate change, increasingly complex systems, changing workforce needs, and new players, business models, and technologies, says the report.

“The potential for additive manufacturing will introduce not only new materials, but also structural shapes that were never possible with traditional manufacturing methods. Thus, they may require a new science of how they will behave in high-stress situations and how they will age; current standards and methods may not apply for design, testing and evaluation, certification, production (including quality assurance during manufacturing), and ongoing maintenance and inspection,” according to an early copy of the report.

A public briefing webinar on Thursday, August 18, 2022 from 12 – 1pm ET will discuss the report’s key findings and take questions from the audience.

“Technologies used by the aviation industry are constantly evolving. In many cases, these new technologies are developed outside aviation, and then the aviation industry, rather than understanding them from their inception, seeks to implement capabilities that may not fit within their established methods for safety analysis and management. For example, lithium-ion batteries were added to commercial aircraft without fully understanding how different their required quality assurance and failure modes are from the battery types traditionally used in aviation; indeed, concerns continue with the transport of lithium-ion batteries as cargo.”

This is the first of a series of six reports that will be issued from TRB and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine over the next 10 years on commercial aviation safety trends in the U.S.

For more information


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