Nepal’s domestic carrier adopts FDAP to enhance safety

Buddha Air becomes first domestic carrier to adopt the system to analyse flight data in real time

As a part of its effort to address safety concerns and to adhere to international norms, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) now requires domestic airlines operating planes with a maximum takeoff weight (TOW) above 20 tonnes to adopt the Flight Data Analysis Program (FDAP).

Safety in aviation is determined by many factors such as technology, crew training, regulatory frameworks, monitoring of procedures, and management. This is especially important in Nepal, where flying is already challenging due to the rugged Himalayan terrain, extreme and unpredicatable weather and inadequate navaid at airports.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines safety as a state in which risk associated with aviation activities are maintained at or below acceptable level through continuous process of hazard identification and risk management.

Safety therefore depends directly on proactive risk management before they cause a significant incident. And this is where Flight Data Analysis Program (FDAP) comes into play since it is a systematic process to monitor and analyse data from an aircraft's flight data recorder (FDR) and or Quick Access Recorder (QAR).

This information can then be used to identify potential safety hazards, deviations and operating context to improve overall flight safety. ICAO mandates air operators with aircrafts that carry a maximum of 27 tonnes take-off weight to implement FDAP as a part of their Safety Management System (SMS).

Buddha Air

Besides FDAP, Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) and Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) is a critical aspect of Flight Safety. Nepal’s biggest domestic airline, Buddha Air, with a fleet of 16 ATRs became the first domestic carrier to implement FDAP voluntarily in 2014 even though some of its aircraft at time were below the weight threshold. Its new ATR-72 have a maximum TOW of 22,000 tonnes.

This allows the carrier to monitor and analyse flight data of every flight on a daily basis, allowing technical crew to identify potential safety hazards such as operational deviations or aircraft health, which would otherwise go unnoticed, and take corrective actions.

Buddha Air’s FDAP is based on cutting edge technology designed by the French company Safran and is capable of capturing a vast amount of data and analysing it in real-time, allowing engineers at Buddha Air to identify potential safety hazards quickly.

For ATRs the system records 108 parameters and 64 events for each daily flight from engine startup to engine shutdown. Safran’s FDAP is user-friendly, with an intuitive interface that allows the flight crew to easily access and analyze data and self-visualise their flights. Deviations observed along with confidential crew feedback are then analysed to enhance safety by tracking trends and identify areas of improvement with data-driven evidence.

This also reduces training costs and providing pilots and other crew with feedback on their performance. FDAP also help identify fuel-saving opportunities, reduce maintenance costs, optimise routes, and optimise maintenance schedules to reduce downtime.

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