U.S. Geological Survey Manual
Title: Aviation Safety
Applicability: All Organizational Activities
Purpose: To formalize proper procedure for use of aircraft by all employees.
Responsibilities: All staff will know and adhere to the particulars of aviation safety in the Aviation Safety Policy contained herein. The local Aviation Program Coordinator will coordinate with the Regional Aviation Manager and/or Bureau Aviation Manager to provide interpretation, coordination, and instruction in aircraft operational matters and will advise the Organizational Chief/Director of requirements for conduct of research with the highest regard for safety of employees and government property.
A. Policy. All employees using aviation support services will know and follow proper procedures to preclude the occurrence of accidents. These include personnel responsibilities, implementation instructions, goals, standards, and controls provided to aid each person using or supervising aviation support in the safe and effective accomplishment of our mission.
1. To provide all organizational personnel, using or considering use of aircraft in support of their missions, current and concise standards required for safe and effective operations.
2. To designate specific aviation responsibilities for administrators, supervisors, pilots, and employees.
3. To delineate the essential aviation safety education and training required prior to participating in aviation support operations.
C. Authority and Documentation. Policies and procedures in this document are in accordance with and refer to USGS, Department of the Interior (Department or DOI), Department Manual series 350-354 (DM's) and DOI, Office of Aircraft Services (OAS) Operational Procedures Memoranda (OPM’s).
D. Responsibilities and Implementation.
1. Field Level Organizational Chiefs/Directors.
a. Assure that established policies, standards, and controls are established and followed by all employees.
b. Appoint an Aviation Program Coordinator to coordinate with the respective regional and/or Bureau Aviation Manager in the planning stage for all new field activities involving aircraft.
2. Project and Section Chiefs/Team Leaders/Principal Investigators.
a. Identify projects requiring aviation support.
b. Identify personnel who will be involved in aircraft use, ensure they are trained in aviation safety and instruct them in DOI aviation policy/organizational procedures.
c. Provide and fully support the correct use of personal protective equipment as required.
d. Coordinate all aircraft use proposals with the local Aviation Program Coordinator prior to implementation.
3. All Employees.
a. Ascertain that vendor aircraft are OAS-certified for the mission type by physical inspection of the OAS certification card in the aircraft.
b. Assure the vendor pilots are certified for the intended use mission by physical inspection of the pilot’s OAS certification.
c. Request a passenger emergency procedure briefing prior to flight if the pilot fails to provide one.
d. Use all personal protective equipment as required.
e. At least one employee on the proposed flight briefs pilot on the mission objective, how the mission is to be flown, and what is expected of the pilot. This briefing must include a through review of an updated aviation hazard map covering the area to be flown.
f. Fill out and file a flight information form with the individual designated to activate the Aircraft Preaccident Plan.
g. Fill out the appropriate information and sign the Aircraft Use Report (Form OAS-23).
4. Local Aircraft Program Coordinator.
a. Coordinate all aircraft use with Organizational Chief/Director, Project Leaders, and respective Regional and/or Bureau Aviation Manager, as appropriate.
b. Maintain and update USGS, Department Aviation Policy Department Manuals (DM’s) and Office of Aircraft Services Operational Procedures Memoranda (OPM’s).
c. Maintain a current file of OAS certified pilots and aircraft; assist in locating additional pilots and aircraft as necessary.
d. Provide or arrange for requisite training for organizational staff; maintain a record of all training and inform personnel of recurrent requirements.
E. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
1. PPE shall be available and used for all Special Use Activities as defined in 350 DM 1 Appendix 5.
2. PPE will meet the requirements described ALSE Handbook.
F. Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE).
1. ALSE will meet the requirements of the ALSE Handbook as well as 351 DM 1.7B.
2. ALSE as listed above shall be considered the bare minimum necessary. Additional equipment may be warranted for a particular operation and should be carefully considered. The Aircraft Safety Officer should be consulted for assistance.
G. Passenger Briefing.
1. The pilot shall assure that all persons aboard are briefed on the location and operation of:
a) Emergency exits
b) Fire extinguishers
c) First aid kits
d) Survival equipment
e) Land or water egress procedures and flotation devices
f) Restraint systems
h) Emergency locator transmitter location and use
i) Intercom systems
H. Flight Plan/Flight Following.
1. The pilot of the aircraft must file a flight plan with the local Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Service Station, where possible.
2. Flight following is required of all aircraft operations. The pilot must check in with a Flight Service Station every 60 minutes or conduct flight following in accordance with agency flight plan requirements.
I. Aviation Safety Training.
1. Aviation safety training requirements are the applicable OPM.
2. The Aircraft Safety Officer shall provide or arrange for such training.
J. Radio telemetry Procedures (see Gilmer et. al., 1981).
1. Radio telemetry aircraft are governed by 351 DM 2.2H. A copy of this memorandum should be obtained before any radio telemetry is undertaken. Aircraft and antenna mounting systems must be operated in accordance with the terms of an Air-worthiness Certificate (FAA Form 337 as described in FAA Regulations). To conform to these regulations, the aircraft and mounting system must be inspected and approved by an FAA-certified mechanic.
2. Antenna mounts will be inspected for signs of stress and fatigue (especially welded joints) prior to each use. Also, antennas will be inspected before each use to verify elements are secured to the mast and all connections are tight. The installation of equipment will be inspected by the pilot during the preflight check.
3. Preflight work will include (a) planning tasks to be accomplished, (b) discussing the flight with the pilot, (c) assembling the equipment needed, and (d) checking out all electronic gear.
4. Equipment checklist and procedural checklist in Appendix 27-6 in this Handbook will be verified before each flight.
5. Antennas and switch box system operation will be verified with reference radios on the ground prior to takeoff and after takeoff.
6. Only personnel directly involved in the operation of equipment will be allowed on the aircraft during telemetry operations. The only exception to this is when training another employee to conduct aerial telemetry.
7. It is suggested that all details of the flight be recorded in a log book. Details in the log book include: Date of flight, pilot name, aircraft registration number, OAS card numbers of pilot and the aircraft, takeoff and landing times, and names of passengers.
K. Foreign aircraft use.
1. Department of Interior Requirements. Aircraft use and PPE requirements are governed by provisions of the Departmental Manual (DM) Parts 350-354. Use of foreign registered aircraft is exempted from the manual requirements in 350 1.2 regarding aircraft and associated equipment requirements. However, all other operational requirements such as flight following, personal protective equipment, etc., are still applicable.
2. USGS/Organizational Requirements.
a) All operational and equipment requirements described within Chapter 27 of this Handbook will be mandatory for all foreign aircraft use with the exception of paragraphs D3(a) and (b) and J1 of this appendix.
b) Prior to use of vendor aircraft in a foreign country, both pilot qualifications and aircraft airworthiness certification will be inspected. Both the pilot and aircraft must meet the requirements of the foreign countries’ inspection and licensing system. Whenever possible, aircraft shall meet the requirements of 351 DM 2.4 C (1), and pilot’s qualifications should be used to meet the requirements of 351 DM 3.3.
Cowardin, L.M., Duval, R.L. Gilmer, D.S., Kuechle, V.B., Mechlin, L.M., and Shaiffer, C.W., 1981, Procedures for the use of aircraft in wildlife telemetry studies; U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service Resource Publication 10. 19 p.