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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 27

Aviation Safety

27.1 Purpose. This chapter establishes Occupational Safety and Health Program (Program) for implementation of the aviation safety program and requirements within the Department of the Interior (Department or DOI) and U.S. Geological Survey (Bureau or USGS) for the safe operation of aircraft for the USGS and the development and support activities designed to reduce personnel injuries and damage to property, encourage safe practices, and eliminate workplace hazards. The primary objective is the elimination of unnecessary or unacceptable risks associated with the use of aircraft in support of DOI and USGS programs. Aviation safety and aircraft mishap prevention in USGS is based on the philosophy that all aircraft mishaps can be prevented and that mishap prevention is an inherent function of management.  The USGS Director is ultimately responsible for the management of aviation resources and the implementation of an effective aircraft mishap prevention program. Supervisors and managers at all levels are responsible for the safety of aviation operations under their control. Within this policy are the practical requirements to provide safe working conditions, prevent injuries to personnel, and protect property from damage. Application of approved practices is a fundamental responsibility of managers and supervisors and represents an area in which performance and accountability must be emphasized. This chapter also establishes policy, responsibilities and procedures governing the notification, investigation and reporting of aircraft mishaps occurring during USGS aviation activities.

A. This chapter applies to USGS personnel, volunteers, persons supervised by USGS personnel, and Support Service Contractors (all hereinafter referred to as “USGS personnel”), who are involved in aviation activities and flight services other than those acquired on a seat-fare basis from air carriers, per 350 Departmental Manual (DM)1.1.

B. All aircraft owned, operated by, or under the jurisdiction of the USGS will be operated in accordance with directives of this Handbook.Included are those aircraft contracted, leased, or operated under the provisions of a Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA), as well as aircraft owned by Departmental or USGS personnel when operated on official business.

C. This chapter covers USGS personnel, contractors or groups who operate or participate in “civil” or “public” aviation operations and activities, and individuals or groups providing volunteer services without compensation or any other persons supervised by USGS personnel.

D. Persons employed by or whose work is directed solely by cooperators or contractors are exempt from provisions of these documents except when their duties include use of flight services which are under operational control of the USGS or present a serious safety hazard to USGS personnel or property.

E. The DM 350-354 series does not apply to international USGS operations (except for fleet operations). However, USGS personnel should attempt to follow DOI aviation policies to the extent practical. In all cases, USGS personnel are expected to use good judgment and common sense.

27.2 References.

A. 5 U.S.C 7902; Sections 6 and 19 of P.L. 91‑596.

B. Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, as amended.

C. 29 U.S.C 651, et. Seq., 29 CFR 1960.

D. CFR 1960, “Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs and Related Matters.”

E. Executive Order 12196 “Occupational Safety and Health for Federal Employees.”

F. 485 DM Series, “Interior Safety and Environmental Health Management Program.”

G. Federal Property Management Regulation Part 101, Subchapter G, “Aviation Transportation, and Motor Vehicles.”

H. Department Manual, Parts 350 through 354 establish management responsibilities, policies and procedures for the utilization and operation of aircraft within the DOI and the USGS. The provisions set forth in the individual chapters of each part are applicable to USGS organizations that use or operate aircraft.

I. Departmental Manual 112, 485 DM 1 and Series 350-354 govern USGS air crewmembers and passengers on-board aircraft under its operational control.

J. 14 CFR, Parts 1-199. Civil aircraft operations shall comply with applicable sections of 14 CFR as well as the Departmental Manual. Public aircraft operations shall comply with applicable sections of 14 CFR (control of air traffic, use of airspace, and aircraft registration) as well as the contents of this manual, unless an exception is approved by the Office of Aircraft Services (OAS) Director. Life-threatening emergencies may require deviation from the 350-354 series of the Departmental Manual. For in-flight emergencies, the pilot shall take appropriate action to assure safety of flight. These situations shall be reported by the pilot to the chief pilot or supervisor and documented on Form OAS-34, SAFECOM.

K. OAS Operational Procedures Memorandums (OPM), Handbooks, and Information Bulletins as found at http://www.oas.gov/library/index.htm.

27.3 Abbreviations. Listed in Appendix 27-4, Aviation Management Abbreviations in this Handbook.

27.4 Definitions. The meanings of terms used in this chapter are in Appendix 27-5, Aviation Management Definitions in this Handbook. These definitions are in addition to those found in 14 CFR 1.

27.5 Responsibilities – General.

(1) Assistant Secretary. Policy, Management and Budget (A/S-PMB). Responsible for DOI aviation management policy through OAS Director.

(2) Office of Aircraft Services (OAS). Responsible for Department-wide policies and procedures involving all aviation use within the USGS. A breakdown of general responsibilities is listed in 112 DM 12, and specific functions are outlined in Appendix 27-2, Aviation Management Roles and Responsibilities in this Handbook.

(3) Aviation Management Board of Directors (ABOD). Incorporates OAS and Bureau senior line managers at the Assistant Director level who provide executive level Bureau involvement in the formulation of policy and aviation management direction. Responsible for providing executive-level USGS involvement in the formulation of aviation policy and the management aspects of aviation activities in the Department. The ABOD charter is located in Appendix 27-1, U.S. Department of the Interior, Aviation Management Board of Directors Charter in this Handbook.The Chief, Office of Administrative Policy and Services, serves as the USGS member on the DOI ABOD.

(4) ABOD Working Team. Assists the ABOD in the technical aspects of aviation management. The members address Departmental issues, initiate improvements, analyze issues, and make recommendations to the ABOD. They serve as an advisory board for OAS as it seeks to meet changing needs and determine its quality of customer service. The USGS Aviation Manager serves as the USGS member on the DOI Aviation Board of Directors Working Team.

27.6 USGS Responsibilities. The USGS is responsible for the effective implementation and execution of Departmental policies to include management of all aspects of USGS-specific aviation operations. General functional roles and responsibilities are outlined in Appendix 27-2, Aviation Management Roles and Responsiblities in this Handbook and may be realigned between organizational entities when reassignments are made in the interest of economy, safety, or efficiency of service. Such adjustments must be made with the mutual consent of appropriate USGS officials and the OAS Director. Appendix 27-3, USGS Aviation Management Responsibilities Summary in this Handbook is a compilation of USGS aviation management responsibilities. Functional reassignments will be recorded by OAS in one of the following ways:

A.  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). An MOU or similar agreement to cover continuing operational situations.

B. Memoranda. Official memoranda for one-time tasks or assignments; verbal arrangements must be confirmed in writing.

C.  Certification. Aircraft shall be certified, maintained and operated in accordance with the following, unless an exception from this policy is approved by the OAS Director. Vendors will be Air Carrier/Commercial Operators certificated under Federal Aviation Regulations 14 CFR Parts 121, 125, 127, 133, 135 or 137. All aircraft owned by the Department will be registered with the FAA in the name of the Department of the Interior, Office of Aircraft Services, (except for selected law enforcement aircraft) and maintained on OAS property accountability records. The Certificate of Registration will be displayed in the aircraft in accordance with FAA requirements. Aircraft will be certified in accordance with 14 CFR, unless the OAS Director grants approval.

D. Transportation of Passengers. Travel on Government aircraft is restricted to official travel or travel on a space-basis subject to the policies and definitions prescribed in 14 CFR, Part 101-37.

(1) Official Passengers. The following categories of personnel are official passengers:

(a) Officers and personnel of the Federal Government traveling on official business.

(b) Members of Congress and their staffs whose work relates to DOI or USGS programs.

(c) Non-Federal passengers when engaged in missions which enhance accomplishment of a USGS program such as personnel of cooperating state, county, or local agencies; representatives of foreign governments; and contractors’ representatives, including those employed by such agencies and private citizens.

(d) Space-available passengers authorized and approved in accordance with OMB Circular A-126.

(e) Space-available travelers approved by the Secretary of the Interior on a trip-by-trip basis.

(2) Unauthorized Passengers. All personnel who are not official passengers shall be considered unauthorized passengers and are not authorized to be transported in any aircraft owned or operated by or on behalf of the Department/USGS. A person who is otherwise an official passenger could become unauthorized by performing a function for which that person is not authorized (e.g., a passenger performing pilot duties without proper authorization).

E. Reporting Requirements. USGS personnel shall report flight hours in the following manner:

(1) DOI/USGS fleet aircraft, Form OAS-2.

(2) Contract and BOA aircraft, Form OAS-23.

(3) Cooperator aircraft under the operational control of DOI, Form OAS-23.

(4) Privately owned aircraft used on official business, Form OAS-2.

Note: When future interagency forms are developed, those forms should be used as appropriate.

F. Exceptions.

(1) The OAS Director may issue written authorization for exceptions to prescribed policy providing:

(a) the deviation is in the interest of the U.S. Government, and

(b) aviation safety considerations are not compromised.

(2) Requests for exceptions must be addressed to the OAS Director from the Bureau Aviation Manager and must contain detailed justification that the waiver is essential in the accomplishment of specific Bureau projects.

G. Interagency Boards and Committees. Through cooperative agreement with other agencies, the OAS Director, or a designated representative, may participate in boards and committees for the purpose of developing and standardizing policies, procedures, systems applications, and operational criteria for the use of aviation resources.

27.7 Aviation Safety Program Structure.

A.  Program Development. Each USGS organization involved in aviation operations shall establish an aviation safety program. Policy directives issued by the USGS shall be consistent with the provisions of 350‑354 DM series manuals and OAS OPM’s.

(1)  Safety. The safety of USGS personnel is paramount. Mission accomplishment is important, but it never overshadows the need to protect human life and equipment from undue risks. The Directorate will support any Organizational Manager and Supervisor who suspends a project based on a subjective analysis that completion cannot be accomplished safely.

(2)  Compliance. USGS aviation activities will be performed in accordance with the aviation directives listed herein.

(3)  Exceptions and Waivers. Requests for exceptions and waivers from DOI and USGS aviation policies must be coordinated with the Bureau Aviation Manager and approved by the Bureau Safety Manager or the OAS Director, as applicable.

(4)  Noncompliance. Purposeful actions contrary to DOI and USGS aviation policies may jeopardize safety, eliminate Federal Tort Claims Act benefits, or result in administrative disciplinary action.

(5)  Employee Prerogative. USGS personnel may elect without fear of reprisal not to fly under any condition they consider to be unsafe. These situations shall be reported as soon as possible to the Flight Manager/Chief of Party, employee’s Line Supervisor, and, when warranted, to the OAS.

(6)  Private Life Insurance Exclusionary Clauses. Many private life insurance policies contain exclusionary clauses for such activities as SCUBA diving, skydiving, and participation as pilots, aircrew members, or passengers on Government aircraft (not scheduled air carriers such as Delta, United, etc.), per Personnel Management Bulletin No. 94-38, dated May 4, 1994. Identification of any exclusionary clauses is the responsibility of the employee.

(7)  Research Work Orders/Cooperative Agreements/Support Services Contracts/Grants, etc. Agreements that involve the use of flight services must contain language that all persons onboard aircraft under the operational control of USGS are subject to the directives in this Handbook.

(8)  OAS-Approved Aircraft and Pilots. Only OAS-approved aircraft and pilots may be used for conducting official flights, per 353 DM 1.2(A).

(9)  Administrative Flights. All aircraft used for passenger transport (no duties while onboard) must meet applicable Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR).

B. Program Elements. The following six elements are minimally essential to USGS aviation safety programs:

(1) Aviation Safety Program Responsibilities.

(2) Aircraft Mishap Prevention Program.

(3) Aviation Review Program.

(4) Aviation Safety Awards Program.

(5) Aircraft Mishap Investigation.

(6) Aviation Safety Education and Training.

C. Staffing and Training.

(1) Staffing. The USGS Director shall provide adequate staffing and training of personnel necessary to ensure an effective aircraft mishap prevention program. These positions may be classified as full-time equivalent or collateral duty based on USGS management needs assessment. The following minimum standards apply in the development of a USGS aviation safety program:

(a) An Aviation Manager shall be designated to administer the Bureau aviation program at the national level. This individual will be thoroughly knowledgeable regarding Bureau aviation activities and will meet minimum training requirements specified in the Aviation User Training Program.

(b) An Aviation Safety Manager shall be designated to administer the USGS aviation safety program at the national level. While it is desirable that this individual hold a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Commercial Airman Certificate, pilot certification is not mandatory.  However, the individual shall be trained in the aviation safety management subjects listed below. If not trained in these subjects, the individual shall attend formal course(s) of instruction in concepts and methods necessary to establish and maintain a national level aviation safety program within 12 months of appointment. Bureaus with an aviation program exceeding 20,000 flying hours annually are strongly encouraged to establish a full-time position for the Aviation Safety Manager.

(c) Minimum training includes professional institution instruction in:

(i)Aircraft mishap prevention concepts and methods.

(ii) Aviation safety program structure and organization.

(iii) Management skills.

(iv) Aviation psychology/human factors.

(v) Biomedical aspects of aviation safety.

(vi) Aviation safety program evaluations.

(vii) Motivating management.

(viii) Managing a part-time safety office.

(ix) Legal aspects of aviation safety.

(x) Risk analysis and management.

(d) The education and training requirements specified for the positions identified above are minimums, regardless of classification of the position as full-time or collateral duty.

(2) General Education and Training. The education and training of USGS personnel at all organizational levels is the responsibility of management.  The minimum level of education and training specified in the 350-354 DM series, and the 485 DM series shall be provided to appropriate Bureau personnel.

D. USGS Aviation Education and Training Requirements.

(1) USGS Managers, Supervisors and Other Personnel.

(a)  Organizational USGS personnel with aviation responsibilities (line managers, supervisors, and those who participate in special-use missions or function as aircrew members) must maintain currency in DOI-mandated aviation training safety courses.

(b)  USGS personnel who participate in point-to-point transportation flights must receive a preflight safety briefing prior to each flight.

(c) Persons who must participate in Special Use flights on very short notice (line managers, members of Congress, etc.) without having attended Basic Aviation Safety Training may fly provided (1) there is a preflight safety briefing provided by the pilot, and (2) a person who has completed training required for special-use missions is either onboard the aircraft or present at all landings and takeoffs to ensure the safety of the passenger(s).

(d) USGS personnel who participate in specialized aviation activities (sling load, long-line, etc.)must maintain currency in the appropriate OAS training for the particular activity.

(2) Pilots/Flight Crew Required Training.

(a) Prior to performing duties, pilots must have familiarization training in DOI aviation policies and USGS directives. This instruction will be provided by or coordinated through the Bureau Aviation Manager.

(b) Attend an Aviation Management Seminar within 12 months of hire or appointment as a pilot. Pilots or other flight crew must attend and maintain currency in a DOI Flight Crew Workshop or an OAS-approved alternativecourse. Continuingbeyond this period of time will result in suspension of DOI pilot authorization.

(3) Trainee Pilots Required Training.

(a) Initial training that is funded by USGS must be acquired at an FAA-approved flight school and be coordinated with the BAM and OAS to assure instruction in natural resource flight maneuvers and skills particular to the missions to be flown is obtained and to determine suitability for long-term piloting duties.

(b) With approval from the OAS Director, persons who have aviation training but who do not have a DOI Pilot Qualification Card may manipulate aircraft controls in Government aircraft in accordance with a training plan which details flight instruction, general and special-use flight authorization, and other requirements. Requests must be coordinated with the Bureau Aviation Manager and have Regional Executive approval.

(4) USGS Personnel Recommended Training.

(a) The USGS Director is responsible for assuring that all personnel involved in the use or control of aviation resources receive an appropriate level of aviation safety training.  The education and training listed within this chapter is the minimum for promoting aircraft mishap prevention awareness and developing operational and aviation management skills. Identification, development, and presentation by Bureaus of additional training needs unique to specific programs shall be accomplished as required. The OAS Director shall be informed of training program development of these specific programs.

(b) USGS personnel who fly on regular over-the-water missions should participate in water ditching and survival training every 3 years.

(c) USGS personnel who fly on regular missions in fixed-wing aircraft should have a flight familiarization course, commonly referred to as Pinch Hitter Pilot Training. Included are an overview of meteorology, airplane instruments, flight and navigation techniques, emergency communications, and landing procedures. This instruction requires approval by the OAS Director, per 351 DM 1.2(b)(3).

(d) Prior to conducting activities in cold-weather environments, USGS personnel should complete instruction in the psychological aspects of panic behavior, clothing selection and improvisation, recognizing and treating cold-weather injuries, food and water planning and procurement, etc.

(e) Records of USGS personnel required and recommended aviation safety training should be maintained at the applicable organizational location.

E. Program Promotion. Resources shall be made available for education and training as specified in the Aviation User Training Program. Attendance at aviation user, management, and aviation safety management training sessions, as well as aviation safety seminars and formal educational institutions, shall be encouraged.

F. Aircraft Mishap Notification, Investigation, and Reporting. The USGS notification, classification, investigation, and documentation of NTSB reportable aircraft mishaps involving USGS aviation activities will be accomplished in accordance with the procedures established in 352 DM 6, Aircraft Mishap Notification, Investigation and Reporting. Investigations are conducted for the purpose of aircraft mishap prevention only and do not satisfy the requirements of 451 DM 1 or 485 DM 5.  Provisions and procedures for aircraft mishap investigations are established under the authority granted in 112 DM 12. These reports are not a substitute for other DOI safety management reports (see 485 DM 5).

G. Aircraft Mishap Prevention Plan. The USGS establishes the Bureau formal written Aircraft Mishap Prevention Plan consistent with Departmental policy herein that outlines personnel responsibilities and provides implementation guidelines, goals, and methods used to monitor the success of the program. Safety requirements set by the Department shall not be waived. Should a deviation of an established safety procedure or directive occur, the individual(s) involved shall furnish the Bureau Aviation Safety Manager with a complete report of the circumstances as soon as possible after the event. USGS policies and procedures herein incorporate the critical elements listed below into all levels of Bureau aviation activity.

(1) Aviation Mishap Response Plan (AMRP). Each USGS organization location using flight services must maintain a current and complete AMRP detailing necessary actions in the event of a missing or downed aircraft, per 352 DM 6. Additional information is contained Chapter 3 of the OAS Aviation Mishap Notification, Investigation, and Reporting Handbook.

(2) Risk Assessment. Risk assessment is the subjective analysis of physical hazards and operational procedures to arrive at a GO/NO-GO decision. Risk assessments support informed GO/NO-GO decisions which are the responsibility of line management. The pilot retains final authority for a NO-GO decision when safe operation of the aircraft is a factor.A risk analysis must be conducted for all special-use flights and be approved by management, per 352 DM 1/9(A).

(3) Project Planning. Aviation operations shall be planned with necessary consideration given to mishap prevention, per 352 DM 1.9C. Use of Aviation Planning Guide/Risk Assessment is recommended to include all elements of project planning. Flights shall be conducted as planned and in accordance with Departmental policy and procedures. Deviations from the approved mission profile will not be conducted except for safety of flight considerations. Project planning shall include as a minimum:

(a) Flight routes/areas and altitudes.

(b) Risk assessment.

(c) Hazard ID (e.g. weather, takeoff/landing weights, landing areas, wire hazards, etc.).

(d) Management approval for special use activities.

Note: For the purposes of this section, a “flight” may consist of multiple takeoffs and landings under continuous power (i.e., where the aircraft power is not shut down.

(e)  Aircraft Checklist and Preflight Inspection. Pilots must conduct a visual inspection of the aircraft prior to each flight and use applicable cockpit checklists, per 351 DM 1.1(E).

(f) Interagency Aircraft Data Card and DOI Pilot Qualification Card. Such cards must be physically inspected by aircrew members and/or passengers prior to each flight, per 353 DM 2.5(B)(4).

(g)  Passenger Briefing. Pilots will provide a briefing prior to each flight covering items specified in 351 DM 1.5(B).

(h)  Crew Duty Time Limitation. Activities must be conducted in accordance with 351 DM 3.5.

(i)  Instrument Flight Rules. Flights are permitted in accordance with 351 DM 1.3.

(j)  Night Flying. Flights are permitted in accordance with 351 DM 1.3.

(k)  Low-Altitude Flights. Flights may be conducted in accordance with FAR 91.119.

(l)  Transport of Hazardous Materials. Hazardous materials must be transported in accordance with 351 DM 1.6(B) and the Interagency Aviation Transport of Hazardous Materials Handbook. A copy of the DOI Exemption to Transport Hazardous Materials from Department of Transportation must be onboard the aircraft when hazardous materials are transported.

(m)  Fuel Handling. Fuel handling must be conducted in accordance with the OAS Aviation Fuel Handling Handbook.

(n)  Fuel Reserves. Aircraft must maintain fuel reserves as stipulated in FAR 91.151 and FAR 91.167.

(o)  Transport of Cargo/Equipment. Only cargo and/or equipment necessary for mission accomplishment is permitted onboard aircraft under operational control of USGS.

(p)  External Loads. External load flights are permitted provided they are conducted with suitably equipped helicopters, flown by pilots approved by OAS for external load operations, and the aircraft are operated in accordance with 351 DM 1.5 and 351 DM 1.3.

(q)  Over Water Flights. Flights conducted beyond gliding distance to shore are prohibited in single-engine aircraft not float-equipped, per351 DM 2.2C.

(r) Toe-in, Single-Skid, and Step-Out Landings. These landings are prohibited except when an exception to DOI policy has been approved by the OAS Director, per 351 DM l.3(E)(6).

(s)  Lap Belt/Shoulder Harness. Lap belts and shoulder harnesses must be worn on all take-offs and landings, per 351 DM 1.1(G). Use of the lap belt/shoulder harness is recommended during all phases of the flight for comfort and safety.

(t) Operations in Restricted Category and Uncertified Aircraft. Only those activities, including the attendant restrictions regarding persons onboard the aircraft listed in 351 DM 1.1(I) may be conducted using restricted category or uncertified aircraft.

(u)  Smoking. Smoking is prohibited in fleet, contract, or BOA aircraft, per 351 DM 1.1(J).

(v)  Aerial Capture, Eradication, and Tagging of Animals (ACETA). Capturing of animals must be conducted in accordance with351 DM 2 and351 DM 3. Additional information is in the OAS ACETA Handbook.

(w)  International Operations. DOI aviation policy does not apply to international flight operations, per 350 DM 1.2. However, USGS personnel should attempt to follow DOI aviation policies to the extent practical and use good judgment and common sense in all cases.

(x) Flights Over Public Lands. Any time aircraft under operational control of USGS needs to operate over public lands, the pilot will coordinate with the facility regarding the intended flight altitude. Further, all flights under USGS operational control which fly over public lands will keep aircraft noise and pollution to a minimum and comply with applicable wildlife statutes.

(y)  Other. USGS personnel shall not encourage, nor pressure pilots to fly into any situation, weather, location, low altitude, confined space, wire environment, or other circumstance that may be beyond the known capabilities of the pilot or the aircraft.

H. Wire Strike Prevention (see Appendixes 27-8 and 27-9 for FAA Notification Requirements).

(1) Flight Environment Considerations. USGS projects often dictate that flights be conducted close to the ground where wires are prevalent. It is USGS policy to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommendations regarding establishment of an obstruction evaluation program and use of structural aircraft warning markers, Title 14, CFR, Part 77.

(2) Risk Assessments/Hazard Maps. To reduce wire strike potential, it is critical that a risk assessment be conducted prior to all low‑level flights. A low-level, flight-hazard map shall be constructed for the local operational area. All preplanned low-level flights require a thorough map reconnaissance of the route to be flown.

(a)  Flight Routes, Areas, Altitudes, and Airspace. Routing, altitudes, and airspace planning and coordination are vital parts of project planning to address the effects of local-area hazards, areas of high aviation use, high or low altitudes, and various airspace restrictions in the flight planning process.

(b)  Local Area Hazard Map. Power lines, radio towers, aviation navigation stations, etc., are hazards to aircraft performing at altitudes less than 500 feet of the surface. Stations flying low-level flights must have such maps, per 352 DM 1.9(D)(2). This map should be reviewed by the flight manager/chief of party and pilot prior to the flight. A high-level reconnaissance flight must be completed prior to descending below 500 ft of the surface. New hazards found must be added to the hazard map upon return. Local area hazard maps are required for the local operational area for all low-level flights to be flown within 500 feet of the ground surface.

(c)  Local Route and Working Area Map. When working at remote campsites, a map showing the daily route and working area of each employee involved in aviation activities must be left with a person designated by the project manager. Radio checks between the aircraft and camp shall be made at predetermined intervals (usually not more than 1 hour). Radio check reports must be logged (documented in writing) by a project manager designee.

I. Operational Environment Considerations. Environmental conditions are those conditions over which there is no human control. Forecast or known environmental conditions are not mishap cause factors.  For example, structural damage caused by flying into forecast severe turbulence is NOT a mishap causal factor. A pilot’s decision to fly into forecast or known severe turbulence is a cause factor.  Cause factors are normally under human control and can be eliminated. Managers must be aware that their actions may encourage pilots to operate beyond existing capability. Pilots must be ever cognizant of environmental conditions in which they are expected to operate safely and are the final authority relative to a GO/NO-GO decision based upon environmental and safety considerations.  Factors such as snow, wind velocity, cold weather (-40 degree Fahrenheit), etc., may have a direct impact on performance of the aircraft. Flights in such conditions are permitted only in compliance with 351 DM 1.

J. Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE). Project leaders shall ensure appropriate and adequate ALSE, including PPE, is aboard the aircraft or being worn by the individual, based upon Departmental requirements, guidelines, project needs, and individual state statute requirements. Detailed information is contained in the ALSE Handbook.

(1) PPE. Crewmembers must wear PPE on all special-use flights as detailed in the Aviation Life Support Handbook (ALSE Handbook). PPE consists of fire-retardant clothing (NOMEX), aviator’s protective helmet (except in multiengine airplanes) that provides head, hearing, and eye protection, leather boots extending above the ankles, and flight gloves made completely of NOMEX or leather, or a combination of NOMEX and leather. For special-use aviation operations inextreme snow/cold/wet conditions the use of synthetic or synthetic-natural fiber blends is authorized in lieu of fire-resistant clothing (inner- and outerwear). Likewise, footwear made of rubber (waders) or rubber combined with cotton, canvas, or leather with felt liners (snowpac boots) may be worn. Where operating environmental conditions justify PPE substitution, supervisors shall inform persons involved in such operations of the increased personal hazard associated with wearing other than fire-resistant clothing, gloves, and footwear in the event of a post-mishap fire.

(2) Outer and Undergarment. Garments worn over the NOMEX flight suit should be made of NOMEX or other fire-resistant material. Nylon, Dacron, or polyester undergarments which have direct contact with the wearer’s skin may not be worn with PPE as they present an unacceptable exposure to post-mishap fire injury, per Chapter 2.2 of the ALSE Handbook.

(3) First-Aid Kit. Specific items which must be in first aid kits is found in Chapter 3.4 of the ALSE Handbook and must be onboard all aircraft under operational control of USGS.

(4) Survival Kit. A survival kit containing the minimum items listed in Appendix 1 of the ALSE Handbook must be onboard all special-use flights. Suggested additional items for survival kits for Alaska or Canada flights are in Appendix 2 of the ALSE Handbook.

(5) Personal Flotation Device (PFD). PFD’s must be used on DOI aircraft, per Chapter 3.1 of the ALSE Handbook, in the following instances:

(a) Worn on takeoffs or landings to water (including float and boat-hulled aircraft).

(b) Worn during water bucket dipping or snorkeling operations.

(c) Worn by occupants of single-engine aircraft when operating beyond gliding distance to shore.

(d) PFD’s do not have to be worn but must be immediately available to occupants aboard DOI flights in multiengine aircraft operating beyond gliding distance to shore.

(6) Extended Overwater Operations. DOI aircraft must have survival equipment per 14 CFR 135.167 for extended overwater operations.

(7) Anti-Exposure Garments. Antiexposure garments must be worn in single-engine aircraft and be readily available to occupants of multiengine aircraft when conducting extended overwater flight and/or where water temperature is colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, per Chapter 3.2(B) of the ALSE Handbook.

(8) Waivers or Exceptions. Waivers or exceptions to PPE requirements may be granted, per Chapter 1.4 of the ALSE Handbook. Copies of Bureau-granted waivers must be provided to the OAS Director and be included with Bureau requests for procurement services when such operations are to be conducted, per 350 DM 1.9.

(9) Personal Emergency Locator Transmitters/Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon (EPIRB). Use of Personal Emergency Locator Transmitters (designed for use on land) or EPIRB’s (designed for use over water) is recommended. Personal transmitters and EPIRB’s, should not be operated if the aircraft-installed unit is operational and transmitting. Two signals from the same location may prevent the satellite or search aircraft homing radio from accurately pinpointing the mishap site.

(10) Retroreflective Tape. The use of retroreflective tape on PFD’s or helmets is recommended as an additional safety measure.

K. Flight Following. As a potential lifesaving condition, each Bureau should include a flight following requirement in the aircraft mishap prevention plan. This plan should specify the method or procedure to be used that will accommodate communications from mission personnel (or the pilot) to the flight‑following facility at predetermined intervals. Additional information concerning flight following is contained in 351 DM 1.

(1) Pilots shall file and operate on an FAA flight plan, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flight plan, or in accordance with USGS’s flight plan, approved by the BAM. Flight plans should be filed before departure when possible.

(2) USGS flight plans and flight following must specify route of flight, estimated time of arrival, aircraft tracking during flight, and emergency response procedures. USGS flight following must provide for position reports to be documented at predetermined intervals (usually not more than 1 hour), and provide enough information so that an aircraft can be easily located should it become overdue or mission.  Flight following must be established with FAA, ICAO, and/or in accordance with the USGS’s flight following program.

(3) The pilot or a designated passenger must request the local FAA Flight Service Station or person with local flight following responsibilities to close the flight plan within 30 minutes after landing.

L. Passenger Manifest. A passenger manifest or similar document listing crew members and passengers onboard the aircraft must be completed per 351 DM 1.5, or in accordance with the USGS’s flight plan approved by the BAM.

M. Emergencies. When an emergency requires a deviation from the planned mission profile, pilots must taken appropriate action to ensure the safety of the passengers and report the incident to the Flight Manager/Chief of Party and OAS via a SAFCOM, per 351 DM 1.1(H).

N. Weight and Balance. It is imperative that proper consideration and planning be given to the aircraft weight and balance computation and subsequent loading. The actual weight of personnel and/or cargo must be considered relative to the environment (elevation, temperature, wind, surface conditions, etc.) and aircraft performance capabilities. This will be accomplished for each takeoff and landing for all aircraft. Documentation will be determined by the USGS organization conducting the operation(s).

(1) Weight and balance information shall be kept in each aircraft flight manual or weight and balance book, per 351 DM 1.1(F), and used to compute maximum takeoff and landing weights prior to each flight, per 352 DM 1.9(H).

(2) It is imperative that proper consideration and planning be given to the aircraft weight and balance computation and subsequent loading. The actual weight of personnel and/or cargo must be considered relative to the environment (elevation, temperature, wind, surface conditions, etc)) and aircraft performance capabilities. This will be accomplished for each takeoff and landing for all aircraft. It is recommended that an OAS Form-67 (Load Calculation) be used for calculation and documentation.

O. Airspace Coordination. Airspace planning and coordination are becoming more important as the limited airspace is becoming more congested. All users of the airspace system need to be aware of special-use airspace and what restrictions apply to the use of that airspace. Coordination with other airspace users, such as the military, is an important safety issue. Airspace coordination is an important part of mission planning.

P. Records and Reports.

(1) DOI Aircraft Flight/Use Report. Personnel shall report flight hours in the following manner, per 350 DM 1.8:

(a) DOI fleet aircraft, Form OAS-2.

(b) Aircraft, Use Report Form OAS-23.

(c) Cooperator aircraft under the operational control of DOI, Form OAS-23. OAS-23’s or nonrevenue flight must be noted “Information Only – No Payment.”

(d) Privately owned aircraft used on official business, Form OAS-2.

(e) BILLEE Code. Each station using flight services should have an individual OAS BILLEE code for recording flight activity and billing purposes.

Q. Fleet Aircraft Acquisition and Disposition.

(1) General. Fleet aircraft may be acquired by USGS when warranted by mission requirements, amount of use, availability of a qualified pilot, and other factors.

(2) Acquisition. Acquisition of fleet aircraft requires that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular No. A-76 (revised), Performance of Government Aircraft, must be satisfied and approved by appropriate Bureau and Department officials, per 353 DM 6. The requesting agency is responsible for funding both initial and replacement aircraft.

(3) Disposition. Disposition of fleet aircraft must be through OAS.

R. Fleet Aircraft Equipment. Aircraft used in support of aviation activities within the Department must be equipped in accordance with 351 DM 2.

S. Aircraft Maintenance, Inspection and Security.

(1) Maintenance and Inspection. Fleet aircraft must be maintained and inspected in accordance with 351 DM 2.

(2) Fuel. The pilot must supervise the type, quantity, and quality of fuel used in the aircraft.

(3) Log Entries. All aircraft maintenance and inspections performed must be appropriately recorded in the aircraft logs.

(4) Security. The pilot is responsible for all precautions necessary to ensure the security of aircraft. Aircraft should be hangared or otherwise secured when not in use.

T. Government Pilots.

(1) General. As a rule, USGS will support the use of dual-function pilots and incidental pilots rather than dedicated full-time pilots.

(2) Qualifications. Pilots must meet the minimum requirements in 351 DM 3 and undergo a successful review by the OAS.

(3) Letter of Flight Authority. Incidental pilots must meet the criteria listed in 351 DM 3.2(B) and have a Letter of Flight Authority from the Division Chief, in coordination with the BAM.

(4) DOI Pilot Qualification Card. Pilots employed by USGS who are authorized to perform official flight duties must have a DOI Pilot Qualification Card, per 351 DM 3.5(D).

(5) Pilot Qualification Card Suspension/Revocation. Procedures for suspension and revocation of a DOI Pilot Qualification Card are in 351 DM 3.5(E) and 351 DM 3, Appendix 1.

(6) Flight Experience. Pilots must fly a minimum of 24 hours per fiscal year, including 6 hours in the previous 6 months in aircraft category, per 352 DM 3.2(A)(4) and 351 DM 3.2B(4)(c).

(7) Failure to Meet Flight Experience Requirements. Pilots who are deficient may regain currency by demonstrating Visual Flight Rule (VFR) proficiency to a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and an appropriate endorsement made in the pilot logbook by the CFI, per 351 DM 3.2(A)(4) and 352 DM 3.2B(4)(c). If a pilot has not flown a specific make and model within the preceding 12 months, a satisfactory dual instruction period by a CFI is required in that make and model aircraft before piloting duties can be performed, per 352 DM 3.4(J).

(8) Pilot Flight Checks. Initial and annual VFR flight checks, and, if needed, semiannual Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) flight checks must be successfully completed, per 351 DM 3.4(D). Proficiency must be demonstrated in accordance with the OAS Flight Evaluation Guide. Additional flight checks will be given when the configuration of the aircraft changes or when missions will be flown in different environments that require special skills and knowledge. Flight checks and/or additional training may be given after an aircraft mishap where pilot proficiency and/or judgment was found to be a contributing factor.

U. Use of Government Aircraft.

(1) General. Travel on Government aircraft is restricted to official travel or travel on a space-available basis, per 350 DM 1.7.

(2) Official Travel. Official travel is (l) travel to meet mission requirements, (2) travel to meet communication or security needs (required-use travel), and (3) other travel for the conduct of agency business.

(3) Space-Available Travel. Space-available travel is using aircraft capacity that would otherwise be unused on an already-scheduled flight, general limited to Federal personnel and their families in remote locations which are not reasonably accessible to regularly scheduled commercial airline service. Use of space-available travel requires reimbursement at the full coach rate and approval per OMB Circular No. A-126 or the DOI Solicitor or designee. Requests must be processed through the BAM 10 days prior to planned travel. Space-available travel is not allowed on special-use flights.

V. Administrative Travel.

(1) Government aircraft may be used for administrative travel purposes provided that (1) the cost is not more than commercial sources or (2) commercial aircraft is not reasonably available to meet the traveler’s departure/arrivalrequirements within a24-hour period, unless it can be demonstrated there are extraordinary circumstances which require a shorter period to fulfill the agency requirement.

(2) In order to assure compliance with OMB Circular No. A-76 (revised), Form OAS-110 or like document must be prepared for administrative flights. Approval for the flight is necessary from a designated official at least one level higher than the traveler. Unless there are security, communication, or time constraints involved, a cost comparison with commercial sources is required.

(3) Required-Use Travel. Required-use travel is that which necessitates the use of Government aircraft for the travel of an Executive Agency officer or employee because of bona fide communication or security needs of the agency or exceptional scheduling requirements. With certain exceptions, advance trip-by-trip authorization by the DOI Solicitor or designee is required. Reimbursement at the full coach rate may be necessary. Requests must be processed through the BAM 10 days prior to planned travel.

(4) Other Travel. Prior approval on a trip-by-trip basis from the DOI Solicitor or designee is required for Senior Federal Officials or Senior Executive Branch Officials, members of families of such senior Federal officials, and non-Federal travelers for travel that is not to meet mission requirements or required-use travel. Such requests must be processed through the BAM for approval by the DOI Solicitor or designee approval at least 10 days prior to planned travel. Reimbursement the full coach rate is required for any portion of the trip that is incidental private activity.

(5) Official Passengers.

(a) Officers and personnel of the Federal Government traveling on official business.

(b) Members of Congress and personnel of congressional committee staffs whose work relates to Departmental programs.

(c) Non-Federal passengers engaged in missions enhancing USGS program accomplishment.

(6) Unauthorized Passengers. All persons who are not official passengers will be considered unauthorized and may not use any aircraft owned, operated by, or flown on behalf of USGS.

(7) Emergency Use. USGS supervisors may authorize the use of Government aircraft to assist in life-threatening circumstances, disaster relief efforts, etc.

W.  Contract, Rental, and Charter Aircraft.

(1) General. Aircraft operators providing contract, charter, or hourly rental service to DOI Bureaus must be approved by OAS.

(2) Procurement. With the exceptions listed in 353 DM 1.2(A), all official flight services must be procured through OAS.

(3) End-Product Contracts. Due to potential liability from the issuance of end-product contracts which use or are likely to use aviation as the method of delivery, strict compliance with 353 DM 1.2(A) and supplemental regulation is recommended.

(4) Procurement of Flight Services from Non-Federal Public Agencies. Procurement of and reimbursement for flight services from non-Federal public agencies is unauthorized, unless it is necessary to respond to an imminent threat to life or property and no service by a commercial operator is reasonably available to meet the threat. Stations making such procurements must document the circumstances, upon FAA request.

(5) Billing and Payments for flight services must be processed by OAS.

(6) Payment of flight services within the United States by purchase order, imprest fund, Government Transportation Request, etc., is not authorized. Such action is subject to ratification, and the station procuring unauthorized flight services may incur a charge of $1,000 for the ratification procedure.

(7) OAS Contract and Rental Source List. OAS regularly publishes a Contract and Vendor Source List. Personnel who have been delegated the authority to procure flight services may do so directly from approved sources.

(8) One-Time Charter Service. If suitable aircraft is not available through currently approved sources, OAS may charter aircraft for individual flights.

(9) Basic Rental Agreement, Contract, and Charter Services. Requests for ARA’s, contracts (aircraft use totaling more than $25,000 annually), or charter aircraft must be approved by the BAM prior to processing by OAS.

X. Cooperator Aircraft.

(1) Military, Another Public Agency, or Private Entity Aircraft. Aircraft and pilots must meet DOI standards for general or special-use flights. Requests for use of cooperator aircraft must be coordinated with the BAM a minimum of 5 business days prior to the planned flight and provide the information in 351 DM 4.

(2) Carding, Letter of Approval (LOA), or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). In lieu of issuing individual Interagency Aircraft Data Cards and DOI Pilot Qualification Cards, MOUs, or LOAs for aircraft and pilots will be issued where agency-wide approval has been given.

(3) Research Work Orders/Cooperative Agreements/Support Services Contracts. Such agreements involving the use of flight services must contain language that all persons onboard aircraft under the operational control of USGS are subject to the directives of this Handbook.

27.8  Aviation Mishap Information System (AMIS).

A.  AMIS Program. AMIS is an electronic data (files) storage based system encompassing all aspects of aviation mishap reporting within DOI. Categories of reports include aircraft mishaps, aviation hazards, aircraft maintenance deficiencies, and airspace intrusions. The system uses the SAFECOM (Form OAS-34) to report any condition, observance, act, maintenance problem, or circumstance(s) which have potential to cause an aviation-related mishap. Submitting a SAFECOM is not a substitute for “on-the-spot” correction(s) to a safety concern; rather, it is a tool used in the documentation, tracking, and follow-up corrective action(s) related to a safety issue.  Additional information is contained in the DOI Aviation Mishap Notification, Investigation and Reporting Handbook. The AMIS report does not replace the requirement for initiating a DI‑134, Report of Accident/Incident, as required in 485 DM 5.

B.  Program Promotion. The AMIS Program shall be promoted by all levels of management. The SAFECOM form shall be made readily available to pilots, passengers, dispatchers, CORs, maintenance personnel, project leaders, managers and others in positions to affect aviation safety.  Prompt replies to the originator (if a name and telephone number/address are provided), timely action to correct problems, and discussion of filed SAFECOM’s at local level meetings encourage program participation and active reporting.

27.9 Aviation Safety and Aircraft Mishap Information Dissemination. The OAS Aviation Safety Office publishes the following:

A. Safety Alert. The Safety Alert is red-bordered and will be used to disseminate information of a significant nature regarding aviation safety within the Department. The three areas addressed are operations, maintenance, and publications. These Safety Alerts will be published on an unscheduled basis.

B. Aircraft Mishap Prevention Bulletin. The Aircraft Mishap Prevention Bulletin is green-bordered and will be used to disseminate information of a general nature regarding aircraft mishap prevention concepts, methods, procedures and efforts. Bulletins will be published on an unscheduled basis as pertinent information/subject materials become available.

C. Aviation Safety Review. An annual review of aircraft mishaps, associated statistical data, and trend analysis will be published and distributed following the mishap reporting year.

D. Aircraft Mishap Video. A video which provides a synopsis of the previous year’s aircraft mishaps will be produced. This video will be produced for mishap prevention purposes only. It will contain representative aircraft mishaps and relative information. Information contained in the video cannot be relied upon as a viable source of information for use in employee grievance procedures, litigation, or as an official response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

27.10 Aircraft Mishap Notification, Investigation, and Reporting.

A. Aircraft Investigations. In an effort to prevent future aircraft mishaps, it is the policy of the USGS to investigate all USGS aircraft mishaps using one of the following investigation procedures.

(1) On-site investigations will be conducted whenever possible for all fatal aircraft accidents, other selected aircraft accidents, and selected incidents with potential.

(2) Limited investigations will be conducted for selected aircraft accidents and selected incidents with potential. A limited investigation will not normally include a visit to the accident site.

(3) Administrative investigations will be conducted for reports of conditions observances, acts, maintenance problems, or circumstances that can cause an aircraft mishap.

B. Applicability. Aircraft mishap reports cannot be used in lieu of reports prescribed in 451 DM 1 and 485 DM 5.

C. Aircraft Mishap Notification. Mishap notification procedures are located in the Aircraft Mishap Notification, Investigation, and Reporting Handbook.

D. Aircraft Mishap On-site Investigations. The OAS Director has the responsibility and authority to conduct DOI aircraft mishap investigations. OAS aircraft mishap investigation activities shall be given priority over all other investigations of the same mishap except for National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigations. The OAS Aviation Safety Manager will be responsible for coordinating all DOI investigations with the NTSB and will serve as the DOI point of contact for NTSB aircraft mishap investigations.

(1) Investigator-In-Charge (IIC). The OAS Aviation Safety Manager will designate a DOI IIC who organizes, conducts, and controls the DOI investigation. The DOI IIC shall assume responsibility for the supervision and coordination of all resources and the activities of all DOI personnel involved in the investigation. When the NTSB IIC is conducting an on-site investigation, the DOI IIC will assume a secondary role and, whenever possible, will serve as the DOI party to the NTSB investigation, fully assisting the NTSB IIC.

(2) DOI Investigation Team. The DOI IIC will select DOI investigation team members based on the complexities of the mishap. Bureaus should designate a bureau representative team member to work under the direction of the DOI IIC. To ensure an impartial investigation, no member will have a personal interest in the mishap.

(3) Bureau Responsibilities. The USGS shall designate an on-site liaison to coordinate with the DOI IIC. Support shall be provided to the DOI Investigation Team as deemed essential by the DOI IIC. Additional USGS responsibilities are listed in the Aircraft Mishap Notification, Investigation, and Reporting Handbook.

(4) Vendor Responsibilities. The vendor of an aircraft involved in a mishap or selected Incident with Potential, occurring in support of USGS aviation activities shall secure all appropriate operator records, reports, internal documents, and memoranda dealing with the aircraft and employee(s) involved in the mishap. Such support shall be addressed in the appropriate Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) or other contractual agreements as appropriate.

(5) Other Government Agency Investigations.

(a)    P.L. 103-411 assigns responsibility to the NTSB for investigating or causing to be investigated all public aircraft accidents. DOI will fully cooperate and assist the NTSB. Additionally, the OAS Director will ensure a DOI investigation is conducted for the purpose of accident prevention. The extent of the DOI investigation will depend on the extent (on-site, limited, etc.) of NTSB investigation.

(b)    Where other Government agencies have operational control or jurisdiction over the investigation of an aircraft mishap or incident with potential where DOI personnel or interests are involved, the OAS Director will designate a qualified Investigator to represent DOI. Other DOI personnel may attend the non-DOI investigation as Bureau liaison but shall not serve as a party to the investigation. This responsibility rests solely with the OAS Director.

(c)    When extensive cooperative aviation activities are involved (e.g., USDA-Forest Service), an interagency agreement for the joint investigation of aircraft mishaps shall be completed.

(6)       Military Aircraft. The military forces have authority and control over their aircraft in the event of an accident. Close coordination between OAS, the NTSB, and the military authority involved is essential when a joint investigation is required. All correspondence relating to DOI involvement in the accident shall be addressed to the OAS Director.

E. Investigation Files. An aircraft mishap investigation file will be created for all DOI on-site and limited investigations. The DOI Mishap File will include information of interest to DOI that may not be addressed in the NTSB aircraft accident report. Following receipt of the NTSB aircraft accident investigation report, the OAS Director will forward the NTSB report and the OAS Mishap File through the Chief Executive Officer of the Interior Service Center to the Director of the Bureau experiencing the mishap.

F. Limited Use of Mishap File.

(1) Mishap File information is privileged in that it shall be used only for mishap prevention purposes. It shall not be used for any other purpose. For example, the Mishap File shall not be used:

(a)    In making any determination affecting the interest of an individual making a statement involved in a mishap.

(b)    As evidence or to obtain evidence in determining the misconduct of agency personnel.

(c)    As evidence to determine the disciplinary responsibility of agency personnel.

(d)    As evidence to assert affirmative claims on behalf of the Government.

(e)    As evidence to determine the liability of the Government for property damage, injuries, or death.

(f)    As evidence before administrative bodies.

(g)    In any other punitive or administrative action taken by agencies of the United States, including airman or maintenance certification enforcement proceedings.

(2)       Investigator Release of Information. Investigators, including all parties to the investigation, shall not make public their own opinions, conclusions, or recommendations in their capacity as a mishap investigator. Information received as a result of participation in a NTSB investigation shall be handled in accordance with NTSB instructions.

G. Use of Investigative Files and Reports. When requested by the head of a parallel DOI investigation group, facts relating to the mishap may be released. Privacy information and confidential witness statements shall be withheld. While the mishap facts are provided to preclude unnecessary duplication of on-site investigation efforts, the parallel investigation group must reach its own conclusions pertaining to personal liability and fault.

H. Information Disclosure. The OAS Aviation Safety Office is the Custodian of Record for DOI mishap information. Release of information regarding accident prevention and investigation shall be subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, as amended, and the Privacy Act of 1974. All requests for copies of OAS aircraft mishap files shall be referred to the OAS Aviation Safety Office for action. All requests for copies of NTSB aircraft accident reports shall be referred to the NTSB.

I. Interior Aircraft Mishap Review Board. A DOI Aircraft Mishap Review Board (AMRB) is responsible for developing mishap prevention recommendations for all DOI accidents and selected incidents with potential. Specific responsibilities, functions and procedures are listed in the Aircraft Mishap Notification, Investigation, and Reporting Handbook.

J. Aviation Mishap Response Plan (AMRP). Each location using flight services must maintain a current and complete AMRP detailing necessary actions in the event of a missing or downed aircraft, per 352 DM 6.  Additional information is contained Chapter 3 of the Aviation Mishap Notification, Investigation, and Reporting Handbook.

K.  Aircraft Mishap Procedures.

(1) Aircraft mishaps are broadly defined as follows:

(a) Accidents involve death or serious injury or substantial damage to the aircraft.

(b) Incidents with Potential are those in which the circumstances indicate significant potential for substantial damage or serious injury.

(c) Aircraft Incidents are occurrences that affect or could affect the safety of operations.

(2) USGS Aircraft Accident/Incident with Potential Notification and Documentation Procedures.

(a) Any employee involved in, witness to, or having immediate knowledge of an aircraft accident or incident involving injuries, shall, if able, perform the following duties in the order specified, per the Aircraft Mishap Notification, Investigation and Reporting Handbook, 352 DM 6.

(i) Take necessary action to rescue survivors.

(ii) Administer first aid or get medical attention for injured persons.

(iii) Notify the nearest fire department if danger of fire exists at the crash site.

(iv) Get local law enforcement officials to provide security for the crash site.

(v) Notify:

  • OAS Aviation Safety Office (1-888-4MISHAP); ask thatthey notify the NTSB.
  • BAM and USGS personnel, per the station’s Aviation Mishap Response Plan.

(vi) Designate a person to be in charge of the mishap site, get names, addresses, etc., of witnesses, and relay all media inquires to the investigating team or public relations officials.

(vii) Photograph wreckage and ground scars from all angles and various distances.

(viii) Complete an OAS-77 Form, Initial Report of Aircraft Accident/Serious Aircraft IncidentInstruction.

(ix) Ask all persons involved and all witnesses to complete written statements about the accident/incident with potential as soon as possible.

(x) Complete a DOI Form-134, Report of Accident/Incident.

(xi) Secure all USGS records pertaining to the operation, flight maintenance, crew members, etc.

(3) Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report. The aircraft operator must complete NTSB Form 6120.1/2, Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, and submit it to the nearest office of NTSB and to the OAS Safety Manager within 10 days following an Aircraft Accident or Incident with Potential.

(4) DOI Aircraft Incident Reporting and Documentation Procedures. When an aviation hazard, maintenance deficiency, or airspace conflict is noted, it must be reported to the OAS Safety Manager within 5 days by completing a SAFCOM form. The report can be made electronically or by mail. Reports may be made anonymously. Copies of the SAFCOM report should be provided to the Division Safety Manager and the BAM.

(5) Aircraft Mishap Investigations. The NTSB will investigate, or have investigated, all aircraft accidents. When NTSB investigates DOI accidents, OAS may be included or asked to conduct the investigation.

27.11 Responsibilities.

A. Director, Office of Aircraft Services.

(1) Develops Departmental policy statements regarding aviation management for documentation in the Departmental Manual by the A/S‑PMB which include:

(a) Standards for pilots and aircraft utilized in conducting DOI aviation activities.

(b) Aviation safety and aircraft mishap prevention functions.

(c) Maintenance standards and inspection procedures.

(d) Identification of operational considerations for mishap prevention efforts.

(2) Assists Bureaus in developing and implementing aviation safety and aircraft mishap prevention programs.

(3) Establishes and maintains a positive Departmental aviation safety program.

(4) Advises and supports Bureau aviation safety personnel.

(5) Administers the DOI Aviation Safety Awards Program.

(6) Reviews Departmental and Bureau aviation operational publications when requested.

(7) Identifies, develops, coordinates, and conducts essential aviation safety, aviation management, and aircraft mishap prevention education training.

(8) Provides technical assistance to OAS Aviation Safety Management personnel in conducting evaluations.

(9) Keeps the Office of the Secretary informed on the status of the DOI Aviation Safety Program.

(10) Monitors DOI airspace needs and coordinates Departmental responses to proposed airspace actions that would affect Bureau programs and functions.

(11) Develops specific Departmental guidance and procedures for effecting airspace restrictions under Federal Aviation Regulations.

(12) Facilitates the DOI Aircraft Mishap Review Board process and forwards all Board recommendations to appropriate action offices.

(13) Establishes evaluation criteria for and provides leadership in the conduct of aviation program management and aviation safety program management evaluations within the Department.

(14) Other responsibilities as specified in 112 DM 12, the 350‑354 DM series and OPM’s.

B. OAS Aviation Safety Manager. The OAS Aviation Safety Manager is responsible for the overall administration of the Interior Aviation Safety Awards Program. The OAS Aviation Safety Office shall ensure all SAFECOM’s are stored in the electronic database and access is provided to Bureau aviation management personnel. Appropriate action shall be taken on identified Department-level aviation safety concerns.

C. USGS Director. The Director is responsible for the implementation of an aviation safety program and delegates the administrative authority and following aviation program responsibilities to the Bureau Designated Agency Safety and Health Official (DASHO). The DASHO serves as the USGS senior management official to the Interior Aviation Board of Directors.

(1)  Identifies and provides resources for the education and training of personnel as required in the Aviation User Training Program and 485 DM.

(2)  Encourages organizational application of all Departmental and USGS aviation safety policies.

(3)  Designates a USGS Aviation Manager.

(4)  Designates a USGS Aviation Safety Manager.

(5)  Assigns a representative to serve as liaison with OAS for all NTSB reportable mishaps.

(6)  Promotes active participation in the AMIS.

(7)  Encourages attendance at aircraft mishap prevention seminars.

(8)  Encourages USGS participation at Interior Aircraft Mishap Review Boards.

D. Bureau Safety and Environmental Management Branch/Bureau Aviation Manager.

(1) Publishes an aviation management plan to implement Departmental aviation policies established in Parts 350‑354 of the Departmental Manual and appropriate OAS OPM’s, and other guidelines. This chapter serves as the USGS Aviation Management Plan.

(2) Monitors USGS airspace needs and coordinate USGS responses to proposed airspace actions.

(3) Develops USGS specific procedures for implementing aviation management policy and aviation safety/mishap prevention programs, integrating the following six program elements into all USGS aviation safety programs: Aviation Safety Program Responsibilities, Aircraft Mishap Prevention Program, Aviation Review Program, Aviation Safety Awards Program, Aircraft Mishap Investigation, and Aviation Safety Education and Training.

(4) Furnishes current USGS aviation management plan and aviation manuals, standards, policy statements, and directives regarding their aviation program, including aviation safety information to the OAS Director.

(5) Provides guidance to USGS organizations in implementing Departmental aviation management and aviation safety management program requirements.

(6) Identifies and provides appropriate resources for the education and training of staff, line managers, and field personnel, as outlined in the Aviation User Training Program.

(7) Serves as a focal point for aviation matters within the USGS.

(8) Annually coordinates the USGS-OAS interagency agreement, a mutual determination of aircraft services and facilities to be provided by OAS at cost to the USGS. Coordinate’s bureau policy regarding procedures relating to aviation.

(9) Manages the USGS responsibilities of the DOI AMIS.

(10) Encourages attendance of USGS personnel at aviation safety management education and training courses, workshops, and seminars.

(11) Disseminates aircraft mishap prevention information to the appropriate levels of the organization.

(12) Supports the DOI aircraft mishap prevention effort by maintaining liaison with the OAS Aviation Safety Manager for aircraft mishap prevention purposes.

(13) Develops and coordinates USGS aviation safety and aircraft mishap prevention meetings, conferences, workshops, or seminars.

(14) Bureau Aviation Manager is the principal aviation consultant and aviation safety advisor and represents USGS on the ABOD Working Team.

(15) Provides oversight for the USGS aviation safety awards program.

(16) Conducts Aviation Safety Evaluations and Inspections of Bureau, regional, and field units with aviation activities, as applicable, to include annual review of program deficiencies and corrective actions.

E.  Regional Director; Regional Executives; Chiefs, Office of Regional Services.

(1)  Appoint a Collateral Duty Aviation Safety Manager within the Region to represent the Region on the Bureau Aviation Safety Board.

(2)  Include aviation activities in project planning, assuring compliance with DOI and USGS aviation policies, and minimizing or eliminating safety hazards.

(3)  Provide aviation program oversight for the conduct of Regional Headquarters and regional science program field organization aviation safety evaluations and inspection programs in conjunction with safety program assessments and facility inspections as mentioned in Chapters 5 and 6 of this manual.

(4)  Provide resources for the education and training of personnel as required in the Aviation User Training Program and 485 DM.

F.  Regional Safety Managers, Regional Safety Officers, Regional Aviation Committee Representative.

(1) Assist field level Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators and Aviation Program Coordinators in establishing and meeting aviation program compliance, as applicable.

(2) Include aviation safety as a reviewed element in Regional Headquarters, regional science program and field-level evaluations and inspections.

(3) Coordinate the conduct and documentation of regional aviation training, as applicable.

G.  Organizational Managers and Supervisors, Team Leaders, and Cooperative Unit Leaders.

(1)  Establish a field-level aviation program in compliance with subject requirements and appoint a Collateral Duty Aviation Safety Program Coordinator, as applicable.

(2)  Include aviation activities in project planning, assuring compliance with DOI and USGS aviation policies, and minimize or eliminate safety hazards.

(3)  Develop a local Aviation Management Plan using Appendix 27-7, USGS Aviation Management Plan Template in this Handbook.

(4)  Oversee the conduct of local aviation safety evaluations and inspection programs in conjunction with annual self-conducted field program assessments and inspections. Self-Inspections may be accomplished by using the USGS Aviation Activities Checklist, Appendix 27-6, USGS Aviation Activity Checklist, or like document, is recommended for organization self-inspection. The Aviation Activities Checklist or like documents should be maintained at the applicable organizational location, along with documentation of actions taken to correct deficiencies.

(5)  Ensure field compliance with obstruction standards set forth in 14 CFR, Part 77 that pertain to cableways, inclusive of height and proximity to airports, (structures that exceed an overall height of 200 feet (ft) above the surrounding terrain or of lesser height located within 20,000 ft of an airport or 5,000 ft of a heliport). See Appendix 27-9, FAA Notice of Proposed Construction or Alternation Requirements.

(6)  Submit a request for an FAA aeronautical study by completing FAA Form 7460-1, Notice of Construction or Alteration, Appendix 27-9 to your FAA Regional Office. Office locations are located in Appendix 27-10, FAA Regional Offices. The purpose of the eronautical study of existing markers is to alert the FAA of the existence of a marked structure, and to obtain an FAA recommendation on whether the aircraft warning markers shall be maintained, and if they are to be maintained, whether they meet FAA standards. The FAA provides this service at no cost to the USGS unless the FAA recommends that the structure be marked, or if a presently marked cableway needs to be modified or have the markers removed.

(7)  Ensure that a list of existing marked or unmarked cableways and plans for construction of new cableways that exceed 200 ft above the surrounding terrain,, or structures of a lesser height within 20,000 ft of an airport or within 5,000 ft of a heliport be submitted to the FAA along with the FAA Form 7460-1, to assist the FAA in determining necessary marking.

(8)  Notify the Regional Executive through the appropriate Regional Safety Officer or Regional Safety Manager that:

(a) All cableways have been reviewed.

(b) Cableways exceeding 200 ft high or structures of a lesser height within 20,000 ft of an airport or within a 5,000 ft of a heliport have been submitted to the FAA for an aeronautical study.

(c) Necessary actions or modifications made to conform to FAA recommendations.

(9) Retain results of FAA aeronautical studies in permanent files. Documents to assist in field submissions and complying with study requirements may be found in Appendixes 27-8 through 10 in this Handbook or at the following FAA Web site http://www.faa.gov/ats/ata/ata400/oeaaa.html.

H. Field Party Chief. Conducts the mission and assures that it is accomplished in accordance with DOI and USGS aviation policies. A USGS Dual-function pilot may serve as both Pilot-in-Command and Field Party Chief.

I. Pilot-in-Command (PIC). Under USGS operational control, the final authority for the safe conduct of flight operations inclusive of the aircraft and personnel onboard.

J. Personnel. Know and follow DOI and Bureau aviation policies, attending and actively participating in appropriate aviation training, reporting potential and actual problems, and ensuring their own and the safety of others.


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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
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Last modification: 18-Jun-2008@15:12 (kk)