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Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control Accidents

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Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control AccidentsNovember 2- The FAA and general aviation (GA) group’s #FlySafe national safety campaign aims to educate the GA community on how to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents this flying season.

What is Loss of Control (LOC)?
A Loss of Control (LOC) accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen because the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and may quickly develop into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot. Contributing factors may include: poor judgment/aeronautical decision making, failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action, intentional regulatory non-compliance, low pilot time in aircraft make and model, lack of piloting ability, failure to maintain airspeed, failure to follow procedure, pilot inexperience and proficiency, or the use of over-the-counter drugs that impact pilot performance.

Current topic: Vmc training and angle of attack indicators
Aviation safety experts have determined that many fatal multi-engine accidents may be prevented if pilots are better prepared to deal with engine failures – particularly in the takeoff and departure phases of flight. Here are two steps GA pilots can take to prevent a LOC accident:

1. Prepare for engine failures by training using comprehensive Vmcpractice demonstrations supervised by a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). 
2.  Equip with an Angle of Attack (AOA) system to avoid a stall/spin accidents. AOA indicators are available for retrofit for GA airplanes at affordable prices. The FAA has simplified the design approval requirements for AOA systems so pilots can add another valuable cockpit aid.

What is Vmc? Vmcis the minimum control speed with the critical engine inoperative. Marked with a red radial line on most airspeed indicators, it’s the minimum speed at which directional control can be maintained under a very specific set of circumstances. The critical engine is the engine that will have the most adverse effect on directional control if that engine fails. Any engine failure on a multi-engine airplane will result in a yaw toward the inoperative engine but if the critical engine fails; the yaw forces will be greater due to P-factor. All propeller-powered aircraft are subject to P-factor. Engines that rotate clockwise from the pilot’s perspective will produce greater thrust on descending propeller blades when the aircraft is flown at a positive angle of attack. 

How can I prepare for a stall/spin?There has been approximately one GA stall/spin accident every three days for the past 10 years. Stalls can occur at any airspeed in any phase of flight. These accidents often involve low time pilots. More than half of stalls/spins occur in the traffic pattern and most involve maneuvering.

Tips for pilots

  • Take Vmc training with a CFI to improve your response to a power loss.
  • Investigate equipping with an AOA indicator system.
  •  Practice! Keep your skills sharp and fly with a CFI and document your achievements in the Wings Proficiency Program.

Message from FAA Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker:
The FAA and industry are working together to prevent Loss of Control accidents and save lives. You can help make a difference by joining our Fly Safe campaign! Each month on, we’re providing pilots with a Loss of Control solution developed by a team of experts. They have studied the data and developed solutions – some of which are already reducing risk. We hope you will join us in this effort and spread the word. Follow #FlySafe on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I know that we can reduce these accidents by working together as a community.

Did you know?

  • Approximately 450 people are killed each year in GA accidents.
  • Loss of Control is the number one cause of these accidents.
  • Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight. It can happen anywhere and at any time.
  • There is one fatal accident involving LOC every four days.

Learn more
Aircraft Performance, FAA Safety Briefing May/June 2015 Edition

The FAA Airplane Flying Handbook, Chapter 12, pages 23-31.

FAA press release: FAA Clears Path for Installation of Angle of Attack Systems on Small Airplanes, February 5, 2014.

FAA Policy Memorandum on Angle of Attack system approval, February 5, 2014.

Angle of Attack Awareness videopresents an analysis of AOA devices in the general aviation environment and promotes FAA policy concerning non-required/supplemental AoA based systems for GA airplanes.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Margins of Safety videos on AOA.

The website has Notices, FAAST Blasts, online courses, webinars and more on key general aviation safety topics.

Check out the 2015 GA Safety Enhancements (SEs) fact sheets on the main FAA Safety Briefing website, including Flight Risk Assessment Tools.

The WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program helps pilots build an educational curriculum suitable for their unique flight requirements.  It is based on the premise that pilots who maintain currency and proficiency in the basics of flight will enjoy a safer and more stress-free flying experience.

The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) is comprised of government and industry experts who work together to use data to identify risk, pinpoint trends through root cause analysis, and develop safety strategies to reduce the risk of accidents in GA.

An FAA fact sheet outlines GA safety improvements and initiatives.

The Fly Safe campaign partners are: Air Bonanza Society (ABS) Air Safety Foundation, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), FAA Air Transportation Center for Excellence (COE) for General Aviation, FAASTeam, GA Joint Steering Committee, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Lancair Owners and Builders Organization (LOBO), 1800wxbrief/Lockheed Martin, National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA), Soaring Society of America (SSA), Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), and the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA).

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