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Fly Safe: Prevention of Loss of Control Accidents

Fly Safe: Prevention of Loss of Control AccidentsThe FAA and General Aviation (GA) group’s #FlySafe national safety campaign aims to educate the GA community about best practices in calculating and predicting aircraft performance, and operating within established aircraft limitations.

Establishing a Just Safety Culture

In 2015, the FAA introduced a Compliance Philosophy that embraces self-disclosure of errors. A “just culture” allows for due consideration of honest mistakes. But, even unintentional errors can have a serious impact on safety, so we ensure that the underlying safety concern is always addressed.

Our goal is to identify safety issues and correct them as effectively, quickly and efficiently as possible. Our view of compliance stresses a problem-solving approach, which includes root-cause analysis, transparency and information exchange. The goal is to improve the safety performance of all involved.

Compliance Action

The FAA’s compliance philosophy emphasizes “Compliance Action” where appropriate. Compliance Action is the FAA’s method for correcting unintentional deviations that come from flawed systems and procedures, simple mistakes, lack of understanding or diminished skills. The FAA believes that these types of deviations are best corrected through root cause analysis and training, education or other appropriate improvements to procedures or training programs. Examples of Compliance Actions include on-the-spot corrections, counseling, and additional training (including remedial training).

A Compliance Action is not a finding of violation. Rather, it is an open and transparent exchange of safety information between you and the FAA. Its only purpose is to restore compliance and correct the underlying causes that led to the deviation.

Generally, if you are qualified, as well as willing and able to cooperate, the FAA will resolve the issue with compliance tools, techniques, concepts and programs. However, an airman who indicates that he or she is unwilling or unable to comply, or shows evidence of intentional deviation, reckless or criminal behavior, or other significant safety risk would be ineligible for Compliance Action.

Compliance and Enforcement

The FAA expects compliance. Our approach to oversight does not mean that we’re going to go easy on compliance. The FAA will continue to use enforcement action when needed. The FAA will maintain strict accountability for inappropriate risk-taking behaviors, and will have zero tolerance for intentional or reckless behavior.

However, the FAA will not use enforcement as the first tool in the toolbox. In all cases, the goal of the FAA Compliance Philosophy is to achieve rapid compliance, to eliminate a safety risk or deviation, and to ensure positive and permanent change.

Information Sharing

The goal of the compliance philosophy is to create an open, problem-solving approach to allow safety problems to be understood through proactive exchange of information and effective compliance. Through increased sharing of safety data, we can better identify emerging hazards and predict aviation risks, including many of those that may contribute or directly lead to a loss of control situation.

The FAA may use the information collected to support col­laborative government and industry initiatives, build courses on, and support training that other safety organizations provide. The agency may also promote information via safety forums and online or printed articles. This exchange is crucial to adequately identify and address the hazards and risk in our activities.

Voluntary safety efforts such as the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST),General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC), Aviation Safety Information and Sharing (ASIAS), Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), and Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP) have demonstrated the benefits of this non-punitive, problem solving, collaborative approach to solving safety problems. In fact, the FAA and industry are now beginning the work of the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team.

Anyone can report a safety-related concern to Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) through the Electronic Report Submission page or by downloading, printing and submitting a report via U.S. Mail.

Risk-Based Decision Making

The Compliance Philosophy is part of the FAA’s Risk-Based Decision Making initiative, and uses consistent data-informed approaches to enable the FAA to make smarter, risk-based decisions. This engaged, solution-oriented, outcome-based approach reduces risk in the National Airspace System. It has helped industry and the FAA produce technological advances, training initiatives, and messaging designed to reduce accidents resulting from losing control of an aircraft.

Working Together

The FAA wants to work with you to identify and fix the root causes of a deviation. In all cases, we investigate the matter with public safety in mind. Working together, we have achieved a safety record that is unmatched. We must continue to set the gold standard when it comes to safety.

What is Loss of Control?

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 or aeronautical decision making
  • Failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action
  • Intentional failure to comply with regulations
  • Failure to maintain airspeed
  • Failure to follow procedure
  • Pilot inexperience and proficiency
  • Use of prohibited prescription or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol

Message from FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta:

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?

Last year, 384 people died in 238 general aviation 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: 

Compliance Philosophy News and Update, October 6, 2015. 

Another First in Our Safety Evolution,” speech by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, October 6, 2015.

FAA Order 8000.373 provides the background and requirements for this philosophy.

This overview summarizes the Order and its philosophy.

A handy brochure is available for quick reference.

Learn more about Compliance Philosophy in the January/February, 2016 issue of FAA Safety Briefing. 

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

Check out the 2016 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 GAJSC combines the expertise of many key decision makers across different parts of the FAA, several government agencies, and stakeholder groups. The other federal agencies are the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which participates as an observer. Industry participants include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of Flight Instructors, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, and the aviation insurance industry. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also participates as an observer.

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