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Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control Accidents

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Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control AccidentsThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the general aviation (GA) community’s national #FlySafe campaign helps educate GA pilots about the best practices to calculate and predict aircraft performance and to operate within established aircraft limitations.

A Loss of Control (LOC) accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen when the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and quickly develops into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot.

What is Transition Training and Why Do I Need it?
One of the causal factors in many GA accidents is the lack of transition training. Accidents frequently result from pilots being unprepared for challenges presented by the new, or different, aircraft they are flying. Legally certificated pilots who operate aircraft within a specific category and class can experience significant differences among different types of aircraft within that category and class — thus necessitating the need for effective transition training.

While those differences can often be subtle, they can also present variations in handling characteristics that could ultimately affect your reaction time and/or lead to loss of aircraft control in normal, adverse, and emergency conditions.

It’s also important to remember that transitioning to another aircraft works both ways — stepping down is just as important as stepping up. Transitioning from a high performance aircraft to an aircraft with lower performance and complexity can have its own unique challenges. This is where a good transition-training program can help!

Transition training works best when there’s a written training syllabus, which will become your training checklist. A syllabus will provide a logical and comprehensive approach to your best training experience. You will need to cover all the basics, and a syllabus will keep you on track.

You will also need to review the certification standards documents, like the practical test standards (PTS), or the new airman certification standards (ACS), which has already replaced PTS on some certificates. These documents list the flight proficiency standards appropriate for the certificate and/or rating that you, the transitioning pilot holds. 

Transition training will teach you what is different about the aircraft or its installed equipment. Your syllabus should address the basics, including fuel, electrical, control, hydraulic, avionics, and environmental, with emphasis on how this equipment is different from what you are familiar with using.

The syllabus should cover normal, abnormal, and emergency procedures, as well as performance characteristics, including what to expect on takeoff, landing, climb, cruise, descent, and glide. You should also look at limitations, including weight and balance, speeds, and wind limits.

To operate your aircraft safely and efficiently you must thoroughly understand aftermarket modifications including tip tanks, engine modifications, and propeller modifications. It goes without saying that you should discuss anything unfamiliar with your flight instructor and you should train until you know how to handle that item in the event of an emergency.

The best bang for your buck will come from an instructor who is current, qualified, and thoroughly knows his or her stuff around the equipment that you want to master. The instructor should use a syllabus to conduct your training, and he or she should challenge you. A good way to find a qualified instructor is through aircraft manufacturer and type clubs, many of which have websites and online forums.

Message from Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell:
The FAA and industry are working together to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents and save lives. You can help make a difference by joining our #Fly Safe campaign. Every month on, we provide pilots with Loss of Control solutions developed by a team of experts — some of which are already reducing risk. I 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.

More about Loss of Control
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 or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol

Did you know?

  • From October 2016 through September 2017, 247 people died in 209 general aviation accidents.
  • Loss of Control was 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 Loss of Control every four days. 

Learn more: 

Shifting Gears—Tips for Tacking Transition Training, from the FAA Safety Briefing, has handy tips you’ll want to know.

This handy FAA/GAJSC Fact Sheet will give you what you need to know on Transition Training.

The FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program has more information.

You’ll want to look at the AOPA courses. One of them is Transitioning to Other Aircraft.

Time is getting short!! The FAA’s Equip ADS-B website gives you the information you need to equip now.

Curious about FAA regulations (Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations)? It’s a good idea to stay on top of them. You can find current FAA regulations on this website.

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

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 GA accidents. The GAJSC combines the expertise of many key decision makers in the FAA, several government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and stakeholder groups. 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 National Transportation Safety Board and the European Aviation Safety Agency participate as observers.

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