The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the general aviation (GA) community’s national #FlySafe campaign helps educate GA pilots about how to avoid loss of control (LOC) accidents.
A 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.
LOC is the No. 1 root cause of fatalities in GA accidents. More than 25% of GA fatalities occur during the maneuvering phase of flight. Of those accidents, half involve stall/spin scenarios.
Stay safe! This series will show you how you can incorporate safety into every flight.
Be Alert After Maintenance
Do you know how to properly preflight your aircraft after maintenance? Many pilots secretly admit that they sometimes don’t quite know what they are looking for. Does that concern you? It should, since the pilot is the final authority when it comes to the aircraft’s fitness for safe flight.
As a pilot and/or aircraft owner, it is in your best interest to know and understand every component of your aircraft. You may think you have even less to worry about after your aircraft comes back from the shop. It should be in great shape, right?
Actually, aircraft just out of maintenance are more likely to have safety-of-flight issues than an aircraft in good condition flown on a daily basis. Something simple shouldn’t cause a problem, but work on multiple systems leaves the door open for more than a few complications.
For example, in-flight emergencies and accidents have occurred with incorrectly rigged flight control or trim systems. Loose bolts or a forgotten connector have led to other tragedies. It’s best to be on the safe side, know what work has been done, know what you are looking for, and perform thorough preflight checks.
Advanced Preflight Checks
Advanced Preflights go above and beyond the normal preflight checklist. Create your checklist by reviewing the maintenance history of the aircraft, and once you have that information, develop your additional items checklist. Once you have made this list, you can use it in all future preflight inspections. Find and review all aircraft records, including receipts, work orders, FAA Form 337s (Major Repair and Alteration forms) and approval for return to service tags (8130-3 Forms). Find any Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) data, including information on items no longer installed on the aircraft.
Some additional tips:
- Become familiar with all controls and systems before maintenance, and create a baseline. Having this information will make it easier for you to find any “abnormal” functions after maintenance.
- Coordinate with your mechanic to determine exactly what has been accomplished. Give those systems an extra look-over before flight.
- Pay particular attention to the aircraft components that were replaced or repaired. If you suspect a problem, ask your mechanic to recheck the aircraft.
- Be ready to abort take-off if something doesn’t feel right.
- For the first flight, stay in the pattern within gliding distance to the runway.
Your safety, and the safety of those who fly with you, depends on your vigilance. Check, ask questions, and recheck. Your life may depend on it!
Be sure to document your achievement in the Wings Proficiency Program. It’s a great way to stay on top of your game and keep you flight review current.
More about LOC:
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 2017 through September 2018, 382 people died in 226 GA accidents.
- LOC was the No. 1 cause of these accidents.
- LOC happens in all phases of flight. It can happen anywhere and at any time.
- There is one fatal accident involving LOC every four days.
Check out this FAA FAASTeam Fact Sheet on Advanced Preflight After Maintenance.
The NTSB provides these important preflight safety tips.
AOPA has a number of helpful resources, including How to Pre-Flight an Airplane.
What’s coming for the future? Learn about the benefits NextGen is bringing.
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 FAASafety.gov 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) comprises 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.