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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.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Every time you take flight, you need to be ready for the unexpected. Engine failures, inflight emergencies and other problems come up when you least expect them. However, if you train for these mishaps, your chances of survival increases.

The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC)  recommends every pilot undergo emergency procedures training. This type of training puts pilots in realistic, complex situations.

Multi-Engine Madness
Let’s look at an example from a multi-engine airplane: engine loss on takeoff. Your aircraft is climbing and the critical engine fails. With climb altitude and airspeed, you’re close to minimum control speed (Vmc). Any reduction in speed or increase in angle of attack will likely put you into an un-commanded yaw and roll toward the inoperative engine.

Losing an engine en-route or on approach is less critical because you’ll likely have more airspeed and more altitude to deal with. But, what if you have to go around? Single-engine go-arounds in light twins often don’t go well. They should be avoided, if possible. Another thought: while engine failure on a twin represents a 50 percent loss of power, it can result in as much as an 80 percent loss of performance.

Plan for these types of emergencies. Practice your response. Your ability to react will improve dramatically, and you’ll be glad you did!

Grab an Instructor
Flight simulation is another great tool for planning and preparing for an emergency. With a qualified instructor on board, you can experience an engine failure after takeoff, or practice your reaction to a primary or multi-function flight display failure. Your instructor can also help you practice with electrical failures, control-system failures and more.

Flight Simulation Software
Flight simulation software on your home computer, cell phone or tablet can also help you practice. This type of review will help you become familiar with the early indications of a failure and you’ll be experienced in overcoming your natural tendency toward denial with “This can’t be happening”, and rationalization “Oh, it’s probably just a gauge problem.”

Three Keys to Proper Emergency Planning
Finally, remember to:

1. Make a plan of action. For takeoffs, know the runway length and calculate your accelerate/stop distance. Know where you’ll go if you can’t make it back to the departure airport. If you have a multi-engine airplane, know your best single-engine climb speed (Vyse), which will become your target airspeed if an engine fails.

2. Review your plan before you fly. Make sure you and your fellow crewmembers are briefed on every takeoff, approach and landing. Review what you’ll do in the event of an emergency.

3. Practice with a flight instructor. You can never practice too much. Prepare for every possibility so you can respond quickly.

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:
Check out the GA Safety Enhancement fact sheet on Emergency Procedures Training. Fact sheets on previous topics are available on the main FAA Safety Briefing website.

Learn more about Scenario Based Training by reviewing this slide presentation.

You can never know too much about Defensive Flying. See the July/August 2013 issue of the FAA Safety Briefing for more.

When the Best Made Plans Go Awryis the topic of this still-relevant article in the November/December 2010 edition of FAA Safety Briefing.

Curious about the FARs? It’s a good idea to stay on top of them. The current Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) can be found 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.  The program 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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