Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control Accidents

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The FAA and #FlySafe, the general aviation (GA) group’s national safety campaign, aims to educate the GA community on the best practices to calculate and predict aircraft performance and to operate within established aircraft limitations.

What is a Flight Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT)?

FRAT is a long name for a handy tool that will earn your respect through its ability to help keep you safe. A FRAT helps you to identify the risk profile as you plan a flight. Factors such as type of operation, environment, aircraft, crew training, and overall operating experience are evaluated by the tool. This helps you determine if the flight falls in a low, medium, or high-risk category. More importantly, after seeing the data, you can develop risk mitigation strategies to ensure your safety as well as the safety of your passengers.

The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC), a government/industry group that analyzes GA accidents and incidents, has found that improved risk assessment before and during a flight can significantly improve your chances of avoiding accidents and incidents. Although a FRAT tool cannot anticipate ALL hazards, it can help you recognize and mitigate the most common ones.

Where Can I Find a FRAT? 

The FAA FAAST Team has developed simple, automated spreadsheets that run on Microsoft Windows or Apple operating systems. All you have to do is download the file at There are also many free FRAT apps available for your mobile device. The FAA hopes to roll out its own FRAT app in the near future.

The FRAT format is pretty basic: In the FAA version, VFR pilots will consider which of the 20 flight, pilot, and aircraft conditions apply to the upcoming flight. IFR pilots have 22 conditions to review. Each condition is assigned a numerical value. Simply click the YES box next to each condition that applies to your flight. When you are finished, the total value corresponds to a risk matrix chart. If you are uncomfortable with the level of risk identified, mitigate the risk by adjusting conditions to improve your chances for a safe flight.

When you begin to use a FRAT, you’ll probably think of additional potential hazards. That’s to be expected and we encourage it because it means you are taking an active role in your Safety Risk Management. Think of each hazard as a potential liability. When you offset those liabilities with assets – good decisions – you will reduce or eliminate hazards and keep your safety account in balance.

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 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 LOC 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 LOC 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 Loss of Control every four days.

Learn more: 

Check out the 2016 GA Safety Enhancements (SEs) fact sheets on the main FAA Safety Briefing website, including a fact sheet on Flight Risk Assessment Tools.

Learn more about the tools available by reading, “You Can Take It with You,” on page 4 of the July/August 2012 edition of the FAA Safety Briefing.

Learn more by reading Chapter 4-2 of the FAA Risk Management Handbook (FAA-H-8083-2).

A robust safety culture is vital to everyone’s safety. What are the air carriers doing? Read the FAA Advisory Circular 120-92B to learn more about SMS for Aviation Service Providers.

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 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.