General Aviation Accident & Pilot Safety
Ask any pilot, safety is top priority when it comes to flying. General aviation accident prevention is the focus of our NTSB Debriefer. Learn keys to being a safe pilot with the articles below.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Don’t take for granted the importance of a good night’s rest
If the NTSB had its way, the FAA would be gauging whether or not you’re having sweet dreams and sleeping through the night cuddled up with your teddy bear.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The Steve Fossett Accident
The NTSB’s findings on the famed aviator’s fatal crash
The NTSB says the probable cause of the 2007 crash of adventurer Steve Fossett was an inadvertent encounter with downdrafts above mountainous terrain that exceeded the climb capability of the Bellanca Super Decathlon he was flying. Downdrafts, high-density altitude and mountainous terrain were all contributing factors.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Blocked Pitot Tubes
When accessible, pitot tubes and static ports should be checked in every preflight
The crash of Air France Flight 447, an Airbus A330, in the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009, during a flight from Brazil to Paris focused attention on pitot tubes, although many people had never heard of them before.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Knowing When To Cancel
Don’t fly with a known equipment deficiency
The other evening, I got a call from a friend who operates a Piper Navajo for his business. He filled me in on what had happened with a flight from his home airport in the Northeast to Miami, Fla.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Fixing Flutter Is Nothing New
Investigating violent oscillations that led to structural failure
In April, the NTSB advised the FAA to ground all Zodiac CH 601XL S-LSA and E-LSA until the FAA determines they have adequate protection from aerodynamic flutter, which occurs when airplane structures vibrate back and forth in increasingly violent oscillations, eventually reaching a point where the structure breaks apart.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The Pilot Decides
Controllers offer assistance, but it’s the pilot’s responsibility to manage the flight
Each year, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the union representing FAA controllers, honors members who’ve helped save pilots from dangerous situations that might have resulted in accidents.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Should You Reset A Circuit Breaker?
Revisiting and revising old ways of doing things
|The NTSB says it’s time to rethink something most GA pilots learned early in their training: If a circuit breaker trips while you’re flying, it’s okay to reset it after allowing a minute or two for it to cool, even if you have no idea what caused it to trip and cut off electrical power to a particular circuit. |
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
More Than Monitoring
Glass cockpits ease workload, but pilots shouldn’t forget to maintain their flying proficiency
|While I was at an FBO at the Westchester County Airport north of New York City a couple of days ago, a guy I hadn’t seen in a long time walked in. We immediately started catching up on a host of things, not the least of which were the predictable topics of what we’re flying and how much (or little) we’re getting in the air these days. |
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
US Airways Flight 1549 is reminiscent of other successful ditchings
|Without diminishing in any way the heroic actions of the pilots, flight attendants and passengers on US Airways Flight 1549, which was successfully ditched in the Hudson River after a bird strike on January 15, it’s important to note that most ditchings actually have a high survival rate.|
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The quantity and quality of information have improved, but icing is ever a deadly foe
|Ten years ago, the National Aviation Weather Program Council met in Washington, D.C., to develop ideas that could be turned into practical steps toward reducing the number of weather-related aircraft accidents. Regarding in-flight icing, the group—which included FAA, Department of Defense, NASA, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture and NTSB representatives—concluded that better observation systems were needed for detecting icing, and weather forecasts should present icing hazards in clear, easily understood formats. |
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Parachute Jump Operations
The risks go beyond just jumping out of an airplane
|This past September, the NTSB completed a special investigation on accidents involving aircraft used in parachute jumping. |
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Take weather briefings seriously
|There’s never been so much pre- and in-flight weather information available for pilots. If you can’t gather the raw data, forecasts and current airport observations by yourself, a briefer at a Flight Service Station (FSS) can do it for you. Unfortunately, some pilots continue to experience trouble applying the wealth of data and meteorological analyses to the realities of flight.|
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Dealing with electrical failure while trying to maintain aircraft control
|The NTSB doesn’t just investigate accidents; it also routinely examines incidents to determine whether they expose an underlying safety problem, which, if not addressed, could set the stage for future accidents. Recently, it examined an incident involving an Airbus A320 operated by United Airlines. This led to the discovery that there had been at least 49 similar incidents in the United States and the United Kingdom. In response to its own investigation, the NTSB issued a safety recommendation, hoping to encourage FAA action.|
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Waking Up To Fatigue
Just because you’re awake, doesn’t mean you’re alert
|The FAA is paying renewed attention to human fatigue in aviation, particularly in air transport operations. This issue has troubled the NTSB to such an extent that it has appeared on its annual “Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements” every year since the list was first published in 1990. |
Monday, September 1, 2008
The finer points of turbocharged engine operation
|You may already fly an aircraft with a turbocharged engine. If not, and you plan on expanding your aviation horizons, there may be a turbocharger in your future. A turbocharged engine can maintain sea level manifold pressure up to critical altitude. When equipped with an automatic density controller, nearly constant horsepower will be automatically produced up to the critical altitude.|
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The Accelerated Stall
Stalling at higher speeds than a normal stall
|The accelerated stall usually surprises a pilot because it occurs at a higher airspeed than a normal stall (in which a wing loading of 1 G is maintained). Remember, a wing can be made to stall at any speed—all that has to happen is for the angle of attack to get high enough. As G-loading increases, so does stall speed. If a wing reaches its critical angle of attack when the wing loading is 2 G, twice normal, the stall will occur at a speed that’s proportional to the square root of the wing loading. |
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Tight Is Right
Inadequate preflights can have dire consequences
|It has been said that oil is the blood of an engine. If the oil is old and tired, contains foreign materials or flows at the wrong pressure, the engine’s optimum life span can be threatened. All pilots should know enough to check oil quality, as well as quantity, during preflight inspection. A quick peek at oil quantity marks on the dipstick isn’t enough. During preflight, you need to determine whether the oil seems suspiciously gritty, displays an unusual color or sheen, seems too thin or too thick for the ambient temperature, or has a “burnt” aroma. Inspect inside the cowling and on the ground under the engine for signs of oil leaks.|
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Tiger Or Demon In Your Tank?
|Misfueling occurs when the wrong type of fuel is pumped into an aircraft’s tanks. It could be that jet fuel gets pumped instead of gasoline, gasoline instead of jet fuel, automotive gas instead of aviation gas, automotive gas containing ethanol instead of auto gas with no additives, or something else yet to be devised by a creative fueling person.|
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Avoiding CFIT Incidents
Maintaining proper altitude
|The NTSB began 2008 by issuing a Safety Alert aimed at general aviation (GA) pilots. It deals with accidents involving controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) during nighttime VFR flight. The NTSB noted that some of the CFIT accidents it has investigated in recent years could have been avoided if the pilots had maintained better altitude and geographic position awareness. According to NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker, “Some of the pilots involved in these accidents had many years of experience and were instrument rated, yet for some lapses in basic airmanship, they failed to maintain proper altitude.”|
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Analyzing some recently investigated accident statistics
|We seem to be at the dawn of a new era of hope for general aviation’s future with the steadily increasing popularity of light-sport aircraft (LSA). For many, the light-sport license is a lower-cost entry into the pilot community. For others, the ability to use a driver’s license in lieu of an FAA medical certificate offers a way to continue flying as long as it’s possible to self-certify that there’s no medical condition that would stand in the way of safely performing light-sport pilot duties. For everyone, an LSA’s lower fuel consumption offers hope that the cost of the $50 fly-in hamburger may someday really drop back to $50—something we haven’t seen in years!||
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