Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Counting On The Instructor

How long should an instructor wait before correcting a student’s mistake?

The CFI's husband was interviewed in order to establish her stress and fatigue levels on the day of the accident. He stated that she had a full-time job as the finance director of a city, was taking night classes for a masters degree, and they had two children. During the week, she'd usually do flight instruction during off hours, which included lunch breaks. She attended night classes on Tuesdays. The night before the accident, she was in bed at 10:45, and slept until 6:15 a.m. She had not complained of fatigue or any physical ailments, and she wasn't under any unusual stresses.

The student pilot, 25, had a total 63.7 hours of flight time (53.6 hours dual, and 10.1 hours solo). He was found positioned in the left seat with his seat harness and shoulder straps buckled. The CFI was positioned in the right seat. Her lap belt and shoulder straps weren't buckled or positioned around her body.

The NTSB report noted anecdotal reports of restraints opening inadvertently after being brushed by clothing, but no evidence of this occurring could be found. Nothing was identified that would have precluded the normal operation of the airplane's engine or flight controls. The toxicological screening on the instructor detected ibuprofen, an over-the-counter pain reliever.

The aircraft operator had a policy that spins and spin training may only be conducted by designated instructors, and each instructor must complete a flight check every 12 months for each training course they're approved to teach.

One of the accident instructor's students who had just completed her solo flight told investigators about an event that happened during dual instruction about two weeks before the accident. The student stated that they were practicing slow flight. During the transition back to normal cruise, the engine cut out, the left wing dropped and they entered a spin making one complete rotation. The CFI regained control of the airplane by adding full power, full right rudder and opposite aileron. After they regained normal flight, the engine ran rough. They returned to the airport.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed during a slow flight maneuver that resulted in a stall and spin, and the flight instructor's delayed or improper remedial actions to recover from the spin.


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