Plane & Pilot
Thursday, June 6, 2013

Safety Alerts

The NTSB has highlighted what it sees as five general aviation trouble areas

The NTSB said the probable cause of the accident was the pilot's continued operation of the aircraft with known deficiencies. Contributing to the accident was the improper sealing of the engine case during overhaul. A number of parts were fractured, including the crankshaft.

The Beech 36 accident also is the centerpiece of another Safety Alert, "Mechanics: Manage Risks to Ensure Safety." The Safety Board calls on mechanics to carefully follow maintenance and inspection procedures and always use up-to-date manuals and instructions from manufacturers. The Safety Alert also mentions an accident involving a Piper PA-46-310P which had departed Santa Monica, Calif., on a dual instruction flight to Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

During climb to cruise, the pilot receiving instruction noticed a drop in manifold pressure. He advanced the throttle, which brought the manifold pressure back up to where it had been. Then, there was a loud bang and the engine lost power. They were able to get some power from the engine through the use of the boost pump and manipulation of the throttle, but the engine ran roughly.

Both the pilot and instructor were injured during a forced landing in an open field near Ontario, Calif. The investigation found that a clamp hadn't been properly positioned in accordance with manufacturer's instructions during induction system maintenance, allowing the induction tube elbow for the numbers one, three and five cylinders to move.

The NTSB's Safety Alert called "Prevent Aerodynamic Stalls at Low Altitude" suggests that pilots could avoid low-level stalls if they were honest with themselves about their ability, or lack of it, to recognize an impending stall, had a better understanding of angle of attack and avoided being distracted while maneuvering at low altitudes. "Resist the temptation to perform maneuvers in an effort to impress people, including passengers, other pilots, persons on the ground, and others via an onboard camera. 'Showing off' can be a deadly distraction because it diverts your attention away from the primary task of safe flying," says the NTSB.

In the Safety Alert "Reduced Visual References Require Vigilance," the NTSB points out that about two-thirds of all general aviation accidents that occur when the visibility is down are fatal, often being preceded by spatial disorientation or involving controlled flight into terrain. The Safety Alert describes an accident at Perris, Calif., involving the ATP-rated pilot of an Aero Commander 680FL who had logged 33,000 hours. The pilot was flying from Palm Springs to his home base at Chino, Calif., a distance of about 63 miles. It was VFR at the departure airport, but marginal VFR en route.

The accident occurred at about 10:00 a.m. No flight plan had been filed. No record could be found of the pilot having received a weather briefing. After being forced to descend to stay under a ceiling of 1,000 feet AGL while going through a mountain pass, the pilot radioed air traffic control and requested traffic advisories. Shortly thereafter, he requested an IFR clearance. Before the clearance could be issued, the aircraft struck mountainous terrain. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot's decision to continue visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions.


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