Saturday, December 31, 2011

As it is the last day of the year, I thought I might review some of the accidents that occurred, which I believe could have been avoided. Some seem almost too silly to have happened, but I’ll mention them anyway.

Starting with the almost trivial, would be the accidents occurring during the taxiing phase of flight. I find it hard to understand how one taxies into a fence in broad daylight. Or, manage to flip a plane over on its back unless there is a hurricane blowing. Well, these were reported. If I did it, I must confess that I would try and hush it up, rather than report it. Too embarrassing!

The next, and more serious accidents happened in the flight phase. Almost all seem to be the result of poor decision making. Unfortunately, as occurred in the following two there were no survivors. A recent single engine turboprop, equipped with full deicing capability, bought the farm presumably because of a fatal ice encounter. Just because one has a capability does not guarantee that it will prevent what it is designed for 100% of the time. Icing in particular can be very tricky. It can be relatively slow in accumulating and benign. Or, as what that pilot probably experienced, was ice coating the wings and tail so rapidly that it could not be gotten off, even if one followed instructions to the letter. The moral of flying in icing is: avoid the encounter if at all possible.

The other fatal accident involved a seasoned, rated commercial pilot flying in IFR conditions without filing any flight plan. The destination airfield was VFR only. Yes, scratch your head on that one.

Finally, a single engine plane is number two for approach in VFR weather. He is advised that there is a small business type jet ahead just turning onto base. He apparently never sees the jet. There is poor communication between the pilot and the controller. The trusting small plane pilot keeps on, turns base and then final. Never identifying the jet ahead. Suddenly the jet overflies the small single by 200 ft but the pilot does nothing. The result is that the single apparently gets into jet wash orwake turbulence, and stalls out, falling to the ground. Ouch. That was preventable. Both the pilot and the controller should have called for an immediate go around, turning away from the final approach course. You had better know what’s in the airspace immediately around you at all times.

The moral of all this. You must be engaged and be thinking proactively. And always try to leave yourself a way out.

Have a Happy and Safe 2012. Please don’t end up on the NTSB page.

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