FLYING LESSONS suggested by this week's report:

Lessons learned from Beech experience are universal. Consider them in
any make and model of airplane.

This week's lessons:

** Approximately one-quarter of all reported mishaps occur in the first
year after an airplane is registered to its current owner. Although
this is not definitive (it results from the study of only one family of
airplanes, and does not account for the actual experience of the PIC at
the time of the crash) it nonetheless strongly suggests the need for a
detailed pilot checkout, followed by very conservative operation of the
aircraft as the pilot builds time, and relevant experience, in type.
Any expansion of the pilot's personal flight envelope (operation at
night, in lower weather conditions, in stronger surface winds or
crosswinds, etc.) should be done under the direct tutelage of a pilot or
instructor more experienced in type and current in the riskier flight

** A "split flap" condition is supposed to be flyable, but it was one of
the hardest scenarios I presented as a simulator instructor for a pilot
to figure out on takeoff. It was almost always identified incorrectly
as an engine failure on takeoff in multiengine airplanes (which, after
all, is what we spring-load pilots to "expect" has gone wrong if an
uncommanded roll begins).

** Avoid the split flap condition by checking the flaps run and stop
correctly at all preset positions during the Before Takeoff check;
setting the flaps for takeoff and confirming flap position before taking
the runway; and avoiding flap movement except in wings-level flight and
unless you're well clear of the ground.

** With all electric motors, do not reverse the position of the selector
switch while the associated equipment is moving; if you make an
incorrect or inadvertent selection, let the motor run until it shuts off
and then re-set the switch as desired so stress from reversing direction
in mid-movement does not break the system.

** Whenever presented with an uncommanded roll, pitch or yawing
movement, aggressively maintain control, but pause momentarily to detect
the true nature of the abnormality before blindly addressing one
possible (but also possibly incorrect) cause.

Questions? Comments? Send me a note at


All indications are that general aviation flying is safer now than it
ever has been. For example, the piston Beech record
<> in 2007 (220 reported
mishaps, 28 fatal*) is second best in terms of total mishaps, and nearly
ties the best in this decade in the number of fatal accidents.

*Subject to additional reports that have not yet come in, and a MFT
internal audit of the 2007 Weekly Accident Update reports. I'll update
my website charts after these conditions are satisfied.

Increased safety may indeed be the case, but all estimates are tainted
by comparison of mishap reports to an estimated total number of flying
hours. Have the numbers really gone down, or are the estimates of
flying activity inflated? Without a requirement to report private
flying activity (in the U.S.) it's impossible to tell how many hours
were flown by the general aviation fleet, or if the reduced mishap rate
reflects a true increase in safety or simply a reduction in total flying
activity. I think I've found a valid way around the "flight hours"
comparison to develop a more accurate picture of any change in overall
flight safety, but the research methodology takes a great deal of time
and my study will likely take several weeks to complete. Watch for news
of an upcoming published article if it turns out my results appear
valid, and that any conclusions one way or another can be formed.

Meanwhile, several experts warn that the news of increased safety, even
if true, may make us complacent. And the current rate and causes of
fatal accidents are still unacceptable. FLYING LESSONS reader Robert
Miller, whose Over the Airways <> presents a
regular, no-nonsense approach to PIC responsibility for flight safety,
recently wrote (reprinted here by permission):

"We [reduce the fatal accident rate], first, by recognize[ing] the
inherent risks of GA flight. Remember, a horse that is not thirsty will
not drink. Translated, this means that we must first recognize the
problem before we can apply the solution.

"Second, we must model ourselves, voluntarily or by regulation, after
our professional airline brethren. This means semi-annual or annual
recurrent pilot training. The mistaken notion that one or two hours
around the patch every two years is sufficient recurrent training to
maintain fragile pilot skills is a delusional pipe dream.

"Lastly, we must get out and fly more often. Sure, we can blame choking
fuel prices as a reason to remain earthbound. In reality, that's
nothing more than false economic thinking. One bent propeller or
wingtip or, worse, personal injury resulting from a pilot blunder is far
more expensive than the incremental dollars spent on increasing fuel
prices in the coming year.

"Sure, there are more things we can do, but if we achieved just these
three noble solutions in the coming year, our fatal accident rate would
fall right off of the radar screen!"

Well-known flight instructor and author Max Trescott this past week
posted an open letter entitled "General
iatio.html#more> Aviation Needs an Aggressive Safety Goal" on his
website <> . Max has been widely quoted by
the online aviation media as writing:

"Historically, much of the decline in the number of fatal [GA] accidents
is directly attributable to a decrease in the total number of hours
flown, rather a decline in the underlying accident rate."

Bob, Max and others warn that there is significant room for improvement
in the pilot error, and especially the fatal, accident rate. It's up to
each one of us to actively improve the record, or accept the more
restrictive regulations and higher costs that may result. Using mishap
reports as a jumping-off point to what might have contributed to
specific accidents, but more importantly what we can recognize as
potentially higher risk in our current flying, I hope to continue in
2008 to help us all consider ways to safely enjoy personal aviation, and
to perpetuate it for ourselves and those who may follow.


I still have a few winter and spring dates for ground and flight
training weekends:

** Bonanza systems and procedures.

** Bonanza IFR refresher.

** Single-Pilot Management (SPM)-in high-performance aircraft.

Contact me at with questions or to
schedule your Mastery Flight Training event.

Looking for a flying club or aviation safety event speaker? Contact me


The December 31, 2007 Weekly Accident Update is now posted at <> .

** A Twin Beech lost control on landing and impacted runway lights..

** The NTSB preliminary report of a Beech Duke's takeoff accident
reveals an unusual but deadly scenario..

For more information, commentary and analysis see the Beech
<> Weekly Accident Update
link at <> .

Fly safe, and have fun!

Thomas P. Turner, Master CFI

Mastery Flight Training, Inc. <>


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