For much more on flying safely see www.thomaspturner.net
C2008 Mastery Flight Training, Inc. All rights reserved
FLYING LESSONS for May 8, 2008
suggested by this week's mishap reports
FLYING LESSONS uses the past week's mishap reports as the jumping-off
point to consider what might have contributed to accidents, so you can
make better decisions if you face similar circumstances. Although most
Flying Lessons are suggested by piston Beechcraft mishaps, commentary
arises from significant mishaps in other aircraft types as noted. In
almost all cases design characteristics of a specific make and model
airplane have little direct bearing on the possible causes of aircraft
accidents, so apply these FLYING LESSONS to any airplane you fly.
Feel free to forward this message for the purpose of pilot education.
This week's lessons:
. Gear collapse during taxi, especially in fairly new airplanes
or those that have had a recent gear motor overhaul, is usually the
result of insufficient gear down tension [resistance to retraction] from
improper rigging, a weak landing gear motor or hydraulic pump (as
applicable), or the aircraft's electrical system.
. Slow gear cycles and/or unusual noises or indications while
the landing gear is in transit are cause for a mechanic's detailed
inspection of the gear system before the next flight.
. If your airplane's landing gear retracts, check to see the
selector switch will go firmly into the detent in the UP and DOWN
positions. This prevents an inadvertent retraction if the switch is
loose enough to slide over an intermediate mechanical stop..
. If you don't want to go through the full Before Takeoff
checklist on takeoffs after the first takeoff of the day, create an
abbreviated checklist covering those items most critical and those that
may be configured incorrectly for takeoff after a landing, or affected
by operation at low power settings on the ground.
. For instance, while it may not be vital to cycle a
controllable pitch propeller before every single takeoff, it is a very
good idea to conduct a magneto check if the engine has been shut down
and restarted (e.g., on the return portion of a cross-country flight).
Shutdown and startup might permit carbon build-up in a spark plug,
. Similar before-every-flight steps include, but are not limited
to, power configuration (mixture and, as appropriate, propeller
setting), trim and flaps. Use the Before Takeoff checklist in your
Pilot's Operating Handbook or other source and develop an abbreviated
Subsequent Takeoff checklist including those items that make sense.
. As wind gusts it also turns toward the area of lower pressure,
usually toward the wind's own left in the northern hemisphere [toward
the right for readers in the southern hemisphere]. This would tend to
create stronger crosswinds as the wind gusted, and varying headwind and
crosswind components as well as changes in wind speed. Hilly terrain in
the area creates a greater turbulence control challenge.
An intriguing report-and FLYING LESSONS that result
An unusual NTSB preliminary report this week prompts FLYING LESSONS to
There's a largely unreported case of a
SR22 that impacted a reservoir near Hemphill, Texas. The airplane
leveled on its first course and flew several hours, apparently on
autopilot and until fuel was exhausted. Then descended into the water,
killing all aboard. ATC attempts to contact the pilot received no
response for a significant part of the flight. What could cause the
pilot and two passengers to go offline for this long while cruising at
10,000 feet, and not step in to arrest the final descent?
* Ten thousand feet MSL should have been low enough to avoid
complete incapacitation by hypoxia, although most people experience some
hypoxic symptoms at 10,000 feet or lower that could affect judgment.
For some pilots (and passengers) it may be necessary to use supplemental
oxygen at altitudes far lower than minimum Federal standards require.
It's a matter of personal health.
* More likely to incapacitate the pilot and, presumably the
passengers (because they did not revive the pilot, nor did they reply to
Air Traffic Control) would be carbon monoxide
<http://www.ipilot.com/learn/article.aspx?ArticleID=127> poisoning. CO
is a colorless, odorless gas that is a by-product of combustion and, if
admitted into the cockpit through a leaky heater muffler or ducted in
from exhaust through the vent, can insidiously overcome those inside the
* Mixture operation well lean of peak EGT ("LOP") is claimed to
burn all the carbon from the fuel, making CO poisoning next to
impossible. According to the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA
<http://www.cirrusowners.org/> ) most SR22 pilots cruise LOP for engine
cooling and reduced fuel burn. But there are cases where rich of peak
EGT ("ROP") may make sense for a specific flight, and ROP operation
remains to be many pilots' personal preference, if from nothing else but
inexperience or even fear. If ROP the risk of CO poisoning remains.
* "Spot"-type CO detectors are good, but have these limitations:
* The spot is good only for 30 to 90 days once opened.
* The spot turns dark only after a dangerous CO level is present.
* The spots are not reusable once exposed to CO.
* Therefore, if the CO spot goes dark you should treat it like you
would a fire alarm-take action right away to get fresh air and get on
the ground as soon as possible.
* The electronic "sniffer"-type CO alarms detect much smaller CO
concentrations and can be set to go off at lower threshold values, and
are therefore a better warning device.
* If you think you are experiencing CO poisoning symptoms follow
guidelines to get down safely.
* I shudder to think the pilot may have been incapacitated for
some reason and the passengers were conscious but unable to act, just
along for the very long, fateful ride.
* Teach frequent front-seat passengers how to operate the
autopilot and the communications radios.
* If the airplane is equipped with a ballistic parachute, discuss
how to slow the airplane to 'chute deployment speed (a large throttle
reduction with the autopilot in "altitude hold" mode" will do it),
deploy the parachute and shut down the engine.
* Provide a printed checklist, laminated and kept where a
passenger in the right front seat can see and reach it every flight.
* Consider taking frequent passengers to a "pilot companion"
seminar, preferably one that includes flight instruction in airplanes or
a Flight Training Device that faithful reproduces the airplane you fly.
Questions? Comments? Send me a note at
EVERYTHING NEW IS OLD AGAIN
On-line browsing for Advisory Circulars led me to an old one, AC
Prevention of Retractable Landing Gear Failures (August 1980). Turns
out much of what we've
<http://www.thomaspturner.net/LGRM%20obserations.htm> learned from years
of Mastery Flight Training tracking of landing
<http://www.thomaspturner.net/LGRM%20ongoing.htm> gear-related mishaps
(LGRMs) was known long ago, including:
Accidents involving retractable landing gear can be reduced with
deliberate, careful, and continued use of the checklist by pilots, and
the performance of maintenance, as recommended by the aircraft
manufacturer, by qualified personnel.
OPERATIONAL FACTORS AND PERCENTAGES INVOLVED IN RETRACTABLE GEAR
a. Neglected to extend landing gear -- 35.8 percent.
b Inadvertent retraction of landing gear -- 10.3 percent.
c. Activated gear, but failed to check gear position -- 11.3 percent
d. Misused emergency gear system -- 0.9 percent.
e. Retracted gear prematurely on takeoff -- 2.8 percent.
f, Extend gear too late -- 1.8 percent.
The AC even notes that landing gear squat switches may not prevent gear
retraction until the airplane is almost completely stopped, something I
learned fairly recently and when I published
ear%20Collapse%20Mishaps.pdf> the information no one seemed to have
ever heard of before! There's a lot of good information on pilot, owner
and mechanic responsibilities for avoiding LGRMs in AC
sf/0/777228c04de00d0a862569c3004ba5c4/$FILE/AC20-34D.pdf> 20-34D. It's
worth a read.
With knowledge in this detail available almost 30 years ago, why do we
still have LGRMs almost every single day? Why has the record seemingly
worsened since the 1980s (10.5% of all FAA reported mishaps as LGRMs in
1980, over 40% for the entire piston-powered RG fleet today?). What
should instructors be doing to help prevent LGRMs? Is there a
psychological basis for LGRMs when the pilot is distracted or under
stress? Can technology help? Let us know what you think.
I wonder what other gems lurk in the dusty files of old Advisory
Circulars? Let me know <mailto:email@example.com> if
you've got a favorite old AC or other document that still has plenty to
teach us today.
NEW PISTON BEECHCRAFT REPORTS THIS WEEK
The May 8, 2008 Weekly Accident Update is now posted at
www.thomaspturner.net <http://www.thomaspturner.net/> , including these
. A B35's cylinder failed in flight..
. A Sierra landed gear up..
. A G58's nose gear collapsed..
. An A35 crashed just after takeoff ..
. An F35's nose gear collapsed..
. A B33 landed gear up..
There are also NTSB updates on a G36 engine failure in flight and a
C23's stall during an attempted go-around.
For more information, commentary and analysis see the Beech
<http://www.thomaspturner.net/WAU%202008.htm> Weekly Accident Update
link at www.thomaspturner.net <http://www.thomaspturner.net/> .
Fly safe, and have fun!
Thomas P. Turner, M.S. Aviation Safety, Master CFI
2008 FAA Central Region CFI of the Year
Mastery Flight Training, Inc.
I welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact Mastery Flight
Training, <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> Inc.
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C2008 Mastery Flight Training, Inc. All rights reserved.
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