GAARMS Report: September 2017
HIP HIP HOORAY!! We have made it through another month without a fatal accident, As I reported in last month’s article, our Luck-meter has moved from “Doing Really Good” with only 2 accidents and 6 fatalities, to “Back to an average Year” moving up the scale to 4 accidents with 10 fatalities. Hopefully we can hold right here, so think safe, fly safe.
A cursory look at the causal factors in the 4 fatal accidents so far this year shows no specific pattern or patterns.
- The C210 over Payson was “Continued VFR flight into IMC conditions” by a non-instrument-rated pilot
- The King-Air BE-300, a highly sophisticated turbine-powered aircraft, was a Loss of control during the takeoff phase of flight down in Tucson
- The RV-7 out of Buckeye causal factors are completely unknown at this time
- The Lancair Evolution on departure out of DVT elected to divert to FFZ as a result of events starting with an electrical issue the previous day that seemed to be repeating itself during the departure out of DVT during the takeoff phase of flight. The aircraft crashed on the approach to FFZ.
Learning to fly up in Flagstaff is 84% great, and 16% a Bummer. Why would I say that? Well, in that 84% you learn how to deal with density altitude (DA), you learn how to deal with winds (250 degrees @ 24G33kts), you learn all about thunderstorms throughout the monsoon season, you learn all about the joy and demands of winter flying, but you rarely ever get to fly single-engine IMC because the weather is so darn nice. Except when it isn’t nice, it really isn’t nice, but closer to deadly!! The only ice I like is the ice cubes in my B&B at the bar Friday nights!!
The other day I had the occasion to park my 1973 Bellanca Super Viking next to a brand new Cirrus SR-22T. Talk about a comparison in time! That super slick SR-22T, gleaming in its brand new paint job was a beauty, a brand new Ferrari, while my Super Viking, “gleaming” in its continuously polished 22 year old Imron paint job, looked like a 1957 Chevy Nomad next to that Ferrari! Each had its merits – My Super Viking cost me $28,000.00 back in 1988, and I can only guess about $500,000.00 for the SR-22T! I think my Viking has twice the wing area of the Cirrus, the wing is twice as thick as the Cirrus wing, is as smooth as the cirrus (it is laminar flow) but much more draggy than the cirrus, and thus is probably about 30 – 40 knots slower than the Cirrus, but only burning about two thirds as much gas. Am I jealous? Well, maybe a little, but I like my classic airplane, with all of its warts and quirks. It could use a pilot’s side door to make my life a lot easier. It is my personal machine, my personal hot-rod, modified, souped up, painted to my liking, and can do everything the Cirrus can except go as fast or as far. But now, at my age, my airplane has more range than I do… and it remains a conversation piece at airports.
When you are out just flying around, or maybe in the pattern just doing takeoffs and landings, do you challenge yourself to be GOOD? Do you set a standard for your landings? Do you practice short field landings seriously? Do you practice short field takeoffs and a maximum performance climb out at Vx? Do you shy away, or perhaps avoid like the plague, any airport with a runway 3000 feet or less in length? Can you put your aircraft onto the runway within 100 feet, plus or minus, of a particular point on the runway? Practiced a power off/simulated engine failure to the same standard as above? I believe every student pilot, and probably every pilot, should experience, obviously with an instructor on board, just what it is like to lose an engine on takeoff, say out of 500-600 feet about to turn crosswind. But it must be done carefully, and at an isolated airport, not over down town Deer Valley or Scottsdale!!! The airport neighbors might really not like that! You will learn very quickly and effectively that you cannot turn back to the runway – the deadly 180 degree turn back is just that – deadly! And once you experience it, you will know that forever.
NTSB Cites Fuel-Management Hazard
The NTSB says better fuel management by aviators could prevent an average of 50 general aviation accidents a year. “The idea of running out of fuel in an aircraft is unthinkable, and yet, it causes more accidents than anyone might imagine.” They stated, “Fuel management is the sixth leading cause of general aviation accidents in the U.S.” Pilot error contributed to 95 percent of the fuel-management-related accidents; equipment issues contributed to just 5 percent.
The safety board suggested several strategies that would help to reduce the number of fuel-starvation accidents. Don’t rely exclusively on fuel gauges; visually confirm the quantity of fuel in the tanks before takeoff. Know the aircraft's fuel system and how it works. Have a fuel reserve for each flight. Don’t try to stretch the fuel supply — stop and get gas.
Fuel Exhaustion flat running yourself out of gas!
Fuel Starvation is having fuel onboard, but it doesn’t reach the engine for reasons such as a blockage, improperly set fuel selector, or water contamination.
• More than 66% of fuel management accidents occurred on flights when the intended destination airport was different than the departure airport. About 80% of all fuel management accidents occurred during the day in visual meteorological conditions, and only 15% occurred at night.
• Almost half of pilots involved in fuel management accidents held either a commercial or air transport pilot certificate (48%); pilots holding private or sport pilot certificates make up 50%. Only 2% of accidents involved student pilots.
• Pilot complacency and overestimation of flying ability can play a role in fuel management accidents.
Running out of fuel or starving an engine of fuel is highly preventable.
• An overwhelming majority of the NTSB investigations of fuel management accidents—95%— cited personnel issues (such as use of equipment, planning, or experience in the type of aircraft being flown) as causal or contributing to fuel exhaustion or starvation accidents. Prudent pilot action can eliminate these issues. Less than 5% of investigations cited a failure or malfunction of the fuel system.
Concerning fuel-related accidents, fuel exhaustion and fuel starvation continue to be leading causes. From 2011 to 2015, an average of more than 50 accidents per year occurred due to fuel management issues. Fuel exhaustion accounted for 56% of fuel-related accidents while fuel starvation was responsible for 35% of these accidents. Fortunately, we rarely see this type of accident here in Arizona, and these types of accidents are rarely fatal, but they can be.
OK, to close out this article, I leave you with these final 2 questions –
Could you fly your airplane if I covered up ALL of your instruments??
If you have a glass cockpit and encounter a complete electrical failure, ending up with 2 blank screens in front of you, could you still safely fly and land your airplane?
I am NOT talking about IMC conditions or even at night, just plain ol’ VFR, but with NO instruments, no tachometer, no airspeed, no artificial horizon, no turn and bank indicator, no stall warning horn, no angle of attack indicator, just your brain and your Mark 12 eyeballs… Could you survive that??