2021 TO DATE:
As of the last week of February as I write this, I am pleased to report that there have been NO fatal accidents across the state of Arizona thus far into 2021. We have had our share of fender-benders, but nothing really serious. All I can say is keep up the good flying, but keep down the accident/incident rate!
I read an article written by a well versed and highly respected author of aviation safety about the finding of the NTSB in respect to the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash. The NTSB inferred that we – US PILOTS - need more training with respect to judgment and aeronautical decision making because the pilot involved in the crash made a poor decision. Have any of you ever made a poor decision? Had one of those “GEEZ, don’t ever do that again!” experiences? Critiqued your flight and determined the decision you made at some point during the flight was not too smart? Pushed through some weather that, reflecting back on, was not such a good decision?
We have all been there once or twice, or maybe… Anyway, none of us are perfect, and I am the first to admit I belong in that club. Every flight is a learning experience, either something new or a re-enforcement of a process that keeps me safe and alive. The NTSB exists to point a finger at what happened to hopefully prevent it from happening in the future - a lofty goal - and I think an almost impossible goal if the goal is to prevent you from making a mistake by increasing the training requirements. If that was truly possible, then even the Blue Angels and/or the USAF Thunderbirds should never have an accident! But they do, because human beings are part of the process, and we, on occasion, make mistakes, even when highly trained. “Sully” Sullenberger will be the first person to tell you he is one of the luckiest people around. His landing in the Hudson was truly a miracle. Hitting the water at well over 100kts should have tore up that airplane, but it did not. Yes, his training and vast experience saved the day, but even he admits he did not expect it to end as well as it did. On the other hand, the 737MAX accidents exposed some lack of training that did lead directly to over 350-some people being killed – the inference being foreign-trained aircrews are not as well trained as our American airline trained pilots, arguably true or not.
Anyway, even highly skilled and experienced pilots can, and sometimes do, make mistakes, most of the time not resulting in accidents. But every once in a while, it can, and does happen. Can it ever be prevented? Can you stop making mistakes? Sure, I practice procedure and process every time I fly, yet sometimes I goof up a checklist, misjudge the wind gust, flare just a little too soon – or 1 second too late – or not on the centerline like I want to, and I critique those times to understand why, so as to not do it again. But I am not perfect, and know each and every action has standards, parameters and consequences. We all have our own personal minimums, whether it is weather, wind, airspace complexity, even night flying, and sometimes we push those limits for various and sometimes personal reasons, or justifications. At the end of that day, we look back and critique our performance - “GEEZ, I ain’t ever doing that again!” Boy, that was a dumb decision. The Thunderbird pilot – as highly trained a pilot as you can get - made a mistake and misjudged his altitude over the top of his loop and descent rate coming out of a loop (for the 100th time) and ejected just before his F-16 slammed into ground, and the NTSB thinks – infers – that the solution is more training!
Risk mitigation is a big issue nowadays, and has become an integral part of the Airman Certification Standards. In my flight school we require every student to use a Risk Mitigation form prior to embarking on any cross country. It employs a numbering system, and if the numbers reach a certain level, it requires an instructor intervention to determine if the risk can be mitigated, and if not, no flight! The intention is to teach risk mitigation, otherwise known as exercising good Aeronautical decision making, i.e., good judgment. It is easy to teach procedure; it is very hard to teach judgment. Gaining experience is surviving all my mistakes and adjusting my judgments to incorporate what I learned from those mistakes.
Mom told me a hundred times not to touch the hot pot on the stove, but I only learned not to touch the pot after I did! And I said “GEEZ, I ain’t ever doing that again!”
I keep falling back to the fact that, unfortunately, thousands of people get killed every year on our highways, an acceptable rate, but only 400 people get killed flying GA aircraft, and the NTSB and FAA want to regulate us even more to improve the safety record. They will achieve that goal once there are enough regulations to effectively ground all GA pilots and all GA aircraft.
FOR INFORMATION ON ALL ACCIDENTS/INCIDENTS THAT OCCURRED LAST MONTH, REFER TO JIM TIMM’S ACCIDENT SUMMARY.
Garmin 700 autopilot alert:
If you have a new Garmin 700 autopilot in your airplane, you need to read this. This was in the latest Callback from NASA. Sounds just like what happened to a good friend of mine with their Garmin 700 autopilot. If only NTSB would put the type of avionic package in their reports, GA could much easier follow the trend.
A Student Nightmare
This instrument student experienced a system failure that quickly threatened control of the aircraft. The instructor took swift action to recover the aircraft and mitigate the threat.
During the takeoff and initial climb during an IFR training flight, the aircraft began uncommanded pitch-up and pitch-down movements, then remained in a pitch-up mode. The instrument student attempted to control this by using the electric trim controls on the left side of the control yoke but was unsuccessful. Several seconds later, the red PITCH TRIM FAIL indicator light illuminated, and the aural beep commenced. The aircraft began another uncommanded pitch-up, at which point the instructor took control of the aircraft, reduced thrust substantially, regained level flight, and cycled the Master Switch on and off in an attempt to either reset or disable the electric pitch trim. After that, the electric pitch trim became inoperative. Manual trim inputs were effected to stabilize the aircraft.
The instructor requested priority handling with Approach and requested clearance to return and land [at the departure airport], which was then slightly behind the aircraft. Aircraft control was regained, and the electric pitch trim was inoperative, but because of the aforementioned runaway trim, the manual pitch was positioned for a nose-high attitude and was difficult to manipulate. Thrust inputs and flaps were primarily used to stabilize the aircraft’s descent with minimal trim inputs for fear of setting off further uncommanded pitch trim changes.
The instructor was able to land the aircraft without incident or requiring any assistance.
NOTE TO INSTRUCTORS AND PILOTS WITH ELECTRIC TRIM IN THEIR AIRCRAFT:
Learning what to do with a runaway trim should be part of your training process, and experiencing said problem with your instructor could be a life saver some day…
Fred’s pop Quiz…
Okay, last month I bungled the answer to the following question on the quiz. My apology! I fumble-fingered the keyboard. The CORRECT answer to this question is B. Thanks to Andy Durbin,
an astute reader of the newsletter, for catching it and bringing it to my attention!
Rain that freezes after hitting the ground is called ___________.
- Freezing rain
- Ice Pellets
NEW QUIZ –
The big snowstorm rolled through northern Arizona and the Flagstaff airport put out a NOTAM called a FICON. It read as follows:
RWY 03 FICON 5/5/5 100PCT 1/8IN WET SN 0FT WID REMAINDER 2IN WET SN OBS AT 2101192107. 2101192107-2101202107
- Braking action is poor on entire runway
- Braking action is good on entire runway
- There is 1 to 8 inches of wet snow on the entire runway
- This report is for the 21st of January
What is the condition of the other runway, RWY 21??
- Braking action is poor on entire runway
- Braking action is good on entire runway
- runway 21 is not mentioned so it is closed
- This report is for the 21st January
What does the 5/5/5 mean?
- They tested the braking action 3 different times
- They tried the braking action test 3 different times
- They got the same result 3 different times
- The test is for each 3rd of the runway
The following PIREP was reported -
KFLG UA/OV FLG090024/TM 1522/FL0120/TP C210/SK OVC85–TOP115/WX FV20SM/TA M04/WV 24540KT/TB LGT/IC 1/4IN RIME DURGC/RM CLR ABV.
Where is the aircraft at when he reported this PIREP?
- Climbing out of the Flagstaff airport
- West of the airport still in the clouds
- At 12,000ft in the clear 24 NM East of the airport
- East of the airport still picking up rime icing
Based on the above pilot report, what are the winds at his altitude, the outside air temperature and the potential for icing?
- Wind is basically a tailwind, temp is 4 degrees Centigrade, and no chance of icing
- Wind is almost a 40kt tailwind, temp is a negative 4 degrees Centigrade, with a good chance of icing, and the ice he picked up on climbout may actually get worse
- Wind is almost a 40kt tailwind, temp is a negative 4 degrees Centigrade, with no chance of further icing, but current accumulation of ice with stay on the airplane.
- Wind is almost a 40kt tailwind, temp is a negative 4 degrees Centigrade, with no chance of further icing, and any current accumulation of ice will sublimate off of the airplane.
See bottom of article for the correct answers.
Quiz answers: 1.B 2.B 3.D 4.C 5. D