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Airmanship and safety: other online reading

Rev. 27 — page last updated 13 January 2012
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The three sections in this document provide an index to a number of publications, reports and articles — chiefly from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviaton Safety Bureau — that are recommended airmanship and safety reading for sport and recreational pilots.

The articles expand on, or complement, material contained in the tutorials and guides.

John Brandon        


1. Australian Transport Safety Bureau publications (www.atsb.gov.au)

Avoidable accidents series

'Avoidable accidents No.1 — low-level flying'. The bulletin, issued 1 March 2010 and the first in the planned series of the ATSB's avoidable accidents publications, presents case studies on the dangers of low flying where the major hazards are wire strikes and the lack of time to recover from a stall or loss of control. Also see 'Dicing with death' below.

'Avoidable accidents No.2 — Wirestrikes involving known wires'. Wirestrikes pose an on-going problem to aerial agricultural operations. There are 180 reported wirestrike accidents in the ATSB database for the period between 2001 and 2010. Of these, 100 involved agricultural flying. Research by the ATSB has shown that 63 per cent of pilots were aware of the position of the wire before they struck it. (ATSB believe that 40% of wirestrike accidents are not reported.)

'Avoidable accidents No.3 - Managing partial power loss after takeoff in single-engine aircraft'. This ATSB booklet, issued May 2011, aims to increase awareness among flying instructors and pilots of the issues relating to partial power loss after takeoff in single-engine aircraft. Accident investigations have shown that a significant number of occurrences result in fatalities or serious injury due to the aircraft stalling and subsequent loss of control resulting in a collision with the ground or water.

'Avoidable Accidents No.4 - Accidents involving Visual Flight Rules pilots in Instrument Meteorological Conditions'. The ATSB reports: 'In the past 5 years (2006-2010), there have been 72 occurrences of visual flight rules (VFR) pilots flying in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) reported to the ATSB. Seven of these resulted in fatal accidents, causing 14 fatalities. That is, about one in ten VFR into IMC events result in a fatal outcome.'

'Avoidable Accidents No.5 - Starved and exhausted: Fuel management aviation accidents'. The ATSB publication issued January 2012 reports: 'Safe flight depends on reliable power. Despite the money and effort spent on ensuring aircraft engines are reliable, equally reliable systems are needed to ensure that engines always get the fuel they need. This report discusses procedures that pilots can use before and during a flight to help them be absolutely sure they will have sufficient fuel to land at their destination aerodrome with reserve fuel intact. It does not discuss procedures to ensure fuel quality, such as checking all fuel drain valves for contaminants or using approved fuel, although these remain important. Nor does it discuss fuel system integrity measures, such as the maintenance of fuel filler cap seals.'

General aviation safety reviews

'Wire-strike accidents in General Aviation: data analysis 1994 to 2004'. The analysis found that 119 wire-strike accidents and 98 wire-strike incidents were reported between 1994 and 2004.

'A pilot's guide to staying safe in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes'. Report issued 10 November 2010. Most of the 709 airspace-related safety occurrences reported to the ATSB between 2003 and 2008 at, or in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes, were incidents, but they also included 60 serious incidents and six accidents (mid-air and ground collisions). Most of the occurrences involved conflicts between aircraft, or between aircraft and ground vehicles. A large number of these involved separation issues, ineffective communication between pilots operating in close proximity, the incorrect assessment of other aircraft's positions and intentions, relying on the radio as a substitute for an effective visual lookout, or a failure to follow published procedures.

'Limitations of the see-and-avoid principle'. The report was first issued in 1991 when mid-air collisions in Australian general aviation averaged about one per year but collisions have increased slightly since then. Most — or nearly all — general and powered recreational aviation mid-airs occur in the circuit area, generally when one aircraft descends into another from behind.

'Review of midair collisions involving General Aviation aircraft in Australia between 1961 and 2003'. A range of contributing factors were involved in the midair collisions, but there were no dominant factors. Most of the collisions involved one aircraft colliding with another from behind, or both aircraft converging from a similar direction.

'General aviation pilot behaviours in the face of adverse weather'. The work reported here is based on a set of 491 aviation accident and incident reports drawn from the ATSB occurrence database. The study compares three groups of pilots who differed in their response to adverse weather conditions encountered during their flight.

'Dangerous distraction'. An examination of accidents and incidents involving pilot distraction in Australia between 1997 and 2004.

2.Flight Safety Australia: selected and grouped articles

Listed below are articles available in the online version of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's bi-monthly magazine Flight Safety Australia. The articles (which cover the issues since 1998) are all pertinent to VFR recreational aviation. Please note that each selected article link will open in a new browser window.

(Anyone can freely subscribe to Flight Safety Australia to receive the magazine by post or email. For subscription information email [email protected] or phone 131757.)

If you don't find the article in the magazine index look in the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's supplement included in that month's issue. All articles are in PDF format so you may need the Adobe Acrobat Reader; it is a free download from Adobe's website.

I've grouped the Flight Safety Australia articles by subject:

Airmanship and flight discipline

'Situation awareness'   November 1998 (Techniques to make sure you don't lose sight of the big picture)

'Mind over matter'   September – October 2000 (The eight attributes that make a good pilot)

'Mental is everything'   March – April 2001 (Situation awareness and decision making)

'Awareness in 4D'   November – December 2009 (Those who are mentally tough ... can retain their attention, are able to shift focus, even when pressure narrows attention)

'CFIT - are you at risk?'   September – October 2008 (The loss of situation awareness is the main factor in 'controlled flight into terrain' accidents. Note: the box titled '10 ways to improve your SA' is taken from the RA-Aus 'Airmanship and flight discipline' section.)

'Eye on the sky'   September – October 2003 (Scanning techniques)

'Keep clear'   January – February 2005 (Tips on spotting traffic)

'What is airmanship?'   May – June 2005 (Steve Tizzard's thoughts on airmanship and training standards )

'John Denver – the final flight'   May – June 2000 (How a chain of causal factors, not individually dangerous, led to disaster)

'Four fatal factors'   March – April 2004 (Contributing factors to fatal accidents 1991–2000)

'Risk report for private pilots'   November – December 2005 (Four common precursors to accidents in small aircraft)

'Safety on the ground'   March – April 2003 (Hand starting hazards, passenger briefing)

'Prop chop'   May – June 2005 (What could happen if YOU don't always regard a prop as live)

'Is airmanship dead?'   November – December 2008 (FSA looks at airmanship and the new day-VFR human factors syllabus)

'Focus on flight planning'   March – April 2009 (Have a well thought-out plan before you get airborne.)

Dicing with death

'Temptations – 4 ways to kill yourself'   July – August 2001 (The impromptu fly-by, pull-up, beat-up and low pass)

'A bit of a buzz'   November – December 2004 (A pilot decides to impress his mates with some low level passes)

'Don't steal their thunder'   January – February 2007 (Irresponsible low level manoeuvres can end in tragedy)

'Three years on'   July – August 2008 (The aftermath of a beat-up for one family)

Coping with emergencies

'Forced landing'   September – October 1999 (Best glide speed)

'What if you had to ditch?'   May – June 2009 (How good's your knowledge?)

'Engine failure after take-off'   January – February 2002 (Prompt decision making)

'Piper Worrier'   January – February 2003 (Loss of power after take-off, turn back)

'Fire down below'   March – April 2004 (Inflight electrical fire)

'Rooted'   May – June 2004 (Elevator broken off on take-off)

'The worst landing I ever made'   January – February 2007 (What would you do if you suddenly lost elevator control?)

'Spin doctor'   January – February 2005 (Control loss following canopy breakup)

'Clear and present danger'   July – August 2008 (What do YOU do when your passenger suffers a panic attack?)

'In-flight fright'   March – April 2009 (Know something about the mental state of your passenger!)

Take-off and landing

'Know your limits'   November 1998 (A guide to the performance limitations of light aeroplanes}

'Running out of runway'   May – June 2001 (Determining take-off and landing distance)

'Load limit'   November – December 1999 (A few extra kilos could cost your life)

'Running out of runway'   July – August 2002 (Attempting take-off in an out-of-trim condition)

'Tree's a crowd'   September – October 2002 (High density altitude, short runway – tree strike)

'Overloaded'   November – December 2005 (Hot day, short strip and overload)

'Party crasher'   March – April 2003 (Short field – insufficient training)

'Summer safe'   January – February 2000 (Handling summer storms, reduced performance and crosswind landings)

'Mid-air collision'   July – August 2000 (See and avoid in the circuit)

'Slip sliding away'   March – April 2000 (Pilot's seat sliding back during a go-around)

'Not so merry go-around'   November – December 2001 (Necessity to use go-around procedure in POH/seat sliding back?)

'Blown away'   November – December 2003 (Misreading wind, untimely go-around)

'Precious cargo'   September – October 2003 (Stress, excess speed and going around)

'Flap foolery'   July – August 2004 (Failure to retract flap while still on the runway during a touch-and-go)

'Runway illusions'   March – April 2000 (Approach illusions caused by runway slope and shape)

'Whose plane is it anyway'   September – October 2002 (Visual illusions on the approach)

'Eyeball error'   September – October 2005 (Visual illusions on the approach)

'Tail wagging taildragger'   May – June 2005 (Fatigue and lack of concentration lead to that dreaded violent swing on landing)

'Caution – wake turbulence'   November – December 2000 (Best defence is to know and avoid the areas where wake vortices occur)

'Parking brake blunder'   July – August 2001 (Failure to release the park brake on take-off)

'Mags on both'   September – October 2006 (Pilot learns the value of correct procedures and the worthlessness of runway behind you)

'Runway blindside'   September – October 2005 (Pilot in a hurry — very close call at the runway intersection)

'Allegro non troppo'   January – February 2007 (Routine morning landing gets out of control when frost/ice on a grass airfield is ignored)

'Losing it – saving face'   January – February 2009 (The haste to depart is fortunately followed by a very lucky escape.)


'Tune in, turn on'   January – February 2000 (How transponders can save lives)

'Salvation from above'   January – February 2001 (The benefits of communicating your troubles)

'Talk zones'   May – June 2001 (Communications in and around MBZs – CTAF(R))

'His story ... almost history'   July – August 2009 (VFR pilot totally disoriented in IMC – further benefits of communicating your troubles)

En route and navigation

'Collision course'   November – December 1999 (Flying at hemispherical levels)

'In plane view – see and be seen'   November – December 1999 (Collision avoidance techniques)

'Low cloud – pressing on?'   April 1999 (Human factors involved in pressing on under low cloud)

'Visual flight in marginal weather'   July – August 1999 (It's not only other pilots that get caught out in bad weather)

'Grey gloom – by George'   March – April 2009 (When your whole world goes grey!)

'Low cloud rising terrain'   January – February 2002 (Caught by weather)

'I'll take the low road'   March – April 2002 (Press-on-itis)

'End of daylight'   May – June 2002 (Overcoming 'press-on-itis')

'Sit down and shut up'   January – February 2000 (Press-on-itis)

'Beyond the Black Stump'   May – June 2002 (Planning a trip outback?)

'School's out'   January – February 2003 (Inexperience and fading light)

'GPS failure'   January – February 2002 (Failure to cross-check GPS navigation)

Micrometeorological event effects and VFR incursions into IMC

'Dust storm'   September – October 1999 (An encounter with severe low level turbulence)

'Downdraught'   September – October 2000 (Caught in lee side downflow)

'Helicopter accident highlights mountain wave dangers'   January – February 2002 (Effect of mountain waves and rotors on aircraft performance and control)

'Windshear wake up'   September – October 2006 (Encounter with low level windshear on final approach leaves pilot struggling to stay airborne)

'On the front line'   November – December 2004 (Encounter with frontal turbulence inverts aircraft on final approach)

'Beached'   May – June 2000 (Precautionary beach landing following loss of VMC)

'Surrounded by a wall of cloud'   July – August 2000 (VFR pilot encounters IMC)

'Caught in cloud'   July – August 2003 (VFR pilot encounters IMC)

'Scary pop-ins'   July – August 2004 (Popping in and out of cloud can lead to real trouble for a VFR pilot)

'No way out'   May – June 2006 (VFR pilot presses on into bad weather)

'178 seconds to live'   January – February 2006 (VFR incursions into IMC — a survival guide for VFR pilots)

'Travelling north'   November – December 2000 (Taking proper precautions to cope with northern Australia weather)

'Storm warning'   November – December 2008 (Precautions necessary when thunderstorms are forecast)

'Over the top'   November – December 2000 (Potential pitfalls of VFR on top of a cloud layer)

Fuel management

'Know your fuel usage'   March – April 2001 (Know the fuel system and fuel usage under varying conditions)

'Nothing in reserve'   March – April 2001 (Poor fuel planning is a health hazard)

'Downed by a dipstick'   July – August 2001 (Fuel starvation — assuming the tanks are full)

'Left from right'   January – February 2003 (Fuel starvation — tank switching policy)

'Water and avgas'   November – December 2008 (The standard water contamination checks may not be sufficient)

Violation of controlled airspace and restricted areas

'Lost in controlled airspace'   November – December 2001 (There are more than 100 VCAs reported each month, the majority of VCAs result from navigational or planning errors)

'ATC Notes — Violations of controlled airspace'   March – April 2007 (How to avoid a VCA — Pre-flight preparation. Look under 'ATC Notes')

'ATC Notes — Violations of controlled airspace'   September – October 2007 (A follow-on report to the March – April 2007 article. Look under 'ATC Notes')

'Violation of controlled airspace'   March – April 2008 (A growing threat to air safety)

'Military restricted areas'   May – June 2009 (Why it is so important to avoid such areas.)


'Stalling made easy'   September – October 2000 (Stalling and stalling myths)

'Control confusion'   May – June 2001 (Instructor overconfidence?)

'Maggie madness'   November – December 2002 (Magneto problems)

'Fact and fallacy'   May – June 2002 (17 aviation myths dispelled)

'Myth understanding'   September – October 2002 (Further explanation on the prior month's 'Fact and fallacy' article)

Aviation medicine

'Hypoxia'   July 1998 (Reduced oxygen intake can degrade pilot performance, even at altitudes as low as 4000 feet.)

'High and dry'   November – December 1999 (Dangers of pilot dehydration)

'Stinking hot in an aerial greenhouse'   July – August 2004 (How do you fly a plane when you're so sick you can hardly see?)

'Cockpit overload'   July – August 2000 (How to reduce your chances of becoming stressed in flight)

'Fatigue is a safety threat'   September – October 2000 (Potential hazards of fatigue on flying performance)

'The Middle-aged Pilot'   September – October 2001 (Getting your health in order)

Maintenance and ground handling

'Attack of the fungi'   September – October 2005 (Fuel fungi cause corrosion)

'Tie me aircraft down, sport'   March – April 2006 (Techniques for tie-downs. There is a follow-on letter in the readback section of the May – June issue which describes an improved tie-down technique)

'Corrosion crisis'   September – October 2006 (Airframe corrosion is becoming a big problem for owners of ageing aircraft)

3. Airmanship, safety and general interest articles from other authors

'The turn-back following engine failure' — Mike Valentine

'The Fox story — gyroscopic loads' (on the crankshaft) — Ian Shaughnessy

'Pivotal altitude and reversal height' — John Brandon

'Seafires & Superchargers' (part 1) — John Brandon

Seafires & Superchargers' (part 2) — John Brandon

The next module in the 'Joining sport and recreational aviation' series is a history of benchmark events in Australian powered sport and recreational aviation.