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CASA's CSI at Shepp

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I was one of the lucky few who were able to book in to this seminar on crash investigation and the hazards of flying VMC into IMC.


It really opened my eyes with the explanation of Spacial disorientation - and the statistic that over 70% of pilots entering this who press on with the flight, end up dead in 178 seconds.


Also the astonishing factthatATC receiveone mayday call every ten days where someone flying VFRis in IMC and needs help.


Speaking personally, thanks to the folks at CASA, the ATSB, Airservices, AusSAR and others for making it happen.





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Ben and all


If you find yourself in IMC would you make a Mayday call or an Emergency call.


I don't have my books readily on hand but if my memory serves me (now that's a joke) but Mayday is a definate life threat like on the way down where in VMC if you keep your head and eyes on the instruments not withstanding anything else like ice etc but you may come out out of it ok so wouldn't you call Emergency. Granted it may turn into Mayday.


I don't know but perhaps a point of discussion?



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I wouldnt hesitate to make a Mayday call!


I only have very limited experience as a pilot, however I have heard and read enough to know that flying in IMC is a situation that is potentially life threatening.


Perhaps a cool head on the other end of the radio may mean the difference between scaring the crap out of yourself or turning into a sad statistic. No one can crucify you for calling a Mayday - you are the pilot, it is your call and you may only have seconds to make it.


It would be great to see a little more done in relation to VFR pilots experiencing IMC through either initial training or as some sort of add-on. Not to give any sort of endorsement to do it but just to heighten awareness/initial actions in the event that they are caught out.


Dont hang me for this! :black_eye: Its just a thought!







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The speaker at the seminar on crash investigation and the hazards of flying VMC into IMC. went into this in detail. They would rather help you out of trouble than have another statistic.


If you find youself in the situation contact the area frequency and request help. They will probably assign a separate frequency and controller and assist you through the drama. if you have a transponder it will be a lot easier but there is a good chance you are on radar anyway.


if you request assistance you are not going to get into trouble. You are going to get help to avoid getting into further trouble.


Its not needed to be a Mayday Call but a request for assistance.


ther are still seminars during 2006 and they are definately recommende for all pilots. You do not have to have a GA licence to attend the seminar.


the list is here





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Guest Vigilant

I suppose this is for the individuals judgement and experience but from studying the BAK - (Emergency Radio Procedures)


"Emergencies can be classified according to the urgency and to the degree of seriousness of the consequences. As the pilot, you decide, but AWAYS err on the safe side. Come categories might be as follows:




<LI>no urgency of time but needing assistance, such as being uncertain of position and unable to confirm direction to proceed, but having plenty of fuel and remaining daylight</LI>


It really opened my eyes with the explanation of Spacial disorientation - and the statistic that over 70% of pilots entering this who press on with the flight, end up dead in 178 seconds. (BEN)


I think not putting yourself in the position in the first place is the best option but if you run into IMC conditions unavoidably a pan-pan call or mayday call is justified as from the figures it is obviously potentially life threatening and common sense. I just hope if and when the time comes my instructors have equiped me to make a decision early and plan for any eventuality arising.



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The biggest problem for VFR pilots is in recognising that you are losing your in flight visibility. Clearly defined clouds such as TS/Cb are easily seen, and most pilots consciously avoid them.


But, when flying into light rain - then slightly heavier rain - then with wisps of stratus - then with cloud below........you progressively lose your visibility, without really noticing it - because you are toobusy checking maps, asking for forecasts on radio....etc.


It's a good idea when training to practice your distance estimation -with the instructorgiving the 'actual' after each of your calls.Do this at different heights above ground...(not QNH altitude).Become proficient at estimating distances 'from' various ground features.


So, when you eventually get into the situation of decreasing forward visibility, you have a much better idea of what is 3nm,5nm, for any height agl, and are then psyched up to make the 180 turn, and get out of there!


Remember too, that in rain, the distortion through the perspex means your are actually closer to features than you think you are.


The early 180 decision is always the wisest.


Happy days,



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The crash analysis was based on a flight from Merimbula toBathurst viaWollongong in October 1999.


Essentially the weather developed into a situation over the ranges where it was rain and storm cells, but the cells were masked by therain clouds that had dramatically developed unknown to him while airborne.


Mix this with a low cloud base and RISING terrain, with the cloud on the ground at the impact location near Oberon.


Not so much a controlled flight into terrain, but the indicators were the plane impacted with the ground at a high speed and unusual attitude.


The analysis revealed Spacial Disorientation was what caused the pilot to fly the plane into the ground. he did not know which way was up - and yes, he was an experienced VFR pilot and had three hours of instrument skills.


The seminar concluded that IF he had asked for a hand earlier on, and made a diversion then he would be able to be at the seminar talking about the incident, rather than having his demise talked about.


The guy from ATC said he would rather have a pilot ASK for help, than spend time activating a search. And yes, he also said no pilot (RA or GA)would get into trouble from CASA/ ATC / ATSB for asking for a hand on the area frequency.


If the area frequency is busy, then they will ask you to change frequencies and then they will talk you through the issue to get back into VMC.


The other fact they highlighted was most incidents occur after halfway in the trip, with the prevailing attitude of "oh, its not far, lets press on" being the common factor.


He played a recording of one pilot asking for help. The chilling words in this real incident where when the ATC asked what his attitude was;


"Im upside down"


As they said, 70% of pilots who press on will die in the next three minutes.





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I, and a number of of others I spoke to, had issues with the invstigation and conclusions.


Loss of control leads to a spin or spiral dive (the two stable states for an a/c). In either case impact is at a high angle with reasonably concentrated wreckage unless there is an inflight breakup.


This crash indicated low angle of impact with a slight bank which is a lot more indicative of CFIT with possibly a last second visual attempt to avoid rising terrain. From the presentation this was not addressed and mixed VFR/IFR is a guarantee of trouble even for experienced instrument pilots.


The one I attended covered the asking for assistance but not "If the area frequency is busy, then they will ask you to change frequencies " which would not be helpful for someone sweating blood to maintain control.


The most serious "hole in swiss cheese" lesson was brushed under the carpet. The radically revised area forecast was issued 8 minutes before the departure call and the pilot was critised for not obtaining it. The fact is that 8 minutes is within the time frame for walking to the a/c, inspection and loading and other a/c were presumably in a similar situation working with the previous forecast. While no pilot should consider a forecast as anything more than a horoscope with numbers these sort of changes should be notified via area frequency.



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