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(article) failure to see and avoid objects

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Number five on the FAA's list of Top 10 causes of pilot-error mishaps is failure to see and avoid objects or obstructions.


There's overlap between this and earlier discussions about takeoff speeds, and descent below minimum safe altitudes. Before taking off check for obstructions by:


Looking at aeronautical charts for depicted obstructions --


Sectional charts show towers and terrain, and include a minimum safe altitude for the area.


Instrument approach charts do a great job of showing the location and height of towers and terrain, to scale, within a 10-nm circle of a point near the airport.


Instrument approach charts also list circling minimums for instrument runways. A circling approach altitude ensures obstacle clearance from a point from one to two miles from the ends of the runway, depending on the approach category.


If you're not an instrument-rated pilot ask an instrument instructor to explain the charts and circling altitudes as they apply to a visual arrival and departure.


Look out the window. More correctly, from the ramp look in the direction you'll depart and see if there are any obvious obstacles or safe departure routes.


Ask the locals. Pilots from the area are almost always very willing to suggest arrival and departure procedures. Call before you fly in, and talk to the gang in the FBO before you depart.


Pole position


From the NTSB:


After takeoff the aircraft failed to climb sufficiently to clear a utility pole…off the end of the runway. The aircraft collided with the pole and crashed in a residential street. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured and the aircraft was consumed by fire.


Aero-tip of the day: Check charts, visually and by asking locals about obstacles and departure procedures to avoid this common cause of aircraft mishaps.



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