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The HUMAN factor behind the statistics. . . .


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I really hope that forum members don't mind, or are not offended in any way when I post pictures of those who have died in aircraft accidents.

 

I do it because I think it is important to see the human side of aircraft crashes, which usually don't figure in the cold, hard statistics you see about aircraft incidents. This couple, along with their six year old Son were involved in the accident on Jan 3rd 2015 when their Alpi Pioneer aircraft crashed in heavily timbered country whilst trying to land at Popham Airfield, in Hampshire UK,. . .after the pilot had decided he wasn't going to make it home to Wellesbourne airfield ( His home base ) in really crappy weather, on his flight home from a family holiday on the Isle of Wight. If you look at these locations on google earth you will see that the didn't get very far. Now, I have NO IDEA if the pilot was IMC or Instrument rated,. . . . we'll have to wait for the AAIB eport for that,. . .but.. if he was trying to land at an airfield not far from his point of origin, then this casts some doubt. In the meantime, their terrified little 6 year old Son, fighting for his life in intensive care, probably doesn't know that his Mum and Dad no longer exist. . . .

 

But whatever ?. . .we'll have to wait for the report. But it seems to me that pilots seem to do this with frightening regularity in this country, . . .ie, bugger the weather forecast,. . .we've really GOT to get back today, cause I've got a meeting. . . .and then all these other people have a chat and discuss the results of his fatal decision on social media. . . .

 

 

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I must just add a rider to the last post,. . .In the UK, we have an IMC rating,. . . . this is a course consisting of fifteen hours of training to fly on instruments. This is NOT. . .an INSTRUMENT RATING . . .that will take a lot longer to achieve.

 

But, at least it IS a start,. . .it allows pilots to fly through cloud EN ROUTE, But not to PLAN a flight KNOWING that there will be cloud en route. . .

 

And explains how to carry out radio navigation to get to where you are going,. . . .but NOT instrument approach procedure. It also means that, if the airfield you are going to is below VFR minimums,then you ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ATTEMPT A LANDING THERE, and must proceed to an alternate which is within VFR minima.

 

A LOT of pilots in the UK take the IMC rating, ( which is not recognised in the rest of Europe BTW ) but a lot of them think that this is the be all and end all of aviation, and of course , . . .it isn't. It is NOT a CHEAP instrument rating at all,. . .there is a lot more to that than 15 hours of easy training. . . . .

 

Most light aircraft pilots also don't seem to realise that,. . .if you fly in cloud, you are more likely to encounter ICING conditions, than when you fly in the clear air. Now, most rented single engined light aircraft in the UK are not fitted with de-icing equipment. . . . and as most of you probably know, Iciung can happen with terrifying swiftness in some instances, . . .and if not immediatley recognised can result in the rapid build up of ice on struts and various airframe parts, plus control surfaces freezing as well. . . . ., which isn't nice.

 

If you decide to take your brand shiny new IMC rating, . . .load up your frineds to take a trip to France for lunch, . . .and end up passing thorough a lot of Stratocumulus cloud enroute, . . .you may well find that the forecast icing level of 3,000 feet. . . .( which you OBVIOUSLY asked the met man for before you left. . .! ) is bollox, since you are flying at 4500 feet, and still getting a significant ice build up on your airframe ? ? ? ? ? In some cloud decks, , Particularly StratoCu in the UK, the freezing point finds it's OWN level, and it doesn't matter what the MET guy said, . . .you are freezing up mate. . . . this is when the panic starts to set in,. . . . and pilots will change altitude very rapidly to get out of the cloud, and end up over stressing the airframe, possibly tumbling the gyro in the process, and. . . .fill in your own end to that. . . .it's happened on Hundreds of occasions.

 

I've written several articles on the subject of the IMC rating over the past 20 years or so,. . .but I always get brickbats.

 

If you want to fly in ANY WEATHER no matter what,. . . then pay out the money,. . .do the training,. . .and get an INSTRUMENT RATING. Then make certain that your aircraft is equipped with reaonalble de-ice boots on the wings, and prop de-ice as well,. . . . then,. . .with a biot of good fortune,. . .you can take your family anywhere, in the sure knowledge that you will PROBABLY get there alive, with no particular trauma enroute.

 

In the meantime, I am afraid we will be discussing reports about those who didn't. . . . . . .

 

Sorry to sound so fatalistic,. . .but there it is.

 

Phil

 

 

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This is a question I have wanted to ask about the IMC.

 

Instrument flying is the battle between the mind and the instrument so to maintain the IMC dose the pilot have to do a review or ongoing training to maintain that skill set?

 

 

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This is a question I have wanted to ask about the IMC.Instrument flying is the battle between the mind and the instrument so to maintain the IMC dose the pilot have to do a review or ongoing training to maintain that skill set?

Hiya Tucano. . . .the UK IMC rating has to be revalidated every 25 months with a reval checkride with an instructor. THIS IS NOT A FLIGHT TEST . . .just a one hour flight, to make certain that you are still sharp enough to hold the rating. There is no other cost involved ( at the moment ! ) other than the hire of the aircraft plus the instructor. . . . . I personally have never taken this rating, having held a full Instrument rating for many years, but which has now lapsed, due to reasons of cost and other things. . . . but I can tell you that originally, I thought that the IMC rating was a good idea,.. but following several accidents, over the last five years, I've decided that perhaps I was wrong, and that those who achieve the IMC rating take far too many risks with the lives of their passengers. . .and this has been proved by the statistics. . . . .This is one of the " I told you so" things that I'm not happy about.

 

If you want to fly recrational aircraft . . .then DO THAT.. . . .if you really feel the need to fly ANYWHERE, ANYTIME in crap weather,. . .then your ONLY sensible route is an INSTRUMENT RATING. . .and you only use this in a fully equipped aircraft, and operate it under full IFR procedures. There's no middle ground to this. I NEVER took my kids or Wife on any trips where instrument flying was required,. . .this was easy, as my Wife refuses to fly with me anyway, and never has,. . .but I think you know what I'm getting at,. . .unless you are flying for commercial gain, in an approved aircraft type with all the kit available, . . .then forget it. It's not fun, and it's not clever to think you can do it in a recreational aircraft,. . .they are not designed for it.

 

Enjoy your flying for what it is.

 

Kind regards from your mate Phil ( ! ) survivor of many stupid decisions,. . .but fortunately still alive to tell the tale. . . .

 

 

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I must just add a rider to the last post,. . .In the UK, we have an IMC rating,. . . . this is a course consisting of fifteen hours of training to fly on instruments. This is NOT. . .an INSTRUMENT RATING . . .that will take a lot longer to achieve.But, at least it IS a start,. . .it allows pilots to fly through cloud EN ROUTE, But not to PLAN a flight KNOWING that there will be cloud en route. . .

That surprises me Phil, because we've had quite a lot of cases over the years where unskilled pilots have made it into the cloud, perhaps due to instrument training, but have run into a mast or hill because they hadn't been taught the necessary skills to flight plan for IMC, from having a wider lowest safe altitude corridor to let down procedures, missed approach procedures etc.

 

Our Night VFR rating used to be on the bucket list for just about all Private Pilots, but the realisation set in that it was probably more likely to cause accidents than save them, and it's not as popular today as flight planning for a landing before last light.

 

 

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[ATTACH=full]34998[/ATTACH]I really hope that forum members don't mind, or are not offended in any way when I post pictures of those who have died in aircraft accidents.

 

I do it because I think it is important to see the human side of aircraft crashes, which usually don't figure in the cold, hard statistics you see about aircraft incidents.

When you read all the crash reports, you'd have to be forgiven for believing you have a better chance of survival if you are a nasty bastard, because the commentaries all seem to say "He was an outstanding, experienced pilot", "one of the nicest people you'd ever meet" "helped everyone around the club" etc.

 

The fact that he'd been making a practice of beating up the field every time departed, or beating up the local beach, or turning the engine off on base to show his exceptional skills, all seem to be forgotten.

 

Flying is very safe, as long as you don't make a mistake.

 

Having said that, in this particular case, while we usually point the finger at get home itis, I'm of the opinion that we are not getting enough weather training in the syllabus, to enable us to be 100% sure which weather patterns are going to close in on us. To me our current regulation, based on forward visibility allows plenty of time to turn around, but the next question is what has crept in behind us.

 

 

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There is a RECENCY aspect to instrument flying. You may hold the rating but must have current practice, as well. A lot of pilots think there is nothing much to flying in IMC. They are misguided, and may well die if they try it.

 

This topic often comes up, but the fact is your body senses a lot of inputs when you move and without the vision making sense of it there are many ILLUSIONS, one of which is when you accelerate you think you are climbing. On take off without a visual reference, A/H or real Horizon, you will want to push the stick forward.

 

Ice build up in cloud can be very rapid, and it's often Ryme. (non clear) which forms near the front of sections and destroys the airfoil shape and effectiveness. This will raise the stall speed a lot. You may have no airspeed indication though as the pitot, if not heated, will be iced up. Nev

 

 

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I think there are a lot of misconceptions regarding IFR flying, flying in IMC and the differences between IFR & VFR. Obviously flying in Australia is different to the UK, so my comments are limited to Australian flying where our freezing levels tend to be much higher most of the time.

 

There are three phases of IFR; 1) Planning, 2) En-route flying & 3) Approach. Most people associate "IFR" with the en-route part and flying in IMC (i.e. clouds). When you train for your Command Instrument Rating you spend maybe 40% on planning, 40% on approaches and 20% on en-route. The reason being that the planning and approach phases are the most difficult, while the en-route is comparatively straight forward. In planning a very useful acronym is "ACVWPPLS" - Alternates Can Very Well PProve Life Savers - or Aids, Cloud, Visibility, Wind, Probable/Provisional, Lights & Storms. Each and every IFR flight you look at all the factors, even if it is a nice day - this is something a lot of VFR pilots forget to do, the number of VFR pilots I ask who are about to fly hundreds of miles as to wether they need an alternate or not and they reply "VFR pilots don't need alternates!", but if the cloud is forecast more than scattered below 1500' and 8km visibility then an alternate is required (see AIP ENR1.1 58.2.1 & 58.2.13).

 

The approach phase is the one that you need to keep current, there is a heavy workload that involves integrating the navigation/tracking, the vertical profile and communication. But in real life you rarely fly to the minimum height in a light aircraft, mainly due to the fact that if the cloud/visibility is below the alternate minima any alternate aerodrome where the weather is above the alternate is often too far away so you end up waiting BEFORE you take off until things improve. It is at the approach phase though, if you are in IMC, and you are bouncing around, tracking out on an NDB approach, trying to maintain the correct altitude (no more than 100' above and zero below), keep an eye on the clock as you time the outbound leg, and possibly communicate with other traffic is when, if not ahead of everything, things can get ugly quickly.

 

The En-route side of things is the easiest, IMC or not. It does depend a lot on just what type of flying you are used to. If you have spent many years "flying by the seat of your pants" then your natural instincts are to look out the window and go by feel when things are becoming stressful. If on the other hand you mainly do longish trips, maintaining a set course and altitude often checking your instruments that you are on track/correct altitude etc. then flying in IMC in an aircraft approved for IFR is relatively simple. Even when you are in solid IMC and bouncing around the hardest thing usually is changing frequency! You learn to not spend too much time doing one thing - you keep your head in the cockpit, no matter what tantalising glimpses of the ground far below might tempt you, and you fly on the instruments (all of the instruments - not just the AH), not what you feel!

 

So, as I have a Cessna 172, that does not have anti-icing, or a storm scope, or weather radar that does not mean I shouldn't fly IFR, it means that when I plan, I plan accordingly - so no thunderstorms en-route, Freezing level 1000' above planned altitude, and I will not plan through severe turbulence. BUT I still get to go 95% of the time when I want, where I want compared to maybe 70% if VFR only, though it's not so much about the "Getting There" or "Getting Home", for me it is the whole package, the discipline of planning and flying, the SARWATCH, the contact with ATC, i.e. the additional safety.

 

Richard.

 

 

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I bet there's a lot of pilots who have never seen an IFR En-Route chart, only VFR ones. I don't know if they have changed since my youth, but the IFR En-Route charts were on green paper where the VFR ones are bluey-purple (?). The IFR charts were a good cheat as they gave the bearing between airports so you didn't have to draw all over your WAC chart to get your track.

 

I remember doing some flying "under the hood" when I did my PPL. I think the idea at that stage of training was to create skid marks on the Y-fronts so the rookie pilot took care to avoid those situations where reliance on flight instruments was required. I remember that the Night Rating involved a lot of training in recovery from unusual attitudes, and well as regular currency requirments after the rating was achieved. My mate had his Night Rating as I always enjoyed gong with him while he flew to maintain his currency. There were two conditions that he said were distracting - flying on the Full Moon because of the moonlight reflecting off the wings (we flew a Mooney) and flying below cloud because of the reflection of the anti-collision strobe from the clouds.

 

OME

 

 

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[ATTACH=full]34998[/ATTACH]I really hope that forum members don't mind, or are not offended in any way when I post pictures of those who have died in aircraft accidents.

 

I do it because I think it is important to see the human side of aircraft crashes, which usually don't figure in the cold, hard statistics you see about aircraft incidents. This couple, along with their six year old Son were involved in the accident on Jan 3rd 2015 when their Alpi Pioneer aircraft crashed in heavily timbered country whilst trying to land at Popham Airfield, in Hampshire UK,. . .after the pilot had decided he wasn't going to make it home to Wellesbourne airfield ( His home base ) in really crappy weather, on his flight home from a family holiday on the Isle of Wight. If you look at these locations on google earth you will see that the didn't get very far. Now, I have NO IDEA if the pilot was IMC or Instrument rated,. . . . we'll have to wait for the AAIB eport for that,. . .but.. if he was trying to land at an airfield not far from his point of origin, then this casts some doubt. In the meantime, their terrified little 6 year old Son, fighting for his life in intensive care, probably doesn't know that his Mum and Dad no longer exist. . . .

 

But whatever ?. . .we'll have to wait for the report. But it seems to me that pilots seem to do this with frightening regularity in this country, . . .ie, bugger the weather forecast,. . .we've really GOT to get back today, cause I've got a meeting. . . .and then all these other people have a chat and discuss the results of his fatal decision on social media. . . .

It happens way too often Phil and the human factors stuff was supposed to be the answer but......

 

 

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I bet there's a lot of pilots who have never seen an IFR En-Route chart, only VFR ones. I don't know if they have changed since my youth, but the IFR En-Route charts were on green paper where the VFR ones are bluey-purple (?). The IFR charts were a good cheat as they gave the bearing between airports so you didn't have to draw all over your WAC chart to get your track.OME

OME

 

Things have indeed changed since your youth (and mine). It must be a while since you have purchased/used any enroute chart produced by Airservices. They stopped publishing a dedicated VFR enroute chart over 10 years ago. The currently available enroute charts for use below 10,000' are the ERC(L) [En Route Chart - Low] series which are primarily in green printing on white paper and show frequencies, lowest safe altitudes, route details and airspace boundaries but very little else - especially for VFR nav. The VTCs and VNCs now provide most of the good info for VFR pilots.

 

 

 

One of the aircraft I fly has a placard beside the strobe light switch saying "Turn OFF strobes when flying in cloud". [i never have to turn it off as I never fly in cloud. [/font]001_smile.gif.2cb759f06c4678ed4757932a99c02fa0.gif]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DWF

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That surprises me Phil, because we've had quite a lot of cases over the years where unskilled pilots have made it into the cloud, perhaps due to instrument training, but have run into a mast or hill because they hadn't been taught the necessary skills to flight plan for IMC, from having a wider lowest safe altitude corridor to let down procedures, missed approach procedures etc.Our Night VFR rating used to be on the bucket list for just about all Private Pilots, but the realisation set in that it was probably more likely to cause accidents than save them, and it's not as popular today as flight planning for a landing before last light.

Bang on Turbo . . . . Controlled Flight Into Terrain. . . . . as I said before, the IMC rating ALLOWS a pilot to negotiate SOME cloud enroute, but NOT to PLAN a flight with the certain knowledge that he will have to fly through cloud, ie, flight planning an IMC flight.

 

Both the departure and destination airfields MUST be VMC, with suitable alternates planned, in order to make the flight a legal one. . . . . STRETCHING this limited rating is almost always the prime cause where an aircraft flies into terrain at low level ( or any level for that matter ) It just keeps on happening. . . . . . . Proper IFR flights use LSALT . . .an IMC rating holder doesn't have to. . . . recipe for bad outcomes ?

 

Phil

 

 

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Anecdote:

 

At Oshkosh one year sitting down eating lunch at a big bench, my wife leans over and asks "are you listening to what those guys are saying behind you?" I wasn't, so I tuned in.

 

One guy in particular was waxing lyrical about how whimpish and unskilled airline guys were, because they needed a number of different flight instruments. He stated that you shouldn't need an artificial horizon to fly at night. You should be skilled enough to know by feel what attitude your aircraft was in, and if you couldn't fly night circuits by sense alone, you just lacked skill and training.

 

I just shrugged my shoulders. Another brash, ignorant, temporary (as far as life expectancy goes) pilot. I just hope he never takes his family out at night. Or in instrument conditions. Ever. There's just no point in trying to educate people like that about the gross imperfections in your vestibular system, or optical illusions, or anything much really. You just hope they stay VFR and VMC.

 

 

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Certainly an utterly stupid comment as anyone who has done any would know. I think there are many who still reckon that down will be obvious by where it "feels" to be.

 

You don't have to be in cloud. Just cover your eyes fully and have the pilot perform a few turns and minor pitch movements and see how you go at telling him/her what is happening. Nev

 

 

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