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Five bush pilot deaths within a month spur calls for improved training

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A recent rash of fatal light aircraft crashes in far west New South Wales has led a former commercial airline pilot to call for more rigorous training for bush pilots.

Throughout October and November there have been four serious light aircraft crashes in regional New South Wales, leading to five deaths and putting two other people in hospital.

 

Four men died on the same day on late October, only hours apart, beginning with a gyrocopter crash in Orange killing two.

 

Three hours later, another light aircraft went down north of Wentworth in the state's far south-west killing 20-year-old Kayden Cullinan and 22-year-old Nicholas Walters.

 

On November 18, a 50-year-old man was killed when his aircraft crashed on a stretch of road on a property near Moree.

 

And on November 19, a plane crashed into the ground on a property near Menindee, 100 kilometres east of Broken Hill, seriously injuring a 53-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman.

 

They were flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital and remain in serious but stable conditions.

 

Paul Martin, the general manager of livestock at large pastoral producer Webster Limited, was once an airline pilot with Virgin Australia, City Jet Air in France and QantasLink in Western Australia before settling in Outback NSW.

 

He said the spike in light aircraft crashes was taking its toll on the agricultural industry, when times were tough enough in the Outback with families battling the drought.

 

Mr Martin, who stressed that he was not commenting on the recent crashes, is calling for improved pilot training and safety.

 

"We've got to get really involved with the process of education and training. If we don't get this stuff sorted out, there's going to be more deaths," Mr Martin said.

 

"There will be more people killing themselves and tearing more small communities apart."

 

Mr Martin said he wants to see a program established to offer ongoing training to all people who fly light aircraft in regional Australia.

 

"These bi-annual flight review programs are not enough for those who are constantly engaged in low altitude operations," he said.

 

Mr Martin singled out gyrocopter pilots, who he said were not covered by the bi-annual flight review program that their fixed-wing compatriots must follow.

"The rotary wing pilots in the gyrocopters, they don't go through any training ever again for the rest of their lives. To me that's absolutely farcical," he said.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said he believed there was always room for more training when dealing with light aircraft.

 

"One of the hardest things when dealing with people in regional areas is the isolation and getting out to them to administer training where appropriate," he said.

 

"We are committed to keeping some of the highest standards of aircraft training in the world."

 

 

The type of work that people do in light aircraft on Outback properties is imperative to being productive on the land.

 

Bush pilots fly in dry, dusty conditions, and there are constant distractions and pressure to get the job done.

 

"Without the aircraft in the skies things would be so much harder out here, especially in these dry times," Mr Martin said.

"The water run on our property would take two days in a car. I can get it done in two hours flying around the property.

"So we have to improve our training and education. It's a must."

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We've touched on this 'recurrant training' subject before. It's a senstitive one, because while CASA talk-the-talk about continuing 'training', they baulk at recognising the need to have more training in lower level aircraft operation.  This carries through into RAAus, where we cannot train a pilot in any low level operations - unless they are going to use it on their property.

 

Now, I'd have thought that avoiding killing or injuring yourself and passengers, by having some low level skills, would be sufficient reason to have this allowed.  But no, within the regulators, there is a quite irrational fear that, because a pilot has been trained in low level ops, they will immediately become a low level flying hoon. My decades of experience say that it's the very opposite.

 

When pilots discover that it is a whole, new, and dynamic flight world below 500ft agl, they cease doing the stupid stuff.

 

I'm not suggesting that we train you to fly at spraying height, or fly under powerlines, or other professional skills: I'm for training to avoid stall/spin accidents, to handle rough air, to avoid collisions, to make safe avoidance manoeuvres, and to escape from low or lost visibility situations. We can train you to make safe inspections of strips or paddock locations, how to better assess surface conditions, how to scan properly and so on.

 

The sooner that RAAus, (and CASA), encourage pilots to undertake post RPC/RPL training in low level operating of aircraft - the better for our industry.

 

The old wives tales/ urban myths about how dangerous it is, and why nobody should operate down low - need to be buried.  The next obstacle will be..... 'there are no qualified training instructors.'  Well, unless CASA/RAAus make some moves in this area - there will be no experienced LL instructors left in the industry.  Now is the time to change things, and have the oldies train up a reasonable number of younger instructors before it's too late.

 

happy days,

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Good luck with that...It's not just CASA, it's the whole country. They won't allow people to be taught to drive properly either, because that would encourage hooning. Doesn't matter that we have hundreds of deaths every year, mostly due to poor driving.

All they do is try to fix the symptoms (make them crash slower) rather than cure the disease (make them crash less).

Edited by M61A1
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It would be good to analyse the hours per year and cross country capability of the pilots in these accidents.

I believe those pilots doing 20 odd hours per year, mainly around the ctaf or home are more at risk in unfamiliar situations/weather.

Those doing 80 -100 hours and trips away to new and unfamiliar fields are keeping their skills up.

Perhaps an annual bfr for those with low hours?

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 EVERYBODY needs low level training as you do it when landing, taking of and going around particularly. I've made my views on these matters  consistently over the years. There is possibly another important factor . People can develop a sense of infallibility and familiarity breeding contempt. There could also be fatigue and water stress  (dehydration)  involved. Drink water constantly in hot conditions, or you aren't fit to fly.

   Then there's the level of the initial training. When you finish your training you are not an expert by any means and most realise it. Where does the system pick this up and move with it? You exercise caution and fly within your limits but the extra skills must be available to those who need them, and are ready, and wish  to progress their skills. This then brings into question IF you need extra skills, are you undertrained in the first place?  Nev

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I just happened to be watching “Outback Pilots” this week.

I wouldn’t give too much thought to it; R22s operating nose to ground tail vertical, then tail to ground, flown backwards chopping tree folage off, flying down twisting gullies below ground level; just natural attrition. Same with fixed wing; beat ups UNDER and around Gidget trees; it’s a different life.

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 Short and exciting. Dust, dust devils, hot air turbulence and performance reduction.  Fuel from drums to be stolen from the aircraft tanks.  Nev

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2 hours ago, Downunder said:
2 hours ago, Downunder said:

Perhaps an annual bfr for those with low hours?

When I was struggling, my only flying was my BFR, I don't know how making it twice as expensive will help infrequent flyers, when most of the infrequency is directly because of cost.

 

 

20 minutes ago, turboplanner said:

I wouldn’t give too much thought to it

 

20 minutes ago, turboplanner said:

just natural attrition

Yep.........

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When I learnt to fly, quite some time ago. I had training in low level ops. It tought me that it is not as easy as it looks. Mainly that you have to watch the ball because wind affecting your flight path will make you think you are skidding or slipping when you are not, I learnt enough to know that it is not something to take on lightly.

Same with instrument flight, I was safe flying on instruments until something distracted me, then I lost it. It was a great learning experience and I will not get into IFR conditions, because I know I cannot handle it. Unlike several pilots I know who assure me they can fly in cloud using the compass and maybe a GPS. Some even admit to having done it, but I have my doubts after watching their standards of flying.

As far as ongoing training and flight reviews. There has to be a wish to learn something new. It is easy to pass a flight review and not get anything out of it. I once had an instructor chip me for losing 100' in a stall in a Jabiru, a plane I had never flown before. When he commented I said "I was just enjoying stalling and keeping the wings level with the rudder"

I suppose I was too laid back to recover at the first nibble of the stall, but wanted to feel what the plane could do, rather than please the instructor.

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8 hours ago, poteroo said:

We've touched on this 'recurrant training' subject before. It's a senstitive one, because while CASA talk-the-talk about continuing 'training', they baulk at recognising the need to have more training in lower level aircraft operation.  This carries through into RAAus, where we cannot train a pilot in any low level operations - unless they are going to use it on their property.

 

Now, I'd have thought that avoiding killing or injuring yourself and passengers, by having some low level skills, would be sufficient reason to have this allowed.  But no, within the regulators, there is a quite irrational fear that, because a pilot has been trained in low level ops, they will immediately become a low level flying hoon. My decades of experience say that it's the very opposite.

 

When pilots discover that it is a whole, new, and dynamic flight world below 500ft agl, they cease doing the stupid stuff.

 

I'm not suggesting that we train you to fly at spraying height, or fly under powerlines, or other professional skills: I'm for training to avoid stall/spin accidents, to handle rough air, to avoid collisions, to make safe avoidance manoeuvres, and to escape from low or lost visibility situations. We can train you to make safe inspections of strips or paddock locations, how to better assess surface conditions, how to scan properly and so on.

 

The sooner that RAAus, (and CASA), encourage pilots to undertake post RPC/RPL training in low level operating of aircraft - the better for our industry.

 

The old wives tales/ urban myths about how dangerous it is, and why nobody should operate down low - need to be buried.  The next obstacle will be..... 'there are no qualified training instructors.'  Well, unless CASA/RAAus make some moves in this area - there will be no experienced LL instructors left in the industry.  Now is the time to change things, and have the oldies train up a reasonable number of younger instructors before it's too late.

 

happy days,

Wish I could do multiple “thumb ups”.

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How many pilots fail a BFR?

Few of mine have been particulary demanding; more a box-ticking exercise to be gone thru as fast as possible.

 

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17 hours ago, poteroo said:

We've touched on this 'recurrant training' subject before. It's a senstitive one, because while CASA talk-the-talk about continuing 'training', they baulk at recognising the need to have more training in lower level aircraft operation.  This carries through into RAAus, where we cannot train a pilot in any low level operations - unless they are going to use it on their property.

 

Now, I'd have thought that avoiding killing or injuring yourself and passengers, by having some low level skills, would be sufficient reason to have this allowed.  But no, within the regulators, there is a quite irrational fear that, because a pilot has been trained in low level ops, they will immediately become a low level flying hoon. My decades of experience say that it's the very opposite.

 

When pilots discover that it is a whole, new, and dynamic flight world below 500ft agl, they cease doing the stupid stuff.

 

I'm not suggesting that we train you to fly at spraying height, or fly under powerlines, or other professional skills: I'm for training to avoid stall/spin accidents, to handle rough air, to avoid collisions, to make safe avoidance manoeuvres, and to escape from low or lost visibility situations. We can train you to make safe inspections of strips or paddock locations, how to better assess surface conditions, how to scan properly and so on.

 

The sooner that RAAus, (and CASA), encourage pilots to undertake post RPC/RPL training in low level operating of aircraft - the better for our industry.

 

The old wives tales/ urban myths about how dangerous it is, and why nobody should operate down low - need to be buried.  The next obstacle will be..... 'there are no qualified training instructors.'  Well, unless CASA/RAAus make some moves in this area - there will be no experienced LL instructors left in the industry.  Now is the time to change things, and have the oldies train up a reasonable number of younger instructors before it's too late.

 

happy days,

People on this forum repeatedly complain about ever-increasing regulations; a great exaggeration of the real situation, but a very clear mandate of where not to go for administrators.

At the present time, anyone who would like to broaden their skills, and who are prepared to travel and pay for a session can obtain training in low level flying, unusual attitude recovery, and aerobatics. You don't have to go to PPL level, you don't necessarily need an official endorsement, but you can get that experience now.

 

The universal 500 foot minimum flying height allows the bulk of newly trained pilots the best kind of safety you can apply, removal of risk. If you fly above 500 feet you won't hit power lines (except in mountain country), you won't hit buildings, and you won't hit the majority of Australia, as in rock and dirt, and you won't need those rarely called on skills.

 

We have already reached the point where there aren't enough local instructors, aren't enough local schools, and most importantly aren't enough people prepared to pay the cost of flying. Those are the barriers we have to react to.

 

The annual hours of pilots is pathetically low; I don't have the exact figures, but I think about 50 hours a year for GA private pilots and 20 per year for RA. While I totally agree with what Facthunter would like to teach, at this level of currency we have to worry about a pilot getting the aircraft on the ground in a crosswind, radio procedures, and all the touch and feel skills that wash off with time away from the aircraft. We have to react to that situation too.

 

Without a doubt we could all do with more training, and more currency which usually equals "would if it was free".

 

You'll note that the person asking for more training was an airline pilot whose training had been paid for by his employer; easy to do then.

 

Note also the photo of the upended Jab; has there been any formal information that this was caused by too little training? Or was is simply a wheel caught on a stump or unseen ditch.

 

 

 

 

 

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Poteroo's insights I believe are correct - if you train as an electrician to rewire a light switch with a screwdriver it does n't mean you are more receptive to poking your finger into the danger zone

 

I don't believe there should be any statutory requirement for additional training - leave me alone - I got my bloody license - I like many others try and stay current as best we can. A similar example of that is road user behaviour ............................. (no expansion required)

    - we should be careful about additional requirements - watch out - I can just imagine the day that every 2 year period we will have to have done 5 hours of meetings / training in front of the executive and they will extol their virtues for us to hear - proof of how fantastic everything is (BFR's excluded)

   -  its called CPD - continuing professional development 

   - cynical - yep

 

However, I've never asked this, but if there was a designated low flying zone in my area - and I could go there and watch some trees and hills whizzing past and do it solo - I'd be first there - but first I'd get checked out by my instructor  

 

in any case we all low fly - every time we takeoff and land - and ironically we do 90 turns next to that glass ceiling (500 feet - or is it 600 feet ?) 

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35 minutes ago, johnm said:

 

 

In any case we all low fly - every time we takeoff and land - and ironically we do 90 turns next to that glass ceiling (500 feet - or is it 600 feet ?

That's a transition, and in a very controlled airfield environment.

However, since you raise it, historically there are HUNDREDS of crackups featured in the RAA magazine accident reports over the years in airfield environs.

You've also given a good example of the currency problems with your uncertain heights, and I'm not picking you out for that; we probably would all fail to get a 100% pass in what we were taught, and that's because of the low annual hours.

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 With reference to Airlines providing all training  ( for free) I would inform  that all my low level and spin/ spiral and unusual attitude recovery (visual and under the hood)  aerobatics  training etc was paid for in full by myself  at a time when I was extremely short of cash., as was the training to CPL and Instructor rating.

        The majority of training in airlines is in Endorsements including Turbines , pressurisation  and hyperbarics  Type endorsements include where applicable, high altitude considerations  (stall margins) Vmo Mmo  actual and simulated flying assymetric power, emergencies  and abnormals. for the type, etc etc.

   . While the Airline related training costs are high  nothing derived from them is part of what I advocate for RAAus Pilots. My recommendations are related to what U/L pilots  have to face in their everyday flying..I 'm also not pushing the "New GA" for the  organisation.. I'm for basic safe affordable flying and pilot maintenance of their own aircraft. Maximum information (education) Minimum regulation..

  Annual Hours flown is not the be all ,end all though it has to be a factor. Flying a circuit now and again at a familiar field  is NOT enough to  do much but keep your passenger carrying requirement current. Keeping up with the rules and going for a long trip, well prepared is a good way of blowing out the dust . I'm not for doing more BFR's. The Instructor will know if you are behind the ball. It really shows up quite quickly.. Prepare for your BFR and suggest practice on a sequence you might reasonably think you could revise and work with your instructor to rectify any areas of concern.    Get the most out of a BFR you must do anyhow.

 Pilots can pick up bad habits doing it all alone without flying with other pilots, without really knowing it. Regular discussion groups at the club would help to correct this.. as does appropriate magazine articles  you can peruse.  Nev

Edited by facthunter
add on.
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3 minutes ago, old man emu said:

How many AUF aircraft crashed into the ground, trees or power poles in the days they were limited to 300 ft AGL?

A lot, I think at least 20 in the scout alone.  

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 That was not a good time and had nothing going for it. It was a restriction without thought for the consequences. At that height and below your chances of a successful engine out without injury were minimal.  Nev

Edited by facthunter
correct error

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2 hours ago, johnm said:

-  its called CPD - continuing professional development 

I think this shows part of the RAAus mindset..........We are recreational pilots. If I was doing it for a living, I would be looking for "professional development".

I would be willing to bet that no 737 driver who owns a Pitts or Extra flies it the same as their work aircraft. It's done for fun. Take away the fun, and no-one will do it except those who find fun in making a list of unnecessary rules and following them to the letter (and we have enough of those).

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 I've seen some who want to over instrument their plane and fly it like a jet. It doesn't work really, especially with the" basic" ones, like a Drifter which has unusual all round vision and flies like a Tiger Moth that you can see where you are near the ground.. A tuft of wool and an altimeter are enough.. Generalising about a "group" often fails to do justice to their situation.  Nev.

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Before you start making blanket statements blaming these tragic accidents on poor training, it is wise to look at the circumstances of each accident. From all accounts at least 2 of those fatalities were the result of a structural failure of the aircraft, and without knowing the exact circumstances I think it is extremely presumptuous to apportion blame for any of the other accidents on the pilot’s training without knowing the exact cause.

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 Your point is valid but I don't think anyone has specifically  put the cause of these accidents down to lack of training. Every accident stands alone as to the cause and I'm one who resists the tendency to always blame the pilot. The matter was brought up by the first reference  where specific blame was not inferred. Training and extra awareness are often the result of occurrences  as in passing, deficiencies may become evident. . Nev

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<but I think about 50 hours a year for GA private pilots and 20 per year for RA. >

 

From my observations over 25 years I would put those hours at 50 or more hours a year for RA, and 20 or less hours for GA......

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Just as a matter of interest, the orange gyro shown here was not owned by a bush pilot.  He posted on this site in "Tell us about your last flight", which in fact it was. He was having great fun flying down in the tidal creeks below mangrove height,  but when he did the same the next time he hit a power cable and was killed.

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4 hours ago, turboplanner said:

Just as a matter of interest, the orange gyro shown here was not owned by a bush pilot.  He posted on this site in "Tell us about your last flight", which in fact it was. He was having great fun flying down in the tidal creeks below mangrove height,  but when he did the same the next time he hit a power cable and was killed.

Yes Turbs,

 

Was very well known for posting and boasting on YouTube his low level cowboy flying activities.

Unfortunately for his family he paid the ultimate price.

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