I am writing this just a day after the NTSB held a forum to examine the problem of loss-of-control (LOC) accidents and explore possible solutions. The event, titled “Humans and Hardware: Preventing General Aviation Inflight Loss of Control,” included an overview of the types of loss of control accidents, human performance and medical issues, potential training improvements, and technological enhancements that can reduce loss of control accidents. SAFE participated and was represented by Rich Stowell.
The forum emphasized that the solution to reducing injuries and fatalities in LOC accidents is multi-pronged. Four different panel discussions made it clear that solving this problem includes proper education and training, advances in equipment and technology, as well as knowledge of procedures and human factors. In the Training Solutions Panel, Rich emphasized the importance of learning to properly turn an airplane and broke the turning process into three parts: the knowledge; practicing using simulation; and the actual flying in the airplane. It was also good to see the FAA recognizes that reducing paperwork and making it easier and less costly to install equipment that improves safety is also a part of solving this problem.
Education plays a big role in the entire process, and this is where SAFE can and has played an important role. Aircraft owners and mechanics need education on the equipment that is available, and they need to know about the streamlined approval process for installing the equipment on general aviation aircraft. Flight instructors need resource material so they can, in turn, educate their students on LOC. Instructors need to ensure their students learn to maneuver the plane correctly, so LOC doesn’t become an issue. Pilots need both education and training on the fundamentals of the LOC problem as well as on methods to avoid and recover from in-flight LOC. Aviation research institutions need to develop and validate procedures that recognize the human side of LOC situations as well as improve safety through procedures and cockpit displays.
Doug Stewart represents SAFE on the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) and the Statistical Analysis Team (SAT) chartered by the GAJSC. He also served on the Loss of Control Work Group and the System and Component Failure/Power Plant work group. These FAA/Industry groups have led the way on tackling how to reduce the LOC accidents.
The FAA’s latest revisions to the Airplane Flying Handbook and Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge are adding a variety of new material on LOC. SAFE’s representatives and other SAFE members have participated in the review of the handbooks, and have provided substantial suggestions and recommendations to help ensure these latest revisions provide accurate knowledge related to LOC.
In addition, SAFE and Mindstar Aviation have joined together to create several simulator training scenarios specifically dealing with LOC.
SAFE’s leaders are passionate about reducing LOC accidents through education and training. SAFE and SAFE members are working diligently to reduce LOC accidents, as are others in the industry. SAFE intends to take an increased role in the education and training of pilots and flight instructors in LOC prevention. Stay tuned for more information in the next few months.