“WEATHER” TO GO OR NOT TO GO?
(Extracts from CAA Safety Sense Leaflet 23)
Probably the single most important factor in General Aviation flight safety is the decision of a pilot to begin, or continue, a flight in unsuitable weather conditions.
Over 80% of Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents happened when the pilot either deliberately chose to fly into adverse weather, or did not appreciate the actual weather conditions. For example, crosswind landings seldom result in fatalities, but they still feature in many accidents resulting in broken aircraft and painful injuries.
Weather does not stay constant, and it can deteriorate very fast. It does not reflect badly on your ability as a pilot if you turn back when things change for the worse. In fact, it reflects good judgement and a realistic assessment of the situation. Never put yourself in a position where you would not feel able and willing to turn back if necessary. After all, no Monday job is worth dying for on a Sunday!
But I’ve done it before!
Why do some highly experienced pilots believe that they can safely fly in marginal conditions? Imagine if your son or daughter tried to convince you that it is quite safe for them to cross a busy road blindfolded, because they did it yesterday, and survived? What would you say to them?
But I Promised!
Never promise in advance to fly on a certain day, or to be somewhere important if you can only get there by flying. Tell your passengers that you may be able to take them flying weather permitting.
Trust Me, I’m a Pilot!
Everyone accepts that aircraft have a certain expected failure rate, and this is seen as a realistic, normal performance level. Human pilots also have a ‘realistic’ performance failure rate, and it is not zero. Accept your personal limitations at all times.
By the way, this reminder is not aimed at “all those other less experienced pilots who can’t fly as well as me”, we are actually talking to you!
Note: The EASA GA Safety Team has published a useful ‘Weather Anticipation’ leaflet on their website http://easa.europa.eu/essi/egast/2012/02/ga3