MORE ON LOSS OF CONTROL
Acknowledgements: The FAA and the GA community’s “Fly-Safe” campaign
What is Loss of Control (LOC)?
An LOC accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen when the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and quickly develops into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot.
Expect the Unexpected
Fatal aviation accidents often result from a pilot’s inappropriate response to an unexpected event. Some pilots may experience a “startle response” when faced with an unexpected situation or freeze or panic during an emergency. These events can quickly create a situation that is stressful, challenging, and even life-threatening, especially during flight.
Any unexpected inflight event requires fast, accurate action. Your best insurance is to have a plan. Solid training, regular practice, and your discipline to strive for perfection on every flight will help you survive.Training and practice can help you diagnose developing problems, such as:
- Partial or full loss of power on take-off
- Landing gear extension or retraction failure
- Bird strike
- A cabin door opening on take-off, landing, or mid-flight
- A control problem
- A control failure
How would you respond to each of these problems? What would be your plan of action?
You need to carefully visualize, think through, and plan how you would address each of these issues as well as any others that may be relevant to your operation. Talk with your flight instructor, and take time to plan and train for your response.
For example, your instructor can help you practice your reaction to a primary or multi-function flight display failure. He or she can also throw other possibilities your way, including electrical failures, landing gear extension failures, and more.
You can also experience these failures on your flight simulator software on your home computer or personal electronic device. Some of these programs will allow you to set up random failures during a flight. If you don’t have access to a simulator, try sitting in your airplane to practice drills and help you develop a pre-planned course of action and test your mastery of your abnormal and emergency checklists.
These drills have serious benefits:
- You will rehearse sudden and subtle failures, and have the opportunity to practice overcoming your natural defences (this can’t be happening to me) and rationalization (I don’t think this is as bad as it sounds).
- You’ll get to know your aircraft’s systems, including how they work, how they fail, and how those failures can affect other systems or controls.
- You will brush up on your single pilot crew resource management skills. By having a strong situational awareness of the aircraft and its flight path and the range of resources that are there to help you, including air traffic control, you’ll be able to reach out for assistance quickly.
Contributing factors may include:
- Poor judgment or aeronautical decision making
- Failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action
- Intentional failure to comply with regulations
- Failure to maintain airspeed
- Failure to follow procedure
- Pilot inexperience and proficiency
- Use of prohibited or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol
Did you know?
- In 2015, 384 people died in 238 general aviation accidents.
- Loss of Control was the number one cause of these accidents.
- Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight. It can happen anywhere and at any time.
- There is one fatal accident involving Loss of Control every four days.
Plan, rehearse, repeat. These simple exercises can save your life.