FAA Releases Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control

Loss of Control

Loss of control in flight causes general aviation crashes; to combat this, FAA released a “Fly Safe” update to remind pilots how to prevent loss of control.

Loss of ControlDid you know that most general aviation fatal accidents are caused by in-flight loss of control? Many of these loss of control accidents are caused by factors related to engine failure. Between 2001 and 2010, engine maintenance errors were identified as a contributing factor in 35 of 70 randomly-selected accidents.

Is Your Engine Up to Snuff?
Your engine is the heartbeat of your aircraft, and when you’re flying, you certainly want it to perform without a hitch. Numerous accidents happen – needlessly – because important maintenance was ignored or performed poorly. How many times have we heard of an accident or emergency landing because of an engine malfunction indication, or worse, an engine failure?

Ensure your safety by making sure your airplane’s ticker is humming along at its best. Proper engine maintenance, post-maintenance, advanced pre-flights, and engine performance monitoring can go a long way in eliminating needless, inconvenient, expensive, and potentially fatal consequences.

Good Maintenance Practices:

  • Get to know your airplane, and your mechanic
    -Work with your mechanic to make sure the aircraft is operated and maintained properly. Review inspection results and talk to your mechanic about any applicable Airworthiness Directives and Service Bulletins.
  • Don’t ignore regular maintenance
    -You can’t simply pull off to the shoulder when you are in an aircraft. You need to have all parts of the airplane functioning, and functioning well.
  • Comply with all manufacturer-recommended service intervals.
  • Fifty-hour oil changes are recommended for most normally-aspirated piston engines.
  • Turbo-charged engines should undergo oil changes more frequently.
  • Check the oil filter with each oil change
    -Checking the oil will tell you a lot about engine health. Several samples will create a trend.
  • At every other oil change, do a compression check and check magneto timing, spark plugs, and the exhaust system.

Advanced Preflight After Maintenance:

Maintenance-related problems — and the pilot’s failure to catch them — can lead to disastrous consequences.

  • After maintenance, be sure to conduct a preflight that goes above-and-beyond the normal before you take flight again.
  • Look at your aircraft’s maintenance history. Develop an extra checklist, as necessary, and use that checklist every time your aircraft has had maintenance.
  • Become familiar with flight controls or systems prior to maintenance, so you can spot abnormalities later.
  • Review ALL of your aircraft’s records, including receipts, work orders, FAA Form 337s (Major Repair and Alteration forms), and approval for return to service tags (8130-3 Forms). Also, locate any Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) data.
  • Talk to your mechanic about the work that he or she did on your aircraft. Pay close attention to the components or systems that underwent repair.
  • Be prepared to abort takeoff if something goes wrong, or doesn’t feel right.

Engine Performance Monitoring:

  • You’ll get immediate feedback from airspeed indicators, attitude indicators, angle of attack indicators, manifold pressure gauges, RPM gauges, and G-force meters. You will be able to tell if design limitations have or are about to be exceeded. This information is available – real time – on every flight.
  • Engine diagnostic equipment comes in many different forms. One version is the external, hand-held test kit that attaches to ignition plugs and determines system functionality. A good test kit can check engine compression, magnetos, ignition leads, engine timing, and more.
  • Engine data management systems come in a variety of forms and are offered by many different companies. These devices monitor your engine while you focus on flying the aircraft. They can meter your mixture and exhaust gas temperature (EGT) to optimize lean-of-peak operations. Some systems even offer interpretive software and/or provide professional analysis of your data.
  • A digital/electronic engine control (D/EEC) regulates the function of the injection system to ensure the engine provides the power that it needs. An engine control unit reads several sensors, and then adjusts the engine through a series of actuators. Sensors include ones for airflow, engine cooling, throttle position, and fuel flow.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the general aviation (GA) community’s national #FlySafe campaign is designed to educate GA pilots about the best practices to calculate and predict aircraft performance and to operate within established aircraft limitations.

Message from FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta:
The FAA and industry are working together to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents and save lives. You can help make a difference by joining our #Fly Safe campaign. Every month on FAA.gov, we provide pilots with Loss of Control solutions developed by a team of experts – some of which are already reducing risk. I hope you will join us in this effort and spread the word. Follow #FlySafe on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I know that we can reduce these accidents by working together as a community.

More about Loss of Control:

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 2016, 413 people died in 219 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.

Learn more:

  • Check out the GA Safety Enhancement fact sheet on Engine Maintenance and Performance Monitoring. You can also learn more about the important steps you need to take after your airplane’s been serviced with our fact sheet on Advanced Preflight After Maintenance. A full list of fact sheets is available at www.faa.gov/news/safety_briefing.
  • Read more about engine data management systems in “Check Engine!” in the May/June 2015 edition of the FAA Safety Briefing.
  • Advisory Circular 120-113, “Best Practices for Engine Time In Service Interval Extensions”gives the regulatory requirements for time limitations and time in service intervals for engine overhauls.
  • Read Chapter 8, “Inspection Fundamentals” in the FAA Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook.
  • The FAASafety.gov website has Notices, FAAST Blasts, online courses, webinars and more on key general aviation safety topics.
  • The WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program helps pilots build an educational curriculum suitable for their unique flight requirements.  It is based on the premise that pilots who maintain currency and proficiency in the basics of flight will enjoy a safer and more stress-free flying experience.
  • The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) is comprised of government and industry experts who work together to use data to identify risk, pinpoint trends through root cause analysis, and develop safety strategies to reduce the risk of GA accidents. The GAJSC combines the expertise of many key decision makers in the FAA, several government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and stakeholder groups. Industry participants include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of Flight Instructors, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, and the aviation insurance industry. The National Transportation Safety Board and the European Aviation Safety Agency participate as observers.

This article was written and released by the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

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