Flight Training - October 2013 - 44

ACCIDENT REPORT

Dan Namowitz
ACCORDING TO THE FAA, there
were 115,000 student pilots as of
March 2011.

LEAVE IT BE

ROTATION IS WHEN SURPRISES CAN POP UP

R

eady for takeoff on a Saturday morning practice session, the
pilot of the Piper PA-28 Cherokee taxied onto the runway
and advanced the throttle, eager to shoot some takeoffs and
landings, as well as try out a portable GPS unit after replacing
a faulty antenna.

“On takeoff roll and rotation, the
antenna fell off the instrument panel,” the
pilot recounted. “I automatically reached
for it and started messing with it.”
What kind of accident ensued? Perhaps
the aircraft departed the runway (most
likely to the left from p-factor). Maybe it
rolled off the end of a short runway. Grazing treetops during a delayed climbout
happens from time to time, as does nosing
over after a tardy attempt to abort on the
remaining pavement.
Answer: None of the above. The pilot
recognized the insidious influence of distraction before it could truly take hold.
“So I forced myself to leave it be until I
had departed the pattern and leveled out. I
didn’t mess with it again until I got on the
ground,” the pilot said.
The high task saturation level of a
takeoff run makes anything unexpected
even more of a challenge for a pilot to cope
with; ask any multiengine pilot who has
practiced simulated engine failures at rotation (requiring a quick decision whether
to continue the departure on one engine or
abort the takeoff ).
Even in a low-powered, single-engine
aircraft, the intensity of focus a pilot
must apply to the task at hand is most

44 /

FLIGHTTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

vulnerable to upset just before and during
rotation. Unfortunately, that same period
tends to be the time when certain problems make themselves known. Doors pop
open; a deficient airspeed indicator may
begin to behave erratically; a loud, vibrating nosewheel shimmy may develop.
Rotation is when any failure to correct
for p-factor with right rudder pressure
may become troublesome, the loss of
directional control aggravated by the
reduced resistance of wheels gripping
pavement.
If your aircraft is mistrimmed or has an
out-of-balance center of gravity (especially
aft), rotation may deliver a nasty surprise,
which you will discover through the
aircraft’s sudden and probably excessive
motion around the pitch (lateral) axis.
In some fatal cases, rotation or during

Safety Quiz: Emergency Procedures
Knowing and practicing procedures
can mean the difference between
handling a mishap or having a really
bad day. Take this Air Safety Institute
Safety Quiz and see how you'd do if
faced with an emergency (www.aopa.
org/Education/Safety-Quizzes).

the initial climb is when an unsecured
pilot seat has slid backward on its rails,
putting the controls out of reach—or
causing a pilot to yank the aircraft up into
an accidental departure stall. A sloppy
preflight may go undetected until a pilot
attempts to rotate, but is prevented from
doing so by a control lock left in place.
The surprise factor conspires with the
pilot’s high workload to erode the ability
to respond properly. In some cases—as
with that loose GPS antenna—it may
simply mean having the presence of mind
to not respond at all until safely away from
the ground and leveled off in cruise.
Sometimes the powerful effects exerted
on an aircraft at rotation by p-factor can be
underestimated. Combining the left-turning tendency of a single with a specialized
takeoff technique—for example, one that
combines a ground run and rotation into
a single operation, such as a soft-field
takeoff—may present a novice with special
directional control problems.
That happened when a student pilot
tried to coax a Jabiru USA J170-SP into
a soft-field takeoff, where “as the nosewheel lifted off the runway, the airplane
veered to the left. The student pilot tried
to correct the left turn by applying right
rudder and aileron but was unsuccessful.
The airplane departed the runway surface
and came to rest, nose down, on a parallel
taxiway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the engine, nosewheel area,
both wings, and the fuselage,” according
to the NTSB report. The NTSB assigned
probable cause as the student pilot’s “loss
of directional control during takeoff,
which resulted in a runway excursion.”
You never know what hidden problems an aircraft might drop into your
lap—the moment of rotation is when you
may find out.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight
instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an
instructor since 1990.


http://www.aopa.org/Education/Safety-Quizzes http://www.aopa.org/Education/Safety-Quizzes http://FLIGHTTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

Flight Training - October 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - October 2013

Flight Training - October 2013
Contents
Member Benefits
Right Seat
Centerline
Letters
Night Flight
Success Story Flight Training Excellence Award Winner
How It Works
After the Checkride
AOPA Action
News From Airventure 2013
ASI News
Tech Tip
Final Exam
Flight Lesson
Flying Carpet
The Oops List
One Pilot, Many Tools
Stop, Look, Listen
Technique
Weather
Accident Report
Fuel Management
Career Advisor
Tech Talk
Familiarity Breeds Good Training
Perceptual Magic
Advertiser Index
Debrief
Flight Training - October 2013 - Flight Training - October 2013
Flight Training - October 2013 - Cover2
Flight Training - October 2013 - Contents
Flight Training - October 2013 - 2
Flight Training - October 2013 - 3
Flight Training - October 2013 - Member Benefits
Flight Training - October 2013 - 5
Flight Training - October 2013 - Right Seat
Flight Training - October 2013 - 7
Flight Training - October 2013 - Centerline
Flight Training - October 2013 - 9
Flight Training - October 2013 - Letters
Flight Training - October 2013 - 11
Flight Training - October 2013 - Night Flight
Flight Training - October 2013 - 13
Flight Training - October 2013 - Success Story Flight Training Excellence Award Winner
Flight Training - October 2013 - How It Works
Flight Training - October 2013 - After the Checkride
Flight Training - October 2013 - AOPA Action
Flight Training - October 2013 - News From Airventure 2013
Flight Training - October 2013 - 19
Flight Training - October 2013 - ASI News
Flight Training - October 2013 - Tech Tip
Flight Training - October 2013 - Final Exam
Flight Training - October 2013 - Flight Lesson
Flight Training - October 2013 - Flying Carpet
Flight Training - October 2013 - 25
Flight Training - October 2013 - The Oops List
Flight Training - October 2013 - 27
Flight Training - October 2013 - 28
Flight Training - October 2013 - 29
Flight Training - October 2013 - 30
Flight Training - October 2013 - 31
Flight Training - October 2013 - One Pilot, Many Tools
Flight Training - October 2013 - 33
Flight Training - October 2013 - 34
Flight Training - October 2013 - 35
Flight Training - October 2013 - Stop, Look, Listen
Flight Training - October 2013 - 37
Flight Training - October 2013 - 38
Flight Training - October 2013 - 39
Flight Training - October 2013 - Technique
Flight Training - October 2013 - 41
Flight Training - October 2013 - Weather
Flight Training - October 2013 - 43
Flight Training - October 2013 - Accident Report
Flight Training - October 2013 - Fuel Management
Flight Training - October 2013 - Career Advisor
Flight Training - October 2013 - 47
Flight Training - October 2013 - Tech Talk
Flight Training - October 2013 - Familiarity Breeds Good Training
Flight Training - October 2013 - 50
Flight Training - October 2013 - Perceptual Magic
Flight Training - October 2013 - Advertiser Index
Flight Training - October 2013 - 53
Flight Training - October 2013 - 54
Flight Training - October 2013 - 55
Flight Training - October 2013 - Debrief
Flight Training - October 2013 - Cover3
Flight Training - October 2013 - Cover4
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