Flight Training - March 2019 - 6

RIGHT SEAT BY IAN J. TWOMBLY

IAN J. TWOMBLY'S closest call as a flight

instructor was a near miss in a busy
practice area.
ian.twombly@aopa.org

WHEN THINGS
GO WRONG

Virtually everything you do while learning to fly is centered
on the idea of becoming a safe pilot. But how safe is learning?
The AOPA Air Safety Institute, in partnership with Liberty University,
recently released a detailed report about the causes of fatal flight training
accidents over a 15-year period (www.aopa.org/fataltrainingreport). The report
sheds light on flight training's relative overall safety record, why we have accidents, and a bit about what we can do to help curtail them.
Let's start with the good news. Learning to fly is a relatively safe thing to
do. In terms of the overall fatal accident rate, flight training has about 67 percent fewer fatal accidents than standard recreational flying. That makes sense
given the controlled environment, generally better weather in which training
flights operate, more forgiving equipment, and so on. We can also celebrate
that the trend is continuing downward. Over the 15 years covered by the report,
fatal accidents in training decreased an impressive 40 percent.
The bad news, aside from the crushing implications of a fatal accident on
victims and their families, is that many of the accident causes are persistent.
Loss of control remains the top risk, causing more than half the accidents.
This catch-all term doesn't really stand on its own, but the report parses down
the causes further, and they include stall/spin, VMC rollovers, spatial dis6  FLIGHT TRAINING MARCH 2019

orientation, and structural limitation
exceedance. Of those, stall/spin is the
most important for a primary student.
Typically, we hammer in the idea that
the traffic pattern's base-to-final turn
is the most dangerous part of the airport environment. Either that's never
been true or we have done a good
job mitigating the risks; takeoff and
go-around accidents are a significantly
bigger problem. Of the loss-of-control
accidents, only 9 percent happened on
the base-to-final segment, compared to
29 percent on takeoff, climb, or during
a go-around.
You can also breathe a bit during
stall practice. Intentional stall/spin
practice accounted for only 5 percent
of the loss-of-control accidents.
The report included a few surprises.
Arguably the biggest was that midair
collisions were the second-leading
cause of fatal accidents. You can look
at this two ways: Either midair collisions are practically an epidemic in
flight training, or the rate of fewer than
two a year-less than a fifth compared
to loss-of-control accidents-doesn't
represent a big problem. I suppose both
perspectives could be valid. Sure, they
don't happen often, but they are almost
always preventable. Perhaps most
surprising about the midair number
is a detail that challenges our notions
of their risks. We often say the airport
environment is the most dangerous
because that's where everyone comes
to party. Yet according to the report,
71 percent of the fatal flight training
midairs happened outside the airport
environment. And of those that were
around the airport, the majority happened at Class D fields with control
towers.
The rest of the accidents ranged
from controlled flight into terrain to
fuel issues or intentional low-altitude
maneuvering.
It's hard to say in the face of a
report on fatal accidents that flight
training is generally safe, but I still
believe that. The trend is improving,
technology is helping, and there's a
renewed focus on basic attitude flying.
If we make smart choices, put fuel in
the airplane, keep our eyes outside, our
airspeed up, and our angle of attack
low, we can avoid the worst. FT


http://www.aopa.org/fataltrainingreport

Flight Training - March 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - March 2019

Contents
Flight Training - March 2019 - Cover1
Flight Training - March 2019 - Cover2
Flight Training - March 2019 - Contents
Flight Training - March 2019 - 2
Flight Training - March 2019 - 3
Flight Training - March 2019 - 4
Flight Training - March 2019 - 5
Flight Training - March 2019 - 6
Flight Training - March 2019 - 7
Flight Training - March 2019 - 8
Flight Training - March 2019 - 9
Flight Training - March 2019 - 10
Flight Training - March 2019 - 11
Flight Training - March 2019 - 12
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Flight Training - March 2019 - 14
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Flight Training - March 2019 - 16
Flight Training - March 2019 - 17
Flight Training - March 2019 - 18
Flight Training - March 2019 - 19
Flight Training - March 2019 - 20
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Flight Training - March 2019 - Cover3
Flight Training - March 2019 - Cover4
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