Schlagwort-Archive: accident

Distracted Pilot Loses Control Due To Incorrect Transponder Setting

Something as small as an incorrect transponder setting can lead to an accident if you allow yourself to become distracted. Here’s how this pilot nearly lost control on takeoff, and what you can do to avoid the same mistake.

A Chain Of Distractions
In a NASA ASRS report, a Cessna 182 Skylane pilot described the circumstances surrounding a momentary loss of control during takeoff with an incorrect transponder setting:

„After receiving my IFR clearance, I was interrupted by a passenger question while I was setting the transponder code. This caused the transponder to be set incorrectly. I failed to notice this error during the remainder of the preflight. During the takeoff roll, I looked down and saw the incorrect setting of the transponder and allowed myself to be distracted. I reached down to set the transponder. At that time the airplane veered right. Upon noticing the problem I corrected and completed the takeoff.

Two Things Went Wrong Here:
1) The pilot became distracted by a passenger question at a critical moment: while entering IFR clearance information.
2) The pilot attempted to change the transponder setting during a critical phase of flight: the takeoff roll.

What Could Have Been Done Differently
It’s easy to get distracted by passengers and their questions in any phase of flight – even on the ground. The best thing you can do is brief them about when and where it’s appropriate to ask questions. If you’re busy entering clearance information, let them know you’ll get back to their question as soon as you’re done.

Running the fine line between being perceived as rude or focused is tough. But if you explain to your passengers (before the flight) about good and bad times to talk, you’ll reduce the chance of distractions at critical phases of your flight.

When You Realize Something Is Wrong
A skill pilots develop over time is deciding what’s critical and what’s not. Changing the transponder during the takeoff roll isn’t critical to flight safety, so it’s unnecessary at that moment. Even with the passenger’s distraction, this situation could’ve been avoided had the pilot waited to reset the transponder during the climb. In most cases, ATC won’t radar identify you until you’re on with approach control or center, and that typically happens several minutes into the flight. And even if your transponder isn’t set correctly, ATC will let you know so you can correct it. It’s far more important to focus on flying the airplane when you’re at a high speed close to the ground (or on the ground). Unless something directly affects your safety or the flight characteristics of your plane, avoid becoming distracted by unnecessary „fixes“ during critical phases of flight. Source: ‚Boldmethod‚.

Spatial Disorientation

On April 15, 2021, at about 1948 mountain standard time, a Cessna 140A, N2506N, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Williams, Arizona. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

During a night cross-country flight in visual meteorological conditions, the pilot made a precautionary landing due to a failure of the airplane’s engine tachometer. The audio from an airframe-mounted camera captured the pilot’s post-flight inspection comment that the tachometer cable housing appeared to be intact and subsequent departure on the accident flight. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot deviated left of the runway heading before entering a right turn, away from an on-course heading toward the destination airport. The departure airport was located in a sparsely populated valley with rising terrain on all sides. The airport’s chart supplement indicated that a 479-foot hill existed about 1.4 nautical miles north of the departure end of the runway.

Sound spectrum analysis of the video revealed that the engine RPM decreased slightly, and the video showed an increase in the airplane’s bank angle. There was no indication on the camera of any distress or malfunction. The increased bank angle of the airplane, along with the airplane’s descent and impact with terrain, was consistent with an incipient loss of control.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of additional mechanical failure or malfunction that would have precluded normal operation. A review of the pilot’s logbook indicated 10.1 hours of night experience and that his most recent night flight before the accident flight was over 90 days before the accident. The lack of cultural lighting in the vicinity of the airport would have provided few visual cues to help the pilot maintain attitude orientation. In addition, the pilot’s decision to fly the airplane without a functioning tachometer may have served as an operational distraction after takeoff. Given the lack of mechanical anomalies, the departure into impoverished lighting conditions, the pilot’s lack of recent night flight experience, and the descending turn into terrain, the circumstances of the accident are consistent with a loss of control shortly after takeoff as a result of the pilot’s spatial disorientation.

  • Probable Cause: The pilot’s loss of control due to spatial disorientation in visual meteorological conditions shortly after takeoff at night.
  • Preventing Similar Accidents:
    Reduced Visual References Require Vigilance
  • About two-thirds of general aviation accidents that occur in reduced visibility weather conditions are fatal. The accidents can involve pilot spatial disorientation or controlled flight into terrain. Even in visual weather conditions, flights at night over areas with limited ground lighting (which provides few visual ground references) can be challenging.

Preflight weather briefings are critical to safe flight. In-flight, weather information can also help pilots make decisions, as can in-cockpit weather equipment that can supplement official information. In-cockpit equipment requires an understanding of its features and limitations.

We often see pilots who decide to turn back after they have already encountered weather; that is too late. Pilots shouldn’t allow a situation to become dangerous before deciding to act. Additionally, air traffic controllers are there to help; be honest with them about your situation and ask for help.

Even when flying at night, visual weather conditions can also be challenging. Remote areas with limited ground lighting provide limited visual reference cues for pilots, which can be disorienting or render rising terrain visually imperceptible. Topographic references can help pilots become more familiar with the terrain. The use of instruments, if pilots are proficient, can also help pilots navigate these challenging areas.

See NTSB Safety Alert SA_020 for additional resources. The NTSB presents this information to prevent the recurrence of similar accidents. Note that this should not be considered guidance from the regulator, nor does this supersede existing FAA Regulations. Source: ‚Aviation Accidents / NTSB‚.

Prievidza: Glider Collision

26th of April, in the afternoon, two gliders collided near the village of Trebostovo above the Končiar hill. Both gliders fell down into the forest in the difficult terrain. Based on a report from the Fire and Rescue Corps, we were told that both pilots were dead. All other competitors returned to the airport in Prievidza or outlanded in the field. The organizers of the competition express their sincere condolences to the families and the entire Polish and Lithuanian team. Source: ‚FCC Gliding (Event organiser)‘.

Fuelcell Testfligt Ends in Wreckage

On April 29th, 2021, ZeroAvia’s R&D aircraft made an off-airport landing just outside Cranfield airport perimeter during a routine pattern test flight (logged as ZeroAvia Test 86, and the 6th flight in this flight testing segment). The aircraft landed normally on its wheels in a flat grass field and almost came to a stop, but was damaged as it caught the left main gear and wing in the uneven terrain at the end of the field at low speed. Everybody involved is safe, and without injury. The incident was immediately reported to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), and the Fire Service attended on the ground, as is the standard procedure.

The facts as they stand now are as follows: the flight conformed to the approved test route over the airport; the structural integrity of ZeroAvia systems was maintained throughout the incident sequence and there were no unintended hydrogen or electrical releases and no fire; after the landing, the crew were able to safeguard the battery and safely release hydrogen from the onboard tanks, following ZeroAvia safety protocol; no fluid leaks were observed at the time; and full data logs were preserved and will be used in our investigation.

Following the flight test incident, ZeroAvia appointed a team of experts to conduct the internal investigation. These individuals, led by Dominic Cheater, ZeroAvia’s Head of Airworthiness, are independent from the design and operation of the HyFlyer I program. Dominic holds extensive expertise in airworthiness, flight test engineering and air safety. He has past experience with major industry names such as Babcock International as Chief of the Office of Airworthiness.

The investigation team will deliver a full review of the incident in collaboration with the UK’s AAIB, in-line with industry best practices and procedures. It will investigate the technical and operational events of the incident, identify its root causes, and ensure we learn from them. The process is already underway and we will share more once it is complete.

We will continue to work with the AAIB to ensure the delivery of a full and detailed investigation of the incident. As with any investigation, it will take some time. It is paramount we follow procedure and refrain from rushing the process. We will provide updates as we are able.

This incident and the ensuing investigation will undoubtedly disrupt our 6-seat HyFlyer demonstration program that was coming to an end in the following weeks. However, we do not expect any negative impact on our commercial-intent HyFlyer 2 program targeting 10-20 seat aircraft, or our large-engine development program targeting 50+ seat aircraft. Source: ‚ZeroAvia‚ (text) and ‚‚ (image).