Aviation Safety Letter 3/2004

Taken from TSB and CADORS File

The following excerpts are extracted from reports made available by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) and the Canadian Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS). Most occurred in 2002 and are reproduced here to respond to the need for ultra-light and amateur-built aircraft pilots to familiarize themselves with the causes of accidents. The types of accidents reported here are by no means solely restricted to amateur-built or ultra-light aircraft.

Pre-flight inspection should cover all of the major components: The pilot of an ARV-1 Golden Hawk ultralight aircraft reported that he was taxiing for takeoff and was provided with a remote airport advisory. A few minutes later, when queried by the controller as to his position, he reported that he had had an incident and that the aircraft had been damaged. During the take-off run the pilot lost control in wind and gust conditions reported at 15 to 20 kt. Investigation revealed that the landing gear had failed when it became loose and was displaced, causing a pivoting moment that led to the loss of control. When control was lost, the aircraft exited the runway and incurred damages to the landing gear, propeller and the wings. The landing gear had not been secured to the structure properly and had failed due to wear. Give your best during the pre-flight inspection. You never know when you will find that a major part is unairworthy.

Know your aircraft's limits of operations: The pilot of a C.A.D.I. ultra-light aircraft was flying circuits when he encountered crosswind conditions that exceeded his ability to control the aircraft during the landing sequence. The wind was at 7 to 8 kt with gusts at 40 to 60° to the landing path. The aircraft swung to the left upon touching down, nosed over and was substantially damaged. The pilot sustained minor injuries. The failure to control an aircraft during landing accounts for a high percentage of accidents, especially in tail-wheel equipped aircraft. Adequate training and practice are the only solutions to ensure safe landings under crosswind conditions. In a similar occurrence, a pilot flying a Junior JK-05 advanced ultralight was doing circuits when he lost control on landing. The aircraft veered off the runway, into the grass area and sustained extensive damage. There were no injuries.

Foreign object damage (FOD) causes mishap: The pilot of a float-equipped Quad City Challenger II ultralight aircraft was on final approach to land when he found the controls difficult to operate. As he reached an altitude of approximately 200 ft above the water, the controls froze and he could not move them. The aircraft suddenly pitched forward and the tips of the floats struck the water and the aircraft flipped over. The pilot received minor injuries but the aircraft was heavily damaged. It is reported that a life jacket may have moved under the control mechanism during flight, jamming it and causing the crash. Always secure all equipment on board your aircraft.

Steep turns at low altitude are very dangerous: The pilot of a Nordic V ultralight aircraft was seen performing tight turns at low altitude. During a pull-up, followed by a steep turn, the aircraft stalled and fell to the ground. The pilot was fatally injured. Steep turns at low altitude should not be executed, as a stall can occur at a time when there is no room allowing for a safe recovery. This manoeuvre requires altitude and if it is insufficient when a stall occurs, disaster is likely to follow.

Wearing a shoulder harness can be a blessing: The pilot of a Quad City Challenger II ultra-light aircraft was simulating a forced landing when the aircraft struck power lines, nosed over and crashed in a field. The pilot received serious injuries but the passenger was more fortunate and suffered only minor ones. They were both wearing the 4-point harness-type safety belt and it saved the day. The aircraft was substantially damaged.

Structural failure in flight leads to crash: The pilot and a passenger of a Bushmaster DM-3 ultralight aircraft lost their lives when the airplane they were travelling in crashed into a field, following the loss of an aileron in flight. An observer on the ground saw a part fly off the aircraft before it impacted the ground. Structural failures are rare and can be eliminated through careful maintenance and inspections, including the application of sound pre-flight inspection principles and by limiting the parameters of operations to those prescribed by the manufacturer of the aircraft. Keep tabs of all maintenance carried out on your aircraft, as it constitutes a very inexpensive insurance policy that your family will appreciate. Knowing the time in service of major aircraft parts, as well as the date and name of the person who performed the last inspection on your aircraft will confirm that the maintenance schedule is indeed satisfied and that your aircraft is airworthy.

A stitch in time saves nine: The pilot of a Bushmaster ultralight aircraft was seriously injured when the aircraft sustained wing damage following an encounter with turbulence. As the pilot was making a precautionary approach to land, he observed that the stitching on the left wing was coming undone. The aircraft rocked from side to side and then spiralled to the ground. The wing had inflated to a point where the drag exceeded the thrust. Careful maintenance and inspection will help reduce the risk of failure and ensure safe flight.

Pre-take-off check is very important: The pilot of a Tierra II ultralight aircraft was on the take-off run when suddenly the left door became unlatched. The aircraft veered to the left and crashed adjacent to the runway. There were no injuries but the ultralight was substantially damaged. The pilot declared that he forgot to ensure that the door was properly latched before proceeding for takeoff. A checklist of items to verify during pre-flight, pre-start, pre-take-off and other phases of flight should be part of the aircraft's equipment and be used to ensure that all necessary checks are carried out in the proper sequence. This will certainly help reduce the risks of an accident.

Pre-take-off checklist should include the safety harness: The pilot of a powered parachute Adventure F2Q found himself at the end of his rope when, shortly after takeoff, he observed the harness straps, which were holding him to the craft, were coming undone. He immediately turned around and proceeded to land downwind, hanging on for dear life by the parachute lanyards. Control of the craft was very limited but nevertheless he was able to land. He suffered serious injury and the craft sustained significant damage. A pre-flight check of all the equipment would have reduced the risk of such an accident.

Pre-landing checklist can save the day: The pilot of an amphibious Challenger IIA ultralight aircraft had departed from a grass strip for a local flight. As he approached the lake for a water landing, the movement of motorboats along the intended landing path diverted his attention and he may have failed to check the position of the landing gear. As a result, the aircraft hit the water with the gear down and sustained serious damaged to the wings and structure, but remained upright. No one was hurt. Pre-landing checks are a must.

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