Aviation Safety Letter 4/2004
The object of this column is to inform recreational aircraft owners and pilots about incidents and accidents that have occurred in Canada in recent months. This information is published in order that pilots may identify conduct that leads to risk, and too often, to a loss of life. No one sets out on a flight with the intention of endangering life, therefore one must guard against risks. How is this achieved? By being prepared. Prior to flight the pilot-in-command must obtain all the information that may be pertinent to the safety of the flight. They must ensure that they are fit — their health, fatigue and emotional level must easily meet the requirements for good health — and adequately trained. Before a flight, they will review all emergency procedures that can unexpectedly surface during flight, and complete a pre-flight inspection of the aircraft to identify any deficiencies. Flying requires professionalism, competency, excellent health and a great deal of common sense. A safe flight is a planned affair. Be safe!
Quebec Region — April 2004: The ultralight aircraft, a Cosmos II, was approaching to land at the airport when the engine suddenly stopped. The pilot directed his trike aircraft to a nearby bicycle path, but during the landing phase, the left wing hit trees and it incurred some damages. There were no injuries.
Quebec Region — May 2004: A Murphy Moose amateur-built aircraft sustained heavy damage following landing. It appears that during the roll-out, one of the aircraft brakes seized and the aircraft flipped over. Neither of the two passengers was injured.
Quebec Region — June 2004: The amateur-built Lair 01 floatplane was in cruise flight when the engine suddenly sputtered and stopped. The pilot tried in vain to reach a lake, but had to make do with a small clearing. The landing was carried out without injury to the pilot, the sole occupant, but the aircraft did sustain heavy damage. The engine failure may have been due to the poor quality of the fuel. The fuel came from jerrycans filled a year earlier, and water may have been present at the time of refuelling. The pilot is investigating the failure and will report any new information observed during the teardown of the engine to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).
Clean and abundant fuel is your lifeline to safety; always check the fuel, filters and fuel-tank drains for the presence of water before every flight. — Ed.
Quebec Region — June 2004: The float-equipped C185 was leaving the dock where it had been tied-down. Its passenger was standing on one of the floats, hanging onto the strut, giving verbal directions to the pilot. There was another person on the dock, holding on to the wing tip and helping to clear the floatplane by a small fishing boat. The passenger standing on the float reached down to help clear the floatplane away from the boat, and when the person stood up, the turning propeller struck her. As soon as the pilot realized that he could not see his passenger anymore, he stopped the engine and investigated. But it was too late; the passenger succumbed to her injuries. The floats had been repainted the year before but the red warning line usually painted on the floats had not been replaced.
It serves to warn anyone who ventures on the float to beware of the propeller. Although the passenger had nearly 200 hr of flying time as pilot-in-command of this C185, it seems that for a fatal instant, the windmilling propeller was forgotten. Every year, similar accidents are reported, and they are usually fatal. Before every flight, a pilot-in-command has the responsibility to brief all passengers, and flight assistants when applicable, of all information that will ensure safety on the ground, in the water and in the air. The safety briefing is required by the regulations, and is part of every pre-flight checklist. It only takes a few minutes to review, but can be instrumental in ensuring safety. Give the briefing. — Ed.
Quebec Region — June 2004: The amateur-built float-equipped CADI was being flown at low altitude in preparation for a water landing. As it circled the neighbouring town at an ever-lower altitude, it collided with an electrical wire, and crashed in a nearby field. Fortunately, there were no injuries sustained by the pilot or his passenger.
Electrical wires take their toll annually of low-flying aircraft. They are difficult to see because pilots do not look for them, nor do they look for the electrical poles that hold them 35 ft in the air. Normally, a prudent floatplane pilot will look for electrical wires, poles, as well as floating logs and debris, during the flight over the landing area before the approach phase to a landing. Somehow, many pilots seem to forget about this danger when they fly at low altitude over a friend's house, and collide with wires. It is often a deadly encounter. When leaving a safe altitude, always check for electrical wires and obstructions such as towers, antenna or communications towers, as well as floating debris in the water when performing a water landing. It should always be part of your checklist to check for possible obstructions in your landing path. Be alert. — Ed.
Quebec Region — June 2004: The pilot of the Rans-Coyote ultralight aircraft was performing touch-and-gos when he lost control of the aircraft as the tail-wheel fell off. The pilot was able to land without further damage and the wheel was later found.
Parts rarely fall off aircraft unless they have not received the care that is owed to them. A thorough pre-flight is a must and will not shorten your enjoyment of the flight. — Ed.
Quebec Region — June 2004: The student pilot of a powered parachute was at an altitude of approximately 250 ft when he entered a spiral dive. He was unable to correct the manoeuvre and the wing attained a near 80° bank when he struck the ground. He sustained fatal injuries.
Briefings offered by instructors are very important. They allow the instructor to assess the health, the knowledge and the readiness of the student to carry out the flight successfully. Pay attention during those briefings. — Ed.
Quebec Region — June 2004: Two powered paraglider (PPG) student pilots were flying circuits at a local airport and performing touch-and-go landings. At the time, both students were receiving instructions from radio-equipped instructors who were on the ground. One of the two paragliders was flying faster than the other, and as he neared the landing area, he overtook the other aircraft and collided with it. The aircraft's propeller cut deeply into the fabric of the wing of the paraglider, it lost lift and started to descend from a height of 150 ft. Fortunately, the pilot was able to use all available power, and avert a very hard landing and possible injuries. Following the accident, the instructors reviewed the regulations pertaining to right of way, circuit procedures and emergencies with the students.
Before setting out on a solo flight, student pilots should always review all procedures with their instructor to ensure a safe and rewarding outing. This should include a brief revision of emergency procedures. — Ed.
Quebec Region — July 2004: The turbine-engine amateur-built aircraft was equipped with floats and was being taxied to test the aircraft's stability at various engine speeds and throttle settings. While taxiing at high speed, the aircraft took off and the pilot was unable to retard the throttle sufficiently to allow for a safe landing in the remaining portion of the lake, where boats of various sizes were cruising. He climbed out to a safe altitude, extended the flight sufficiently to confirm control of the aircraft, and proceeded on the approach to land. The pilot had not intended to fly the aircraft, and only filled the aircraft's fuel tanks with enough gas for the water test. As the pilot lined up for the final approach, the engine sputtered and quit. He was unable to make it to the lake and executed a forced landing in the woods. The aircraft was badly damaged but there were only minor injuries. Investigation revealed that there was no fuel left in the tanks after the accident.
A pilot-in-command must plan for all emergencies. — Ed.
Ontario Region — May 2004: The Volk Air Too float-equipped advanced ultralight was on a local flight with two people on board. Witnesses reported observing the ultralight take off in a westerly direction and then heard the engine backfiring. The ultralight banked to the right and entered into a spiral dive. It did not recover from the spiral, and struck the water in a steep nose-down attitude. An emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was transmitted for a short period of time and the Trenton rescue coordination centre (RCC) responded. Both occupants were fatally injured.
Control of the aircraft is a must. When an emergency occurs, the pilot should maintain control first; it is called aviate. Flying speed is crucial to allow for the control of the aircraft that can then be directed to a safe landing area. Ultralight aircraft do not require great surfaces to land safely and it is therefore crucial to remain in control until touchdown. Aviate, navigate, communicate — these are the three most important processes to control your flight, especially when confronted with an emergency. — Ed.
Ontario Region — May 2004: A Cessna 172 was in cruise flight at approximately 2 500 ft when the pilot noticed a drop in oil pressure, followed by a loss of engine power. He communicated a distress signal with the air traffic control (ATC) service, and proceeded to land safely on a small county road. The landing was uneventful. Investigation by maintenance personnel revealed that an oil cooler line had failed, leading to the loss of the engine.
Fuel and oil lines (rubber hoses) on airplanes have a life expectancy of approximately ten years, and although they may appear in good condition, when the inner part is subjected to chemicals and pressure, it will deteriorate over time. For safety, it is best to replace them when they near the ten years-in-service mark. — Ed.
Ontario Region — July 2004: A Chinook ultralight aircraft was performing circuits at the Kakabeka Falls airport. Following a touch-and-go landing, the aircraft was observed turning left during the climb and crashing in a nearby field. The accident was fatal to the two occupants. It is unknown at this time what led to the loss of control.
Pacific Region — July 2004: The Quicksilver MX ultralight took off from Runway 22 at Courtenay (Smit Field), B.C., and flew on a runway heading for about two miles before crashing in a logged off area of a mountain. The engine, a Rotax 377, was heard to slow before the aircraft crashed. The pilot was not injured, but the aircraft was substantially damaged. The pilot reported that after takeoff, the engine coughed, he pulled the throttle back and the engine smoothed out, but when he pushed the throttle back in, the engine quit.
The failure may have been caused by a fuel availability problem? — Ed.
Pacific Region — July 2004: The Quad City Challenger II/A ultralight was on a local flight in the Cranbrook, B.C., area. While on final for Runway 16, the engine (Rotax 503) abruptly lost power and the propeller stopped. The pilot advised the flight service station (FSS) that he was making a forced landing, and landed in a field short of the runway. There was no damage, and the pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. A loose connection was found in the ignition harness.
Would a good pre-flight inspection have revealed the deficiency and prevented the forced landing? That is the question! — Ed.
Pacific Region — July 2004: The Fisher Flying Products Super Koala ultralight aircraft took off westbound from the Glen Valley, B.C., ultralight airfield. When the aircraft reached about 200 ft AGL, the engine (Rotax 532) stopped. The pilot made a right turn and conducted a forced landing in a field adjacent to the airfield. The aircraft overturned during the roll-out due to drag from long grass. The pilot was not injured, but the aircraft was substantially damaged. The pilot reports that vapour lock may have caused the engine stoppage.
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