Aviation Safety Letter 4/2004

All Attitude Awareness and Recovery Procedures

by Paul Molnar, Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), FCI Flight Training, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

All Attitude Awareness and Recovery Procedures

The overhaul article on the Lazair accident (Recreational Aviation 2/2004) was excellent, but I would like to add a couple of major points that were not mentioned.

First of all, stall recovery at all altitudes must also account for rolling the aircraft's wings level in an appropriate manner — coordinated aileron and rudder, and then pulling out of the dive. The lack of knowledge for this portion of a stall recovery procedure is what hurts many people as well. It's one thing to recognize the need to reduce AOA [angle of attack] and add power, but if the ensuing pull is not done with wings level/nose straight (no yaw) and with appropriate energy on the aircraft, a secondary/accelerated stall and/or structural failure could occur (due to the rolling "G" loading at a reduced altitude), with reduced potential for a successful recovery. Energy management can alleviate most attempts to pull over-aggressively from a dive, although the concurrent roll/pull (Rolling "G") combination can be deadly due to the increased torsional loads and possible structural failure created by improper and uncoordinated use of the flight controls.

[Secondly,] the final turn stall scenario (with or without power) is a very survivable situation, with an appropriate analysis of the situation and a timely response using an "acronym-based" recovery procedure, engrained in a pilot's mind so that under stress, they react with instinct instead of with panic. Of course, recognition and avoidance of this approaching situation would ultimately be preferred, but that does not exclude the need to have a game plan available if the situation occurs, pilot-initiated or not.

The recovery technique, "pressure, power, rudder, level, climb," is the recovery procedure for all stalls and incipient spins, which will ensure that the pilot has an improved method of recovery from the stall-spin attitude. This standardized recovery technique is verbalized while being utilized, which is paramount in ensuring that the aircrew under the stress of an emergency situation will execute a safe, timely and accurate recovery.

Nose-low, unusual attitudes must also be accounted for (not all final turn situations begin as a stall), including aspects of energy management, aircraft movements and dive recovery. These situations may not be adequately addressed in some Canadian pilot training programs. There is definitely a liability issue involved in acting as pilot-in-command of an aircraft, and one should be concerned with the responsibility of being adequately qualified for all aspects of flight that might be experienced under foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Training for these conditions of flight is undoubtedly the best insurance for safety. One would also think that not only would a pilot be rewarded by a personal sense of well-being and control, but that an insurance underwriter may reduce the pilot's policy premium, as the risk of an accident is equally diminished. It is done regularly for twin-engine aircraft owners who attend annual training sessions at approved flight training organizations, such as Flight Safety International, and who fly a certain number of hours every year.

The use of generic techniques and a tactical approach to every aircraft attitude that the pilot may encounter will assist him in responding quicker and more efficiently to these unusual situations. Realistic training, energy management and the use of acronym-based, step-by-step recovery techniques are the key to safe flight, in my view.

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