Advisory Circulars

Commercial & Business Aviation


No. 0161


Controlled Flight Into Terrain


This Commercial and Business Aviation Advisory Circular (CBAAC) is intented to bring to the attention of air carriers the soon to be implemented Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR) requirement for mandatory training for the avoidance of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accidents.


Controlled Flight into Terrain Education and Training Aid developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF).


CFIT has been and continues to be the dominant reason for accidents involving airplane hull losses and fatalities. It is imperative that the CFIT accident rate be lowered because the number of commercial airplane departures is increasing greatly. If the current rate is applied to the forecast number of departures worldwide, CFIT could result in one major hull loss and the associated fatalities per week by the year 2010.

FSF organized an international CFIT Task Force in 1993 to study the causes and factors of CFIT accidents and to make recommendations to prevent these accidents. The CFIT Education and Training Aid is one product of this Task Force.

This material provides all the information necessary to develop and deliver appropriate training. It is a comprehensive training aid primarily intended for operators and pilots of transport aircraft and for those who manage the aviation system. It contains educational material on operational factors that contribute to CFIT and a sample training program including academic and simulator programs, technical information on Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) operation, examinations and a prepared safety briefing with overheads and commentary. The aid is available in both hard copy and electronic versions from ICAO at (514) 954-8022 (telephone) or (514) 954-6769 (facsmile).

The overwhelming majority of accidents (all types) occur during the descent, approach and landing phases of flight. CFIT accidents make up the majority of these accidents, and most CFIT accidents occur during non-precision approaches and, to a lesser extent, during departures. Approach and departure procedure depiction, shallow descent gradients and multiple altitude step-down procedures have all been identified as factors contributing to some of these accidents.


Although progress is being made in the improvement of approach and departure charts, a review by operators of all company non-precision approach procedures and departure procedures to identify any potential CFIT hazards is strongly recommended. Ideally, this would be done prior to the introduction of the CFIT training so that aircrews could be made aware of any hazards as well as any mitigating solutions during the training. In particular, charts should be assessed according to the following criteria for all normal, non-normal and emergency procedures:

  1. Are there features in the surrounding terrain which could be problematic in certain circumstances?
  2. Are all obstructions clearly and accurately depicted?
  3. Is the approach gradient suitable for the aircraft types flown?
  4. What is the complexity of the procedure and could it be prone to misinterpretation as a result?
  5. Are all charts published in the same formats and is all printing and symbology consistent?

Once potential hazards have been identified, measures to reduce or eliminate the hazard through chart or procedure redesign, elimination of the procedure or hazard awareness training can be adopted.


For all air operators conducting operations under CAR Subparts 703, 704 or 705, mandatory training for the avoidance of CFIT accidents will be implemented in the near future. An assessment of approach and departure procedures is recommended in conjunction with this training.

M.R. Preuss
Commercial & Business Aviation

Commercial & Business Aviation Advisory Circulars (CBAAC) are intended to provide information and guidance regarding operational matters. A CBAAC may describe an acceptable, but not the only, means of demonstrating compliance with existing regulations. CBAACs in and of themselves do not change, create any additional, authorize changes in, or permit deviations from regulatory requirements.

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