It can happen in a heart beat!
The single biggest threat to GA accidents/incidents has been VMC flying into IMC for the longest time. Engine failure might have been another. But times have changed.
As we continue to fly newer aircraft, such as the Cirrus, Cessna G100, Diamond and more, there has been a shift in the cause of accidents/incidents.
No surprises here. Advanced weather information in the cockpit provided by XM Satellite, TIS, and ADS-B has considerably improved the safety of flying in bad weather in leaps and bounds. This does not necessarily eliminate weather related accidents/incidents completely. VMC flying into IMC is no longer so much a threat. But if unprepared, latency in updates to weather information, can still result in accidents and incidents.
According to the latest safety statistics, Loss of Control during flight, is the single biggest contributor of accidents to GA flights. Not only that, compared to other categories of flight such as Commercial and Air Taxi, GA accidents/incidents continue to increase!
I can remember a time, when I flew with a single VOR receiver in the cockpit. My sole knowledge of en route weather was what I garnered during preflight planning, any en route HIWAS weather or ATC provided weather updates. Whenever inclement bad weather was expected, I choose to stay home.
Loss of Control during flight is whole different matter. It is one, we rarely prepare for. True, we do learn stall recovery, but loss of control during flight, is a valid threat. There are so many factors that can contribute to loss of control: loss of rudder control, stall, spin, loss of aileron and more.
And, it can happen in a heart beat!
Recently during a flight into Lakeland, FL, I experienced a slight loss of control. No stall warning. If there were one, I am trained to react. Neither did the controls feel mushy. The nose didn’t drop left. Instead it oscillated to the right. I am still uncertain of the nature of the error. And hence unsure what the correction should be. Unfortunately, I didn’t check airspeed at the time. The last time I checked, it was 69 knots.
To my credit, I can only claim a long day, with almost 8 hours of flying at least half of them as PIC, some of them in IFR, and some of them holding, flying and following directions. My first thought was wake turbulence or some sort of winds…
What do you think?
I recently attended the 4th in the series of Safety Seminars hosted by NTSB, in collaboration with FAA, SAFE, AOPA and Flight Safety, where GA Safety is still a major concern.
Loss of control is still, in my mind, a major threat. One that is difficult to plan or prepare for.
True, stall and spin training are there.
But what, if you don’t know what is happening? How can you react then?