Engine failures (7). The causes are not always reported, one was probably due to water in the fuel and one was due to detachment of the air intake hose which was found resting against the cowling restricting the airflow considerably. A common cause of water in fuel tanks is leaking filler cap seals.
Indicator Failure. The
report says the turn coordinator was functional but had been noted as extremely
sensitive and difficult to use. The
pilot was on his first solo instrument flight since gaining an IR(R), approaching
a major airport on top of cloud for an instrument approach when the AI failed
with suction pressure normal and DI apparently still functioning. Vectored for a long final, descended through
cloud, base 2,000ft. Comments: PAN declared, well done to pilot and helpful ATC.
This type of turn coordinator error is not uncommon and often ignored. The instrument needs overhauling or replacing; it could be a lifesaver as in this case. The fault may be due to the gyro under-speeding. Suction gyro’s are most likely to fail on entering cloud (moisture in the filter) or when passing the freezing level (moisture in filter freezes).Back on the ground with a positive temperature the instruments may all seem serviceable.
Excursions (4), one being a reportable accident and Incursions (7), including take-off or
landing without clearance and landing with traffic on the runway. Aircraft may not land on an occupied runway
unless a control towered airfield gives a land after clearance. In an earlier issue, the chairman considered
human expectations, to cast light on the reluctance of some pilots to
Tyre failures (4). In one case the operator subsequently changed inner tubes for a different type across the fleet. As always, tyre failures close a runway for about 30 minutes posing a considerable hazard to others.
airfields have taken to closing for short periods during the day, due to staff
shortages; sometimes notification of these times is made quite late after the
pilot’s last NOTAM check. As expected, a
couple of events relate.
Engineering Reports. These are very useful and often indicate past errors such as incorrect parts or fitment. One particularly gained my attention; a C152 was found to be dripping fuel from the cockpit area when in a hangar for routine maintenance. The cause was found to be foot damage to the fuel line, causing it to chafe against a rudder cable. As reported, had this fault not been detected the outcome would likely have been catastrophic. I may not be the only pilot who has been unaware that pilot’s feet could damage a fuel line in this and possibly other types.
PAN Calls. It is good to read that these are being used in emergencies; in at least two we might suggest that MAYDAY was perhaps more appropriate. One involved a light twin on air test when an engine would not restart after feathering and was wind-milling during the no go-around approach. The skilled pilot made a safe landing. In the other, the elevator trim control tube had become detached in such a way that the tab was inoperable and stuck in the fully down position, i.e. aircraft nose up. This required two hands to hold the stick fully forward with elbows braced. The pilot is to be congratulated on a wise decision to divert to a longer runway and a safe flapless landing.
Infringements (67). Given the reduced amount of flying when compared with earlier months this does not signify an improvement. Of these, 8 were in the Manchester low level route (LLR) and 7 of these seemed to involve no lateral or vertical excursion but failure to squawk 7366 at the appropriate time. One student reported some finger trouble with the transponder; not surprising really given the laborious means of selection on some modern units.
Navigation. Over 40 years ago, a lot of
commercial aircraft were equipped with a nine waypoint INS or Omega. Each waypoint was manually entered using
latitude and longitude. When the
aircraft passed waypoint 9 it would proceed to waypoint 1; if new waypoints had
not been entered on the way to 9, waypoint 1 would be close to the departure
airfield. Thus a Tristar, proceeding
from the Middle East towards UK had a problem in the vicinity of Bosnia when
the PIC had briefly vacated the flight deck. It passed waypoint 9 and made a 180° turn back towards the departure
airport, an extremely dangerous situation. The P2 immediately attempted to enter the coordinates for the next intended
waypoint which would take a minute or two. The correct action would been to press HDG SELECT which takes a second
and ensure that the aircraft was steering towards the next intended waypoint,
which at that time would have been defined by a VOR. A heading close to 310° might have been a
good start. At that time, an INS was the
only computer system most of us had used, but that event indicated the start of
a computer culture. The relevance of that tale is
that one infringer reported that the GPS signal failed and the autopilot
drifted about 15°, which the pilot did not detect. When advised of the infringement by ATC, the
pilot immediately selected the Sky Demon page…
In cruising flight lookout, attitude instruments (LAI) is the continuous scan process and instruments include altimeter, VSI, RPM and heading indicator.
Altimetry (5). One event records an aircraft departing an airfield of significant elevation, beneath CAS, with QFE set. It is inadvisable to leave an aerodrome circuit with QFE set; in the author’s view, which may not be that of GASCo, it is inadvisable to use QFE at any time except when transiting a MATZ if the clearance specifies it. Another event involved vertical infringement of a CTA while flying with the RPS set. It is worth noting that the Chatham RPS is seldom used or advised by ATC because the entire ASR is beneath CAS defined by an altitude. One event involved climbing above the Transition Altitude of 6,000ft beneath an airway base FL65 on a low-pressure day, another was flying beneath the TA with 1013 set on a high-pressure day, few details on the last.
Instructor PIC (6). Manoeuvring too close to the base, climbing too early when leaving CAS, Sky Demon on an inaccessible phone, discussing climb entry before clearing CAS above such that student climbed early and finally navigational distraction.
Avionics (3). With an iPad display it may be better to
enter the route (if required) prior to flight and make no adjustments in
flight. The track pointer can be used if
deviations or diversions are required. A
transponder fitted with a standby display locked because the SBY-ACTIVE
transfer button was held in rather than being pressed momentarily. Radio failure occurred once.
Charts. Misreading of the chart and in particular the base of CAS was specifically mentioned in 3 cases.
Factors Leading to Infringements.
iPad not secure.
Orbiting clear of destination beneath CAS to review circuit joining procedures. Obviously better done pre-flight when possible.
Busy circuits and congestion.
Trying to write down the assigned squawk.
Student lost on a local flight.
Out of date chart.
Unaware of heading to fly when departing a circuit, distracted with new engine display equipment. A pre take-off briefing of the headings to steer after departure and the level off altitude is very helpful.