Good Pilots Do Bad Things
In this LESSON we’re going to talk about some of the tricks your mind plays on you that can make good pilots do bad things.
Cirrus SR22 Case Study: Three Fatal
Before departing on the instrument flight rules cross-country flight, the private pilot obtained a weather briefing that forecast moderate icing conditions along the intended route. The pilot, a commercial pilot-rated passenger, and a second passenger then departed on the flight in the high-performance, single engine airplane, which was not certified for flight into known icing conditions. Both the pilot and pilot-rated passenger were heard communicating with air traffic controllers during the flight and it could not be determined who was flying the airplane at the time of the accident. About 1 hour, 45 minutes into the flight, the pilot requested a higher altitude and stated to a controller that the airplane was “picking up a little ice.” The pilot was granted a higher altitude, which was above the clouds, thus, reducing the potential for icing. About 20 minutes later, the flight began its descent toward the destination airport.
Around 3,600′ msl the airplane then entered a steep, uncontrolled descent to ground contact. Due to the night conditions, it is possible that the pilots were not able to visually observe the amount of ice on the airframe or did not realize how quickly the ice was accreting. The airplane was equipped with a parachute system (CAPS) that could be deployed by the pilot in flight. The CAPS rocket motor was found expended; however, the parachute remained in its pack.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The airplane’s encounter with supercooled large droplet (SLD) icing, which resulted in a loss of lift and a subsequent uncontrolled descent into terrain. Also causal was the pilot’s preflight and in-flight decision to fly in known icing conditions in an airplane that was not certified to do so.
Pilot: 1,000+hrs Total Flight Time | Pilot Rated Passenger:5,000+hrs Total Flight Time
Descending into our first stop…
We’re on the descent into KVPS now! If you haven’t noticed by now, looking at the Airport Diagram you’ll see some strange arrows. These arrows represent “arresting gear” for aircraft with tail-hooks. These very sturdy cables are suspended just a few inches above the runway, and while your Cessna may be able to taxi over them, I highly recommend avoiding them and taking off either before you reach the cables and landing after you fly over the cables. If you have questions about whether the cables are “up” or deployed that day, or exactly how far down the runway they are and the available landing distance after the cables, simply ask the tower when you are a few miles out or on downwind.
Lucky for us, we’ve flown so far from KVNC to KVPS with VMC prevailing along the route. Storms have now moved in though, and by the time the airplane is fueled and ready to go the weather is going to be down to 150′ overcast with 2sm visibility. Let’s take a look at the next TOPICs, and although you do have a CFII along with you on this trip, let’s see if you think it’s a good idea to go flying and continue pressing on with the X/C or not….