The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s (AOPA) Air Safety Institute has released a new accident case study that focuses on handling aircraft in-flight instrument failures, pilot spatial disorientation and air traffic control communications during an emergency.
In the latest episode in the Air Safety Institute’s (ASI) accident case study series, this 13-minute video uses air traffic control tapes and radar tracks to examine events that resulted in the failure of the Piper Cherokee 160’s vacuum system and heading and attitude indicators during an instrument flight from Summerville, S.C. (KDYB) to Fayetteville, N.C. (KFAY).
The National Transportation Safety Board found that the probable cause of the Dec. 16, 2012, accident was spatial disorientation, but the ASI case study shows that many other factors and failures were also at work during that afternoon flight.
The video highlights the nature of a vacuum pump failure, and examines the confusion among the pilot and air traffic controllers during two instrument approaches in conditions that included minimal ceilings and visibility.
The case study also explores how the pilot and controllers failed to recognize a possible emergency, and how the confusion over the pilot’s ability to control the plane led him to request an alternate airport with better weather — a request that was granted by the controllers, and then apparently forgotten.
Since 1950, AOPA’s Air Safety Institute has served all pilots—not just AOPA members—by providing free safety education programs, analyzing safety data and conducting safety research. ASI offers online courses, nearly 200 live seminars annually throughout the U.S., flight instructor refresher courses, webinars, accident case studies and other materials to help pilots be safer and better informed.