Investigators Say Student Pilots Should Be Flagged

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Britainís Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is recommending that student pilots on solo flights be identified by a radio call-sign prefix so air traffic controllers can take into account their limited experience and knowledge. The recommendation came from the investigation of a crash on July 19, 2006, that killed a 16-year-old student who had logged 15 hours and was on his second solo flight. Just before he touched down at Southend Airport, a controller ordered him to turn left and climb to pattern height so an overtaking Piper Meridian could land. Itís believed he did not reconfigure the aircraft and apply enough power for the unorthodox go-around and the Cessna he was flying stalled and crashed a short time later. The four-person investigation team concluded pilot Sam Cross was put "in a situation for which his training and experience had not prepared him" after being "instructed to carry out an unfamiliar and nonstandard manoeuvre," the AAIB report said. Adding to the mix was the fact that Cross was returning to the field after just eight minutes in the air because haze was reducing visibility. His instructor was watching from the ground as the order to deviate from the runway heading was complied with and he noted the nose-up attitude of the Cessna before it stalled and spiralled into a park. Investigators determined the flaps were at 20 degrees, the carb heat was on and the engine was turning at 900 rpm at the time of the crash. Cross was the youngest pilot ever to be killed in a plane crash in Britain.