CFI vs. Pilot

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Sometimes I think the longer I'm in the aviation journalism biz, the less I know. That's the sensation I have from blogging on the Cirrus stall accident covered in this video. The research that led up to this video involved a sweep of fatal accidents in which we discovered that 18 percent of all fatals are due to stalls.

This is not a new revelation, by any means. Cessna knows all about it and so do the other aircraft manufacturers as does anyone who intimately studies general aviation safety. Maybe I knew it too, but for some reason, it just never sunk in until I tallied the numbers myself.

The Cirrus accident revealed another perhaps unhappy fact: the instructor involved in this accident had no time in type. He had apparently never flown a Cirrus. This came as a rude shock to one our correspondents, who thought the crash was due to the instructor's ineptitude. The NTSB listed the cause as the instructor's failure to retain control of the aircraft. To me, this reveals more about how pilots view instructors than how instructors ought to conduct themselves in the real world.

Let me just say upfront that I am quite confident I am not the only CFII who has instructed in airplanes in which I have zero time in type. My first hour in a Bonanza was in the right seat, giving the pilot an IPC—now ICC—in his own airplane. I knew him and also made it clear that he was to be the PIC, not me. We did most of the flight in actual. I'm sure other instructors have similar tales.

Now if he had come to me for a basic checkout in the airplane, I'd have declined. That's a different kind of instruction that requires knowledge of the type. Knowing when it's prudent to instruct in an airplane you've never seen and when it's not doesn't yield to either regulatory rigidity or a checklist. It requires something else and that's judgment. It's rarely a binary decision.

If a Cirrus owner approached me about an ICC now, I'd decline. I have time in SR20s and SR22s, but I'm neither current nor expert enough in the avionics to do an owner any good. He would have to look elsewhere.

And this leads me to observe that many pilots look at the pilot/instructor relationship all wrong. To me, it's less student/teacher and more vendor/customer, with the pilot being the customer. Put another way, the man doin' the payin', is the man (or woman) doin' the sayin.' You as pilot set the standard for what you expect in the instructor and how you want the training/evaluation to be conducted. The right attitude is pilot in command, the wrong attitude is supplicant in waiting.

Interestingly, it cuts both ways. The NTSB docket for the Cirrus crash revealed that the instructor had expressed misgivings about the pilot being a bit of a wild child. Any instructor who has had a similar misgiving—and most of us probably have—has a decision to make. Either you go forward with the realization that you'll be assertive enough to make command decisions that reflect your own standards and interests or you decline the job. The same goes for a pilot with misgivings about an instructor.

Since we don't know who was flying the Cirrus when it crashed, we can't say exactly what impact, if any, this had on the outcome of the flight. But this much is true:You as pilot are calling the training shots, including judgments that have to do with safety and comfort level. If things go badly and you find yourself blaming the instructor, take a pause and consider what got you to that point in the first place. That's another way of saying don't abrogate your PIC authority or your customer rights.

REVISED 12/27/09 5:50 a.m.

Comments (36)

Paul, thanks for continuing the discussion about this tragic accident. I especially appreciate your personal assessments of your own skill level in giving a checkout versus an instrument check ride.

As for the pilot/instructor relationship, I read the docket exactly the opposite -- the instructor was concerned about the Cirrus owner/pilot as being "a little over the edge when it came to flying." The instructor was a CFI with lots of experience and also an A&P. He had delivered another plane to the aiport and it was the witness statement from the owner of the other plane who stated that the instructor was wary of the pilot, who owned the Cirrus that crashed. Apparently, the instructor had previously put off an earlier request but now the Cirrus pilot had run up against a deadline and the instructor agreed. A fatal combination of factors -- an experienced instructor with no known time in a Cirrus, a pilot who the instructor may have considered a bit over the edge, and a challenging engine-out scenario when switching runways.

Posted by: Rick Beach | December 26, 2009 9:33 AM    Report this comment

Whenever two licensed pilots get into the front seats of an airplane they need to discuss and understand completely what each's role will be. If one is to be the instructor and the other the student, it must be made clear. If that changes in the course of the flight, that too must be made clear. Positive hand-offs of controls and pre-flight briefings are critical.

I recall flying a twin commanche years ago with an experienced pilot (MEI) in the right seat. We were both qualified and experienced in the airplane. On short final we got hit by a gust that blew us left of the runway, I (pilot flying) quickly rolled the airplane to the right to get asphalt beneath us and once I had it went to roll the airplane level to land -- and the ailerons were locked. I looked over to find my friend had the wheel and and was looking to roll level when we had the centerline. I quickly asked "do you want the airplane?" He said "oops, sorry, no, just habit." We landed safely.

To this day if there is a pilot in the right seat with me, before takeoff we discuss who will do what.

Posted by: Kingsley Hill | December 26, 2009 12:32 PM    Report this comment

As for the pilot/instructor relationship, I read the docket exactly the opposite -- the instructor was concerned about the Cirrus owner/pilot as being "a little over the edge when it came to flying."<<

I went back and re-read that section and I think you are right. The reader who wrote me castigating the instructor read it as I did. Takes a careful read to sort it out.

Makes it all the more puzzling in guessing who was flying.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 26, 2009 1:00 PM    Report this comment

"But this much is true: You as pilot are calling the training shots, including judgments that have to do with safety and comfort level."

Really Paul? I would not get into the airplane under those circumstances, but maybe that's just me.

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | December 27, 2009 11:04 PM    Report this comment

Paul, where I believe your thoughts have real merit, I think you are assuming that life in your Utopia is full of careful, experienced, safety conscious pilots. I would go as far as to say that fully half of the IPC's and BFR's that I am asked to perform by strangers are with owner/pilots that are NOT top of the heap pilots. They have become very comfortable flying their airplanes the way they have gotten used to and NOT necessarily by the book. IF an owner/pilot is a top notch pilot like yourself with high experience levels, then I agree with your idea of discussing what you want out of a training event, but for the most part the CFI should design the plan. You set the goals and let the CFI decide how to get there. If you are with an instructor that you don't believe has the experience to get you there, then look further to find one that does. I always let the owner/pilot decide how to handle their airplane, manage the systems, etc, but I, being PIC, decide how to maintain safety. If my client doesn't agree, then we just don't get to fly together. If I have critique on his/her overall management, then assuming not a safety of flight issue, then I'll suggest changes, but the payment for repairs is their problem. (ie rapid power changes, reversing gear/flap levers in mid travel, etc.)

Posted by: Thomas Hill | December 28, 2009 8:33 AM    Report this comment

Thomas,

Well said. You have stated my thoughts much better than I could.

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | December 28, 2009 8:39 AM    Report this comment

You set the goals and let the CFI decide how to get there.<<

That's exactly the point. And that describes a vendor/customer relationship. If I go to a vendor and ask for something, I leave it to the vendor to give me *exactly* what I want. But even so, if the vendor proposes something I don't like, I'll let him know and we'll reach an accommodation. Or not.

What I am rejecting is the strutting, my-way-or-the-highway CFI who uses the "safety" cudgel as a tool of his own inflated ego. If the pilot is uncomfortable with the CFI's method of "deciding how to get there," he should say as much. It's bad for the learning environment.

I tend to want to knock CFIs off the pedestal they occasionally inhabit. (I am one, by the way, and have been knocked off a couple of times. Deservedly.)

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 28, 2009 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Paul This additional information brings in a whole new dynamic and in itself is a great example of the accident chain in regards to Human Factors. The regs state if I remember correctly that the CFI instructing doesn't even need a current medical as long as he/she isn't PIC. That said, a CFI is already in a mindset of whose airplane it is. In addition there appears to be at least subjective evidence of a pilot with a "macho" attitude that concerned the CFI. We all have known pilots who can write a check that their abilities can't cash. It can even be said that pilots as a whole are a bit more adventureous than the norm, hence we chose to fly. In the middle of spin is not the time to find out the the person next to you is writing a check that their abilities can't cash. The crisis now is how to take the controls from the one who feels or was told it is their airplane...the links of this accident chain stretched to the ground.

Posted by: Chuck West | December 28, 2009 10:41 AM    Report this comment

"The crisis now is how to take the controls from the one who feels or was told it is their airplane...the links of this accident chain stretched to the ground."

Chuck,

I think part of this is the strength of the personality of the instructor which, like all human factors, is somewhat geneticss and somewhat learned behavior. I had to grow command authority early in my career because I became a freight pilot in the early 70s and I quickly learned to stick up for myself -- nobody else was gonna do it. It also comes down to how well you know the pilot. I know lots of pilots, but I know very few that I trust enough to allow me to feel comfortable sitting in the back seat. As I said to Paul, tho, that might be just me. But "just me" has allowed me to come back from every mission.

All of my students understand that they will be making all decisions about the flight (Even first hour primaries -- the only way to teach judgment is to make students use it.) and I will not countermand a decision unless I feel it is dangerous and at that point, total authority and control is mine. This also requires that I know my limitations VERY well and NEVER let a student go beyond what I can control. I will not fly an airplane I am not familiar with.

Well all learn from our mistakes and the trick is to not let the mistakes kill us first.

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | December 28, 2009 11:42 AM    Report this comment

Well said and I concur and on occasion have instructed in helicopters and allowing the time for the student to realize the error is akin to the yellow in the caution area of a gauge. A misjudgement is instant red...the unseen hand is touching the collective, but timing is everything.

Posted by: Chuck West | December 28, 2009 11:55 AM    Report this comment

Oh and I would like to add just one item, a majority of accidents in the rotorcraft world occur in training. The point is the training enviroment is a dangereous one...

Posted by: Chuck West | December 28, 2009 11:59 AM    Report this comment

Sometimes it is the blind leading the blind.

Posted by: Vernon Childers | December 28, 2009 12:05 PM    Report this comment

"...and on occasion have instructed in helicopters..."

Chuck,

I have about 25 hours of helicopter time. I soon realized that I was not coordinated enough or brave enough to continue. I'm much happier in jets -- they practically fly themselves, but you know what -- the students try to kill you the same way they do in 150s!

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | December 28, 2009 12:05 PM    Report this comment

The Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you.

— attributed to Max Stanley, Northrop test pilot

Posted by: Chuck West | December 28, 2009 3:35 PM    Report this comment

a cub can not go fast enough to completely kill you! :)

Posted by: MICHAEL SULLIVAN | December 28, 2009 3:43 PM    Report this comment

I think that this accident started when the CFI allowed the pilot to enter the pattern below pattern altitude. Any pilot that blows into the pattern at any altitude they please qualifies as an accident waiting to happen. In this case it happened quite soon after. Rules are for those other saps evidently. Given the type of maneuvering the pilot was doing very close to the ground, there simply was not enough altitude to correct for a mishap. Even if the pilot (or the CFI) did the right thing by unloading the wing (lower the nose) there was very little room (230') to accomplish the recovery.

Back when I was instructing, I would take select students down to 1000' (AGL) and do stalls with them. It takes a lot of discipline to push the nose down to recover from a stall close to the ground. Sometimes I had to yell "Push" to get them to ignore the ground rush. It is one thing to recover in 200' at altitude (3,000'). Try that at 230'

Posted by: David Heberling | December 28, 2009 11:29 PM    Report this comment

@David Heberling re "the CFI allowed the pilot to enter the pattern below pattern altitude"

From the NTSB investigation, the flight segment was determined to have been a practice power-off approach -- the recorded flight data matches a test flight with power at idle and flaps up.

So, did the instructor allow the pilot or require the pilot to demonstrate a power off approach?

As a long time advocate of the Cirrus airframe parachute, with which 36 people have survived 18 successful deployments, I note the irony that the private pilot standards require demonstration of a simulated emergency approach and landing but not the use of the airframe parachute. In this accident scenario, in which the plane switched landing pattern from downwind to left base, I would judge that landing was not assured (too low) and maneuvered for a CAPS pull near the airport. An instructor with significant Cirrus time, and/or Cirrus knowledge, would want the pilot under examination to demonstrate awareness of and preparation for deployment of the airframe parachute. Being too low would be one of those times.

Yet another question about the relationship between Cirrus pilot and the instructor.

Posted by: Rick Beach | December 29, 2009 11:25 AM    Report this comment

"I note the irony that the private pilot standards require demonstration of a simulated emergency approach and landing but not the use of the airframe parachute."

Rick,

I can't locate my Cirrus manuals right now, but I believe that airplane was too low for the CAPS to have any effect. Cirrus has a simulator that shows you the forces required to deploy the CAPS, but of course there is no inflight deployments.

I'm of two minds about the CAPS system. There will be that set of pilot who become braver/crazier because they are counting on the CAPS to save him. How about the guy that started put over the Canadian Rockies at night when severe turbulence was not only forecast, but reported? He used the CAPS. Perhaps a Darwin award would have been more appropriate.

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | December 29, 2009 11:39 AM    Report this comment

Rick Beach said "From the NTSB investigation, the flight segment was determined to have been a practice power-off approach -- the recorded flight data matches a test flight with power at idle and flaps up".

Even if that were the case, per the simulation, that was in no way the proper way to abort the attempted landing. Steep turns close to the ground is an aggressive maneuver with associated risks involved.

What I was trying to emphasize in my post is that stalls close to ground take immediate recognition and smooth precise control movements to recover from if enough altitude is available. If a wing drops, you would need more than 230'.

I realize this thread is about CFI vs Pilot. The accident statistics are full of cases where the CFI was just going along for the ride (the Cory Lidle case comes to mind). Even I have seen this first hand. Years ago, when I was getting checked out in an F33 Bonanza, I had to beg the instructor to do slow flight and stalls with me. OK, I have gobs of experience and fly big jets. So what does that have to do with an airplane checkout? Stalls, slow flight and steep turns should be part of every airplane checkout and BFR. These maneuvers will tell you if the pilot can really fly the airplane. Follow that up with short and soft field takeoffs and an emergency landing should complete the checkout and BFR. Or are CFIs concentrating on the magic boxes inside of the cockpit? This is probably the subject of another blog article.

Posted by: David Heberling | December 29, 2009 12:38 PM    Report this comment

@Linda re "I believe that airplane was too low for the CAPS to have any effect."

Ah, but when do you make the decision?

To me, this issue, when to deploy the Cirrus parachute, distinguishes the instructors who truly understand the unique challenges of emergency procedures in a Cirrus from those who treat it as they would any other aircraft. There have been five fatal Cirrus accidents at low altitude with instructors in the right seat -- three of whom had less than 30 hours in a Cirrus.

230 feet is too low -- but that was during the low-altitude recovery of a botched emergency landing. In level flight, the demonstrated loss of altitude is 400 feet during parachute deployment.

When the airplane began the turn from downwind to left-base leg, it was at 511 feet AGL (according to the recorded flight data). CAPS was still viable. It remained viable until partway through the base turn.

In a Cirrus, why persist?

My choice of instructor would be one that recognizes that altitude and requires a CAPS pull rather than fly the Cirrus into the crash. Persisting in demonstrating what is not necessary in a Cirrus resulted in this crash. Both the Cirrus pilot and the accident instructor failed my test.

Posted by: Rick Beach | December 29, 2009 2:35 PM    Report this comment

"...When the airplane began the turn from downwind to left-base leg, it was at 511 feet AGL (according to the recorded flight data). CAPS was still viable. It remained viable until partway through the base turn..."

Yes, Rich, but I believe that the correct procedure at that time was probably to abandon the landing and go out and enter the pattern again at the proper altitude and spacing. If we;ve let it get to the point where we're debating about whether to pull the CAPS or not, we've let it get to far. That thing was put there to deal with unintended critical situtions, not stupidity too near the ground for it to do any good.

Had they had the cojones to abandon the approach and come around and do it right, they would have probably ended up with an airplane that was reusable. Any other action was going to destroy the airplane. The crash certainly did, and pulling the CAPS at 511 feet -- unnecessarily -- trahes the airframe, too. That's not a gentle maneuver.

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | December 29, 2009 4:49 PM    Report this comment

"That thing was put there to deal with unintended critical situations,..."

I'm not a CFI, but must agree with Rich that both the accident pilot and instructor failed this flight review.

What was being simulated, a forced engine-out landing, certainly constitutes an "unintended critical situation" in my mind. A situation in which the decision to deploy an airframe parachute system has to be at the forefront of the pilot's mind if he is fortunate enough to be flying a parachute equipped aircraft. At the turn to base, recognizing that the forced landing outcome is in question, the CAPS should be deployed (simulated). Its purpose is to save lives, who care about the airframe at this point. End of the simulation. Pour on the power and go around and try it again.

Maybe the plane can be saved along with the pilot and passengers with more practice.

Phil

Posted by: Philip Simpson | December 29, 2009 10:55 PM    Report this comment

"At the turn to base,..."the CAPS should be deployed (simulated)."

I don't agree. At the turn to base, they still had altitude. That attempted turn should have induced an immediate go-around to reenter the pattern at the proper place and altitude. There would be no need to deploy the CAPS at that time. Not every landing is salvageable and the smart and mature pilot will stop the insanity and go around when it starts to go south. Messing with the CAP would have further taken their attention away from their flying -- if in fact it was ever there and they were too low for the system to deploy effectivly. Don't rely on gadgets to get you out of trouble. I Having that parachute there makes pilots think they are immortal. That's not a good attitude to have in a cockpit. Remember the automatic gear extension on the Arrows? It didn't reduce the incidence of gear-up landings one bit, but it sure was fun running into a little unexpected rime ice and have that sensor tube ice over and drop the gear when you're trying to get out of ice.

The CAPS rescued a pilot when he had severe flight control problems after maintenance. The CAPS saved a guy that was losing consciousness while alone in the airplane. Those are legitimate uses of that system -- it should't be used in and attempt to salvage a situation that, if you weren't so invested in making THIS landing, would be flyable.

Linda

Posted by: Linda Pendleton | December 30, 2009 12:00 AM    Report this comment

"At the turn to base,..."the CAPS should be deployed (simulated)." (Rick)

"I don't agree. At the turn to base, they still had altitude. That attempted turn should have induced an immediate go-around to reenter the pattern at the proper place and altitude." (Linda) Linda, I believe what Rick is referring to is if this was a practice engine out, the student should have recognized that he was not going to make it to the airport, simulated a CAPS pull, and powered up.

Posted by: Eric Panning | December 30, 2009 2:20 AM    Report this comment

Yes, Eric, that is exactly what I was attempting to convey. Thank you for clarifying.

If either the pilot or instructor knew the plane better a simulated emergency would never have progressed to a real one with tragic consequences.

And Linda, I agree. It was only because the pilot was "invested is saving the landing" that the accident happened. This same attitude would have caused the same result, two dead, if it had been a true engine out emergency.

In a real engine out emergency saving an airframe is not worth losing two lives. If I had the option I'd pull the chute as soon as the chance of making a safe landing is in doubt (assuming I had the altitude).

Ultimately, I believe pilots that have the added safety feature of a ballistic parachute system in their aircraft need to carefully consider under what emergency situations they would deploy it. And they should train for these situations so they are prepared to use it.

Phil

Posted by: Philip Simpson | December 30, 2009 5:29 AM    Report this comment

"Go around" was all that needed to be said to stop this from happening. The instructor should have hit that "button."

Posted by: Scott Keeler | December 30, 2009 8:39 AM    Report this comment

CAPS gives a false sence of security. I think it should only be used in catastrophic situations. On the other hand it is easy for us to sit back and anyalize the situation after the fact. Personally I think that a lot of people that fly Cirrus do not have enough flying experience to be flying that airplane. Cirrus is a relitivly fast airplane with state of the art avionics, that has too many gadgets for unexperienced pilots. That makes it easier for a pilot to take the airplane into a situation that is above their pay grade and crash.

Posted by: Zach Miller | December 30, 2009 8:48 AM    Report this comment

My impression of the video and guess at what was occuring in the cockpit was the "ol throttle chop" after the aircraft is well within gliding distance to the airport. There are times when this has done so close, that a slip or S-turns were in order to complete the exercise. The making of the field is not in question, it is getting rid of the energy for final. With this mindset, the thought of needing the CAP would be further down on the checklist unless you had the reflexes of Neil Armstrong and even he was sitting upright (2 secs).

I agree with Phil on the the engine out exercise away from the pattern needs to include the CAP, in the pattern with the field within glide, different set of circumstances.

To make a point of unfamiliar, I had a young instructor to a throttle chop during a IPC. When I placed the aircraft into a slip to just above touchdown, I looked over at a white-faced Instructor. He had received most of his training in Cessna's (172's) and practiced no slips below a certain altitude. Point is, the discussion about slips in certain makes and models took place after landing and at no time did he attempt to take the airplane. I believe that was due to his knowing I had been flying a few years longer and assumed I knew what I was doing...

Posted by: Chuck West | December 30, 2009 9:05 AM    Report this comment

Okay folks, we've digressed from a discussion about CFIs and their clients to a discussion about CFIs and the Cirrus parachute. As an admitted zealot about planning to use the Cirrus parachute, let me point out a few fallacies in the hopes that CFIs will shift their thinking about it.

To the thought that CAPS is only for "legitimate" or "catastrophic" situations. Please understand that of the 56 fatal accidents in Cirrus accidents, over half of them, about 30, involved a decision point similar to a successful and survivable CAPS deployment. We've lost about 60 people who died in a Cirrus because the pilot did not activate CAPS when faced with a difficult situation. They died. To me, that is catastrophic. Using CAPS to avoid dying is legitimate. The Cirrus pilot community needs CFIs who understand this point -- and can validate that every Cirrus pilot understands this point. We do not need to lose any more Cirrus pilots who die before the parachute is deployed on impact!!! (continued...)

Posted by: Rick Beach | December 30, 2009 9:41 AM    Report this comment

To the thought that people flying a Cirrus do not have enough flying experience, statistics would prove you wrong. In fact, it may be the exact opposite -- people who learn to fly in a Cirrus may have fewer fatal accidents. Of the 45 fatal accidents in which we know the pilot experience, almost half of the pilots had more than 800 hours total time, and over three-quarters had more than the killing zone of 400 hours total time. Only four pilots had less than 200 hours total time -- that's about 10%. Overwhelmingly, it is pilots with lots of flying experience that die in Cirrus fatal accidents!

Now, if you are talking about time in type, then you have a point. But every pilot flying a Cirrus starts with zero hours in type. (continued...)

Posted by: Rick Beach | December 30, 2009 9:42 AM    Report this comment

What'a CFI to do? My hope is that any CFI who gets into a Cirrus aircraft will appreciate that past experience is not sufficient to keep one from making bad decisions. Does the pilot demonstrate good to excellent stick and rudder skills? Does the pilot demonstrate proficiency with the advanced avionics? Does the pilot demonstrate good aeronautical decision making skills?

If not, what will you do?

My hope is that you will not get a phone call asking about your involvement with another dead Cirrus pilot.

p.s. Paul, sorry to hijack your blog, but you provoked a very interesting dialog, so thanks!

Posted by: Rick Beach | December 30, 2009 9:42 AM    Report this comment

Lets see if I can word my point a little better. The aerodynamics of the Cirrus are very advanced, avionics are advanced and it has a parachute. Those things can easily give a pilot a false sence of security, if the pilot does not know the full capabilities and limitations of the aircraft. That makes it easy for a pilot to put himself/herself in a situation that is above the pilot skill level. Ultimatly staying safe comes down to good decision making and breaking the chain before anything bad happens.

Posted by: Zach Miller | December 30, 2009 10:42 AM    Report this comment

I thought this discussion was suppose to be about command authority. CFI vs. Pilot. There should be enough for discussion on that subject alone without digressing on how to fly the Cirrus or what went wrong. Personally I will not instruct in any aircraft that I am not familiar with and current in the aircraft type and model. I heard of one case where the instructor was sued for incompetency. I am very careful about who I fly with. With that said, I always brief as to who is in charge and who is to do what when it needs to be done. I teach all of my students to give a detailed pilot briefing every time, and it does not matter how many times they have flown with the individual or how well they know them. With that said, I will not give flight instruction of any sort without me being the final authority on how the flight is to be conducted. If the pilot or student wants me to instruct in an aircraft that I am not familiar with, then they can pay for my checkout. If they choose not to then they are free to find someone else. You sometimes get what you pay for. I know that allot of you disagree with me, but that is okay. I have been at this since the 50's and it is my hide and not yours. You are free to do what ever you wish.

Posted by: Vernon Childers | December 30, 2009 11:45 AM    Report this comment

What bothers me about this whole discussion is the emphasis on CAPS. CAPS should have been the last resort for any sort of problem. In addition, close the the ground, it is useless. This airplane was flyable up until they snap rolled to the right. They were demonstrating a power off emergency landing and botched it. That should have been followed by a go-around. That was never attempted. Instead, the pilot initiated two steep turns in an attempt to line up with the runway. A smart instructor would have taken over after the first one to initiate the go-around. That did not happen either. This accident happened because the instructor let things go too far before intervening, if at all. The pilot caused this accident because he just would not leg go of that simulated emergency landing. The go around was always available to him.

Posted by: David Heberling | December 31, 2009 4:14 PM    Report this comment

@David Heberling re "emphasis on CAPS"

To me, that emphasis on CAPS underscores two critical points raised originally by Paul. 1) the aerodynamics of maneuving in slow flight, especially near the ground, and 2) the role of an instructor.

Both of these are different in a Cirrus because the range of decisions available is different. For instance, did this instructor let things get too far because he did not accept the use of CAPS in a power-off landing near an airport? (Or even insist upon it?) Or was the CFI unfamiliar with the decision point when CAPS no longer becomes viable? Or worse, did the instructor institute a recovery that overcontrolled the Cirrus?

Yes, the go around was always available and the witnesses report sounds of increasing engine power late in the accident sequence. But did that combine with the excessive right-rudder input to snap-roll the aircraft?

I agree with the NTSB: the flight instructor's failure to maintain control of the airplane.

Posted by: Rick Beach | January 1, 2010 10:21 AM    Report this comment

Rick Beach re "I agree with the NTSB: the flight instructor's failure to maintain control of the airplane."

Ultimately that is the crux of this matter. I agree.

Posted by: David Heberling | January 1, 2010 3:05 PM    Report this comment

Add your comments

Log In

You must be logged in to comment

Forgot password?

Register

Enter your information below to begin your FREE registration