Pilot & Passenger Lucky to Be Alive After Inverted Crash Landing at Abbots Bromley


Looking through the November AAIB bulletins this one in particular springs out at me

http://www.aaib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/Jodel%20D117A%20G-BEDD%2011-13.pdf

There are several lessons to be learned here. The first one  is that if  you are a low houred pilot and you are new on type, as this guy was,  you need to be very cautious especially with any approach that requires more skill or concentration than usual. Flying into short private strips needs skill and concentration. Distraction is always more likely with an aircraft you are not familiar with and you cannot afford much distraction on a challenging approach.  Always mentally self brief on your options if things should go wrong. Top of that ‘go wrong’ solution list is the go around.

You should never start an approach unless you are go around primed and ready to execute a go around at any moment. Sods law states that a go around will be called for when you are least expecting it.  BE READY!

Situation Awareness is thinking ahead, Threat and Error Management is knowing the approach threats (low airspeed – windshear -distraction-unfamiliarity) and knowing the errors (low airspeed- failing to initiate an early go around))

Another important lesson here although this wasn’t an engine failure accident, is that if you choose to just scrape over an obstacle in flight, such as a hedge or fence and get it wrong you are very likely to invert the aircraft. This is a very important consideration during an engine out forced landing if faced with the option of ‘just scraping over’.  So many students attempt to scrape over hedges into fields on engine out practice. Always be wary of the obstacles in the undershoot.

The safer option in my opinion is to push the aircraft down early into the unobstructed undershoot, get it on, or very close, to the ground and use the hedge or fence as a stopping device. A hedge or frangible fence (dont try this with a brick wall or ancient oak tree) will provide soft deceleration and a better option than the ‘scrape over’  were the aircraft will most likely be inverted and arrive with a large vertical forces on the other side of the hedge. If an aircraft does arrive onto the ground inverted there is more chance of a  serious impact,  more fuselage distortion and hence possible door jamming. There is also much more likelihood of a fire too because once you invert an aircraft  you can be sure there will be more fuel spillage.

The human body can generally stand more horizontal declarative forces than vertical forces so an inverted arrival is usually more serious in terms of injury. You also have the added complication of getting out of the aircraft from a hanging upside down in your straps position, believe me this is not the best way to start a rapid evacuation of an aircraft even though it will greatly encourage it!

A recent undershoot accident at Caenarfon were the aircraft was  inverted after hitting trees in the undershoot sadly killed the passenger. The aircraft arrived on the runway inverted.

carnarfon

I find it difficult to believe that this Abbots Bromley accident was caused by wind shear alone as the pilot reports the wind to be only gusting 10 knots. The pilot also stated that the airspeed dropped to 45 knots  which I would have said puts it on the wrong side of the drag curve which means you are going to need  a lot more power to recover airspeed and altitude. Unless you react very quickly in a situation like this, especially if there is any actual windshear, you can easily get into a non recoverable situation in a light low powered aircraft and even stall the aircraft.

Its at times like these that we are reminded why airspeed must be preserved at all costs on the final approach.

NEVER LET THE A/C DROP BELOW THE TARGET THRESHOLD SPEED ON THE APPROACH.

I recommend that you always use a 200 feet agl  stabilisation check. If the approach is not stable by 200 feet (airspeed, centreline and height correct)  GO AROUND.

CURSED ARE THOSE WITH THE LOW AIRSPEED FOR THE GROUND WILL COME UP AND SMITE THEM DEAD!

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