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New Focus on Loss of Control Accidents

Human Factors | April 8, 2015

Author: Robert A. Wright

Accidents caused by loss of control are receiving new emphasis by regulatory authorities and the aviation community. “Loss of control” refers to the very broad category of accidents in which the pilot can no longer maintain the aircraft within safe operating parameters for any reason.

Loss of control accidents account for a large percentage of fatal accidents in both the air carrier and general aviation communities. This is also true for business aircraft operations and particularly light business aircraft operations. Loss of control can refer to either loss of control in-flight (LOC-I) or loss of control on the ground during take-off or landing.

Regulatory authorities and other organizations have placed new emphasis on preventing in-flight, loss of control accidents. For example, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made preventing loss of control accidents in general aviation one of its ten “most wanted” improvements. In addition to better stall recognition, skills, and equipment familiarity, the NTSB effort recommends that pilots use better aeronautical decision-making (ADM) and risk assessment. The latter two items are part of the skill set known as single-pilot resource management (SRM).

The aviation industry is also focusing on loss of control accidents and related issues. In the US, the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) Safety Committee has also made addressing loss of control accidents a priority. The Safety Committee’s Single Pilot Work Group is planning to develop safety tools and programs that will help light business aircraft (LBA) pilots avoid situations that could result in loss of control.

Although many in the aviation community focus on stall prevention and techniques such as upset recovery as a means to address loss of control, a root cause analysis of many loss of control accidents suggests that poor risk management is a fundamental cause. In other words, improved risk management and other SRM techniques such as automation management, task and workload management, and better situational awareness might go further in preventing loss of control accidents. Therefore, it might be better to prevent a loss of control situation from developing rather than hoping that your maneuvering skills can save the day at the last minute., in cooperation with Crew Resource Management LLC, offers complete online SRM and CRM courses for business aviation (available for purchase through our storefront).


Robert A. Wright is the president of Wright Aviation Solutions, LLC. He is a member of the leadership team of Crew Resource Management, LLC, which has been providing comprehensive CRM training to corporate flight departments for over four years.

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