Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fear and LOC-I

Can a pilot's fear cause an accident? Absolutely yes. Colgan Air 3407, Buffalo 2009. The aircraft is flying at 8 degrees angle of attack, nowhere near the stall. The stall warning activates, in part because the ref speeds switch on the ice protection panel was (properly) placed in the increase position, for the threat of icing. The pilot's panic reaction was to pull the controls aft with 37 punds of force inducing a stall and roll off. Eventually his panic drives him to apply a 160 pound aft pull force.

This pilot took an aircraft that was flying perfectly well and, reacting in panic to a (conservative) stall warning, induced a stall and loss of control. He did not need to be placed in an unusual attitude to panic. The mere warning that he MIGHT be placed in such an attitude in the near future was enough to panic him, causing the death of all on board and one on the ground!

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