January 2016 Issue

Continued VFR Into IMC

To help reduce fatal accidents, a safety hazard that has been with general aviation since the beginning needs some fresh approaches.

Continued VFR into IMC accidents have been part of the general aviation accident scene since before I started flying more than 50 years ago. Some headway in reducing these accidents was made when private pilot applicants were required to demonstrate basic instrument proficiency beginning in the early 1960s. Cockpit technology has also improved, with even basic training aircraft equipped for instrument flight and devices such as autopilots and weather data link becoming more prevalent. On the other hand, there is a much higher percentage of high performance aircraft in the general aviation fleet than 50 years ago, and more non-instrument-rated pilots are flying longer distances in higher performance aircraft. As a result, the prevalence of VFR-into-IMC accidents is still very high.

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