NTSB Safety Alert Highlights


Mastering Mountain Flying

Flight instructors should encourage their students to attend a quality mountain flying course before attempting flight in mountainous terrain or at high density altitudes.

Pilots should consult with local flight instructors before planning a flight into mountainous terrain. Even experienced mountain pilots may not be familiar with local conditions and procedures for safe operations.

Pilots should be aware that weather interacting with mountainous terrain can cause dangerous wind, severe turbulence and other conditions that may be unsafe for aircraft, especially light GA aircraft.

Pilots should consider specialized emergency and survival equipment (such as personal locator beacons in addition to a 406 emergency locator transmitter) before flying in mountainous terrain, and develop a plan for immediate access to the equipment in the event of a post-accident fire.

FBO staff should be alert for customers who appear to be planning flight into mountainous terrain who could benefit from mountain flying instruction.

Understanding Flight Experience

Obtain the necessary training from a flight instructor experienced in the aircraft that you plan to fly so that you understand the flight characteristics and emergency procedures for that aircraft. Meeting the minimum requirements does not mean that you are proficient.

Obtain refresher training if you have not flown for a long period; long periods of no flying, even for high-time pilots, can have an adverse impact on your ability to respond to unusual situations and emergencies.

Seek out a qualified test pilot to assist in flight testing homebuilt aircraft you are not familiar with.

Seek out instruction for advanced avionics and systems. Identical make-and-model aircraft can have considerably different cockpit panels.

Perform Advanced Preflight After Maintenance

Become familiar with the normal directional movement of the flight controls and trim surfaces of the aircraft you fly before it undergoes maintenance. It is easier to recognize “abnormal” if you are already very familiar with what “normal” looks like.

After maintenance, check systems more thoroughly than the normal preflight checklist implies. For example, if a preflight checklist states, “Trim – Set Takeoff,” verify not only the trim setting but also proper directional travel.

Be prepared to abort the takeoff if something does not seem right.

Avoid interruptions and distractions during your preflight inspection to ensure that you do not skip or misevaluate the items you are checking.

If you suspect that there is a problem with a flight control or trim system, ask qualified maintenance personnel to inspect the aircraft. Do not attempt to perform such work yourself if you are not appropriately qualified, certificated and authorized to do so.


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