the approach of winter, weather becomes a more prominent factor
in aviation incidents and accidents. The following reports offer
timely lessons regarding light aircraft encounters with Instrument
Meteorological Conditions (IMC). Were it not for the able assistance
of Air Traffic Controllers, the pilots who submitted these reports
might not have been around to share their lessons.
lost sight of the ground."
continuing into deteriorating weather, this C172 pilot made
a poor decision that got him into trouble. Fortunately, he then
made a wise decision to contact a controller who was able to
help get him out of trouble.
got a [weather] briefing...and departed in clear skies with
unrestricted visibility.... I got within 10 miles of [destination
airport] when things got worse and began to happen fast. I lost
sight of the ground and descended to 1,000 feet MSL. I saw trees
and antennas and decided to climb into the clouds and reverse
direction. I got very disoriented and began losing control of
the plane. I called approach control and asked for help. They
vectored me back to VFR conditions. They did a great job keeping
me calm, on course, and in level flight. They vectored me to
an airport where I found a hole in the fog and landed safely.
I was very shook up at what had happened because of my poor
decision not to turn back sooner. I felt like I was within seconds
of losing my life.... I've heard and read stories of what can
happen and how fast. To experience it was a valuable lesson....
not very much ice."
into icing conditions in a light aircraft with no anti-icing
or deicing capability is a gamble. It is a bit like betting
your life on one pull of a slot machine lever - there is only
a slight chance that you'll win.
a weather briefing two hours before the flight. The forecast
was clear, One hour [from destination] the skies became cloudy....
[I] called ATC, received an IFR clearance, and climbed to
9,000 feet in the clear.... I entered clouds about 25 miles
from [destination] VOR. I started picking up ice, but did
not react. I looked out and thought, "That's not very
much ice." The airplane started to slow down and I could
not maintain altitude. I realized I was close to a stall...and
the aircraft was handling poorly. I finally advised ATC about
the ice and not being able to maintain altitude. ATC gave
me a turn toward lower terrain and also toward an airport.
The airplane continued to descend. [I] broke out of the clouds
and ATC vectored me to the airport. I landed without incident.
I could not have flown even a few miles farther. What strikes
me is that I continued to fly into danger, hoping I could
complete the approach. It was in my head that I had to follow
ATC's instructions and I waited for ATC to direct me out.
It was like I was lulled into taking no action. An incoming
airliner's report of icing triggered me to report icing on
am in the clouds and need help."
A case of "get-homeitis"
and an inadequate contingency plan for avoiding flight into
IMC combined to put this pilot into a desperate situation. Once
again, an Air Traffic Controller's assistance helped to prevent
were getting worse by the minute.... There were scattered
thunderstorms throughout the area. This prompted me to hurry
my preflight and departure. I was also trying to get to a
meeting scheduled for later that afternoon.... I thought that
if I could get about one mile from the end of the runway,
I could make the determination of whether or not I would be
able to make the flight home. If conditions were not favorable
to continue, I would do a 90/270-degree turn back and land.
Immediately after takeoff (1/2 mile and 300 feet), I was in
the clouds. This was not what I had planned and fear and panic
set in. Next came spatial disorientation. Unknowingly, I put
the plane in a hard bank to the left and a very steep climb.
Nothing was making sense to me and the next thing I remember
was seeing...the VSI pegged off scale (greater than 2000 foot
per minute descent). I broke through the clouds long enough
to see the ground coming up, which is a view I had never seen
before and hope never to see again.... I thought of how stupid
I was to get into this mess.... I pulled up hard. I remember
doing this several times in the next few minutes of trying
to stabilize the aircraft. The oscillations became less severe
as I regained control of the aircraft.... My mind was not
able to digest the tremendous amount of data it was receiving
and I was trying to hang on by a thread.... My first [radio]
transmission was, "[Approach] this is XXX and I am in
trouble. I am in the clouds and need help. I need a vector
to get out." [Approach] responded by giving me a squawk
code and then a heading and altitude.... I was able to climb,
but my heading was all over the place. [Approach] then said
that I should be out of the clouds in about three or four
miles. About 20 seconds later, I saw an opening to go down
through the clouds and I took it.
As I look back,
it was incredible how fast things went bad.... Why did I ever
take off with conditions as bad as they were and getting worse?
Why didn't I listen to any of the people I had talked with
prior to takeoff that recommended not going? I truly believe
in safety first, yet everything I did showed just the opposite....
I have learned a great deal from this event and I hope that
those who choose to listen might learn from my story....
escape slides are a valuable asset to the safe and efficient
evacuation of commercial aircraft. However, as the following
reports show, escape slides can cause embarrassing delays and
have the potential to cause severe
as every firearm should be treated as if it were loaded and
ready to fire, aircraft escape slides should always be considered
armed and dangerous until their status can be positively verified.
Several ASRS reports from maintenance technicians offer some
loaded lessons on slide handling.
We were now able to arm the door slide, however, when the slide
armed, the yellow flag went behind the door handle because we
had previously removed the cover/guide in our troubleshooting.
At this point the job was complete. We then attempted to put
the cover/guide back on, but were unable because the door handle
has to be in the up position to reinstall the cover. With the
armed flag out of sight, we did not realize that the door was
armed and lifted the handle to reinstall the cover/guide. The
review of the B767 maintenance manual showed that I should have
deactivated the slide bottle before performing any maintenance
on the slide.
lavatory service valve was inoperative and it was decided to
service the center lavatories with a hose through door 3R. I
asked a flight attendant if the door was disarmed and the flight
attendant said, "Yes." There was no sign indicating
the door status nor any "armed" or "disarmed"
flags. I pulled the handle and the slide deployed. I learned
the hard way that [B757-200] doors 3L and 3R are always armed.
when they are removed from the aircraft, escape slides can continue
to present a hazard.
escape slide was received in the slide shop with the firing
cable still connected to the pull tab, that is, in the armed
slide, serial number xxxxx, was delivered to maintenance for
repair. The firing cable attached to the pull handle was in
the firing position. The valve safety pin was not installed.
Lack of communication
among ramp personnel can be a recipe for disaster. Fortunately,
no one was injured when a catering crew delivered this chef's
.... The first
officer was just about to call ramp control for push clearance
when the push crew called saying, "There is a catering
truck behind the aircraft." Within a few seconds, a flight
attendant called saying that someone had opened a rear door
and the slide had partially deployed. I immediately set the
brakes.... I discovered that the caterers had driven up to
the aircraft without any guidance and had opened door 2L while
it was armed.... At no time was any crewmember on the aircraft
made aware that catering was coming to the rear of the aircraft.
Here to Deflate Ego
In his eagerness
to help secure an exit door, this B757 First Officer seems to
have confirmed the old adage, "No good deed goes unpunished."
parked at the gate and before any passengers had boarded, a
flight attendant reported that she thought an over-wing exit
was not properly secured. I went back to inspect the exit, and
it did not appear to be sealed properly. I then opened the over-wing
exit to try to readjust the door. The over-wing slide deployed.
I had completely forgotten about the slide deploying automatically.
No one was injured. Maintenance responded very quickly to begin
fixing my big blunder.... Moral of the story don't touch
anything; call maintenance; think before you act.
in Doubt, Get a Fifth Opinion
another model of their aircraft may have been a factor in this
First Officer and cabin crew's misconception about an over-wing
preflight inspection, I noticed a large amount of clear ice
on the aircraft surfaces.... I wanted to check the upper wing
surfaces for ice from an over-wing exit. Not being able to see
clearly through the emergency exit window, I thought that opening
the exit door would give me a better view of the amount of ice
on the wings. I hesitated for a moment, questioning if the aircraft
had over-wing escape slides. I did not notice any placards on
the door with pictures of slides and their use in an emergency.
I then asked a flight attendant if this aircraft had wing escape
slides, and she said, "No." I said, "Are you
sure?" She said, "Let me check with the other two
flight attendants." They also indicated that the aircraft
did not have wing escape slides. I then opened the right wing
emergency exit door and the slide deployed.
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