Issue Number 248
February 2000
A Monthly Safety Bulletin from The Office of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System
P.O. Box 189, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0189

Winterside Wisdom

Pound’s parody of the medieval Cuckoo Song suggests that the worlds of poetry and piloting are not far apart. Several ASRS reporters elaborate as they share lessons learned — on the ground and in the air — during wintertime operations.

Frozen Slushy

The only method of ice removal approved by many airlines is use of heated de-icing fluid (glycol). De-icing should always be followed by a visual inspection of the surface areas to which the mixture is applied.

Right Seat Wings of Gold

ASRS received two flight crew reports describing a bad-weather IFR incident. The First Officer’s report was succinct and to the point:

The Captain’s report explained why the altitude bust occurred and affirmed the value of the crew concept:

They say a good First Officer is like gold. Thank heavens for mine on this day. CRM also played a positive role in that my First Officer pressed me diplomatically enough for me to say "Enough is enough!" That’s why there are two pilots in the cockpit.

A Winter's TaleAn air carrier Captain described a hazardous dawn takeoff in snowy weather at an uncontrolled field.

Mechanics of the Human Mind

A general aviation pilot rushed to make a VIFNO (Void If Not Off by) departure time for an IFR flight at night. Once in the clouds, he suffered a gyro failure and subsequent disorientation. He reported to ASRS that his prior instrument and simulator training were unequal to the "mechanics of the human mind" experienced during the incident:

    1. My accepting a clearance which left me little time to prepare the aircraft and myself for a flight in night IMC.

    2. The aircraft was probably running for 5 minutes or so after sitting outside for 2 days in 40º damp weather. This didn’t allow enough time for the gyros to completely spin up. The attitude and heading gyros are older units with many years and hours of service. These will be overhauled....

    3. Partial panel procedures. All my initial and recurrent partial panel training has been accomplished using suction cup style covers over the attitude and heading indicators. In this actual event, I found it difficult to ignore the erroneous information presented by these instruments. I found myself overcorrecting and my instrument scan diminished and was more fixation than scan. I wish there were an acceptable method of reducing vacuum to create a realistic partial panel training environment. This [would] help pilots to modify their instrument scan and ‘tune out’ the failed gyros.

    4. I found [that] my thought processes and instrument scan declined with the seriousness of the situation. When faced with unusual attitudes [at] 2,000 feet or less AGL, decision making ability suffers and thought processes narrow and become focused on one aspect of the situation instead of analyzing and evaluating the whole situation... Practicing unusual attitudes under a hood with an instructor cannot create the fear and alarm needed to enlighten the pilot on the mechanics of the human mind....

While our reporter searches for improved training aids for partial panel operations, he plans to work with an instructor on gyro failure and other emergencies.

From Our Readers

From time to time readers send us thoughtful comments on articles we’ve printed in CALLBACK. We’d like to share several letter excerpts on items published in the January 2000 issue (#247):

Another reader responded to the "Oxygen Irregularities" article in the same issue, offering a refinement on our suggestion that pilots consider using oxygen tanks with flow indicators:

And courtesy of an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner, description of a "hearback" problem frequently detected during pilot medical exams:

Oh yes, S.O.D.A. means "Statement of Demonstrated Ability."

ASRS Recently Issued Alerts On...
A-300 flight control malfunction during approach
Jet structural damage attributed to a thrown recap tire
Reported hazard in B-757 cabin oxygen mask release
Loss of GPS navigation incidents near an airport in Italy
Chafing/fire hazard in MD-80 coach seat power port wiring
December 1999 Report Intake
 Air Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots
 General Aviation Pilots