Number 294
March 2004
A Monthly Safety Bulletin from The Office of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System
P.O. Box 189, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0189

Caution: Clear Weather Ahead

Sun & CloudsRestricted visibility. Micro Burst. Icing. Embedded cells. SIGMET. No matter what your affiliation with aviation, certain meteorological terms can evoke a sense of apprehension, even anxiety. But eventually spring arrives, better weather prevails, and forecasts feature a more benign vocabulary. Clear. Light and variable. High pressure. CAVU. Welcome words signal that it's time to relax. Up to a point. If there are any benefits associated with flight operations in hazardous weather, one might be that a certain amount of "adversity" tends to sharpen one's focus, to bring an added level of attention to otherwise "routine" operations. As the following ASRS reports show, clear weather can sometimes have the opposite effect.

Clear Air Compacency

Both of these B737 crews were relaxed and "cruising down easy street." Without the need to stay alert due to weather or traffic, they discovered that a clear, open road can lead to complacency.

Fair Weather Excursion

Spring fever can affect anyone's ability to stay alert and focused. This C172 pilot was just a little out of "sync" and missed a clear opportunity to prevent an expensive mishap.

Visual Flight Reverie

Scenic vistas are one of the benefits of the aviation profession, but as this pilot of a light aircraft learned, they can also be a distraction. There is no substitute for a physical checklist, even on the picture perfect days.

Visual Mindset Challenge

Unrestricted visibility led this MD80 Captain to believe that everyone could see what he could see.

The Voices of Spring

Little Man Whispering in Captain's EarOn mild days in the spring and early summer, the air is filled with the sounds of birds, frogs, and occasionally a little voice saying, "Something's not right." As the people who submitted these ASRS reports found, you can brush off the birds and forget the frogs, but it's a good idea to listen to the "little voice."

A Borderline Decision

The U.S. Customs Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration keep a close eye on unauthorized border crossings. If these pilots had heeded a warning from "la pequeña voz," they might have avoided an unplanned encounter with the authorities.

Descending Voices

ASRS reports often point out that the "little voice" should be heeded right away. In these reports, an air carrier crew and a solo pilot confirmed the need to act swiftly when the voice calls.

Listen to the Solo

This MD80 Captain's "little voice" was not in harmony with the chorus, but it was the only one singing the right tune.

ASRS Recently Issued Alerts On...
B757 aft cargo heater fire
A319/320 cockpit door anomaly
EMB 135/145 cockpit seat lock failures
Foreign airport missed approach anomaly
Eastern U.S. airport departure procedure incidents
February 2004 Report Intake
 Air Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots
 General Aviation Pilots