Good Morning and welcome to the 3DB. This week I want to showcase an article from the Flight Safety Foundation that will help each of us rationalize how to deal with upset training and recovery. The basics apply to all airplanes so take a few minutes to digest the specifics.
Continuing to build upon the late 1990s legacy of knowledge, intensive efforts in the past four years have propelled airplane upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) from the milieu of a few subject matter experts to finalizing international standards and guidance for commercial air transport (ASW, 7/13, p. 27).
What’s new is increased experience among airlines that — after working closely with other stakeholders to stem the risk of loss of control–in flight (LOC–I) — have become voluntary early adopters of UPRT, some receiving glowing responses from pilots who have completed this training.
Presenters and attendees filled in details of these developments, cited a few points of controversy and highlighted next steps on their agendas during the World Aviation Training Conference and Tradeshow (WATS 2013) in April in Orlando, Florida, U.S.
“Stall training [has] been required, for a private pilot license through type ratings, forever,” said Paul Kolisch, a captain at Pinnacle Airlines. “Nonetheless, we continue to lose airplanes in the commercial fleet, and most [such accidents] are following stall events and the loss of control–in flight. [Pilots] didn’t need to get upside down or even close to it. But the airplane wasn’t flying. And the pilots didn’t recognize it. … We have to use our imaginations and be open to new possibilities that really, virtually, violate our traditional stall training.”
Despite consensus recommendations of industry specialists behind the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) August 2012 publication of Advisory Circular 120-109, “Stall and Stick Pusher Training,” Kolisch said he still encounters skepticism and distrust about UPRT-related changes. “There are still people out there who say ‘They don’t apply to us,’” he told the conference. “Well, wings apply to you. And if they stop flying, they’re a problem for you.”
A significant discrepancy has endured, he said, between the 5,000-ft to 10,000-ft altitudes traditionally used in approach-to-stall training for airline pilots and the altitudes where actual stalls occurred in recent LOC–I accidents. Moreover, the traditional training had failed to emphasize that typical pilots instinctively react to a startle/surprise affecting their flight path with immediate control input to increase pitch. UPRT instructors address this response, telling simulator students, “That’s what you’re going to do; now here’s how you recover,” Kolisch said.
“In current practices, approach to stall is a scripted maneuver; it’s limited to non-realistic scenarios and it’s typically hand-flown,” he said. “I call it choreography.” Updates to regulatory standards, official guidance and practical test standards overcome such weaknesses. Therefore, stall prevention, recognition and recovery can be accomplished today before an anomaly deteriorates to a violent, possibly unrecoverable, airplane upset, he said.
“The first thing you do is get the nose down,” Kolisch said, paraphrasing the key message adopted by various stall and UPRT working groups. “If you don’t get the nose down, the wings aren’t flying long enough to level them. … [Training requirements also] should not mandate a predetermined value for altitude loss, nor mandate attaining an altitude during recovery.”
Pinnacle Airlines is an example of the airlines that have opted to implement the latest best practices. “No one comes out of our training without going through high-altitude and low-altitude stall training — most of it starting on the autopilot [to be] realistic,” Kolisch said. One point of potential confusion that must be overcome in low-altitude stall training, he said, involves flight crews hearing “PULL UP” alerts from the terrain awareness and warning system at the same time that stall recovery requires them to reduce angle-of-attack to reattach airflow to the wings so that responding to the alerts becomes possible. While showing a video of an airline crew’s simulator session in this scenario, he said, “The GPWS [ground-proximity warning system] was telling them ‘PULL UP.’ Pulling up kills you.”
Stick Pusher Training
For operators of stick pusher–equipped airplanes, UPRT elements should be implemented to avoid negative training, Kolisch said. Without this training, the typical response of a pilot who encounters the shaker or other indicators of stick pusher activation (firing) is to pull the control column.
Simulator instructors tasked with inducing surprises can tell you, “Don’t pull, don’t pull, don’t pull — and you’ll pull,” he said. “But if you practice it a few times, then you’ll release it. … Release, put the nose down, and you’ll recover.”
Lou Németh, chief safety officer and a captain, CAE, cited a potential source of confusion. “You’re sitting in the cockpit of a stick pusher–equipped airplane, and the preflight procedures require you to hang on to the stick pusher and fight through the stick pressure,” he said. “So every preflight, you’re sitting there holding onto this thing, and you’re doing absolutely the opposite of what you should do if the stick pusher fires in flight. … We want to demonstrate the stick pusher, and we want to see the pilot demonstrate proficiency in respecting the stick pusher when it fires in flight.” Németh was chairman of the Stick Pusher and Adverse Weather Aviation Rulemaking Committee and Loss of Control Avoidance and Recovery Training, a committee of global civil aviation authorities; and co-chairman of the International Committee for Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes Training Committee.
Have a good week and thanks for letting the 3DB be a part of your routine. Fly safe/be safe.
April 21, 2014