Deer Valley Pilots Association

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Safety Articles

Lock Out - L.O.C.

By Dr. Chuck Crinnian, MD

The air battle is not necessarily won at the time of the battle. The winner may have been determined by the amount of time, energy, thought and training an individual has previously accomplished in an effort to increase his ability as a fighter pilot.

— Colonel Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington, USMC, 26 victories, W.W. II.


This year's FAASTeam Safety Stand-down is focused on a frequent deadly accident cause-Loss of Control-in Flight(LOC). A recent mishap involved Air France flight 449 which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. The professional pilot crew lost control of the ship even with the advanced flight management systems. Although the final NTSB report is pending, it appears that the pilots stalled the aircraft and continued stalling the aircraft until impact. Loss of control accidents have been on the rise for all categories of flight for the past 25 years. Thus, all pilots need to re-focus on avoiding loss of control.

As Col Pappy Boyington notes, the tools to avoid LOC are time and energy put into training and the thought process to see the impending doom of LOC. Just as fighter pilots do, the GA pilot must be always on the lookout for "being set up" for a LOC event. Always have a way out-before you get in a tight situation and employ a multi-layered defense against LOC through better training in mental skills. Next, sharpen stick and rudder skills to build muscle memory—recovery actions need to be instinctive. These skills are perishable, so practice (rehearse) and relearn periodically. The FAASTeam has developed a simple tool to address the mental habits needed to be successful in overcoming not just LOC, but other aviation risks. We call it the "3P's".

Perceive: Seek out cues and clues that provide information about your surroundings. A structured way is to use the PAVE model to identify hazards. This is an always ongoing process and takes mental energy. Don't get complacent.

Process: Take the cues and clues and formulate how the aircraft, the environment and you the pilot are doing. Does something need action or attention? What action or process would be the best to initiate and when?

Perform: Do the best course of action that you came up with. If it does not work, repeat the process starting with Perceive.

Between flights, add a 4th P: Be Prepared. Keep your mental and physical skills sharp. Review and rehearse emergency procedures. Participate in the FAA WINGS programs. Keep physically fit and well nourished. All this takes energy.

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