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Vectors for Safety - April 2021

Safety Initiative Update

Just My Opinion

I was recently asked to put my flight instructor hat on and give my opinion on a procedure that is apparently becoming the latest fad. This is related to airplanes that have carbureted engines and are therefor susceptible to acquiring carburetor ice. The procedure calls for turning off the carburetor heat once on final with landing is assured, rather than leaving the heat on until after landing. The rationale is that in the event of a go-around, the carb heat will already be off and the engine will develop more power sooner. It also decreases the chance that a pilot will forget to turn off the heat and thereby attempt a go-around with less than full power.

My opinion is simple: very bad idea. There are several reasons for that opinion. First, I dislike the term "landing assured." A landing is not assured until the airplane has come to a complete stop or has exited the runway at a slow speed onto a taxiway or ramp. Several things such as a botched touchdown, or more commonly, wildlife, another airplane, or a vehicle entering the runway, can necessitate a go-around even after touchdown. Second, eliminating carburetor heat with the engine at or near idle power is asking for carburetor ice if the atmospheric conditions are right. Depending on the severity, ice in the carburetor, this can result in much more power loss than the very brief time it takes to push the carburetor heat lever in. And third, as for the argument that a pilot might forget to turn off the carburetor heat on a go-around, I would argue that any pilot should be well-practiced in the go-around procedures for the airplane being flown. Any pilot who seriously fears forgetting to disengage carburetor heat on a go-around should schedule time with a CFI to become proficient.

One Airplane-Many Pilots?

If you fly an airplane shared by several or many pilots, such as a rental airplane or flying club airplane, you might want to do an extra thorough preflight inspection. When the engine cowl was removed from a Cessna 172 for an oil change, substantial damage was found to the firewall and structure aft of the firewall. Sometime after the previous 100-hour inspection, a student pilot reported that she had bounced two or three times during the final landing. She reported to ATC that she was having trouble taxiing due to a mechanical problem and requested maintenance assistance. The student pilot's flight instructor and a company lineman responded and noticed that the airplane had a flat nosewheel tire. The lineman inflated the tire, and the student pilot and flight instructor taxied the airplane to the operator's maintenance facility. The flight instructor informed the operator's mechanic of the bounced landing and flat tire. The mechanic
stated that he replaced the nose tire, performed a brief exterior walk-around visual inspection of the airplane, noting it appeared airworthy, and returned it to service. A hard landing inspection was not performed.

The 100-hour inspection was performed on September 27, the bounced landing happened on October 8, and the damage was discovered during the oil change on October 24. It cannot be definitively determined that the bounced landing caused the damage. All that is known for sure is that the damage happened sometime between the 100-hour inspection and the oil change. During that time, the airplane had made 48 flights with about 20 different pilots.

In addition to safety-of-flight concerns, we want to discover any damage before we fly rather than having the damage noticed by the next pilot thereby casting suspicion on us as the culprit. Click here to download the accident report from the NTSB website.

Template Accident

We have all heard that we must study history so that it does not repeat itself. As pilots, we are apparently not very good history students. We keep repeating the same kind of accident over and over. I call these "template accidents" because that is what they are. When one occurs, we just need to pull up the template, fill in the blanks and the accident is cataloged. One of the templates is the "Failure to Check Notams" template. One recent addition to that catalog involved a flight instructor with two student pilots on a night, VFR flight. The instructor tried to activate the pilot-controlled lighting at the destination airport,
but he believed that it was inoperative. He reported that he could see the wind sock on the airfield but
that he did not see the "X" near the runway numbers and performed a touch and go. During rotation the
instructor reported that, "I heard a red cone make impact with the nose gear section." He had to apply
continuous forward pressure to the yoke because the nose continued to pitch up with the trim set to the
full-down position. He asserted that the flight characteristics were "acceptable" and continued the flight
about 47 nautical miles to their home airport. Upon arrival, the instructor alerted the tower that he had a
stabilator malfunction and landed the airplane with zero flaps. The instructor reported that he did not
check the notices to airmen (NOTAM). The airplane sustained substantial damage to the stabilator. According to FAA NOTAM 03/058, the airport runways were closed at the time of the accident. The NTSB Probable Cause states, "The flight instructor's failure to review the notices to airmen related to the airport, which resulted in his landing on a closed runway and the airplane striking runway closed markers."

NOTAMS have been around ever since I began flying. It used to be a bit cumbersome to check them, but not any more. Just do it! Click here to download the accident report from the NTSB website.

Planning a Return to In-Person Aviation Events? Consider Adding a Virtual Presentation.

Many local aviation events are being planned for the good weather coming up. Boost your attendance by adding a virtual safety presentation valid for FAA Wings credit!. You probably already have access to the equipment you need and we can assist with set-up information. For more information, contact Gene via email at

Gene's Blog


I believe it is time to take a closer look at one of our revered general aviation traditions. The quintessential “crash and dash,” otherwise known as the touch-and-go, is the most efficient means in acquiring the largest number of landings with the least amount of travel by the Hobbs meter. But does it always provide the best and safest training?

I recently produced a webinar and online course dealing with runway excursion avoidance. My research into that subject made me wonder why so many pilots, once on the ground, failed to keep the airplane on the runway. Many of the accidents and incidents that I researched had logical explanations such as the approach was badly flawed and the airplane contacted the runway in an undesirable way. Others indicated a reasonable touchdown with a problem developing during the rollout. These were most often blamed on a gust of wind. Really? I suspect that the wind is an easy scapegoat. Checking official wind readings at the time of the incident usually did not indicate anything more than a ten-knot gust. Any pilot of a small, general aviation airplane should be able to handle a sudden ten knot gust when rolling out after landing. Anybody remember the proper position of the controls? Oh, maybe doing touch-and-goes does not provide an opportunity to practice that. What about avoiding distraction by waiting to deal with avionics, retract flaps, open cowl flaps, turn off the electric fuel pump and other things until clear of the active runway? Oh, maybe doing touch-and-goes does not provide an opportunity to practice that.

There are several negative factors associated with the touch-and-go. From an instructor’ viewpoint, the touch-and-go prevents a thorough critique of the approach and landing. The full stop landing provides valuable experience in the use of aerodynamic braking and controlling the airplane all the way to a stop or at least to a speed slow enough to safely execute the turn off the active runway. It also provides good practice in proper runway exit procedures.

There are also safety considerations. Multiple consecutive touch-and-go landings have led to fixation on the landing, pattern, and takeoff procedures at the expense of fuel management. Losing track of time and therefore track of fuel consumed has resulted in fuel exhaustion accidents. Forgetting to switch tanks during touch-and-go sessions has resulted in fuel management accidents. Other accidents have occurred when a pilot, hurrying to execute the “go” part of the touch-and-go, has failed to properly configure flaps, trim, carburetor heat, or the propeller control. Still others have happened when the hurried pilot retracted the landing gear rather than the flaps while still on the runway. (Yep, a squat switch or airspeed sensor is supposed to prevent the gear from coming up when on the ground. Don’t bet your propeller on it.)

Is the stop and go landing an alternative to the touch-and-go? In my humble opinion, it is not. Unless the runway is exceptionally long, the stop and go landing results in the need for excessive braking, which adds additional risk, and results in excessive brake wear. Unless there are no other airplanes in the pattern allowing for a long duration stop on the runway, it does not provide any more opportunity for a critique of the approach and landing than does the touch-and-go. In the presence of other traffic, it can cause the pilot to hurry through the reconfiguration of the airplane just as in the touch-and-go. The stop and go landing, by design, also prevents us from using the full length of the runway for our takeoff. This is not a good operating practice unless the runway is exceptionally long. Putting on my human factors hat, we humans have a strong tendency to try and complete a task once it has begun. If our mindset is to perform a takeoff after the landing, we might attempt to execute the takeoff without due consideration of the runway length remaining. Also, as an instructor, I want to model using the full length of the runway for takeoff to my students, and the stop and go landing contradicts that.

Personally, I have always enjoyed doing touch-and-goes both for personal practice and with my students. I am not suggesting that we eliminate touch-and-goes from our initial and recurrent training toolboxes. But perhaps we should consider adding more full stop landings into the mix. I realize that the traffic situation at many airports precludes the practicality of making all or most practice landings full stop with a taxi back. I have instructed out of numerous airports that fit that description, but there is usually a less busy airport not too far away. Making a short flight to an airport at which we can do a few stop and taxi back landings, maybe mixed with a couple of touch-and-goes, is probably worth the effort and the additional cost in Hobbs meter time. Extra practice in traffic pattern departures and arrivals can be an additional bonus.

Whatever kind of landings we choose to do for our instructional or practice sessions, let’s be sure to be safe. We may not use the full before landing checklist for multiple circuits of the pattern. But the use of a mnemonic appropriate for the airplane used can remind us keep track of fuel and assist with airplane configuration. The old GUMPS (Gas-Undercarriage-Mixture-Prop) works well for most but variations can work also. The mnemonic must be used for each time around the pattern, whether we are planning a full stop, touch-and-go, or stop and go.

Accident Analysis

Accidents discussed in this section are presented in the hope that pilots can learn from the misfortune of others and perhaps avoid an accident. It is easy to read an accident report and dismiss the cause as carelessness or as a dumb mistake. But let's remember that the accident pilot did not get up in the morning and say, "Gee, I think I'll go have an accident today." Nearly all pilots believe that they are safe. Honest introspection frequently reveals that on some occasion, we might have traveled down that same accident path.

This accident happened in Florida in January of 2020 and involved a Vans RV9. The 67-year-old private pilot who was the sole occupant, received only minor injuries. The accident is officially characterized as a loss of control in flight, but flight was extremely short since it happened right after lift off from a stop and go. The NTSB accident report tells the story: "The pilot had completed several takeoffs and full stop landings in the airport traffic pattern. During a subsequent touch and go landing the pilot did not retract the flaps fully after landing. The airplane then became airborne prematurely at too low an airspeed during the subsequent takeoff attempt. When the pilot attempted to lower the nose and gain airspeed the left wingtip contacted the ground and spun the airplane to the right. The propeller dug into the turf just off the runway and the airplane came to rest inverted in a ditch. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation."


Photo source: NTSB

In the Pilot-Operator Report submitted to the NTSB, the pilot explained that he considered himself to be extremely lucky in that about 15 gallons of fuel that was spilling from the right fuel tank into the water adjacent to the aircraft did not ignite. As can be seen in the photo above, the aircraft was inverted preventing the pilot from exiting on his own. He located his mobile phone and called 911 and the airport manager. The airport manager and another airport employee were able to pry the canopy open enough for the pilot to escape.


Photo source: NTSB

The NTSB Probable Cause finding states: "The pilot's failure to properly configure the airplane for takeoff, which resulted in premature liftoff, loss of control, and collision with terrain."


Photo source: NTSB

This accident illustrates one of the inherent dangers in doing touch and goes or stop and goes. The wind was stated as being nearly calm, the temperature was 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and the runway was listed as 4170 feet long by 100 feet wide. The accident report does not indicate how far down the runway the airplane was when the pilot initiated the takeoff. Had the pilot used the full length of the runway, this accident might have been prevented in two ways. First, the pilot would have had ample time during the taxi-back phase to properly configure the airplane for takeoff. Second, had the misconfigured flaps still not have been discovered, the pilot might have been more inclined to simply close the throttle and land on the remaining runway.

When we are doing multiple takeoffs and landings, regardless of the type, we need to have some kind of mnemonic to make sure we properly configure the airplane for each takeoff. This airplane, as the pilot stated in the Pilot-Operator Report, did not have a flap position indicator in the cockpit.

Click here to download the accident report from the NTSB website.

Accident Analysis

Accidents discussed in this section are presented in the hope that pilots can learn from the misfortune of others and perhaps avoid an accident. It is easy to read an accident report and dismiss the cause as carelessness or as a dumb mistake. But let's remember that the accident pilot did not get up in the morning and say, "Gee, I think I'll go have an accident today." Nearly all pilots believe that they are safe. Honest introspection frequently reveals that on some occasion, we might have traveled down that same accident path.

This accident involved a CubCrafters CC11-160. It happened in Tennessee in March of 2015. The pilot and sole occupant was not injured but the airplane was substantially damaged. The NTSB accident report includes the following: "The pilot of the Experimental Light Sport Airplane stated he was practicing touch and go takeoffs and landings in light winds. During rollout following the fifth landing, as he configured
the airplane for the subsequent takeoff, the airplane departed the right side of the runway. He applied full power in an attempt to abort the landing. The airplane continued on the grass apron approximately seventy-five feet before striking a drainage culvert and embankment, which resulted in substantial damage to both wings. The pilot reported there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operations."


Photo source: Bristol Herald Courier

The NTSB Probable Cause finding states: The pilot's failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll."


Wing buckling near fuselage - Photo source: NTSB

The pilot made the following statement to be included in the NTSB Pilot-Operator Report: "This accident could most likely have been prevented had I not been doing doing touch-and-goes. Perchance I had been landing to a full stop with a subsequent takeoff, I would not have had the distraction of reaching for the flap handle to remove full flaps before the initiation of a subsequent take-off roll."

This accident illustrates one of the risks in doing touch-and-goes. We must divert some of our attention from maintaining airplane control on the runway to configuring the airplane for the takeoff.

Click here to download the accident report from the NTSB website.

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