In 2013, the Shine Lawyers Aviation Department published its thoughts on the relatively high numbers of home-built (amateur or experimental class) sport aircraft accidents in Australia. The article (available here) touched on statistics published by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in 2006 which confirmed there were 42.5 accidents per 100,000 hours flown in sport aircraft compared with 16.8 accidents per 100,000 hours flown in general aviation (light) aircraft.
Our 2013 article focussed on whether safety recommendations made by a CASA review panel in 2006 were fully implemented – specifically, whether there was sufficient guidance material available to pilots of sport aircraft which assisted with transitioning from general aviation to sport aircraft. Lack of that information can and has possibly contributed to the continuing sad dilemma of experienced pilots falling victims to the peculiar handling characteristics of these slippery, speedy aircraft when they transition across from more stable and staid general aviation aircraft.
Yesterday’s release of the final report into the crash of VH-ICZ at Shepparton provides further proof that more needs to be done to protect against the risks of flying experimental aircraft, in the absence of hard regulations requiring the same level of safety standards of commercial or even private general aviation flying. Little conclusive evidence remained after the post-crash fire.
Tragically, amongst the factors considered to have increased the risk of the accident happening was evidence of potential failures to fully evaluate the significance of the aircraft’s stall speed characteristics. Even though such aircraft are not required to have stall warning systems, it is a salutary lesson to sports aircraft operators to more thoroughly consider these essential handling characteristics of new recreational aircraft generally. Ensuring pilot operating handbook’s are updated regularly with relevant information can also go some way to preventing such incidents.
A requirement for more formal transitional training coupled with a requirement to install a simple stall warning device are two well understood methods of mitigating the safety risks brought about by flight with sports aircraft.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: September 7, 2017.