Three recent takeoff accidents.

Vance

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Of the three most recent takeoff accidents in my opinion we don’t know enough to identify the specific weakness.

There are hints about how to identify an accident chain and how to improve training

It appears to me the threads about them were quickly side tracked with what I feel are unrelated issues.

As a flight instructor I want to know what the accident pilot didn’t know so that I know where to place emphasis with my clients.

As a gyroplane pilot I want to know how to avoid accidents and recognize the links in the accident chain.

I feel there is value in examining the limited information we have.

Starting with the oldest MTO Sport 498AG in Texas 12/15/18 it appears to me the accident pilot did not do a good job of planning his departure. We don’t know how smooth the field was, how long the grass was or what the winds were like because it was not an airport.

I feel the accident pilot was there because he did not plan his flight well or follow lost procedures and that is part of why flight planning and lost procedures are in the practical test standards.

In my opinion the POH for the MTO Sport would not have been much help for the takeoff.

I practice and teach; if a takeoff is questionable; don’t take off.

If you are going to make a difficult takeoff carefully examine (walk) the takeoff roll and determine an abort point if things aren’t working out.

Work at understanding what the wind is doing along the takeoff roll.

Have a close look at the obstacles and what you would need to do to clear them.

Based on the pilot’s statement I suspect this wasn’t done.

The knowledge test does not cover this with much specificity and the proficiency check ride standards for a short field takeoff don’t cover this well either. It is more focused on the flying technique.

Most of the flight instructors I know do cover difficult takeoffs in some detail.

For me the takeaway is don’t make marginal takeoffs and if you must plan them carefully. As a flight instructor I am reminded that what I teach about marginal takeoffs is important, flight planning and lost procedures are also important as they appear to be a part of this accident chain.

The next takeoff accident; Magni M16 N316MG near Cape Girardeau, MO 5/29/20 appears to be a series of simple pilot errors and poor aviation decision making.

As is often the case I feel this threads two primary lessons got lost in the minutia.

If the oil light comes on land and don’t try to takeoff with 200 feet of runway remaining.

As a flight instructor I need to have a simple plan for a supervised solo, be clear about the plan and fly to the plan.

He is a student pilot and student pilots make mistakes so the flight instructor can turn them into teachable moments. It is unlikely he had been through the full syllabus as this was his second supervised solo.

The most recent takeoff accident reported to the NTSB; a Rotorsport UK LTD MTOsport 2017 gyroplane, N615MW, 8/11/20 near Springfield, Tennessee appears to me to be confusion about the flight controls based on the pilot’s statement. “At 45 knots, the pilot lifted the nose, and accelerated "in ground effect" for his planned climb speed of 55 knots, but the gyroplane would not accelerate past 48 knots.”

I don’t know any FAA certificated flight instructors who teach to rotate in a gyroplane at 45kts.

All of the FAA certificated flight instructors I know use pitch for airspeed and power for altitude.

In my opinion making an intersection departure near maximum takeoff weight and not having an abort point demonstrates poor aviation decision making.

I don’t know how the pilot flew to practical test standards during his proficiency check ride without knowing how the flight controls worked.

The pilot was interviewed by Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspectors, and provided a comprehensive written statement that included charts, diagrams, and photographs of predicted takeoff performance.

The trouble is the charts assume a level of pilot knowledge and skill that was apparently absent.

As a flight instructor I like to imagine I would have identified his weaknesses and addressed them. I always recommend using the full length of the runway even if not near maximum takeoff weight.

In summary in my opinion all of these accidents were preventable and all of the links in the accident chain are addressed in the FAA practical test standards.

I feel conflating the accidents and pretending they were all the same cause has little value.
 
Last edited:

chrisk

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For the first accident, I am reminded of the statement: All landings are mandatory, takeoffs are optional. Its clearly pilot error. And I agree a performance charts would have done little good. Its not like the distance to the obstacle (or its height) was known. At most, someone would have looked at the performance charts and decided it was close. By the way, this problem is not just related to gyroplanes. It happens in airplanes too. Here is a fairly spectacular example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvjuglBoWO0 Personally, I want a comfortable margin on take off. I can always leave a passenger on the ground. I can always wait for favorable winds. And there is always a colder day. --Take a mountain flying course some time and you will learn a lot.

The third accident is something that I try to demonstrate to students. In Texas where I teach, it is very hot (105 in the summer is common). A gyro at gross with a 912 Rotax takes a lot of runway, and if one gets behind the power curve, it can take even more runway. Students will get the gyro about 6 inches off the ground and can't put the nose down to gain speed without touching back down. After they use about 2000 feet, I take over. --You can have all the discussions about lift off at low airspeed and a high angle of attack, but there is nothing quite like experiencing it. Its a great teaching moment and its usually intense enough that students remember it for many years. You can get the same effect with a reduced throttle setting, but its hard to get the setting perfect and the student knows its coming. (by the way I usually warn the pilot on those hot days before we leave the hanger that they are likely to experience this)
 

anthom

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I wonder how many instructors teach abort take off techniques. During every take off, or go around, there comes a point if one is going to make it or not. What if the engine quits during take off. Many mishaps can be avoided if one can safely put the aircraft down. Sometimes, one just doggedly continues with the take off, knowing deep within that it may not go right. It is a decision that needs to be made without much delay.

Interestingly, aborted landings are covered in the PTS. (I'm referring to Sport Pilot). But nothing regarding aborting a take off. I believe that a pilot should be able to abort a take off at any time during the take off. If one tries it, it is not as simple as it seems.
 

DavePA11

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I would think all teach how to abort takeoffs at different phases. It was covered in my training as part of how to handle an engine issues on takeoff.
 

Philbennett

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Aborting take offs - agree with all that has been said and its sentiment, but doesn't it require some knowledge and consistency in a pilots ability to get airborne to 50ft?

I'm just trying to extrapolate the practical process for some and how [for example] our friend in 498AG might have judged his take off in Texas.
 

JETLAG03

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As I mentioned previously my instructor, French, once the basic training handling etc was at a sufficient level, would, without warning pull the power and call "panne" (fault) at anytime. Frequently just after takeoff at maybe 5 metres height or en route to the training/exercise grounds. We had four or five areas away from the airfield where we could practice with disturbing anyone. He would, initially accept any lz that was safe, but, with time, simply safe would not be enough, he would want options and why I chose each lz over another.

I did not always enjoy the added pressure knowing that at anytime during my training he could/would call "panne", but my instructor said an engine never asks permission to stop playing.
 

anthom

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50 ft is just one number. I believe it is a reference point for performance measurements for different aircraft. What if an obstacle ahead is a 100 feet high? The take off length will obviously increase. By how much? The important thing is if there is enough of a safe clearance over the obstacle.

The video linked by Chrisk is very telling. The obstacle was just a 6 ft high fence in that fatal airplane crash.

I believe that it is very important to understand the power curve and the DA chart among other things.
 

anthom

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Phil, I do not know the pilot of AG, nor am I going to speculate on what he might have done or how. I believe that is a question one needs to ask AG pilot and his instructor.

In some other thread I had mentioned how it is possible to judge distance and also measure the height of an obstacle based on that distance when I was taught as an Artillery officer. It is a principle of subtension similar to the 1 in 60 rule for navigation.

But I see your point. I do not know how instructors teach these to their students, if at all they do.
 

Vance

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yes exactly my point, hence my question - talk me through the actual process and how AG might have judged his take off.
I do not understand you question Phil Bennett.

Please talk me through your actual process of how AG might have judged his takeoff so I will better understand what you are asking.

Thank you.
 

Philbennett

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I guess my post was less about the absolutes of 50ft, 100ft, 6ft, AG or an ELA [although we might all struggle with the POH take off distance as ELA don't publish one...] but more about the fact that whatever metric you are benchmarking it all counts for nought if you don't find or use a technique that gives you a consistent take off.

So to your point Vance - the field AG was in may have been 6000ft, or 600ft and the only real way he was going to know that was pacing the field out. Then where was his abort point? That was the question I'm asking you. The very point being that you'll not be able to give that answer unless you satisfy the point I'm making in the paragraph above [and have made before to your derision in this initial post...]
 

Philbennett

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In my opinion the POH for the MTO Sport would not have been much help for the takeoff.

I practice and teach; if a takeoff is questionable; don’t take off.
i.e. what metric are you using to determine "questionable"?

...and determine an abort point if things aren’t working out.
on the basis of what metric{s}?

Or to put it more easily to you. If you don't know what your expected value should be how can you determine the unexpected value?

Seems pretty fundamental to me and I would hope every other pilot reading this.
 

Vance

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I guess my post was less about the absolutes of 50ft, 100ft, 6ft, AG or an ELA [although we might all struggle with the POH take off distance as ELA don't publish one...] but more about the fact that whatever metric you are benchmarking it all counts for nought if you don't find or use a technique that gives you a consistent take off.

So to your point Vance - the field AG was in may have been 6000ft, or 600ft and the only real way he was going to know that was pacing the field out. Then where was his abort point? That was the question I'm asking you. The very point being that you'll not be able to give that answer unless you satisfy the point I'm making in the paragraph above [and have made before to your derision in this initial post...]
I believe I answered what I imagine is your question in the first post on this thread Phil Bennett.

"I practice and teach; if a takeoff is questionable; don’t take off.

If you are going to make a difficult takeoff carefully examine (walk) the takeoff roll and determine an abort point if things aren’t working out.

Work at understanding what the wind is doing along the takeoff roll.

Have a close look at the obstacles and what you would need to do to clear them."

I teach a short field takeoff by the Pilots Operating Handbook if there is one and if there is not, I teach clients to optimize all the phases of the takeoff for a short field.

I do my best to make the client aware of the difference the takeoff surface makes and how ground obstructions affect the wind.

I feel flight instruction is an iterative process and this subject will be addressed many ways during the course of flight training.

I won’t sign someone off for their proficiency check ride until they can teach me how to do a short field takeoff because it is a part of the practical test standards.
 

Vance

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i.e. what metric are you using to determine "questionable"?


on the basis of what metric{s}?

Or to put it more easily to you. If you don't know what your expected value should be how can you determine the unexpected value?

Seems pretty fundamental to me and I would hope every other pilot reading this.
What is “questionable” depends on what they are flying, the weight, the takeoff surface, the density altitude, the wind and anything else that might affect the takeoff distance Phil Bennett.

I teach that takeoffs are optional and if I have a reason to be concerned it is probably not a good idea.

Again you are not offering what you teach.

If it is so fundamental and important please share it with us Phil Bennett.
 

Mike G

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Vance, if I’m hijacking your thread just say so, I'll understand and back out.

I was wondering how much help my GWS warning system would have been in your 3 accidents.

In case 1 the pilot would probably have got a “behind the curve” warning as he pulled up to climb unless he flew straight into the trees, and even then because of the short distance he probably couldn’t have stopped anyway.

In case 2 I doubt if it would have been any help because this poor student was already ignoring warnings and as in case 1 there doesn’t appear to have been enough distance to stop safely anyway.

In case 3 it seems he was behind the curve, and should have got a warning in time to react, assuming he’d been taught the appropriate corrective action.

Therefore I conclude that it probably wouldn’t have helped a lot to prevent any of them except perhaps case 3.

However where my GWS would be a great help is that we would have the black box recording of all 3 and we wouldn’t be second guessing what happened based on what the pilot did or didn’t remember or what witnesses think they saw, we would have the facts.

I agree with you and everybody who says that a major cause of accidents is training and anything you can do to improve training techniques by analyzing accidents like these is laudable.

Unfortunately accidents will continue to happen and if we want to be able to learn from them, actually knowing what happened would be a great help.

Mike G
 

Philbennett

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What is “questionable” depends on what they are flying, the weight, the takeoff surface, the density altitude, the wind and anything else that might affect the takeoff distance Phil Bennett.

I teach that takeoffs are optional and if I have a reason to be concerned it is probably not a good idea.

But you still haven't answered what questionable means to you or what creates that concern in practice. Whilst I would agree with you that take offs are optional and the general theory [to answer your other point tbh about techniques I'm sure mine isn't a million miles away from yours so I can cut/paste your view if it makes you feel happier?] BUT where we do seem to be differing [or at least you fail to answer a point asked of you several times] is that you claim the POH take off numbers are academic :-

In my opinion the POH for the MTO Sport would not have been much help...

So I ask again in your flight planning what do you use?

Here for example is our UK AAIB view on a failed take off:-

https://assets.publishing.service.g...d08864/Rotorsport_UK_Cavalon_G-GERN_11-17.pdf

The Maximum Authorised Takeoff Weight for G-GERN is 560 kg. The weight and balance data supplied by the pilot indicated the actual takeoff weight was approximately 535 kg. Performance data for a Cavalon 914 UL at 560 kg under standard atmospheric conditions and at sea level are available in the Flight Manual. At an ambient temperature of 28°C a 21% increment is added to the takeoff distance and a 20% decrement to the climb performance.

The required takeoff distance to reach a height of 15 m (50 ft) at 560 kg at sea level and 28°C was calculated as 714 m.

So here when the airfield length was :-

Stoke Microlight Air eld has a single grass runway orientated 06/24, 475 m in length by 20 m in width.

So in this I'd have discussed with the student the merits of attempting to fly from a 495m airstrip when the TODR was going to be 714m.....

Abort points in this case are academic.

As you disregard the POH please illuminate what metric you use to avoid the mud of the Medway.
 

Vance

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Vance, if I’m hijacking your thread just say so, I'll understand and back out.

I was wondering how much help my GWS warning system would have been in your 3 accidents.

In case 1 the pilot would probably have got a “behind the curve” warning as he pulled up to climb unless he flew straight into the trees, and even then because of the short distance he probably couldn’t have stopped anyway.

In case 2 I doubt if it would have been any help because this poor student was already ignoring warnings and as in case 1 there doesn’t appear to have been enough distance to stop safely anyway.

In case 3 it seems he was behind the curve, and should have got a warning in time to react, assuming he’d been taught the appropriate corrective action.

Therefore I conclude that it probably wouldn’t have helped a lot to prevent any of them except perhaps case 3.

However where my GWS would be a great help is that we would have the black box recording of all 3 and we wouldn’t be second guessing what happened based on what the pilot did or didn’t remember or what witnesses think they saw, we would have the facts.

I agree with you and everybody who says that a major cause of accidents is training and anything you can do to improve training techniques by analyzing accidents like these is laudable.

Unfortunately accidents will continue to happen and if we want to be able to learn from them, actually knowing what happened would be a great help.

Mike G
I feel the historical data would be useful in all three accidents.

My latest video scheme for training records everything that comes through the headset so I can see the value in it hearing from Betty.

The first two accidents clearly show poor aviation decision making so that part is not likely to be fixed.

In the first accident there may have been poor technique involved so the historical information would have been useful for training and the reminder might have been enough to make a difference.

In the third accident clear instructions on what to do with which control might well have been enough to remind him the controls work and prevented the accident. As an instructor I would have been saying nose down or release back pressure.

I have found clients that fly to practical test standards often still believe in their heart that the cyclic is the up lever and the throttle is the accelerator. When they feel in danger they often divert from rational thought and go with their heart.

As a flight instructor I am always looking for signs of what in in their heart.

Your device might be another tool in the tool box to help avoid accidents.

Congratulations Mike, I hope it becomes common. I would love to have it on my training aircraft.
 

Vance

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But you still haven't answered what questionable means to you or what creates that concern in practice. Whilst I would agree with you that take offs are optional and the general theory [to answer your other point tbh about techniques I'm sure mine isn't a million miles away from yours so I can cut/paste your view if it makes you feel happier?] BUT where we do seem to be differing [or at least you fail to answer a point asked of you several times] is that you claim the POH take off numbers are academic :-



So I ask again in your flight planning what do you use?

Here for example is our UK AAIB view on a failed take off:-

https://assets.publishing.service.g...d08864/Rotorsport_UK_Cavalon_G-GERN_11-17.pdf



So here when the airfield length was :-



So in this I'd have discussed with the student the merits of attempting to fly from a 495m airstrip when the TODR was going to be 714m.....

Abort points in this case are academic.

As you disregard the POH please illuminate what metric you use to avoid the mud of the Medway.
I feel I have quantified what is involved in determining what questionable is Phil Bennett.

I try to teach my clients to think about all they have learned before they takeoff.

I wrote that the MTO POH would not have been much help in determining the viability of the takeoff because it is based on different conditions. It is just a place to start.

I have not consistently been able to achieve the takeoff numbers in the MTO POH.

I would love to have a better method to teach takeoff decisions and if yours is better I will use it and accidents will be prevented.

Instead of arguing semantics; please just answer your own question.
 

Philbennett

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I have not consistently been able to achieve the takeoff numbers in the MTO POH.

Well that is interesting in itself. Why? What do AutoGyro say?

I don't think we are far apart Vance - its just you like to over brief things and having dug yourself in that something is wrong then find it hard to unwind your position. You mentioned 3 take off issues, which I didn't comment upon because look what rabbit hole we go down!

No.1 was just gash planning and before we got to abort points how about the guy learns how to use a map. Training.
No.2 lets face it the candidate hasn't responded to an illuminated oil light what chance remembering abort points etc? Training.
No.3 well in another thread I think you suggest it is a 912 powered 2017 Sport and if that is the case the take off performance is very poor and especially so given the aircraft was only 6lbs below MAUW. 2300ft of runway available [696m for some] when it requires in ISA conditions & 300rrpm. So add in the circa 30% for the weather [POH] makes around 550m [1800ft]. Easy to see how a lower initial pre-rotational value and not getting on the throttle fully or delayed and it eats the remainder. Planning and training once again??

  1. 5.6 Take-off and Landing Data
Take-offs and landings have been demonstrated up to a crosswind component of 36 km/h.
The following data is valid for operation from a dry, level, short grass surface, no wind, and pre-rotation to 300 RPM. Take-off and landing distances account for a 15 m obstacle. These are demonstrated distances without additional safety factors.
Take-off distance 912 UL (500 kg, HTC Prop).......................................... 420 m
 

Vance

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Well that is interesting in itself. Why? What do AutoGyro say?

I don't think we are far apart Vance - its just you like to over brief things and having dug yourself in that something is wrong then find it hard to unwind your position. You mentioned 3 take off issues, which I didn't comment upon because look what rabbit hole we go down!

No.1 was just gash planning and before we got to abort points how about the guy learns how to use a map. Training.
No.2 lets face it the candidate hasn't responded to an illuminated oil light what chance remembering abort points etc? Training.
No.3 well in another thread I think you suggest it is a 912 powered 2017 Sport and if that is the case the take off performance is very poor and especially so given the aircraft was only 6lbs below MAUW. 2300ft of runway available [696m for some] when it requires in ISA conditions & 300rrpm. So add in the circa 30% for the weather [POH] makes around 550m [1800ft]. Easy to see how a lower initial pre-rotational value and not getting on the throttle fully or delayed and it eats the remainder. Planning and training once again??
I feel we could not be further apart Phil Bennett.

In the first post I shared my opinion and it is divergent from how I interpret your stated opinion above.

"In summary in my opinion all of these accidents were preventable and all of the links in the accident chain are addressed in the FAA practical test standards.

I feel conflating the accidents and pretending they were all the same cause has little value."

I study the information available and you appear to just make stuff up only occasionally throwing in some fact.

I didn't train any of the accident pilots and only know the flight instructor in one of the accidents.

In my opinion flight instruction is about detail and you appear to see detail as a excuse to argue.

There is no magic bullet Phil Bennett. In my experience improvement comes from working on the details.

We now know that you think all three accidents have the same cause and you think it is training.

In my opinion you write like someone with little recent experience on a very limited range of gyroplanes in a narrow range of conditions.

How many pilots did you train to a certificate in 2020 Phil Bennett?
 
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