NTSB Tackles General Aviation Safety with Video Series

Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2013

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has had general aviation safety on their 'Most Wanted' list since 2011. The agency feels that non-scheduled civilian flights are an area where safety can be improved upon, and in an effort to improve pilot training and education, the agency is releasing a series of videos on general aviation on their YouTube channel. The release of the videos comes months after the NTSB released safety alerts for civilian pilots, making recommendations on safety in reduced-visibility conditions, applying safety to flight decision making practices and detecting aircraft mechanical problems before flights.

  • Is Your Aircraft Talking to You? Listen! In this video, NTSB investigator Catherine Gagne encourages pilots to take aircraft anomalies seriously and act on them to avoid maintenance-related accidents. A pilot’s lack of vigilance and understanding of an aircraft or its systems is a big contributor to maintenance-related crashes. According to Gagne, an aircraft often gives the pilot subtle indications that something isn't quite right, and it is up to the pilot to pay attention to these hints to avoid a serious incident. Resisting external pressures, addressing mechanical issues before a flight, sticking to the maintenance flight plan, verifying maintenance work, and being prepared for in-flight emergencies are suggestions that Gagne offers to pilots in hopes of avoiding dangerous situations in the pilot's chair.

  • Prevent Aerodynamic Stalls at Low Altitude NTSB investigator Chris Shaver adamantly believes that aerodynamic stalls are "completely avoidable." One of the reasons why aerodynamic stalls occur, according to Shaver, is that pilots stop training for them at a certain point. The five things recommended to avoid an aerodynamic stall at low altitude include being honest about a pilot’s skill set, knowing the aircraft being flown, reacting immediately in the face of a stall by reducing the plane's angle of attack, managing distractions when maneuvering at low altitude, and not showing off by performing aerial maneuvers at low altitudes. 

  • Pilots: Manage Risks to Ensure Safety NTSB investigator Jennifer Rodi talks about methods that pilots can use to ensure that they are making safe decisions before, during, and after their flights. Rodi recommends that pilots be on the lookout for any hazardous attitudes or behaviors that might prevent them from making safe and appropriate decisions. Additionally she recommends that pilots asses skill sets and health prior to flight, plan ahead for any contingencies like flight diversions, and practice risk management to resist external pressures such as trying to save time and/or money when making decisions about beginning or continuing a flight.

  • Reduced Visual References Require Vigilance In this video, NTSB investigator Dennis Diaz discusses methods pilots can use during periods of reduced visibility during flight. Accidents involving reduced visibility are tragic because, according to Diaz, they are "often fatal and they are easily preventable."  Diaz suggests that there are a number of things pilots should do to avoid or handle reduced visibility should it be encountered, including: Getting a preflight weather briefing to familiarize themselves with conditions enroute, resisting external pressures such as trying to save time and/or money when making decisions about continuing a flight, knowing and understanding the aircraft and its systems, being honest about ones skills as a pilot, seeking help from air traffic controllers whenever the need arises, and never underestimating the challenges of flying at night.