March 26, 2010
By AOPA ePublishing staff
The FAA on March 25 issued an information for operators (InFO) update for experimental Lancair and other amateur-built aircraft that have high wing loading and stall speeds greater than 61 knots. The alert stems from a “large and disproportionate number of fatal accidents for their fleet size.” Most of the accidents are a result of inadvertent stall/spins at slow airspeeds, low to the ground.
In the alert, the FAA acknowledges a downward trend in the fatal accidents but says that the rate is still “substantially higher than for-personal-use general aviation and the overall fatal accident rate for all amateur-built experimental aircraft.”
The agency attributes the higher accident rate to pilots’ lack of awareness of the handling characteristics and the fact that each amateur-built aircraft has its own unique flight handling characteristics.
To help lower the accident rate in these aircraft, the FAA issued four recommendations in the alert.
Pilots should review and understand the information specific to their aircraft regarding it slow-flight and stall characteristics and obtain training from a CFI who has experience in Lancairs or other high-performance aircraft.
The FAA also recommends installing an angle-of-attack or stall warning indicator. If those indicators are already installed on the aircraft, the agency asked that the calibration be validated.
In addition, the FAA suggests that pilots have a mechanic with builders and maintenance experience evaluate the aircraft and have a qualified test pilot determine the aircraft’s unique flight handling characteristics.
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