Angle-of-attack awareness key to safety

New advisory circular offers insights

August 29, 2012

A recently published FAA advisory circular (AC) offers general aviation an important training tool as the industry strives to reduce the number of fatal loss-of-control accidents.

AC No: 120-109, “Stall and Stick Pusher Training,” issued by the FAA’s Air Transportation Division, focuses on best practices and guidance for training that would produce correct and consistent responses by pilots to unexpected stall warnings, making those pilots more capable of avoiding loss-of-control accidents, said David Oord, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs.

The AC gives extensive treatment to the all-important subject of angle-of-attack awareness for pilots, emphasizing that reduction of angle of attack “is the most important response” when a pilot “is confronted with a stall event.”

“Loss of control is by far the leading cause of fatal accidents,” Oord said. “The awareness of angle of attack, and education, are keys to preventing these accidents in the future.”

AOPA has been an active participant in the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee and its Loss of Control Working Group that studied fatal loss-of-control accidents in general aviation, with special focus on accidents occurring in the approach and landing phases.

“The resulting safety enhancement that scored the highest for potential general aviation safety improvement was angle-of-attack awareness,” Oord said.

The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee is co-chaired by Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Foundation. Air Safety Institute Chief Flight Instructor Kristine Hartzell serves on its Safety Analysis Team.

Oord, who acted as industry chair of the working group, will also chair the next working group that will look into fatal loss-of-control accidents in the departure and en route phases of flight.

AOPA supports the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee as “the best avenue for the FAA, government, and industry to focus our collective efforts on mutual solutions and strategies to positively affect general aviation safety,” he said.

Oord recommended that in addition to studying the AC, pilots should take the Air Safety Institute interactive course Essential Aerodynamics: Stalls, Spins, and Safety , and review articles including the June 2011 AOPA Pilot feature “ Technique: AOA for GA” and the FAA’s March/April 2012 Safety Briefing article “ Angle of Attack: Taking Back Control.”