A free, illustrated four-step method for VFR pilots to minimize their chance of a collision with terrain at night or when visibility suddenly lowers has been added to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation main Web page, at www.asf.org.
Called Terrain Avoidance Plan (TAP), the new ASF summary shows how to use published altitudes on both IFR and VFR aeronautical charts to establish an individual minimum safe altitude for VFR flight in such conditions.
"In darkness or when the visibility unexpectedly comes down, knowing how far you are above the ground or obstructions can be a lifesaver," said ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "For VFR at night, using ASF's TAP method can bring peace of mind and an extra level of safety. And although we're certainly not encouraging pilots to cheat on visibility, should a pilot be caught by a sudden, unforecast drop in visibility, climbing is likely a safer choice than descending to scud-run while the pilot works to regain acceptable flying conditions."
Scud-running by GA pilots has been shown to result in accidents labeled by the NTSB as Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) and is almost always fatal. Flying VFR at night is considered relatively safe, provided the pilot is properly trained and exercises good sense.
ASF also offers a wide range of free online interactive courses on various aspects of GA safety, as well as search capability on the ASF GA Safety Database, the world's largest non-governmental GA accident database.
June 15, 2004