As the time of year approaches when large numbers of general aviation pilots make plans to attend major fly-in events, the National Transportation Safety Board has issued a new aviation safety alert to highlight safety issues that could arise in that flight environment.
Aviation Safety Alert, SA-053, available online, is titled “Arriving at a Major Fly-In Event: Keep Your Focus on Safety.”
It notes that arrivals at events like the Sun 'n Fun International Fly-in and Expo, set for April 5 to 10 in Lakeland, Florida, and EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 25 to 31 “pose unique challenges including high-density traffic, special flight and communication procedures, a rapidly changing environment, and changes to air traffic control separation standards.”
The safety alert “provides pilots guidance for dealing with the challenges of major fly-in events and stresses the need for them to review FAA Notices to Airmen.”
The alert points out that the reduced separation standards between aircraft, and minimized radio communications employed to keep arrivals moving, can cause pilots to become distracted, resulting in stalls and loss-of-control accidents. Failure to review notams for special procedures can complicate the arrival scenario—and pilots may be reluctant to discontinue errant approaches “with hundreds or thousands of people watching,” it says, detailing several past accidents.
Doing your homework, briefing your passengers about what to expect, keeping radio traffic to a minimum in accordance with published procedures, and knowing your limitations—and your aircraft’s—will help maintain safety, as will being mentally prepared for the challenge, the safety alert suggests.
The alert also contains links to FAA resources pilots can review to prepare for a major aviation event arrival.
“Events like these are a great way to celebrate the joy of aviation,” said John DeLisi, the NTSB’s director of the Office of Aviation Safety. “A little extra planning will help ensure a safe arrival.”